It’s no secret that Switzerland has scenery in spades. The small European country is big on towering, snow-capped mountains, shimmering lakes, storybook villages, and vibrant cities. For active vacationers, Switzerland offers virtually every winter sport, including, of course, some of the world’s best skiing, plus hiking, biking, climbing, hang-gliding, and other temptations for adrenaline junkies. There’s also plenty to fill a more leisurely vacation, with hearty cuisine, including what some say is the world’s finest chocolate, high-end shopping, first-rate museums, and, at every turn, another gobsmacking panorama.
Switzerland is a year-round destination, and it would take many, many trips to see all that it has to offer. But assuming you don’t have a lifetime to explore the country, here’s our list of the top 10 places to see in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s largest city is a stunner—at once historic and modern, cosmopolitan and bohemian. Divided by the Limmat River and wrapping around Lake Zurich’s shores, Zurich offers some of Switzerland’s best museums, Swiss and international dining, and Bahnhofstrasse rightfully called the world’s most expensive shopping street. Plan to spend much of your time in the Altstadt, or Old Town, and enjoy at least one traditional meal in a restaurant housed in a former medieval guildhall. Many a tour of Switzerland begins or ends here, as the city is seamlessly connected to the rest of the country and Europe, thanks to the ultra-efficient Swiss Rail System.
Switzerland’s second-largest city, French-speaking Geneva sits at the southwestern end of Lake Geneva and has a long lakefront promenade on two shores offering views of the famous Jet d’Eau fountain. Geneva is one of Europe’s most expensive cities in which to live; that prosperity is felt in its elegant streets and parks, high-end shopping avenues, and five-star hotels with luxury sedans parked out front. But the city is also rich in history, as the center of the Swiss Reformation and, today, the home of the International Red Cross and the United Nations.
The Swiss capital of Bern sits on a sharp bend in the River Aare in the western part of the country. Its Altstadt, or Old Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to so many well-preserved medieval buildings. But the undisputed star of the show is the Zytglogge, the fascinating astronomical clock that Einstein is said to have studied when developing his Theory of Relativity. Bern Minster has the tallest church spire in Switzerland and a stunning main portal. Those with more modern tastes can head to Zentrum Paul Klee, a museum dedicated to the country’s most famous artist.
Like so many Swiss cities, pretty, walkable Lucerne occupies a magnificent setting—this time on Lake Lucerne with the Alps as a backdrop. The 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) is one of the most photographed sights in Switzerland, and Lucern’s medieval Altstadt (Old Town) looks much the same as it did hundreds of years ago. The innovative Swiss Museum of Transport is the most visited museum in Switzerland.
5. Lake Geneva
With one shore in Switzerland and one shore in France, Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) is a sparkling, half-moon-shaped international playground. On the Swiss side, it offers the elegant city of Geneva; relaxed Montreux, famous for its jazz festival; and Lausanne, home of the International Olympic Committee. The terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region are a UNESCO World Heritage Site—some date back to the 11th-century. Last but definitely not least, 12th-century Chillon Castle is everything a castle should be—complete with a (partial) moat, dungeons, and a keep.
The smallest Swiss canton, Appenzell Innerrhoden is set in the rolling hills south of Lake Constance. This is storybook Switzerland, complete with villages of brightly painted houses, folk traditions, and residents in traditional costume. In the fall, the cows literally come home, as herdsmen bring their cattle—decked out in bells and flower garlands—down from the mountains for the winter. Appenzell’s car-free village is a center for folk-art, traditional festivals, baked goods, and yes—yodeling.
7. St. Moritz & the Engadine
St. Moritz ranks as one of the world’s top winter playgrounds for the jet set, and its palatial hotels, luxury shopping, and tony apres-ski scene are fun to dip into. Non-one-percenters might prefer some of the smaller, more down-to-earth towns and villages of the sunny Engadine Valley, known for its glaciers, snowy peaks, glacial lakes, forest, and folk culture. Listen closely, and you may hear Romansch being spoken—the ancient Latin-based language is still taught in the Engadine schools. The area is also a summer paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and windsurfers.
8. Interlaken & Jungfrau
Set between lakes Thun and Brienz, the pleasant town of Interlaken is the most convenient base for exploring the towering peaks of the Bernese Oberland—the region of glaciers, craggy mountains, and pristine lakes that offer postcard views at every turn. From Interlaken, a system of trains, cable cars, and cogwheel rails connect to the region’s major ski areas and the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. For more than a century, it’s been the highest railway station in Europe. There, a high altitude playground awaits, with observatory platforms offering multi-peak views, the Eispalast (Ice Palace) walk inside a glacier, plus restaurants, and, of course, more skiing.
9. Lugano and Ticino
You’d be excused for thinking you’ve crossed over into Italy once you reach Ticino, the region wedged between the Alps and the Italian border. There’s a distinctly Mediterranean vibe here, and Italian, not Swiss, is the first language. Lakes Lugano and Maggiore shares shores with Italy and offer a summertime playground for hiking, sailing, and swimming, with a touch of la dolce vita thrown in. Lugano’s lakefront city is the bustling regional hub, but climb—or take a cable car—up any mountain to discover sleepy, rustic villages, clean air, and traditional country inns and restaurants.
Something looms large over the car-free, stylish-yet-traditional mountain town of Zermatt—the Matterhorn. Europe’s most famous mountain peak draws hordes of visitors to this otherwise sleepy town in the valley for skiing, ice-climbing, and arduous summer hikes, and mountain biking. There’s plenty of passive sightseeing to do here as well, and the views never disappoint. A mountaineering museum, traditional restaurants, luxe spas, and cozy—if not cheap—hotels can keep you pleasantly occupied here for a few days.
Frequently Asked Questions About Things To Do In Switzerland
Q. What things are to be kept in mind before traveling given the coronavirus situation?
A – Do keep in check the following things before planning a trip: Carry hand sanitizers, masks, tissues, and disinfectant wipes, book your trip well in advance, avoid contact with the surface, and maintain social distancing.
Q. What can you see in Switzerland in 3 days?
A – Switzerland is a destination that is blessed with scenic beauty and one would prefer exploring outdoors. So in case you are visiting Switzerland for 3 days or less, it is better to focus on 2 Swiss places – Interlaken and Lucerne that have great views, offer good activities and are also lesser expensive than the other popular Swiss cities.
Q. What is there to do in Switzerland in the winter?
A – Some of the best things to do in Switzerland in winter include skiing, dog sledding, riding on St. Bernina Express, Christmas market shopping, visiting a chocolate factory.
Q. What should I wear in Switzerland?
A – Switzerland is a mountainous country, layering is an important factor of clothing. Carry some long-sleeved tops that can take you through all weather. Pair them with sweaters or coats it gets colder.
Q. What is there to do in Switzerland?
A – There are many interesting things to do in Switzerland that will keep you hooked. Some of the best things to do in Switzerland are trying paddle boarding, skydiving, mountain biking, and sledging.
Q. What is Switzerland famous for?
A – Switzerland is famous for not just one but many things. It is known for inventing and creating many important things such as Cellophane, Velcro, and the Swiss Army Knife. Not just that Switzerland is also famous for its many tourist attractions and edible chocolate gold.
Q. Is Switzerland an expensive place to visit?
A – Honestly, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to visit in the world with Zurich and Geneva being two of the most expensive countries to live in.
Q. Which is the best month to visit Switzerland?
A – The best month to visit Switzerland is from April to June, and September to November as the weather is great at that time and you will be able to explore the country comfortably.
Q. Is Switzerland a safe country to travel to?
A – Yes, Switzerland is a very safe country to visit. It is actually one of the safest countries to visit in Europe. Although the place is not crime-free, it still is safe.
Q. What is the cheapest month to fly to Switzerland?
A – The cheapest month to fly to Switzerland is February as it is one of the colder months and airlines offer heavy discounts on flights.
Q. Switzerland Language ?
A – German. The German language is spoken in the eastern and central parts of Switzerland. The majority (about 60%) of the population speak Swiss-German, otherwise known as Schweizerutsch, a combination of various dialects that were once spoken in Austria and Germany.
Q. Switzerland Map
A – MAP
Q. Switzerland Capital
A – Switzerland does not technically have a capital city. The city of Bern is known as the capital of the country for all intents and purposes. Since 1848, Bern has been the seat of the Federal Parliament of Switzerland, therefore, the de facto capital.
Q. Switzerland Travel Restrictions
A – Entry form
You will find the entry form for incoming travellers at swissplf.admin.ch. Fill out the form before you enter Switzerland.
Who has to fill out the entry form?
You must complete the form if the following applies to you:
- You are entering Switzerland by airplane. This also includes a stopover in Switzerland, for example air travellers who have to change flight.
Filling out and control
Fill out the electronic entry form on a computer or smartphone before or during travel. Once you’ve filled out the form you’ll be emailed a QR code as confirmation. Have this code ready for inspection when you enter Switzerland. If you are controlled you can show the QR code on your smartphone or produce a printed confirmation. If you have not filled out the entry form despite the obligation to do so, the controlling authority can punish you with a CHF 100 fine. The same applies if you provide false information on the form.