My friends and I want to try/visit some of the things and places that Switzerland is known for! Are there any attractions, foods, or restaurants/cafes that we absolutely have to try/visit? (No Rolex stores, please. I don't need to be tempted!! :P)
We'll start off in Zurich, then be spending the most time in various mountain towns in Berne, then ending the trip in Geneva. We'll be driving the whole way, so we'll have a car. Any recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks!
If you want to visit places Switzerland is known for I would recommend the Cailler Chocolate factory in Broc-Frabique and the Grueyer cheese factory in Grueyer. You can visit both in one day. Exceptionally easy if you have a car. I would recommend you do the chocolate first and then the cheese. At the chocolate factory you get all the free sample you can manage (which is a lot less than most people think they can manage) at the end of the tour in the tasting room. The cheese factory is very interesting but make sure you arrive during a time when they are actually making cheese. Once you're done there I would recommend a drive up to Grueye castle.
In Bern there is a lot to see. The Einstein cafe seems to be a big hit. It's a cafe next door to where he use to live. The fountains are beautiful and they are throughout the Altes Stadt. The best one in my opinion is the Orge eating children fountain.
You might also want to check out the Natural History Museum where they have the 200 year old taxidemeried St. Bernard named Barry. He's a folk hero here. They also have the bones of the African Elephant that the Bernese killed with a canon after it killed it's trainer.
The Communication museum. Not far from the Natural history museum is also great to visit. Lots of hands on fun.
As for places to eat. The Altes Tram Depot next to the Bear pit has great beer which is brewed on site. And not a far walk (though it is a steep hill) from there is the rose garten which has one of the best views of the city, it's a beautiful park and garden and has a great restraurant.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is my favorite place in Switzerland, narrow mountain valley surrounded by beautiful dramatic mountains, cliffs, and water-falls.
Although I'm sure there are many similar mountain valleys in Switzerland.
As for foods, you should definitely try fondue and Rosti. Rosti is kind of the Swiss version of hash-browns, but they put all kinds of different toppings on it, cheese, gravy, veggies, meats, whatever you like!
Switzerland, Zurich in particular, has an amazing amazing art scene, so if you appreciate art, that's something to look into. The huge Art Basel show was in June, but there's still plenty to see throughout the year. There's the Kunsthaus Zürich filled with 19th and 20th century art. For more contemporary art, there's the Kunsthalle Zürich. For an artsy food experience, you can dine at Kronenhalle, which has real Picasso pieces, among other greats.
By the way, when are you going? Because the annual Lucerne Festival is happening soon and runs from August 16 through September 15. It's a huge music festival and there's something different going on every day for a month. You can check out the schedule here: http://www.lucernefestival.ch/en/
Mentioned in this answer: