The Matterhorn, Switzerland's iconic pointed peak is one of the highest mountains in the Alps. On the border with Italy, this legendary peak rises to 4,478 meters, and its four steep faces lie in the direction of the compass points. The first summiting in 1865 ended tragically when four climbers fell to their death during the descent. Today, thousands of experienced climbers come here each summer. At the foot of this mighty peak, lies the charming village of Zermatt, a top international resort with horse-drawn carriage rides, quaint chalets, and world-class restaurants and hotels. To preserve the air quality and peaceful ambiance, motorized vehicles are banned in the village. In the winter, skiers can schuss down more than 300 kilometers of slopes. In the summer, swimming and tennis are popular pursuits as well as hiking, biking, and climbing in the surrounding mountains. Summer glacier skiing is also available.
One of the most popular things to do in the beautiful Bernese Oberland is the train journey to Jungfraujoch, the "Top of Europe," with an observation terrace and scientific observatory perched at 3,454 meters. The longest glacier in Europe, the Great Aletsch Glacier begins at Jungfraujoch, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famous Eiger Trail from the Eiger glacier station to Alpiglen clings to the rocks at the foot of the north face.
Nestled between Lake Thun to the west and Lake Brienz to the east, Interlaken is one of Switzerland's most popular summer holiday resorts. In the center of town, Höhematte is a marvel of urban planning with 35 acres of open space. Flower gardens, hotels, and cafés surround the Höheweg, the main boulevard through here with breathtaking vistas of the mountains. The mighty peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau tower above the town providing excellent opportunities for alpine adventures. Hiking, climbing, abseiling, and kayaking are prime pursuits. More than 45 mountain railways, cable cars, chairlifts, and ski lifts transport visitors into the surrounding countryside and offer plenty of chances for sightseeing from up above. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders can take their pick from the surrounding resorts and cross-country ski along the extensive trail network. In the summer, paragliders launch from Beatenberg-Niederhorn. To admire the scenery from lower elevations, hop aboard a paddle steamer for a cruise around the lakes.
Imagine a sparkling blue lake surrounded by mountains, a car-free medieval old town, covered bridges, waterfront promenades, frescoed historic buildings, and sun-splashed plazas with bubbling fountains. No wonder Lucerne (in German, Luzern) is a top spot for tourists. Famed for its music concerts, this quintessential Swiss town lures renowned soloists, conductors, and orchestras to its annual International Music Festival. The Culture and Convention Center is home to one of the world's leading concert halls. For beautiful views of Lucerne, the Alps, and the lake, ride the funicular to the Dietschiberg on the north side of Lake Lucerne; cruise up Mt. Pilatus on the cableway; or head to the Rigi, a famous lookout point.
Lake Geneva, Europe's largest Alpine lake, straddles the Swiss/French border, and laps at the shores of some of Switzerland's most popular cities. The city of Geneva (in French Genève; in German Genf) sits between pretty snow-capped peaks at the point where the Rhône spills into Lake Geneva.