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Home Vacation Forget the ‘boring’ cliches – Switzerland has something for everyone

Forget the ‘boring’ cliches – Switzerland has something for everyone

by Staff

Equally, you might decide to go east to Graubünden and swish St Moritz, where Badrutt’s Palace (badruttspalace.com) has been a hive of upmarket gentility since 1896. A four-night stay here costs from £3,762 per person, including flights, private transfers and breakfast – through luxury specialist Scott Dunn (020 3773 8616; scottdunn.com).

And if one glamorous location doesn’t sound chic enough, why not do several? Black Tomato (020 7426 9888; blacktomato.com) offers a 12-night “Luxury Holiday in the Alps, Lakes and Coast” that visits various salubrious Swiss places – including St Moritz and Zermatt – before slipping over the Italian border. From £10,950 per person, flights extra.

What about Berne?

It is rare for a country’s capital and its biggest city to be different places. So spare a thought for Zurich, which joins New York, Sydney, Toronto, Johannesburg, Istanbul and Casablanca in a curious club – the largest urban entity in its own land, but not its kingpin.

That role falls to rather smaller Berne, which with a core head-count of just 133,000 souls, is only Switzerland’s fifth most populous city (by contrast, Zurich has 443,000 residents; Geneva, Basel and Lausanne are also bigger). Yet it stands tall as its seat of government.

Is it too small to bother visiting? Not at all. Tucked into the north-west of the country as the capital of its own canton, Berne is little but lovely. It sits within a broad bend in the river Aare, and to such photogenic effect that its old town (Altstadt) has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1983. There is a marked medieval ambience to this cobblestone maze. Its Munster, dating to 1421, is Switzerland’s tallest cathedral, its steeple soaring to 330ft; the Zytglogge, a Baroque and Gothic clocktower that has long been the city’s symbol, is of an even more impressive vintage, harking back to 1218.

However, there is more to Berne than its history. It is best to avoid its dubious BärenPark (Bear Park), but the Kunstmuseum (kunstmuseumbern.ch) is as good as Zurich’s (with further works by Hodler), and there are lots of restaurants on central Gerechtigkeitsgasse.

A three-night break to the five-star Hotel Schweizerhof Bern starts at £1,398 per person, including flights, via Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2288; kirkerholidays.com). This should allow time for a day-trip to Thun, a town – 20 miles to the south-east, on the edge of the lake of the same name – which keeps the medieval theme going, in even prettier fashion.

How to get there

There are three main options for reaching Switzerland by air. Thanks to its importance as a hub for skiers heading into the Alps (French, as well as Swiss), Geneva greets a wealth of flights from the UK. EasyJet (0330 551 5165; easyjet.com) alone flies in from 14 airports across the British Isles, while British Airways (0344 493 0787; ba.com), Jet2 (0800 408 5591; jet2.com) and Swiss (0345 601 0956; swiss.com) are also regular visitors. 

As the national carrier, Swiss also provides six connections between Zurich and the UK (Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, plus the London trio of Heathrow, City and Gatwick), and is joined in the country’s biggest city by BA and easyJet. Basel also has an airport, shared with Mulhouse (in France) and Freiburg (in Germany). Again, you will find BA here (from Heathrow), as well as easyJet (Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Manchester) – while Ryanair (01279 358438; ryanair.com) offers a flight from Stansted.

For further information visit myswitzerland.com

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