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Switzerland

In winter, as everyone, you will fall in love with Switzerland. The Alps sparkle with pristine pistes, spectacular vistas as well as hot spots for snow sports while the cities twinkle with Christmas markets, ice rinks and glamorous stores. This is in fact a fabulous winter destination, where you will find both action and relaxtion on its world famous ski resorts' superb pistes, in boutique cities and in the cocoon of gorgeous chalets.

As a country where diverse traditions and cultures meet and interact, Switzerland has been a melting-pot in the heart of Europe since time immemorial. It is a somewhat tiny country but it is blessed with rich diversity. And in this cosmopolitan nation, cultural life displays an enormous variety.

With its unspoilt nature, mountainous territory, rolling hills, clean lakes and rivers, this country always ranks high on sustainability. As the Alps sparkle with pristine pistes, spectacular vistas and world famous ski resorts, Switzerland is also a wonderful winter destination.

«La suisse n'existe pas» (Switzerland does not exist). In this one key sentence, Switzerland introduced itself at the World Exposition in Seville in 1992. In fact, the Helvetic nation defines itself by the variety it displays in a small space and its absence of uniformity, culturally and geographically. Since most of the territory is mountainous, the population developed particular living conditions in the inaccessible mountains which provided the area with protection as well as a great deal of freedom, for they made it difficult for foreign powers to enforce their control in the long term. The Swiss population has thus been able to develop its own traditions and forms of government. This situation has favoured the neutrality that has been in force since 1515. However, prior to 1848, there was no real Swiss history as such, rather, it was the history of the numerous territories that progressively merged until 1848 in order to form modern-day Switzerland.

The Swiss nation has an enormous wealth of living traditions, cultural activity, high quality of life and environmentally friendly tourism.  Old traditions are kept alive, habits and dialects differ from region to region, even village to village. In little Switzerland, four national languages are spoken in addition to numerous dialects. Its numerous regional traditions have achieved national fame over time and with the increase in tourism.

Its world-reknowned cities illustrate the country's diversity as well, from the commercial hub of Zurich to the bohemian diplomatic Geneva. Its delightful medieval towns enchant all its visitors, who also find a relaxing haven in the pristine alpine meadows full of wild flowers in the spring. The Swiss Riviera with its palm lined avenues has the aura of the Italian “dolce vita” in the always sunny Ticino offering a wonderful Mediterranean climate. Being a land of contrast, its scenery is visually sensual just about everywhere.

The culinary dishes in Switzerland are a mélange of influences from various countries, varying greatly from region to region with the language divisions constituting a rough boundary outline. It combines the cuisines of its German, French and Italian neighbours and creates from them a regional cuisine with local ingredients. Switzerland’s culinary is a gourmet’s paradise to be explored afresh. A number of national dishes and regional specialties are worth being tried during your holidays in the Helvetic nation: cheese fondue, raclette, Älplermagronen (a kind of gratin), Rösti, Birchermüesli, Swiss cheese and Swiss chocolate. You will also find sausage everywhere – the country is home to almost 350 different varieties. Besides the well-known classics, Switzerland provides for unique tasting pleasure with its new types of wine and development of indigenous varieties.

With its unspoilt nature, mountainous territory, rolling hills, clean lakes and rivers, this country always ranks high on sustainability. You will probably be tempted by its numerous refreshing mineral baths and health resorts.  Far away from the cities, you will be delighted to discover its remote valleys where life hasn’t changed much over decades, with picturesque villages displaying a unique and diverse architectural heritage. And, there's no nation better organized for taking hikes.

Switzerland is also a fabulous winter destination. It is the central European home to the mountainous high peaks of the Alps. Its exciting hiking trails and ski resorts are world famous. The Alps sparkle with pristine pistes, spectacular vistas and thrilling snow sports while the cities twinkle with Christmas markets, ice rinks as well as glamorous luxury stores. If you spend your winter holidays in Switzerland, you will be able to discover Saint-Nicholas’ Day traditions, which customs surrounding it are concentrated on the eve of Saint-Nicholas’ Day (6 December) – although they start at the end of November in the Glarus Region and end at the beginning of January in the Appenzeller Hinterland. New Year customs are also quite exciting, marked by loud processions in numerous places, the sound of fireworks and drums, as well as the ringing of bells and the cracking of whips.

In this ideal winter destination sheltering the world's most loved ski resorts, Matterhon is without doubt the  most famous mountain and respresents a great symbol for Switzerland. The Matterhorn is the ultimate Swiss icon, which looms over Zermatt, first drawing visitors here in the 1860s. The village of Zermatt is situated at the foot of the Matterhorn and in the middle of a gigantic hiking and ski region, making it one of the world’s most attractive holiday villages. The destination has preserved its original character and offers nearly unlimited possibilities as far as excursions are concerned. It itself is lovely with old-fashioned brown chalets and it encompasses 54 mountains railways as well as 360 kilometers of pistes in three varied ski areas: the Sunnegga-Rothorn, Gornergrat-Stockhorn, Schwarzsee and Matterhorn glacier paradise – the highest glacier palace in the world.  Skiing in the region often lasts through early summer, but when the weather gets warmer, it is a great time to hike.

Another extraordinary skiing region in Switzerland is Verbier. It offers limitless pleasure for advanced skiers from all over the world as well as for beginners. As a matter of fact, as soon as the first snow falls, Verbier becomes a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. It embraces five resorts over 410 km of ski runs. Verbier is the most cosmopolitan holiday resort in Valais, situated on a sunny plateau, boasting the second largest natural reserve of Switzerland as well as a unique panoramic view of the Mont-Blanc. In summer time, the alpine village offers countless activities, such as mountainbike, hiking, paragliding, heliski, sledding, golf, museums, and local produce to try.

Whatever your winter dreams Switzerland has experiences to match.

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