You could say tourism in Switzerland really started in the early 1800s when the British were drawn there to explore and climb the high peaks of the Alps. At the end of the 19th century, as traveler Mark Twain wrote, “There are two best ways to travel through Switzerland. The first best is afoot.”
Switzerland remains a favorite destination for mountain enthusiasts the world over, and it’s no wonder. A majority of the Alp’s peaks over 4,000 meters rest within her borders and almost half of Europe’s glaciers blanket her massifs. Tiny wood chalets dot the countryside, bell-clad cows graze in peaceful mountain meadows, waterfalls trace their way down glacial valleys, and stately mountain peaks keep watch over this orderly country that runs like the clocks for which it’s famous.
Laced with thousands upon thousands of miles of well-marked and well-maintained hiking trails, traveling “afoot” is still one of the best ways to experience Switzerland’s verdant and dazzling landscapes. Once you fall into the rhythms of mountain life on the trail, you’ll begin to understand why this traditional way of traveling the Swiss Alps has been so enduring.