Alps. When you hear that word you think of two things: Switzerland and the Matterhorn. I have always wanted to explore Switzerland in depth, especially because of my love for the outdoors, but the opportunity never arose.
Leaving Zurich Airport, drive south to Lavertezzo. Our first goal was the Ponte Romano on the Verzasco River, which has the most incredible emerald green water! The bridge spanning the river is a beautiful sight. Constructed entirely of stone in the 17th century, it has a very unique feature - double arches. It also has a second name - Ponte dei Salti (Bridge of Jumps). Nearly forty feet above the river, it challenges daredevils to leap from the top of an arch into the deepest part of the river.
Next we drove to Cascada dei Foroglio - an 80 meter waterfall in Val Bavona. It is a great sight, and several short, easy trails give you different perspectives. One takes you right to the base of the falls, where you can really experience the power of the water. Driving up this valley, we passed through a bunch of exquisite small villages whose structures were made entirely of stone. Not only is it the steepest and rockiest valley in the whole Alps region, but the small villages are only powered via solar power!
It was then time for us to see the Matterhorn with our own two eyes by going to Zermatt! The Matterhorn - undoubtedly the most famous of mountain images - staring back at you is ... well, just awe-inspiring. Everywhere you turn you see a different beautiful peak. Purchase the Peak Pass, as this allows you access to all of the lifts and trains in the area. Be sure to check out Stellisee, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Gornergrat, the Matterhorn Glacier Trail, and, of course, the Matterhorn Base Camp hike!
Following Zermatt, take a step back in time in Montreux, located at the eastern tip of Lake Geneva. The lake itself is a stunning turquoise blue, but our goal was Chillon Castle. Built 900 years ago, it was an important strategic outpost in the region for nearly 800 years. A great restoration job has made it a fascinating stop. We gained a great sense of what castle life was like so many years ago for the rulers, the soldiers, the staff, and the prisoners.
As its name suggests, Interlaken straddles the Aare River between two lakes - Thunersee and Brienzersee. While the Old Town has some charm and the water color is beautiful, Interlaken is especially renowned as the adventure capital of Switzerland. Paragliders are omnipresent, and you can also hang-glide or canyon jump, and go canyoning, white water rafting, etc. You name it, they have it. And you definitely have to try it!
If you're looking for a scenic drive through an alpine valley surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks with incredibly long waterfalls flowing down cliff faces, make your way to Lauterbrunnen! This scenic small town is the adventure center of the Jungfrau valley and is known for several awe-inspiring waterfalls visible from town (especially Staubbachfalle). It's a truly delightful town.