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Pack your bags…Switzerland is calling

Switzerland has opened its doors for fully vaccinated visitors. No quarantine is required.

There is good news for Indians wishing to travel to Switzerland – the beautiful country has opened its doors for fully vaccinated visitors. What’s more, there is no need to quarantine. While the country is not asking for a negative RT-PCR test you will probably need it for the airline. However, right now, India and Switzerland do not have an air bubble so you will have to fly into Switzerland through Paris.

“The embassy of Switzerland in New Delhi is currently accepting all visa categories for persons arriving from third countries like India, who can prove, that they have been fully vaccinated. Booking of a prior appointment is mandatory for all application types. VFS Global Services is operational and accepting visa applications at the centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin and Hyderabad,” says the website of the Swiss Embassy in India.

If you do decide to travel to Switzerland – home to numerous lakes, villages, and the Alps — here are six things that you must do:

Bollywood Tour

A still from Dil Wale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge which was shot extensively in Switzerland.

Admit it, your love affair with Switzerland started way before you stepped into the country. You probably dreamt of this beautiful, romantic country thanks to over 200 Bollywood movies that have been shot here. While Bollywood’s romance with Switzerland started in the ‘60s when Raj Kapoor shot Sangam in Switzerland in 1964, it was Yash Chopra who put the country on every Indian’s bucket list. Chandni in 1989, and then Dil Wale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge in 1995, made Switzerland a dream destination for most Indians. 

Interlaken and Gstaad are two towns where several films have been shot. Interlaken even has a statue of Yash Chopra. Lake Lauenen near Gstaad is also called ‘Lake Chopra’ because it has been seen in so many of his films. There is a Bollywood restaurant at Jungfraujoch. Several tour companies offer Bollywood tours where you can see the sites of various films. Dress up like a diva and get your pictures clicked.

Visit Chateau de Chillon

The Chillon Castle attracts 350,000 visitors every year; Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel/ Unsplash

Switzerland has several beautiful castles but none other has such a magical setting. Located on an island in Lake Geneva near the popular town of Montreux, the castle which dates to the 10th century commands beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Initially, it was used as a strategic water fort and later became a lakeside summer home for wealthy nobility. It was decked out with all manner of art and treasures that visitors can enjoy today. The castle which is Switzerland’s most-visited historical monument attracts more than 350,000 tourists every year.

Taste some of the world’s best chocolates

Swiss chocolates are world-famous and one of the country’s biggest exports; Photo by Yves Scheuber/ Unsplash

Switzerland is considered the home of milk chocolate, think Lindt and Toblerone. In Zurich you can learn the story of the Lindt chocolate, in Broc you can visit Maison Cailler, one of the world’s oldest chocolate factories or in Kilchberg you can train to become a chocolatier. You can even take a tour of Nestle’s factory. Or simply visit chocolate shops across the country and have your fill of the world’s best chocolates.

Take a train to Jungfraujoch, the highest station in Europe

Referred to as ‘Top of Europe’, Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe; Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle/ Unsplash.

At 3,454 metres above sea level, the Jungfraujoch is the highest railway station in Europe. No wonder it has been nicknamed ‘Top of Europe’. Take a train ride up the mountain to admire the Swiss Alps in all their splendour. The train starts from Kliene Scheidegg and as it climbs up you can see the peaks of the Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch mountains on the way. Once there, explore the Ice Palace and its famous ice sculptures. Also, do visit the Sphinx Observatory for some amazing views. You will recognise the observatory from several Hollywood movies that have featured it. There is also a zip line for the adventure junkies.

Learn the art of cheese-making in Gruyères

Picture courtesy: La Maison du Gruyère.

If Swiss chocolates are world-famous, then so are its cheeses. Gruyère is one of the world’s best-known cheeses and is named after the small medieval town of Gruyères – a popular day-trip destination from Lake Geneva region and Bern. The town has a historic castle. But what is most attractive is a chance to learn the art of cheese making at La Maison du Gruyère. Visitors to the cheese-making facilities receive an audio guide, available in multiple languages, and then can follow a bit of the history of Gruyères as well as explanations on the production of milk and eventually cheese. Post that you can walk around the cobbled-street town and enjoy the medieval charm.

Skiing at Matterhorn

Skiing in the Swiss Alps is a bucket-list experience. Photo by Samuel Ferrara/ Unsplash.

At an altitude of 4000m, Matterhorn ski paradise is the highest winter sports area in the Alps. Take the lifts up to the peaks and enjoy ski runs on endless slopes. With its guaranteed snow conditions, the region is one of the best-developed and most expansive ski resorts anywhere in the world. If you are not keen on skiing then you can take a 30-minute cable car journey to the summit of the Rothorn and admire a spectacular panorama of the surrounding mountains.