Anyone with a love of outdoor pursuits, particularly winter sports, will probably be aware of the thrills available in the Alpine country of Switzerland.
The country is home to some of the best ski fields in the whole world, while the summer months provide great conditions for mountain treks, climbing and cycling.
If you prefer a more urban life, then cities such as Zurich, Geneva and Bern offer modern and efficient infrastructure, plenty of culture, and a welcoming local population.
If you have ever considered Switzerland as a potential destination, read on for a range of travel tips, facts and guides to this ever-popular European country.
As one of the most highly developed and wealthiest countries in the world, Switzerland has long attracted foreigners who move here to live and work.
As well as breathtaking mountain scenery, unique cultural traditions and a thoroughly modern infrastructure, the country also boasts some of the finest locations for outdoor pursuits in Europe.
Although Switzerland has four official languages, German is the most widely spoken so learning some of these basic words and phrases is highly recommended before you leave home.
In fact, at nearly 25% of the population, Switzerland has one of the highest proportions of foreign residents in the world.
The Alpine environment is perfect for hiking, climbing and cycling in the warmer months, while skiing and snowboarding are unsurprisingly popular during the winter.
With a central location right in the heart of the European continent, Switzerland offers a great base for exploring neighboring countries, including Italy, France, Germany and Austria.
With nearly three times the population of the capital, Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city and the home of one of the world’s largest financial centers.
It is also home to the smallest vineyard in the world which actually belongs to the Dalai Lama.
Although cities such as Zurich and Geneva are both bigger and more widely known, the country’s capital is actually the city of Bern.
One of the lesser-known facts about Switzerland is that Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life in a house on the banks of Lake Geneva.
Located on the border between Switzerland and Italy, the Matterhorn is one of the most recognizable mountain peaks in the world and an iconic symbol of the European Alpine region.
The mountain itself attracts a large number of climbers every year, however, less adventurous visitors also flock to the area to enjoy the extraordinary scenery and to indulge in other outdoor pursuits such as hiking and skiing.
Although it was first successfully climbed back in 1875, the Matterhorn still provides a stern test to mountaineers today and is not for the faint hearted as it has claimed the lives of over 500 climbers since it was first conquered.
Whatever your reason for visiting the area, don’t forget your camera!
Although Switzerland has four official languages, including French, Italian and Romansh, the most widely spoken is German which is the first language of around two thirds of the population.
While there are many similarities between Swiss and standard German, it is worth noting that they are also quite distinct.
Whether you are planning a short visit or something a bit more long-term, you are likely to find yourself in German speaking areas at sometime.
These basic words and phrases should provide an insight into the language and a good starting point for beginners.