Zurich has frequently been mislabeled as a boring banking capital. Many do not realize that while Zurich is the fourth-biggest stock exchange in the world and is still Switzerland’s financial center, the city has slowly shed the dull descriptions that have once been attached to it.
Since the latter part of the 1990s, there have been hundreds of new establishments such as clubs, bars, and restaurants that opened in the city.
And since the Zurich Street Parade has taken over London’s Notting Hill Carnival, the city now also hosts the largest annual street party in Europe.
It is worth noting, by the way, that despite all these cosmopolitan upgrades, Zurich is still so clean, it has been called the Singapore of Europe.
But it’s not Singapore. It’s much livelier than that.
Zurich has assimilated all the bright and fun elements of the other major cities while retaining the freshness and relaxed lifestyle that the mountain air brings.
Too hard to imagine? See it to believe it. One thing you should definitely understand about Zurich today: it’s not just a banking city.
Geneva is a unique city. While it is known as one of the most expensive European cities to stay in, that doesn’t prevent tourists from coming in. A quick stroll through the city and you would hear languages from several countries – all nationalities converging in this slick and beautiful metropolis.
Speaking of convergence of nationalities: it is a well-known fact that Geneva is the home of many respected international organizations. A few that have established themselves here are the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the International Labor Organization, and the World Health Organization.
As such, hotels in the city always have big and important people residing in one of their rooms.
Despite all this importance filling it, Geneva is not just about glamour and fame. For a taste of the humbler European neighborhood, visit the Pâquis quarter. In this place of local bars and clubs, you will find that Geneva also has its share of small town living.
A local legend says that once upon a time, an angel shone a light down to earth, pointing to the first settlers of Lucerne where they should build a chapel.
Around this chapel, a small fishing village cropped up, and the waters and mountains fed the village to support the residents’ lives.
The legend is easy to believe, for today, the city of Lucerne still looks like a place that has received a special blessing from above.
Between the 13th and the 19th century, the city of Lucerne grew economically as an important stop on the Alpine trade route. As more merchants and visitors passed by, they recognized the charm of the city and its potential for tourism.
The city’s name was derived from the German Luzern, which can be translated to “city of lights.” A scenic lake surrounds the beautiful city, and the wooden Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) stands as one of its most famous landmarks.
Chillon Castle, or Chateau de Chillon, is located on the beautiful banks of Lake Geneva.
With the over 300,000 visitors that the castle receives annually, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in the whole country.
Visitors are attracted by the amazing sights that the castle’s towers can offer: Although the façade of the castle exudes a dominating aura, that is quickly extinguished by the literal and figurative warmth of the castle interiors. Fourteenth century wall paintings still adorn the castle walls, showing the way of life and culture of the past. The bedroom has also been preserved to look just the way it did in the castle’s heydays.
Other popular attractions in the castle are the parade halls and the subterranean vaults that once served as a storehouse and prison.
All in all, the Chillon Castle holds 25 buildings inside its complex, plus three courtyards. The two circular walls that enclose the compound have protected it for centuries.
The Chillon Castle is definitely a worthwhile addition to your tour itinerary. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the medieval past of Switzerland.
The Salt Mines
The Salt Mines in Bex, which were discovered back in the 15th century, are still in operation today.
In the past, ownership of salt deposits meant power and wealth because of salt’s importance in the medieval world.
Today, the salt mines are open for visitors to explore. There is also a museum that shows the history of salt mining in the area from the 1600s to the present.
Visitors who enter the Bex Salt Mines are met with a maze of tunnels and pathways that extend about 50 kilometers, or 31 miles. Tourists ride a small mine train into the heart of the mines. There, you can learn all about the history of this mineral that has been aptly dubbed “white gold.”
Interestingly, there is a restaurant within the mines – located 400 meters (1,312 feet) below the ground.
Guests seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience can surely find it in the numerous winding tunnels of these mines, which have been in operation for hundreds of years.