Switzerland calls to mind soaring, snow-capped peaks—and skiers flock here in winter to schuss through its plentiful fresh powder—but that doesn’t mean it’s a destination just during cold-weather months. Indeed, Switzerland offers travelers unique sights, tastes and experiences year-round.
Take, for example, the rugged landscape of the mountainous Valais region in the country’s southwestern corner. It’s home to the Matterhorn and Europe’s longest ski slope, and in the winter, it’s a snowy wonderland of skiing, dog-sledding and ice skating. But it’s equally magical in warmer weather, when it’s a paradise for climbers, hikers and casual strollers, who get to see its alpine meadows explode in red, yellow, pink and blue wildflowers that attract rare butterflies.
Switzerland’s many lakes are year-round draws, too. Lake Geneva is the most famous of Switzerland’s lakes and the largest lake in the Alps; set out into the lake on a paddle steamer to see the vineyards stretching up the steep hillsides along its banks, plus picturesque villages and castles. Lakeside Chillon Castle appears to float on the water’s surface; it’s the most visited historic building in Switzerland, and it’s known for its dungeons, the inspiration for Lord Byron’s “The Prisoner of Chillon.” Stop in at Lausanne, also on the lake, to explore its historic old town and 12th-century cathedral.