• Switzerland is far more than a “chocolate box” country.

    by  • March 31, 2018 • Alps, Brig, Chur, Glacier Express, Switzerland, Zermatt

    “Zermatt Unplugged” is an exciting music festival which will take place between 10th and 14th April.


    Switzerland tends to have a reputation of being a very beautiful but also very peaceful and even a rather dull country.  I had the good fortune to spend a week in the Alpine resort of Zermatt in the middle of March and my impression is that there’s a lot more to Switzerland than meets the eye at first sight and I certainly wouldn’t describe it as dull.  We flew to Zurich airport, from where we caught a train to the town of Visp, then changed onto the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn train which took us to the car-free town of Zermatt.  The scenery becomes increasingly impressive as you approach Zermatt, and whets your appetite for a stay in the mountain resort.


    I had stayed in Zermatt with my family a number of times previously but I never tire of the place.  We were a party of six on this occasion – four skiers and two non-skiers.  It’s a top class ski resort and the conditions for skiers were perfect as this winter there has been more snow in this part of the Alps than for many years.  For non-skiers there is also plenty to do as the town has a wide selection of shops, cafés, bars and the excellent Matterhorn Museum.  My sister (the other non-skier) and I spent two afternoons sunning ourselves in mountain cafés, having joined the skiers for lunch on both occasions.  The Gornergrat Railway line which took us up the mountain to the café at Riffelalp is very popular with non-skiers and is usually packed with tourists during the summer months as they head up to the summit of the Gornergrat, from where the views are truly wonderful.


    In a few weeks’ time, just as the ski season draws to a close, Zermatt will be buzzing with crowds and the sounds of music of many different styles.   The annual  Zermatt Unpluggedfestival will this year take place between  10th and 14th April, at various locations in and around the town.  Zermatt Unplugged was founded in 2007 and its popularity is growing year-on-year, unsurprisingly given the beauty of the setting and the quality of the singers and bands appearing.  A number of singer-songwriters and bands of  international repute will be taking to the stage this year, including Norah Jones, Jack Savoretti , Jessie J, Sarah Connor, The Kooks and Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.  This fantastic festival is an opportunity to enjoy  top quality music in the  special  atmosphere of a beautiful mountain resort, with the incredible Matterhorn mountain as a backdrop.


    Zermatt can also be a day-trip destination for anyone staying in the magical Swiss city of Lucerne.  It takes around 3½ hours to reach Zermatt using the comfortable and ultra-efficient rail service, with spectacular mountain scenery to enjoy along the way.  Zermatt is also the terminus of the famous Glacier Express, whose full route takes you through the three cantons of Valais, Uri and Graubünden to the elegant resort of St. Moritz.  The 8 hour journey offers breathtaking and varied panoramic views but it’s also possible to sample shorter sections of the route, joining the train at stations such as Brig and Chur and enjoying a taste of one of the world’s most impressive train journeys.


    Whatever the season, Zermatt has plenty to offer every visitor and it’s certainly not just boxes of Swiss chocolates!



    With a degree in Geography under her belt, Ann felt that a career in travel might be a good choice. Fast forward over thirty years, and Ann is still in the industry so her instincts have served her well. Ann spent much of her early career working for big names such as Global Overland and Wallace Arnold where she was involved in the contracting and operation of coach tours on a large scale. Taking time out to raise her family, Ann returned to the industry working for Cities Direct. Her desire to travel is as strong as ever and she loves nothing better than visiting a new destination and being able to relay her experiences first hand to Cities Direct clients.