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Tourist information for south-western Switzerland

Switzerland is one of Europe's most beautiful countries. The mighty Alpine peaks dominate the whole country, lending a fairy-tale appearance to even dour cities like Zurich. In the north, away from the mountains, the scenery remains stunning, with rolling green pastures and chocolate box villages. As well as the lure of the mountains, Switzerland's cultural diversity lends a distinct character to its great cities, from French-speaking Geneva to German Bern to Italian Lugano. The people are famed for their efficiency, their strong sense of independence and their tradition of neutrality, yet this is combined with a warm welcome for the many tourists. Although Switzerland is a wonderful winter sports destination, the lakes, clean air and flower-filled meadows attract visitors throughout the year. Whether you're looking for the beauties of the mountain lakes, excitement in the high mountains or lazy walking in the meadows, you'll find it here.

map of south west switzerland

Towns and places of interest in south west Switzerland:

The west and southwest of Switzerland is French-speaking and this French influence is very evident in the cuisine and culture of the area. The city of Geneva has its borders with France at the western end of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman to the French). Best known for housing the headquarters of several major international organisations such as the Red Cross and United Nations, its major attraction for the tourist is its lakeside setting. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Switzerland and boats set off from Geneva for the towns along its shores - a journey worth taking for the wonderful views of the Jura mountains to the north and the Alps to the south.
lake geneva steamer

The bustling city of Lausanne on the north shore climbs steeply away from the lake. The streets of the old town are picturesque in themselves and afford spectacular views across the lake to the Alps beyond.
view of lausanne

Montreux, at the eastern end of Lake Geneva, is the riviera town of the lake, with palms and magnolias spilling down the steep hillsides to the shoreline. Just outside the town is the famous Chateau de Chillon, dominating its surroundings and inspiration to many, including Byron. In July Montreux is home to perhaps the greatest annual festival of Jazz in the world.
montreux and lake geneva

The Jura mountains are surprisingly little visited by the British. This beautiful and accessible area contains some of the best walking and cross-country skiing in Europe. Whether exploring the green and wooded heights of the Jura on relatively easy paths or strolling along the picturesque shores of Lake Neuchatel, you'll find peace and beauty in plenty. The medieval streets of Fribourg, in the bi-lingual (French and German) east of the region, cling impressively to the steep banks of the river Sarine, and from here you can enjoy wonderful walking or skiing in the surrounding Fribourg mountains. Neuchatel enjoys wide boulevards in the French style and a superb view of the distant Alps across the placid lake. Outdoor activities abound, from mountain biking to walking and skiing, whilst almost every village around Lake Neuchatel has its bathing beach.
town in the jura

Travelling east from Lake Geneva along the Rhone Valley the mountains become progressively higher and more spectacular. Roads lead to the many ski resorts, such as Leysin and Les Diablerets. The town of Martigny lies at the juction to the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, still accessible by road although now bypassed by a tunnel.The valley floor between Martigny and Sion is flat and fertile and is one of the main wine-growing regions of Switzerland. Sion itself is guarded by two impressive castles. The mountains are now truly spectacular with a multitude of world-class ski resorts; amongst them Verbier, Crans-Montana and Saas-Fee, with fashionable Zermatt at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn. At the very end of the valley lies Gletsch, from where there is a stunning view of the Rhone glacier. Enjoy perhaps the most stunning circular drive in Europe, taking in the Nuffenenpass, Furkapass and St Gotthard pass.
high alpine pass