For ravishing alpine scenery and quaint villages oozing storybook charm, it’s hard to beat Switzerland. The soaring snow-capped peaks of the Alps, glittering blue lakes, emerald valleys, glaciers, and picturesque lakeside hamlets imbue this landlocked nation with a fairytale beauty.
Travelers come here for jaw-dropping scenery but are charmed by the many cultural attractions. The passion for discovery seems unstoppable, as countless other Swiss attractions offer unique experiences. Ranging from remote villages to bustling cities, from snow-covered landscapes to tropical climates, here are top 10 places you must see in Switzerland.
Interlaken used to be known as a watchmaking center, but today it’s more popular as a tourist resort. Tourists started coming to Interlaken in the early 1800s to breathe in the mountain air and partake of spa treatments.
Offering spectacular views of three famous Swiss mountains, the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Monch, the city is also a popular base camp for outdoor activities in the surrounding Bernese Oberland Alps. Travelers looking for something different to do might want to sign up for a class or two at a woodcarving school. Hungry tourists may want to try raclette, a classic Swiss dish made from cheese.
This pyramid-shaped giant is arguably the most photographed mountain in the world and therefore, also Switzerland’s most famous Alpine peak and a top place to visit in Switzerland. The Matterhorn in Zermatt stands at 4,478 meters high and draws mountaineers from all corners of the globe eager to conquer its ascent – some even daring to reach its summit. Cable cars frequently zip through the mountain station in Zermatt, the highest cable car station in the Alps, and take skiers and snowboarders to surrounding mountains during the winter and hikers in the summer.
Located in the heart of the Bernese Mittelland on the Aare River in northern Switzerland, Bern is Switzerland’s capital and home to some of the most impressive examples of medieval town architecture found anywhere in Europe. Its most famous attraction is the Zytglogge, an ancient clock tower with moving puppets.
Other popular sites in Bern include the Munster, a Gothic cathedral that rises from the old town, and its town hall.
Zurich lies on the picturesque shores of Lake Zurich as well as at the base of the Alps, ensuring that wherever you look, you are sure to find beautiful vistas and stunning scenery. Popular activities in Zurich include boating on the lake, or simply strolling along its pristine edges, or you can go for a light hike at Utliberg Mountain. Not just a one-hit wonder, Zurich is also a city of culture and there are a plethora of museums to visit such as the Swiss National Museum housed within an alpine style castle. If you prefer shopping then you can make for one or several of the high-end boutiques that Zurich is known for and indulge in some retail therapy of famous Swiss brands.
The Jungfrau Region is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, both in summer and winter. The Jungfrau Region consists of four picturesque towns: Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen, and three imposing mountains: Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
One of Switzerland’s most scenic rail trip, the Jungfraubahn takes visitors from the Kleine Scheidegg mountain through the Eiger and Mönch up to the Jungfraujoch.
In the heart of Switzerland lies the lakeside city of Lucerne, another postcard-perfect town nestled among a mountainous panorama. Fortified towers, wooden bridges and timeworn churches festooned with antique frescoes have allowed the city to keep its traditional townscape, adding to the charm of this top place in Switzerland. Take pleasure in the thrilling views of the city proper and Lake Lucerne by riding up to the peak of neighboring Mt Pilatus, Mt Rigi or the Stanserhorn.
Geneva is a city where international influences reign supreme. Environmental travelers will enjoy the fact that Geneva is a “green” city, with 20 percent of its land devoted to parks, earning it the nickname of “city of parks.” Top sights include the Cathedral of St. Pierre where John Calvin gave famous sermons.
For those who want to stroll around the city at their leisure, there are chic boutiques, galleries, winding streets, and quaint quays. Also not to be missed on a trip to Geneva is the iconic fountain that erupts from Lake Geneva and launches jets of water up to 500 feet in the air.
The Rhine Falls
If you venture to the town of Schaffhausen, it may well be in preparation for a trip to the Rhine Falls which are located nearby. Standing tall at 23 meters high, these are the largest plain falls in all of Europe, and you can take a boat trip up the Rhine to near the base of the falls to see them in all their glory. If you fancy getting even closer to the action then you can observe the falls from one of the special viewing platforms that are accessible via stairs built into the mountainside.
Lake Lugano and Ticino
Lugano, a financial center and the largest and most significant town in Ticino, is a popular summer resort.
Lake Lugano lies on the Swiss/Italian border in Ticino, Switzerland’s only official Italian-speaking canton, and offers a tantalizing taste of the Mediterranean. Citrus, figs, palms, and pomegranates flourish in the mild climate here – even as snow-capped peaks beckon in the distance.
Visitors can explore the area by touring the lake on one of the white steamers or renting a boat.
Part of the Lake Geneva Region, the town of Lausanne is perhaps most famous for being the base of the International Olympic Committee. Lausanne also is the gateway to some of the world’s best ski slopes.
The old part of the medieval town features a towering Gothic cathedral that is said to be the finest example of its kind in all of Switzerland. The surrounding area of Lausanne is also simply breathtaking, from Lake Geneva that rests at the base of the town, to the vineyards that grow rampant and provide excellent and ever-flowing wines if you fancy trying some of the local tipples.
Where to Stay in Switzerland?