Chapters:

  Family friendly destinations ...
  For the physically active ...
  Suitable for maiden aunts and couch potatoes ...
  The Heart of Switzerland
  Of interest to culture vultures ...
  Zurich ...
  Luzern ...
  Zug ...
  Further afield ...
  Seasonal events ...
  Skiing ...
  Cross references ...
  Trivia Section ...
  Recommended Reading and Websites ...




The Heart of Switzerland

Albis*: unspoilt countryside close to Zurich - striking panorama above Mettmenstetten - Seleger Moor 01 710 6176 has rhododendrons azaleas and gardens - plant sales - ideal outing for green fingered grannies - gentle walks in all directions from Albis village with excellent lake views. (ZH)

Hirzel*: area around village where Johanna Spyri (author of ‘Heidi’) grew up - 765m - 'Dach des Kantons Zurich' - good walking and cycling country - try route from Horgenberg to Hirzel Hochi for 360 degree aspect of 116 peaks - wonderfully bucolic - characteristic rounded hills topped with single trees planted by farmers in honour of eldest sons - engaging museum (free admission: open on Sunday afternoons) in Johanna Spyri's schoolhouse (1660) next to pretty church (1617): 01 729 9566. (ZH)

Sattel Hoch Stuckli* 041 835 1175: ancient chairlift over meadows - summer rodelbahn (slide) - large children’s play area - bouncy castles/trampolines - Panorama Weg - two hour walk - family skiing - roller park. (SZ)

Raten: - restaurant - playground - family skiing - nature trail - kite flying. (SZ)

Swiss Knife Valley*: mountainous area between Einsiedeln and Schwyz - dominated by twin peaks of the Mythen which can be scaled by the adventurous (and robust) walker - Brunni is reached from Einsiedeln through Alpthal - gondola to Holzegg - good restaurant - walk along (and up) to Rotenfluh for excellent views of several lakes - popular area for parascending - lift down to Rickenbach (Schwyz) or further lovely walk on to Iberegeregg - across valley is Stoos (1300m) - traffic free village spectacularly overlooking Lake Luzern - very good for family skiing. (SZ)

Weg der Schweiz 041 825 0046: 36km footpath around Urnersee (more rugged part of Lake Lucerne) from Rutli Meadow to Brunnen - established in 1991 to mark 900th anniversary of Confederation of Switzerland - population of each canton is represented by proportionate length of path 5mm corresponding to one citizen. (UR)

Schwyz: historical town in Swiss heartland - Bundesbriefmuseum houses documents and artefacts charting history of Confederation -’Geschichte zwischen Mythos und Wahrheit’ (‘history based on legend and reality’) - main square is striking but infested with traffic - Ital-Reding-Hofstatt incorporates Switzerland’s oldest wooden house - Haus Bethlehem built in 1287. (SZ)

Rutli Meadow: opposite Brunnen on Lake Lucerne - holds mystical significance for the Swiss as place where Swiss Confederation began in 1291 with signing of Eternal Oath of Allegiance - rather anticlimactic - flagpole, grassy field and gift shop/café . (UR)

Seelisberg 041 820 1563: 800m - dramatic vantage point over Rutli Meadow and the Urnersee - swimming in small mountain lake (18-22 degrees) - access from Lake Lucerne via Treib funicular - home of the International Capital of the Age of Enlightenment - the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Centre. (UR)

Wirzweli*: 1900m - reached by small cablecar from Dallenwil on road to Engelberg (qv) - family atmosphere - rodelbahn (slide) - farm animals - playground - cosy restaurant - lovely position - nursery skiing. (NW)

Engelberg* 041 639 7777: 1050m - easy to drive there but also a memorable train trip from Luzern - Benedictine Monastery and rococo church in unparallelled setting - tours available - compact cheese dairy (Schaukaserei) and attractive café: watch out for Bollywood film crews on location in town - Titlis Glacier 041 639 5050: 3239m - revolving cable car to top - better in Winter as it looks a bit like an abandoned quarry in summer - pricey and often crowded - only go up when weather clear (check TV screen in ticket hall or ring 041 637 0101 beforehand) - Glacier Grotto - summer Glacier Park - free use of ‘micro scooters snow scooters balancers boogie boards and snow tubes’ - if this isn’t enough the intrepid can also hire ‘devil bikes’ from Jochpass descending 410m in 20 minutes or go bungy jumping ( 130m from floor of cable car) 033 826 7711 - classic footpath to Melchsee-Frutt - pretty walk around Trubsee - 1800m - marmot park - rent trotti bikes* from Gershnialp - scoot 3.5 km down mountain road en famille - Brunni* 01 639 7070: 1600m - sunnier and gentler side of valley - reasonably priced cable car - lovely restaurant at Ristis*- walks - 600m rodelbahn - playground -family skiing sledging and rubber rings on snow in winter - take chairlift further up to Harzlisee and simple restaurant at Brunnihutte - excellent walks and views - unique Barfussweg* around lake - paddle around edge and experience different sensations such as sand gravel woodchips conifer twigs and satisfying mud - ingenious and great fun for all ages. (NW)

Stanserhorn 041 618 8040: 1900m - 100 year old cog railway from Stans - sparkling new Rondorama revolving restaurant - easy walk round summit - views of 10 lakes - marmot park - evening events. (NW)

Sarnen 041 666 5040: charming town picturesquely situated on Sarnersee - interesting shops and regular markets - very good local museum - Heimatmuseum 041 660 6522 - Lido with breathtaking views and good café - regular boat trips - cycle hire available - Glaubenberg (1400m) is above - exceptional countryside and opportunities for sledging cross country skiing (40km of pistes - ‘das Eldorado der Langlaufer’) and snowshoe tours in winter. (OW)

Kehrsiten: peaceful and unspoilt walk along Lake Lucerne from Stansstad to Seehotel Baumgarten 041 610 7788 and beyond to foot of Burgenstock funicular (qv). (LU)

Burgenstock* 041 612 9010: 900m - resort area with several smart hotels - northern slopes surprisingly form part of City of Luzern - spectacular Alpine aspect and tremendous lake views - drive up via Stansstad or catch boat from Luzern - elderly Standseilbahn (funicular) with 45 degree gradient - small golfcourse - walk along to abandoned Hotel Honegg* for brilliant views of the Vierwaldstattersee and the Engelbergertal - brave Europe’s highest free standing glass sided elevator (the Hammetschwand lift) to summit restaurant travelling 162m in 50 seconds - be warned - ‘at the top, the tower is anchored to solid ground by means of a catwalk’ (‘Discover Lucerne’) - follow this (if you can) with a fun scramble down. (LU/NW)

Mount Pilatus* 041 329 1111: 2132m - ‘der Hausberg der Luzerner‘ - travel on steepest cogwheel railway in the world (48% gradient) through 4 tunnels from Alpnachstad or by cable car/white knuckle gondola from Kriens - the ‘Golden Round Trip’ combines these with boat from Luzern - Queen Victoria ascended by mule in 1868 - restaurants - walks - breathtaking scenery - 360 degree view from windswept summit - try the longest rodelbahn in Switzerland (1350m with a 25m tunnel) at Frakmuntegg - May to end of October - 041 320 6662 - good children’s playground at Krienseregg . (LU)

Eigenthal*: beautiful valley to side of Pilatus - great walking country - Langlauf (cross country skiing) area in winter. (LU) Kastanienbaum/Winkel: traffic free lakeside road on Horw Halbinsel south of Luzern - perfect place for cycling rollerblading swimming walking and running - good places to eat. (LU)

Dietschiberg: above Luzern - numerous footpaths - extensive views - home to an exclusive golf club. (LU)

Schloss Meggenhorn 041 377 1161: castle dates from 1870 - immaculate gardens - various footpaths - wonderful views of Vierwaldstattersee - small farm animals - boathouse - regular social and cultural events. (LU)

Seebodenalp: 1025m - take lift up Rigi(qv) from Kussnacht - walk to Weggis(qv). (SZ)

Rigi* 041 399 8787: 1800m - name derives from Latin Regina Montium' (‘Queen of the Mountains’) with feminine gender in German to match (other peaks are all masculine) - original tourists travelled up by mule or sedan chair - 21st century round trip highly recommended - take boat from Luzern to Vitznau - catch Europe’s oldest rack railway (built by Niklaus Riggenbach in 1871 - ‘my aim is to enable people to view the beauty of our glorious land from up on high‘) to summit (Rigi-Kulm) - walk last 200m to top - see a lot of familiar places from a great height - panorama extends 500 miles in circumference - Victorians doing Grand Tour (including painter JMW Turner) watched sun rise here - Victor Hugo noted ‘an incredible horizon… that chaos of absurd exaggerations and scary diminutions’ - easy walk down to cable car at Rigi Kaltbad - first visited for cures in 17th century - descend to Weggis and catch boat back to Luzern - alternatively walk down to Staffel and catch train to Arth Goldau - far fewer tourists this way. (SZ)

Weggis* 041 390 1155: attractive rather genteel town on Lake Lucerne admired by Goethe, Mark Twain and Victor Hugo - subtropical microclimate - gardens - restaurants - walks and strolls - boat and bike hire - music on lakefront. (SZ)

Brunnen: take a boat trip from Luzern for lunch and contrasting views over entire lake - take Urmiberg cable car to 1140 m for panoramic aspect. (SZ)

TellsKapelle : lakeside monument to William Tell (1880) near Fluelen - beautifully situated - Tellsplatte is nearby - where Tell leapt ashore to escape Gessler’s clutches. (SZ)

Altdorf: central to William Tell legend - where Gessler ordered Tell to shoot apple from son’s head - Telldenkmal (1895 monument) in square commemorates this - very scenic drive from here over Klausen Pass - Switzerland’s longest - to Linthal . (SZ) Burglen: celebrated as Tell’s birthplace - chapel (1582) on site of Tell’s house - Tell Museum 041 870 4155 - slide presentation available in English. (SZ)

Rotshuo: accessible on boat from Luzern - gardens - grotto - children’s Zoo - walks. (SZ)





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