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About Switzerland
Switzerland is the perfect example of an invigorating, exciting and intoxicating country. It is dotted with beautiful snow covered mountains, glistening lakes, and lush forests. The architectural allure of the country with its medieval castles, cathedrals and museums is a bliss for sore eyes. Thinking of Switzerland, many images are evoked in our mind, such as banks, skiing, chocolates, cheese, breathtaking mountains, green fields, sparkling lakes, cowbells, Heidi and many, many more.
Switzerland offers you a variety of thrilling adventures and amazing opportunities that you can never find anywhere else in the world. Switzerland is also known by a Latin name, Helvetia, used since Roman times. Switzerland consists of 26 political units called cantons. And along the Swiss border lie Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, and France. Interlaken, Bern, Rapperswil, Geneva, Basel, Zürich, Grindelwald, Heldi, Fribourg, Lucerne, Neuchatel, Thun, Winterthur, St Gallen, Schwyz are the most important towns of Switzerland full of culture and history. Every town has its own distinctive characteristics.
Switzerland is the quintessential example of beauty which has attracted hordes of tourists from all over the world. The mesmerizing beauty of Switzerland emanates from every nook and corner of the country. More than 60 percent of the country is mountainous and a quarter of it is covered with forests.
Despite its small size, Switzerland is a land of contrasting scenery including the inspiring Alpine peaks, tranquil lakes, and charming valleys. Switzerland’s dominant physical features, in the northeast-southwest, are the Alps, the Jura Mountains, and the Swiss Plateau. The Alps cover about three-fifths of Switzerland. In most areas, except the northern foothills, they are high and rugged, with ice and snow covering the peaks. Deep, scenic valleys created by glaciers during the last Ice Age are also characteristic in nature. The mountains of southeastern Switzerland, including the Glarus, Lepontine, Rhaetian, and Bernina Alps, are just as rugged. Just as the country, the people too are diverse, mainly forming three groups, German, French and Italian.
The geography of Switzerland is such that, the climate varies from one region to another greatly. Switzerland is well known for its Alps, as they host about 20% of the entire European Alps. Most of Switzerland’s population lives on the rolling hills, valleys and plains. Switzerland is famous for its alpine passes as well. These passes are extremely important pathways between the northern and the southern part of Europe. The entire beauty of Switzerland is that you can find so much, so close together. On a 2 – 3 hour trip, you can easily see entirely different landscapes, such as glaciers, mountains, lakes, forests, fields and orchards; which is why Switzerland’s tourism is so well known.
You'll need to be prepared for a range of temperatures, as the mountains create a variety of local and regional microclimates. That said, most of the country has a central European climate, with daytime temperatures around 18° to 28°C in summer and -2° to 7°C in winter. The coldest area is the Jura, in particular the Brevine Valley. By contrast, Ticino in the south has a hot Mediterranean climate.
Summer tends to bring a lot of sun, but also the most rain, and there were terrible floods in 1999 and 2005. Look out for the Föhn, a hot, dry wind that sweeps down into the valleys and can be oppressively uncomfortable (though some find its warming effect refreshing). It can strike at any time of the year, but especially in spring and autumn.
When to Visit
When you visit Switzerland you will, at least in part, be dictated by where you want to go and what you intend to do, but there are good reasons for exploring at least parts of the country at any time of year.
Summer lasts roughly from June to September and offers the most pleasant climate for outdoor pursuits (apart from exclusively winter sports). In fact, many adventure sports, such as canyoning, are only offered during this time. The peak period is July and August, when prices are high, accommodation often fully booked and the sights packed. You'll find better deals, and fewer people, in the shoulder seasons either side of summer: in April, May and October. With the exception of the busy Easter break, spring is a beautiful time of year to explore the blooming countryside. In Ticino, flowers are in bloom as early as March. Hikers wanting to walk at high altitudes, however, should be equipped for snow and ice until well into June (and, in some tricky spots, all year).
The winter season in Alpine resorts kicks off in mid-December and moves into full swing around Christmas, closing down again when the snows begin to melt around mid-April. Between the summer and winter seasons, Alpine resorts all but close down (except where year-round glacier skiing is on offer). At the very best, they go into snooze mode and can even be a little depressing.
At any time, as you travel around the country you'll hit many different climatic conditions. The continental climate in the Alps tends to show the greatest extremes between summer and winter. Mid-August to late October generally has fairly settled weather, and is a good period for hiking trips.
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