In order to help first-time travellers to Switzerland make the most of their stay, Switzerland Tourism has shared five hot tips.
Use the Swiss Travel Pass
The Swiss Travel Pass gives users unlimited access on all of country's public transportation including buses, trains and boats; up to 50% off mountain rail and cable ways and free access to more than 500 museums. Also, children under 16 years of age travel for free when accompanied by an adult using the pass.
One of the most incredible experiences one can have in Switzerland is to take in the sights via a panoramic train journey. For example, the Bernina Express goes from Chur to Tirano crossing 196 bridges and through 55 tunnels; the GoldenPass Line goes from Interlaken to Montreux; the Gotthard Panoramic Express links Lucerne with Ticino via a boat and train journey; and the Glacier Express is the world's slowest express train ride between Zermatt and St Moritz. Swiss Travel Passes come as e-tickets and can be purchased from www.myswitzerland.com/rail.
Take a Hike!
The Swiss love their nature surrounds and all sorts of outdoor activities, especially hiking. On any given day, be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, there will be locals hiking along the endless trails around the mountains, lakes, hills and pastures. To really get a sense of this local hobby and appreciate the natural assets of the country, a hike or walk will expose first time visitors to some of the most spectacular sights of the country that may otherwise be missed. There is more than 65,000 kilometres of waymarked trails across the country catering to all levels waiting to be explored.
Visit a Museum
In a country two-thirds the size of Tasmania (yes, Switzerland is pretty small), it's home to more than 900 museums! That's one museum per every 7,500 inhabitants. Luckily for Swiss Travel Pass holders, more than half of these museums are free to enter. Unlike many museums around the world, most of the Swiss museums are interactive, featuring the latest high-tech innovations that help to better engage with and educate their visitors. From art, history and textiles to sports, transportation and technology, there is a museum for everything. The most visited museum in the country is the Swiss Museum of Transport located on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Castles can also be accessed using the Swiss Travel Pass.
Keep it Local
Switzerland has four distinct languages regions serving up equally distinct flavours - Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch; and even within these regions, dishes will vary between towns, cities and villages. That goes for cheeses and wines, too. The Emmental and Gruyeres cheeses, for example, come from two different language regions and feature very different textures and flavours. As with wines, most cantons produce their own wines, so accompanying any local traditional dish with some local drops will give one the full experience. Apart from these top restaurant picks, Taste my Swiss City, a series of foodie trails designed by locals, is the latest initiative that will suit the urban explorer.
Know When to Visit a Mountain
Visiting a mountain peak might be a must-do, but knowing when to go is key. The best time to ascend any mountain is early in the day preferably by mid-morning, before clouds form obstructing the views.
The highest mountain railway in Europe is the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 3,454m asl, accessible via Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg. Mt Titlis, home to Europe's longest suspension bridge and the country's largest igloo village (only available in winter) sits at 3,062m asl and is accessible via Lucerne and Engelberg on the world's first rotating cable car, the Titlis Rotair. And over in Zermatt, getting up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise which is home to Europe's highest cable car station at 3,883m asl takes 45mins in the cable car.
For more information on Switzerland, visit www.myswitzerland