None can doubt the wondrous beauty of Switzerland. But if you’re visiting how do you not get overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of the scenery? Here is my recommendation of the seven most stunning natural sights of Switzerland that shouldn’t be missed.
1 Hike up to Oeschinensee
Oeschinensee is an alpine lake of outstanding natural beauty, shimmering in the clear mountain air like a turquoise jewel. This area belongs to the Jungfray-Aletsch-Bietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shaped like a horse-shoe, the small lake lies in the Bernese Highlands and is one of the loveliest natural sights of Switzerland. Spanning little more than 1 square kilometer, the lake is located 1,578 meters above sea level and deemed to be one of the most beautiful lakes found in the Alps. It is situated just a 20 minute walk from the peak of the Kandersteg lift. The lake's mirror-calm surface reflects the snow-covered peaks all around it, some of which soar some 3,000 meters into the azure skies.
2 Wear a Raincoat to the Rhine Falls
Certainly one of the loudest natural wonders of Switzerland, the Rhine Falls are a must-see tourist attraction. Located on the Upper Rhine, between Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen, the Rhine Falls were created during the last ice age, more than 14,000 years ago. They are the largest waterfall in Switzerland, boasting a width of 150 meters and a drop of 23 meters. The Rhine Falls are also one of the largest waterfalls on the European continent. If you are planning to stand on one of the viewing platforms, be sure to wear a raincoat, otherwise the spray will soak you in seconds. In summer, more than 700,000 liters of water per second roar down the Rhine Falls and into the foaming abyss beyond. For the very brave, there are boat tours to the island at the center of the falls. The noise of the rushing water is truly deafening.
3 Try to Yodel at the Matterhorn
Even if you did manage to scale the Matterhorn, you probably won't be able to let out a triumphant yodel or cry, for the air will be too thin due to the great altitude and you'll be far too out of breath anyway. Soaring 4,478 meters into the skies, the Matterhorn is one of the tallest mountains of the Alps and occupies the border territory between Italy and Switzerland. The Matterhorn is most famous for its pyramid-like shape and its extraordinarily steep sides, which have been a challenge to generation of famous mountaineers. The Matterhorn's unique shape allows ground-based ordinary mortals to catch a glimpse of the glaciers that have formed at the base of each peak surrounding the Matterhorn, including the Zmutt Glacier to the western aspect of the "pyramid". Matterhorn stands strangely alone and isolated from its neighboring peaks - with its famously crooked summit the mountain appears to crane its neck like a giant trying to see who else is about. Travel to the resort of Zermatt in Switzerland to catch a tram or local train that takes you closer to the Matterhorn.
4 Visit Europe's Largest Ice Age Giant: Aletsch Glacier
A huge reminder of the last Ice Age, the Aletsch Glacier is one of the most amazing natural wonders in Switzerland. Located in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais, this glacier has carved a 23 kilometer swathe through the Alps and spans an awe-inspiring 120 square kilometers in size. It is the largest glacier in Europe. Scientists believe the glacier consists of 27 billion tons of frozen ice. It's only possible to appreciate its enormity by taking to the skies - take a cable car and enjoy the views of Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn at the same time.
5 Enjoy the Natural Beauty of Lauterbrunnen Valley
Ideal for hiking and climbing holidays, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is an impressive glacial valley in the Alps. Although just one kilometer wide, Lauterbrunnen Valley is an amazing 3 kilometers deep. Famous for its unique U-shaped cliffs and almost totally flat valley base, Lauterbrunnen Valley boasts an astonishing 72 waterfalls, which includes the roaring Staubbach Falls, Europe's highest free-falling waterfall with a thundering 300 meter drop. The rural idyll of this landscape is what draws people to Switzerland. This is "Heidi" country, a place where brown and white cows are always grazing and goatherds are invariably friendly. One famous hiker who came here was author J.R.R. Tolkien, who created the elves' home of Rivendell and Middle Earth after seeing the natural beauty of Lauterbrunnen Valley.
6 Still Notorious after All These Years: Eiger
Modern mountaineering techniques and equipment may have made climbing marginally safer, but this old rogue of a mountain is still as notorious as ever. Not only taller than is neighboring peaks of Jungfrau and Mönch, Eiger is the proud owner of the frightful North Face, an almost vertical mountain side that has cost many climbers their lives since Eiger was first successfully climbed in 1938. Climbing North Face is considered to be the greatest challenge among the world's best mountaineers. As mountains in the Alps go, Eiger requires far greater technical skills than pyramid-shaped Matterhorn and is deemed to be the best Swiss Highland ridge for climbing. Only a handful of climbers have managed to reach the 3,970 meter summit of Eiger. Because 64 climbers were unsuccessful at scaling North Face and paid for their audacity with their lives, this mountainside is famously known as the Death Wall (Mordwand in German).
7 Take a Paddle-steamer on Lake Lucerne
Lakes are among the finest natural sights in Switzerland and none boast finer views than Lake Lucerne, which locals call Vierwaldstättersee. This small country boasts more than 1,500 lakes, but Lake Lucerne is the one most tourists include in their itinerary, because it affords such lovely views of the snow-capped peaks of Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi. The best way to explore the lake's complex series of arms and bends is to join a boat tour, preferably one of the romantic paddle-steamers that chug up and down the lake's shores and visit many of the most popular tourist attractions along the way. Lake Lucerne's stunning natural beauty is believed to have been the inspiration for Beethoven's famous "Moonlight Sonata". Judge for yourself, when you take an evening stroll along the promenade and see the moon's reflection in the mirror-like surface of Lake Lucerne. The historic paddle-steamers date back to 1837, taking visitors to 32 beauty spots along the shores.
Switzerland is a magical country and you only have to breathe the crisp, clean mountain air to see why there are so many health clinics here. And there’s nothing like a stunning view to soothe a restless soul. I wonder if this small country is on your bucket list?