Love slow travel? You can’t beat Switzerland

When slow travel calls, few places beat gliding between the glaciers and snow-peaked mountains of Switzerland.

Switzerland’s scenery never gets old. Regardless of where you go in this postcard-perfect country, it sears into your soul, and no sooner have you left than you feel its pull to return.

It’s not surprising given it’s all snow-clad peaks, blue-ice glaciers and aqua lakes, where on verdant hills, quaint chalets with flower boxes burst with vivid red and pink flowers and the sound of cow bells ring through the valley.

The breathtaking views over Beatenberg, Interlaken
The breathtaking views over Beatenberg, Interlaken

Switzerland knows its luscious landscapes are more than just pretty, and it has big plans to protect them. Sustainable travel is, in fact, so high on its agenda (it’s already one of the greenest countries in the world) that it has launched ‘Swisstainable’ – a global commitment to the environment, and the Swiss Federal Council has committed to the nation becoming climate-neutral by 2050.

And it’s walking the talk. From eco-friendly accommodation to sustainable eateries and train journeys, you can now choose any number of sustainable options to ensure you tread lightly.

Choosing slow travel

When slow travel calls, choose the SwissTravelPass Flex with three to 15 selectable days of travel within one month.

You can board knowing the Swiss train system is one of the most climate-friendly public transport networks in the world, and with more than 9,000 trains travelling along a 5,200-kilometre network, there’s no shortage of routes to choose from on Switzerland’s dense railway.

And all have panoramic windows so you can soak up the landscapes that have inspired the likes of Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway.

Start in boutique Zurich, a cosmopolitan city by the water where nature is writ large.

From here the train to Lucerne will see you pass Lake Zurich, framed by a necklace of green hills. The gateway to central Switzerland, Lucerne ticks many boxes for travellers: glistening lakes, snow-peaked mountains, medieval architecture and historic buildings.

Hiking here is unsurprisingly epic and equally surreal due to its beauty – you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped straight into a fairy tale.

The 208-kilometre William Tell trail weaves through the heart of Switzerland across the ‘Big Six’ mountains: Stoos, Rigi, Pilatus, Stansernhorn, Titlis and Brienzer-Rothorn.

When slow travel calls, dramatic scenery awaits on the Landwasser Viaduct rail journey
When slow travel calls, dramatic scenery awaits on the Landwasser Viaduct rail journey

Moving mountains

If you haven’t filled your scenic bucket yet (we doubt it), you’ll do it at Mount Titlis.

Here, an aerial cableway (the world’s first rotating cable car) takes you all the way to the top, a height of 3,062 metres, where you’re greeted with panoramic views of the Engelberg valley and down into the countless crevasses carved into the glacial ice.

In the Jungfrau region, you’ll find Schilthorn, one of its highest peaks.

The UNESCO World Heritage-listed area found fame following its starring role as the location for the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There are 53 kilometres of pistes, toboggan runs and numerous winter hiking trails.

It’s also home to the Jungfrau Railway. The nine-kilometre line connects Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch – the highest accessible point in Europe.

The top of the mountain station at Grindelwald
The top of the mountain station at Grindelwald

A picture-perfect playground

Further south is Zermatt, an adventure playground where from the south side of the jagged Matterhorn (one of the most popular mountains in the Alps), you can see all the way to Breuil-Cervinia, Italy.

Skiing is so renowned here that many national ski teams from around the globe train here in summer. But this picturesque place is also perfect for those who want to sledge, paraglide, cycle and hike.

And don’t miss the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn – a narrow-gauge railway that travels from Zermatt via the Ursern Valley to Disentis in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The region is a one-stop shop of spectacular Swiss scenery: verdant valleys, snow-capped mountain peaks and shimmering alpine lakes.

The blessing of choosing a Swiss train journey is you can travel at your leisure, where you please. All the while, you’ll feel like you’ve been placed straight into a landscape painting – with time to take it all in.

This article was produced in partnership with Switzerland Tourism.

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