No mountain has so much pulling power, natural magnetism or is so easy to become obsessed with as this charismatic peak – a beauty from birth who demands to be admired, ogled and repeatedly photographed at sunset, sunrise, in different seasons and from every last infuriating angle. And there is no finer place to pander to Matterhorn’s every last topographic need than Zermatt, one of Europe’s most highly desirable Alpine resorts, in fashion with the skiing, climbing, hiking and hip hobnobbing set since the 19th century.
Hiking in the Swiss National Park
No country in Europe is more synonymous with magnificent and mighty hiking beneath eagle-dotted skies than Switzerland, and its high-altitude national park created a century ago is the place to do it. Follow trails through flower-strewn meadows to piercing blue lakes, knife-edge ravines, rocky outcrops and Alpine huts where shepherds make summertime cheese with cows’ milk, taken fresh that morning from the herd. It’s nature gone wild and on the rampage, and is a rare and privileged glimpse of Switzerland before the dawn of tourism.
One of the world’s natural marvels, this mesmerising glacier of gargantuan proportions in the Upper Valais is tantamount to a 23km-long, five-lane highway of ice powering between mountain peaks at altitude. Its ice is glacial-blue and 900m thick at its deepest point. The view of Aletsch from Jungfraujoch will make your heart sing, but for the hardcore adrenalin surge nothing beats getting up close: hike between crevasses with a mountain guide from Riederalp, or ski above it on snowy pistes in Bettmeralp.
Europe’s Largest Lake
The emerald vines marching uphill in perfect unison from the shores of Lake Geneva in Lavaux are staggering. But the urban viewpoint from which to admire and experience Europe’s largest lake is Geneva, French-speaking Switzerland’s most cosmopolitan city, where canary-yellow mouettes (seagulls) ferry locals across the water and Mont Blanc peeps in on the action. Strolling Old Town streets, savouring a vibrant cafe society, paddle-boarding on the lake and making the odd dash beneath its iconic pencil fountain is what life’s about for the 180 nationalities living here.
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