"So I could only get a few days off this time, what should we do?" "Well we are going to France, DUH."
"I got some free time this weekend" "Let's grab some chocolate in Switzerland".
These type of conversations become kinda normal if you live in Italy and you don't wanna spend a ton of money in fancy, far away trips but still you wanna get out of the country. France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany are the normal getaways like Palm Springs is for Los Angeles. They are close and STUNNING. What more could we ask for?
I visited these countries countless times. In this article I'm going to focus on what you can see in just a few days if you decide to take a trip to Northern Switzerland and Northeastern France.
Switzerland's little masterpiece.
Popular destination for tourists, Lucerne is situated in the German canton - ("one of the states of the Swiss confederation").
During our winter visit, we explored the Old Town's city centre enjoying the view on the Kapellbrücke, the famous Swiss Chapel Bridge, and then had a small breakfast at Heini Luzern.
I WOKE UP LIKE THIS.
During summer I had the chance to stay in a B&B on Lake Lucerne and to wake up with this view.
Not bad.. Right?
Kayak, canoe, paddle board, sightseeing cruises, tanning, walking, running.. The lake offers so many options!
"One second I'm a Kunst. Then suddenly the Kunst is me."
Situated where the French, German and Swiss borders encounter, Basel is worldwide known as "Switzerland's Capital of Art and Culture". Home of some of the most popular museums of Europe (first of all the KunstMuseum), Basel is mostly notorious for being the town where the international "Art Basel" fair, which is now hosted in Miami and Hong Kong as well, was born.
WHAT TO DRINK:
Beer. Beer. Beer. Good craft beer. You can find breweries all around town! Helles means light-pale beer, while Dunkles means dark beer.
WHAT TO EAT:
Cheese Fondue: cheese melted in white wine. The boiling liquid is often served in a big bowl places in the middle of the table, so that everybody can get some and dip food in it.
Raclette: sliced cheese roasted on a heat source, usually poured on mashed potatoes and accompanied with pickles to help digestion.
Spätzli: soft Swiss dumplings made of seasoned dough (looks like pasta and it's so yummy!)
Rösti: grated hash-brown potatoes in a fritter style (pretty much a national dish!).
Swiss Chocolate: YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY ALLOWED TO GET CRAZY WITH IT.
If you happen to be in town I recommend eating at the "Zum Braunen Mutz" Restaurant, which has one of best quality/price ratio in Basel.
If you are looking for a modern hotel in the heart of Basel with reasonable prices, I highly recommend The Passage.
During one of our visits, my family and I had a wonderful stay here. The design is outstanding and you're gonna be able to find continental breakfast, a very equipped gym and a cozy spa. The rooms are incredibly spacious, elegant and well-furnished: it almost felt like having an entire apartment just for myself!
"And we danced. And we cried. And we laughed. And had a really really good time.
Soooo... Unfortunately I can't tell you a lot about Zurich cause my experience in this town was pretty unique/random/crazy.
The Züri Fäscht, Zurich's City Festival, only happens once every 3 years and lasts 3 days. Totally randomly this summer I arrived in town exactly when the Festival was taking place. I had absolutely no idea of what I was about to see.
It felt like Switzerland wasn't Switzerland anymore.
There was trash everywhere. Something like 40 temporary bars and more than 20 different dj sets/dancefloors were built in town. People were dancing and screaming and partying all around.
The city was completely transformed. For 3 days locals and visitors really had the chance to loosen up and enjoy life.
About the architecture: I'm pretty sure I saw some beautiful churches and bridges while roaming around.. But I was much more focused on the music and my mojito to be honest. Sorry guys. I'll do better next time I promise.
Colmar - Ribeauvillé - Eguisheim - Riquewihr
It doesn't get any cuter.
I visited Alsace (the French region bordering the German Rhineland) at least 3 times since I was born and I just cannot get enough. This is seriously one of the most magical places in the world to me. You'll want to stop every 30 seconds to take a picture.
What to drink:
Alsace is one of the most renowned regions for wine production worldwide.
Since my parents are very passionate about wine and we've been going back and forth from Alsace to taste/buy wine since I was little, I can safely say that Albert Boxler's wine cellar (located in the pretty village of Niedermorschwihr) is probably one of the best of the entire land.
Enjoy tasting their Gewürztraminer, Sommersberg and Riesling!
What to eat:
Stuff yourself with alsacienne tarte flambée! Period.
Being Italian I can't say that this French dish beats pizza, but it goes soooo close!
If you wanna a break from tarte flambée try the Choucroute Garnie, pickled cabbage (sauerkraut) prepared with potatoes and various pork salted meats, including sausages.
What to see:
Besides the city of Colmar (which is a total must-see), I recommend visiting the villages of Ribeauvillé, Eguisheim and Riquewihr.. but honestly everything will work around here. You can literally stop wherever you want and you'll always find pretty colorful houses and enchanted streets. You won't believe your eyes and you'll feel like you're in a sort of fairytale.
Strasbourg is both the capital of the Alsatian region and the official seat of the European Parliament.
I didn't spend a lot of time here, but I got a very positive impression of Strasbourg so I wanted to mention it.
Enjoy a kir cassis (one of my favorite French drinks) in a local bar and a walk through this calm, relaxing town if you visit!