Seven Natural Wonders of Switzerland

November 3, 2010, 10 Comments

Aletsch glacier

Switzerland has countless beautiful old towns and the world’s best chocolate, but perhaps its biggest draw is the breathtaking scenery. Compiling a list of Switzerland’s Seven Natural Wonders is a daunting task, with so many candidates on offer. I’ve excluded ones that have been tamed by man, such as the Lavaux vineyards, and the many mountain train rides, but there was still quite a choice. So here is my personal pick in no particular order: two lakes, two mountains, a waterfall, a valley and a glacier. Where would you choose?

Aletsch glacier. This remnant of the Ice Age (pictured above) is a frozen Amazon slowly carving its way through the Alps, crushing everything beneath it. At 23km long (and up to 1.5km wide & 900m thick), it’s Europe’s longest glacier and holds 27 billion tonnes of ice. A truly awesome sight that can be easily appreciated despite its size. It’s only a cable-car ride away.

Oeschinensee. It may be small (just over 1km²) but it’s perfectly formed and even more perfectly located up above Kandersteg. Its turquoise waters are the ideal mirror for the sheer-sided peaks, most over 3000m, that enclose it in a near perfect horseshoe. Picture-postcard views at every turn though the best are from up high. Quite a climb but well worth it.

Rhine Falls. Standing on the concrete platform feeling the spray and the roar, you really can tell that these are Europe’s largest waterfalls – 150m wide, 23m high and with 700,000 litres per second going over in the summer peak. Even better is the boat trip out to the island in the middle of the falls.

Lauterbrunnen Valley.  This glacial valley slicing right through the heart of the Alps is barely a kilometre wide but over 3km deep. It’s like seeing a physical geography textbook brought to life: sheer cliffs giving it its U-shape, the wide flat valley bottom, the river far too small to have carved such an grandiose sight, and the 72 waterfalls, such as the bridal-veil Staubbach Falls and the Trümmelbach Falls carved inside a mountain.

Matterhorn. At 4478 metres (that’s 14,692ft for anyone still living in 1960. Or in America), this triangular mountain literally stands out from the crowd. Not only because of its size but because it sits in solitary isolation, uncluttered by neighbouring peaks. That’s why it looks so majestic, and why its crooked peak has become an iconic symbol of Switzerland.

Lake Lucerne. Switzerland has over 1500 lakes but my favourite is known locally as Vierwaldstättersee. Take a paddle-steamer to experience its sublime beauty: the bulges and bottlenecks that produce a 3D vista of steep cliffs dipping their toes in the water against a background of jagged peaks. The further south you go, the better the view.

Eiger. Possibly Europe’s most famous mountain, overshadowing its taller neighbours, Mönch and Jungfrau. And all because of its forbiddingly severe North Face, or Nordwand in German. Some Swiss call it Mordwand in a rather morbid reference to how many climbers’ lives it has claimed (Mord means murder in German). And people say the Swiss have no sense of humour.

10 Comments on "Seven Natural Wonders of Switzerland"

  1. Swiss Simon (with English roots) Thursday November 4th, 2010 at 09:49 AM · Reply

    …and a candidate for the 8th wonder could be Aareschluct (commonly referred to by my English friends as Arse-lick). Check it out. My recommendation is to enter it from downstream / west / Merigen end. Closed in winter due to icing.

    • swisswatching Thursday November 4th, 2010 at 11:28 AM · Reply

      I love the Aareschlucht and have been many times. It was on my shortlist but in the end I decided to try and keep it a secret 🙂

  2. SwissGuy Thursday November 4th, 2010 at 02:43 PM · Reply

    Here are some further candidates:

    – Glarus Overthrust
    – Earth Pyramids of Euseigne
    – Rock Circus of Creux du Van
    – Flims Landslide
    – Dinosaur Tracksite of Lommiswil
    – Staubbach Waterfall
    – Subterranean Lake of St.Leonard
    – Höllloch Cave
    – Aare Gorge

  3. anisha Friday September 27th, 2013 at 03:53 AM · Reply

    swithzerland is the most beautiful place i have never seen.i wish i can visit swithzerland once in my life time

  4. Santosh(Shaan) Wednesday November 20th, 2013 at 08:10 AM · Reply

    Switzerland is a very beautiful place and it is more attractive for its awesome scenery. I have never seen switzerland and when i am watching it by searching google, i am thinking when i will go and see this place in my own eyes. i do not know when will come this opportunity in my life? Only god knows.

  5. Tony Thursday March 24th, 2016 at 06:12 PM · Reply

    Swithzerland is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. everyone would want to visit.

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