Explore Switzerland: The Grand Tour of Switzerland

by | Jul 27, 2015

The Grand Tour of Switzerland celebrates all things Swiss as the road journey takes precedence over destination.

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En Route from Neuchâtel to Bern on The Grand Tour of Switzerland

The Grand Tour of Switzerland celebrates all things Swiss as the road journey takes precedence over destination. Totaling 1000 miles through four language regions, scenic Alpine passes, UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as 22 lakes, this tour is grand indeed, providing a concentrated insight into Switzerland with pristine scenic views and exclusive cultural spots.We take you through an amazing road trip from Neuchâtel to Bern, one of the Grand Tour routes, which is easy to navigate within an hour, but not before indulging in pit stops along the way, brimming with sights and sounds of classic Switzerland that one will wish to call home.

What could be better than lapping up the scenic views of Switzerland’s mountainous areas by cruising along rocky highways and soaking in the medieval charm of quaint old towns? As the journey unfolds, the route opens up, providing an expansive and picture postcard perfect view of Neuchâtel and Fribourg, the glorious mountainous terraces of Interlaken and Jungfrau, and the bustling neighbourhood of Gstaad. There are a few reliable car rentals one can engage with prior to starting one’s journey from Neuchâtel to see which one is best suited to your needs.

Europcar in Rue des Poudrieres provides a range of luxury cars that can be rented for an average of CHF1,992.21 a week. One also has the option of renting a luxurious cruiser from King Rent Exclusive Services. Both rentals allow you to select the city of Bern as the drop-off spot once you conclude your journey

The Guyeres Castle dominating the Fribourg-pre-Alps

The Guyeres Castle dominating the Fribourg-pre-Alps

Owing much of its medieval charm to its Gothic architecture that started in the Middle Ages, Neuchâtel is a city landmark on its own. With the Castle and the Collegiate Church still standing, the historically rich city is an added splendour to the Switzerland tour.

Things to Do and See in Neuchâtel As you begin, it’s good to note that travelling is more than the sights and sounds on the surface. Start off at The Latènium, Switzerland’s largest archaeological museum which pays homage to the natives who first made their mark in Hauterive, a commune in Neuchâtel. With over 50,000 years of regional history, its exhibitions showcase more than a hundred archaeological artefacts dug up from years of residing underground or being at the bottom of lakes, leaving one with a deeper, enriching sense of Switzerland.

Home to the biggest lake in Switzerland, embark on a tour of Lake Neuchâtel with navigation. You will depart from Port de Neuchâtel and pass by Cudrefin to Portalban before making your way back on this 70-minute ride.

Staying in Neuchâtel can only reward its visitors with stunning views of its panoramic nature as aforementioned. The Beau-Rivage Hotel takes residence in a prestige corner overlooking the lake whilsttaking guests back to the style of bygone times in private splendour. Each of its 66 rooms and suites are decked out in cultural elegance. The highpoint is the view of the Swiss Alps that will greet you as the first rays of the morning sun filter into your room. Through the day, enjoy the hotel’s inhouse services. Be pampered with exquisite spa facilities and Hamam; catch up with work using the secretarial services that are also on offer.

Neuchâtel to Fribourg
The distance to Fribourg is 50km which would take approximately 50 minutes to drive. As you leave the town, drive east to Chaumont and see how the countryside comes alive, quite like the pictorial postcards that you have seen. Known as Neuchâtel’s “house mountain”, Fribourg towers 1,100 metres above sea level with the peak rewarding you with a spectacular view of the surrounding Bernese Alps, Montblanc Massif and the Jura lakes.

Call it the best of both worlds. Pre-Alps region-Fribourg is warm up north and cold down south. Huddled within its small territory is the co-existence of two languages and harmonious union of the Pre-Alps, Fribourg city and the Three- Lakes region.

Things to Do and See in Fribourg Starting off at the north, the medieval cities of Munten & Estavayer-le-Lac and the “Grand Caiçaie” wildlife sanctuary are ideal spots to visit in Three-Lakes Region. When winter comes around, the cities celebrate with warm greetings teeming with St. Nicholas celebrations led by an annual parade and the Christmas market in Morat, pretty much in traditional style. Heading down to the heart of Fribourg, the well-preserved city from the Middle Ages is home to cultural plurality and gastronomy with homely Fribourg fare served in Alpine huts. Such culinary delights comprise fondue, a soupe du chalet, potato rösti and fine desserts, all provided in fine dining comfort.

The atmosphere transitions within the hour’s drive when you reach the south as you experience the lukewarm Mediterranean vibe, perfect for a casual holiday. In all of its snow-capped entirety, the key thing to do in the Pre-Alps in the summer is to visit the beautiful Castle of Gruyères, one of the most famous castles in Switzerland. It doesn’t take a genius to know that its terrain is built for every winter sport activity, including sporting snow shoes and making marks in the opalescent fluff.

Staying in Fribourg When making this part of Switzerland your home, it’s a shame to settle on just one. In the medieval city of Fribourg, the Best Liester Hôtel de la Rose is perfectly centralised with the railways station and historic visits about the town in the vicinity. Newly opened in 2013, Hôtel aux Remparts offers quiet respite located right next to Fribourg’s ancient city wall, which is barely a stone’s throw away from the city centre and the Cathedral.

Fribourg to Interlaken After a good two days of exploring all of Fribourg, the trip promises to go to another level, taking you to Gstaad which can be reached in an hour.

Brimming with hotels, luxury chalets, shopping activities and a short drive away from the Saanan airport, the bustling small town of Gstaad is a popular go-to in Switzerland. In this part of Bernese Oberland, the Gstaad-Saanenland is an active cluster of neighbourhoods that sees people from all walks of life cut through its streets. Watching international celebrities as also young families on holiday are a pretty sight to behold.

Things to Do and See in Gstaad One would be mad to miss out on a dining experience in Gstaad. Call it a gourmet paradise if you will, the area has more than 10 renowned restaurants, including the Gualt Millau-recognised Restaurant Chesery. A meal at one of these is highly recommended.

Brimming with numerous resorts and with a multitude of exciting options shopping, Switzerland’s myriad flavours are to be savoured at an even pace. Take a dip in Lake Lauenen, which is otherwise Gstaad’s idyllic mountain lake that also makes for a gastronomical destination with a restaurant abode.

The open countryside of the Gstaad- Saanenland tempts you to walk leisurely and spend some quiet time soaking in its idyll beauty. The undulating terrains are best explored with any of the adventure sports that can be indulged in, be it hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, country skiing and/or golf. The River Saane too does not stop short of nature-loving activities such as canoeing over mountain torrents.

Staying in Gstaad Recently opened in 2012, 5-star The Alpina Gstaad has earned the Gault Millau stamp of approval, having bagged the Hotel of the Year award in 2013. Clearly the hotel to be in during one’s stay in Gstaad, its rooms are luxurious and spacious, designed with merging modern and Alpine-inspired taste, whilst keeping to the chalet-like tradition. Each suite comes with a fireplace and jaw-dropping views of the forested backdrop. Boasting two Gault Millau awarded restaurants, one of which is a Japanese MEGU-Restaurant, the hotel also showcases concerts in their Alpine Lounge and Bar. Its Six Senses Spa provides luxury pampering at its best, boasting both an indoor and outdoor pool with the latter heated all year round in spite of the crisp air in winter. The fitness centre is stationed with private trainers offering lifestyle coach services, a yoga studio and juice bar. And in league with Turk royalty, the Hamam offers treatments for couple packages.

For more information about the Grand tour, visit www.myswitzerland.com/grandtour. Information on Grand Train Tour of Switzerland visit www. swisstravelsystem.com

Gstaad to Interlaken

Tearing away from the Gstaad’s daily festivities, drive in and “disappear” into Switzerland’s majestic and tantalising mountainous regions. The solitude and silence here have a language of their own and nature is at its pristine and perfect best. A good 90 minutes away from the bustling town, the drive and the destination will not disappoint even the most severe critic.

Located in the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken lies on an alluvial plain, between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. This quaint slice is walled up by “Big Three” majestic mountains namely Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The drive along Lake Thun to Interlaken provides a vision of beautiful collision as land meets sea. The contrasting rocky mountainous walls frame Lake Thun as one cruises down the highway and savours the tantalising view of the “Big Three.”

Things to Do and See in Interlaken Much akin to its historic Bernese Oberland Railway that was completed in 1890, one should visit Schynige Platte near Wilderswil which contains the aforementioned railway, providing fascinating views of the three mountains and the nearby Alpine garden comprising 500 species of fauna and paths for hiking.Be enveloped in the mountainous grandeur of the Bernese Oberland as you take a cable car ride to the Schilthorn, the highest mountain in the range lying north of the Sefinenfurgge Pass. After a breathtaking ascent, make yourself at home by dining at Piz Gloria, a revolving restaurant which will enthral you both aesthetically and gastronomically.

The city of Interlaken with the 'Big Three' in the background

t The city of Interlaken with the “Big Three” in the background

The city’s embodiment of cerulean blue waters transforms into a winter wonderland as the central lake turns into ice over Winter, making it ideal for a breathtaking ice skating experience.

Staying in Interlaken Encapsulated in the raw beauty of Jungfrau area, the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is nestled between lakes and rivers as it sits at the foot of the mountains. In a world it can call its own, the 224-roomed Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa is grand indeed. Guests are spoiled with the luxury of the Victoria Jungfrau Spa, which houses a large indoor swimming pool inspired from bathing culture as the Romans do. Including both an indoor and outdoor whirlpool, a Turkish steam bath, saunas, relaxation areas and treatment rooms which come with a range of beauty options for guests to choose from, one is guaranteed to forget the worries of today’s world and disappear for a moment. Besides the monumental spa complex, the hotel also boasts three restaurants, conference rooms, bars and a smoker’s lounge.

Interlaken to Jungfraujoch After a good night’s rest, scour the underground and explore the St. Beatus Caves which are a national beauty to unearth. The caves are lit up beautifully to reveal stalagmite-filled halls and even a waterfall in the one kilometre area. The limestone caves are easily accessible by any mode of transport; boat, car, bus, or even on foot if one is embarking on a historic pilgrimage.

Located half an hour away within the region, Jungfraujoch is a popular mountainous tourism site to kick off a true blue adventure.

The View of the Jungfrau region

The View of the Jungfrau region

One of the “Big Three” mountainous Jungfrau region offers a plethora of activities and cosy stays that are perfect for this part of rural Switzerland.

Things to Do and See in Jungfrau Region
The perfect time to explore Jungfraujoch’s terrain is in the summer as one has options of choosing from over 500 kilometre of marked trails. The vast nature never fails to deliver spectacular views of the “Big Three”, not forgetting the dazzling blue lakes and jewelled waterfalls. In all of its beauty worth preserving, it is no wonder then that the landscape has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As if the surrounding nature doesn’t satisfy one’s eye-witness account for perfect visuals, the Grindelwald-First will take you in on the action. Soar on the First Flyer and cut through the rocky scenery at 2,000 metres in the air at the speed of 84 km/h, as passengers get up close and personal by brushing against the rough ledges without peril.

Beautiful waterfalls along the way

Beautiful waterfalls along the way

Interlaken to Bern
After a soulful retreat in the mountains, the journey to Bern is an easy 45-minute drive along the rocky ridges on the last 60 kilometre stretch.

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