Canton De Neuchtel

The focus of this heavily forested 800 sq km canton (population 166,500), northwest of its Fribourg counterpart, is Lac de Neuch tel - the largest lake entirely within Switzerland. Canton capital Neuch tel sits plump on its northern shore and the gentle Jura Mountains rise to the north and west. Watch-making has been a mainstay industry since the 18th century and the canton's two other large towns - La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle - remain firmly on the so-called 'Watch Valley' tourist trail....

Getting Around

Despite a headline-grabbing three-hour power outage in 2005, and disruptions after that year's terrible flooding, Switzerland's fully integrated public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world. The Swiss think nothing of coordinating schedules with only a few minutes' leeway between arrivals and departures. Missing a connection through a late arrival is rare. Travel within the country is expensive, however, and visitors who are planning to use public transport on inter-city...

Vitra Design Museum

Always fancied seeing the amazingly organic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum in Spain and find yourself in Basel Then, pop across the German border to the Vitra Design Museum ( +49 7621 702 32 00 www.design-museum.de Charles EamesStrasse 1, Weil am Rhein adult student 6.50 5, Basel-Card valid S 11am-6pm Tue-Sun) for a small taste of the same. Not only is the main museum building by the Guggenheim's creator, Frank Gehry the surrounding factory complex of famous furniture manufacturer Vitra, comprises...

The Lakes

Anyone who travels to Interlaken for the first time from Bern will never forget the moment they clap eyes on Thunersee Lake Thun . As the train loops past green pastures and tidy villages on the low southern shore, some people literally gasp at the sight of the mountains across the blue waters outdoing any picture-postcard image. Brienzersee Lake Brienz , flanking Interlaken to the east, doesn't have so many people lunging for their cameras. However, it's still very attractive and - before the...

Exploring Architectural Basel

Basel likes to boast that it has buildings by seven winners of architecture's prestigious Pritzker Prize, unprecedented for a city this small. Four of those winners - Frank Gehry, Alvaro Siza, Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid - are actually found just across the German border from Basel at the Vitra Design Museum p239 . However, some works by Herzog amp de Meuron are slightly more central. The Basel-based duo is internationally renowned for designing London's Tate Modern art gallery, the Olympic...

Jungfrau Region

Grindelwaldblick Tte

If the Bernese Oberland is Switzerland's Alpine heartland, the Jungfrau Region within it is the holiest of the holy. Dominated by the famous Eiger, M nch and Jungfrau Ogre, Monk and Virgin mountains, it boasts the country's highest density of dramatic scenery. In every direction you turn - whether on a hike from Grindelwald M nnlichen, in a cable car to Schilthorn, or a hotel room in M rren - you're faced with outstanding natural beauty. With hundreds of kilometres of walking trails in the...

French

Neuchatel is where the purest form of French is spoken, yet you won't find much difference from standard French, wherever you go. Of course there are some local expressions and regional accents. A female waitress is a sommeliere, not a serveitse, and a postal box is a case postale, not a boite postale. Although the normal French numbers are understood, some locals use septante for 70, huitante for 80, and non-ante for 90. Swiss Romande is a term used to refer to French-speaking Switzerland....

Hostels

Basel Backpack 061 333 00 37 www.baselbackpack .ch Dornacherstrasse 192 dm Sfffl, s d f Sfr80 96 144, break-fastSfr7 extra D Expensively converted from a factory, this friendly independent hostel has cheerful, colour-coded eight-bed dorms and more sedate doubles and family rooms. SYHA hostel 061 278 97 39 www.youthhostel.ch basel St Alban Kirchrain dm Sfr31-41, s d from Sfr80 82 S reception 7-10am amp 2-10pm D g This is the older of the two official hostels in town, less conveniently but more...

Museggmauer Chateau Gutsch

From its medieval Museggmauer city wall admission free S 8am-7pm Apr-Oct , there are marvellous views over Lucerne's rooftops to the lake and mountains beyond. A walkway is open between the Schirmerturm tower , where you enter, and the Wachturm, from where you have to retrace your steps. You can also ascend and descend the Zytturm or Mannliturm the latter not connected to the ramparts walkway . At the time of writing, the hilltop Chateau Gutsch hotel was closed, its fate unknown. However, the...

Sleeping

DJH hostel 322 60 fax 311 63 Zur Allmannshohe 18 dm junior senior 22 28 SMar-0ct Although it's located in a converted water tower, this hostel's rooms are fairly bland and institutional. Catch bus No 4 from the station to Jugendherberge or you can take bus No 1 to Allmansdorf-Post. Barbarossa 128 990 www.barbarossa-hotel .com Obermarkt 8-12 s 40-65, d 90-110 With its three categories of rooms, this labyrinthine hotel caters for most budgets and tastes, but is very popular in summer so you...

East Bernese Oberland

The Hasli Valley Haslital , east of the Jungfrau Region, is a popular hiking spot, and a good base for embarking on tours across the Grimsel and Susten passes. When the writer Arthur Conan Doyle left his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes for dead at the base of the Reichenbach Falls near Meiringen, he ensured there was a corner of Switzerland that would forever remain English-eccentric. Every 4 May, fans in deerstalker hats and tweed capes still congregate here for the anniversary of Holmes'...

Switzerland The Birthplace Of Tourism

If Switzerland's tourist infrastructure seems to run like a well-oiled machine, it's because the country has had more practice at welcoming foreign visitors than nearly any other. Thomas Cook, the man behind today's international travel group, only conducted a few tours of Scotland before the railway companies there refused to cooperate further. So in the early 1860s Cook began looking farther afield. He announced in his regular newsletter that he planned to tour the Jungfrau Region and the...