Roadtrippin’ Through Switzerland: Stunning Scenery, Spas & Chocolate
Lindt on tap, alps agogo, and massages galore...
Whether it’s Thelma & Louise, Britney in Crossroads, or literal Road Trip, cinema’s celebration of the road trip vacay is legendary.
Not only does it put your itinerary on your own terms, but it offers a sightseeing freedom you simply can’t get on a coach/rail/city-based holiday.
And when it comes to time-efficient breaks, they don’t come much better than Europe – stuffed full of stunningly beautiful, distinctly unique and wonderfully driveable countries. Case in point, Switzerland.
The 132nd biggest country in the world, it boasts 15,940 square miles of immaculate scenery, roads and a smorgasbord of variety in its relatively condensed surface area.
We flew into Zurich, grabbed a car and drove through its jaw-dropping mountains and gorgeous lakes on a mission to find you the bestest non-Zurich-y things to do in Switzerland.
Here are eight of our favourite things you need to do…
1. Visit around Easter time
We picked up the hire car and found a Lindt chocolate bunny in the glove box.
Thank you Swiss chocolatiers.
2. Walk in Einstein’s shoes in Bern
You may not have heard of Bern, but it’s a must for anyone wanting to chill out, and soak some ye olde European city vibes.
Not only is it the de factor capital of Switzerland and the country’s federal city, but it’s gorgeous to boot, flanked by a winding turquoise river, and stuffed full of medieval wooden and stone buildings in its historic old town. Spend two minutes there and it’s easy to see why it was made an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and why it’s been ranked one of the world’s top ten cities for quality of living.
Einstein himself spent a couple of years living here, and you can pootle around Einsteinhaus, his previous residence that’s now turned into a museum in his honour, as well as a funky gastro-restaurant underneath.
3. Grab a bee-honey massage whilst you’re there
From the outside, Hotel Schweizerhof Bern is as grand and stately as they come. Venture inside and you’re introduced to an intriguing mix of old and new, blending opulence with modernity in seamless style.
The rooms are the perfect blend of comfort and swank (you could literally live in the bath), the Sky Terrace offers al fresco dining and DJ sets throughout the summer, and its spa is home to a very unique treatment.
Amazingly, the hotel has three beehives installed on the roof (don’t worry, they’re far away from the al fresco dining), which are used to produce around 120kg of honey annually – some of which is used in its signature fascia honey massage, and applied to the back with sticking movements to stimulate circulation, before a relaxing massage to help unknot your back.
4. Get your gastro-NOM on
Post-massage, it’s near mandatory to inhale all the Michelin-style food at the hotel’s Jack’s Brassiere.
Offering a mixture of classic French Brassiere cuisine with Schweizerhof classics (hello wienerschnitzel), it’s next-level, progressive and imaginative dining, set in one of the grandest settings going.
Or if you’re fancying something a little more boozy, why not wander across one of its bridges to indulge in an array of locally produced beers at Altes Tramdepot beerhouse and restaurant. Great beer and beautiful views back at the city.
5. Stay in an ACTUAL CHATEAU in Lausanne
Hop back in the car and drive down to Lausanne, for a stress-relieving break on the banks of Lake Geneva, and a stay in one of the grandest buldings this side of the Hague.
Chateau d’Ouchy is spectacular from the off – a neo-Gothic mix of 12th and 20th century build and renovations full of towers, staircases and high arched ceilings, it sits literally on one of the world’s grandest lakes, and offers delightfully comfy, bright rooms with views right onto the water and out towards the Alps.
Dazzling doesn’t begin to describe it.
6. Eat all the food, drink all the wine on the banks of Lake Geneva
There is simply no better way to spend the day than to pull up a pew at one of Lausanne’s water-bank’s (surprisingly few, uncrowded) restaurants, grab a drink, a pizza the size of your head, and then to watch the world go by.
Once you’ve finished stuffing yourself, wander for as long as you’d like (you could technically make it to France with enough of a lead time), and inhale that crisp, fresh alpine air.
7. Drive along some of the world’s most incredible roads
Venture a little further out of the civilized way, and there are an array of twisty-turny vertiginous roads to scratch your inner Top Gear itch (the driving part, not the ‘comically fascist’ Jeremy Clarkson part).
The Furka Pass, Great St. Bernard Pass, St. Gotthard Pass, Bernina Pass, and Simplon Pass are guaranteed jaw-droppers, but let’s face it – anywhere you drive guarantees gorgeous scenery. At one point I got lost for an hour and didn’t even realise because the scenery was so pretty.
Switzerland really is a driver’s paradise.
8. Walk along Lucerne’s ‘Harry Potter’ bridge
Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge (technically known as Kapellbrucke) is an architectural marvel, and an immediate show-stopper – created in the 17th century, and housing many ancient paintings, it’s Europe’s oldest wooden covered bridge, and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge.
But for many a Harry Potter fan, it’s become known as ‘Potter Bridge’ due to its eerie similarity to Hogwarts’ own enormo-bridge, especially when it’s coated in snow.
MTV Travelled with… Hotel Schweizerhof Bern from CHF 439 per night in a deluxe room (approximately £326). For more information and to book, please visit www.schweizerhof-bern.ch/en or call +41 31 326 80 80. Chateau d’Ouchy in Lucerne offers rooms and suites from CHF 375, and you can find out more details here: www.chateaudouchy.ch.