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Best places to visit in switzerland.
Switzerland is known around the world for its chocolate, cheese, charming towns and scenic landscapes . Everywhere you turn, you're treated to a little bit of history and a little bit of nature's beauty, as well as plenty of mouthwatering cuisine in between. U.S. News considered factors like sights, culture, accessibility and variety of things to do, plus traveler and expert input, to calculate the best places to visit in Switzerland. Peruse the list below, and vote for your favorite spots.
Interlaken's unique location between two lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun – makes it a breathtaking spot for a vacation. Here, you can spend hours hiking various trails, taking in the castle-studded shores of Lake Thun on a boat cruise or gazing at the surrounding mountains from the Harder Kulm observation deck (accessible via a funicular). To see more of the region's stunning scenery, go for a ride on the Schynige Platte Railway or sign up for a paragliding or skydiving excursion.
Travelers looking to ski or snowboard in the Swiss Alps should head to Zermatt. This small, car-free town in the middle of the Alps is famous for housing one of the world's most famous attractions — the Matterhorn (a peak so popular that it inspired a Disneyland ride) — and Switzerland's highest ski resort. Novice and expert skiers and snowboarders can spend the bulk of their vacation hitting the slopes, which showcase incredible mountain views. After shredding powder, visitors can ride the Gornergrat train, pick up a slab of homemade chocolate from a local shop or savor cheese fondue at a traditional Swiss restaurant.
Picturesque Lucerne sits on Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland, framed by snowcapped mountains and medieval buildings. This beautiful city's old town is home to historic attractions, lively town squares, boutique shops and old churches. Top attractions include the Musegg Wall and its towers (the preserved fortifications date back to the 13th century) and Europe's oldest wooden covered bridge, the must-see Chapel Bridge, which was originally built in the 1330s. Those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure can also ride a cable car to Mount Pilatus for stunning views of Lake Lucerne and plenty of activities at the top.
This lakefront city on the Swiss-Italian border offers visitors a unique travel experience. Because Lugano shares waters with neighboring Italy, the city features a mix of Swiss and Mediterranean influences in everything from its cuisine to its architecture. Plus, Lugano boasts unforgettable panoramas. Visit Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, both of which you can reach by funicular, for bird's-eye views of Lake Lugano and the city. Or, spend a few hours hiking the Olive Grove Trail or strolling the gardens of Ciani Park. If you'd rather lounge on a beach, head to Lido di Lugano.
Zurich is a cosmopolitan financial center, a foodie haven and a romantic European city that appeals to all types of travelers. A vacation here should include spending time admiring Lake Zurich, exploring the trendy bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, meandering through Lindenhof park and exploring the city's distinct neighborhoods. Join well-heeled shoppers (or just admire the window displays) on Bahnhofstrasse, a world-famous exclusive retail boulevard. While here, be sure to sample the famous dark chocolate Champagne truffles from specialty chocolatier Teuscher.
Visit the medieval town of Gruyères if you want to feel as if you've stepped back in time during your next trip. Its good looks (think: car-free cobblestone streets, fountain-filled squares and a 13th-century castle) create an old-world ambiance you're bound to love. Plus, the town is world-renowned for its Gruyère cheese, which you can sample and learn more about at a local cheese dairy or cellar. Sampling chocolate is also a must-do here, so be sure to check out a chocolate factory or attend a chocolate workshop while in town.
Like its neighbor Lugano, Locarno is located in the Ticino region near the Italian border. This quiet, small town is surrounded by stunning scenery (it sits on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the foothills of the Alps), and since it's the warmest destination in Switzerland, you'll have plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and explore. Be sure to stroll through the picture-perfect main square, Piazza Grande, where the city hosts several summer festivals, and trek to Madonna del Sasso, considered sacred among Roman Catholics. Then, head to the Verzasca river valley to swim or bungee jump.
Appenzell captures the essence of Switzerland with rolling hills, a car-free village and well-preserved customs. Visitors can take in the scenic landscape of the Appenzell District (located in the northeastern part of the country) by taking a cable car to the oft-photographed Aescher guest house, picturesquely built into the rock face, or hiking the region's "experience trails" like the Gonten Barefoot Trail and Appenzeller Kapellenweg, which weaves past 11 chapels. Meanwhile, the tiny village of Appenzell boasts quaint, frescoed shops and Museum Appenzell, which highlights the region's traditional crafts, folk music and art.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a small town that boasts more charm and incredible scenery than Brienz. Located in the stunning Bernese Oberland region, Brienz sits on the northeastern shore of Lake Brienz, which features gorgeous turquoise water and is flanked by towering evergreen mountains. Some of the best ways to soak up the awe-inspiring setting include strolling picture-perfect Brunngasse (often proclaimed the most beautiful street in Europe), riding the Brienz Rothorn Bahn (which traverses a steam rack railway) and taking a boat tour to lake attractions like Giessbach Falls.
Set along the banks of crystal-clear Lake Geneva in western Switzerland, this city is known for its incredible views and as the headquarters of the Red Cross and the United Nations. Geneva is also home to some iconic sights, including the Jet d'Eau (one of the world's tallest water fountains) and an old town with cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. While exploring the latter, be sure to check out the Saint Pierre Cathedral, which features Roman, Gothic and neoclassical details.
The capital of Switzerland, Bern sometimes gets overlooked for flashier Swiss cities like Zurich and Geneva. But Bern holds many charms, including an old town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) featuring the iconic Zytglogge clock tower, Renaissance-style fountains and a Gothic cathedral with the highest spire in Switzerland. The city also boasts many museums – several dedicated to Albert Einstein, who lived in Bern when developing his theory of relativity. Head to Gurten mountain – which you can reach by funicular, by bike or on foot – for sweeping views of the city below.
As the largest ski area in central Switzerland, Engelberg is a winter playground, with a long, snowy season for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and sledding. But don't sleep on a summertime visit here; warmer months allow for a bevy of fun family activities like a toboggan run, 300-plus miles of hiking trails and water activities on Trübsee lake. Regardless of when you visit, you won't want to miss the TITLIS Rotair, a revolving cable car that takes riders up Mount Titlis, and the other cable lifts that stop at a glacier cave, a panoramic restaurant, and the TITLIS Cliff Walk.
Considered "the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism," St. Moritz welcomes travelers with world-class skiing, swanky hotels, renowned après-ski offerings and top-notch restaurants. In addition to offering downhill skiing trails so highly regarded that the town has hosted the Olympics twice, St. Moritz features excellent spots for cross-country skiing, sledding and winter hikes. Come summertime, the area invites outdoor lovers to golf, bike, hike or enjoy water sports and swimming in the surrounding lakes.
The Jungfrau Region is the perfect place for first-timers wanting to experience the otherworldly splendor that is the Swiss Alps. But be forewarned: The destination is sky high. Popular attractions like the Jungfraujoch (which features Europe's highest train station), the Grindelwald-First cable car and the First Cliff Walk Presented by Tissot sit at the top of towering peaks. The innovative Eiger Express gondola offers even faster transport to the top (just 15 minutes from Grindelwald). For those who'd rather stick closer to Earth's surface, prioritize a hike on a lower-level valley path and a visit to the Pfingstegg toboggan.
Tourists may not be as familiar with Montreux as they are with its Lake Geneva neighbors, which makes this Swiss town such an undiscovered gem. Quaint Montreux features a waterfront promenade dotted with flowers and trees, a medieval castle and a charming old town, not to mention a statue commemorating Freddie Mercury (Queen recorded multiple albums here from 1978 to 1995). Montreux is also surrounded by vineyards and hosts a popular open-air jazz festival every summer, while the holiday season brings the festive Montreux Noël market.
Located less than 5 miles from Montreux, Vevey is another Lake Geneva gem. This town's picturesque promenade along the lake is filled with flowers and features a sculpture of Charlie Chaplin, who spent the last 25 years of his life in Vevey. The Alimentarium, a nutrition-focused museum, also adorns the shoreline with its beautiful sandstone building, which once served as the headquarters to Nestlé (the company is still based in Vevey). After admiring the town, visitors can take a cog railway to the scenic Les Pléiades vantage point for its stunning views and the astronomy-centric Astropléiades trail.
The second-largest city on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is characterized by its renowned Gothic cathedral and surrounding hilly terrain. The stunning lake views and colorful city center don't hurt, either. Travelers can take in Lausanne's lively atmosphere by checking out the city's cafes, admiring the old town's beautiful architecture and perusing the exhibits at the Olympic Museum. No visit would be complete without venturing outside the city to nearby Lavaux, where you can enjoy wine from vineyards that are so scenic and well-preserved (some date back to the 11th century), the area was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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17 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Switzerland
Written by Becca Blond and Joni Sweet Updated Sep 26, 2023
Switzerland's natural beauty is as addictive as its mouthwatering chocolates – one taste and you'll be left craving more. Whether you are on the hiking trails outside Zermatt, laying eyes on the iconic Matterhorn for the first time, or marveling at the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains schussing down a ski trail beginning atop the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland seduces quickly.
This landlocked central European country is home to two mountain ranges, the Alps in the south and the Jura in the northwest. But Switzerland's natural attractions don't stop with peaks and glaciers. You'll also find glimmering turquoise lakes, emerald valleys where tingling bell-wearing cows and sheep graze, charming chalets, and flower box-filled villages that look ripped from the pages of a fairytale storybook.
Amid all this natural beauty are also some fantastic urban diversions and places to visit. With four official languages (French, German, Italian, and Romansch), Switzerland has a multicultural sophistication to its cities, which all offer something different when it comes to history and culture.
French speaking Geneva is home to four major offices of the United Nations and has a large international population. German speaking Zurich is Switzerland's largest city and financial center, known for its shopping, museums, and nightlife. The capital city of Bern boasts a medieval old town with a famous moving puppet clock tower and a stunning riverfront locale.
Switzerland is a four-season destination with countless things to do for outdoor adventurists. In winter you can partake in snow sports at world-class resorts, while summers are perfect for hiking, biking, climbing, and paragliding.
Getting around Switzerland is easy. Although you can rent a car and drive, we recommend utilizing its excellent train system that goes almost everywhere in the country. Trains are fast, mostly on time, and allow you to just sit back and soak up the stunning scenery.
Explore in more depth by checking out our list of top attractions and places to visit in Switzerland
1. The Matterhorn
Things to do at the matterhorn, 3. jungfraujoch: the top of europe, 4. interlaken, 6. lake geneva, 7. chateau de chillon, montreux, 8. st. moritz, 10. lake lugano and ticino, 12. the rhine falls, 13. swiss national park, 14. the albula/bernina railway line, 15. oberhofen castle, 16. swiss grand canyon, 17. gruyères.
You'll never forget the first time you see Switzerland's most symbolic mountain, the Matterhorn. Maybe you arrive in the charming village of Zermatt, at its base , on a clear blue day and the 4,478-meter high , tooth-shaped mountain looms clearly in front of you. Or maybe it is spitting rain when you first set foot in the car-free town, and it isn't until the next morning that you witness the emblematic peak emerging from a sea of dissipating clouds. Whichever way you first see this legendary mountain, it will remain seared into your memory for years to come. It's that impressive.
One of the highest mountains in the Alps, the Matterhorn sits on the border with Italy. It has four steep faces rising to its craggy tip. Climbers have been intrigued by this mountain from the first successful summit in 1865 by British climber Edward Whymper and his team. The trip still ended tragically when four of the climbers fell to their deaths during the descent.
Today, thousands of experienced climbers come here in a summit bid each summer. There are several routes to the top of this mountain, which is not accessible by cable car. The easiest route is the Hörnligrat, which begins in Zermatt.
If you don't have the skills to summit the Matterhorn, there are still plenty of ways to experience the mountain. One top excursion is to ride the Gornegrat Bahn cog railway to the summit of the 1,620-meter Gornergrat mountain for stunning Matterhorn views. Europe's highest open-air cog railway, and the first fully electric train of its kind, departs from Zermatt station multiple times per day.
The ride itself is also bound to leave you speechless. Taking 33 minutes and climbing 1,469 meters it crosses dramatic bridges, passes turquoise-hued mountain lakes, and at times clings to the side of the mountain with views down into rocky ravines.
Once you reach the mountaintop, you'll find an observation deck with views in all directions including a view of Switzerland's highest mountain and the second biggest glacier in the Alps. Keep an eye out for wild ibex near the viewing platform in summer.
Europe's highest-altitude hotel, the Kulmhotel Gornegrat is also here. Besides lodging, it has a restaurant and shops open to the public. There is excellent hiking in summer, while Switzerland's highest sledding hill provides winter fun.
At the foot of the Matterhorn, lies the charming village of Zermatt, a top international resort that is one of the most popular ski destinations in Switzerland , and a hiking, biking, and climbing paradise in summer.
Laid out along just a few main streets with a surreal-looking blue river running through it, motorized vehicles except for official electric taxis are banned to preserve the air quality and the town's peaceful ambiance.
Zermatt can also only be reached via helicopter (very pricy) or the Matterhorn Gotthard railway via the towns of Visp or Brig. If you drive to the region, you'll need to park your car down the valley in the town of Tasch, and then continue by train. As such, staying in Zermatt truly feels like you hiked into a remote mountain paradise.
In the winter, skiers can play on more than 300 kilometers of slopes accessed via a funicular and the Blauherd and Rothorn gondolas. In the summer, these slopes turn into hiking and mountain biking trails.
The Five Lakes Trail is one of the most popular hikes, beginning at the top of the Blauherd gondola and eventually taking you back to town via a series of five lakes, three of which you can see the reflection of the Matterhorn in on a clear, windless day. If you want to paraglide, this is also available.
Back in town, you'll find dozens of shops, restaurants (order Raclette, a cheese and potato dish that is a regional specialty), and hotels. If you are interested in history, pay a visit to the Matterhorn Museum , which tells the story of the mountain village turned international holiday resort. It also provides facts and photos from the Matterhorn's first ascent.
- Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Zermatt & Easy Day Trips
Since 1912, tourists have been making their way to the fairytale-like village of Grindelwald for an excursion to the Top of Europe (also known as Jungfraujoch). As its name suggests, it's the highest train station in Europe.
It offers panoramic views of the UNESCO-recognized Jungfrau region that will make your jaw drop. The Sphinx Observatory, an astronomical observatory that looks like a Bond villain lair perched 3,454 meters above sea level, is the best place to see the magnificent Aletsch Glacier and the 4,000-meter peaks that flank it. With snow 365 days per year, it's also a prime spot to get a break from Europe's heat in the summertime.
This famous attraction has come a long way in the last 100 years, giving tourists lots of things to do at the top. Step into the 360-degree cinematic experience room for a closer look at the glacier and the Swiss Alps (perfect for ensuring you still get a wonderful view on a foggy day). Walk through a 250-meter-long corridor with artifacts and exhibits on the history of the miners who built the railway to Jungfraujoch—the antique mining equipment hanging on the walls will give you a deeper respect for these early pioneers.
Peek inside a giant snow globe that depicts the region with charming moving figures, like yodelers and gondolas. Then, glide through the Ice Palace. Frozen from floor to ceiling, it features smooth, icy hallways filled with ice sculptures of animals, including several penguins around an igloo.
Jungfraujoach's highly sustainable cable car, the Eiger Express , shortened the journey between Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch from 45 minutes to just 15 minutes when it opened in late 2020. That makes it possible to summit the Top of Europe on a day trip from Interlaken or even Zurich, but if you have time, it's worth sticking around Grindelwald to hike for a few days .
The trails here are among the most beautiful in the world and most trailheads are easily accessible through the town's network of cable cars and gondolas. The aptly named Panorama Trail takes you along paths lined by wildflowers with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, while the Grindelwald First cable car station puts you on the path to the world-famous Bachalpsee lake.
You can also break up your days of hiking with adventure activities. Grindelwald First is home to a zip line that soars at 80 kilometers per hour and a mountain cart attraction that lets you race down winding gravel paths, plus a trail you can tackle on a "trottibike"—a unique cross between a scooter and a bike that's surprisingly fast.
Nestled on a strip of land between two glassy lakes, Interlaken looks like a postcard brought to life. The enchanting resort town has been a popular vacation destination for centuries, giving tourists a home base to explore the Bernese Oberland. Visit in the spring or summer to take in the striking sight of the town's lush gardens blooming with the snow-dusted Eiger, Jungfrau, and Mönch towering in the background.
Interlaken's proximity to Lake Thun to the west and Lake Brienz to the east, along with soaring alpine mountains, has helped it become the "Adventure Capital of Europe" —and it offers thrills for any taste.
Want to hike? Take a 10-minute ride on the Interlaken Harderbahn, a funicular railway that's more than 100 years old, to the Harder Kulm (Interlaken's closest mountain). A brick path lined with quirky Swiss statues takes you to the trailhead for the Harder Kulm Circular Path , a relatively easy, forested path that opens up to panoramic views of Interlaken.
From mountainside slopes, you can also take the sky on a paragliding adventure in the summer, or slip on a pair of skis and zip down fresh powder in one of five winter sports areas around Interlaken. It's also a lovely place to get out on the water. Rent kayaks, row boats, and pedal boats for a serene experience on the lakes. Or challenge yourself to wakeboarding, windsurfing, or water skiing.
The beautiful part about Interlaken, though, is that it's as much a place for excitement as it is for a laid-back retreat. Once you've gotten your share of adrenaline, wind down with a stroll on the Höheweg , Interlaken's main boulevard, or find a moment of peace at the Garden of Friendship, the country's first Japanese garden.
- Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Interlaken & Easy Day Trips
Imagine a sparkling blue lake surrounded by mountains, a car-free medieval old town, covered bridges, waterfront promenades, frescoed historic buildings, and sun-splashed plazas with bubbling fountains. No wonder Lucerne (in German, Luzern) is a top spot for tourists.
Famed for its music concerts, this quintessential Swiss town lures renowned soloists, conductors, and orchestras to its annual International Music Festival . The Culture and Convention Center is home to one of the world's leading concert halls.
One of the city's most famous landmarks is 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. History buffs will enjoy the Swiss Transport Museum with extensive exhibits on all forms of transport, including air and space travel, railroad locomotives, and a Planetarium.
For beautiful views of Lucerne, the Alps, and the lake, ride the funicular to the Dietschiberg on the north side of Lake Lucerne; cruise up Mt. Pilatus on the cableway; or head to the Rigi , a famous lookout point.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lucerne
Lake Geneva, Europe's largest Alpine lake , straddles the Swiss/French border, and laps at the shores of some of Switzerland's most popular cities. The city of Geneva (in French Genève; in German Genf) sits between pretty snowcapped peaks at the point where the Rhône spills into Lake Geneva.
This French-speaking "capital of peace" is the European seat of the United Nations and exudes a pleasing blend of French joie de vivre and Swiss structure. Promenades, parks, and gardens surround the lake, and the old town is a lovely spot to stroll among the historic buildings. The Jet d'Eau , a fountain in Lake Geneva shooting water 150 meters into the air, is a famous landmark. Cultural attractions include the Opera House and the Grand Théâtre , which stages international acts.
Also on the lake, about 62 kilometers from Geneva, Lausanne boasts lovely views over the surrounding region and the lake, with the Alps rising in the distance. Take a stroll through the medieval old town with its cute cafés and boutiques and stunning Gothic cathedral. At the foot of the Alps, on Lake Geneva, Montreux hosts the world-famous Montreux Jazz Festival in June/July.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Geneva
On the shores of Lake Geneva, near Montreux , the Chateau de Chillon (Chillon Castle) has inspired artists and writers for centuries. Lord Byron, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Victor Hugo are among the luminaries who have written about this architectural treasure.
Once the stronghold of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy from the 12th century, the complex encompasses about 25 buildings clustered around three courtyards. Highlights include the Great Halls, with magnificent views of Lake Geneva; the Gothic underground rooms; the Chapel , adorned with 14th-century paintings; and the Camera Domini , a bedroom occupied by the Duke of Savoy decorated with medieval murals.
St. Moritz is a city of firsts. The world's first electric light clicked on here in December 1878. In 1889 it hosted the Alps' first golf tournament and in 1935 began operating one of Switzerland's first ski lifts. Additionally, the town is considered the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism after a hotelier convinced British summer guests to winter here in 1864. It went on to host the Winter Olympics twice (1928 and 1948).
In the Upper Engadin region in southeast Switzerland, in a valley surrounded by the Alps, today it is one of the world's most ritzy ski resorts , favored by billionaires and celebrities. It has 350 kilometers of ski and snowboard runs with some of Switzerland's steepest terrain.
Winter sports run the gamut, from skiing, snowboarding, skating, and bobsledding to tobogganing. One of the oldest natural ice runs for toboggans on the planet is found here, the famous 1.2-kilometer-long Cresta Run . There is also a snowboard fun park and 150 kilometers of winter walking and cross-country ski trails.
In summer, St. Moritz attracts hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and rock climbers. If you prefer to golf, you can play four courses with fantastic mountain views. You can also enjoy the iron-rich natural mineral hot springs here year-round. They were discovered about 3,000 years ago.
Adding to all this spectacular mountain scenery, St. Moritz is a cultural crossroads. Romansch, German, Italian, French, and English are all spoken in the surrounding areas, not to mention the different languages of the many well-heeled international visitors and expats.
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, is a health resort with less expensive lodging.
- Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in St. Moritz & Easy Day Trips
In a stunning location, perched on a peninsula of the River Aare, the Swiss capital of Bern exudes old-world charm, and the city's medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strolling along the cobbled streets, visitors can explore the tallest cathedral in Switzerland, with panoramic views from its tower; 16th-century fountains; the Zytglogge medieval clock tower with moving puppets; and six kilometers of shopping arcades, called " Lauben " by the locals. The Rose Garden (Rosengarten) offers beautiful views of the old town center.
Bern has many tourist attractions waiting to be discovered, including excellent museums. Art lovers will appreciate the impressive galleries, including the Zentrum Paul Klee, the world's largest collection of works by this famous artist, and the Bern Museum of Art (Kunstmuseum).
Don't miss the markets, held in the Bundesplatz (parliament square) with views of the elegant Renaissance-style parliament building (Bundeshaus). Families will also enjoy a visit to the Bear Park.
Lake Lugano lies on the Swiss/Italian border in Ticino, Switzerland's only official Italian-speaking canton, and offers a tantalizing taste of the Mediterranean. Citrus, figs, palms, and pomegranates flourish in the mild climate here–even as snowcapped peaks beckon in the distance.
In the towns around Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore to the west, the feel of Italy is unmistakable in the architecture, the piazzas, and the passion for fine food, which spills over the Italian borders from the south, east, and west.
Visitors can explore the area by touring the lake on one of the white steamers or renting a boat. For a panoramic overview, Monte San Salvatore offers one of the most spectacular vistas of the surrounding countryside, lake, and snow-capped peaks.
Lugano , a financial center and the largest and most significant town in Ticino, is a popular summer resort. Northwest of Lugano, in sun-drenched Locarno on Lake Maggiore, Swiss lakeside living takes on a subtropical touch with warm days, blossoming gardens, and palm-studded estates. In Bellinzona , capital of the canton, three magnificent castles are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lugano, Locarno, and the Ticino Region
Zurich is Switzerland's largest city, a major transportation hub, and a top starting point for travelers. The city lies at the northwestern end of Lake Zurich astride the river Limmat. Beyond its buttoned-up façade, this affluent banking capital boasts a rich line-up of cultural treasures.
A great place to begin a walking tour is the cobbled streets of the Old Town with its quaint shops, cafés, and galleries. Mile-long Bahnhofstrasse , one of Europe's finest shopping strands, beckons with designer stores selling fashion, watches, and jewelry.
Venturing away from the boutiques, visitors will find more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries, as well as many other tourist attractions . A top pick is the Kunsthaus Zürich , the museum of fine arts, with an impressive collection of art from the Middle Ages to the present day. Another favorite is the Rietberg Museum , which focuses on non-European art with many works from China, India, and Africa.
A short stroll from Zürich's main station, the Swiss National Museum , in a Gothic chateau, spotlights Swiss cultural history. Families will love the Zurich Zoo with an elephant park, penguin parade, and Madagascar pavilion. From the city, take a train ride to Uetliberg Mountain for panoramic views of the city and countryside.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Zürich
Spanning 150 meters, the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) at Schaffhausen are the largest falls in Europe. The best time to visit is during June and July when the mountain snow melts, and the falls swell in volume to spill over a 21-meter-high ledge of Jurassic limestone.
Boat trips up the Rhine provide excellent views of the falls, as do the viewing platforms on both sides of the river.
Founded in 1914, Swiss National Park in the Engadine Valley is the oldest reserve in the Alps. The park sits right on the border with Italy and encompasses more than 170 square kilometers of flower-dotted hollows, fast-flowing rivers, and limestone crags. The scenery is especially dramatic in winter when the forested mountains are covered in a blanket of snow, and the views from the cross-country ski trails are stunning.
Nature lovers can explore the region on the large network of trails, though veering off these paths is forbidden in an effort to preserve the natural ecosystems. More than 5,000 species of wildlife call the park home, including marmot, red deer, chamois, ibex, fox, and more than 100 species of birds.
One of the very few railway lines in the world designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing, the Albula/Bernina line on the Rheatian Railways offers a majestic ride not to be missed. The route extends throughout the Albula and Bernina landscapes, covering 122 kilometers and winding through almost 200 bridges, the Graubünden mountains, and a number of tunnels and viaducts along the way.
A ride on this train means panoramic seats that overlook unspoiled mountain landscapes, including the Piz Bernina, the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps at just over 4,000 meters tall. The train operates all year long, and the views are just as magical in summer as they are in winter.
Right on the shore of Lake Thun and surrounded by a 2.5-hectare park, this 13th-century castle is one of the most breathtaking in Switzerland. Because Oberhofen Castle changed hands many times through the centuries, and new owners kept adding rooms to it, the result is a magical mix of many styles: Bernese Baroque-style buildings, Romantic-style facades, and Prussian-inspired exotic new areas (including a library and a smoking room).
The castle also houses a living museum showcasing the times and lives of feudal societies that called the castle (and its surroundings) home from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
The Ruinaulta (also known as the "Swiss Grand Canyon") is a deep gorge surrounded by expansive meadows and forested cliffs. Located in Eastern Switzerland, it was created over 10,000 years ago–when the Ice Age Rhine Glacier retreated, it led to a chain of events that resulted in a massive rockslide in the Rhine Valley. As the Rhine River seeped through the rock walls, the gorge was filled with water.
Today, the Swiss Grand Canyon is not only one of the most beautiful areas in Switzerland, but also a preferred destination for hikers, bird-watchers, and nature lovers. It's possible to raft the rapids here between May and October, or rent a canoe or kayak for a gentler route with stunning views of the steep cliffs all around.
Even if you don't know anything about this small medieval town, you've probably heard about the hard yellow cheese that made its name famous. Today, that's one of the town's main attractions. Visitors can tour a cheese factory, sample the local specialties, and wave to the cows that call the surrounding green hills home. If cheese isn't enough, the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory also operates in town.
Gruyères might be tiny – it covers an area of just 28.4 square kilometers and is home to around 2,000 permanent residents – but it makes up for it with plenty of things to do, including the 13 th -century Castle of Gruyères and its two small arts and regional museums, as well as Saint-Germain Castle, which was bought by Swiss surrealist painter and sculptor H. R. Giger, and it now houses a museum dedicated to his work. The Tibet Museum, housed in an old church in town, is also worth a visit.
Stunning landscapes surround Gruyères, including the Gorges de la Jogne (favorite with hikers) and the nearby Mont Moléson, popular with climbers in the warmer months and home to ski and snowshoe trails during winter.
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20 Must-See Places in Switzerland
Here are the destinations you can’t miss
Switzerland is a land of abundant contrasts. Bordered by Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and France, the country is home to four national languages, and its landscape alternates between lush valleys, turquoise lakes and dramatic mountain peaks. One day you might be rafting down a river through Europe's 'Grand Canyon'; the next, on a train to the continent’s highest mountain station. In the remote alpine village of Appenzell, ties to traditional crafts are strong and the modern world feels far away. Yet in French-speaking Geneva, a center of international business marked by a 12th-century cathedral, old and new coexist. Ranging from remote villages to bustling cities, from snow-covered landscapes to tropical climates, here are 20 places you must see in Switzerland.
Appenzell in northeastern Switzerland is very popular with the tourists, and for good reason – in no other Swiss town is folklore so firmly entrenched. This picturesque village feels like a world removed. Its streets are narrow, and buildings are painted with all manner of colorful motifs, ranging from landscapes to flowers, to people and animals. Compared to other regions in Switzerland, very little industry settled in Appenzell due to the fact that it was connected to few railroads or major roadways, so the focus here is on local crafts. In particular, the the town is known for its cheeses and embroidery. Residents often say that Appenzell is where “life is still true.”
Located in the heart of the Bernese Mittelland on the Aare River in northern Switzerland, Bern is Switzerland's captial and home to some of the most impressive examples of medieval town architecture found anywhere in Europe. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and is often referred to as the “City of Fountains" for the more than 100 fountains that grace its streets and squares. Eleven, dating back to the 16th century, are particularly impressive. They depict a range of historical figures and are routinely repainted to preserve their original appearance. Other landmarks include the city clock tower, whose whimsical figurines dance on the hour , and a bear park , which celebrates Bern's symbol, the bear.
Swiss Grand Canyon
Nearly 10,000 years ago in what is today southeastern Switzerland, the Rhine Glacier retreated, causing a landslide. Thousands of tons of rocks, boulders and mud crashed to the floor of Rhine Valley, damming the river. Over time, the water seeped through the dam, resulting in the Vorderrhein Gorge, or Swiss Grand Canyon. Now a heavily forested area, the landscape has parted to allow the Rhine to meander and wind its way through the valleys, making it a hiker's and rafter's paradise. Raft tours take place from May through October, with the help of professional guides. The rapids are mild and suitable for almost anyone.
Swiss National Park
The lower Engadine Valley is home Swiss National Park, a 67,000-acre wildlife sanctuary that epitomizes Alpine splendor. One-third of the park consists of Alpine forests, another third of Alpine meadows, and the rest mountains. Founded on Swiss Independence Day, August 1, 1914, the park was one of Europe’s first national parks and is the only national park in Switzerland. Here nature is left to its own with very little interference. Visitor impact is carefully monitored, and only one road, the Ofenpass, runs through the park. June and July are the best times to observe the Alpine flowers and birds, while September is the best month to see the ibex, chamois and deer. The visitor center and park headquarters are located near the village of Zernez, where the white houses of Engadina are visible. The walls of these houses are nearly three feet thick, in order to protect the inhabitants from the brutally cold winters (when temperatures get down to -20° F).
Brienz, on the shores of Lake Brienz to the east of Interlaken, is home to picturesque Giessbach Falls and famous for its woodcarving. In fact, most of the carved wood you'll find in Switzerland hails from this region. Brienz is often overlooked by tourists in favor of activities on Lake Thun, which lies to the west of Interlaken and is the larger of the two lakes, but is favored by vacationing Swiss. For a breathtaking view of the Bernese Alps and Lake Brienz, ride the Brienz Rothorn Bahn, an old steam locomotive. Its three-hour ascent peaks at the summit of Rothorn, which rises 7,700 feet.
St. Moritz, located in the Engadine Valley, has been the winter resort playground of the rich and famous since the 19th century. It first gained notoriety in 1864 when St. Moritz Hotel owner Johannes Badrutt told British tourists that, if they enjoyed their stay in his region, he'd cover their travel expenses, and they could stay as long as they liked – at his expense. Needless to say, word spready quickly. The sun shines more than 300 days per year in St. Moritz, known today for its snow sports, summer hiking and upper-crust shopping. One of St. Moritz's top attractions is the horse racing event " White Turf ," which attracts equestrians throughout Europe and takes place in February over three consecutive afternoons. A highlight is the traditional Skikjöring race, in which entrants are pulled on skis behind a galloping horse.
The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is more of a must-do, rather than a must-see, although expect to see quite a lot on this 7-hour journey through some of the most treacherous and beautiful mountain passes Switzerland has to offer. The route, first opened in 1928, travels 170 miles from Zermatt to St. Moritz, crossing 291 bridges and moving through 91 tunnels. Highlights include the Oberalp Pass, when the train reaches the highest point in its journey, and the single-track, six-arched Landwasser Viaduct , which rises more than 200 feet above the Landwasser River. The iconic red trains are equipped with modern dining cars and large windows to view the spectacular scenery.
Located in the southern canton of Ticino, Lugano is a must-see for its heavy Italian influences. The streets of the Old Town are closed to cars, making this a great walking city. You can get around the town of Lugano and the surrounding region by foot or by bike, or ride one of the many steamers crisscrossing Lake Lugano. Palm trees are a common sight, and the so-called “Floral Route" is a popular one-day outing. Beginning with a ride on the Monte San Salvatore funicular , the route contines to the summit of San Salvatore, on to Ciona and Carona, whose churches feature stunning frescos and stucco work. From Carona, you can venture to the botanical gardens of San Grato, or the Baroque sanctuary of the Madonna d'Ongero, before heading to the ancient fishing town of Morcote where you can catch a bus or ship back to Lugano.
Zurich's traffic-free Bahnhoffstrasse is one of the finest shopping areas anywhere in Europe. During Christmastime, the streets are lined with tiny lights, while people window-shop to their hearts' delight. Vendors line the streets offering toasted almonds and hot cider, and the lure of fresh-baked goods and Christmas cookies is everywhere. In the summer, linden trees provide respite from the sun. The Bahnhoffstrasse runs from Central Station to Lake Zurich, and two historic streets, Renweg and Augustinergasse, connect it to Zurich's Old Town.
In Lucerne, visitors can stroll through the car-free Old Town, set against the backdrop of Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi, then spend an afternoon sailing on one of the many ships that depart regularly from the Vierwaldstättersee dock. The Chapel Bridge, built in 1333, is a landmark of Lucerne’s Old Town and oldest roofed wooden bridge in Europe. Though a tragic fire destroyed most of it in 1993, it was painstakingly restored to resemble its original structure and contains a series of paintings on each section of its ceiling beams. To experience the best of Lucerne, take the Rigi-Kulm excursion – a five-hour journey that combines a cogwheel railway train ride, cable car and boat trip.
Engelberg in central Switzerland is a haven for sports enthusiasts. Meaning “Angel Mountain,” it is the main village in Canton Obwalden and lies at the foot of Mount Titlis. Originally a monastery village, it is now a world-class ski destination and home to numerous hotels and restaurants. From Engelberg, you can board a cable car to the middle station of Mount Titlis via Trübsee, then take a revolving cable car known as the Rotair to an area near the summit. The mountain station offers a below-ground glacier excursion, six-person scenic chair lift, snowtubing and connection to Europe's highest suspension bridge .
Rising more than 4,000 feet between Lakes Thun and Brienz, Harder Kulm offers a sensational bird's-eye view of the Jungfrau region and can be reached from Interlaken in only 10 minutes. Visit the Art Noveau-style restaurant at the summit or walk out onto Two Lakes Bridge for an on-top-of-this-world experience. A funicular leaves daily from near the Interlaken Ost station.
Mürren is a friendly and car-free holiday resort situated on a sun-drenched terrace atop the Lauterbrunnen valley. Easily reached from both Interlaken train stations by cogwheel train, it is the main stop on the way to the Schilthorn and Piz Gloria. In the summer months, it serves as one of the best bases for hiking excursions in Alps—among them the Eiger North Face trail —and doubles as a ski resort in the winter. While no marked roads run through Mürren, directional signs abound.
The Schilthorn , atop Piz Gloria, offers a stunning panoramic view of more than 200 mountain peaks, dominated by the Eiger, Mönch and the Jungfrau. You can either sit inside the world-famous revolving restaurant or stand outside on the observation deck, where portions of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service were filmed. If you are an ice cream lover, be sure to order the “007" dessert –five scoops of various types of ice cream smothered with fresh fruits. To reach the Schilthorn, visitors must take a cable car (Switzerland's longest) from Mürren.
To get to the highest point in Europe, you need to ride a series of trains and trams to the Jungfraujoch , which sits just 300 feet below the summit of the 13,638-foot Jungfrau. Trains leave once a day from Interlaken West, stopping at Interlaken East, Wilderswil, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and the Kleine Scheidegg. The last part of the journey takes nearly an hour – at one point passing through a four-mile tunnel. There are six restaurants at Jungraujoch along with a terrace, Ice Palace , scientific research station and observation center known as The Sphinx . An elevator whisks you another 364 feet up to the observatory. Skiing lessons and dog sledding are offered in good weather, and on clear days you can see as far as Germany and France.
The auto-less Alpine village of Zermatt in the southern canton of Valais is home to some of the world's most spectacular mountains, including the world-famous Matterhorn. Rising like a shark tooth above surrounding peaks, the Matterhorn is the most photographed mountain in Switzerland. Ride the Gornergratbahn , Europe’s highest open-air cog railway for stunning views of the Matterhorn and surrounding glaciers. Atop Gornergrat, enjoy a meal or stay overnight at Europe’s highest-altitude hotel and visit its planeterium. A ride on the Klein Matterhorn , Europe’s highest-altitude cable car, up to the mountain station is another spectacular experience. Zermatt offers skiing year-round, and you an even ski to Italy for lunch if you bring your passport. The Matterhorn Trail is a favorite among hikers and part of a network of more than 300 miles of trails in and around the Zermatt area.
Sitting atop a terrace amidst 12 mountains in Canton Valais, Saas-Fee is closed to traffic . It is where the Swiss go when they want to hike or ski, hoping to avoid the crowds that flock to nearby resorts of Zermatt or Verbier. Unlike St. Moritz or Verbier, Saas-Fee falls asleep each night around 10 pm. It has the charm of an old-time resort with its wooden chalets, outdoor sun terraces, sidewalk cafés and restaurants, yet boasts modern attractions including the world’s highest revolving restaurant and its largest ice pavilion . Rightfully so, Saas-Fee is known as “the pearl of the Alps." In the summer, its hiking trails and foot paths are suitable for all levels of wanderers.
A picture-perfect castle dating back to the 13th century overlooks the medieval village of Gruyères just south of Bern and north of Lake Geneva. Gruyères is most famous for producing the cheese of its same name. La Maison de Gruyères is the local factory offering cheese, quiche and fondue for sale. It produces 48 wheels of cheese a day and can stock up to 7,000. If you visit Gruyères in the early summer, you'll be sure to catch the cow herders leading their droves of cattle to high Alpine pastures. The herders – known as armaillis – allow the cows to graze on the rich grasses found on the sunny mountain slopes until the fall months, when they make the annual pilgrimage back down to their winter quarters.
Chillon Castle is an ancient fortress on Lake Geneva at the foothills of the Valais Alps and one of the most impressive in Switzerland. Built by the Savoys in the 12 th century, it consists of 25 buildings joined together by three courtyards, complete with dungeons and torture chambers. Chillon’s architecture and history have inspired such writers as Lord Byron , Victor Hugo and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The castle, open daily, can be reached by car or by a two-mile walking path from Montreux, known as the Chein Fleirui, or flower path.
Home to the Office of the United Nations and the International Red Cross headquarters, Geneva is often referred to as the City of Peace. Unmistakable landmarks incude the Jet d’eau, which pumps water 460 feet above Lake Geneva; the flower clock, a testament to Geneva’s watch-making legacy; and St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Old Town. Dating back to the 12th century, the cathedral dominates the cityscape, and visitors can climb to the top of the north tower for an exceptional view of the city and the Alps. Due to the city's location on the border of France, Geneva's culture is heavily influenced by its western neighbors, and its vineyard-rich countryside ranks among Switzerland’s most romantic scenery.
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All the quaint stereotypes are true – cheese, chocolate, clocks, obsessive punctuality – but there’s much more to Switzerland than this. The major cities are cosmopolitan and vibrant, transport links are excellent, and the scenery takes your breath away. Switzerland is diverse and multilingual – almost everyone speaks some English along with at least one of the four official languages. What's more, with so much to see and do, it's not easy to ascertain the best time to visit Switzerland .
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Special Golden Round Trip to Switzerland (small group or private)
Stay active on Switzerland's mountains with hikes and cable cars before indulging in delicious Swiss cheese and wines around Lausanne and Geneva. Is there a better way to get a taste of Switzerland than to actually taste it? Pricing is based on a small group tour, enquire for a private tour!
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Lakes and mountains for the whole family in Italy & Switzerland
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Grand Circle of Switzerland
Switzerland may be small but is full of unique experiences. Take the scenic Glacier Express, visit the beautiful car-free village of Zermatt, visit the Matterhorn, the famous St Moritz and more on this Swiss highlight trip.
- Population 7.9 million
- Area 41,293 sq km
- Languages German, French, Italian, Romansch
- Currency Swiss Franc (Fr.)
- Capital Bern (population: 131,791)
- International phone code t +41
The most visited Alpine area is the picturesque Bernese Oberland , and Jungfrau region , but the loftiest Alps are further south, where the Toblerone-peaked Matterhorn looms above Zermatt , in the canton of Valais .
Of the northern German-speaking cities, Zürich has tons of sightseeing and nightlife and provides easy access to the tiny principality of Liechtenstein . Basel and the capital, Bern , are quieter, each with an attractive historic core, while Luzern lies in an appealing setting of lakes and mountains. In the French-speaking west, Geneva and Lausanne are at the heart of Suisse-Romande. South of the Alps, Italian-speaking Ticino seems a world apart, particularly the palm-fringed lakeside resorts of Lugano and Locarno .
Switzerland has no big metropolises on the scale of Paris or London. Swiss towns and cities were preserved from bombing in World War II, and all of them retain medieval alleys, houses and churches at their centres. Geneva is positioned at the tip of the idyllic Lake Geneva in the southwest, a short distance from the graceful lakeside city of Lausanne .
In the northeast, Zürich too is set on its own lake, within striking distance of the peaceful Bodensee (Lake Constance). Though lesser-visited, there are plenty of reasons to visit the northeast and Liechtenstein .
If its wild remoteness you're after, or swanky ski resorts, see what Graubünden has to offer.
The diminutive Swiss capital Bern has a fine cobbled Old Town, while equally attractive Lucerne lies in the centre of the country on its own, famously beautiful, lake. Basel is located on the Rhine at the point where France, Germany and Switzerland meet, while at the opposite end of the country, Lugano basks on the shores of an azure lake a few kilometres from the Italian border.
Check here for some visual inspiration for things not to miss in Switzerland , and read up on accommodation in Switzerland and eating and drinking in Switzerland .
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Top image: Zermatt in front of the Matterhorn. Winter in Switzerland © Bernsten/Shutterstock
Travel advice for Switzerland
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- Creux du Van – Natural Spectacle Impressive 160 meter high vertical rock faces surround a four kilometer long and over one kilometer wide valley basin. Learn more
- Val de Travers The Val de Tavers is characterised by the watch industry and extends from Lake Neuenburg across the Jura all the way to the French border. Learn more
- LAC Arte e Cultura The building by Ticino architect Ivano Gianola offers visitors art across 2500 square metres Learn more
- Lugano With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town. Learn more
- Art & culture Switzerland is brimming with cultural surprises. Learn more
- Fribourg / Freiburg Over 200 unique Gothic facades from the 15th century impart incomparable medieval charm to the Old Town. Learn more
- Cathedral of St. Nicholas Climb the 368 steps and you will be rewarded with an unforgettable view of the town of Fribourg. Learn more
- Val Calnègia It can only be reached on foot, but the reward in the form of a submerged creek, unusual buildings and spectacular scenery is well worth the effort. Learn more
- Rochers-de-Naye: mountain with a view No two worlds could contrast more than those at the beginning and the end of the thrilling train ride from lively, sophisticated Montreux to the austere summit of Rochers-de-Naye.
- Schwarzsee The vacation region around the Black Lake and in the Eastern Freiburg Pre-Alps (Voralpen) is well-known for its authenticity and its wild, romantic natural landscape. Learn more
- Zurich The cosmopolitan city by the water combines creative urban life with nature in all its glory. Learn more
- Zürich West In the last 10 years the industrial wasteland to the west of Zurich has grown into a new bright lights district. Learn more
- Patinoire du Flon Lausanne The ice rink in Flon is a great place for outdoor ice skating. Learn more
- Europe’s highest suspension bridge The suspension bridge stretches spectacularly from one rock face to the other. Learn more
- Hikes to suspension bridges Thrills over the abyss Learn more
- Freestyle Academy In Europe’s first Freestyle Indoor Base, jumps and tricks can now be practiced all year. Learn more
- rockresort From bed to board. Learn more
- Panorama view Sweeping views extend from part of Lake Lucerne as far as the Black Forest. Learn more
- Gstaad Gstaad attracts a charming mix of visitors. Learn more
- Gstaad Saanenland ... ... a highlight on the Grand Tour of Switzerland. Learn more
- Snow and piste report Daily updated information on 250 winter sports stations. Learn more
- Matterhorn – Symbol for Switzerland The Matterhorn and Switzerland are inseparably linked to each other. Learn more
- Zermatt The vacation destination is a car-free zone and has preserved its original character. Learn more
- Bernina Express Fresh mountain air and stunning views from the Albula and Bernina rail lines. Learn more
- Train, Bus, Boat – Grand Train Tour The way of travelling that is as exciting as it is relaxing. Learn more
- St. Gallen The compact metropolis of eastern Switzerland between Lake Constance and Appenzellerland with a charming, traffic-free old town. Learn more
- St. Gallen Abbey District In St. Gallen you'll find history at every turn. Learn more
- Saas-Fee 13 four thousand meter peaks surround the glacier village, which is located at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level. Learn more
- Jungfraujoch On the Top of Europe: A visit to the Jungfraujoch puts a jewel in the crown of any visit to Switzerland. Learn more
- Crans-Montana Sun-drenched plateau high above the Rhone Valley. Learn more
- Albert Heim Hut The views of the Galenstock and the crystalline rock-climbing routes are stunning.
- Rigi Kaltbad Swiss Quality Hotel Enjoy the hospitality in an inspiring alpine setting. Learn more
- Highland hike from Rigi-Kaltbad to Urmiberg The highland tour from Kaltbad via the Scheidegg to Urmiberg can only be described as absolute top!
- Lucerne Gateway to central Switzerland. Learn more
- Lucerne through Turner's eyes. On Lake Lucerne with the master of English Romanticism. Learn more
- Switzerland’s cities ... ... want to seduce you into discovering something new or experiencing something old in a new way. Learn more
- Chapel Bridge and Water Tower At the outflow of the river Reuss, a historic needle dam, built in 1860, regulates the water level of the lake. Learn more
- Giessbach Falls The Giessbach brook tumbles in 14 stages, over a length of 500 meters and out of the high valleys of the Faulhorn area down to Lake Brienz. Learn more
- Waterfalls You can feel the sheer force of the water as it thunders down into the depths. Learn more
- Swiss Historic Hotels Unique accommodation options from an unpretentious historic guesthouse to the luxurious grand hotel. Learn more
- Emmentaler AOP The king of Swiss cheese. Learn more
- Scenic nature Thanks to its unique geographical location at the heart of Europe, Switzerland is endowed with an extraordinary variety of scenic countryside. Learn more
- Rhine falls circular route The Rhine Falls are the centrepiece of this circular hike. Learn more
- The Rhine Falls By ship one can reach castles, the Rhine Falls Basin and even the mighty rock in the midst of the waterfall. Learn more
- Oeschinensee – gondola rail One of the most attractive and imposing mountain lakes, namely Oeschinensee, is reached by gondola rail from Kandersteg. Learn more
- Kandersteg Kandersteg is located at 1,200 meters in the Bernese Oberland and offers a fantastic view of the Blümlisalp Massif. Learn more
- Rivers and lakes Discover the most beautiful lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls and gorges in our country. Learn more
- Chäserrugg – and the Churfirsten From Chäserrugg, the mightiest of the seven peaks of the Churfirsten mountain range, you can enjoy unsurpassed views into six countries.
- Wildhaus Nestled between the mighty Säntis massif and the seven Churfirsten peaks, the resorts of Alt St. Johann, Unterwasser and Wildhaus are among the highest-lying municipalities in Toggenburg. Learn more
- Ruinaulta - Switzerland's Grand Canyon 10,000 years ago, 10 billion cubic metres of rock thundered into the valley. Learn more
- On a raft through the Swiss Grand Canyon The Rhine gorge is among Switzerland’s most beautiful locations for rafting. Learn more
- Brissago The lowest and oldest part of the village is clustered around the beautiful Renaissance church of St. Peter and Paul, surrounded by centuries-old cypresses. Learn more
- Brissago - Ronco - Ascona Strong fragrance of mimosas, well-tended Palm Gardens and simply unsurpassable views of the deep-blue Lago (Lake) Maggiore.
- Around the Churfirsten This moderately challenging loop takes you to the Wildhaus ski resort along a minor, little-known road and skirts magnificent Lake Walen. Learn more
- Donkey trekking The first item on this special walk is “donkey knowledge” before everybody prepares their “own” donkey. Learn more
- La Gruyère The Gruyère region, with its rolling green landscape and the peaks of the Fribourg Pre-Alps, is home to the world-famous Gruyère cheese. Learn more
- HR Giger Museum As tourists savor a fondue outside on the square, the surreal works of H.R. Giger come alive inside the Château St. Germain castle. Learn more
- Fribourg Region The Pays de Fribourg is somewhat a world turned upside down: cold, limestone summits are found in the south and mild, even Mediterranean-like lakesides in the north. Learn more
- Viamala Gorge The Viamala is full of history and stories. 2000 years ago, the Romans passed through the gorge. Learn more
- Canyoning in the Viamala Gorge The tour is led by experienced guides who assist the visitors with this nature adventure.
- CabriO Stanserhorn Enjoying the wind in one’s face and the perfect view. Learn more
- Mountain railways The journey to the top is an attraction in itself, be it onboard a cogwheel train, a cable car or the world’s steepest funicular. Learn more
- Hiking and Äscher cliff restaurant Nowhere else in Switzerland is the change from the hilly landscape of Central Switzerland to the craggy alpine scenery so abrupt or impressive as in the Alpstein area. Learn more
- Ebenalp and Wildkirchli Already Neanderthal men were here where today a cableway sweeps visitors up. Learn more
- Montreux Riviera The town of Montreux nestles in a sheltered Lake Geneva bay, surrounded by vineyards and against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps. Learn more
- Bern Cathedral The Bern Münster Cathedral of St. Vincent is the most impressive late-Gothic building in the city. Learn more
- City breaks City breaks are a brief escape from everyday life – and our Swiss Boutique Towns are perfect for the occasion. Learn more
- Bern Not many cities have managed to retain their historic features quite as successfully as Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Learn more
- Dream route Airolo - Gletsch From Airolo, the historic pass road snakes around hairpin bends up to the Gotthard. Learn more
- Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch The Jungfrau-Aletsch Region was chosen as the first Alpine UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2001. Learn more
- Glaciers Venture out onto eternal ice and explore our country’s many glaciers. Learn more
- Oberhofen Castle - Living Museum and Park The castle, which dates back to the early 13th century, houses a living museum. Learn more
- Lake Thun Lake Thun is especially popular amongst sailors and windsurfers who appreciate the prevailing light breeze. Learn more
- Swimming in the Rhine through the historic old town Thousands of people cool off by leaping into the refreshing water during the warmer months of the year. Learn more
- Basel Home to 40 museums, the city of culture for connoisseurs has the highest concentration of museums in the country. Learn more
- Nationalpark Bike-Marathon In four one-day stages you experience the unique countryside on the National Park bike marathon route. Learn more
- Swiss parcs The Swiss parks are not just great spots for rest and relaxation, but also play a key role in the preservation of natural habitats. Learn more
- Geneva With its humanitarian tradition and cosmopolitan flair, the European seat of the UNO and headquarters of the Red Cross is known as the «capital of peace». Learn more
- Jet d'Eau In Geneva harbour, known as “La Rade”, this water jet up to 140 metres high is a real eye-catcher. Learn more
- Appenzell The village of Appenzell and the Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden are situated in a singularly beautiful landscape of rolling hills. Learn more
- Appenzeller® Cheese The country’s spiciest cheese has been made by hand in the same way for more than 700 years. Learn more
- Alpine Panorama Route The Alpine Panorama Route crosses the northern Alpine foreland with its many passes and gorges, tradition-rich culture, settlements and mountain farms. Learn more
- Hallwilersee Like the Baldeggersee lake a little further south, Lake Hallwil is located in the Seetal, a north-south valley that leads from the Lucerne hinterland to Lenzburg. Learn more
- Monte Generoso At the southern end of Lake Lugano is the 1,701 metre high Monte Generoso. Learn more
- Via Albula/Bernina Through moorland and Alpine pastures to the Berninapass. One highlight follows another. Learn more
- Autumn The forests reveal a wonderful palette of colours, leaves crunch underfoot and you can already imagine the wonderful seasonal dishes that await. Learn more
- Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces The natural, cultural and culinary highlights of this area are definitely well worth a visit. Learn more
- Jura Crest Trail The undisputed highlight of this tour across an extensive grazing area is Mont Tendre, the highest point in the Swiss Jura. Learn more
- Zug Zyt Tower, which offers a magnificent view of the Old Town, the Zug Mountain and Lake Zug, is the city's landmark. Learn more
- Zug Castle Museum With its many nooks and crannies, Zug Castle has been home to the museum of cultural history for the city and the Canton of Zug since 1983. Learn more
- Fribourg / Freiburg
- Stoos – Fronalpstock
- Neuhausen am Rheinfall
- Brissago Island
- Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park
- Wasserauen Ebenalp
- Aletsch Arena
- Monte Generoso and Valle di Muggio
- Albulatal / Bergün
- Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
- Jura & Three-Lakes
- Noiraigue Noiraigue
- Lugano Lugano
- Fribourg / Freiburg Fribourg / Freiburg
- S. Carlo S. Carlo
- Veytaux Veytaux
- Schwarzsee Schwarzsee
- Zurich Zurich
- Lausanne Lausanne
- Engelberg Engelberg
- Stoos – Fronalpstock Stoos – Fronalpstock
- Gstaad Gstaad
- Zermatt Zermatt
- Engadin Engadin
- St. Gallen St. Gallen
- Saas-Fee Saas-Fee
- Jungfraujoch Jungfraujoch
- Crans-Montana Crans-Montana
- Andermatt Andermatt
- Lucerne Lucerne
- Brienz Brienz
- Emmental Emmental
- Neuhausen am Rheinfall Neuhausen am Rheinfall
- Kandersteg Kandersteg
- Unterwasser Unterwasser
- Flims Flims
- Brissago Island Brissago Island
- Wildhaus Wildhaus
- Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park
- Viamala Viamala
- Stans Stans
- Wasserauen Ebenalp Wasserauen Ebenalp
- Montreux Montreux
- Airolo Airolo
- Aletsch Arena Aletsch Arena
- Basel Basel
- Zernez Zernez
- Geneva Geneva
- Appenzell Appenzell
- Seengen Seengen
- Monte Generoso and Valle di Muggio Monte Generoso and Valle di Muggio
- Albulatal / Bergün Albulatal / Bergün
- Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
- Jura & Three-Lakes Jura & Three-Lakes
- Nov Noiraigue
- Nov Fribourg / Freiburg
- Nov S. Carlo
- Dec Veytaux
- Dec Schwarzsee
- Dec Lausanne
- Jan Engelberg
- Jan Stoos – Fronalpstock
- Feb Zermatt
- Feb Engadin
- Feb St. Gallen
- Feb Saas-Fee
- Mar Jungfraujoch
- Mar Crans-Montana
- Mar Andermatt
- Apr Lucerne
- Apr Emmental
- Apr Neuhausen am Rheinfall
- May Kandersteg
- May Unterwasser
- May Brissago Island
- Jun Wildhaus
- Jun Gruyère Pays-d'Enhaut Regional Nature Park
- Jun Viamala
- Jul Wasserauen Ebenalp
- Jul Montreux
- Aug Aletsch Arena
- Sep Appenzell
- Sep Seengen
- Sep Monte Generoso and Valle di Muggio
- Oct Albulatal / Bergün
- Oct Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
- Oct Jura & Three-Lakes
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Something happens in a video. A bird's eye view of the beauty of Switzerland.
- Schloss Hallwyl
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The most scenic road trip
Hikes: Hiking & trekking
Matterhorn - symbol for switzerland.
The Matterhorn and Switzerland are inseparably linked to each other. The pyramid shaped colossus of a mountain, which is very difficult to climb, is said to be the most-photographed mountain in the world. The Klein-Matterhorn ("Little Matterhorn"), which can be reached via a funicular, lies adjacent to the Matterhorn.
The Rhine Falls
To stand high above Europe's largest waterfall, feeling the roar and vibration of the water over one's entire body - this can be experienced at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. By ship one can reach castles, the Rhine Falls Basin and even the mighty rock in the midst of the waterfall.
On the Top of Europe: A visit to the Jungfraujoch puts a jewel in the crown of any visit to Switzerland.
Château de Chillon
Chillon Castle is located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. The water castle is the most visited historic building in Switzerland. For nearly four centuries Chillon was the residence and profitable toll station of the Counts of Savoy.
Creux du Van
"Creux du Van", a natural rock arena of immense proportions, is located at the border of the cantons of Neuenburg and Vaud. Impressive 160 meter high vertical rock faces surround a four kilometer long and over one kilometer wide valley basin.
Aletsch - the Largest Alpine Glacier
Incredibly immense, incredibly beautiful: the Large Aletsch Glacier is the Alps' mightiest ice flow. And the most popular, for it is easily accessible and is ideally situated for extensive hikes, winter sports and special nature excursions.
Swiss Museum of Transportation
Switzerland’s most visited museum showcases the past, present and future of mobility with interactive and varied exhibits. In addition to the museum, unique attractions found nowhere else in Switzerland, such as the film theatre, planetarium, Swiss Chocolate Adventure and Media World, are just waiting to be discovered.
10,000 years ago, 100 billion cubic metres of rock thundered into the valley. Known as the Flims Rockslide, this event created the Ruinaulta, a canyon-like gorge in the Anterior Rhine Valley that can be reached on foot, over water, by train or by bike.
Discover Switzerland now!
Autumn - the most sensual season, sustainable travel by public transport, advertisement, ermitage wellness- & spa hotel, schönried benefit days 5 for 4.
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Tschuggen Grand Hotel, Arosa Unwind and relax in the mountains
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Landgasthof Ruedihus, Kandersteg Discover Kandersteg
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Adler Adelboden, Adelboden Winter fun
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Parkhotel Delta Wellbeing Resort, Ascona Wellness in Ascona
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Hotel Villa Honegg, Ennetbürgen Idyllic stay
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Region Murtensee, Murten/Morat Half board included - Murten / Morat
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Bürgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Stansstad The wellness offer
Without overnight stay valid: 14.11.2023 - 31.12.2023
Grandhotel Giessbach, Brienz Wellness timeout with historical flair
Price per double room valid: 14.11.2023 - 16.12.2023
Romantik Hôtel Mont-Blanc au Lac, Morges Unique views of the mountains and the lake
Price per night per double room valid: 14.11.2023 - 31.12.2023
The 18 best christmas markets in switzerland.
Mulled wine, Christmas music, twinkling lights and enticing aromas – nothing could be more special than enjoying the magical run-up to Christmas with your nearest and dearest at one of the many Christmas markets.
Christmas in the city
Stroll through the city, marvel at the Christmas lights and festive decorations, listen to musical sounds and enjoy this magical atmosphere with a mulled wine in between: Swiss cities are simply magically beautiful at Christmas time.
Twinkling lights, seductive scents, Christmas music and a fairytale atmosphere: the Christmas season in Switzerland is particularly magical. Whether strolling through a Christmas market, enjoying a mulled wine or a fondue, being inspired by the decorated streets or curving around the ice field: in Switzerland there are countless Advent experiences that will make the eyes of young and old light up.
Christmas illuminations and light shows
As the days get shorter, a host of light festivals bathe Swiss cities in a dazzling array of colour, transforming public spaces into fairytale worlds of twinkling lights. Artists give their imagination free rein, enchanting audiences around the country with spectacular sound and light animations.
The most beautiful settings for afternoon tea
There is one quintessentially British tradition that enjoys great popularity: afternoon tea. Indeed, afternoon tea is a welcome excuse to stop and relax, particularly during the often hectic Christmas season and on gloomy autumn and winter days.
Fondue Experience Switzerland
Find a truly authentic fondue experience in Switzerland: Whether traditional fondue chalet, pop-up restaurant, fondue gondola, staged as an experience or as a large-scale event for companies. Experience the fondue variety Switzerland has to offer during the year or especially in the winter months.
- From 17 Nov International Literature Festival BuchBasel 2023 Basel, 17.11. - 19.11.2023
- From 17 Nov Lucerne Festival Forward Lucerne, 17.11. - 19.11.2023
- From 17 Nov Christmas market on the Pilatus Pilatus, 17.11. - 19.11.2023
- From 17 Nov Christmas & Cribs Zurich
- From 17 Nov Swiss Press Photo Prangins
- From 17 Nov StradivariFEST Rigi, 17.11. - 19.11.2023
- From 18 Nov Truffle Market Murten/Morat, 18.11. - 19.11.2023
- From 21 Nov Bô Noël Lausanne - Christmas Markets Lausanne, 21.11. - 31.12.2023
20 Must-Visit Attractions in Switzerland
Switzerland is home to seemingly endless natural beauty as well as a rich cultural history, ensuring there’s something to discover that will astound you. Read our list of the 20 must-visit attractions that you simply have to see for yourself.
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One of the largest lakes in Western Europe, Lake Geneva has plenty to keep you enthralled. From Geneva on the western shores to the town of Montreux on the east, you’re treated to views of the Alps reflecting of the lake’s calm waters. In the summer, you can indulge in a number of water sports.
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The Lion of Lucerne
In 1792, members of the Swiss Guard were massacred during the French Revolution. A couple of decades later, Lukas Ahorn carved the tragic Lion in its death throes into a rock face outside of Lucerne. The relief was designed by Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.
Great St. Bernard Pass
The Great St. Bernard Pass is the oldest pass in the Western Alps and the third highest in Switzerland. At the highest point in the road is the Great St. Bernard Hospice, where St. Bernard rescue dogs gained their fame.
Old Town of Bern
On a wander through the exquisitely preserved old town of Bern , you can feel the city’s history close in around you as you come across 15th-century arcades and 16th-century Renaissance fountains.
The Rhaetian Railway connects Switzerland to Italy through the mountains of Graubünden and is a remarkable feat of engineering through one of the country’s most photogenic regions. On the 130km ride, you’ll pass over 196 bridges and go through 55 tunnels, with the curving Landwasser viaduct being a spectacular highlight.
Vineyards stretch as far as the eyes can see in Switzerland’s longest vineyard region (843 hectares to be precise). On a leisurely hike along the vineyard trail , you can stop by and taste some of the local produce for yourself. Just remember you have to walk back.
The Lauterbrunen valley, also known as the valley of the 72 falls is home to the Trümmelbach Falls , the largest series of subterranean waterfalls in Europe. They carry the meltwater from the Jungfrau down to the valley below and they are fully accessible by lift, tunnels and paths.
One of the most beautiful and expensive shopping streets in Europe, the Bahnhofstrasse is a must visit on any trip to Zurich. Whether you are in the market for designer goods or just want the experience, make sure to take a wander through.
Gruyères is the cheese capital of Switzerland and the world famous cheese for fondue, aptly named Les Gruyères, is made there. Even if you’re not a fan of cheese, you should still visit as the town’s cream and meringue dessert is a must-taste.
Situated on a tiny island on Lake Geneva, Château Chillon is the most beautiful castle in Switzerland , offering stunning views of the surrounding Alps.
Otherwise known as the Roof of Europe, here you can admire the Alps in all their splendour. You can journey to Europe’s highest-altitude railway station at 3454m above sea level.
The Matterhorn is known as the world’s most photographed mountain in the world for a reason. Head to the fully pedestrianized resort of Zermatt if you want to tackle the challenge of climbing the mountain or ski on top-class slopes in its shadow.
Keeping on the trend of things at high altitude, at the Schilthorn summit you can dine out at just under 3000 metres in a revolving restaurant . From the viewpoint, it’s possible to see the Jungfrau, the Jura mountain range, the Vosges Mountains and catch a glimpse of the Mont Blanc in the distance.
The Aletsch glacier is the largest in the Alps at 23 km long. You can take a trek and get right up close to one of nature’s most spectacular bulldozers.
The oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe stretches across Lake Lucerne, with its structure dating back to the 14th century. Much of the bridge is a modern reconstruction after it was destroyed by a fire in the 90s. The interior of the Kapellbrücke contains artwork from the 17th century depicting important events in Swiss history.
At 125 metres wide and 25 metres high, the spectacular cascading waters of the Rhine Falls is the largest plains waterfall in Europe.
As one local Swiss comedian said, the Genevois are so proud of their tiny part of Lac Léman, or Lake Geneva, they decided to fire it hundreds of feet into the air. The Jet d’eau is one of the unmissable, if rather puzzling, sites of Geneva.
The Abbey of St Gall
This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains one of the oldest medieval libraries in the world and was one of the most important abbeys in Europe from the 8th century to the 19th. The structure we see today is the result of eight centuries of restructuring.
By Lake Lugano, with its Mediterranean climate, palm trees and the sound of Italian being spoken, you could easily forget that you are in Switzerland. Surrounded by mountains and blessed with fine weather, it makes for the perfect place for a relaxing getaway.
The castles of Bellinzona
The Castelgrande, Castello Montebello and Castello Sasso Corbaro protected the city of the Bellinzona, the capital of the canton of Ticino. Each castle is worth a visit by its own right, but together with their defensive walls they offer a fascinatingly beautiful step back in time.
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Places to Visit in Switzerland
Top Things to Do in Switzerland
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Switzerland's Nature Parks
How to Go Skiing
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Matterhorn Complete Guide
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Foods to Try
Your Trip to Switzerland: The Complete Guide
If you've ever ogled over photos of Switzerland's Alpine peaks, rolling meadows, and pristine lakes, you'll be happy to know that it's even more beautiful in person. The central European country is small compared to its neighbors, but it packs a lot into its 16,000 square miles, including 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites , more than 1,500 glaciers, and at least that many lakes.
All these geologic wonders add up to some of the more stunning scenery in the world. And that's enough to bring travelers—about 12 million of them per year —to Switzerland. When you factor in the countless opportunities for hiking, skiing, and boating; hearty Swiss food; modern, interesting cities; and what is probably Europe's best public transportation system, you're met with an accessible, exciting, and altogether satisfying vacation destination.
Planning Your Trip
- Best Time to Visit : The best time to visit Switzerland depends on what you want to do while you're here. Ski slopes are open November through March (though there is year-round skiing in a few places), while hiking and swimming are glorious in the summer months. But to beat the crowds, consider a visit in spring or fall.
- Language: Switzerland's cantons, or states, are mostly either French- or German-speaking. In the southern Ticino canton, Italian is the first language and in the Graubünden/Grisons canton, Romansh, a form of ancient Latin, is still spoken by about 60,000 people. The good news for travelers is that English is widely spoken, especially in hotels, restaurants, stores, and tourist attractions.
- Currency: Despite being in the middle of western Europe, Switzerland is not part of the EU, though it participates in the European Common economic market. The official currency here is the Swiss franc (abbreviated CHF). That said, your euros will probably be accepted at most places, though they'll give you change in francs.
- Getting Around : The clean, convenient, and comprehensive Swiss Travel System is the pride of Switzerland, and rightly so. The system includes trains, buses, lake and river ferries, funiculars, cogwheel trains, ski lifts, and gondolas that permit access to virtually every corner of the country. Because the system is so complete, we recommend touring Switzerland by public transportation, instead of by rental car. From airports and larger train stations, taxis are always available for those who don't feel like schlepping their bags.
- Travel Tip: If you plan to do a lot of travel within Switzerland, consider purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass , which grants the holder unlimited first- or second-class travel across the country's network of trains, buses, and boats, and most scenic railways. Plus, you'll get admission to more than 500 museums, as well as discounts on mountain excursions. However, if you just plan to visit a couple of places in the country, you can get by with individual train/transit tickets.
TripSavvy / Michela Sieman
Things to Do
While every traveler has their own reasons for visiting Switzerland, the big draws here can more or less be broken down into three categories: scenery, outdoor activities, and Swiss history and culture. Your trip will likely start or end in one of Switzerland's big cities, where that history and culture are on full display. Be sure to plan at least one (or several) excursions into the Swiss countryside, either on an easy or challenging hike, a boat ride across an iconic lake, or a cable car ride up to some of the highest peaks in Europe.
Here are some ideas for planning your Swiss itinerary:
- Explore one of the country's culturally rich cities. If you're flying into Switzerland, you'll most likely arrive in Zürich or Geneva. Zürich , Switzerland's largest city, is a delightful place to spend a few days taking in art and history museums, dining in centuries-old restaurants, and strolling down the River Limmat. Geneva , in French-speaking Switzerland, is the diplomatic center of Europe, with plenty of history and classical appeal, and an idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Geneva.
- Hike, bike, swim, or ski. No matter what time of year you visit, you'll find a huge range of outdoor activities in Switzerland—though admittedly, swimming is a bit brisk from October to June! There are biking and hiking routes for every level of fitness, extensive networks of ski "arenas" across the Alps and the Jura mountains, and rivers and lakes waiting for you to jump in for a swim or a paddle.
- Choose a mountain excursion. In Switzerland, it doesn't matter if you're not a skier or hiker. You can answer the call of the mountains just the same, thanks to dozens of scenic mountain excursions that whisk you—by cogwheel rail, cable car, or ski gondola—for close-up looks at the Matterhorn , the Eiger, the Aletsch Glacier, and more. At most places, you can have lunch on the mountaintop while you enjoy the view. Don't leave Switzerland without partaking in at least one of these thrilling rides.
For more trip-planning ideas, check out our full-length articles on the top things to do in Switzerland , Switzerland's most scenic train rides , and Switzerland's top lakes .
What to Eat and Drink
Swiss cuisine is hearty, to say the least. Cheese, chocolate, potatoes, and meat feature heavily on Swiss menus everywhere, and risotto is popular in the cantons bordering Italy. Swiss wine, from vineyards mostly south of the Alps, is so popular among the Swiss that only 2 percent is exported!
Here are some of the foods and beverages you shouldn't miss in Switzerland:
- Fondue. This classic dish of melted cheese, served with bread and vegetables for dipping, is as iconic as the Matterhorn. Fondue originated in French-speaking Switzerland , but it's pretty much ubiquitous across the country.
- Raclette. Sort of a cousin of fondue, raclette is melted cheese served on a plate with bread, potatoes, and gherkins. Its roots are high in the Alps, where farmers would make meals from their abundant cheese reserves.
- Rösti. Pancakes made of grated, fried potatoes, rösti may be served as a side dish or, when paired with eggs, meat, or cheese, as the main course.
- Chocolate. Thanks to milk from grass-fed Alpine cows, plus a few "secret" recipes, Swiss milk chocolate is among the creamiest in the world. Brands to look for include Toberlone, Lindt, Sprüngli, and Läderach.
- Swiss wine. Largely produced in the more temperant cantons south of the Alps, Swiss wine is equally celebrated in its red and white varieties. Chasselas and pinot noir are among the most common grapes, but across the country's wine-growing region, micro-vineyards specialize in small-batch wines. Be sure to sample the wine while you're here— Swiss wine is hard to find outside Switzerland.
Read more in our guides to the top foods to try in Switzerland and where to eat in Zürich .
Where to Stay
Switzerland's accommodation options range from rustic mountain bunkhouses for hikers to luxurious 5-star hotels with spas, Michelin-star dining, and every imaginable amenity. In between those extremes, there are concept hotels, ski-in/ski-out lodges, and a host of B&Bs, small inns, and vacation rentals.
If you're staying in a city, we usually recommend basing yourself in the historic center so that you're within walking distance of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and bars. But cities like Zürich also have creative, modern districts outside of the center, which make for interesting bases as well. In an Alpine destination such as Zermatt, Saas-Fee, or Gstaad, we like cozy, traditional hotels that really impart a sense of place.
For a taste of what Zürich has to offer, check out our articles on Zürich's top neighborhoods and best hotels.
Getting to Switzerland
International flights to Switzerland, especially those originating outside of Europe, will likely arrive in Zürich or Geneva. Some intra-Europe flights might land at Basel's airport, which is actually located just over the French border.
You can reach Switzerland by train from the neighboring countries of Austria, Germany, France, and Italy. Note that if you're traveling to Switzerland from an adjacent country, your ticket will likely only cover you until your first stop in Switzerland; for example, if you're traveling from Milan, Italy, your ticket will take you as far as Lugano. After that, you'll need a travel pass or ticket from the Swiss Travel System if you want to change trains.
If you're driving to Switzerland, you need to purchase or make sure your car already has a motorway vignette —a sticker that permits access to Swiss highways.
Learn more by checking out our guides to Zürich airport , traveling to Switzerland from Italy , and Zürich's public transportation .
Culture and Customs
While there are no special "rules" for visiting Switzerland, travelers here might find the Swiss somewhat reserved, especially when compared to Mediterranean cultures to the south. Here are a few basic customs and courtesies to keep in mind:
- Be on time. Trains aren't the only thing that runs on time in Switzerland. Plan to arrive on time, or even a few minutes early, for restaurant reservations or other reserved activities.
- Don't be noisy. In restaurants, on public transportation, and especially in the evenings in residential areas, keep your voices at a conversational level.
- Tip in moderation. While tipping waitstaff is appreciated in Switzerland, it's not expected. Tips for your hotel cleaning staff and bellhops are the norm, however.
Money Saving Tips
Here's something you should know about Switzerland before you start planning your trip: it's expensive. Hotels, dining, trains, and attractions are all costly compared to many other European countries, but there are a few ways you can save money:
- Travel in the shoulder seasons. Visit Switzerland in the spring or fall to save money on airfare and hotels.
- Drink tap water. Unless otherwise posted, tap water in Switzerland is clean and safe to drink. Bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up at any tap.
- Pack a picnic. Before you head out for a day of adventures, stop at a grocery store and pick up bread, cheese, cold cuts, or whatever else you want for a picnic. Just don't forget to grab a chocolate bar for the road!
Switzerland Tourism. "Language distribution." Retrieved on November 9, 2021.
Switzerland Tourism. "Currency." Retrieved on November 9, 2021.
BBC. "Tracing fondue’s mysterious origins." February 12, 2013.
The Top 20 Things to Do in Switzerland
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Switzerland Travel Guide
The 17 Best Countries to Visit in Europe
The 10 Best Restaurants in Switzerland
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France Guide: Planning Your Trip
The Complete Guide to Switzerland's Nature Parks
How to Travel Between Italy and Switzerland by Train
The Best Time to Visit Switzerland
Matterhorn: The Complete Guide
Skiing in Switzerland: The Complete Guide
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Switzerland on a budget: the best things in Schweiz are free
Apr 20, 2023 • 8 min read
See the sights of cities like Lucerne on the cheap © Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images
Let’s face it, Switzerland doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you utter the words ‘cheap break’. This small alpine nation is known for being one of the priciest countries in Europe, with several of its cities regularly cited as among the world’s most expensive places to live.
But traveling within Switzerland on a modest budget is possible. If you plan carefully, make the most of available transport deals and prioritize the countryside over cities, this beautiful country is navigable by even the most frugal of travelers.
Get more bang for your buck on public transport
Switzerland’s famously efficient public transport system has a huge reach, with SBB trains and distinctive yellow postbuses supplying access to even the tiniest hamlet up the remotest mountain road. Tickets may seem expensive, but if you plan ahead there are ways to cut costs, and weighed against the price of car hire, fuel and parking, it’s an economical and hassle-free way to travel.
Designed for tourists, the Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel across Switzerland from three to 15 days. Similar regional passes, such as the Tell-Pass in Central Switzerland, offer value for money if you’re traveling a lot within a certain area.
For longer stays, your best bet is a Half-Fare Travelcard , which allows you to buy tickets across the transport network at 50 percent discount; the yearly option is popular with Swiss residents, but there’s also a cheaper version just for tourists , valid for a month.
For more sporadic journeys, download the SBB app and search for Supersaver tickets, bookable in advance for specific services, or Saver Day Passes , which are good value if you want to travel a long way in a single day. The further ahead you book, the cheaper these tickets are. Kids under six travel free.
Ride local transport for free with your guest card
A small tourist tax is added to overnight stays in Switzerland, but in return you’re given a guest card, which offers free local public transport and sometimes extra benefits, such as cut-price admission to museums and attractions. The Ticino Ticket is the best example, offering free train and bus travel, plus discounts on mountain railways, cable cars, museums and activities within the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.
Take a self-guided lake tour
Most transport passes, including the Swiss Travel Pass, Half-Fare Travelcard and Saver Day Pass, cover boat services too, so you can spend all day riding the ferries on Lake Geneva , Lake Lucerne or Lake Zürich within the terms of your pass.
And it’s not hard to fill your time – so large is Lake Geneva (Lac Léman, to give it its proper name) that the journey from Geneva to Montreux by ferry takes nearly six hours. Sit on deck and soak up the sun as you travel – but don’t forget a hat and sunblock (which you should bring with you, since it’s expensive to buy here).
Book into a swanky Swiss hostel
Even the most modest hotels can be budget-blowing in Switzerland, but thankfully there are alternatives. Swiss youth hostels are among the swankiest in the world, and while prices aren’t dead cheap, a dorm bed in the Saas-Fee Wellness Hostel 4000 (from Sfr61) or the Backpackers Lucerne (from Sfr34) is considerably less than a hotel room. Most hostels have kitchens so you can save money by cooking instead of eating out.
Head for the hills for bargain beds
If you’re willing to put in the – sometimes considerable – effort to hike there, Swiss Alpine Club cabins offer relatively inexpensive beds in eye-popping locations across the Swiss Alps and are open to non-members. Book ahead for a dorm bed, dinner and breakfast, and you’re guaranteed great food, a convivial atmosphere and the biggest starry skies you’ve ever seen. As an example, Cabane Rambert in the Vaud Alps costs Sfr43 for a dorm bed or Sfr91 half-board. Bring your own sheet sleeping bag.
Another budget choice is camping – check out camping.ch or tcs.ch for options. Swiss campsites are clean, well equipped and usually easily reachable by postbus, with prices starting from about Sfr9 per adult per night. You could even wild camp for free, though rules vary across the country, so always check with the local tourist office, ask permission if you’re on private land and follow the Swiss Alpine Club’s rules .
Lastly, the organization Agroturismo lists bed-and-breakfast options in farmhouses around the country, including places where you can bed down in a barn, known as Schlafen im Stroh (Sleep in Straw), for a bargain price.
Explore Switzerland’s glorious landscape gratis
Once you’ve got your transport and accommodation sorted, the best thing about Switzerland – the great outdoors – is completely free. The country’s numerous hiking and biking trails are well marked, with detailed maps available to download on Wanderland.ch .
If you have a travel pass, choose a starting point that’s accessible by public transport rather than shelling out extra for cable-car rides. As a rule, access to any village or community is part of the public-transport network. For example, the lift from Mörel to the mountain village of Riederalp is part of the network, while the cable car from Riederalp to the Moosfluh viewpoint over the Aletsch glacier – Europe’s longest river of ice – is run by a private company and ticketed separately. Save the fare and hike up instead.
Take a picnic – and make it vegetarian
Stopping off in a mountain cabin for a beer and a platter of meat and cheese is all part of the hiking experience, but if you’d rather save your centimes, pack a picnic instead .
There’s a Coop or Migros supermarket at most rail stations, so fill your backpack with fresh bread and pastries, dried meat, hunks of Gruyère cheese, pre-packaged salads and bottles of Rivella – a typically Swiss, milk-based fizzy drink – for a picnic in the hills among the alpine flowers and marmots. Meat can be expensive in Switzerland, so you’ll save even more if you go veggie.
See the city sights on the cheap
It costs nothing to stroll through Bern ’s Unesco-listed medieval center, cross Lucerne ’s 14th-century Kapellbrücke or ogle the jet d’eau fountain in Geneva .
And if you plan carefully, it’s possible to visit many museums on the cheap too – the Kunsthaus Zürich offers free admission on Wednesdays, the Kunstmuseum Basel is free in the early evenings and the Musee d’art et d’histoire in Geneva has "pay what you can" entry. Children get in gratis to most museums.
Tuck into low-cost leftovers
The amusingly named Äss Bar ( ässbar in Swiss German, from essbar in German, meaning "edible") is an anti-wastage initiative that collects the bread, cake and pastries remaining in bakeries at the end of the day and sells them at low prices in its own shops the day after. It’s a good way to pick up a sandwich for a bargain Sfr4 or a slice of cake for Sfr3. Look out for it in Zürich, Lausanne, Basel, Biel, Bern, Lucerne and Winterthur.
Similarly, the Too Good to Go app hooks up customers with restaurants that have leftover food to sell at the end of service. If you’re willing to be flexible and spontaneous, you can buy dinner for a lot less than in the restaurant itself.
Enjoy some local lake life without spending a franc
Summertime in most Swiss cities revolves around the local waterways. Whether you’re in Zürich , Lausanne or Lucerne, you’ll find open-air swimming spots all over town, often with free or low-cost facilities.
Try the Oberer Letten baths on the River Limmat in Zürich, or Vidy beach near Lausanne on Lake Geneva, both of which are free. In Bern and Basel , put your belongings in a dry bag and float through the city in the fast-flowing River Aare and Rhine, respectively.
Book a low-cost autumn flight and see Switzerland turn golden
Fall is one of the best times to visit Switzerland , and flights are generally much cheaper than in summer or ski season.
September is ideal for hiking and biking, with the mountain lifts still open and the weather usually balmy instead of scorching. Most of the lifts are shut in October, but choose a hike accessible by train or bus and you’ll be rewarded with a blaze of autumnal color in the larch forests, a glorious sight that summer tourists miss out on.
Be a savvy skier at one of Switzerland’s lesser-known resorts
Skiing at a famous Swiss resort, such as Zermatt or Verbier, is an expensive business, not just for the ski pass but for the food and accommodation too. So soften the blow by choosing a less glitzy resort, where everything’s a bit more reasonable. Try Grimentz-Zinal in the Val d’Anniviers , Villars-Les Diablerets in the Vaud Alps or Leukerbad in the Valais .
If you’re planning to ski a lot, the brilliant Magic Pass offers unlimited access to 69 ski areas in Switzerland for the super-low price of Sfr399 if you buy it in early April for the following season. As a comparison, the season pass for Zermatt alone is Sfr1890.
Take your own water bottle and fill up for free
Tap water not only tastes a lot better in Switzerland than it does elsewhere (UK, I’m looking at you), but it’s also freely available from water fountains all over the country. Take a refillable bottle and top up wherever you go, from city-center fountains to mountains springs. It’s all drinkable as long as it doesn’t have a sign saying non-potable/ kein Trinkwasser .
Avoid city-center pubs and enjoy a pint at altitude instead
Drinking alcohol (or even a coffee or two) in Swiss cities can be a real wallet drainer, with cocktails at around Sfr25 and a pint of beer topping Sfr9 in Lausanne and Geneva. But that’s not the case everywhere. Head to a café or restaurant in a small village and you may find drinks are a lot cheaper, and your Sfr6 pint might just come with a delicious mountain view too.
Daily costs in Switzerland
- Hostel room: Sfr30–60 (dorm bed)
- Basic room for two: Sfr120–150
- Self-catered apartment: From Sfr150
- Public transport ticket Geneva to Bern (159km): Sfr51
- Coffee: Sfr3.50–5.50
- Sandwich: Sfr6–10
- Dinner for two: Sfr80–100
- Pint at the bar: Sfr6–9
- Average daily cost total: Sfr200–300
This article was first published July 2019 and updated April 2023
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- 7 Glorious Places To Visit Near Switzerland For A Thrilling Getaway In 2023
23 Mar 2023
If you’ve heard about Switzerland, you have heard about the chocolates, watches, and the Swiss Alps. So chances are, you know a lot about this place even if you haven’t visited it. While the brochures portray Switzerland as vast stretches of clean white ice sheets and snow-capped mountain tops or turquoise lakes and serene countryside, these are but only a small part of the many natural wonders Switzerland has to offer. We’re not denying that every part of this country is a beauty, but we can’t ignore that there are other places around it as well that are just waiting to be explored. So, we provide you with a list of the best places to visit near Switzerland that you must not miss.
7 Places To Visit Near Switzerland
The bucolic countryside, imposing ancient castles, tranquil environment, sweeping mountains, and snow-capped glaciers of these surreal places to visit around Switzerland will make you fall in love with them.
1. Rhine Falls
Bewitching and imposing, Rhine falls, Europe’s largest waterfall will captivate anyone who visits one of the most famous places to visit near Switzerland. Separating the canton of Schaffhausen and Zürich, the Rhine stands at an elevation of 75 ft. Feel your senses come alive at the roar of this cascade and experience Europe’s most powerful waterfall descending the slopes of steep terrain.
Rhine Falls Basin, or even canoe to the massive rock that stands amidst the waterfall. Recently, a visitors’ center, a children’s playground and one of a kind “Historama” (interactive exhibition about the Rhine Falls) have been opened to inform the tourists about the history of this place. You can even watch a spectacular light and sound show here.
Best time to visit: April to October Ideal for: Canoeing, boating
Suggested Read: 10 Fab Places To Visit In Basel On Your Switzerland Vacation
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Are you a big shopaholic? A fairy tale lover or a beer lover, well, if you are all these three then Munich is just the place for you. If you are in Switzerland then it will only take around 4 hours 12 minutes from Zurich. There are around 27 trains connecting Zurich and Munich, which is there at an interval of 36 minutes, so you board any one of them and you rich the place that is located at the foot of the Bavarian Alps.
It’s a city wrapped in history that never lets you forget and commit the same historical mistake. If you are in Munich don’t forget to visit Rathaus-Glockenspiel, which is located in more than 800 years-old Marienplatz. There you can get a chance to witness the giant clock with 32 figurines and 43 bells that narrates two different historical tales of Munich from a 260 feet long tower. The 15-minute long “tweet” show, with a golden bird and a crow at the center, is the main attraction of this place. Thus, it is one of the most magnificent places to visit near Zurich, Switzerland. You should not, thus, miss this opportunity of exploring the place.
Best time to visit: During the 16 days long Oktoberfest when the city turns into a giant keg party. Ideal for: Historical landmarks, nightlife
Suggested Read: Dreaming Of An Exotic Honeymoon In Switzerland ? Make It Happen
If you are looking for a place to have a retro-romantic affair then Navigli in Milan is just the place for you. The narrow alleys of this place, which have been into existence since the 18th and 19th century give you a pleasant and serene romantic walk. It is one of the important places to visit near Switzerland for couples. You can also have the best local cuisines of Milan here that will make your romantic holiday delicious and magnificent at the same time.
In order to visit this place, you have to first visit Milan and if you want your journey to be filled with the best panoramic view then you should board a train from Zurich, which takes approximately 3 hours 47 minutes to reach Milan. In this whole journey, you will find the best scenic beauty that will make your trip even more romantic.
Best time to visit: Year-round Ideal for: Romantic holiday
Suggested Read: 7 Days In Switzerland: Sonia’s Enthralling Vacation Will Definitely Ignite That Wanderlust Inside You!
4. Matterhorn, Zermatt
If you have seen pictures of mountains, you have definitely seen the Matterhorn. This legendary pyramid-shaped structure is arguably the most photographed mountain in the world. Sitting in the heart of the Swiss Alps, the imposing Matterhorn plays sentinel to the nearby peaks and separates Italy and Switzerland. A host of adventures can be found on this mountain, including skiing and snowboarding. If you are planning to visit this place from Italy then you can board a train from Milan, which will take you to Zermatt.
Other than the Matterhorn, Zermatt is also the winter sports capital of the Valais region. The green valley surrounded by imposing mountains is a place boasting of the most luxurious international resorts. Go for cable car rides, indulge in tantalizing foods, and have the best time of your life here at these top places to visit near Switzerland.
Best time to visit: Year-round Ideal for: Adventure sports
Suggested Read: 12 Honeymoon Places In Switzerland To Visit For A Romantic Rendezvous
If you are a city person but crave relaxation during vacation then Amsterdam is just the place for you. It is one of the best places to visit near Switzerland, which is not only famous for its scenic beauty but the museums there also make this place historically significant place along with the canals that make this place romantically beautiful.
If you are looking for all the city amenities then you will find them all here, starting from the night clubs to restaurants with international cuisine. If you are craving for a relaxed holiday then the extensive canals in this Dutch city will lure you, along with the beautiful Tulips, small green parks, and the low road traffic.
Best time to visit: April to May and September to November Ideal for: Nightlife and relaxation
Suggested Read: Indian Restaurants In Zurich: The Spicy, Tangy, And Sweet India Of Switzerland
If you are looking for the ideal places to visit near Switzerland for kids then Paris is the best option that you have. The Disneyland in Paris here has two theme parks, one is, of course, the Walt Disney Studio and the other is Disneyland where your child will get to see the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The most important attraction of this place is Space Mountain and Disneyland in Paris is just at a 32 km distance from center Paris. If you are in Switzerland, then you can take both the flight and the train to visit Paris, and you can also visit it by car. If you do not have much time in your hand then it is better to take the flight, as the distance between Paris and Zurich is just 600 miles. However, if you are a bit romantic and a nature lover then you will love the car or the train ride.
Best time to visit: Year-round Ideal for: Couples and kids
Suggested Read: Cruises In Switzerland: 7 Exciting Cruise Tours To Rediscover This European Nation
The “Sleeping Beauty” castle is another name for the Neuschwanstein Castle built by King Ludwig II, who is also regarded as the “Mad King” and is one of the important attractions of Munich, Bavaria, where you will find all the marvelous castles by King Ludwig II. If you are at Bavaria then you can also visit the Linderhof Castle, however, it can be an optional tour as well.
If you have a liking towards the medieval culture and houses along with the bold murals then you can also spare some time from your schedule and make a visit to the small village of Hohenschwangau. If you are looking for magnificent places to visit near Switzerland for family then this destination should be in your bucket list.
Best time to visit: Summers Ideal for: A fairy tale experience
Suggested Read: Go Paragliding In Switzerland For The Most Amazing Swiss Alps Experience
If you’ve experienced all that Switzerland had to offer, then you should now be looking forward to exploring these pretty and exciting destinations near it. Make sure you craft your Switzerland holiday itinerary in such a way that you have enough time to see these places to visit near Switzerland as well.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit Near Switzerland
What languages are spoken in Switzerland?
French and German are widely spoken in Switzerland. But mostly English is spoken in all parts of this country, and communication is not a problem.
What countries are close to Switzerland?
Switzerland is a landlocked country that is bordered by nations like Italy, France, Germany, and Austria.
How to reach Matterhorn?
Matterhorn is in Zermatt, which is a car-free town, so the only means to get there is by train. You can either choose to ride in the Glacier Express or the Gornergrat Bahn to get there from Switzerland.
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7 Best Scenic Train Rides In Switzerland
- European Rail
- Types of Travel
Stunning landscape views roll by your giant picture window as you depart on famous scenic train rides across Switzerland. From Geneva to Zurich and Basel to Zermatt, the Swiss Alps, turquoise lakes, and rolling pastures these best scenic train rides in Switzerland will fill your window with breathtaking scenery.
I have collected a few of my favorite train travel excursions across this beautiful country and presented them in no particular order. This is not an all-inclusive list of picturesque train trips through Switzerland, but it is a wonderful place to start dreaming of your next train-centric adventure.
1. Jungfraujoch – Top Of Europe
No matter what the season, a ride to Europe’s highest railway station, the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe , is a panoramic adventure. At the summit’s Sphinx Terrace, you can view the Aletsch Glacier, the Black Forest, and the Vosges.
Plan to spend several hours at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make your way to the outside observation deck where the air is chilly and the views are beyond breathtaking. Slip and slide during a visit to the Ice Palace — an ice sculpture art gallery carved into the glacier in the 1930s. Everything here is ice; the floors, ceiling, and frozen tableaus impart an Ice Age adventure. Complete your mountaintop visit with a stop at the highest Lindt Chocolate shop in the world.
Downhill skiers will love exploring the Jungfrau region on their next European ski holiday.
2. Golden Pass Express, Montreux To Interlaken
Travel in First or Prestige Class for an elevated, quintessentially Swiss adventure on the Golden Pass Express between Montreux and Interlaken. Enjoy caviar and champagne as your luxury car rolls from Montreux, on beautiful Lake Geneva, to the charming town of Interlaken . The 3-plus-hour journey is filled with stunning views of crystal-blue lakes, verdant pastures, and snow-capped mountains.
Once in Interlaken, you can make the transfer to the Jungfraujoch for a close up encounter with the Bernese Oberland. On the Montreux terminus, you can sail around Lac Léman, aka Lake Geneva, and enjoy the quaint shoreline towns and bustling city of Geneva.
3. Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn
Skiers, photography buffs, and pretty much everyone else should visit the iconic Matterhorn at least once. Jump on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn for a fabulous train ride. On this intrepid alpine adventure, your train encounters 33 tunnels and 126 overpasses while rising a whopping 3,300 meters (10,826 feet) in altitude.
Panoramic windows afford wide-angle views of craggy mountains, brilliantly blue waterways, and plenty of beautiful sunshine.
4. Glacier Express, Zermatt To St. Moritz
The Glacier Express route , Zermatt to St. Moritz, sets the standard that all Swiss scenic trains are measured upon. Slipping through the Swiss Alps, this route hits luxury ski resorts while imparting a slow-travel feeling. The journey takes 8 hours — a very slow express train ride — but the show-stopping scenery offers you a chance to absorb the wild beauty of this scenic route.
When you reach St. Moritz, book a stay at the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel . If you don’t want to break your budget with a stay of over $1,000 a night, simply stop by the Renaissance Bar for the St. Moritzino cocktail made with Cointreau, fresh lime, and orgeat syrup.
5. Bernina Express
The Bernina Express runs from Chur to Tirano, Italy. Four hours of glorious scenic vistas, the Bernina Express has steep runs, plentiful bridge crossings, icy glaciers, and Mediterranean palm trees. It offers such a wide variety of landscapes, guests are continually gushing over the sheer beauty and uniqueness of this train ride.
Both Switzerland and Italy are part of the Schengen Agreement , which allows passage between the countries’ borders. However, you should still carry your passport with you as you pass from country to country.
6. Cogwheel Railway To Mount Pilatus
If you love adventure, you will adore the cogwheel railway to Mount Pilatus . Billed as “the steepest cogwheel railway in the world” it reaches an alarming grade of 48 percent. The 30-minute, nail-biting ride up the mountain offers heart-pounding views.
If you decide a one-way train trip is all your nerves can take, there are a few alternatives. You can take the gondola, which offers 360-degree panoramic mountain views. Hiking down (or up) is another mode of transportation. AllTrails lists seven different options for hiking Mount Pilatus. Some are moderate and some are hard, but all of them go up, up, and up.
From early June to late October, you can take the funicular ride of your life. The Gelmerbahn is a short, 12-minute ride in an open-air funicular car. The alarmingly steep grade offers spectacular views of Gelmersee — a brilliant blue lake — as you creep up the mountainside backwards.
Once at the top of the funicular, you can hike up to the Gelmerhütte for an overnight stay. The rooms are shared rustic spaces, but the mountaintop experience is unsurpassed.
Swiss Travel Pass
No matter how long your stay, the Swiss Travel Pass will save you money while you ride the rails, bus, or boat around the beautiful Swiss countryside.
For our most recent train travel content, check out these articles:
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Sandi loves writing about culture, cuisine, adult beverages, cruising, golf, skiing, road trips, hiking, New England, and photography. Traveling solo, with hubby Chris, or the entire Barrett clan there is always a story waiting to be told.
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This Swiss Mountain Town Offers Some of the Best Skiing in Europe — Here's How to Plan the Perfect Trip
Luxury chalets, epic skiing, and dog sledding await you in Verbier, Switzerland.
Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of Be a Travel Writer , an online course for the next generation of travel journalists. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure , Time , Los Angeles Times , Glamour , and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.
There’s skiing, and then there’s skiing in the Swiss Alps. Seasoned skiers and riders dream of carving down some of the best-groomed trails in Europe at ultra-high altitude, and there may be no place more exciting to do that than Verbier.
This alpine village in the southwest corner of Switzerland is one of six resorts that make up Les Quatre Vallées (aka the 4 Valleys). The famous ski zone has long beckoned serious shredders to explore more than 250 miles of linked trails, and Verbier is its main resort.
Perched at about 5,000 feet, Verbier offers direct access to Mont-Fort, the highest peak in the 4 Valleys. There, you can ski or ride at 10,800 feet with panoramic views of Mont-Blanc and the Combins massif. This resort is known for its expansive terrain, home to some of the finest backcountry skiing you'll find anywhere.
Walter Bibikow/Getty Images
Verbier has been repeatedly named the world's best ski resort in the annual World Ski Awards , which calls the 4 Valleys region "a freeride paradise, a must for skiers from all over the world." It also cites Verbier's après scene as "a real institution that welcomes a cosmopolitan clientele of all generations."
Down in the village, you'll find everything from glamorous five-star accommodations to cozy pubs and lively late-night clubs. The dining is fine and the shopping high-end. Needless to say, a trip to Verbier can be very expensive, but it's worth the splurge to experience one of Europe's largest and most sought-after ski destinations.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect getaway to Verbier this winter.
- Expansive terrain spanning the whole 4 Valleys region.
- World-famous backcountry skiing.
- Off-mountain activities ranging from luxurious spas to dog sledding.
When to Go
Margarita Almpanezou/Getty Images
Verbier's ski season kicks off in early to mid-November and typically lasts until late April or early May. Be cautious about going too early in the ski season because the resort is open on weekends only throughout November, then it fully opens in early December. The end of the season is arguably the best time to plan your ski trip, as the temperatures begin to climb out of the 30s Fahrenheit and spring showers bring lots of fresh powder to the mountains.
If you're hoping to avoid crowds at Verbier, then don't go around the holidays or in February, when students around Europe get a break from school and pack into ski resorts throughout the Alps. Also avoid Freeride week , which draws thousands of competitive skiers and riders to Verbier every January. February tends to be the cheapest time to visit.
Best Places to Stay in Verbier
For the best access to the slopes, book a stay at W Verbier , located just steps from the lifts. The perfect blend of modern and classic, this five-star hotel consists of 123 rooms and suites, each with its own fireplace.
Those looking for a personalized stay should consider the Experimental Chalet . With just 39 rooms and suites, it offers an intimate experience and all the bells and whistles of a typical ski getaway, including a full-service spa. The retro '70s-inspired decor and snazzy cocktails spiked with vintage spirits from Experimental Cocktail Club are selling points as well.
La Cordée des Alpes
Luxury seekers will adore La Cordée des Alpes , a destination that caters to guests' every whim. The hotel has 32 rooms and suites, along with 17 apartments for longer stays. There’s also an on-site restaurant and lounge bar, as well as a pool and ski room to keep all your gear handy.
Where to Eat
La table d'adrien.
This Michelin-starred restaurant serves contemporary French-Italian cuisine in the chic Chalet d'Adrien hotel overlooking the village. The Pugliese chef presents gourmet seasonal tastings in four, six, or eight courses. Menus of past seasons included veal carpaccio, quail, and burrata tortelli.
Restaurant Le Caveau
Cheese enthusiasts will find some of the best fondue and raclette around at Restaurant Le Caveau . The interior is warm and relaxed, perfect for getting cozy around a table of melted goodness after a day on the snow. You can get your fondue with tomatoes, morels, chanterelles, champagne, or truffles.
Restaurant La Marlénaz
This mountaintop restaurant is more than the traditional Swiss cuisine it serves — it offers arguably the best view of any other Verbier hangout. Perched at about 6,200 feet, away from the hustle and bustle, Restaurant La Marlénaz offers breathtaking views of the mountains and ski resort.
Where to Après-ski
Bar 1936 is an easy place to get to post-ski, as it sits conveniently in the heart of the resort. Here, you can wind down with mulled wine and snacks served out of a yurt. On special days, the bar also offers barbecue and Mongolian fondue.
Fer à Cheval
For more of a local vibe, head to Fer à Cheval in the village. The lower level has a casual, relaxed atmosphere for eating pizza and pasta while the upper level often has live music and more of a party crowd.
Pub Mont Fort
Pub Mont Fort keeps the après going long into the night. Known for its themed parties and live music, this watering hole just around the corner from the lift station is where the mountain crowd winds up at 2 a.m. In the evenings, you'll find a more casual scene and a food menu of burgers and tapas.
Go dog sledding.
Get out and play in the snow with a few of Verbier’s coolest locals, thanks to TakiTrek . The company will take you around the region on a sled pulled by expert huskies who know the area better than anyone. (Plenty of puppy kisses included.)
Ride a toboggan.
Verbier is home to one of the longest toboggan runs in Switzerland, providing more than six miles of thrilling fun. Whip down the mountain as fast as possible for an adrenaline rush, or make a few stops along the way to extend the experience.
Enjoy a spa day.
Verbier is home to several spas perfect for unwinding after a long day on the slopes. Check out the Away Spa at W Verbier , which offers everything from traditional massages to hair styling services, and the Spa by Biologique Recherche at the Experimental Chalet, which also offers spa treatments and a hammam, sauna, and Jacuzzi.
How to Ride
Verbier offers a range of tickets , with single and multi-day passes valid for Verbier, La Tzoumaz, and Bruson starting at the CHF equivalent of around $70 per day. Single and multi-day passes providing access to the entire 4 Valleys ski area are priced a little higher, starting at $85.
Skiers and riders who plan to visit more often might opt instead for a half-year or yearly pass starting at $1,300. Verbier also accepts the Epic Pass .
You shouldn't have any problem finding rental gear in Verbier. Ski Service is the only on-mountain rental shop, offering the convenience of storing your rented equipment overnight so you don't have to pack it to and from your accommodations. If you're looking for something closer to your hotel, a larger selection, or lower prices, then shop around for rentals in the village. No 1 Sports , Xtreme Sports , and Backside are options. Mountain Air next to the Medran cable car station will even deliver your rentals to you.
Skiing and Snowboarding Info
Jodie Wallis/Getty Images
Verbier is an ideal spot for both beginners and intermediates. Though its elevation sounds intense (its highest point sits at almost 11,000 feet), it truly is a mountain for all. Estimates on what percentage of runs are beginner-friendly, intermediate, and expert vary. Generally, you'll find that about half the runs are intermediate, and the other half is split almost evenly between beginner and expert runs.
Beginners should start somewhere like Les Esserts, the largest of the beginner ski areas in Verbier. It offers gentle slopes and the longest magic carpet in Switzerland. There's also Le Rouge, which has two slopes with a slightly bigger incline to progress, and La Chaux, which sits a little higher up the mountain for beginners looking for more of a challenge.
Expert-level shredders will no doubt want to go to the top of Mont Fort, the highest point, for more difficult runs and epic panoramic views.
If you want to progress quickly, Verbier has many independent ski schools to learn from (though none operated by the resort itself). Apart from skiing, there are other things to do on the mountain, such as soaring on the highest zipline in the world and the longest in the alps. If you're traveling with children, there's a childcare facility called The Kid's Club at La Tzoumaz , part of the larger 4 Valleys ski area. It ensures that members of your group too young to ski are safe and entertained while you explore the mountain.
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The Frugal Expat
These 11 Countries Are the Best Places to Live If You Value Freedom
Posted: November 14, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023
In a world where freedom and democracy reign, certain nations shine as beacons of liberty and autonomy. These eleven countries have forged a distinct trail, embodying the very spirit of individual freedoms, open leadership, and reverence for human rights.
Discover the nations that have perfected the delicate balance between freedom and accountability, showcasing their expertise in law and vibrant communities. Join us as we unveil these inspiring examples for the world to emulate.
1. Switzerland – Where Freedom Thrives
The Swiss dedication to freedom is rooted in the country’s long history of remaining politically neutral. This landlocked country has a strong and open government that respects the rule of law and works to make sure everyone is treated fairly. Individual rights, the right to free speech, and a robust civil society are all benefits of a liberal society.
Switzerland is widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful and free nations due in large part to its free-market economy, low government intrusion, and robust protection of property rights.
2. New Zealand – Embracing Transparency and Accountability
The open and responsible government of New Zealand greatly contributes to maintaining its ranking as one of the freest nations in the world. The political structure of the country values public engagement, trust in government, and personal freedoms. In order to serve as an example to the rest of the world, New Zealand protects its citizens’ rights to free expression, equal rights, and individual independence. Its thriving economy is an illustration of the practical advantages of valuing freedom in every aspect of life.
3. Canada – A Tapestry of Liberties
Canada’s dedication to protecting human rights and liberties is reflected in the country’s vibrant cultural variety. A free and open society where people’s rights are respected and their voices are heard is made possible by the nation’s strong democratic institutions and its impartial judiciary. Canada’s dedication to balancing individual freedoms with the needs of society is reflected in the country’s thriving economy and extensive social welfare system.
4. Australia – A Continent of Freedom
Australia’s strong rule of law and democratic government have created a culture that respects and protects individual liberties. Citizens are given the freedom to speak their minds, publish their ideas, and practice their faith without interference from the government. Australia is a leading example of how a free market economy can generate economic and social growth because of its abundance of natural resources.
5. Estonia – Pioneering Digital Freedom
Estonia is often recognized as a “digital society” due to its progressive approach to government. It places a premium on e-governance and online services to ensure its residents may conveniently access government resources and have an active role in public life. This technologically advanced country exemplifies how the integration of new tools can improve both individual liberties and government effectiveness.
6. Germany – A Pillar of Stability and Liberties
The strong democratic institutions and respect for the rule of law in Germany have helped propel the country to the top of the freedom rankings. The political stability of the country contributes to a culture of openness and acceptance among its population. Germany’s commitment to a balanced approach to economic growth and personal freedom is reflected in the country’s robust economy and generous social welfare system.
7. Sweden – Striking the Balance
Sweden is seen as a progressive and liberal society thanks to its well-known social assistance system and dedication to political freedoms. Individual freedoms are protected, and all people are treated fairly and with respect under Swedish law. The government’s support for causes like paid leave and equal pay for equal work shows how serious it is about fostering a society where individual liberty and communal prosperity go hand in hand.
8. United Kingdom – Legacy of Democracy
The United Kingdom’s strong institutions and long history of democracy have played a significant role in protecting freedom and individual rights. Its judicial system upholds the rule of law and protects democratic ideals like free speech and the press. The United Kingdom (UK) is a staunch defender of democratic values and civil rights notwithstanding the country’s problems and political shifts.
Rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, and the exercise of one’s religion are all protected by law in the United Kingdom. The nation’s commitment to providing equal opportunities for all is reflected in the Equality Act of 2010, which outlaws discrimination and fosters inclusivity. The United Kingdom operates as a just and equitable society because of its unwavering dedication to the rule of law, which ensures that all citizens, regardless of status, are subject to the same legal rules.
9. Netherlands – Nurturing Freedom
The progressive policies and respect for individual autonomy in the Netherlands are largely responsible for the country’s status as a bulwark of freedom. Because of the country’s tolerant population, strong legal protections for personal liberty, and welcoming culture, diversity in thought is actively encouraged. The Dutch dedication to protecting and expanding civil liberties and free speech is a motivational model for the rest of the globe.
Finland fosters freedom and equality through strong democratic traditions, emphasis on human rights, and a renowned education system. With press freedom, economic prosperity, and environmental stewardship, it cultivates a harmonious society where citizens’ voices are heard and inclusivity prevails. A beacon of social cohesion and trust, Finland sets an exemplary model for nations aspiring to achieve a balance between democratic governance and individual liberties, creating a better future for all.
11. Hong Kong – A Dynamic Hub of Freedom
Because of its special status as a Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong has developed into a major economic center for Asia and the world. The country’s long-term prosperity can be directly attributed to its commitment to free enterprise, low taxes, and limited government involvement. However, the political climate as of late could have impacted its freedom index score. Hong Kong’s heritage as a haven of economic and personal liberties, however, remains an inspiration to many.
Countries With Lots of Freedom
Each of these countries has made freedom its guiding principle, creating a culture where freedom of expression, a thriving economy, and respect for democratic values can all coexist without conflict. These countries, from politically neutral Switzerland to digitally innovative Estonia, show the vast power of freedom to create a better future for all people everywhere. In light of what we have learned from them, let us all unite together to keep the torch of freedom burning brightly in every corner of the globe.
10 Budget-Friendly Destinations That Will Blow Your Mind With Traveling For Less Than $1000
Vacations don’t have to be costly. You may travel to incredible locations and have a fantastic holiday for about $1000. Many affordable places exist, from exciting cities to breathtaking beaches. Recently, travelers in an online forum answered, “Where can you travel with only $1000?” Here are their top responses.
These 15 Countries Are So Safe, You Can Leave Your Doors Unlocked
A safer world is a priority for many people, such as travelers, those with families, and all sorts of others. Many countries are safe to travel to and to live in, with strong economies, laws that prevent gun deaths, and political stability. So let’s look at a list of some of the safest countries in the world to live in or to travel to.
The 16 Friendliest Countries in the World to Visit
Traveling requires many different things, but when you arrive in a new country, there can be some culture shock. It is a good feeling when you arrive, and people are friendly and willing to help you. As you travel, this list of the friendliest countries in the world can help you decide on the destinations you want to travel to.
Don’t Break the Bank: Check out These 19 Cheapest Countries to Fly into Europe!
As summer is coming, plans need to be made about where to travel next. Europe is a great destination to embark on an incredible journey by seeing many famous spots, eating fantastic food, and enjoying a coffee at a local shop. However, choosing the cheapest flying destination can take time and effort. After going through google flights, Skyscanner, Hopper, and many other search engines, a list of the cheapest countries to fly into Europe has been curated to help you make your next vacation decision.
The 15 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit this Summer
There is no greater opportunity to set sail for the charming Caribbean than as the sun begins its yearly samba across the blue sky. This tropical paradise evokes visions of immaculate beaches, waving palm trees, and vivid cocktails with a touch of island rhythm. But let’s go beyond the picture-perfect locations that hog the limelight.
The 15 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit this Summer
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From India to the world: Unleashing the potential of India’s tourists
Boosted by rising economic prosperity and a fast-growing economy, India is set to be an important global source market for leisure travel. India is now the fifth-largest economy, and its population has surpassed China’s to become the largest in the world, at over 1.4 billion people. 1 World Bank national accounts data, GDP (current US$) India, accessed September 2023; World population prospects 2022 , United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2022. And the population is young—the median age is 27.6, more than ten years younger than that of most major economies. 2 World population prospects 2022 . What's more, consumption of goods and services, including leisure and recreation, is forecast to double by 2030. 3 “India’s impending economic boom,” Morgan Stanley, November 8, 2022. Adding a strong postpandemic travel recovery, and a growing appetite for international travel, these factors point to India’s significant potential for outbound tourism.
India is now the fifth-largest economy, and its population has surpassed China’s to become the largest in the world, at over 1.4 billion people.
Through nine charts, this article unpacks trends and opportunities in the Indian travel market. Selected country examples shed light on how destinations can enhance their value propositions to attract and delight Indian travelers.
Indian globetrotters set to soar
Racing ahead: indian wanderlust is taking off, top picks: united arab emirates reigns, new gems discovered, regional flavors; global explorers.
Indian travelers are not a homogenous group; destination preferences vary across regions. For example, travelers from North India constitute a large share of travel to the United States and Canada, while two-thirds of travelers from Kerala prefer destinations in the Middle East. 1 India tourism statistics 2020 , Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, January 2021; MarketIS. Purpose of travel, distribution of the diaspora, and cultural linkages play a role in destination choice.
Destination matchmaking: Five ways to build value
Destinations looking to harness the full potential of the growing Indian market could consider tailoring their value propositions in alignment with one or more of the five key decision points that influence where travelers choose to go. Destinations might ask the following questions to determine which factors align with what Indian travelers look for when planning a trip.
- Research. How attractive and popular is the destination with Indian tourists?
- Accessibility. Is it easy to obtain a travel visa?
- Connectivity. Are there convenient flights that connect India to the destination?
- Booking. Is the destination affordable for Indian travelers, and is there an adequate supply of hotels in the appropriate price range?
- Travel experience. What is the on-the-ground experience like for Indian tourists in terms of weather, attractions, and whether or not the local population is English speaking?
There’s something for everyone in Thailand
Azerbaijan’s visa policy wows indian travelers, vietnam takes off: direct flights skyrocket arrivals.
In 2019, Kolkata was the only city in India with direct connectivity to Vietnam, and three other Indian cities offered sporadic flights. To stand out from Southeast Asia neighbors and gain popularity with Indian travelers, Vietnam improved direct connectivity from India by increasing flight frequency and adding new routes. Indian arrivals are now at an all-time high. 1 Data from Google trends and Diio Mi.
The luxury of Dubai is within reach
In 2022, India was the largest source market for leisure travelers to Dubai. 1 “1.24 million Indian tourists visit Dubai in first 9 months of 2022,” Business Standard , December 10, 2022. The city is known for its luxury offerings and, perhaps surprisingly, also offers a wide range of accommodations, such as 3-star options. And flights from India are affordable when compared with flights of similar distances. Taken together, these factors make the luxury of Dubai accessible to Indian travelers. 2 MarketIS.
Bollywood magic in Switzerland
While only 9 percent of Indian travelers focus on long-haul destinations in Western Europe, Switzerland has been an Indian top-20 destination for over a decade. Switzerland may be popular, as it feels familiar to Indian travelers: many Bollywood hits feature Swiss attractions, there are plenty of Indian restaurants and cultural festivals, and English is widely spoken. 1 “Switzerland and romantic songs of Indian movies,” Solo Backpacker, September 20, 2019; India-Switzerland relations , Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, February, 2020; Festival of India in Switzerland and Liechtenstein – Events , Ministry of Culture, Government of India, 2018; Swiss hospitality for Indian guests , a joint report from HotellerieSuisse, Berne and Switzerland Tourism, November, 2019.
India is a high-potential, growing source market for leisure travel. Destinations looking to attract Indian leisure travelers could consider targeted marketing, an expanded range of affordable options, and customized on-the-ground hospitality that caters to Indian preferences. Destinations may need to take steps now to build a strong value proposition and distinguish themselves as a preferred location. To do so, they could take action in the following areas:
Destinations looking to attract Indian leisure travelers could consider targeted marketing, an expanded range of affordable options, and customized on-the-ground hospitality.
- Connect. Make travel seamless, for instance, by simplifying visa application processes and providing direct connectivity.
- Entice. Offer affordable packages with a range of choices that appeal to specific groups, such as families, couples, or solo travelers.
- Welcome. Make the experience traveler-friendly, for example, by providing appropriate food and beverage options like vegetarian and Indian cuisine.
- Attract . Design targeted campaigns to showcase experiences that Indian travelers want, and use appropriate channels to get the word out, for example leveraging over-the-air partnerships and social media.
- Unlock. Include the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) and business tourism segments in marketing efforts to boost interest in leisure travel.
Divya Aggarwal is an associate partner in McKinsey’s Gurugram office, Margaux Constantin is a partner in the Dubai office, and Kanika Kalra is a partner in the Mumbai office, where Neelesh Mundra is a senior partner.
The authors wish to thank Ashu Airan, Steffen Köpke, Richa Kothari, Karthik Krishnan, Kargil Mishra, and Jean Petersen for their contributions to this article.
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