25 places to see in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Most Beautiful Places

Switzerland – a unique country, because on its relatively small territory could fit so many different natural landscapes and interesting cities. In one trip you can see the mountain peaks, green valleys, snowy slopes, waterfalls, gorges, clear lakes, as well as medieval architecture, Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals. The country is so full of interesting places that you should first concentrate on the main thing: to see the most picturesque sights and the best cities.

Lake Zurich

An elongated clear lake on which the largest Swiss city, Zurich, stands. In Zurich waterfront is a point of attraction for tourists and locals because it offers a view of the clear lake in which the surrounding mountains are reflected. Yachts and boats are also moored here, and you can book a tour of the coastal towns: Zollikon, Rapperswil-Jona, Meilen and others. Unlike Lake Geneva and Lake Lugano, Lake Zurich has no resorts or beaches, so it is better to admire it from Zurich and the surrounding area.

Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is often called the most picturesque Swiss valley. This is a small village in the gorge of the mountains, where there is a hiking trail, a unique waterfall inside a rock, small stores with farm products and cafes. It is worth setting aside at least two hours for the walk, or better yet, spend the whole day here, also climbing to the top and exploring the neighboring resorts. Mountain roads connect Lauterbrunnen with Murren, Isenflu, Wengen. And also from here runs the highest European railroad, which runs to the top of the Jungfrau.

It is possible to reach by train from Interlaken or by car (from Zurich – 2 hours; from Geneva – 2,5 hours).

Lake Geneva

Lake Leman – or Lake Geneva – is rich in resorts and even got the name of the Swiss Riviera. On its shores are the main cities of French-speaking Switzerland: Geneva and Lausanne, as well as Montreux, Vevey, Nyon and Lavaux vineyards. On the French side of the coast is the famous Evian. The beauty of these landscapes has been admired by many artists and musicians. For example, the views of Montreux inspired Freddie Mercury to write the song A Winter’s Tale, and Deep Purple – the song Smoke on the water .

The famous Chillon Castle, built in the XI century, is located near Montreux. The picturesque castle, standing on the shore, was once a defensive structure and then a prison. Now there is a museum with well-preserved historic interiors and mysterious dungeons.

Lausanne Cathedral

Lausanne is a multi-level city with a promenade at the bottom and a cathedral at the top. This gives a beautiful view of the entire city and the lake from the hill. Lausanne Cathedral was built in Gothic style in the 13th century. Like other Gothic cathedrals it is decorated with numerous sculptures and gargoyles. The cathedral was once an important spiritual center where pilgrims came for the statue of the Virgin Mary. But during the Reformation, when it was considered wrong to decorate churches, the entire interior was despoiled and the statue was melted down. Now inside you can admire the organ and see a stained-glass rose window dedicated to the theme of creation.

Zermatt

Zermatt and the Matterhorn are considered one of the best Swiss resorts. In winter it is a popular and prestigious center of ski tourism, and in summer – the point of attraction for fans of hiking. Near the top is a small town of the same name, where everything is done for tourists, but it should be noted that this is one of the most expensive resorts in Switzerland.

To see not only Zermatt, but also its surroundings – untouched nature and alpine landscapes, you should ride the Ice Express. It is a train with special panoramic carriages, following the mountain railroad from St. Moritz and Davos to Zermatt across three hundred bridges and a hundred tunnels.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano is adjacent to the famous Italian Lake Como and is in no way inferior to it in beauty. The lake is considered one of the main resorts of the country and the pearl of the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. It is possible to book a circular cruise to the neighboring shore – to Italy, the towns of Morcot and Melida. There is also a bridge across the lake, over which the Saint-Gothard Railway passes, then going into the Alps.

Gruyere Castle

Gruyere is not only a popular Swiss cheese, but also the area near Montreux. It is a medieval castle of the same name with impregnable walls on a high hill. Once it was an important strategic point in the wars of XII-XVI centuries, then it became an administrative residence, and then it passed into the hands of owners who turned it into a real palace. The complex was sold by the owners only in the 1930s, after which there appeared a museum. In the museum you can see how people lived here from medieval times to the XX century, because it is perfectly preserved interiors and household items, as well as many unusual historical exhibits.

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Photo from Wikipedia.

Bern Cathedral

Cathedral was founded in XIII century and according to the original project was supposed to be in Romanesque style. But construction was delayed, the fashion for Gothic came, and in the XVI-XIX centuries it was built in the Gothic style. Above the entrance is a large bas-relief with the theme of the Last Judgment. Like many Protestant churches, its exterior is much richer and richer than the interior. Almost the entire interior decoration was removed at the time of the Reformation, as the decoration of the church did not fit in with the Reformation ideas. Despite this, the cathedral should still be entered to see the stained glass windows, carved choir, and sculptures. The theme of one of the stained glass windows, as well as that of the bas-relief, is about death and is called “The Dance of Death,” where a skeleton demands human sacrifice. The Bernese cathedral could therefore be called gloomy, but nevertheless, along with those of Lausanne and Basel, it is the most beautiful Gothic cathedral in Switzerland.

Rhaetian Railway

The Rhaetian Railway is known as one of the most scenic roads in the world. It runs through the mountainous terrain from Landquart through Davos and St. Moritz to Italy. The difficulties of the alpine highlands demanded engineering skill and careful design: the road passes through 55 tunnels and 200 viaducts. Although popular with tourists, the route is also in high demand among locals, connecting hard-to-reach mountain locations to big cities and helping to get to the ski slopes.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne, or Lake Lucerne, is rich in resorts for relaxing holidays. The first of these is Lucerne, but also the small towns of Buergenstock and Veggies. By the way, this area is where the history of Switzerland began, because the first three cantons were founded here. This area is surrounded by high Central Alps thanks to which the climate in Lucerne and other coastal areas is mild.

Innertkirchen

The southern part of the country begins the mountain range of the Alps, and there are many places that offer spectacular mountain scenery. To see all their diversity you can drive through the commune Innertkirchen, stop at St. Gotthard, where Suvorov made his famous crossing, and Adermatt. Along the way you will encounter snowy peaks, mountain lakes and green valleys. Such a trip could be a stretch on the Bern-Lugano route.

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Basel city hall

The town hall in Basel is an unusual and colorful building with many decorative details and frescoes, a very colorful Basel landmark. Built back in the 1500s, the town hall stands out not only for its facade but also for its courtyard and interior. Worth seeing are the clock, also from the 16th century, the picturesque balconies, the paintings on the walls of the inner courtyard depicting the Last Judgement and the meeting rooms which are open to the public.

Aleć Glacier

The Great Alech Glacier, which is 25 kilometers long, is a natural phenomenon and a protected national park. Once the strength of the glacier shaped the canyon surrounding it, but now the ice is gradually melting. As a unique natural phenomenon and one of the clearest glaciers in the world, it has been listed as a World Heritage Site. It can be viewed from the summit of the Eggishorn, and the easiest way to get there is from Bern.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Wahler Castle

Towering over the city of Sion, Château Valères is a massive complex of once defensive structures and really looks quite impregnable. It consists of a cathedral built in XII century, gates, towers and bridges. In the Middle Ages the castle was the spiritual center of the region, but by the XIX century it had lost its former importance and fell into disrepair. After the renovation, Valère reopened and is now a museum with archaeological excavations that allow one to learn more about the history of the place. Frescoes, statues and an organ have been preserved in the basilica.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Lavo Vineyards

The Lavaux terraced vineyards occupy the area between Lausanne and Vevey and are the main wine center of the country. In addition to being a picturesque place on the shores of Lake Geneva, you can come here for tours and tastings. To see the entire vineyard area comprehensively there is a special tourist train.

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Benedictine monastery of St. John

The monastery was founded in VIII by Charlemagne and is located in the village Müstair, near Davos. The abbey’s cathedral is a true monument of Carolingian Renaissance art. The unique frescoes of the cathedral were found only in the XIX century, because they were under the whitewash. Now in the monastery one can see the paintings of VIII-X centuries. Also of note are paintings of the vaults, dating from the 15th century, a 14th-century carved ceiling, and sculptures from the 17th century.

Photo from Wiki.

It is most convenient to move along the route by car. It is more convenient to rent a car with the help of an aggregator in advance, because when booking on site the choice will be very limited.

The most beautiful Swiss cities

Zurich

The largest and most expensive Swiss city is worth visiting for the views of the lake, harmonious architecture and a widespread sense of well-being. Zurich tops the quality of life rankings year after year, and you can feel it just walking through the streets. Despite the large number of expensive cars and high prices, it is not a pathos city, it is quiet and cozy.

Geneva

Also rich region, but in the French-speaking part of the country. Proximity to France and Italy is reflected in the architecture, which is why Geneva is quite different from Zurich and other cities of the German cantons. When traveling to Switzerland, Geneva is worth visiting for a walk along the lake, the medieval old town and the numerous gardens and parks.

Lucerne

Well-preserved architecture, picturesque Lake Lucerne, visible mountain peaks – Lucerne is called the most comfortable Swiss city. Its symbol is the wooden Kappelbrücke bridge and tower, but it is also worth a walk through the center to see the old painted houses, churches and cathedrals. Take a tour here.

The de facto capital of Switzerland is much smaller than Zurich and Geneva, but also interesting in its own way. For example, here is perfectly preserved medieval architecture and the Cathedral in the Gothic style. In addition, in Bern there are many museums devoted to art and history, and also a house-museum of Albert Einstein.

Basel

The proximity to both France and Germany has had a big impact on the appearance of Basel and made it rather atypical for Switzerland. For a small city there is an astonishing number of architectural monuments: the town hall, the Gothic cathedral, the Franciscan church.

Lugano

The capital of the Italian-speaking canton is under the influence of the neighboring Italy. The narrow streets, lots of greenery and romantic atmosphere of the city attracts tourists, who often stop here for music festivals and on their way to Como. The main attraction of Lugano is nature: the lake of the same name and the mountains around it. Pick up a tour or cruise.

Sion (Sion).

A small but picturesque Sion, where medieval castles and ancient churches are preserved. In addition to architectural monuments, the city is surrounded by national and natural parks.

Lausanne

Lausanne is located on hills, so to see all the sights, you will have to go up and down some steep slopes. First of all worthy of attention is the waterfront, the Cathedral, the Olympic Museum, City Hall, the castle Ushi. Also here are a lot of concerts, exhibitions and other events.

St. Gallen

Ancient city with an outstanding architectural monuments: a monastery, churches, library and castle.

Best Hotels

Hotel in a historic building in Zurich The Dolder Grand, The Chedi Andermatt in Andermatt, the Mandarin Oriental view hotel in Geneva, the Matterhorn FOCUS Design Hotel in Zermatt.

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What to see in Switzerland – our personal rating of interesting places

Thanks to the car we had time to see a lot of different places in Switzerland. Places that we wouldn’t give a 10 out of 10, but a 15 out of 10. And the ones that you can safely skip during the acquaintance with the country if time is short. Switzerland – a beautiful country with colorful villages, with cities, each of which has its own face, with highways surrounded by mountains. A delight to the eye, in a word. But not in everything.

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See how much it costs to rent a car in Switzerland:

Below we offer you a look at what we’ve seen in Switzerland and now we can safely give you our marks. From A’s to D’s. Do you want to know our personal rating?

What to see in Switzerland – the most beautiful places

Lucerne – bridges and houses ✮✮✮✮✮

Lucerne, the heart of Switzerland, is one of the most colorful and beautiful cities not only in the country but probably in all of Europe. Even if you do not plan to visit museums and other attractions, a walk around the city will take the whole day. You will walk slowly, now looking at the swans, now looking up and studying the paintings on the walls of the houses, now taking pictures inside the covered bridges of Lucerne (covered bridges – one of the main tricks of Switzerland). The most famous bridge of the country, Kapellbrücke, is located in Lucerne. Under its roof hangs over 100 ancient triangular paintings, looking at them, you can learn the history of Switzerland. And in summer it’s also full of flowers. The bridge is great, we walked on it twice. All the paintings were photographed. In general, we liked Lucerne, despite the fact that it is the most touristy city in Switzerland. We would love to go back.

What to see in Switzerland – Lucerne

If you want a bigger spectacle than the city’s buildings, you can take a walk to the Swiss Transport Museum. The museum has everything that can move, from Indian boats to modern fighter jets. The museum is interactive, so you can sit in the boats, cars and planes and remember your childhood.

What to see in Switzerland – Lucerne

Mount Pilatus – Viewpoints ✮✮✮✮✮

Not far from Lucerne rises Pilatus (2130 meters). If legend were to be believed, the ashes of Pontius Pilatus once rested here. Mount Pilatus, as well as Lucerne, one of the most publicized places in Switzerland and it is worth seeing from below and above and diagonally and generally from all possible angles. And it can be done completely free of charge if you have a free day.

What to see in Switzerland – Mount Pilatus The fact that the top can be climbed by the steepest railroad in the world or by cable car. Then this pleasure will cost you 72 francs per person round trip and take about an hour. Or you can pay nothing and climb the summit on foot. It’s longer, but more spectacular and free. At the top, in addition to viewing platforms, there is a cafe, gift store and sun beds.

What to see in Switzerland – Mount Pilatus

It’s worth spending a day on Pilatus, even with a cable car ride, not just to drink coffee, but to wander through the passes. It is very beautiful here. Of course, if the weather is good. If you wake up in the morning and see gloomy skies, reschedule your acquaintance for another day. The only thing that seemed odd on Pilatus was the funeral music playing at the main observation deck. The tunes we heard don’t mesh with the views that surround you on all sides.

If you’re staying in Lucerne for a few days and don’t want to bother with a car, a boat can take you to Pilatus – right to the foot.

Bern – Clock Tower and Puppet Show ✮✮✮✮

Europeans love to put on puppet shows in clock towers. In Bern the performance is one of the most interesting. It is shown every hour and draws crowds every time. The tower itself is also interesting and unusual. And, although Bern is not as “colorful” city as Lucerne, it has its charm and its raisins. For example – the bears. Bears are everywhere in Bern – on coats of arms, in souvenir stores; they adorn colorful fountains and sculptures, hover above your heads. And there are even live bears. Tormented by heat, but alive.

What to see in Switzerland – Bern

The center of Bern is not bad and bright, but by and large, to explore the city is enough for half a day.

Zurich – austere architecture ✮✮✮✮

Zurich loses in beauty to Lucerne, but wins to Bern. Except for the doll’s tower. Quite an austere city, with a big beautiful center (not two or three streets like in many cities).

What to see in Switzerland – austere Lucerne

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Zurich has a good zoo, but we were not in it, so we have no opinion. Not bad national museum, but in general it is similar to all local history museums, except that the size is larger. The same exhibits from prehistoric period, the same historical references, the same household items.

What to see in Switzerland – the architecture of Lucerne And it is in Zurich, as it seemed to us, and concentrated all the Swiss brands – there are many times more watches and knives, and everything else. And in general a lot of fashionable stores with unknown to us brands.

The Rhine Falls – an opportunity to be inside ✮✮✮✮✮

Not high (23 meters), but very wide (150 meters). With walkways, observation decks and millions of water drops falling on you. We’ve never seen anything like it before. Come to the waterfall in the middle of the day, and then you will have time to wander inside the waterfall and take a boat ride to it (the last boat ride is at 6:30 pm). Inside the mini-park, which surrounds the Rhine waterfall, there is even an elevator for those who are tired of walking on the steps. And don’t forget your sunglasses – the snow-white boiling foam is literally blinding, especially when you’re one meter away from it.

What to see in Switzerland – the country’s widest waterfall

The best photos of the waterfall are taken from the embankment – then the waterfall falls entirely into the lens. But it does not look as powerful as up close.

Reichenbach Falls and Meiringen – Sherlock Holmes fans ✮✮✮✮

The one where Sherlock Holmes defeated Professor Moriarty. The waterfall is tall and narrow, and no one seems to have photographed it in its entirety. A clever system of steps leads to the very top, and on the way you can take a break at several observation decks that cross the falls on a bridge-like formation. The impression of the Reichenbach waterfall was positive, but still it’s a pity that you can see the waterfall only in parts. I would like to see the whole thing, at least from a distance.

What to see in Switzerland – in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes If you make it to the Reichenbach Falls, you should also stop in the town of Meiringen. This is where Conan Doyle came to rest and this is where he came up with the fight scene between the detective and the professor. True, Conan Doyle wanted to finish off both characters in the abyss of the Reichenbach Falls, and only the popular anger demanding the resurrection of Holmes made the writer come up with a sequel.

There is now a Sherlock Holmes museum in Meiringen (admission 4 francs). The museum is small, consisting of two halls. One is a VDNH dedicated to Conan Doyle, the second room is made as a “Behind the Glass” show – it recreates Sherlock Holmes’ room. It’s a mess, but a mess that’s carefully thought out, just like a museum should be. The price, as it seems to us, slightly overpriced, but as a compensation at the ticket office give you an audio guide in Russian. In order to somehow prolong your stay inside the museum. Without the audio guide here is enough to spend 15-20 minutes.

What to see in Switzerland – in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes Meiringen itself is quite neat and photogenic. But no more.

Switzerland in miniature – a tour around the country in two hours ✮✮✮✮✮

The open-air museum “Switzerland in Miniature” is located in Lugano and requires at least two hours to see. As we wandered through the museum streets, we realized that we hadn’t seen very, very many places yet. But it was infinitely interesting to get to know the familiar places.

The exhibits are made very well and there are a lot of them. Ships and trains are electric and ride back and forth. Entrance costs 18 francs, which, like everything in Switzerland, is a bit pricey. But it is informative. On the territory there are cafes for those who are hungry and there are fans for those who are ready to die from the heat (we used them because the day we came to Lugano, the temperature was crazy).

What to see in Switzerland – the whole country in a couple of hours The city of Lugano itself is Italian through and through. It is almost on the border with Italy, and “Switzerland in miniature” was our last stop in the land of watches and bankers. About our itinerary, number of days and prices in Switzerland you can read here: To Europe by car. Part five – the Swiss. There are also coordinates and tips on how to get to this or that place.

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These were the places that we unreservedly liked. But we will start with the ones that we can safely skip. That is, if you visit Switzerland, and do not have time for some reason to see them, you will not lose much.

What to see in Switzerland, if there is time

Rapperswil – a boring castle and an unremarkable bridge ✮✮✮

All the guidebooks advise to visit this city of roses, but… For some reason, this city did not impress me. It’s the only Swiss town I’ve seen that I’d like to say “no”. In Rapperswil is the longest bridge in Switzerland – 841 meters. But outwardly it looks like a neat crossing of planks from one bank to the other. Honestly. We did not appreciate its beauty. And the old castle with the Polish Museum inside is dry. And promised by guidebooks roses was almost absent, and those that were – somehow not impressive. The building of Rapperswil is absolutely boring (for the whole time of the auto-trip we haven’t seen more boring houses).

What to see in Switzerland – Rapperswil

Nothing to see in Rapperswil. Nothing so memorable that I want to go back.

Fribourg – France in Switzerland ✮✮✮✮

Everything here is French. Original, grayish and austere in the Swiss way. We did not go deep into the nooks and crannies of Fribourg, but we made our way through the streets, stopping and looking around regularly. We were faced with the fact that many locals do not speak English. And do not know any language except French. Fribourg is quite an interesting city, it deserves attention from tourists. But still, if you have limited time, think – is it worth coming here? Nothing unexpected in the streets. But it’s France in Swiss guise. Although we must admit that Fribourg is definitely more interesting than Rapperswil.

What to see in Switzerland – the small town of Fribourg

St. Gallen – one room in a library in a monastery ✮✮✮

The highest town in Switzerland and also about nothing, just like Rappersville. There is nothing to see, by and large. The entire Switzerland is built by similar houses, so it is definitely not worth going to St. Gallen for the architecture. The guides and other TOPs will advise you and praise the library, but keep in mind that you will see only one room for 12 francs. The hall is large, cabinets to the ceiling, books inside, but… It’s kind of expensive and you can’t take pictures. Although many people appreciate and admire it.

Apparently, as compensation for the small number of spectacles, in St. Gallen in the city center there is a “kvass quarter”. Everything here is red and bland. Unusual, but thank goodness it’s not much. Otherwise the psyche couldn’t take it.

What to see in Switzerland – St. Gallen

Vaimala Gorge – an ordinary mountain walk ✮✮✮

Vaimala Gorge will appeal to lovers of mountain walking. Not bad views, lots of greenery and rocks, a couple of viewing platforms. It is located near Zurich, 130 kilometers away. It takes longer to drive than to walk, there are more interesting places. True, you can walk around the mountains all day, but it is not interesting to everyone. In addition, with Pilatus Vaimala is not comparable. Entrance to the gorge is paid (6 francs), the toilet in the parking lot (it’s not even a parking lot, but the side of the road) is also paid. We can not say that the gorge is a must-see. You can skip it.

What to see in Switzerland – Vaimala Gorge

St. Gothard pass – the dreaded Suvorov, a huge cross and a museum “about nothing” ✮✮✮

The mountains in this area are strange – gentle, rounded some. It’s not worth going here especially, but if you ride the same route as we do, you can spend an hour and a half. Once Suvorov walked here with his soldiers, in honor of what a huge cross was set in a rock and a museum is organized. The museum, however, pulled to Suvorov’s ears – there are mainly expositions from the mountain life of Switzerland. And the monument to Suvorov is more than strange. We were on the pass at the end of our trip to Switzerland – our route to Italy passed through it. But the bridges are interesting.

What to see in Switzerland – St. Gothard Pass

This was our personal rating of sights in Switzerland. You may have a different one, so don’t judge it harshly. We rode about Switzerland a week by car, managed to see a lot of interesting places, but… When we walked around the park “Switzerland in miniature”, we realized that we saw far from everything.

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