Roger Federer may have won multiple Grand Slams over his long and successful career in tennis, but the sport-star loses love-all against a match with the Grand Tour of Switzerland — that’s how pretty the European nation is. Unfortunately, the champion learns it the hard way. By Bayar Jain
Last year, Switzerland Tourism caused a global stir by releasing a short film, No Drama, starring the nation’s global brand ambassador, Roger Federer. The film also starred Oscar award winning actor, Robert De Niro, who turns down an invitation by the tennis star to feature in a fictional movie on the European nation, stating that the country is too perfect and ‘lacks drama’. Viewed over 100 million times and widely touted as one of the most successful campaigns of 2021, No Drama — which ended with the words, ‘When you need a vacation without drama, you need Switzerland’ — tied in with Switzerland Tourism’s larger campaign, I Need Switzerland.
No One Upstages the Grand Tour of Switzerland
This year, the focus shifts on the Grand Tour of Switzerland. In the latest film, the global brand ambassador and Oscar award-winning actor Anne Hathaway can be seen at an edit studio, extremely irritated by the first cut of a new fictional film the two are starring together in. While breathtaking mountain passes, picturesque lakes, grandiose castles, and a powerful film score take up a large space on the fictional film, the two stars seem to relegated to the sidelines. It doesn’t take long for them to realise that the director and production team have chopped off all the celebrity closeups and shifted the focus on Switzerland’s majestic landscapes instead. “No one upstages the Grand Tour of Switzerland; no one is more visually stunning than the Swiss landscapes,” justifies the director. Hathaway leaves the edit room upset to have even been offered a part so small, leading to yet another defeat in Federer’s quest to star in a major Swiss film.
However, Federer’s union with Switzerland goes beyond just advertorial videos. Together, they are also developing initiatives to promote the country on a global platform. On the tourism board’s official website, one can even gaze at the country through the ace tennis personality’s eyes and learn more about his preferred places, Swiss highlights, and hidden gems. In fact, last year he candidly confessed, “I have been all over the world. My favourite place has always remained Switzerland. It’s the country I miss the most, when I’m travelling.” One such recommendation is the Grand Tour of Switzerland.
The Grand Tour of Switzerland
Credited as the number one road trip of the Alps, the Grand Tour of Switzerland brings together all of the country’s highlights in one journey. Stretching 1,643 kilometres that meander through four linguistic regions, five Alpine passes, 46 top attractions, 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites, two biospheres, the gorgeous road trip is unmissable. The banks of 22 lakes around glaciers, mountain roads, palm-lined lakes, rustic mountain villages, fine-dining restaurants, city nightlife, art and culture, and shopping destinations dotted along the route only make the journey better. Heritage-listed towns and villages also find a spot on the tour and showcase the immense architectural diversity of the country.
The icing on the cake are the 650 road signs on the circuit that ensure easy navigation — although GPS does the trick just as well! With the straightforward, uncomplicated planning tool available on the Grand Tour app, travellers can even curate an individual road trip with relevant guides to accompany.
Should driving not be an option, the leisurely Grand Train Tour of Switzerland is just as spectacular. Popular among Indians, the train journey winds its way through Switzerland’s many highlights. Plus, they can even be explored by getting on and off the train at any time!
Places to visit
Many of the highlights on the Grand Tour of Switzerland line up like a string of pearls, many of which make for idyllic photo spots and viewpoints. Consider the stretch from Lugano to Zermatt. A stretch with the most twists and turns, as the Tremola road snakes its way from Airolo up to the Gotthard Pass, it is one of the most thrilling section of the Grand Tour of Switzerland. At one part of the road, the route climbs 300 metres over a four-kilometre stretch in 24 hairpin bends, each with its own name!
Begin the journey from Lugano with Mediterranean flair and an espresso beneath the palm trees with a view of Monte Brè. Consider a visit to the former fishing hamlets of Gandria and Morcote. From here, head to Ascona to soak up the atmosphere of lake promenade and the warm climate while enjoying coffee at the pavement cafés. The crystal waters of the Verzasca valley are a must-visit, too! Bellinzona, considered Switzerland’s most Italian town, houses castles that find a spot on UNESCO World Heritage lists.
The following day, head to Andermatt. The valley at the foot of Gotthard Pass and the cobble-stoned Tremola road make for fascinating pitstops. It is touted as the largest village in the valley, and lies in the heart of the Swiss Alps. The Furka Pass is great for adventure lovers. When here, ride on the nostalgic Furka cogwheel steam railway.
Leave day three for Bettmeralp. When here, breathe in the pure air of the car-free holiday resort and be astounded by the awe-inspiring Aletsch Glacier. At Zermatt, gaze at the Matterhorn, the most famous mountain in the world, and admire other 4,000-metre peaks from Gornergrat.