1 Hit the slopes
Skiiers and snowboarders from all corners of the earth flock to Switzerland yearly to hit the slopes of their famed Alps. On Contiki’s 26-day Winter Wanderer, you’ll spend two nights in Lucerne and have plenty of free time to strap on your board and skis and breathe in the fresh alpine air. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll head halfway up the mountain and hang out in the chalet beside a roaring fire, sipping on a Swiss hot chocolate.
2 Choose your own adventure
Contiki’s been the original adventure travel company since 1962, so we know a thing or two about getting your adrenaline pumping. If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing, no worries, because Switzerland is chock full of exciting outdoor activities that don’t involve you faceplanting the snow. 20 minutes outside of Lucerne is Outventure, a place where you can take a ropes course high amongst the trees in the summer or go snowtubing down a mountain in the winter. And for those that really crave adventure, they also offer paragliding, mountain climbing, skydiving and bungee jumping out of a gondola (I, personally, will pass on that last one).
3 Indulge in tasty treats
Two words: melted cheese. Whether it’s in the form of fondue or raclette, Gruyere or Emmental, warm cheese can be found on every Swiss menu and it’s not to be missed. For dessert, make sure to pick up some of the world famous chocolate that the Swiss produce, which can be found taking up entire aisles at the supermarket. Just remember to bring your stretchy trousers because when it comes to cuisine in Switzerland, indulgence reigns king.
4 Get your shop on
You might not think of Switzerland as the shopping hub of Europe, but there are plenty of original items to pick up that are unique to the Swiss. Your Contiki tour manager can guide you to the best spots to snag beautifully-made, precision-perfect watches, and of course, Swiss Army Knives. The knives make a perfect gift for family and friends back home and most shops will engrave them for a special touch. Don’t forget to pick up a few bottles of Appenzeller Alpenbitter as well, an herb-based bitter sure to put hair on your chest.
5 Climb every mountain
Or, you know, take a ride up them, because those bad boys are steep. For the best views of the Swiss landscape, hop on a gondola or cogwheel train and zip to the top of one of the country’s many mountains in the Alps. On a number of Contiki’s superior trips, like the 35-day European Explorer, you’ll get the chance to take a cogwheel ride to the top of Mt. Pilatus, which is an adventure in itself. Once you get to the highest peak (that’s 6,982 feet!), you can stop for a bite to eat and enjoy a brew on an outdoor patio, while surrounded by breathtaking panoramic views. Life never looked so good!
Written by Lauren McPhillips