For the enchanting alpine landscapes and quaint villages that display the charm of a storybook, it’s hard to beat Switzerland. The soaring peaks of the Alps, sparkling blue lakes, emerald valleys, glaciers, and picturesque lakeside villages, adorn this earthly nation with the beauty of a fairy tale. The mountain valleys and lakes include world-class international destinations and a long list of things to do, including hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding, skiing and sleeping.
Travelers come here for the jaw dropping scenes, but are captivated by the many cultural attractions. Rich in history, cities like Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne offer excellent museums and galleries, historic buildings and famous music festivals. The capital is Bern with a spectacular old medieval town that embraces the turn of a river. Germany, Italy, Austria and France border Switzerland and their languages and customs infuse the multicultural sophistication into this country.
From Italian dot-palm Ticino architecture to Romansh dialects of Swiss-German and Latin, Switzerland can sometimes feel like several countries in one, but all with the smooth packaging and punctuality it offers famous for it.
Plan your trip and explore the best sites with our list of top Swiss tourist attractions.
1. The Matterhorn
The Matterhorn, the iconic Swiss peak, is one of the highest mountains in the Alps. On the border with Italy, this legendary summit rises to 4,478 meters and has four steep walls towards the cardinal points. The first summit in 1865 ended tragically when four climbers collapsed and died during the descent. Today thousands of experienced climbers come here every summer.
At the foot of this majestic summit is the charming village of Zermatt, one of the best international destinations with horse-drawn carriage rides, quaint cabins and world-class restaurants and hotels. To maintain air quality and peaceful atmosphere, motor vehicles are banned in the village.
In winter, skiers can descend more than 300 kilometers of slopes. In the summer, swimming and tennis are popular activities along with hiking, biking and climbing in the surrounding mountains. Summer glacier skiing is also available.
2. Jungfraujoch: Top Europe
One of the most popular things to do in the beautiful Bernese Oberland is the train ride to Jungfraujoch, “Top Europe”, with a viewing terrace and science observatory at 3,454 meters. The longest glacier in Europe, the Aletsch Fawr Glacier starts in Jungfraujoch and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famous Eiger path from the Eiger to Alpiglen glacier station clings to the rocks at the foot of the north face.
Other popular walks include Panorama Road to the first sunny south-facing slope; the Gletscherschlucht (glacier gorge); and Öpfelchüechliwäg, the high altitude route from Holenstein to Brandegg through flower fields, alpine pastures and forests. The less active can go up in gondolas and cable cars to viewpoints over the Lauterbrunnen valley.
The picturesque Grindelwald is a glacier village in the Jungfrau region, a great base for adventures in the surrounding mountains. Nestled at the foot of snow-capped mountains, it is one of Switzerland’s oldest and most famous destinations. This alpine valley is dominated by the tiara-shaped Wetterhorn and the northern face overlooking the Eiger, one of the most dramatic and difficult climbs on the planet. Between the mountains are the two sparkling Grindelwald glaciers. For the best views, Faulhorn, at 2,681 meters, offers stunning views of the vast peaks.
Nestled between Lake Thun in the west and Lake Brienz in the east, Interlaken is one of Switzerland’s most popular summer destinations. In the heart of the city, Höhematte is an urban wonderland with 35 acres of open space. Flower gardens, hotels and cafes surround the Höweweg, the main avenue that crosses here with stunning mountain views. The mighty peaks of the tower of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau above the city offering great opportunities for alpine adventures. Hiking, climbing, abseiling and kayaking are the main activities.
More than 45 cable cars, cable cars, lift lifts and ski lifts transport visitors to the surrounding countryside and offer many possibilities for views from above. In winter, skiers and snowboarders can choose from nearby destinations and practice cross-country skiing along the vast network of slopes. In the summer, paragliders leave Beatenberg-Niederhorn. To admire the landscape of lower altitudes, hop aboard a steam ship for a cruise around the lakes.
Imagine a sparkling blue lake surrounded by mountains, an old car-free medieval town, covered bridges, waterfront promenades, historic fresco buildings, and sunny squares with vibrant springs. No wonder Lucerne (in German, Lucerne) is the first place for tourists. Renowned for its musical concerts, this unique Swiss city attracts renowned soloists, conductors and orchestras to its annual International Music Festival. The Center for Culture and Convention is home to one of the most prominent concert halls in the world.
One of the most famous monuments in the city is the Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century. In a small park is the famous Lion Memorial, a moving sculpture of a dying lion, which honors the heroic death of the Swiss Guards during the attack on the Tuileries during the French Revolution. History buffs will love the Swiss Transport Museum with extensive exhibits on all forms of transportation, including air and space travel, rail locomotives, and a planetarium.
For great views over Lucerne, the Alps and the lake, take the fungus to Dietschiberg on the north side of Lake Lucerne; cruise on Mt. Pilatus by cable car; or go to Rigi’s famous point of view.
5. Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva, Europe’s largest alpine lake, bridges the Swiss / French border and wraps the shores of some of Switzerland’s most famous cities. The city of Geneva (in French Genève; in German Genf) sits in the midst of beautiful snow-capped peaks where the Rhone flows into Lake Geneva.
This French “capital of peace” is the European headquarters of the United Nations and boasts a pleasant blend of French joie de vivre and Swiss structure. The lake is surrounded by walks, parks and gardens and the old town is a lovely place to stroll among the historic buildings. The Jet d’Eau, a fountain in Lake Geneva that throws water 150 meters into the air, is a famous landmark. Cultural attractions include the Opera House and Grand Théâtre, which stage international performances.
Also on the lake, some 62 kilometers from Geneva, Lausanne has beautiful views of the surrounding region and the lake, with the Alps rising in the distance. Take a stroll through the old medieval town with its cute cafes and boutiques and the stunning Gothic cathedral. At the foot of the Alps, on Lake Geneva, Montreux is hosting the famous Montreux Jazz Festival in June / July.