Switzerland, the land of mountains, chocolate, Heidi, amazing watches, and did I mention chocolate?
Switzerland is known for the best chocolate in the world, the most exclusive ski resorts, stunning mountain ranges & unbelievable luxury watch brands, among many other things.
Let’s explore the top 10 things Switzerland is known for!
Off we go!
Ok, it would be totally unfair if I didn’t mention this first.
Switzerland is globally renowned for making incredibly beautiful chocolate. Yet, the country does not produce a single cocoa bean (the main ingredient in chocolate). Crazy hey!?
How did Switzerland start making chocolate?
According to our friends at Swissinfo.ch, this was a pure mix of innovation, immigration, luck, and love!
Back in 1819, the first mechanized Swiss chocolate factory was born overlooking the lake of Geneva, becoming the oldest Swiss Chocolate brand, Callier.
Funnily enough, Callier only became available in America in 2015.
These days there are many Swiss chocolate brands, with one of the most popular and well-known being Lindt.
I mean, who doesn’t like those Lindt chocolate balls? I know I am guilty of having one or two too many on occasion.
What about the famous triangle-long block, Toblerone? It has been around since 1804!
Love chocolate and heading to Zurich?
You must check out Sprüngli in Paradaplatz (this is the main intersection on the main shopping street (Bahnhofstrasse) of Zurich); their freshly made chocolate and confectionary are exceptional and its located a short walk from the main station.
My absolute favorite is a hot chocolate with fresh Swiss cream, summer or winter, I always get one, they are too good to resist.
But don’t worry if you have run out out of time, there is also a Sprüngli shop in the Zurich International airport terminal too!
Jungfrau, Monte Rosa, The Matterhorn, any of these ring a bell?
These are three of the tallest mountains in Switzerland.
Switzerland has two major mountain ranges. The Alps, which are found in the North & the East, and the Jura range, found in the North & the West.
In fact, Switzerland is so full of large mountains that there is a total of 48 mountain peaks over 4000m or 13,123ft high!
If you had to pick one mountain to see on your visit, it has to be The Matterhorn. This mountain represents Switzerland, period.
The Matterhorn is incredible, standing at 4,478 or 14,692 feet high and having a unique, nearly perfect pyramid shape. It has four distinct sides and sits by itself, powerfully piercing the sky.
Furthermore, some say it even looks like a jagged tooth!
If you want to check out the Matterhorn, you must head to the canton Zermatt. This is around a 4-hour drive from Zurich or a 3.5 hour train ride and a 3-hour drive or just under a 4-hour train ride from Geneva.
But who wants to drive when in Switzerland? Ok, I did take the below pic whilst my friend and I were driving just to prove the scenary ain’t too bad, actually it’s amazing!
But if you are just travelling in the country, trains are always a more stress free, efficient option.
Sure the roads are in perfect working condition, but the trains in Switzerland are second to none. Clean, on time (of course) and spacious, the Swiss train system is a dream. Sure, they can be a little expensive, especially with current exchange rates, but the journey will be worth it.
Did I mention the views from most train rides are truly breathtaking? Check out the pic I took below on a journey from Zurich to Zug.
Back to the Matterhorn.
Irrelevant of the season, the Matterhorn is a must-visit in Switzerland. Head there for skiing in the winter or beautiful walks in the summer, you will not be disappointed any time of year.
Speaking of skiing.
Yes, skiing, you can basically ski all year round in Switzerland, although Winter is obviously the best.
Switzerland has an abundance of small local resorts but is most famous for the “flashy” kind of ski resort. I’ve skied at both types, for me it is really about the snow quality, so that’s what I search for during the season.
I bet you have heard of:
- St Moritz
And that is only a hand full of major ski resorts in the country. In total, Switzerland has over 350 ski resorts!
Irrelevant if you go to a larger or a smaller Swiss ski resort, you will be blown away by the natural beauty of the mountains.
Speaking of mountains and all things cold.
Glaciers are unique; they have always intrigued me. Big, slow-moving (very slowly) ice, I mean, it is not something you see every day.
Most of the glaciers are found in the Valais and Graubünden Alps and the Bernese Oberland.
The largest glacier is the Aletsch Glacier or Great Aletsch Glacier, it has a length of over 23km! Like many glaciers, it is getting smaller, which is all the more reason to see it.
It is truly breathtaking and easy to access, and there is a selection of easy to difficult tours. I did their basic tour, it was about six hours of walking, 2 hours of which was on the glacier. It was not difficult for me nor my parents who are in their early seventies and in decent health.
You can easily get there by train from Zurich or Geneva in approx 2.5 hours.
TIP: You can plan all of your travels on sbb.ch, this is the Swiss public transport site, don’t worry, it is the English version. I have always used it to plan , train, bus and boat travel in the country.
However, more info about this amazing glacier and the tour I did can be found here.
Now onto one of my favorites, Swiss Watches.
Rolex? Omega? TAG Heuer, Swatch? Ring any bells, these are all Swiss watch brands.
And there are many, many more to add to this list.
The Swiss watch industry started in Geneva back in 1541, yep, they have been making watches for a while. Furthermore, aside from having a lot of experience, the Swiss are known for producing quality.
Irrelevant if it is a basic Swatch or a high-end Omega, “Made in Switzerland” or “Swiss Made” radiates quality and reliability, something the people of Switzerland are very proud of, and rightly so.
You can find the largest array of Swiss watch stores in Zurich and Geneva; in fact, they dominate the main shopping streets.
On Bahnhofstrasse (the main street of Zurich leading from the main station to the lake), you will find both sides of the street full of watch boutiques.
You don’t even have to go inside; a great walk and window shop is free and highly impressive!
Also if you head to Lucerne or Geneva you will also find an abundance of amazing watch stores too!
On to culture!
6. Cultural Diversity
Although a small country, Switzerland has a mix of people from here, there, and everywhere.
Aside from there being four official languages in the country, there are plenty more unofficial ones.
In fact, walk down the main street of any major Swiss city and listen carefully; you will hear so many different languages!
In fact, over 25% of the Swiss population is foreign-born.
Furthermore, most immigrants in the country have come from Italy, Germany, and former Yugoslavia, just to name a few countries.
However, the highly regarded Swiss Passport is not given out easily, in fact, it is one of the most difficult passports in the world to get.
The Swiss have strict requirements including a solid understanding of their National Language. Further info can be found here.
On to neutrality!
This is an interesting point, but something the country of Switzerland has long been known for.
Sure, the Swiss have always been known to be neutral, although this has been tested with the rhetoric around the war in Ukraine.
However, Switzerland has always adhered to a foreign policy that states that country is not to be involved in armed or political conflicts between other states. This basically means no taking sides.
But isn’t Switzerland in Europe? Isn’t it part of the European Union? No my friends, it is not. Switzerland has adopted it is associated with the E.U (European Union), but it is not an actual member.
Can Switzerland remain neutral moving forward in such a volatile world? Time will tell.
8. Boring (WRONG)?
Sure Switzerland might have a society that conforms, but for a good reason, the country runs like clockwork. It is clean, wealthy, forward-thinking, and progressive.
Sure, the Swiss can seem reserved, but spark up a conversation, and you will find that the people and culture of this country have so much to offer.
Except maybe in banking, sssh it’s a secret, well was a secret.
9. Banking Secrecy (Also WRONG)
Banking secrecy was a thing, a huge thing for Switzerland for many, many years.
Basically, the details of your money and your private information were never shared with anyone, especially anyone (or a government) internationally.
This was a dream for the rich and famous, the legitimate and the dodgy of the business world.
I mean, if you were wealthy and trying to evade taxes, put it in Switzerland, well that is how it used to be.
Sadly, for many people (unfortunately not me), this all changed on the 5th of October 2018, when the Federal Tax Agency (FTA) of Switzerland changed the rules.
What was the change? Officially from this date forward, bank account data could be exchanged with tax authorities from other countries. Ouch.
This meant that the old IRS could basically contact the Swiss banking system and check up on U.S systems attempting to evade taxes.
Sorry ladies and gents, you will have to put your secret stash of money elsewhere.
What about education? Schools? Universities?
10. Exclusive Boarding Schools
When it comes to education, the Swiss are known for a solid education and old, established, internationally known universities.
But what sets this country apart is its boarding schools and, more so the cost of them!
Let’s check out a collection of the top boarding schools of Switzerland and how much they cost.
Approximate Yearly Fees of Top Swiss Boarding Schools
- Le Rosey – $109,000 USD
- Aiglon College – $103,000 USD
- St Georges International School – $99, 700 USD
- Collége Alpin International Beau Soleil – $79,000 USD
- Collége Du Léman International School – $71,000 USD
Ok, I will, stop now, but there are plenty more!
Why does Switzerland have so many top (and super expensive) boarding schools?
Switzerland is safe, and offers quality, efficiency, stability, and international exposure.
You will find these boarding schools host children of international notable stars, politicians etc. Basically, people who want the best of the best, privacy, security and seriously high Swiss Quality in every possible way.
What is Switzerland Known For – The Final Word
Although a small land mass, Switzerland is known for so much rich and interesting culture, impeccable nature and chocolate. Yes the last point is highly important, well, for me anyway. The Swiss are also known for some beautiful cheese too, but that subject is for another day.
You can spend a lot of money going to exclusive ski resorts and buying watches if you have a big budget and this is your thing.
However, you can travel by foot for free and walk on some incredible trails with breathtaking views worth that are absolutely priceless.
I hope you have learned something interesting about this amazing country.
Any questions, get in touch.