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Friday, July 24, 2015

What to see around Lake Geneva in Switzerland

There are many things to see around LakeGeneva (Lac Léman), so take some time to plan your trip. The city of Geneva is a perfect base for exploring the region. You can go hiking, biking, cruising the lake, wine tasting, skiing, shopping or simply relaxing and taking in the stunning scenery around.


Montreux

Spend a day in Montreux with its surprisingly Mediterranean climate, streets lined up with palm trees and pines, magnificent Belle Epoque buldings. Stunning views over Lake Geneva and the Alps in the background remind you that you are in Switzerland. The beauty of the area have attracted many celebrities to Montreux: starts such as Charlie Chaplin, Freddie Mercury and many others have live here. Every summer the capital of the Vaud Riviera, as Montreux is often called, hosts a world famous Jazz Festival featuring the greatest jazz, blues, rock, and soul musicians.


Chillon Castle


A few minutes from Montreux, on the rocky banks of Lake Geneva sits Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon), one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. The castles origins can be traced to at least to the 11th century although it is believed to have being built before that. It served as an outpost on the road from France to the Great Saint Bernard Pass, royal summer residence of the Counts of Savoy and prison. Chillon is the most visited historic building in Switzerland, which comes as no surprise given its dramatic setting with the snow-capped Alpes as the backdrop, stunning medieval murals inside, great halls and well-preserved structures. In the 19th century Lord Byron was so impressed by the castle that he immortalised it in a beautiful poem “The Prisoner Of Chillon”.


Lavaux - Vineyards


The northern shores of Lake Geneva with the vineyards of the Lavaux region are a paradise for wine lovers. The wine making traditions were started by Benedictine and Cistercian monks in the 11th century and since then the terraced vineyards haven-t changed much. There are a few marked trails going through the vines but you can also admire the manicured landscape from a boat cruising around the lake.



Photos via Flickr by: Alessio Maffeis, Uwe Brodrecht, Vasile Cotovanu.

Lugano: the Mediterranean side of Switzerland

Walking in Lugano, you might forget for a moment that you are in Switzerland. Relaxed atmosphere, Italian-influenced Lombardy style architecture, sunshine, locals speaking melodic Italian, - the neighbouring Bel Paese certainly lends its Mediterranean flair.

Lugano, the main city in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino, sprawls along the shores of Lake Lugano. It is a destination for mature travellers seeking a balanced mix of comfort, culture, nature and a healthy dose of shopping. You can wonder around the traffic-free historic city center with its fancy boutiques, good restaurants, art galleries and museums. 

Pop in to the elegant Grand Café al Porto where exiled Italian political players discussed the country’s unification in the 19th century, and later, Clark Gable, Sophia Loren and a few other stars enjoyed a coffee.


Lugano


Via Pessina is a paradise for foodies: here you an stock up on local cheese, breads, salami, Swiss chocolate and wine. The Lugano open air farmers’ market is a great place to scour for local delicacies and enjoy the buzz.


Lugano - Parco Ciani


On a hot summer day head to Parco Ciani where you can stroll in the shade of old trees, admire English-style gardens with plants from all over the world, statues and fountains. The Villa in the park houses and excellent fine arts museum. For an additional culture fix, visit the 15th century lakefront church St. Mary of the Angels (Chiesa Santa Maria degli Angioli) to see the best Renaissance fresco in Switzerland.

The Lake Lugano Navigation Company runs various boat trips: cruises and excursions any time of the day will take you to the small villages around the lake, for a shopping spree in Italy or a relaxing romantic dinner aboard.


Lugano - City Hall


You do not need to break sweat to explore the mountains around Lugano as many of them can be ascended in a funicular. Take a lift to Mount San Salvatore where from the rooftop of the small San Salvatore church you can admire sweeping views of the Lombardy plain and the Alps. Another funicular will take you to the top of Monte Brè for spectacular vistas of Lugano and its surroundings.



Photos via Flickr by: Vasile Cotovanu, Leonora Giovanazzi, Luca Mascaro.