8 Switz

SWITZERLAND IS WELL worth a visit. The pristine beauty of its Alpine scenery is the stuff of legend. So is its cheese and chocolate and watchmakers. Switzerland likes to keep itself a bit separate – it wasn’t involved in any of Europe’s disastrous 20th century wars and it didn’t even join the United Nations until 2002. Even today it is not part of the European Union.

It rates 8th on the Top 100 Countries index. It is in the Top Ten in an astonishing seven categories – more than any other country – but it is let down by the fact that it is one of the most expensive countries on earth for the visitor. The cost of things means that most people make only short visits, which is really all you need.

Most of the country speaks German, with a strange accent that Germans find unattractive. They speak French in the west and Italian in the south, though it’s bit mixed up. But you don’t need to worry about it – most people speak English.

Because of Switzerland’s high prices it doesn’t make sense to do things there that you can do other places, such as skiing. It’s not a very big place and it’s easy to visit.

Its big cities like Berne and Zurich and Geneva are very comfortable places. Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee is based, is a particularly pleasant town. Note that Lausanne and Lucerne are two different places, rather than two spellings of the same place, which confuses many people.

But for many people Switzerland is all about the mountains. The country has a lot of them. And the lakes are all very pretty Switzerland has good trains and good roads, so it is easy to get around. Lucerne is a good place to use as a base.

Our view

We like Switzerland, but we only ever seem to pass through it or nip into it for a day or two from another country. It’s incredibly beautiful but things just cost too much. The Swiss are a little standoffish as well, and aren’t quite as friendly as their neighbors.