Names in Teal are regions in
Thoughts of travel in Switzerland are most often linked with stunning views
of the snow-capped Alps, although you will find the entire country to be
remarkable in respect to scenery.
As you wander the spectacular alps,
you will come across a number of compact, elegant cities that are full of
character and fun things to see and do. You will, also, encounter
idyllic villages snuggling along lakes, rivers and, sometimes, in the shadow
of the looming Alps.
The difficult question with all of this
splendor is, "Where to go and what to see on your Switzerland vacation?"
Here are ThereArePlaces recommendations for the best places to visit in Switzerland.
The Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps are among the most beautiful mountains in the world.
Although you will be surrounded by scenic mountains almost wherever you
travel in Switzerland, we urge you to see the Alps up close when you have a
chance. The leading areas for spectacular vistas and wonderful touring
The Berner Alpen
- Considered by many to be the "Top of Europe" this mountain range in
Bernese Oberland is "must see". Its main
attraction is the:
- The Jungfrau holds a special place in the heart of the
Swiss and if you visit it, you will understand and
appreciate their admiration.
- Of course, the Jungfrau keeps company with the equally
famous Eiger and the Mönch, as well as a host of high peaks
to keep you occupied.
- You will find delightful villages during your travels to
find the best viewing spot to photograph these exceptional
mountains, so take your time to explore this delightful area.
- Alps PhotoGuide
Pennine (Valais) Alps
- Sitting at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a town that
beckons the visitor and fills the role of the quintessential Swiss
mountain resort. It's compact, a little "clubby" and
expensive, but worth every penny.
- You have seen it in pictures, but you will not be prepared for
the grandeur of its natural setting. Before you decide to get
your climbing gear on, relax; The view is the attraction and having
seen it will become the memory of a lifetime!
- Click here for an additional photograph of the
Matterhorn with Zermatt below basking
in glow of the early evening lights.
- Known as the "city between the lakes" Interlaken offers
wonderful scenery and a number of villages that are worth a visit.
- Interlaken may be considered" tourist" Switzerland by many, but
it carries it off with such aplomb that even the Swiss revere this
- Surrounded by the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch, some of the
most impressive peaks in Switzerland, Interlaken is a great base for
touring the Alps. In addition, this is one of the most idyllic
areas of the country.
- Interlaken may be one of the best regions of the country to shop
for "something Swiss".
- Visit the
official Interlaken tourism website for more details and
online brochures for this spectacular section of Switzerland.
- Interlaken PhotoGuide
- Settled over 800 years ago, the Old City of
Berne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderful place to wander.
Bern is both attractive and interesting. Its numerous fountains, some
dating from the Renaissance, and plazas make touring the city a voyage through history.
- See the Münster Cathedral, a comely Gothic-style cathedral (reputed
to be the largest in Switzerland), featuring great views of Bern and the
countryside from its bell tower.
- Speaking of towers, the city's clock tower (Zyytglogge) dates from
the mid-16th century. It is endowed with a fanciful display including numerous
characters, a mechanical rooster that crows on the hour, and enough
action to amuse almost anyone.
- The Bundeshhaus, the site of the country's Parliament, is open
to the public.
- Its Square includes a bevy of attractive fountains representing
the twenty-six Cantons (states) of Switzerland. Throughout the
year a number of seasonal markets are held in the Square and are
a great way to experience the culture of Switzerland.
- Berne offers a wide array of shopping, particularly luxury shopping,
and is host to many of the fine restaurants.
- The city has an active art scene, but is, perhaps, best known for
the Paul Klee Center where you can discover the works of this world famous,
multi-talented artist. Check out the
official website of the Center to see if Klee's art is something
that might be of interest to you.
- Berne is known for some of the best breads in Europe, so be
sure to visit a bakery and sample the many bread varieties available
- For more information on visiting Bern, see its
official tourism website.
- Berne PhotoGuide
- Zurich blends the old and the new in a manner that makes the
combination seem natural. The city is a delightful, yet compact
place to tour and its narrow winding streets are a delight to wander. Use the city's efficient streetcar system for easy to travel to
most places of interest. (Ticketing is on the honor system, but
inspectors check and the fines are large if you are caught without a
- The Old Town is the city's most enjoyable area, but you may want to
spend some time shopping on the Bahnhofstrasse (one of the finest
shopping streets in Europe) or exploring one of
Zurich's fine museums (such as the
Kunsthaus Zurich for modern art or the famous
Museum of Design .
- Be sure to see the Schipfe (fine arts area), the Fraumünster
Church, the Zurich Opera House and, of course, Lake Zurich.
- See the
official tourism website for Zurich for more details on
- Zurich PhotoGuide
- Many tourists consider Lucerne (Luzern) and its mountainous
surroundings one of Switzerland's most beautiful places to visit. Its
lakeside setting is among the best in Switzerland and views of the water
are a staple of many of the town's restaurants - so take advantage.
- The well-preserved Old Town is a treat to explore and a great place
- Be sure to see the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower.
- The Wagner Museum, Picasso Museum and the Rosengart
Collection are considered by many to be the highlights of the
city's impressive collection of museums.
- For more details on Luzern City, see this official tourism
- For details on attractions in the Lake Luzern area, see this
official tourism website
- Lucerne PhotoGuide
- Situated on the northern edge of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is considered
the ideal base to tour Lake Geneva, the town of Geneva, and
- Built across three hills, Lausanne ascends from the shore of Lake
Geneva and it seems that going anywhere in town requires climbing steps.
- The city offers the visitor two superb areas for touring. Ouchy is and
elegant area along the waterfront, while the Old Town includes an
immense cathedral with sections dating from the 12th century.
- The city is known as the headquarters of the Olympics and includes
- One odd but compelling museum in the town, the Collection de l'Art
Brut, features art in various forms produced mainly by people who were
impaired psychologically. The official website is
here, and we think you will find its art offerings both unique and
- Visit the city's
tourism website for more details on the attractions you
will find in Lausanne.
- Lugano is a good town to base your explorations of the
Ticino, the Italian speaking southern segment of Switzerland.
This scenic town is situated on the northern bank of Lake Lugano and the
Lake is the real reason to visit.
- While in Lugano, be sure to see The Madonna degli Angioli Church
(and its magnificent frescos).
- Tour the city using the tourist tram the Red Arrow (La Freccia
- The Parco Botanico San Grato, about six miles from Lugano
is an attractive place to visit, especially in the Spring. Click for
the Official Lugano Tourism
- Also, you might be interested in exploring our
Guide to the Italian Lakes where we describe Lake Maggiori and Lake
Lugano in more detail.
- This well-preserved city offers a blend of the traits of
German and Swiss cities. Located near the headwaters of the Rhine, Basel is the point of
disembarkation for many Rhine River cruises. It is a little out of
the way for land travelers, but is an interesting stop if you are in the
- Be sure to see the historic buildings on the Munsterplatz, as well
as the Gothic-style, Basel Cathedral, which dates from the 15th century,
when the building was restored after a significant earthquake.
- The Pfalz (Basler Pfalz), a small park high above the Rhine, is a
good place for a panoramic view of the Rhine and Basel.
- Basel offers several
interesting museums (including the
Fondation Beyeler (art)) for those looking to discover more about
this area and its people.
- Basel Tourismus publishes the city's official tourism website, which
can be found
- Geneva is the home base of many international organizations and that
role has given it a cosmopolitan bearing mixed with a distinct
international flavor. Geneva is known more as center for its role
in world affairs than as a tourist destination.
- If you are in the area, Geneva's Old Town is worth a visit, as is
its lakefront area with its elegant residences and the beautiful English
Garden (across the Mont Blanc bridge).
- Be sure to take in the view of the city and the lake from Saint
Peter's Cathedral, a building that was started in the 12th century
and later modified due to fire and the fervor of the Reformation
(16th century). See the official
Geneva tourism website for more details on visiting this
The Glacier Express
- Since the ride takes the entire day, you will need hotel
reservations at your destination..
- Only the first class cars are "panoramic", featuring large
windows and comfortable seating.
- Meals are available in the Dining Car, but reservations must be
made in advance of the trip (there are not enough seats to
accommodate all passengers).
- For more detail visit the Glacier Express official
- Although rail travel in Switzerland is usually among the safest
in the world, the Glacier Express suffered a
derailment with fatalities in the summer of 2010.
The Bernina Express
- The Bernina Express runs between Chur and Tirano, Italy. It is
a shorter ride than the Glacier Express, but the mountains are
very beautiful and the rail line itself is considered an engineering
marvel. In summer, a bus connects with Lake Lugano.
For more information, see the official
The official Tourism website for Switzerland is
MySwtizerland.com. It provides additional details about the places
we recommend you visit, as well as information on attractions that we do
For country facts on Switzerland, as well as travel information related to
visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related
information, see this page on
Switzerland Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State
Department. Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the
information provided to be useful when planning a trip to Switzerland.
Be sure to see our
Tourism Roadmap of Switzerland, based on Google Maps, that shows the
locations of our recommendations for the Best Places to Visit in
Switzerland. You can also route between locations using the map.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index
or Googling the web.
Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe (from Zurich)
From Viator Tours
Eiger - Jungfrau Glacier Panorama View (from Zurich)
From Viator Tours
Zurich Afternoon City Tour
From Viator Tours
Gruyeres and the famous Golden Express (from Geneva)
From Viator Tours
The country commonly known as Switzerland is also known by other popular names,
such as Schweiz (German), Suisse (French), Svizzera (Italian)
and Svizra (Romansh). The country's official name is the Confoederatio
Helvetica (Latin ) is abbreviated CH (used, for example, by ISO to identify
the country and also as its Internet domain name). The abbreviation CHF is
used to represent the Swiss Franc. The official name of Confoederatio
Helvetica renders as the "Swiss Confederation" in English.
Although Switzerland has a rich history and numerous prestigious cultural
attractions, its countryside and mountains are the magnets that attract most
tourists. Whether you travel to Switzerland for skiing, hiking,
mountain climbing or just sight-seeing, you will remember the scenic vistas
for the rest of your life. Saying that Switzerland is a
beautiful country is an understatement, but you will not understand how much
of an understatement until you visit.
If you are a railroad buff, consider taking one of the
Extraordinary Train Journeys mentioned above.
Even if you are not a big fan of trains, you should be aware that rail travel is the best way to see
the country and travel between its towns.
Switzerland's cuisines differ based on the region of the country you visit,
but in most locations you will find excellent restaurants featuring French,
German and Italian cuisines.
We have found the Swiss preparation of
German and French dishes, to be heavenly. Of course, Italian food is
now a worldwide staple and you will find fine Italian dining throughout
Switzerland. Dinner in Switzerland is just the introduction to a
memorable evening, as a variety of night life will be available
to you almost anywhere you visit in the country.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index or Googling the web.