Heidi, one of the most famous children’s books ever, has been reinvented for the screen again, with the latest version of the story once more flaunting Switzerland’s stunning natural assets and that Swiss spirit!

Based on the novel by Johanna Spyri, Heidi tells the story of an orphan girl (Heidi) brought to live with her grandfather (Alpöhi) up in a remote alpine cabin in the mountains of Graubünden.

Although the pair get off to a rocky start, Heidi and her grandfather soon become inseparable, and when Heidi is forced to travel to Frankfurt by her aunt (Dete) to be a playmate for a wheelchair-bound girl (Klara) who belongs to a rich family, Heidi yearns to return to the Alps and the embrace of her grandfather.

But apart from being a heart-warming story about a young girl and her grandfather, the movie represents Switzerland in so many ways…

Here are five things I learnt about Switzerland from watching Heidi.

 

1. Switzerland is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise

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Credit: Heidi (2015) StudioCanal

Just as it was hard for Heidi to stay indoors when surrounded by the mountains, rivers and lakes, it’s also hard for just about anyone to not venture outside when in Switzerland, even just for a pleasant stroll amongst the mountains – such is the country’s magnetic natural beauty!

More active travellers can partake in a range of outdoor activities, such as cycling, hiking, via ferrata, rock climbing, and – of course – skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

 

2. Cheese is a staple of the Swiss diet

cheese

Emmentaler and Gruyère, Brie and Camembert – yep, the Swiss take their cheese VERY seriously, and even little Heidi is a massive fan; that is, when she’s not sharing it with Peter, the goat herder!

Indeed, Switzerland is pretty much the cheese capital of the world, and eating cheese with a meal is about as Swiss as catching a train on the country’s super cool rail network, best experienced using a Swiss Travel Pass.

 

3. Swiss mountains and fresh air are good for you

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Credit: Heidi (2015) StudioCanal

It’s amazing how a little mountain therapy and fresh air can help the body, just as it helped Klara start to walk again after spending some time up in the Alps with Heidi. You may call it a miracle, but I call it Swiss medicine!

From exploring the moorlands and pine forests of Alp Flix inside Switzerland’s largest nature park (Parc Ela in Graubünden), hiking around stunning Interlaken, to a leisurely stroll around Lake Locarno in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in the south, Switzerland is like one big wellness retreat.

 

4. Switzerland is drop-dead gorgeous

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As if I didn’t already know this!

But the sublime scenery showcased in Heidi (many of the scenes were shot in the canton of Graubünden) yet again reconfirmed Switzerland’s place as one of the most gorgeous countries in the world.

And it doesn’t even matter when you go. In summer and spring, alpine flowers inject colour into rolling meadows next to still lakes that reflect the imposing granite mountains above. In autumn, different shades of red and orange compete with quaint Swiss chalets for your attention.

And in winter, the whitest snow you’ll ever see turns the country into a winter wonderland fit for Santa Claus and his reindeers – indeed, a visit here during Christmas is truly magical.

 

5. The Swiss love their sledges

sledge

Credit: Heidi (2015) StudioCanal

When the snow falls in Switzerland, the sledges come out to play – just like in that scene from the movie when Heidi and her grandfather sledge down the mountain to Peter the goatherd’s house.

These days sledges are mostly used as a fun winter activity for people of all ages, and you’ll find cool – literally! – sledge runs all over the country, such as the 7.2 km sledge run in Les Diablerets (between Lake Geneva and Gstaad, and home of the epic Glacier 3000 ski area).

In Splügen, Graubünden, the annual sledge dog race proves that even Swiss dogs love the sledge!

Ready to venture to the land of Heidi?

Then visit www.myswitzerland.com and start planning your own Heidi-inspired adventure today!

What did you learn about Switzerland from watching Heidi?

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