Ever wondered which places to visit in Switzerland?, well these are the Top 14 Places to Visit in Switzerland that needs to be on everyone’s list when they visit this very charming country. Switzerland is everything and more than you imagined. The soaring snow-covered Alps will take your breath away. The cuter than cute fairy tale villages, the cows wandering around the lush green meadows with their bells cheerfully ringing, will have you captivated with this Heidi Country. When you visit Switzerland, you will fin it has it all – clear lakes, glaciers, a rich cultural history, cheese, skiing, hiking, history, castles and the people are totally lovely.
Seeing this idyllic country is easy and seeing it by the mega efficient train system means that you can appreciate the breathtaking awesomeness of the country, without navigating the Alps. If you want art, music, and hospitality then Switzerland delivers on all fronts. Gordon and I have been fortunate to have explored a lot of this amazing country, yet there are still places that we are yet to visit – but we will.
Getting Around Switzerland: Transportation Tips
- 1 Top Places to Visit in Switzerland
- 1.1 1. What to do in Zurich
- 1.2 2. What to do in Interlaken
- 1.3 3. What to do in the Jungfrau Region
- 1.4 4. How to Explore Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe
- 1.5 5. What to do in Lucerne
- 1.6 6. Visit The Matterhorn
- 1.7 7. What to do in Zermatt
- 1.8 8. What to do in Geneva
- 1.9 9. What to do in St. Moritz
- 1.10 10. What to do in Bern
- 1.11 11. What to do in Lake Lugano and Ticino
- 1.12 12. What to do in Emmental
- 1.13 13. What to do in Basel
- 1.14 Staying in Basel
- 1.15 14. What to do in Montreux
Train travel is by far the most economical and popular form of transportation in Switzerland. The train stations are clean and equipped with a variety of services, while the trains themselves are punctual, equally clean and comfortable.
Top Places to Visit in Switzerland
1. What to do in Zurich
Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and is located on the river Limmat. Zurich is a banker’s centre, but Zurich is also a culturally rich city, with many things to see and do.Zurich in Switzerland is chic and cool, historical and interesting. The city is one of the easiest cities to navigate either on foot or by tram.
Play at Lake Zurich
Lake Zurich is a very big draw card, particularly with locals. They will be down to the lake as soon as the sun comes out. Visiting Niederdorf, the Old Town on the eastern bank of the river Limmat, is where history meets a very lively café scene. There are medieval alleys and small squares as well as beautiful Renaissance buildings, to admire as you are walking through the old town.
Where to Eat in Zurich
There are over 1,500 restaurants and cafes that span every cuisine as befits such a multicultural city. Interestingly two of the most favoured foods are kebabs and tapas. Prices will vary so it pays to read the menu before you go in. Restaurant Orangerie is a pleasant choice. Zurich is chic, interesting and an easy city to visit. Lindt chocolate is made just outside of Zurich and there are samples to be had if you visit the factory.
Where to Stay in Zurich
There are many wonderful places to stay in Zurich. We stayed at Hotel Engimatt and loved it. Check out the prices for it here, and read about our experiences at this green hotel in Zurich. Check out the competitive rates here for other properties in Zurich..
2. What to do in Interlaken
How to get to Interlaken?
Interlaken is located between Lake Thun to the west and Lake Brienz. Direct train service from Zurich to Interlaken are not available. You can travel on an InterCity train from Zurich to Bern or Lucerne, change trains and travel direct to Interlaken. Total travel time is just under 2 hours.
There are 35 acres of open space, the Höhematte in the middle of the town The mighty peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau tower above the town providing excellent opportunities for alpine adventures. It is a popular summer and winter destination with a lot of activities drawing both international and domestic travelers. Hiking, climbing, abseiling, and kayaking are all very popular.
Visit Harder Alpine Wildlife Park
The Harder Alpine Wildlife Park allows you to see marmots and ibexes. The funicular is located here and climbs up Harder to an altitude of 1,322 meters.
Visit Schynige Platte
Take a rack-railroad to the Schynige Platte since it opened in 1893. At the top, there is an alpine garden with 600 species of flowers, you’ll find one of the finest panoramic views of the Alps, encompassing the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks as well as Lake Thun.
Cruise on Lake Thun
Lake Thun is a long, narrow lake surrounded by mountains. The best way to explore the lake is on one of the cruise boats.
Where to Stay in Interlaken
Let a search engine check all hotel booking sites, to get the best price on accomodation to suit your budget. Best prices to stay in Interlaken are here.
3. What to do in the Jungfrau Region
Explore the villages of Grindelwald, Murren and Lauterbrunnen and Wengen
The villages of Grindelwald, Murren and Lauterbrunnen and Wengen are about as pretty as you can get and are also the gateway to the Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe.
Stay in Grindelwald
Grindelwald is one of the villages of the Jungfrau Region and is situated in the heart of Switzerland, in the Bernese Oberland, at the foot of the three famous mountains – the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The Jungfrau region is known as the top of the world for obvious reasons much of which is associated with the Jungfraujoch, which is the cog railway line that has the highest railway station in Europe and is where you can get to the Top of Europe. Check the Latest prices on accomodation in Grindelwald.
Take the cog wheel train to Wengen and Mannlichen
Taking the cog wheel train to Wengen is one of the prettiest of many very pretty train journeys in Switzerland. Here you can then take the aerial gondola to Mannlichen where you can enjoy the Mountain Brunch and Barbecue at the Männlichen mountain restaurant.
4. How to Explore Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe
One of the most popular experiences in the beautiful Bernese Oberland is the train journey to Jungfraujoch, with an observation terrace and scientific observatory perched at 3,454 meters. To go to the top of the world means travelling to Switzerland and taking the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch, which is the highest-altitude railway station in the world
The longest glacier in Europe, the Great Aletsch Glacier begins at Jungfraujoch, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People are a little concerned about two things with going to the ‘top of Europe’ – the altitude and the cost of the trip. The train ticket is not cheap so avoid an overcast day with low visibility. When you do go however it is an ethereally stunning scene. Altitude sickness is a tricky one. Some people get it and others don’t. I approached the trip with some trepidation and while I was lucky in that I just got a very slight headache, which I forgot about pretty quickly, others needed to sit down. The signs are very good and tell you to take it easier – walk slowly, sit down for a rest etc. Others swear by drinking a power drink on the way up so it may well be worth trying this. I guess at the end of the day, it is a unique experience both travelling on the cog wheel trains, seeing the inspiring Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch mountains and looking all around the world from this vantage point.
5. What to do in Lucerne
Lucerne, like Zermatt has a car-free medieval old town,. Revel in the beauty of the historic buildings, waterfront promenades, and stop and have a coffee or a wine in one of the many plazas. Lucerne is a music mecca, and there are concerts on at all times.
Visit Chapel Bridge, and Lion Monument
The most famous landmarks are the Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century. In a small park, lies the famous Lion Monument, a poignant sculpture of a dying lion, which honors the heroic death of Swiss Guards during the attack on the Tuileries in the French Revolution.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
There are many choices, so check here and make sure you use the filters to get what you want and require in your accomodation
6. Visit The Matterhorn
The Matterhorn has been of great interest to people not only for its sheer physical presence and beauty but also for its unforgiving nature to those who attempt to conquer it. It has been shrouded in controversy since the very first ascent in 1865. This year, 2015 is the 150th anniversary of this first ascent of the Matterhorn and Zermatt is celebrating in style.
It might not be the highest mountain in the world nor indeed in Switzerland itself, but it certainly has had people talking for a long time. For a start, there is a slight dispute as to who ‘owns’ the Matterhorn. The French call it Mont Cervin and the Italians call it Monte Cervino, yet in reality the world knows it as the Matterhorn and the Swiss claim it as their own. It has become an icon of the Swiss Alps and is one of the most photographed mountains in the world.
The word “Matterhorn” is German, with Matte, meaning “meadow”, and Horn, which means “peak”. The Swiss town of Zermatt is where you see the Matterhorn in all of its glory
7. What to do in Zermatt
Any village that stands in the path of the mighty Matterhorn is special, and Zermatt is all of that and more. Zermatt in Switzerland is nestled at the foot of the famous and magnificent Matterhorn at a height of 4,478 meters. Zermatt is a pretty sure bet with snow, and therefore skiing is guaranteed for much of the year due to its high altitude. The winter season is one of the longest in Europe starting in early November and finishing in mid-May. Zermatt is well known as a resort for people who enjoy the finer things in life, and this is true.
Take the gondola to the Blauherd
Take the gondola to the Blauherd, which sits at 2571 metres, and then take the big gondola to Rothorn, which sits at 3103 metres up in the Swiss Alps. Go back to the village of Zermatt, and then take the electric bus around to yet another gondola to go up to Riffleberg for a late lunch and a good rest on the sun decks of the mountains.
Take the Gornergrat,
Go to Gornergrat, at an altitude of 3,089 m above sea level, and to the 2nd highest observatory in Europe. From here, you can see the highest mountains in Switzerland, the Monte Rosa at 4,634 metres. The Gornergrat has been a top tourist destination in Switzerland for the last 111 years.
Where to Stay in Zermatt
In this pretty little place, you will find many options. Here are the latest prices on a range of hotels, apartments and hostels in Zermatt.
8. What to do in Geneva
The city of Geneva is situated on Lake Geneva. Geneva is a French-speaking seat of the United Nations. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum is a must see, if slightly confronting experience. It is a centre of business, and there is obvious wealth in the city. Check out the vintage shops and the flea market of Plain Palais.
Jet d’Eau, a fountain in Lake Geneva shoots water 150 meters into the air and is a famous landmark. Cultural attractions include the Opera House and the Grand Théâtre, which stages international acts.
Take a tram ride to Meyrin, where CERN is open for guided tours. This is where the Hadron Collider is located. It is closed to visitors when it is in use. However, you will still learn a lot.
Where to stay in Geneva.
For straight out pampering you cannot go past Hotel de la Paix Geneva. Check the latest prices here. Read about our experience at this lovely hotel. You can check out other options on where to stay in Geneva at the link.
9. What to do in St. Moritz
St. Moritz is the epitome of Swiss elegance and a popular destination for the rich and famous. Its geographic position gives you good reason why it is one of the world’s top ski destinations. The town is divided into two parts. St. Moritz Dorf sits on a sunny terrace overlooking the Lake of St. Moritz. The other part of town, lakeside St. Moritz Bad on the valley floor, and is not as expensive as St. Moritz Dorf. Try tobogganing on the famous 1.2-kilometer-long Cresta Run.
Where to Stay in St Moritz
Latest prices for hotel in St Moritz and surrounding towns are here.
10. What to do in Bern
As the capital city of Switzerland, you will be very pleasantly surprised at how beautiful Bern in, and how very friendly the people are in this fun city.
Explore the UNESCO Old Town of Bern
Situated on the River Aare, Bern is the capital of Switzerland. The Old Town of Bern or Bern Altstadt and not all of the city of Bern is UNESCO World Heritage-listed. Bern has well over 100 fountains, eleven of which still retain the original beautiful allegorical figures. The Kindlifresserbrunnen, or child-eating fountain, is particularly interesting. Strolling along the cobbled streets, visitors can explore the tallest cathedral in Switzerland, with panoramic views from its tower; 16th-century fountains.
Check out the ‘Zytglogge’ clock
The ‘Zytglogge’ clock tower is the centre of the city. This ornate astronomical clock has moving figures, including bears, and was built in 1530. The astronomical clock shows the hour of the day, the day of the week, the month, the month itself, the zodiac sign and the phases of the moon.
See where Albert Eistein lived
Legend has it that Albert Einstein, who lived not far from the Zytglogge, was watching the buses coming round the tower and wondered what would happen to them if they moved at the speed of light … this led to his theory of relativity and is known in Bern as his Wanderjahre. You can also see his house, The Einstein House at Kramgasse 49 where he lived from 1903 to 1905.
Where to Eat in Bern in Switzerland
The Rose Garden or Rosengarten offers beautiful views of the old town center, and The very special Kornhauskeller Restaurant Bern Switzerland is a must.
Museums to visit in Bern
Bern boasts many excellent museums, and art-lovers will appreciate the Zentrum Paul Klee, the world’s largest collection of works by this famous artist, The market at Bundesplatz or parliament square are also a lot of fun.
Where to Stay in Bern in Switzerland?
There are lots and lots of places to stay in Bern. Check the latest prices here.
11. What to do in Lake Lugano and Ticino
Lake Lugano lies on the Swiss/Italian border in Ticino, and is Switzerland’s only official Italian-speaking canton. Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore both benefit from the Swiss and Italian influences and are highly popular destinations with many European travellers.
Visit Monte San Salvatore
Monte San Salvatore offers one of the most spectacular views of this pretty area.. Ticino, is a very popular summer resort. Locarno on Lake Maggiore, also is a huge draw card with its moderate climate and wealth of activities.
Where to Stay in Lake Lugano?
Where to Stay in the Canton of Ticino
12. What to do in Emmental
Emmental is a beautiful area in Switzerland known for its greener than green meadows, its well fed and much loved cows and cheese. E-cycling in Heidi like country is very popular Expect to see St Bernards carrying milk cans in their little wagons, cow bells, cows and look for Alpenhorn players because this is Switzerland.
Staying in Emmental
Wherever you stay in the beautiful and green belt of Switzerland, you will hear the cow bells. Check latest prices here.
13. What to do in Basel
Basel is located in what is called the three-country region. It is very very close to both Germany and France and these influences all make it the multicuturally exciting city that it is. This is a museum city, with more than one museum per square kilometer. The museums range from traditional to highly avant-garde. This is an arty city.
The Old Town lies between the river and the old city gate at Spalentor. Marktplatz is where the daily market selling local produce, flowers, and food specialties is held. It is also where you see the stunning Rathaus.
Staying in Basel
Loads of great places to stay in Basel. check the latest prices here.
14. What to do in Montreux
Montreux is a resort town surrounded by vineyards and against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps It’s known for its mild climate and the Montreux Jazz Festival, held in July. It is a very popular and very chic getaway and known as the capital of the Vaud Riviera. Freddie Mercury, the singer of the rock band Queen, settled in Montreux and there is a statue to his memory there.
Where to stay in Montreux?
Check out where to stay in Montreux, and book early when the Jazz Festival etc is on. Latest prices here.
These are Top 14 Places to Visit in Switzerland. Trust me, there are many many more.
Switzerland my favorite country. I have been there 4 times and seen most of these places and they are truly beautiful. I would love to go again and this time go to Schilthorn. We we y to Mt. Pilot us which you did no mention and it is awsome.
Yes Mt Pilatus should be included. Love so much of Switzerland.
What a great round up of gorgeous places. Largely because of the cost, we have only spent 2 nights (3 full days though!) in this country on our recent European road trip and loved it. I expected to love Lucerne (might even had too much of expectations!!) but Zurich was a delightful surprise. We did a golden pass journey to Mt. Pilatus as well. Next time, I will try a day tripping from Italy approach which I am hoping to be less expensive (might be wrong)
Switzerland is not the cheapest place that is for sure. But the beauty is amazing.
The White Turf Racing at St Moritz is on my travel wish list – won’t be next year though as I’m away and it’s only on twice a year. The railway journey looks like my kinda thing too 🙂
You will love the train ride. it is so beautiful. How you make it to the white turf racing.
Love it, Paula. We’re headed to Switzerland next month and my wife has already booked Basel, Geneva, Montreaux and Interlaken. We’re definitely taking the train.
You will love it and also the train is the best way to explore Switzerland. Have fun
I have been going to Zurich and Geneva almost weekly this year with work and have seen what they have to offer – great cities, albeit expensive. I would love to see more, especially Lucerne and the mountains, and in the summer too – it look stunning from the air!
So you know Switzerland well. This is one of the lovely hotels that we stayed in at Geneva, Hotel de la Paix. https://contentedtraveller.com/hotel-de-la-paix-geneva-switzerland/ I love the mountain air also.
Wow, so much to see in this little country. I have been to Geneva for a conference but seeing Matterhorn will be my next goal. I think next year!
This is true, for a little country it is huge on things to see and to do. The Matterhorn is amazing as is Zermatt and skiing into Italy for lunch was pretty exciting.
I’ve traveled in and through Switzerland several times and found it could be made affordable. We drove our own car there, and stayed in campgrounds, cooking some of our meals ourselves. The scenery, after all, is free, and absolutely breathtaking!
I agree, Switzerland can be affordable and yes, the scenery more than makes up for anything you do need to spend.
Switzerland is absolutely beautiful! We haven;t made it there yet but I have wanted to visit for years. We’re hoping to make it there next summer. I hope to cover most of these areas. I’d love to see Interlaken and the Matterhorn.
You will love it. Switzerland is so green and when the snow is around just magical. I loved the Matterhorn.
We first visited Switzerland during the 1990’s when my husband had a conference in Davos (medical not economic 😉 First, we were blown away by the prices. We ate a lot of spaghetti as a result. Second, we were very impressed by the precision of the public transportation. Someone at the main train station in Zurich put together a complex itinerary for us that involved numerous changes from trains to buses with seemingly too short time in between. We were assured everything would run like clockwork and they were right! We visited Lugano on that trip (where eating spaghetti was acceptable). I called it Italy light. There were some of the pleasant aspects of Italy, but it was spotless and everything was very efficient.
The same happened with us, when we needed a tricky set of train link ups. The man at the station had it sorted quickly even telling us which carriage to sit in, so we would be nearer to the elevator to make our connection. I love the Swiss people
OH NO! You missed Lenzerheide and Davos-Klosters, which were one of my favourite places. How I love Switzerland, so much more to discover.
Davos-Klosters is certainly on our list for next time. We were going there but then got called to Zermatt. I don’t know Lenzerheide but know that we are going back so will put it on the visit list.
While I’ve been to all the countries round it, I’ve never been to Switzerland. I knew it was lovely but wasn’t quite aware just how many different boxes it ticks. I do hope I get the chance to visit one day and see it for myself. Your photos really show it off a treat!
Thanks Katherine. We have been very fortunate in spending quite a bit of time in Switzerland and are total fans of this country, its people, its cows, its alpenhorn players ..pretty much everything.
I was quite amazed to see that I had visited all of the 14 places mentioned in your post, which brought back some fond memories. Thanks for a great posting!
Thanks Denis; it is country that I never tire of.
What a lovely round up of the best places to visit in Switzerland. It’s always been a place I wanted to explore and your on point recommendations will help determine where to begin. I’ll be looking forward to your post on the smaller towns in Switzerland as well. Thank you!
Thanks Sue, definitely put it on your list. I will look forward to sharing the smaller towns of Switzerland, which I think I may ask other travellers to share some of their favourite places too.
Terrific post! I, too, love Switzerland, but have yet to visit some of the places on your list. I shall have to plan a return visit!
It is one of those places that most people love. Hope you get to return and see more.
Great post, and I am happy to say that I have made to all of these over the years.
Thans and it is lovely country with so much to offer.
Every place you’ve highlighted looks beautiful. I hope I get to Switzerland some day.
You will love Switzerland. It is the stuff that fairytales are made of.
What a wonderful overview of all that Switzerland has to offer. Your post made me realize that I’ve only skimmed the surface~
Thanks Irene, we love Switzerland and love seeing things like to cows with their bells. the cultural traditions and the flowers hanging from the houses. It is a very pretty country.
Switzerland was one of the first places I traveled with my husband (many moons ago). I’d love to return and visit any of the spots you have mentioned, but Lake Lugano was especially memorable!
It is time for a 2nd visit. Switzerland never fails to disappoint.
It has been way too long since I have visited Switzerland – after seeing all of these lovely cities and landscapes I would definitely want to visit again!
For you Noel, it is a photographers dream. I can just imagine what you would capture.
I’ve been to 6 of the 14 and I must get back to do the rest. Switzerland was a dream country for since I was a little girl, so I was thrilled when I finally got to visit. I’d really like to do see more of the small villages on another trip. Interlaken was absolutely amazing. We stayed there for two nights and I didn’t want to leave.
I am the same; my desire to go to Switzerland was based on childhood dreams and literature and it exceeded my hopes.
This is a really handy post for someone like me who has ever been to Switzerland and wouldn’t know where to begin. Your photos of the Interlaken between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are stunning (as are many of the other destinations you’ve highlighted). Plus I’m sure there would be much fondue to enjoy along the way
The fondue is amazing, and I am so pleased that you like to article.
We didn’t spend much time in Switzerland when we were there, we actually cut our time there short because it’s so expensive.
It is not a cheap country, but there are ways to do it that make it less expensive. The Coop, the local grocery chain has reasonable prices.
The few times we have been to Switzerland we have always loved it. I don’t think there is a single corner of the country that isn’t magical.
I agree, we just love the country for all of its natural beauty and love the people for being so welcoming.
Switzerland is filled with wonders. You point most of them out. I especially enjoyed Lake Lugano and Ticino. But one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss is Heidi’s Alp, in Maienfeld, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/Travel-Articles/Abroad/Heidi-s-Hut/heidi-s-hut.html
I have a Heidi thing as I read the book a lot when i was younger. There are so many places in Switzerland that we still have to write about. For a small country it packs a big punch, of total charm.
I was 20 years old when I traveled in Switzerland. We did the Jungfrau train trip, which was amazing. I would do that again in a moment. Back then, Basel was a sleepy little place. We ended up there by accident, and it turned out to be a very pleasant accident! I also loved Interlaken. It’s hard to beat those gorgeous views!
Switzerland is such a beautiful country and full of surprises. I was not expecting a lot of Bern, but totally loved it.
Love Switzerland, but haven’t been to all those cities. I’m ready!
Just do it. Switzerland is a country that is full of natural beauty and people with a great sense of humour.
As a resident of Switzerland, I favor a number of less-known places over destinations like St. Moritz…but I’m delighted to see you included Basel (where I live), which is often not on travelers’ radar. Thanks for that! The wall painting, very typical for Basel, is at the Lohnhof, a former monastery, then prison until just a few years ago. It’s now home to a very good restaurant, the city’s Music Museum and our expat club and library. Kudos to you for finding ways to explore this country without breaking the bank. It can be done!
Anita, other than I am totally jealous of you living in amazing country, I will be writing about some of the smaller places also. I think that Switzerland is achievable despite it being expensive, but then I am from Australia, which is on a par for costs with Swizterland
I live in Basel too! Still have a lot to explore in Switzerland though!
Lucky you, you live in a beautiful city and country.
We’ve talked about riding the trains through Switzerland’s Alps and villages for years and hope to (finally!) see this part of the world soon. Lucerne and Zermatt look especially picturesque but all of these places are must-sees for us too. Gorgeous photos!
I am a huge advocate of train travel and particularly in a country like Switzerland. Driving over the alps means that the driver has to concentrate on the roads and not get to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
I’ve only ever passed through Switzerland, but I did manage to spend a few hours in Lucerne. I would go back just to see that bridge again, although your pictures have whetted my appetite to see much more.
The country is so amazing. For a really very special taste of Switzerland there are so many places, but Emmental was really very special.
A great roundup! I’ve been to all places (several times to some) except Interlaken. Some great memories I have of these places.
Thanks and I know that there are so many other places to write about and we will.
Many, many years ago, before blogs were even thought of, we spent ten days zig zagging through and around Switzerland and saw most of these places except for the Matterhorn and Zermatt. It really is a beautiful country! I can’t say which was my favourite. Each one seemed prettier than the next if that was possible.
I agree, Switzerland is such a diverse and stunningly beautiful country, it just keeps impressing us. Next time we will do some of the smaller towns.
I have only been to number 5 (Lucerne) and a replica of number 6 at Disneyland. Beautiful shots, very inviting. It’s just so expensive in Switzerland, we skipped it when we went around the world, visiting all its neighbors, but never crossing the border. Now I wonder if we made a bad choice.
Switzerland, like Australia, is not a cheap country. But, there are ways to explore it that make it more achievable. Staying in an apartment, shopping at the local stores and the Coop are great ways to cut the costs.