15 Best Cities to Visit in Switzerland
With the plethora of beautiful lakes, mountains and rivers that dot Switzerland, it´s unsurprising that so many of its cities lie amidst such spectacular scenery. Castles and churches rise imperiously above the red-rooftops of the buildings, while the ancient cobbled streets lead you on to yet more magnificent sights.
Perfectly mixing the old with the new, museums and galleries, bars and restaurants make the best cities in Switzerland lively places to visit.
Map of cities in Switzerland
© OpenStreetMap © MapTiler © Touropia
15. Biel-Bienne [SEE MAP]
Possibly the most bilingual place in the whole country, Biel, as it is known in German, lies right on the linguistic border – so half of its residents know it by the French name, Bienne. While most people simply pass through, its delightful location at the foot of the Jura Mountains overlooking Lake Biel makes it a pretty place to visit.
In addition to the views that it offers of the Alps, it has a quiet and picturesque Old Town for tourists to wander around. While you´re here, you may as well try some of the local wines and go for a swim in the lake. Biel-Bienne is a great base from which to explore the mountains and Drei-Seen-Land.
14. Sion [SEE MAP]
Lying on the banks of the Rhone, Sion is a small city that is beautifully located in the Rhone Valley. While it does have a modern side to it, the highlight is undoubtedly the old town, which has two dramatic hilltops overlooking it. Atop of these lie a ruined castle and a 13th Century church; they certainly make for impressive viewing with the Alps peering out from behind them.
With vineyards surrounding the city, wine plays an important part in Sion´s social life, so there are lots of great restaurants and atmospheric cafes from which to sample some of the local wines. From here there are some fantastic hiking trails around the valley.
13. Fribourg [SEE MAP]
© Olegmit / Dreamstime
With a stunning location straddling the gorge that splits the city in two parts, Fribourg is certainly dramatic to behold and there are a number of great views to be had from the city itself.
Rising above the Samara River, a couple of picturesque bridges join the western, French-speaking part of the city with the eastern part which speaks German. It has a magnificent medieval old town with an impressive cathedral that towers above everything, as well as some interesting museums, impressive fortifications and beautiful architecture. Thanks to its large student body there is also lively nightlife for visitors to enjoy.
12. Interlaken [SEE MAP]
© A. Shevchenko / Dreamstime
Interlaken´s incredible setting between two alpine lakes with snow-capped mountains dotted around makes it a splendid city to visit in Switzerland. Although the city itself is small and touristy due to its plethora of souvenir shops, it is the beautiful scenery surrounding it which draws people to the area.
It is the gateway to the famed Jungfrau region of the country, and from here you can go white-water rafting, abseil down waterfalls, and hike around the lovely lakes and mountaintops.
11. Chur [SEE MAP]
© Lorien7 / Dreamstime
The oldest city in Switzerland, Chur is delightfully surrounded by the Alps. As such, there is some grand hiking and trekking to be had in the nearby mountains. The city itself is small and easily walkable in a day, with the Old Town being the undoubted highlight.
Here you´ll find a laidback center with some nice bars and restaurants dotted amongst the old buildings. In the winter months there’s great skiing in the mountains, with St Moritz and Davos not too far away.
10. Thun [SEE MAP]
© Sergiyn / Dreamstime
Lying alongside the banks of the Aare River, Thun is ringed by mountains and looks like the archetypal Swiss town. With a domineering castle overlooking the city, old buildings lining the riverside, and cafes along the waterfront, Thun is a charming place to wander around. There´s a certain energy about the city and unique artisanal shops dotted about its streets.
9. Bellinzona [SEE MAP]
© Aagje De Jong / Dreamstime
With three medieval fortresses lying around this city and its beautiful location at the point where several valleys join, it is somewhat surprising that Bellinzona´s wealth of attractions receive relatively few visitors.
The Old Town is a pleasure to wander around, and its twisting alleys are home to renaissance churches, homely cafes and chiming bell-towers – all of which gives Bellinzona a charming feel. Once ruled by the Italians, Swiss and Italian culture mix together in this delightful hidden gem.
8. St. Gallen [SEE MAP]
© Milosk50 / Dreamstime
Steeped in history, St. Gallen´s ancient streets are perfect for history buffs to revel in. Its picturesque squares and tiny cobbled alleyways weave their way about the old part of town, until you suddenly stumble across the impressive cathedral towering above you.
The main attraction is the beautiful baroque library located in the abbey, containing a large number of books dating back to medieval times. A cultured seat of learning, St. Gallen is set amongst roving green hills, while mountains can be seen far off in the distance.
7. Lugano [SEE MAP]
© Denis Linine / Dreamstime
Set in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Lugano lies on the shores of Lake Lugano and has mountains throughout the landscape surrounding it. Along with its scenic setting, Lugano is a chic and glitzy place to visit, thanks to its up-market boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Its delightful cobbled streets snake away from the heart of the city at Piazza della Riforma, and there are some great promenades along the waterfront which offer fantastic views over the lake. With a fine cathedral, a great modern art museum, and hiking on offer in the nearby mountains, Lugano has more than enough to make it worth stopping by.
6. Lausanne [SEE MAP]
Buzzing with life, Lausanne´s large student body makes it a fun city in which to spend some time. There´s an upbeat and youthful feel about the city, and it´s a great place to hit the town due to its bustling nightlife scene. More than just a university town, Lausanne is beautifully located on the hillsides overlooking Lake Geneva. The city drips down the gentle slopes, with the beautiful gothic old town located at the top.
There are some great museums scattered around, or take some time to relax in the many cafes and bars that line the warehouses along the waterfront at the bottom of the city – Lausanne has something for everyone.
5. Geneva [SEE MAP]
© Sam74100 / Dreamstime
The second largest city in the country is a wealthy, cosmopolitan place that certainly has a luxurious feel. Home to numerous international organizations, such as the UN and World Bank, there is an opulence and glitter about its streets.
Lying on the shores of Lake Geneva, the city has a plethora of expensive hotels, boutiques, and restaurants for visitors to choose from, although there is, of course, another side to Geneva. Head to neighborhoods such as Les Grottes and Quartier des Paquis and you´ll soon find bars with bucket loads of ambiance and energy – a world away from the stuffy corridors of the UN.
4. Basel [SEE MAP]
© Sergey Novikov / Dreamstime
Located on the banks of the Rhine, Basel´s strategic location right on the borders of France and Germany has seen wealth accumulate in the city as trade and commerce flowed through its streets. Consequently, it has a host of fine old buildings and there is a wealthy vibe about the place. There are also some fantastic museums and galleries on offer.
Although it is not as picturesque as Bern, Basel still has a lovely old town which is worth visiting, and some great architecture both old and new located around its confines. To get a feel for the everyday life of its residents, head to Kleinbasel to enjoy some fine dining down on the riverbanks.
3. Bern [SEE MAP]
The picturesque capital of Switzerland is a dream of a place. Walking around the winding cobbled streets of the Old Town, you´ll pass fountains and bell towers interspersed among the plentiful old buildings. Many edifices date back over five hundred years, to when Bern was reconstructed following a fire – the coherent design and architecture is in part what makes the city so impressive.
There are over six kilometers of covered arcades in Bern, giving it a distinctive feel, and these house a number of great bars, restaurants and shops. Dripping with history, the city also has a lot of good museums which are worth checking out. Bern´s beautiful location, on a peninsula surrounded by the tree-lined Aare River, only adds to its charm and laid-back vibe.
2. Lucerne [SEE MAP]
This beautiful city is absolutely stunning to visit, thanks to the surrounding mountains and the glistening lake that borders it. There are a number of great views to be had, and, in addition to the picture-perfect scenery, Lucerne has a delightful medieval quarter which only adds to the charming feel.
The winding alleys of the old town weave their way along the banks of the river that runs through the center, and strolling along the waterfront in the sun is simply heavenly. The 14th century Chapel Bridge is a popular sight to visit and there is a lively music scene too.
1. Zurich [SEE MAP]
The largest city in Switzerland lies on the shores of Lake Zurich. It has the River Limmat twisting through it and snow-capped mountains lying on the horizon. Along with its enchanting setting, the city is a vibrant and lively place that is great to live in as well as explore as a visitor.
Zurich is the perfect mix of old and new, as its hip cultural and arts scene perfectly blends with the delightful historic center. The trendy city has some great shopping, as well as fashionable cafes and a happening nightlife.
10 Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
You are probably thinking about Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese, and clocks, too. These are some of the things that you know about Switzerland already. But this landlocked country is a haven for anybody who might be looking for some truly picturesque and sweepingly dramatic landscapes. It’s in the middle of the Alps, so how couldn’t it boast the picture perfect look that it does?
You might find yourself getting a cogwheel railway up a mountain one moment and visiting slices of medieval heritage nestled on lakes the next. You’d better prepare yourself for some breathtaking views of craggy peaks from Swiss mountain towns, exploring historic districts on a crisp backdrop of glittering water, and marveling at majestic alpine meadows ringed by snowy mountains. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Switzerland:
10. Interlaken [SEE MAP]
Andrew Bossi / Wikipedia
Interlaken used to be known as a watch making center, but today it’s more popular as a tourist resort. Tourists started coming to Interlaken in the early 1800s to breathe in the mountain air and partake of spa treatments. Its popularity only grew from there. The Swiss city is located directly between two major Alpine lakes: Thun and Brienz. As a result, you’ll never be too far from the chance to go swimming, boating or biking around the lakes.
Offering spectacular views of three famous Swiss mountains, the Eiger, the Jungfrau and the Monch, the city is also a popular base camp for outdoor acitivites in the surrounding Bernese Oberland Alps. Travelers looking for something different to do might want to sign up for a class or two at a woodcarving school. Hungry tourists may want to try raclette, a classic Swiss dish made from cheese.
9. Lausanne [SEE MAP]
© Elenaphotos / Dreamstime
Right on the shores of Lake Geneva, and with views of both the Swiss Alps and the French Alps, is the city of Lausanne. Serving as a gateway to a major ski area and the home to two major universities, it is easy to see the universal appeal of Lausanne.
The city is divided into districts, and the Cité district is by far the most important for travelers. In Cité, you can explore what was once known as the Old Town, and you can explore some of the architecture, which includes everything from cathedrals to castles. If you only have time to explore one attraction in Lausanne, make it the Palais de Rumine. This Italian Renaissance-style building is home to five different museums, making it the perfect place to spend an entire day learning more about local art, culture and history.
A part of the Swiss Riviera, Lausanne has been popular with writers over the centuries, include Lord Byron, the Shelleys and Ernest Hemingway. Located in the French-speaking sector of Switzerland, Lausanne boasts an impressive cathedral and wonderful outdoor markets.
8. Geneva [SEE MAP]
Geneva is a city where international influences reign supreme. It is home to the International Red Cross Committee and the European headquarters of the United Nations, as well as 20 other international organizations. Environmental travelers will enjoy the fact that Geneva is a “green” city, with 20 percent of its land devoted to parks, earning it the nickname of “city of parks.”
A highlight of a visit to Geneva is a chance to see the iconic Jet d’Eau, an enormous fountain seen from the Lac Léman waterfront that spews water high into the air. In the Old Town, the towers of Cathédrale St-Pierre are the tallest things you can see, and you will definitely want to stop for some photographs of the exterior and a tour of the interior. Geneva also is a good city explore by bike or rest weary feet by taking a boat ride on Lake Geneva.
7. Zurich [SEE MAP]
MadGeographer / Wikipedia
The city of Zurich is the largest in Switzerland, and it is known for being a major financial hub in Europe. Even if you’re not a part of the business world, Zurich has plenty to offer to visitors. To start, Zurich is located right on the edge of Lake Zurich. You can hike or cycle around the perimeter of the lake for some exercise, you could rent a boat and head out onto the water or you could check out some of the man made beaches and jump into the refreshing water for a lake swim.
Zurich is also home to a number of historic churches, world-class museums and renowned architecture. Not to be missed is the Swiss National Museum, located in a fairytale castle, it is dedicated to Switzerland’s cultural history. To see as much of Zurich as possible at once, hop aboard the Polybahn, a funicular dating back to the 19th century, for amazing views and a chance to dine at the charming cafe terrace at the top.
6. Zermatt [SEE MAP]
christopherdale / Flickr
Zermatt is a small town that is famous for skiing and mountaineering due to its proximity to the Matterhorn, one of Switzerland’s highest mountains. Cable cars whisk skiers up surrounding mountains in the winter and hikers in the summer. Zermatt is a good town for walking to various sites, since gasoline-driven vehicles are not permitted; any vehicles within the city limits must be battery-operated. Fortunately, for visitors, it takes 30 minutes or less to walk between sites. The town is accessible via scenic train routes that connect it with the outside world.
5. Jungfrau Region [SEE MAP]
Ed Coyle Photography / Flickr
The Jungfrau Region is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, both in summer and winter. A century or two ago, this Alps region was only visited by hard-core adventurers who wanted to ski or climb through the mountains. Now, thanks to an extensive network of railways and well-maintained foot and bike paths, the area is accessible to many types of travelers.
The Jungfrau Region consists of four picturesque towns: Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen, and three imposing mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. One of Switerland’s most scenic rail trip, the Jungfraubahn takes visitors from the Kleine Scheidegg mountain through the Eiger and Mönch up to the Jungfraujoch.
4. Lugano [SEE MAP]
Selden Vestrit / Flickr
Lugano has been nicknamed the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland,” because of its growing popularity with celebrities. The city is located on Lake Lugano, in the Italian speaking section of this alpine country. Lugano, which is blessed with warm summers, dates back to the 9th century.
A major draw to Lugano is outdoor recreation, and there are plenty of ways to stay active in and around the area. You might spend the day hiking along the clearly signposted Olive Tree Trail, or you could go for a swim at the easily accessible Lido di Lugano right by the city center. After strolling through the Old Town to enjoy the architecture, view it all from a unique perspective at the charming and fascinating Swiss Miniature Village.
3. Lake Geneva [SEE MAP]
One of the largest lakes in Europe, Lake Geneva lies on the course of the Rhone river on the frontier between France and Switzerland. Aside from the city Geneva most destinations in the Lake Geneva region are in either the Swiss canton of Vaud or the French department of Haute Savoie. The geography is varied, with the Jura mountains in the north, a hilly plain in the center and in the southwest the Alps. The main attractions here are the elegant cities and towns surrounding the lake, the opportunities for skiing and hiking in both mountain ranges, and of course the lake itself.
2. Lucerne [SEE MAP]
dicau58 / Flickr
Lucerne, located in the German-speaking section of Switzerland, is a city that has it all: city life, a lake and mountains. Considered one of the world’s prettiest cities, Lucerne is most famous for its 14th century Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, which is said to be the most photographed monument in Switzerland. Another famous monument is the Dying Lion, which was carved out of rock to honor Swiss mercenaries who died in France in 1792. Hungry visitors may want to try Luzerner Chügelipastete, a local specialty made from puff pastry, veal and mushrooms doused in a cream sauce.
1. Bern [SEE MAP]
© TSertel / Dreamstime
Bern is a picturesque medieval city with a history that dates back to the 12th century, though it did not become a part of the Swiss Confederacy until the 16th century. While not the largest city in Switzerland, Bern is the capital. Its most famous attraction is the Zytglogge, an ancient clock tower with moving puppets. Other popular sites in Bern include the Munster, a Gothic cathedral that rises from the old town, and its town hall.
The bear is the symbol of Bern, with several being kept in an open-air pit. Shoppers will appreciate the old town that boasts four miles of arcades, making it one of the longest covered shopping areas in Europe.
Map of Switzerland
© OpenStreetMap © MapTiler © Touropia
18 BEST Places To Visit In Switzerland
There is an endless list of gorgeous places to visit in Switzerland, which is why many consider Switzerland the most beautiful country in the world. Switzerland is a landlocked country in Central Europe and the heart of the Alps.
The impressive mountain range boasts a plethora of 4,000-meter mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, and mountain huts that dot the countryside. My first time in Switzerland is one that I will never forget. I stood atop Mount Pilatus near Lucerne where dairy cows grazed on the green pastures while a lake in the far distance flickered under the early morning sun – a moment I will never forget.
However, the beauty does not end with Switzerland’s impressive mountains and waterfalls. Its historic cities with cobbled stone streets, wooden bridges, and affluent old towns beckon travelers to descend from the mountains. Writing a list of the best places to visit in Switzerland isn’t easy. However, we’ve tried with this list of where to go in Switzerland for you!
The Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
Grindelwald village is like a movie set that looks too good to be true, like something you see in dreams. Then combined with the two valleys and surrounding villages such as Wengen and Lauterbrunnen, it creates a soul-stirring region in Switzerland.
To walk along the streets in these charming villages as the famed North Face of the Eiger looms overhead is everything you could hope for in Switzerland.
Grindelwald is the perfect getaway at any time of the year and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. Everything becomes covered in white during the Grindelwald winter months, trees shiver off their last leaves, and the stars shine brighter than ever. Winter in Grindelwald means that the slopes become a playground for snowboarders and skiers with a relatively good selection of runs for everyone’s experience.
As for spring and summer, well, what can I say? Everything thaws out, and wildflowers fill the lush meadows; the snow melts from the high Alps, creating natural flows of water conversing its way around Grindelwald.
The whole atmosphere pulls at your heartstrings. Grindelwald during the summer is a trekker’s paradise with hundreds of kilometers worth of trails, and a large percentage of those leads to mountain tops, meadows, or glacial lakes.
Despite attracting more tourists year after year, Lucerne is a relaxed mountain hamlet and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Lucerne sits aside Lake Lucerne; a stunning lake often dotted with black swans; a historic bridge famed across the globe stretches across its alpine waters. Naturally, the Chapel Bridge has become the most popular spot for a photo of Lucerne and an icon of Switzerland.
Lucerne is close to Mount Pilatus seen from the city’s center and Chapel Bridge. Lucerne is a great place to stay, especially if you plan to explore Pilatus and Lake Lucerne in depth.
If you’re seeking a bit of sun, then Ticino is for you as it’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland! This part of Switzerland is said to have the most amount of rain-free days in the whole of Switzerland. Ticino is heavily influenced by Italy as it is close to the Italian border. If you don’t fancy a trip to Italy, why not just pay a visit to the vibrant towns of Locarno and Lugano, where you are bound to find a piece of Italian culture and food.
While you’re likely to find mouth-watering pasta, this region is also known for its rolling Alpine landscapes. Ticino has everything from sandy beaches, alpine lakes, meadows, small cottages, cows with bells, and an endless number of hiking trails that lead to UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Ticino’s natural beauty goes to show that every corner of Switzerland is heaven upon earth. The romantic bridge Ponte dei salti is located near Ticino, and is well known for being the “jump bridge,” where plenty of travelers head to jump in the crystal clear waters of the Verzasca Valley
Switzerland’s capital city of Bern is one of the most beautiful city in the country. Bern isn’t known for being located in the Alps like most Swiss cities; instead, it lies in the rolling hills towards the French border to the Northwest. Bern is an ideal town that has formed along the banks of the Aare River. The 15th-century village at its core has given it a reason to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Aare River is at the heart of Bern, one of the best places to swim in Switzerland during spring and summer. Locals and tourists alike jump into its “warm” waters for a paddle, kayak, or to float around with friends and family.
Thinking about visiting Bern but not entirely sure? The neighboring Emmental Valley is bound to entice you to visit the ever-beautiful Bern. The Emmental Valley overlooks Swiss farms, mostly dairy, and sheep in all directions, where cheese is the original product from the area. On a clear day, the city has views of the Alps, including the Matterhorn.
We are moving from the rolling hills of the Emmental Valley to one of the highest points in Switzerland, Jungfraujoch. Jungfraujoch is a train station, research station, museum, and restaurant on top of a high Alpine Peak. The peak provides views of snow-covered mountains year-round and the massive Aletsch Glacier.
The vast majority of travelers arrive via the highest train in Europe; of course, if you prefer to climb a mountain worthy of world-class alpinists, there is always that option.
The train takes around two hours from Interlaken and requires a transfer at Kleine Scheidegg. Once at the top, the views of the Bernese Alps are breathtaking as they are some of the most rugged mountains in the Alps. In the summer, they also open a marked route along the Aletsch Glacier to which you can go hiking; see our guide on best hikes in Switzerland.
Neuchâtel might be the only place on this list of beautiful places that you haven’t heard of before now. Neuchâtel is a French-influenced town given its locality to France and the Jura Mountains to the east.
The Harbour of Neuchatel allows for exploration of this beautiful area by water, so why not hire a boat and have a professional sail you around for the morning!
Neuchâtel is one of the quieter regions of Switzerland, so escaping the rush of Zurich and Lausanne has never been closer and easier!
St Moritz – Graubünden
Switzerland is known for its excellent quality of skiing and snowboarding. There is hardly a place more famed for luxury and world-class ski than St. Moritz. It’s the destination for celebrities, royalty, and the wealthy, with plenty of luxurious places to eat, drink, and stay.
I have seen a lot of ski resorts on my travels, but none compare to St. Moritz. The village and its surroundings encapsulate the best of Switzerland. It’s a must-visit for those who can afford the price or have the time. The hardest part will be deciding whether to visit during summer or winter.
Starting with winter, given that St Moritz was constructed to host avid skiers and adventurers dating back to 1935 when the nearby mountains became accessible by chair lift. St Moritz became so intrinsically tied to winter sports many years later that it hosted the Winter Olympics twice.
Summer is always the best month to visit Switzerland outside of the colder months, and that’s because everything begins to bloom, days get warmer and longer, creating one of the best outdoor lifestyles in the country.
You can get the best view of St Moritz by heading up the Muottas Muragl cogwheel, which ascends to the mountain top. From the top, you can see far into Italy in addition to the astonishing views of St. Moritz.
Zermatt is the quintessential Swiss town perched at the base of Switzerland’s most famous mountain, The Matterhorn. It is one of the most surreal places one can visit in Switzerland, especially during the colder months when you can ski in Zermatt.
Zermatt is known to be the place to go for all things snowboarding, skiing, trekking, biking holidaying and photography.
A trip to Zermatt is on many people’s Switzerland bucket list. It’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, known for its endless adventure activities and, of course, one of the most iconic mountains in the world that you can enjoy many hikes under.
We’ve visited Zermatt in both the winter and summer and it’s truly hard to pick a favorite. In the winter you can enjoy some of the best skiing in Europe, before dining at a beautiful restaurant in the village.
While in the summer you can mountain bike, enjoy the alpine lakes, and even climb The Matterhorn if you are a climber!
Even if you don’t love adventure sports, Zermatt is a photographer’s paradise. Especially at night with the orange and yellow glow of the townhouses flickering away to The Matterhorn, a mere 10 or so kilometers away.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland! Lauterbrunnen is a place you have probably seen time and time again, and it’s that sort of place that you would want to visit over and over as it is one of Switzerland’s most magical places.
If there were a list of the most beautiful places to visit on planet earth, Lauterbrunnen would be a contender for the number one position. Lauterbrunnen is only a few mountains away from Grindelwald and Interlaken, which makes access easy for those exploring the Jungfrau region.
Lauterbrunnen is known for its cascading Swiss waterfalls plummeting from the cliffs above, fed by melting glacial waters, and that’s one of the main reasons why thousands come to visit.
Most of the year, the waterfalls or wasserfall in Swiss continue to flow with high melt rates of the glaciers that feed them. One of the most iconic waterfalls is located directly behind the main street in Lauterbrunnen, known as the Staubbach Wasserfall. On a windy day, you can feel the freezing water blowing onto your face as you walk down the main street!
Just outside of the town of Lauterbrunnen, several lifts can take you above the valley floor and onto the mountain tops, which opens up a whole new world. Heading to towns like Murren and Wengen is one of the best things to do in Lauterbrunnen.
The Lauterbrunnen-Grutschalp lift can assist you on your way to hiking along the cliffs of Lauterbrunnen or head onto Wengen, where access to the higher mountains, trekking routes, ski fields, and also Grindelwald for a more scenic route.
Lauterbrunnen is one of the most popular destinations in Switzerland, so I would advise going early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Thun is roughly located halfway between Bern and Interlaken making it easily accessible for those wandering out of Bern or Lucerne.
Thun has one of the most jaw-dropping backdrops of any town in Switzerland, with the Swiss Alps dominating the views.
Thun has a hint of Bern about it with an Old Town, church, and even a castle that dates back to the 12 th century. Thun has a close connection with Bern despite being an hour or so drive away.
The Aare River flows through the Old Town of Bern and flows through right near Thun, making it idyllic for summer swims and water activities.
Thun is a great place to be based during the winter months if Interlaken and Grindelwald are full with only a 1.5-hour drive or train to some of Switzerland’s most prized mountains.
If you are visiting the spectacular waterfall valley of Lauterbrunnen, why not visit Gimmelwald? Gimmelwald is a tiny town with a population of fewer than 200 people; that’s 2.7 people per waterfall (locals only).
So why go to Gimmelwald? Yes, it is close to Lauterbrunnen, but if you are an avid adventurer and can’t resist the outdoors, Gimmelwald allows you to get a few summits and ridges under your belt. You can walk through some of the most surreal mountainside environments that should be high on your places to visit in Switzerland!
When you thought Gimmelwald could not get any more beautiful, Jungfraujoch Mountain pops its head out of the clouds in all of its glory.
Murren Village is set at the very end of the Lauterbrunnen valley, right above Gimmelwald. This is a classic Swiss-style hamlet that is entirely car-free like other nearby towns.
It’s only a short, 20-minute journey via cable car from the valley floor. Just the ride up to Murren in the cable car is well worth the ride in itself. Once in Murren, there’s a wide array of cute cafes with outdoor seating so you can enjoy the mountain views. Many of these restaurants serve up classic local cuisines like fondue.
You can take the funicular up to Allmendhubel and saunter around the flower trail from Murren. Or take the cable car up to the Schilthorn Viewpoint to get views looking out over the Big Three; Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. Up here, you can spend a morning at the revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria.
One of our favorite things to do in Murren is the Via Ferrata trail that leaves right from down. It’s a thrilling experience not for the faint of heart!
The tiny village of Vals may not be on your Switzerland bucket list radar; we honestly never had heard of it, but we are so happy we made the journey through this land of endless waterfalls.
The tiny hamlet of Vals is far from the madding crowds that you see in Switzerland in the summer. Nestled deep in a long valley in the mountains, Vals is known around Switzerland for the Therme Vals baths.
The 7132 Therme Vals spa comprises 60,000 slabs of the local Vals quartzite and disappears into the landscape. It is a landmark in the world of architecture, and you don’t need to be an architect to appreciate the building as its fame is apparent.
Stone slabs resemble a cave, and its design highlights the landscape outside from within, and the spa’s exterior disappears into the hillside. It’s a spa that allows guests to disappear into the landscape in a fog of steam and natural thermal waters.
Beyond the thermal water and spa, there is much more to love about Vals. The town is rustic and extraordinary, with an abundance of natural beauty and charm.
Nearby there are some fantastic Switzerland hikes up to see the three lakes of Guraletschsee, Ampervreilsee, and Selvasee.
Wengen is another authentic alpine village near Lautebrunnen, Gimmelwald, and Murren. You can easily visit this car-free town from Lauterbrunnen via a quick cogwheel train ride. Wengen is full of cute timber chalets and provides the most astonishing views over the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
In the winter, you can take a toboggan down the Fox Run Wengen, which runs for 4.5 kilometers from Kleine Scheidegg to the town of Wengen.
The village of Meiringen at the foot of Lake Brienz is surrounded by colossal peaks and is one of the best places to base yourself for exploring the Bernese Oberland. Meiringen is the perfect point of departure for many adventures around the Haslital.
Meiringen is well known for two things. First, it’s said to be the birthplace of the Meringue, the airy sugary egg white shell desserts created in the 1600s., which you will no doubt find all over town. And second for Reichenbach Falls.
These falls were famously featured in an episode of the BBC drama Sherlock and as the setting for The Final Problem in the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The dramatic drop is a total of 820 feet, falling throughout seven steps, and is easily one of the most famous Swiss waterfalls.
From Meiringen, one of the best things to do in Switzerland is take the gondola up to the Alpine Tower and hike the Horizon Trail.
From Planplatten via Balmeregghorn, the trail winds its way along the mountain to the Tannensee Lake. It’s one of the most beautiful trails in Switzerland and if you hit it on a sunny summer day, consider yourself extra fortunate.
The Reichenbach Valley is a stunning valley well worth a day of exploration. It’s home to the Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge and Old Sawmill Schwarzwaldalp.
The sawmill at Schwarzwaldalp is truly old and magnificent. Built in 1896 and completely restored in 2000, it’s a fun sight to see. Catch it at the right time, and you may even see people working in there. This sawmill is the only water-driven planing machine in Switzerland!
Nearby is the Rosenlaui glacier gorge, a popular attraction in Switzerland that will have visitors exploring the bizarre cliff formations that have formed over thousands of years.
The Saastal Valley is comprised of Saas-Almagell, Saas-Grund, Saas-Fee, and Saas-Balen. All are worth visiting, but we chose to base ourselves in Saas-Fee at The Capra. Saas-Fee is the largest village in the Saastal Valley and serves as the central hub for tourism in the winter and summer.
Saas-Fee is famed for its year-round ski that draws in dozens of professional ski teams to train throughout the summer months. However, the village has so much more such as excellent hiking trails via Ferrata routes, fine dining, staggering landscapes, climbing, mountain biking, and access to over a dozen 4,000-meter mountains making it easily one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.
Saas-Fee is another car-free village; however, there is no train service, meaning the tourism numbers here are much lower than nearby Zermatt.
Kandersteg is a beautiful mountain town with stellar views of the Blümlisalp Massif and is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. It’s an outdoor mecca with cross country ski trails in the winter and plenty of hiking trails in the summer.
The highlight of Kandersteg is the stunningly blue Lake Oeschinen, which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland. Nearby is also the Mountain Coaster Oeschinensee Kandersteg, which has made its rounds on social media for being the most beautiful coaster globally.
When is The Best Time to Visit Switzerland?
Switzerland has so many things to do for all visitors at any time of year, so deciding when to go can be quite hard.
Switzerland has two very distinct seasons, winter and summer. These months are very much the opposite but are both equally impressive and give a whole new perspective to the place you are visiting. During the winter months, December to early April, snow fills the valleys of Lauterbrunnen to the peak of The Matterhorn. Temperatures fall drastically, providing a winter wonderland, perfect for fondue and a hot chocolate as sunset slips over the Alps.
On the other hand, summer is just as mesmerizing, with fields of wildflowers blossoming after winter has thawed out. Access to mountain cabins becomes easier, creeks and rivers flow with snowmelt, and the birds start to chirp! September and Fall provide comfortable temperatures with fewer crowds, and summer, like most places in Europe, is lovely yet crowded.
No matter what time of year you visit Switzerland, it will never cease to amaze. Read the month by month breakdown here.
How to See Switzerland’s Beautiful Places?
Public transport (trains and buses) is a popular way to get around Switzerland. The Alpine country is well known for its efficient and widespread public transport network. Many ski villages are car-free and public transport such as buses and trains in your lift ticket, so it may not be in your best interest to have a rental car depending on your Swiss itinerary.
We used a Swiss Pass to travel around Switzerland, and it gave us unlimited first-class transport on all public transport in Switzerland. It alleviated a lot of stress when it came to planning our trip. The pass may not be for everyone as it runs concurrently, so if in one village or town for your ski holiday, it may be best to book a private transfer or buy individual train tickets.
Check out the Swiss Federal Railways site for help booking your train tickets and times (Google Maps public transport provides up-to-date travel information).
Cable Cars and Gondolas
Often the best way to get onto the mountains of Switzerland if you do not feel like hiking is by cable car or cogwheel.
They are very safe modes of transport, and you’ll only be on it anywhere from 1 to 2 hours at the most. Cable cars and cogwheels have large windows so you can make the most of the views along the way!
Riding a bicycle is the next best thing to walking. As you might read, Switzerland is wonderful, and some places are free of cars like Grindelwald, so why not hire a bike and explore the town, city or landscape with that?
Europe is known for having more bikes than humans, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find somewhere to rent a bike for a few hours or so.
Without mountains, Switzerland wouldn’t have places like the Rhine River, The Aare, or its vast network of glacial-fed lakes such as the five lakes of Pizol and Lake Lucerne. Water is parts of everyday life for the Swiss people, so why not hire kayaks or skipper a yacht for an incredible experience on the water?
Seeing the Swiss landscape from the air is a must, and I am not saying go and take photos with your drone; instead, opt for a scenic flight.
Scenic flights operate from most main towns and cities in Switzerland (weather dependent), and the cool things are that if you want to see The Matterhorn and you are in Lucerne, you can do so as Switzerland isn’t an overly big country.
Scenic flights also are an incredible way to capture photos from the air where you wouldn’t be able to send a drone.
Tip: It’s cheaper to rent your car in Germany, Austria, or France and then embark on your trip to Switzerland from there.