Switzerland is a country with a lot of diversity and it is an extremely popular destination with a lot to offer travellers. Living in Switzerland is however quite different from holidaying in Switzerland. This obviously holds true for most countries, but it’s something that most expats tend to forget because it is easy to get overwhelmed with the natural beauty of the Swiss countryside and the prospect of outdoor adventures. The country has huge expat population and English is widely spoken in cities like Zurich, but it always helps to learn the local languages like Swiss, German, French and Italian, depending on which part of the country you move to. So, before you look for things to do, get started by enrolling in your nearest language institute.
Switzerland has a lot to offer to expats and once you do settle in there’s a lot that you can do.Local Festivals
To get a true taste of the local culture try and visit some of the local fairs in smaller villages and partake in the festivities. There are plenty of festivities in almost all of the towns and villages with folk music, arts and crafts and wine tastings. For example, Valais hosts a fair with various events like Swiss wrestling, flag or stone hurling and a regional sport called Hornussen, which is like a blend of baseball and golf, as unlikely and strange as that may sound! Zurich’s Sechseläuten festival is another one of many festivals that you shouldn’t miss. The arrival of spring is celebrated with members of all the guilds donning traditional costumes and there are many children’s parades as well. The International Balloon Festival, which is held in Château-d’Oex takes place towards the end of January and is a delight not just for balloon enthusiasts, but it’s a spectacle for anyone to behold.
Culture, Art and History
Switzerland is a treasure trove of history, culture and art. No matter which city or town you live in there will be history all around you. If you live in Zurich, the old town Altstadt is breathtakingly beautiful. Make it a point to visit the 9th century Gothic abbey Fraumünster, which is adorned with stained glass windows designed by renowned artist Marc Chagall.
Grossmünster cathedral, the Swiss National Museum and the modern art collections at Kunsthaus area also well worth a visit. St Gallen houses the famous Abbey Library, which is located in an old Benedictine monastery and is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Treasure. Brig is another historic town with a beautiful baroque castle, while Vaud is home to some of the country’s most important historic buildings. Cathédrale Notre-Dame and the Olympic Museum are located in Lausanne, while Geneva’s ancient city center is home to the Cathédrale de St Pierre. The Beyeler Foundation, which is not far from Basel, is also a must visit for any art buff.
Switzerland is a great place to raise a family and expats will not have much trouble finding things for the entire family to do together. There are plenty of parks and playgrounds across the country, most of which are open to the general public. Many of these even have barbecue facilities and a visit to these parks can be a great way to spend the day whether you have kids or not. Some of the parks like Boir de la Batie, in Geneva, don’t just have playgrounds. This particular park also has a paddling pool and it also houses a small zoo.
Mountain sports and Skiing
Switzerland is probably best known for its pristine countryside and the gorgeous Alps. Not surprisingly it is the birthplace of skiing, which is one of the most popular activities not just among visitors, but with locals and expats as well. There are plenty of mountain sports on offer at resorts in areas like Portes du Soleil, Klosters, Verbier and Saas Fee. There are activities like glacier walking, snowboarding and deep-snow skiing.
Hiking and cycling
Switzerland is a hiker’s idea of paradise with well-marked trails covering thousands of miles of the countryside. There are plenty of national parks that have walking and hiking trails and when hiking through many of these parks you may even have the pleasure of spotting some of the native wildlife. Cycling is another popular outdoor activity and there are plenty of interlinked trails that make cycling quite easy.