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The shores of Lake Geneva have attracted visitors and invaders for millennia. The cheerful city of Geneva sits on the lake's western shore, lofty snowcapped peaks creating a gorgeous backdrop on all sides. The city is perfect for exploring on foot; hire a bike to venture further. At the top of any itinerary should be visits to Geneva's lakefront and its famous fountain, the Flower Clock in the English Garden, St Peter's Cathedral, Reformation Wall, Place Neuve and the birthplace of the UN.
Lausanne was once an intellectual capital, attracting such great thinkers as Rousseau and Voltaire. Today it is a haven for lovers of water skiing, swimming and sailing. The International Olympic Committee even has its headquarters here. The town's history is evident, though, in its medieval cathedral, the museums of the Palais de Rumine, and Ouchy, the port where Lord Byron wrote "The Prisoner of Chillon" and the Treaty of Lausanne was ratified. For great views, hike up to the Signal de Sauvabelin.
If you’re after a winter sports holiday, you can’t find a more gorgeous place to do it than Interlaken, the popular Swiss resort town. There’s superlative skiing, toboggan rides, miles of sledding tracks (which, like the ski slopes, vary in difficulty), snowboarding… all with amazing views of the mountains. In summer, hike among the ibex at nearby Neiderhorn, or shop for watches in the town’s boutiques.
The largest city in Switzerland is a major contemporary art and shopping destination. Important artworks are displayed in the Kunsthaus and the Rietberg Museum. Those who consider shopping an art can hone their skills along Bahnhofstrasse and Niederdorf. Chagall's stained-glass windows in the Fraumünster amaze. Zurich's 500 clubs and bars, including several in swimming pools, pulse with life till the early hours. This city on Lake Zurich has excellent public transport and a free bike-hire system.
The capital city of Sweden combines modern attractions with historic charm. Kick off your stay with visits to Stockholm’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Royal Palace Drottningholm (the residence of the royal family) and the magical Skogskyrkogården, or Woodland Cemetery. Stroll the cobblestone streets of Old Town and over the picturesque bridges that span the city’s canals. The 19th-century Skansen was the world’s first open-air museum and is still a premier place to learn about Swedish history.
Perfectly positioned on a lake with the Alps at its back, lucky Lugano has a little bit of everything. Ride a cable car up Monte San Salvatore or Monte Bre for sunny panoramas of lake, rivers, mountains and red-roofed buildings. Explore the town's churches, cathedrals and the expressive and colorful Piazza della Riforma. Sample some slow-cooked Ticinese cuisine, explore the lake on a boat or spend the day at the lido with its Olympic-sized pool.
Although originally known as a summer destination, when the first snowflakes land in St-Moritz, so do the international scenesters, bundled up in the latest "must-have" accessories. In winter, take a ride on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to arrive in style. Cable cars ascend to three nearby mountain tops. Hundreds of miles of ski trails and a frozen lake comprise the area's most popular sports venues. Follow the Romans' example and try one of the city's mineral springs, such as St-Moritz Bader.
The picturesque lakeside town of Zell am See offers about 80 miles of local slopes, with beginner, intermediate and advanced runs all well represented. One hundred and twenty-five miles of cross-country trails offer gorgeous panoramic views. The neighbouring town of Kaprun is famed for its glacier skiing.