Hiking in the hills of
If you have clients who like to hike or walk, Switzerland offers a
venue for every level of expertise. One can amble down the streets
of old-town Zurich or walk along the shore of Lake Geneva for hours
and be entertained with something interesting around every bend. Or
one can opt for tough mountain hiking on rock in the high Alps with
Advise clients to get a Swiss rail pass and take trains to small
villages to hike and explore. The Glacier Express is famous and a
must for part of the journey. With a rail pass, travelers can take
a cable car or cog railroad to the top of a mountain and ridge
hike. Visitors can walk along winding trails, and then drop into a
little mountain bistro or cafe for hot chocolate and a hearty
Fall is the off season and a great time to go to ski resorts
like the posh Verbier. Near this beautiful village are nearly 250
miles of trails for walking, hiking or biking, and clients will
likely spot goats, ibexes, marmots and eagles. Less-active
travelers can opt for an easy walk along ancient irrigation
channels built in the 15th century, while more hardy hikers will
want to trek high in the Alps and perhaps do a mountain hut-to-hut
Extreme sports fans will enjoy rappelling down a 250-foot dam
wall. Willing visitors are first strapped into a harness and can
get to the safety expert waiting at the bottom in one of two ways
either by walking down or by freefall. There is also rope-climbing
and tobogganing on the world’s largest summer toboggan.
The Rhone Valley is
another must-see, featuring hikes and vineyards.
I was lucky enough to visit during harvest season, which runs
from late September into early October. The vineyard offers tours
that go through the whole winemaking process stomping grapes with
your feet is no longer part of the protocol but is still fun to
watch. At the end of the tour, there is winetasting and a cheese
dish called raclette is served.
The Romansh study trail is absorbing and takes clients through
small villages. Romansh, one of the four official languages, is
still spoken in the eastern part of Switzerland. The area is
relatively undiscovered by tourists and retains a tranquil,
The old city of Chur in the Romansh area makes for a great stop
for a couple of days. With only 35,000 residents, clients will find
a serene beauty here. The Gothic old town area is a joy to walk
around, and culture buffs can check out the Grisons Art Museum,
which houses a collection of works by artists like Angelita
Kaufmann and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
Chur is also the largest shopping center between Zurich and
Milan, and major department stores and 500 specialized boutiques
make it a shopper’s paradise. Weekly farmers and flea markets round
out the shopping flavor.
A village called Disentis in southeastern Switzerland became a
personal favorite. The architecture of this old village was
engaging. Here, a Benedictine monastery church dating from the 17th
century has a vesper service five times a day open to the
I also enjoyed sampling the local cuisine. In fact, I ate
whenever I could all over Switzerland it’s worth the calories. I
spent most of my time in French-speaking areas, and from small
cafes to city restaurants, the meals were excellent. One night, I
had an eight-course dinner in Orsieres, a tiny village of 700
people. The Des Alpes restaurant was a one-star Michelin, which I
was surprised to find in such a small village.
Some clients might want to spend a week or two in Switzerland’s
villages. The pace of life is slow, and I didn’t hear any cell
phones just a lot of tingling cow bells and train whistles.
I spent my last three days in Geneva, and after exploring the
country’s towns, the ambience of the city appealed to me. Geneva
hosts 200 international organizations. Home to UN European
Headquarters, visitors can tour the United Nations building, and
just across the street, clients will fine the Red Cross museum, as
the International Committee of the Red Cross started here.
Walking along the placid, glacial Lake Geneva was also a
highlight. I strolled for several hours past beautiful villas, like
the one Napoleon built for Josephine. I looked up at the
mountain-top estate of Baron de Rothschild, and after I got tired
of walking, I took a boat trip around the lake it was the perfect
way to end a Switzerland sojourn.