For spectacular Alpine vistas and lovely settlements oozing storybook charm, Switzerland is difficult to beat.The Alps’ soaring snowcapped peaks, sparkling blue lakes, verdant valleys, glaciers, and charming lakeside hamlets give this landlocked country a fairy-tale splendour. World-class international resorts and a broad variety of activities, such as hiking, bicycling, climbing, paragliding, skiing, and tobogganing, are nestled among the mountain valleys and lakes.
Travelers come for the stunning scenery, but they are also captivated by the myriad cultural attractions. Cities with a long history, such as Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne, provide superb museums and galleries, old architecture, and renowned music festivals.Bern, the capital, has a magnificent mediaeval old town that hugs the bend of a river. Switzerland is bordered by Germany, Italy, Austria, and France, and the country’s languages and cultures give it a multinational feel.
From palm-studded Ticino’s Italian architecture to Swiss-German and Latin-derived Romansch languages, Switzerland can feel like multiple countries in one–all with the clean packaging and punctuality for which it is known.
This list of the best attractions and places to see in Switzerland will give you a taste of this beautiful country.
One of the highest mountains in the Alps is the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s distinctive pointed peak. This legendary hill rises to 4,478 metres at the Italian border, and its four steep slopes face the compass points. The first summit attempt, in 1865, ended tragically as four climbers died while descending. Every summer, thousands of expert climbers flock to the area.
Zermatt, the delightful village at the base of this towering peak, is a top international resort with horse-drawn carriage excursions, charming chalets, and world-class restaurants and hotels. To maintain the air quality and promote a peaceful environment, motorised vehicles are prohibited in the community.
Skiers can schuss down more than 300 kilometres of slopes in the winter. Swimming and tennis are popular summer activities, as are hiking, riding, and climbing in the nearby mountains. There is also summer glacier skiing.
Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe
The train excursion to Jungfraujoch, the “Top of Europe,” with an observation deck and scientific observatory positioned at 3,454 metres, is one of the most popular things to do in the gorgeous Bernese Oberland. The Great Aletsch Glacier, Europe’s longest, begins near Jungfraujoch and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famed Eiger Trail, which runs from the Eiger glacier station to Alpiglen, clings to the north face’s rocks.
Panorama Way to the bright, south-facing First slope; Gletscherschlucht (Glacier Gorge); and pfelchüechliwäg, a high-altitude trail connecting Holenstein and Brandegg through flower fields, alpine pastures, and forests. Gondolas and cable cars transport the less active to magnificent vistas overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Picturesque In the Jungfrau region, Grindelwald is a glacier settlement that serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding Alps. Nestled at the foot of snow-capped mountains, it is one of Switzerland’s oldest and most popular resorts. The tiara-shaped Wetterhorn and the steep north face of the Eiger, one of the planet’s most stunning and challenging climbs, tower over this alpine valley. Grindelwald’s two gleaming glaciers are nestled between the Alps. Faulhorn, at 2,681 metres, gives the greatest views, with spectacular panoramas of the huge peaks.
Picturesque Grindelwald is a glacier settlement in the Jungfrau region that serves as a fantastic base for alpine excursions. Nestled at the base of snow-capped mountains, it is one of Switzerland’s oldest and most popular resorts. Overlooking this alpine valley are the tiara-shaped Wetterhorn and the sheer north face of the Eiger, one of the world’s most magnificent and demanding climbs. Grindelwald’s two gleaming glaciers are sandwiched between the Alps. Faulhorn, at 2,681 metres, offers the greatest views of the major peaks.
Interlaken, located between Lake Thun to the west and Lake Brienz to the east, is one of Switzerland’s most popular summer holiday locations. Höhematte is a marvel of urban planning, with 35 acres of open space in the heart of town.The Höheweg, the main road through town with beautiful mountain views, is surrounded by flower gardens, hotels, and cafés.
The Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau massive peaks loom above the town, providing superb options for alpine excursions. Hiking, climbing, abseiling, and kayaking are among of the most popular activities.
Over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, chairlifts, and ski lifts transport guests into the surrounding area and provide enough opportunities for sightseeing from a higher vantage point.
Skiers and snowboarders can choose from a variety of nearby destinations in the winter, or cross-country ski along the large route network. Paragliders take off from Beatenberg-Niederhorn in the summer. Take a paddle steamer trip around the lakes to see the beauty from a lower perspective.
Consider a sparkling blue lake surrounded by mountains, a pedestrian-only mediaeval old town with covered bridges, waterfront promenades, frescoed ancient buildings, and sun-drenched plazas with bubbling fountains. Lucerne (in German, Luzern) is a popular tourist location, which comes as no surprise.
This traditional Swiss village attracts renowned soloists, conductors, and orchestras to its yearly International Music Festival, which is known for its music concerts. One of the world’s best concert venues is located at the Culture and Convention Center.
The Chapel Bridge, which was built in the 14th century, is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. The renowned Lion Monument, a sombre sculpture of a dying lion, is located in a small park and honours the bravery of Swiss Guards who died during the siege on the city.the Tuileries during the French Revolution. The Swiss Transport Museum is a must-see for history buffs, with extensive exhibits on all types of transportation, including air and space travel, railroad locomotives, and a Planetarium.
For breathtaking views of Lucerne, the Alps, and the lake, take the funicular to the Dietschiberg on the north side of Lake Lucerne; take the cableway up Mt. Pilatus; or visit the Rigi, a famous vantage point.
The largest Alpine lake in Europe, Lake Geneva, crosses the Swiss-French border and lapping at the coasts of some of Switzerland’s most popular cities. At the confluence of the Rhône and Lake Geneva, the city of Geneva (French: Genève; German: Genf) is set among gorgeous snowcapped peaks.
This French-speaking “city of peace” is the European headquarters of the United Nations, and it exudes a lovely blend of French joie de vivre and Swiss structure.The lake is surrounded by promenades, parks, and gardens, and the old town is a great place to meander amid the historic buildings. The Jet d’Eau, a prominent sight in Lake Geneva, is a fountain that shoots water 150 metres into the air. The Opera House and the Grand Théâtre, which hosts international performers, are two of the city’s cultural highlights.
Lausanne, which is also on the lake and is about 62 kilometres from Geneva, has beautiful views of the surrounding region and the lake, with the Alps towering in the background. Take a stroll around the ancient old town, which is lined with charming cafés and boutiques, as well as the spectacular Gothic church. In June/July, Montreux, at the foot of the Alps on Lake Geneva, hosts the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival.
Chateau de Chillon, Montreux
For ages, the Chateau de Chillon (Chillon Castle) on the banks of Lake Geneva near Montreux has inspired artists and poets. Among the luminaries who have written about this architectural treasure are Lord Byron, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Victor Hugo.
The complex, which dates from the 12th century and has roughly 25 structures organised around three courtyards, was formerly the bastion of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy. The Great Halls, which have beautiful views of Lake Geneva, the Gothic underground rooms, the Chapel, which is embellished with 14th-century paintings, and the Camera Domini, which is a bedroom occupied by the Duke of Savoy and covered with mediaeval murals, are all highlights.
In June/July, Montreux, at the foot of the Alps, on Lake Geneva, hosts the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival. It’s a must-see on any list of things to do in Switzerland. This posh resort town, which has hosted two winter Olympics, is known for its opulent hotels and high-end restaurants.
The town is separated into two parts and is located 1,800 metres above sea level in an alpine valley. St. Moritz Dorf is located on a sunny terrace overlooking the St. Moritz Lake. The second section of town, on the valley floor at lakeshore St. Moritz Bad, is a health resort with less expensive lodging. Skiing, snowboarding, skating, bobsledding, and tobogganing on the legendary 1.2-kilometer-long Cresta Run are just a few of the winter sports available.
Hiking, biking, and water sports abound throughout the summer. In the summer, you can go glacier skiing.
St. Moritz is also a cultural crossroads, which adds to the stunning mountain scenery. In the neighbouring areas, Romansch, German, Italian, French, and English are all spoken, not to mention the various languages of the numerous well-heeled international visitors and expats.
Bern, Switzerland’s capital, is positioned on a peninsula of the River Aare and oozes old-world beauty, with its mediaeval old town designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors may tour the highest cathedral in Switzerland, with panoramic views from its tower; 16th-century fountains; the Zytglogge mediaeval clock tower with moving puppets; and six kilometres of shopping arcades, dubbed “Lauben” by the locals, while strolling through the cobblestone streets. The Rose Garden (Rosengarten) provides stunning views of the historic town centre.
Many tourist sites, including excellent museums, are waiting to be found in Bern. The outstanding galleries, such as the Zentrum Paul Klee, which houses the world’s greatest collection of paintings by this famous artist, and the Bern Museum of Art, will appeal to art aficionados (Kunstmuseum).
The markets at the Bundesplatz (parliament plaza) with views of the exquisite Renaissance-style parliament architecture are not to be missed (Bundeshaus). A trip to the Bear Park is also recommended for families.
Lake Lugano and Ticino
Lake Lugano is located in Ticino, Switzerland’s only official Italian-speaking canton, and offers a tantalising taste of the Mediterranean. Even while snowcapped peaks beckon in the distance, citrus, figs, palms, and pomegranates thrive in the warm temperature here.
The architecture, piazzas, and passion for great food that spills over the Italian borders from the south, east, and west are unmistakably Italian in the towns around Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore to the west.
Visitors can visit the lake on one of the white steamers or rent a boat to explore the area. The panoramic views of the surrounding terrain, lake, and snowcapped summits from Monte San Salvatore are among the most spectacular in the world.
Lugano, a prominent summer resort and a financial centre, is the largest and most important town in Ticino. Warm days, flowery gardens, and palm-studded estates characterise Swiss lakeside living in sun-drenched Locarno on Lake Maggiore, northwest of Lugano. Three spectacular castles in Bellinzona, the canton’s capital, are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, as well as a significant transit hub and a popular starting place for travellers. The city is located on the Limmat River, at the northern extremity of Lake Zurich. Beyond its prim exterior, this opulent financial centre is home to a plethora of cultural gems.
The cobblestone streets of Old Town, with their quaint shops, cafés, and galleries, are an excellent place to begin a walking tour. One of Europe’s most beautiful shopping streets, Bahnhofstrasse, beckons with designer stores selling apparel, watches, and jewellery.
Away from the boutiques, there are more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries, as well as a plethora of other tourist attractions. The Kunsthaus Zürich, a museum of fine arts with an amazing collection of art spanning the Middle Ages to the present day, is a top choice. The Rietberg Museum, which focuses on non-European art and includes numerous items from China, India, and Africa, is another favourite.
The Swiss National Museum, housed in a Gothic chateau a short walk from Zürich’s main station, highlights Swiss cultural history. The Zurich Zoo, which features an elephant park, a penguin parade, and a Madagascar pavilion, is ideal for families. Take a train ride from the city to Uetliberg Mountain for panoramic views of the city and surrounding area.
The Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) in Schaffhausen are the largest falls in Central Europe, spanning 150 metres. When the mountain snow melts and the falls swell in volume to flow over a 21-meter-high ledge of Jurassic limestone, June and July are the best months to visit.
Boat cruises up the Rhine, as well as viewing platforms on both sides of the river, allow superb views of the falls.
Swiss National Park
Swiss National Park in the Engadine Valley is the oldest reserve in the Alps, having been established in 1914. The park, which straddles the Italian border, spans over 170 square kilometres of flower-strewn hollows, fast-flowing rivers, and limestone crags. In the winter, when the forested mountains are blanketed in snow and the views from the cross-country ski routes are breathtaking, the scenery is even more striking.
Nature lovers can explore the region on the territory’s extensive network of trails, while deviating from these paths is prohibited in order to protect the region’s natural ecosystems. More than 5,000 kinds of wildlife, including marmots, red deer, chamois, ibex, fox, and more than 100 bird species, call the park home.
The Albula/Bernina Railway Line
The Albula/Bernina line on the Rheatian Railways is one of the few railway lines in the world certified as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage designation, and it offers a magnificent experience not to be missed. The 122-kilometer route winds through the Albula and Bernina landscapes, passing around 200 bridges, the Graubünden Alps, and numerous tunnels and viaducts along the way.
A trip on this train provides sweeping views of untouched mountain vistas, including the Piz Bernina, the Eastern Alps’ highest peak at little over 4,000 metres. The train runs all year, and the sights are equally as breathtaking in the summer as they are in the winter.
This 13th-century castle, located on the shores of Lake Thun and encircled by a 2.5-hectare park, is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful. Oberhofen Castle has been passed down through the generations, and new owners have continued to develop rooms, resulting in a fascinating blend of styles: Bernese Baroque-style buildings, Romantic-style façade, and Prussian-inspired exotic new regions (including a library and a smoking room).
From the 16th through the 19th century, the castle (and its environs) was a living museum depicting the periods and lifestyles of feudal communities that called the castle (and its environs) home.
Swiss Grand Canyon
The Ruinaulta (sometimes referred to as the “Swiss Grand Canyon”) is a steep gorge bordered by forested cliffs and large meadows. It was formed approximately 10,000 years ago when the Ice Age Rhine Glacier retreated, resulting in a cascade of events that culminated in a catastrophic rockslide in the Rhine Valley. The gorge was filled with water when the Rhine river seeped through the limestone walls.
The Swiss Grand Canyon is now not only one of Switzerland’s most stunning locations, but also a popular hiking, bird-watching, and nature-loving destination. Between May and October, you can raft the rapids or rent a canoe or kayak for a quieter path with beautiful views of the surrounding cliffs.
Even if you’ve never heard of this small mediaeval town, you’ve probably heard of the famed hard yellow cheese that bears its name. That is now one of the town’s most popular attractions. Visitors can take a tour of a cheese production, try local delicacies, and wave to the cows who live in the nearby verdant hills. If cheese isn’t enough, the town also has a chocolate factory, Maison Cailler.
The 13th-century Castle of Gruyères and its two small arts and regional museums, as well as Saint-Germain Castle, which was purchased by Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor H. R. Giger and now houses a museum dedicated to his work, make up for the town’s small size. A visit to the Tibet Museum, which is housed in an old church in town, is also recommended.
The Gorges de la Jogne (liked with hikers) and the adjacent Mont Moléson (popular with climbers in the summer and home to ski and snowshoe trails in the winter) are just a few of the stunning landscapes that surround Gruyères.