Switzerland

Here’s an idea: condense your entire European experience into just one country – Switzerland.

It may sound odd but that’s the kind of experience you can have in this landlocked nation; a combination of France, Germany, Italy and more awaits.

People from all over flock to Switzerland for its famous outdoor lifestyle, which seems to please in both summer and winter. The Swiss Alps are the home of skiing and lay dormant at 4000 metres and higher, and the sparkling lakes that dot the country are ready during the warm months for all kinds of merriment.

The country is one of immensely beautiful landscapes, where locals take pride in the fact that their greatest buildings – think castles, cathedrals and churches – complement the surrounding environment.

Take Lausanne, for example. A lively, medieval city dominated by one of the world’s great Gothic cathedrals, Lausanne is somewhere to indulge in arts and entertainment, but also to peer breathlessly at the gorgeous surroundings.

For a taste of the mountain high life you will probably want to head to Zermatt, a climbing and skiing paradise that is balanced by a chilled and funky nightlife.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking Switzerland is all about the past. Any country that speaks four languages (Swiss German, Italian, French and Romansch) is going to be great at keeping up with the latest international pop culture trends.

Basel, seated on the Rhine to the country’s north, features some uber modern buildings designed by the likes of Frank Gehry, and the “world’s capital”, Geneva, is one of the slickest cosmopolitan centres on the planet.

While in Geneva, continue with the international local flavour and check out some of the more than 200 international governmental and nongovernmental organizations that operate from here.

You might start with a tour of the UN head offices, then over to the World Health Organisation before a quick stop off at the International Red Cross.

And that sums up one of the strange but compelling aspects of Switzerland; for a place with so much quiet and tranquility, you really can find parts of the whole world here.

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