Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
The Swiss Alps, the Matterhorn, and Lake Geneva are just some of the natural wonders you can explore in Switzerland. But there’s so much more to see! From medieval castles to world-class museums, from quaint villages to bustling cities – this small country has it all.
When you think of vacation destinations, you might not first consider Switzerland, but it should. The country is famous for its ski resorts, stunning mountainscape, neutrality, history, and more. You don’t have to go skiing either, Switzerland has something to offer every tourist type.
Here, we’ve narrowed down your trip itinerary to the top 10 best places to visit in Switzerland. Take a look to see where you should plan your excursion.
Top 10 Places to You Need to Visit in Switzerland
From the Matterhorn’s snowy mountain peaks to the calm blue waters in Lugano, Switzerland’s landscape is diverse, daring, and altogether spectacular. Below, we’ve listed the top 10 Switzerland destinations to satiate every tourist type.
Smack dab in central Switzerland lies Lucerne, a historic town with the architecture to match. Lucerne’s most captivating attractions, the Chapel Bridge, attracts visitors from all over because of its history and centuries withstanding architecture. It’s one of Europe’s oldest surviving bridges and one of the most beautiful.
While Chapel Bridge is beautiful, it’s not the only reason to visit the region. Another interesting point is Lake Lucerne. Besides its stunning cerulean hue, the lake offers the ideal place for a picnic or afternoon hike from one of its many attached nature trails. You can even tour the lake on a steamship cruise if you choose.
For more exploration, you can take a quick cable car trip to one of the surrounding mountains, such as Pilatus, Rigi, or Stanserhorn. Or, if you prefer to stay locally in town, you can tour the famous Nine Towers, a feature that encapsulated Lucerne’s rich history alongside the beautiful town and lake views.
You may not have heard about Wengen, but you’ve most likely seen it before. Wengen, Switzerland, is the site of popular films, such as The Hobbit and James Bond: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The feature Bond films spotlight some of the area’s picturesque scenery. The Bond film even plays at the Piz Gloria, a rotating restaurant on top of the Schitlhorn, a snowy mountain peak.
As for The Hobbit, the film may not feature the region as seen in the movies, as they filmed in New Zealand. However, the book and movie would not have been possible if it were not for Wengen, Switzerland. Author, Tolkien, got the inspiration for the book because of his tours throughout the mountain Wengen landscape.
As far as what to do goes, Wengen offers plenty. From here, you can take an excursion to the previously mentioned Jungfraujoch or the Grindelwald-first. The Grindelwald-first is a unique and stunning adventure featuring a walkable mountain wrap-around bridge called the Tisott First Walk. The bridge even peaks out far above a ravine for daring adventurers.
In Wengen, you can also mountain bike, hike, road bike, and climb. For visitors looking for more lowkey day-to-day excitement, the Wengen village has much to offer, including shopping, luxury restaurants, and tons of culture.
If you love cheese, you can’t pass up a trip to Gruyeres, Switzerland. The area, as you might have guessed, is renowned for its signature cheese, Gruyere. Here, you can take a quick day trip to La Maison Du Gruyere, the cheese factory and museum. You can take a day to tour how the locals make the cheese, indulge in the rich history, and enjoy tasty samples
Gruyeres itself is a beautiful region perched upon a lush green hillside in Switzerland. At its peak resides the Chateau de Gruyeres, a castle dating back to the medieval century. You can tour the castle, its stately rooms, and take in the beautifully preserved piece of history.
If history and museums don’t float your boat, you can always participate in one of the many outdoor excursions Gruyeres offers. For instance, you can hike around the Lac de Montsalvens, a cerulean lake offering various trails to explore. The Dent de Broc mountain also offers multiple hiking trails and scenic strolls through the region.
For more altitude, you can explore Dent de Chamois, the region’s most prominent peak. The Dent de Chamois has hiking trails alongside a more advanced ascent to the summit.
Traveling to Zermatt is like taking a trip to an entirely new, secluded country. It’s tucked away beneath one of Switzerland’s most famed and tallest peaks, Matterhorn. The region is only accessible via lengthy scenic routes, and cars within the city limits must be electric to preserve the environment.
Zermatt, essentially, is a ski-resort town. Most people who visit the city take cable cars up the mountainside for a snowy vacation where they can ski and snowboard for as long as they want whether during the Summer or Winter months.
However, Zermatt welcomes all visitors, not just winter sports enthusiasts. Even if you don’t know how to ski, you’ll still find the views and landscape equally enticing. You can also tour the quaint village for shops, restaurants and more.
Plus, Zermatt is home to various hiking trails ranging from beginner to advanced, depending on your skill level. You can scale mountainsides or venture out to Glacier Paradise, a relatively smooth sailing hike for views of the stunning glacial landscape.
Switzerland is famous worldwide for its skiing destinations among the Swiss Alps. However, there’s more to the region than the snowy slopes. Take Lugano, for example. The area, nestled along Lake Lugano sloping downward on a rich green hillside, is similar to Monte Carlo in its appearance and beauty.
Lugano resides within the country’s Italian section, so Italy’s influences run-heavy here, most notably in the architecture. Speaking of architecture, il Cattedrale di San Lorenzo is one of the popular destinations within Lugano to visit.
This historic masterpiece dates back to the early 16th century yet remains in nearly pristine condition. Even those without religious preference cannot hide their astonishment when taking in the cathedral’s marble sculptures and overall stature.
Since Lugano sits on a lake, it’s not surprising that tourists and natives like to take a dip from time to time. You can even take a boat out onto the blue depths for some fun in the sun in the warmer season. Along the lake, you can take a relaxing stroll following the Olive Trail. When you’ve tired from outdoor activity, the village has no shortage of shops and restaurants to try.
You wouldn’t think it at first, but once you settle into Bern’s bustling historic neighborhood you’ll understand why the city is Switzerland’s capital. Bern serves as a gateway to the neighboring ski destinations but serves as an ideal vacation spot in itself.
The city is centuries old and deserves a thorough walkabout to get a sense of its history, particularly in the old town neighborhood. For the best old town views, you can ascend the 101-meter tall cathedral. You can also take a quick tour of the luxurious neighboring rose garden, which doubles as an ideal picture stop.
If you want to immerse yourself in the Bern culture, you can’t pass on the Dahlholzli Zoo and Bear Park. The bear is Bern’s symbolic beast and cannot go unnoticed within the city. If you visit in November, you cannot miss the Onion Market, which occurs on the fourth Monday of the month. Here, tons of visitors and locals come out to sell and purchase varying onion products from local merchants.
Of course, much like the rest of Switzerland, Bern offers various hiking trails and outdoor excursions to satisfy the outdoorsy visitor.
No trip to Switzerland is complete without a stop in Zurich for a few days. Often confused as the country’s capital, Zurich is a bustling city center for the cosmopolitan lifestyle. Visitors can indulge in cultural cuisine like fondue, grilled sausage, or one of the area’s famous chocolates before popping into one of the many trendy bars.
If you want a little more nature during your retreat, you don’t have to venture far since the city houses Lake Zurich. Take a relaxing stroll around the lake and watch delicate swans swim on its surface.
You can also tour the region’s medieval architecture and various museums such as the Kunsthaus Zurich, home to Switzerland’s largest art collection, Museum Reitberg, or the Swiss National Museum. If art isn’t your forte, you can stop by the FIFA World Cup Museum or the Zurich Tram Museum.
No matter where you turn in Zurich, some new adventure awaits you even if it’s just hitting the town to shop at local hotspots.
Geneva is a rich cultural hub in Switzerland offering a diverse attraction pool from nature escapes to museum tours. Here, you can revel in Lake Geneva’s beauty and get a glimpse of the Jet D’Eau, a skyrocketing fountain you can’t miss. You can head to the botanical gardens at the Monument National for more nature and a taste of scenic Geneva.
Another garden attraction you won’t want to pass up is the Jardin Botanique Alpin de Meyrin, which you’ll instantly recognize from the miniature windmill out front. Continuing on your scenic tour, you can indulge in one of Geneva’s many parks scattered about.
Since Switzerland in its entirety is a historical hotspot, you won’t find a shortage of museums in Geneva. From the Cern, a science museum, to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum, you can experience Geneva’s historical roots to their fullest.
Basel is one of Switzerland’s quintessential quaint towns, notable for its size and historical architecture. Art is a major focal point here as one of the top attractions is the Fine Arts Museum.
The city is very walkable, unlike many others in the country. A popular walking tour in Basel is the area’s old town. Here, the city restored the tight-knit neighborhood to recreate the picturesque historical accuracy. It’s ultimately the ideal historical town to tour and find a bite to eat during your journey.
If you don’t want to walk or need a break, you can hop on a decadent ferry ride called the Rheinfahre to transport you across the small river cutting through the area. You can also hop aboard one of Basel’s double-decker sightseeing tours, where you can quickly hit every interest point in the area and plan a walking trip back afterward.
The Jungfrau Region
Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, you must visit the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps. The views are undeniably breathtaking. The towering medieval mountainscape blanketed in sparkling snow will captivate you and transport you to a transcendent state. It’s not among the most popular ski tourism destinations, making it ideal for visitors who want to tour the region without learning how to scale the slopes.
Besides hiking and outdoor excursions, the Jungfrau Region entices visitors with its hidden gems embedded within its frozen facade, such as Jungfraujoch, the ice palace otherwise known as the “Top of Europe.”
This breathtaking architectural masterpiece rests on top of one of the mountain peaks, providing an indescribable panoramic view. Carved into the mountain itself are the Jungfraujoch tunnels and hallways through which visitors can meander to see hidden ice sculptures and tour the palace.
At 3,650 meters up, you can take a short hike to the Monchsjoch hut, accessible via a footpath that takes only about 45 minutes to travel. On your way to the hut and while you’re there, you get unbeatable views of both Switzerland and the Valais mountains, especially during sunrise and sunset.
Ready for a trip to Switzerland?
Whether you want an active vacation or a relaxing getaway, Switzerland will make your dreams come true. We know you want to see the Swiss Alps, taste our chocolate and cheese, and explore our beautiful cities. But when is the best time? Read my guide to the best time to visit Switzerland next!