I’ve been fascinated with Switzerland, right from my childhood, thanks to all the Bollywood movies I grew up on. To the uninitiated, Switzerland was a favourite destination for one of the key filmmaker in India, who changed the face of Indian and Bollywood cinema with his stylish direction and magical story-telling.
I am talking about the late Yash Chopra, who put Switzerland in the Bollywood map and who even got honorary Swiss citizenship for his contribution. My friends and family who have visited the place have always raved about it, some calling it heaven on earth.
A lot of times, when I go somewhere with such great expectations, it tends to not live up to it. However, Switzerland did not just exceed my expectations, it was beyond magical. So, without further ado, here are my top breathtaking Swiss experiences.
- Jungfraujoch Cogwheel train ride:
The Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe station is at 3,454 m. This makes it the highest mountain railway station in Europe. Hopping on a cogwheel train to reach here was not in our plan but after exploring Wengen we were in a train to Grindelwald and a fellow traveller who worked in Wengen told us to take the cogwheel train from Klaine Scheidegg station. We are glad we got lost and took this stranger’s advice. The cogwheel train experience became one of the best train experiences I have ever had.
The Cogwheel train lets you enjoy the majestic Alpine panorama without you having to break a sweat. Throughout our journey, we had our jaws and eyes wide open, taking in the sheer natural beauty. Green vistas dotted with beautiful cottages, and the snow-capped Junfrau standing there, tall and proud.
2. Mount Titlis:
When you are in Switzerland, exploring at least one mountain is a must. We decided to explore Mt Titlis, located between the cantons of Obwalden and Bern. The best way to reach Mount Titlis is via a cable car. From Lucerne, the Lucerne-Engelberg Express takes you to Engelberg. From there, you take a bus to the 8-seater Titlis Xpress gondola cable car, and then you ascend to the midway station at Stand. The Titlis revolving cable car takes you up to the mountain station at 3020 meters.
The journey on the Mt Titlis cable car to the summit station is about 10 minutes long. En route, you are greeted with views of sheer cliff faces, deep crevasses and snow-covered mountain peaks all around Mount Titlis. A word of warning: Be sure to reach Engelberg early. Mt. Titlis is a tourist hot spot and even in summer, you can experience a good bit of snow. If you want to avoid long queues at the summit station it is advisable to reach early.
Titlis is a truly spectacular experience. Right from the beginning when you hop on the cable car and meet cows lazily grazing grass to slow nearing the mountain and able to touch and play with snow even in summer! We had a fabulous time playing with the snowmobile, exploring the rather chilly glacier cave, walking precariously on the Titlis rope bridge.
The icing on the cake was definitely the Ice Flyer. Costing about 12 CHF, this flyer is a chairlift that takes you from Mount Titlis’ mountain station to its glacier park. It reminded us of a snow-filled theme park ride.
3. Walking and exploring Wengen village and nearby areas
Switzerland has many beautiful little villages, perfect for walking or hiking. We were originally planning to go to Grindelwald but ended up in Wengen– a decision we did not regret. Wengen is a picturesque Alpine village located in the Bernese Oberland region. Known for its timber chalets and belle époque hotels, Wengen also offers great cycling roads.
Wengen has a somewhat hippie vibe with several quirky cafes and sustainable coffee houses. On South of Wengen are the Trümmelbach glacier waterfalls, accessed via underground paths.
From Wengen, you can easily take the cogwheel to top of Jungfrau or a train to Interlaken. After finishing Jungfrau, we made our way to Interlaken. Now, I wish we had stayed in Interlaken for a day or two. It is a haven for hikers, walkers and thrill-seekers.
Unfortunately, we had just a few hours left before going back to our hotel in Zurich hence we decided to just walk near Lake Thun. With crystal clear waters and a relaxing vibe, Lake Thun is a place where you can just sit, relax and get lost in nature. Something you need after a day of walking and hiking.
4. Lake Lucern boat trip
If you are short on time, like us (5 days in Switzerland) and want to pack many different things then doing a boat trip is highly recommended. With a Swiss travel pass, you can get some discounts on most boat routes. From the open deck of the boat, you see the beautiful sights of Lucerne.
The boat meanders on a calm lake and passes through steep fjords all along giving you a glimpse of daily life, the pretty cottage houses, old Town and waterfront buildings.
5. Lake Zurich and Zurich old town:
When talking about Switzerland, how can we ignore one of its biggest cities–Zurich–the global centre for banking and finance. A very cool and sophisticated city.
At the heart of Zurich lies the old town. And the beauty of it is that it spans the stunningly blue Limmat river that runs right through the heart of Zurich. You can lose yourself for hours in the winding streets of this historic centre, finding quirky shops and cafes and soaking in the eclectic vibe of the city.
No trip to Zurich is complete without spending some time on the shores of the iconic Zurich lake. Apparently, a few of James Bond movies have been shot here. But more than that, Lake Zurich belongs very much to the people of Zurich, so there are parks and places to just sit back and enjoy the view or go for a view-ridden walk.
If you want to take in the crowds and often some local music, head towards the left-hand promenade. But for a more peaceful and green-filled walk along the lake. Either way, if you want to experience true Zurich and indulge in some people-watching this is the place to go.
As you can see, Switzerland packs a punch with something for each kind of traveller. I am definitely glad that I was able to experience this truly spectacular and beautiful place and I can only hope to go back to experience the things I missed.