Ah Switzerland… does it get any better than this country? Filled with majestic mountains, sprawling lakes, and quaint cities with a rich history, Switzerland has numerous beautiful places to visit, each offering travelers something different and unique.
It may be confusing trying to sort out all of the different Swiss cities and towns. With so many, how do you know where the best places to visit are?
Not to fear, we put together this list of 13 of the best places to visit in Switzerland to help with your trip planning and give you a deeper understanding of what each location has to offer.
Quick Answer: Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
Here are our picks for the top Swiss cities and towns to visit. Read on to learn more about what makes each location special!
- Jungfrau Region
For a picturesque Swiss vacation, Interlaken is the number one destination to visit. A glorious mix of lakes, mountains, and charming towns, there’s never a shortage of activities to keep you occupied in this lovely little city.
No trip to Interlaken is complete without a visit to the top of Harder Kulm or a sail on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz. While you’re visiting this area, you should also be sure to check out the various natural wonders like Trummelbach Falls and St. Beatus Caves.
If you’re looking for an adventurous vacation, Interlaken truly has it all, from bungee jumping, to paragliding, to skydiving over the Swiss Alps! But if you’re more interested in sightseeing, the area is also flooded with sprawling castles, historical museums, and interesting locations where you’ll be able to learn about the rich Swiss culture and enjoy some local specialties as well.
Interlaken is a great base for exploring nearby towns, adventure activities, and beautiful scenery. Check out our article for more amazing things to do while visiting Interlaken!
A true bucket list location, heading to the Jungfrau Region in Switzerland means taking a trip to the Top of Europe.
Accessible by the highest railway in Europe built in 1912, you’ll be carried by a train that’s nearly upright to the final station which is 3,454 meters above sea level. From here, enjoy a thrilling stop on your Switzerland itinerary, looking out at snow-capped mountains and the lush green landscape far below.
Besides the panoramic views from the top, you’ll also be able to treat yourself to some fine dining at one of the restaurants or take a trip to the 360° observatory to enjoy the sights even more.
Visiting Jungfraujoch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is not to be missed if you’re taking a trip to Switzerland. Be sure to book a round-trip ticket ahead of time to save money and time so that you can spend more time on top of Jungfrau!
Ah, gorgeous Lucerne, a most magical city with something for everybody in terms of things to do. Sitting on the banks of Lake Lucerne at the foot of Mount Pilatus, a trip to this city means being surrounded by natural wonders while also being immersed in the local history and culture.
Lucerne’s Old Town is surrounded by old walls and nine towers, four of which are still accessible. So in between window shopping and chocolate sampling, be sure to climb to the top of one of the towers for some incredible views.
While in Lucerne, you’ll also have to visit the Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, and Glacier Garden, all famous attractions that cannot be missed. For a relaxing day, take a cruise on the lake to enjoy the city view from the water.
For a taste of nature while visiting Lucerne, head to Mount Pilatus via cable car for alpine views and stunning natural landscapes. You can even hike up if you packed your walking shoes!
Finally, if you’re an art lover, Lucerne is one of the best places to visit as it’s home to the Swiss Museum of Transport, the Bourbaki Panorama, and the Rosengart Collection which is one of the most outstanding collections of modern art in all of Europe.
Interested in learning more about all that Lucerne has to offer? Check out more amazing things to do in this Swiss city!
Geneva is known as the “smallest of big cities”, as it has a small town feel while being home to the second largest population in Switzerland.
Geneva is an important place for international relations as it’s home to more than 20 international organizations, with the most notable being the European headquarters of the United Nations. If that’s sparked your interest, you can take a visit to many of them, including Palais Des Nations and CERN. Don’t forget about the Red Cross Museum, too!
Besides being a standout place for international affairs, Geneva is a “green city,” meaning that 20 percent of the land in the city has given way to parks. Talk about lovely!
Besides glorious greenery, Geneva also sits on the banks of famous Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Central Europe. This is an awesome place to take a boat tour, walk on the promenade or bask by the water.
This city is full of museums and historic sites, as well as upscale restaurants and posh city life. On a visit, you can’t miss the St Pierre Cathedral and Bain des Paquis, a public bath house on Lake Geneva. Pro tip: You can visit Bain des Paquis all year long because in the winter the baths turn into saunas.
A last stop on your Geneva tour should be Quartier des Grottes, which is a super quirky neighborhood to walk around in. The buildings have colorful facades and the place is full of street art, making it a paradise for photo-lovers. For something out of the norm, be sure to swing by!
If you’re headed to Geneva, check out our complete guide on best things to do in the city so you don’t miss out!
If you’re heading all the way up to Northern Switzerland, a visit to Zurich is a must.
Although it’s a global hub for finance, there is still lasting charm in the city that seeps through every chance it gets. The central Altstadt, with colorful houses and pedestrian-only streets, is the perfect old town to spend a day getting lost in.
For something a little more cosmopolitan than Old Town, head over to Bahnhofsstrasse boulevard for high-end shopping and the true luxurious Switzerland.
Besides walking around the city, there are countless attractions, monuments and museums awaiting you. Be sure to check out the stained glass windows in the Fraumunster Church, learn about the country’s history and culture at the Swiss National Museum, or climb to the top of the Grossmunster for unbeatable views of the city and surroundings.
For some nature on a trip to Zurich, take a day tour to Mount Titlis for some relaxation and alpine air. You can also head over to Lake Zurich to chill out for the day, travel around on a boat or practice your skills in stand up paddle boarding!
Looking to do something super memorable in Zurich? How about a hot air balloon flight? This full-day excursion will give you a unforgettable memory of Switzerland as your hot air balloon glides through the skies. Each flight is unique, with a different point depending on the weather and the pilot’s course. This is definitely an epic activity to do!
No matter how long you spend in Zurich, I guarantee you won’t have a boring moment during your stay.
Looking to escape bustling cities on your Swiss holiday? Well, Zermatt is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to marvel at all of Mother Nature’s glory.
Zermatt is located right at the base of some of the highest mountains in the Alps, the crown jewel being Matterhorn which looms over Switzerland and captivates both visitors and locals alike.
What stands out about Matterhorn is the “tooth” that sits jagged on top of the mountain, almost touching the sky. It’s a beautiful sight when the sun hits it just right, so be sure to head to one of the grassy expanses during the evening to catch the marvelous view.
While in Zermatt, head to Gornergrat via the highest open-air rack railway in Europe and end up at a 3,000-meter tall viewing platform to see Matterhorn in all of its glory. You should also visit Rothorn, dubbed as Matterhorn glacier paradise, which is Europe’s highest summer ski region that is open all-year long!
Besides the alpine majesty in Zermatt, you can also marvel at Gorner Gorge, an outstanding natural wonder. Travel through the giant chasm across wooden walkways and behold the light that reflects off the natural pools below. You’ll be flooded in visions of turquoise as you walk through – certainly a lovely way to spend a day in awe!
Zermatt is the perfect place to visit for all sorts of alpine adventures, or for a chill time in a mountain village. Gorge yourself on hearty food, wander around the quaint town, and enjoy spectacular views the entire time.
Situated right on the banks of Lake Geneva, Montreux is a resort town that blends both water and mountains, making for a gorgeous Swiss vacation spot.
Besides being utterly beautiful, Montreux has no shortage of things to do. Wander along the promenade to take in the flowers, trees, and artfully-placed sculptures. The promenade is also a great place to admire the Belle Epoque architecture and get a feel for the city.
Visitors to Montreux are in for some grand adventures. Take a ride along the Golden Pass Railway aboard a cogwheel train for views of a lifetime. You’ll travel through the countryside as well as up Rochers-de-Naye, from which you’ll be completely immersed in mountain and lake views.
Besides the Golden Pass Railway, one of the most famous places to visit in Montreux is Chateau de Chillon, an offshore medieval castle sitting atop a nearby island. Spend the day exploring the castle and the rich history that goes along with it!
Pro Tip: Visit in July to catch the famous Jazz Festival held every year in Montreux!
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without a trip to the capital, Bern.
Bern is built on a riverbend, giving it an interesting city structure, as well as the ultimate blend between land and water, in the way many Swiss cities share. This old city dates back to the 12th century, which means this place is full of medieval buildings that you can gape at while spending the day walking through Old Town.
Bern is also home to the meeting place of the Swiss Parliament, whose meetings convene in a gorgeous building with a domed roof. Be sure to stop by here on your tour of the city!
Other key sights are the Cathedral of Bern, which is filled with stained glass windows from the 15th century, and Zytglogge, the mechanical clock tower that watches over the city. There are tours offered through the clock tower that will give you a look into the hidden depths of one of the oldest buildings in the city. This shouldn’t be missed!
Filled with interesting museums, Bern is also an art lover’s paradise. Visit the Bern Historical Museum to learn about Einstein (who lived in Bern), the Kunstmuseum for classic European art, or the Zentrum Paul Klee for a hefty dose of modern art and a gorgeous building designed by the famous Renzo Piano.
For an exhaustive list of all that you can do in Bern, check out this article!
Located on the upper part of the Rhine River right near Germany lies Schaffhausen. Its quaint buildings, colorful facades, and museums reveals this medieval town’s history and secrets.
One of the main reasons to visit Schaffhausen is that it’s downright pretty. The buildings are beautiful, the surrounding nature is pristine, and there are plenty of viewing platforms and lookout points that will give you the best views of it all.
Some of the sights you just can’t miss are the Old Town, Munot Fortress, and the All Saints Cathedral and Cloister.
Schaffhausen is the ideal place to visit if you’re interested in spending the day at Rhine Falls, the largest plains waterfall in Europe. The falls are located just south of the town and you’re able to take a boat along the river to hit a viewing platform to witness them in all their glory.
An alternative viewpoint of the falls involves a trip to a castle sitting on a cliff. From Schloss Laufen, you’re able to see the rushing waters from a higher vantage point. Plus, you’ll be in a castle. Does it get much better than that?
Can’t choose between Switzerland and Italy for your next vacation? Take a trip to Ticino for a mix of both! Although located in Switzerland, Ticino is right next to Italy, which means this region has a heavy Italian influence on everything from the food, to buildings and even the language.
The capital of Ticino is Bellinzona which is full of medieval castles for visiting and distinct red-roofed houses that looks similar to the ever-popular Mediterranean coast.
While in Ticino, you’ll have to visit Lake Maggiore to be surrounded by the Alps as you stand on the waterfront. This lake is home to many islands that you’re able to visit, as well as waterfront villas that make for a luxurious getaway.
If you love adventure travel, you should definitely put Ticino on your itinerary. It’s the ideal place for adventurous activities suited to anyone’s taste.
During your visit, take the opportunity to go on a paragliding expedition to soar over the region and see it from a bird’s eye view. Alternatively, book a bungee jump from the Verzasca Dam, which was made famous in a James Bond movie. Leap off a bridge that comes in at a steep 220 meters high and feel adrenaline like never before.
Ticino is the perfect place to fill yourself with pasta, go on the ultimate blood pumping adventure, and take in stunning sights of a slice of Italy located in Swiss territory.
Besides Bellinzona, the other great place to visit in the Ticino region is Lugano.
Also exuding heavy Italian influence, Lugano has a lovely promenade to stroll on. You’ll catch sight of the famous glacial lake, as well as Piazza della Riforma which, in true Italian fashion, is surrounded by architecture that can’t be missed.
While visiting Lugano, it’s without a doubt that you’ll stroll through Old Town. Try and get to a high point for views of the red rooftops that rival those of the Mediterranean, before walking back down for a big bowl of risotto.
Speaking of risotto, Lugano is one of the best places to do a food tour as you’ll find diverse cuisine that’s a blend of Italian and Swiss. What could be better?
Notable places to visit in Lugano include Villa del Balbianello, a Renaissance building sitting on the lakeside, Monte San Salvatore which is accessible by cable car or foot for panoramic views of the region, and Monte Bre, which you can enjoy by taking a funicular.
Lugano is an extremely magical place worthy of anyone’s bucket list.
Olympic lovers unite as Lausanne is the place to be! Home to the international Olympic Committee headquarters, this city on Lake Geneva is brimming with sports lovers and Olympic attractions — besides all of the traditional elements that hold together an old Swiss town.
On a trip to Lausanne, the Olympic Museum is a must-visit to learn about the history of the world games. Following the learning bit, take a trip to the Olympic Park located right on the lake!
Once you’ve had your fill of sports history, wander through the old city for views of medieval buildings, a Gothic cathedral from the 12th century and of course, shops galore.
Besides all of the touristy things you can do in Lausanne, this is an awesome place for those seeking an active vacation. Teeming with hiking trails and bike paths, you can exercise around the lake. For a more simple day, hop on a boat and sail around Lake Geneva to catch sight of the city from the water, as well as other surrounding villages.
A picturesque town, Lausanne is an outstanding location in Switzerland.
A final must-visit location in Switzerland is the glorious Basel, sitting on the Rhine River in northern Switzerland.
Basel is located in an interesting place, as it’s near the borders of both France and Germany. This city takes on influences from both countries and combines it with the traditional Swiss atmosphere. How’s that for interesting?
Basel is a hub for art in Switzerland and has some outstanding collections that cannot be missed. For modern art lovers, a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art is a must, as is the Fondation Beyeler. For architecture geeks, this is another building by the famous Renzo Piano, so be sure to check it out as you pass through!
Besides museums, take a gander across the Mittlere Brucke bridge from 1225 that crosses the Rhine, or visit the giant zoo filled with exotic animals from around the world!
A last must-see stop in Basel is the Gate of Spalen. This gate has much historical significance as it’s the place where supplies for the border region of Alsace were transported through. It’s also a gorgeous structure that grants visitors unreal views of the city below.
For a introduction to this city and what it has to offer, try taking a walking tour!
So what do you think? Any places on this list spark your interest? Switzerland is such a diverse country with its own unique identity in addition to the hodge podge of influences from surrounding countries.
There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re an art buff, outdoor junkie, or simply looking for a beautiful place to relax.
Headed to Switzerland? Check out these articles
- Switzerland Travel Tips
- Where to Stay in Switzerland that Will Fit Any Travel Budget
- Skydiving in Interlaken Review: The Ultimate Bucket List
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