Thursday, 16 August 2012 1:49 PM
If you're searching for the perfect walking destination for your summer holiday this year, look no further than Switzerland. The landlocked country might not have the seaside, but it does offer plenty of wonderful trails for people who want to stride out.
Depending on where you go, you may even have the chance to go for a swim, as some of Switzerland's lakes - such as Lac de Joux in the Jura Alps - are ideal if you want to take a dip or even try your hand at water sports like windsurfing.
So, what makes Switzerland such a top destination for summer trekking holidays? Here are just a few of the main reasons to consider the country for an active break.
Variety of trails
There are thousands of kilometres of walking trails all over Switzerland, some of which take you high into its mountains and others that follow the shores of its stunning lakes. Whether you want a gentle route or something more challenging, the country can deliver.
Around Zermatt alone, there are more than 400 km of paths to follow, so you can stroll in sight of the iconic Matterhorn and never have to take the same route twice - unless you especially want to.
While there's no escaping the mountains, which are a backdrop to almost every walk, there are plenty of other natural features to look out for. In the Jura Alps, you'll be greeted by rolling hills, vast swathes of forest, rivers cutting through deep gorges and tranquil alpine lakes.
Another reason why Switzerland appeals to keen walkers is the accessibility of some of its most famous high-altitude regions. There are numerous cable cars all over the country that can give you a lift partway up some of the mountains, enabling you to enjoy a stroll through alpine pastures and along towering ridges without having to wear yourself out with a steep ascent at the beginning of your day.
If you're based in the Bernese Oberland, you should definitely take a ride on the Jungfrau Railway, which ascends around 1,400 m to Jungfraujoch. There aren't any walking trails all the way up here, but you will have breathtaking views of the mountains and the Aletsch Glacier.
One of the main things that draws holidaymakers to Switzerland every year is its mountains, with some of Europe's most famous peaks located in the nation. The Eiger, Jungfrau and Moench can all easily be seen on a trip in the Bernese Oberland, while the Matterhorn is visible from various vantage points, although for close-up views Zermatt makes the best base.
A fantastic, but challenging, walk here is the trail to the summit of Oberrothorn at 3,414 m, from where you'll be rewarded for your efforts with stunning panoramas of the mountains and valleys in the Zermatt region.
Switzerland is almost as well known for its lakes as it is for its mountains, and there are plenty of opportunities to stroll around these beautiful bodies of water, many of which are also surrounded by towering peaks.
Basing yourself at Lake Lucerne is one option, as you'll almost always be within sight of the glorious blue water. You can choose whether to tackle gentle trails that follow its shores, leading you to some of its most picturesque villages, or whether you'd like to head into the mountains to walk along some paths in among the peaks.