Switzerland doesn’t have that many major airports but the ones it has got, certainly pack in the tourists. Around 40m travellers arrived in Switzerland last year by plane, far outnumbered by the hundred million that arrived across the country’s borders. Of that 40m over half were served by Zurich Airport with a further quarter served by Geneva Airport although many passengers to Geneva arrive on the French side. So what is the attraction of these two cities and the others that make up the top five, Basel, Lugano and Bern?
No.1 - Zurich
- Most people who visit Zurich are businessmen; financiers and investment bankers. Zurich is one of the most important financial centres in Europe and has made it big by being careful with its money. Today, it’s beginning to loosen up and show its prettier side, encouraging tourists to come and enjoy the medieval old town whilst the Lakeside Promenade is a great place to just enjoy Zurich’s beautiful weather.
No.2 - Geneva
- Geneva has a lot more to see and is more accessible to tourists. The icon of the city is the Jet d’Eau, one of the world’s highest fountains, powered by a converted jet engine as it shoots water 140m into the air. You can walk right out to it if you don’t mind getting wet!
Geneva is also famous for chocolate and there are many chocolatiers in the city making and selling crisp dark bitter chocolate.
No.3 - Basel
- The third busiest destination in Switzerland is a very much underrated city. It has a stunning medieval centre with beautiful architecture and a carnival that rivals Rio and New Orleans.
Whilst the old city walls are now mostly no more, the city gates that dotted them can still be marvelled at.
No.4 - Lugano
- The fourth busiest point of entry, is a revelation, set on Lake Lugano in the Italian part of Switzerland. The wonderful climate here means that snow is only seen on the mountain tops whilst palm trees and other exotica line the promenade by the lake. Three funicular railways make seeing the lake and city from above, far less taxing. The view from the lake is incredible too, especially when on one of the lake cruisers that take you to the opposite shore. It’s a magical sight at dusk in summer.
No.5 - Bern
- Or Berne in French, is the capital of Switzerland, despite being a very small city. Even more overshadowed by its bigger cousins, the city has a picture perfect medieval centre where preservation orders have helped it keep the pattern of architecture. There are lots of important national museums as well as plenty of free-to-view street art.
Switzerland may come over as a little stuffy but the unique attractions of the country’s cities mean that a few days there will dispel that myth. Do something different this summer and fly into one of its airports before hiring a car to see the magical sights.
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