In Switzerland’s episode of the most extraordinary things across the globe series, we have invited our fellow blogger Aurimas Pocius of “golookexplore.” What is Switzerland famous for? This is his fantastic response!
Switzerland is a unique small Alpine country situated next to its big neighbors: Italy, Germany, France, little brother Austria, and small cousin Liechtenstein.
Switzerland is famous for many things and places, so let’s uncover 11 things that make this tiny country known worldwide.
What is Switzerland known for?
#1 Swiss Cows Are Everywhere!
Everyone who comes to Switzerland wants to take a picture of the sweet Swiss cows eating grass in, sometimes, crazy places. There is no stopping them. It is no wonder to see a cow eating somewhere in the mountain pass at 2,400 m elevation. They are literally everywhere.
Swiss people really love their cows as with their help, and they can produce the best swiss milk, swiss cheese, swiss chocolate, and many other food products Switzerland is famous for. And we must thank the cows for that.
Swiss cows are not put into some small pastures and fed corn. No, they eat the purest grass in the world. Thus, it is probably the best in the world as cows spend days and days high in the mountains and eat the grass that grows that high up.
If you are lucky, you can see some shepherds leading cows into the pastures through cities. When this happens, all the traffic stops, and everyone tries to take out their cameras as fast as possible.
If you want to get a picture of a Swiss cow, go into some smaller villages and even off-road. There’s almost a 100% chance you will see cows in Grindelwald, Oberalp Pass, Adelboden, and many other smaller places.
#2 Zermatt and Matterhorn
We must take the time to talk about Zermatt. It is probably the most famous Swiss village with the best skiing resort. But it is not only that, Zermatt has the most well-known mountain in the world. It is called Matterhorn. Never heard of it? Check out the Toblerone package. Yes, that’s the one.
Zermatt is very popular and beloved by tourists, so it can get crowded, but it is definitely worth visiting.
Would you like to go there in your car? Impossible. It is forbidden to go there by car for a very long time, and only electric cars can drive there. But not like Tesla or something, just some small delivery/service cars which are all-electric. They are taking extraordinary care of this small village and its pristine nature.
If you would come here in the summertime, one thing you must do is hike around. Go up, go closer to Matterhorn, go around the lakes; there’s so much to see.
One of the best hikes in that area, which is beginner-friendly, is definitely Tasch to Zermatt hike. It’s such a breathtaking journey that will introduce you to the beauty of the Swiss Alps.
Be aware that the Matterhorn climb should be done only with a mountain guide or if you are a real professional.
#3 Swiss Trains
Everyone knows the expression “Works like a Swiss clock” – and what works like a Swiss clock? Swiss trains.
Switzerland has the most-developed train network in the world. Trains go almost anywhere. There are very few places trains can not reach. You can go to small villages, straight to the Swiss Alps and many other places.
If you consider not only public trains but also those for tourists, there are even more trains, particularly cogwheel trains, that go to even crazier places like steep mountains. Pilatus cogwheel train, for example, has to conquer a 48 percent gradient. Several trails consider the Pilatus cogwheel train railway is the steepest in the world.
Public Swiss trains go so often and even at night – there’s almost no time that you can not catch one. They are always there for you.
#4 Swiss Fondue
If you come to Switzerland – having fondue is a must. Swiss fondue is almost everywhere, and people love it.
To put it simply, Swiss fondue is a melted, delicious cheese you can eat with bread, potatoes, mushrooms, or whatever you like. But the most popular is bread and potatoes.
The fondue always stands over the fire to keep it warm and melted. You grab a special fondue fork, take a piece of bread onto it and soak it into cheese. You are going to love it from the first bite. It’s really, really good.
You can find Swiss fondue in almost any restaurant, especially in the mountains. It is the best food you can have in the Swiss Alps, especially in wintertime.
#5 Swiss Villages
Teeny-tiny Swiss villages are one of the things you must visit once you are there. They represent the ultimate Swiss feeling: old wooden beautiful architecture, Swiss flags everywhere, cows all around the village, and mountain trails – all you can wish for when you go to Switzerland.
Switzerland was lucky to avoid war for the last 200 years, so they have a lot of ancient architecture left, making those villages even more quaint. Many villages have old buildings with a lot of Swiss cows bells (this is a very popular thing over there), colorful window blinds, and flowers. They are simply cute.
Just stroll around, take pictures, walk through farms (it is mostly allowed), and have a great time. Some of the most recommended villages include Zermatt, Grindelwald, Adelboden, Lauterbrunnen, and many others.
#6 Cable Cars in the Mountains
As Switzerland is in the middle of the Swiss Alps, they have a lot of cable cars, and they can take you to amazing places very high up.
You can find cable cars in almost every Alps town; even some villages have their own. There are hundreds of them all around. Some cable cars work during summer in skiing resorts, so even if you don’t come in wintertime, you can get the full skiing resort service.
Almost all the cable cars will take you to a mountain station where you can find restaurants, hiking routes, lakes, playgrounds for kids, and many other services. Switzerland has the highest cable car in Europe, in Zermatt, that takes you to a stunning 3,883 meters altitude. It is absolutely amazing. You can even feel the shortage of oxygen over there.
Depending on the place you are, cable cars vary from 15 CHF (in small villages where they take you up a couple of hundred meters) to over 100 CHF (in bigger stations like Zermatt and Grindelwald).
#7 Several Official Languages
Switzerland has not just two or three, they have four official languages! Switzerland, being cozily situated in the middle of Europe, adopted four languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch.
The German language is the most widely used; about 70 percent of people speak german. But do not be fooled. They speak a peculiar dialect called Swiss German, but the more you travel around, the more you see that there’s Zurich Swiss German, Basel Swiss-German, and so on. It differs everywhere.
One good thing is that everyone there speaks Hochdeutsch, the official German language. Everything: documents, tourist information, everything there is written in German (not in dialect). Actually, only sometimes you can see something written in Swiss german: maybe in a shop, or a market, and some tiny little things.
Another big language is French, which is spoken mainly around Geneva. Now Swiss French is not that different from other French languages; if you speak it, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Italian is mainly spoken close to Italy: next to Lugano, in the Ticino canton. If you speak Italian, that wouldn’t be a problem as well.
The last one and most interesting is the Romansch language. Only a few percent of people can speak it (some say it is 5 percent, some 2-3 percent). Romansch language is mostly spoken in the mountains: Disentis, Davos, and other places, mostly small towns and villages.
Romansch language is a mix of Italian and Latin. It sounds like Italian. Once you are in Romansch-speaking places, you will notice that places are named not in Italian but in another unknown language – so it is Romansch.
Most of the stuff in Switzerland (official, tourist) is written in 4-5 languages (English would be the last one), though Romansch language is not being included more often lately.
#8 Ultimate Democracy
Switzerland is more than a simple democracy; they have what we call an ultimate democracy. Let me explain: Switzerland has 26 cantons, and each of that canton has its own autonomic government. Everyone elects government not only on the national level but on the canton and even city level.
Switzerland is very famous for its referendums. They make quite a lot of them every year, and they decide on very different stuff: should they invest more in the army, should they implement stricter rules on food, how should they invest in the pension system, and so on.
The Swiss government asks people’s opinions on many questions. People have massive power over there. If you wish to make a referendum: you can collect 100,000 signatures from the Swiss people, and the government must consider it, and you will probably get a chance to make a referendum on it. And it looks like this kind of democracy works excellently there.
#9 Swiss Alps Peaks
As Switzerland is right in the Alps, it is only natural that they have a lot of huge mountains.
The highest one is Monte Rosa, standing at 4,634 meters, the famous Matterhorn is 4,478 meters high. There are 24 peaks over 4,000 meters. If you are a mountaineer, there is definitely a lot to do.
Many Swiss Alps towns and villages have alpine schools that teach people how to climb them correctly with ropes, crampons, and all the necessary stuff.
Do not try to climb Swiss peaks if you don’t have the knowledge, since almost every day, especially in wintertime, people die in the Swiss Alps. It is no joke, and you should take it seriously. But there is no need to go that high to have the best time.
You can climb some peaks over 2,000 meters, which is doable for almost any hiker. Most such peaks are not technical at all and are easy to reach in a couple of hours.
#10 Swiss Clocks
What is Switzerland famous for? We must talk about Swiss clocks. As the already mentioned saying is “Works like a Swiss clock,” we must mention a few. Maybe the most famous Swiss clocks brand is Rolex. It is the flagship brand of luxury Swiss watch production. Rolex’s headquarters is located in fancy Geneva, and the prices of these clocks start from around 5,000 CHF and can go pretty high – a 50,000 CHF Rolex doesn’t impress that much.
Let’s talk about Patek Philippe. You must love their famous advertising campaign with the slogan: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe…”. What does that mean? It means that their watch is so good that it goes through generations. You actually buy it not for you but for your children and grandchildren. It lives a long time.
The other one is Omega. It is maybe the second most well-known watch brand in the world after Rolex. If you are not already impressed by their designs, I think there’s only one thing that must be said about Omega: it was the first wristwatch on the moon.
Switzerland has a considerable pharma industry with such companies as Novartis and Roche, making a lot of money for the country. But they also have the best-known science project in Europe, if not worldwide: CERN. If you have ever watched Big Bang Theory, then you must have heard of this place. It’s a place of wonders.
Hundreds of the brightest physics are working there every day. It is an impressive place where they do all kinds of experiments, which we hope will bring us a brighter future.
Actually, it is possible to visit CERN, but you must be very quick with reservations. They usually open up reservations just a few days before the actual visit (most visits are on weekends), and you must be next to CERN early in the morning. But if you are a fan of science, it is a place to go.
Switzerland is really one of a kind country in the world. It has achieved so much during the last century that it is hard to count how much they have: from the best cheese to the best clocks, from impressive Swiss Alps to scientific projects. It is one of the world’s safest, friendliest, and cleanest places. And it’s well-known for it!
About The Author
Aurimas Pocius is a passionate hiker residing at the moment in Switzerland. He likes to explore the Swiss Alps, peaks, and villages.
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