Engelberg (literally ‘Angel Mountain’) attracts two kinds of pilgrims: those seeking spiritual enlightenment in its Benedictine monastery and those worshipping the virgin powder on its divine slopes. Framed by the glacial bulk of Mt Titlis and frosted peaks, it’s little wonder the scenery here features in many a Bollywood production.
On the face of it, Zug appears like many other Swiss towns: lapped by a lake and ringed by mountains. However, this is the richest city in one of the world’s richest countries. But you probably won’t care as you devour Kirschtorte (cherry cake), stroll the cobblestoned medieval streets or savour million-dollar sunsets, because Zug’s low-key like that.
Blessed with austere mountain appeal, Andermatt contrasts low-key village charm with big wilderness. Once an important staging-post on the north–south St Gotthard route, Andermatt is now bypassed by the tunnel, but remains a major crossroads, with the Furka Pass corkscrewing west to Valais and the Oberalp Pass looping east to Graubünden.
Pilgrims flock to Einsiedeln, Switzerland’s answer to Lourdes. The story goes that in AD 964 the Bishop of Constance tried to consecrate the original monastery but was halted by a heavenly voice, declaring: ‘Desist. God Himself has consecrated this building.’ A papal order later recognised this as a genuine miracle.
Scything through rugged mountains, the fjord-like Lake Uri (Urnersee) finger of Lake Lucerne mirrors the country’s medieval past in its glassy turquoise waters. For memorable perspectives on the lake and the legendary events that unfolded here, take SGV's regular ferry service from Brunnen towards Flüelen.
Sheltered from cold northerlies by Mt Rigi, Weggis enjoys a mild climate, sprouting a few palm and fig trees by the lakefront. It’s hard to believe this genteel resort with small-town friendliness was the birthplace of the rebellious ‘Moderner Bund’ art movement, the forerunner of Dada. A cable car runs from here up to Rigi Kaltbad (10 minutes, one-way/return Sfr30/48).
Rearing above Lucerne from the southwest, Mt Pilatus (www.pilatus.ch) rose to fame in the 19th-century when Wagner waxed lyrical about its Alpine vistas and Queen Victoria trotted up here on horseback. Legend has it that this 2132m peak was named after Pontius Pilate, whose corpse was thrown into a lake on its summit and whose restless ghost has haunted its heights ever since.
Blue... no, red!... no, dark!… Turner couldn’t quite make up his mind about how he preferred 1797m Rigi (www.rigi.ch) so in 1842 the genius painted the mountain in three different lights to reflect its changing moods. On a clear day, there are impressive views to a jagged spine of peaks including Mt Titlis and the Jungfrau giants.
Up the slopes from Lake Lucerne's southern shore, Klewenalp is an underrated skiing destination with 40km of well-prepared red and blue runs, which become hiking, climbing and mountain biking trails in summer. To get here, head first for Beckenried, accessible by bus from Stans (Sfr6.70, 25 minutes) or boat from Lucerne (Sfr30, 1¼ hours).