To begin my abroad experience, I backpacked through Switzerland before arriving in Florence, Italy for the semester. I spent 10 days exploring Zürich, Lucern, Bern, Geneva, and Zermatt. Switzerland is a small country with an efficient train system, making travel days quick and effortless. Although the towns I visited are in close proximity to each other, each one was uniquely itself.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland, making it the perfect destination to fly into and begin my travels. A few landmarks include Grossmünster Cathedral and Zürich’s old town. Grossmünster is easily recognizable by the identical towers that peak above Zürich’s skyline. This cathedral sits next to a large square which is a perfect place to grab a coffee and people watch. Another must-do activity is strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets of old town Zürich. The streets are filled with quaint restaurants, vintage shops, and beautiful views. If you are looking for a cozy nook to grab a bite or a drink in the heart of old town, check out BarMünster. BarMünster has a laidback ambiance with friendly staff making you feel at home.
I spent one night in the old town of Bern, the capital city of Switzerland. A highlight for me was the cellar shops that line the main streets. These underground storefronts feel as if they are hidden gems as you walk down the narrow staircases that open up to beautiful restaurants and stores. Many of them still have the original exposed stone from the middle ages giving the city a strong medieval vibe. I recommend spending some time exploring the outskirts of Bern as well, which can be reached by foot or bus. I visited the Zentrum Paul Klee museum and hopped off the bus a few stops early because the colorful houses caught my eye. The quiet neighborhood was filled with quirky homes and was anything but dull. Each house had a personality given to it by vibrant shutters or a lively paint color.
Geneva is a very picturesque city with grand hotels and shops lining the iconic Lake Geneva, making it the perfect location to shoot film. The water taxi is an affordable way to see the lake and view the Jet d’Eau Fountain, which is one of Geneva’s famous landmarks.
The last stop on my Switzerland tour was Zermatt. Zermatt is a ski town perched within the Swiss Alps, famously known for its views of the Matterhorn. The only way to get to Zermatt is by train because the city itself is car-free and the only gas-powered things are the snow plows. Although Zermatt is small, with one main street, it has something to offer everyone: pubs, spas, fondue restaurants, and so much more. I recommend stopping at Brown Cow Pub after a day on the mountain to meet other travelers and skiers who are trying to warm up after a chilly day.
Sarah Panson is a student at Boise State University and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is studying with ISA in Florence, Italy.