Cities or summits?
Switzerland is a Europe-in-miniature. It embraces all the captivating contrasts of an entire continent within the borders of a single country, offering a unique diversity of natural and manmade attractions. And thanks to the country's compactness and excellent public transport system, all are so easily accessible to the vacation visitor.

Cosmopolitan and cultural
Switzerland's largest city - but not its capital - is Zurich, located on Lake Zurich. This is also the country's most important business and financial centre, internationally renowned for its banking sector. Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world's most attractive shopping streets.

The most cosmopolitan of all Swiss cities is Geneva, located on Lake Geneva in French-language Switzerland. This is where the world meets. Geneva is the European headquarters of the United Nations and many other international organizations. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Western Europe and also borders France.

Basel, the second largest city, is the northern gateway to Switzerland and borders both France and Germany. The city is situated on the River Rhine, commercially the most important waterway in Europe. Basel is also acclaimed as "the cultural heart of Switzerland" (nearly 30 museums).

Captivating capital
Berne is Switzerland's captivating capital, seat of the federal government and parliament. The well-preserved old town - granted World Cultural Heritage status by UNESCO - is Europe's largest covered shopping area in a medieval setting.

Lausanne is located on Lake Geneva amid a scenic setting of Alpine peaks and verdant vineyards. The city is rich in cultural and historical heritage and hosts many private schools and educational institutes. In 1995, the Olympic Museum won the "European Museum of the Year" award.

Lucerne is one of Switzerland's most picturesque cities, and a popular tourist destination. It is located on the lake of the same name. Major attractions include the 14th century Chapel Bridge (the oldest wooden bridge in Europe).

Timeless treasures
The university city of St.Gallen is the "capital" of Eastern Switzerland and a centre of learning and culture. The Abbey is listed as a World Cultural Heritage. The Abbey Library is one of the oldest libraries in the Western world, housing thousands of rare books and manuscripts.

Lugano
is the largest city in Italian-language Canton Ticino. Beautifully situated on Lake Lugano, the city is the cultural, commercial and touristic centre of Switzerland's southernmost canton. Ticino is often described as "the sun parlour of Switzerland".

Champagne climate
Switzerland's Alpine resorts and summits are some of the most famous in Europe. Take, for example, the Graubünden resort of St.Moritz (altitude 1856m), internationally-acclaimed as a centre of sport and fashion. St.Moritz enjoys a sparkling champagne climate and is the most famous of the Engadine resorts renowned for their spa tradition and intact Alpine environment.

Matterhorn magic
Several of Switzerland's most attractive resorts are to be found in Canton Valais, also known as the "Matterhorn State". The majestic Matterhorn (4478m), which towers above Zermatt, is not Switzerland's highest mountain - but it is certainly the most famous. Saas Fee boasts the world's highest underground railway, the Metro-Alpin, operating up to an altitude of 3500 metres.

Queen of the Mountains
Central Switzerland can claim several spectacular summits. The Rigi (1800m) has long been known as the "Queen of the Mountains". The Rigi Railway, inaugurated in 1871, is the oldest mountain railway in Europe. The cogwheel railway up the Pilatus (2130m) - also constructed well over a century ago - is still the steepest in the world. And the revolutionary Rotair, the world's first revolving aerial cableway, will take you up to the Titlis (3020m), Central Switzerland's highest vantage point.

Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe
The Bernese Oberland offers two "musts" for mountain enthusiasts. One is the Jungfraujoch, at 3454 metres the highest railway station in Europe. The other is the Schilthorn (2970m) - superb setting for the James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - with its revolving restaurant. The Bernese Oberland is a particularly popular region for family holidays.

Peaks and palms
The Lake Geneva Region is a miniature Switzerland, packed with scenic surprises. Its cities include Geneva and Lausanne, its natural attractions Alpine peaks and palms. Lakeside resort Montreux is famous for its jazz festival and Vevey is the venue of one of the world's great wine pageants - the Fête des Vignerons - staged only a few times every century. It will be held next in 1999.

SWITZERLAND'S LARGEST CITIES AND THEIR POPULATIONS

Zurich
Basel
Geneva
Berne
Lausanne
St. Gallen
Lucerne
Lugano
343'000
175'000
172'000
127'000
115'000
71'000
58'000
26'000


PUT YOUR SKILLS TO THE TEST.

Switzerland offers vacation visitors a vast range of leisure-and-pleasure activities. Hiking, biking, ballooning, golf, skiing, sailing, horse-riding, curling, paragliding, ice skating, tennis, trekking - these are just a few of the many sports on offer. You can also try your skills at such non-sporting activities as wood carving, weaving, playing the Alphorn or cheesemaking in a mountain dairy. Or panning for gold in a sparkling stream.


Switzerland Tourism (Intl)