Top Things To Do and Places To Visit In Switzerland : Switzerland Guide
It’s difficult to match Switzerland for breathtaking Alpine landscapes and small towns brimming with fairy tale charm. Switzerland is blessed with a fairy-tale beauty thanks to its the majestic Alps, glistening blue lakes, verdant valleys, glaciers, and charming lakeside hamlets. Head to one of many stunning view points, immerse yourself in the countless winter or summer activities, or simply unwinding by a blazing fire with a cup of the nation’s signature hot chocolate or cheese fondue.
Here are the top 16 things to do in Switzerland.
Best time to visit Switzerland:
Switzerland can be visited in different seasons. The weather is best between the months of April to October. We recommend visiting between the months of April – June, September – October to avoid the high season crowds. If you are looking to visit Switzerland for ski season December – March are best months to visit.
1Visit Jungfraujoch – the highest station in Europe
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© Jungfrau Railway Management
Take in the unbelievable scenic landscape of the Swiss Alps from the highest station in Europe, Jungfraujoch. Located 3,454 metres above sea level a popular excursion from both Zurich and Lucerne, Jungfraujoch is most conveniently accessed via cog wheel train from Grindelwald Terminal. With multiple stops en route, you can alight and admire the dramatic mountain peaks of Jungfraujoch, Eiger and Kleine Scheidegg. Visiting Jungfraujoch is a must on your bucklist when visiting Switzerland.
Take one of the many popular walks or ride gondolas and cable cars to scenic viewpoints over the Lauterbrunnen Valley. On arrival at the highest railway station in Europe, you will be introduced to the spectacular scenery of Great Aletsch, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest glacier in Europe. There is no better place to enjoy unrivalled snowy mountain views and visiting Jungfraujoch is one of the best things to do in Switzerland.
2Visit The Magnificent Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) in Schaffhausen is the biggest waterfall in Europe, spanning 150 metres, Rhine Falls is definitely worth a visit and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. The falls is a perfect day trip destination from Zurich however, if you want to base yourself closer to the falls the town of Schaffhausen would be the best option.
It is certainly a thrilling experience to witness water falling down 23 metres across a width of 150 meters. Visit in June and July, when the mountain snow melts and the volume of the falls increases. Get up close to these dramatic waterfalls via the viewing platform which is located on either side of the river, you can even touch the water from the viewing platform on the Laufen Castle southern bank side.
Alternatively, take a boat trip which takes you to the rock in the middle of the falls, a boat trip is highly recommended to experience the full force of the falls. Majority of the boat trips depart from the Schlössli Wörth northern bank.
The captivating city of Lucerne is one of the most charming and beautiful destinations in Europe. Lucerne is cloaked in old-time romance with mediaeval architecture, cobbled streets and riverside promenades. The city’s central landmark, Chapel Bridge, is the city’s most visited monument and dates back to the 14th century.
With a dramatic backdrop of the Swiss Alps, Lucerne is a picture-perfect destination overflowing with character. This lakeside city also offers phenomenal dining, fascinating museums and galleries home to the work of Picasso. Lucerne is a great city to base yourself, also known as the ‘Gateway to Swiss Alps’ it is an ideal location for day trips to jungfraujoch, mount pilatus, mount titlis and more.
Discover: Hotels in Lucerne
4Take A Day Trip To Mount Pilatus From Lucerne
While in Lucerne, one day trip that is worth taking is a trip up to Mount Pilatus. Lucerne is surrounded by numerous breathtaking mountains, but Mount Pilatus dominates the landscape with its height of 2132 metres.
One of the best ways to get to Mount Pilatus is by taking the cog railway up to the mountain. In fact, the cog railway was built in 1889 and is the steepest in the world, the journey to Mount Pilatus is an experience in itself.
We highly recommend taking the Golden Round Trip to the top of Mt. Pilatus, this includes a boat ride on the lake Lucerne, the steepest cog wheel rail and cable car to the peak of the mountain. From the top of Mount Pilatus, take in the beautiful views of Lucerne and the surrounding Alps. Along with the stunning views, there is plenty to at the summit of Pilatus including hiking, relaxing at a cafe or restaurant, or evening ridding the longest summer toboggan in Switzerland.
5Go on a scenic ride on Golden Pass Line
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Hop aboard Switzerland’s most breathtaking train line and discover the heart, soul and beauty of the scenic Swiss landscape. Offering the most mesmerising views en-route, the Golden Pass Line navigates between dramatic mountains, through captivating cities and by glistening lakes with three different routes on the line. First class offers the best panoramic views for a bargain upgrade price and is the best introduction to the Swiss scenery. Often described as the world’s most beautiful train ride, the Golden Pass Line is one of the best things to do in Switzerland.
6Geneva City and Lake Geneva
Geneva city might be a financial centre and hub to many important organisations in the world like the WHO, but it has plenty more to offer. Stay in one of the many opulent hotels, stroll through the old town, shop in one of the charming boutique shops, and high-end jewellers. Discover city’s top-notch restaurants and mouthwatering chocolatiers, cultural attractions such as Opera House and Grand Théâtre.
Straddling the Swiss-French border, Lake Geneva is Europe’s largest alpine lake and one of the most famous spots on the continent. A beautiful location where the Rhone River spills out, Lake Geneva is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, boasting unrivalled scenic landscapes, pristine swimming spots and endless water sport opportunities.
The most iconic landmark by Lake Geneva is Chateau de Chillon, a fairytale castle dating back to the 11th century and the most visited historical monument in all of Switzerland. Also on the Swiss side, the picturesque city of Geneva is one Switzerland’s biggest heritage destinations with ancient architecture, rich history and abundance of cultural attractions.
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7Hot Air Ballooning Over The Alps
© Festival International de Ballons à Château-d’Oex
Located on the opposite side of Geneva, not too far away from lake Geneva, lies the town of Château d’Oex. Coined as the hot air ballooning capital of the world, Château d’Oex hosts the largest annual International Hot Air Balloon Festival in January for 9 days. Dozens of hot air balloons launch in the sky as they travel through the snow covered stunning Swiss alps during the festival. The exact dates for the festival change every year so check their website for the accurate dates each year here.
This unique event is renowned around the world for the beauty of the surroundings alpine scenery and the complexity of the flying conditions. The colourful festival includes night shows, balloon flights, sporting competitions, airshows, helicopter rides, as well as passenger balloon flights each day giving you a chance to hop in the hot air balloon basked and join in and experience this unique adventure. After taking off, all you have to do is enjoy the spectacle unfolding before you. In front of you, the mountains of the Pays-d’Enhaut reveal their rocky cliffs. You can try to spot Mont Blanc, the Jungfrau, and even the Matterhorn when the weather is right.
If you are visiting outside the dates of the festival, you can still experience the breathtaking alpine scenery from an hot air balloon with Ballons Château d’Oex, who offer rides throughout the year.
8Zermatt and The Matterhorn
The Matterhorn is the most iconic image of Switzerland, a unique mountain in the Alps with a dramatic pyramid peak. Set within the breathtaking alpine landscape, The Matterhorn is amongst the world’s most photographed mountains. Tucked into the base of The Matterhorn, the charming mountain community of Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most popular destinations. A romantic village with cobbled streets, quaint cabins and horse-drawn carriages, infact vehicles are banned in the village to preserve the air quality.
The easiest and quickest to get up close and personal with the Matterhorn is to take a 30 mins train to the peak of Gornergrat. From the top of the Matterhorn you will be treated to 360-degree views from various vantage points of snow-covered mountain ranges, a glacier and piercing blue lakes. A great view point to view The Matterhorn is Riffelsee Lake, a traditional alpine lake with gorgeous surroundings and pure waters that mirror the Matterhorn.
Zermatt is also overflowing with award-winning restaurants and luxury hotels. Zermatt is also one of Europe’s favourite ski resorts. Skiers have access to more than 300 kilometres of slopes in the winter, a popular winter destination with a reliable snowfall, exquisite scenery and exceptional apres-ski scene.
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9Explore St Moritz
Sitting 1,800 metres above sea level in an alpine valley is St Moritz. One of the world’s top mountain destinations, and one that is definitely worth adding to your things to do in Switzerland list. It is an exclusive playground for the rich and famous. A destination popular with celebrities, billionaires and royalty, St Moritz is as prestigious as it get especially during the winter ski season.
This magnificent alpine town boasts year-round sunshine, it offers the perfect blend of glamour, sport, nightlife as well as nature thanks to the mirror like lakes, alpine forest, glaciers that surround it. This elegant destination in Switzerland’s Engerdan Valley is home to the world’s oldest ski resort. St Moritz has a lot to offer in addition to skiing with winter activity taking place on Lake St Moritz, the frozen centrepiece to the town hosting ice skating, polo and horse racing.
It also boasts gourmet restaurants, excellent shopping and an unrivalled party scene with some of the world’s most exclusive reservations. If that wasn’t enough luxury hotels make up over two-thirds of its hotels. Some of the best hotels in St Moritz include : Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, Carlton Hotel St Moritz, Kulm Hotel St. Moritz.
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10Ride the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St Moritz
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Travel between two of Switzerland’s most popular and beautiful destinations on the Glacier Express. One of the country’s most dramatic and scenic rail routes, the Glacier Express travels through the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps from Zermatt to St Moritz.
Best experienced during the winter, the Glacier Express chugs past snow-capped peaks, powdered villages and storybook castles for an unforgettable train journey. Remember to look out for the famous crossing at Landwasser Viaduct – not only is it something that looks out of a fairytale but it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as the “slowest express train in the world” a journey takes roughly 7-8 hours. Find out more here.
11Indulge in some world-famous Swiss Chocolate
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without tasting some of the world’s best Swiss chocolate. Once you taste chocolate in Switzerland, you will never view chocolate the same again. In fact, even the popular chocolate brands such as Lindt and Toblerone all started in Switzerland.
One of the best places to try Switzerland’s finest chocolate is at the Switzerland’s oldest chocolate company: Maison Cailler in Broc. It is a part museum, part factory, and shop, it is one of the top things to do in Switzerland. All their chocolate is made using locally sourced products like Swiss sugar and fresh alpine milk. However, if you can’t make it all the way to Broc, there is plenty of delicious chocolate all around Switzerland. If you are in Zurich or Lucerne, Max Chocolatier is a must, aslo try some of their decadent waffles too.
Visit the Swiss capital of Bern, one of Europe’s most endearing destinations oozing old-time romance. Explore the city on foot to truly appreciate its wonder from its cobbled streets to its charming architecture. The charismatic old town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the city’s most iconic cultural landmark, a clock tower showcasing mechanical puppetry performing every hour. The Bundesplatz is the perfect example of the city’s Renaissance architecture with beautiful parliamentary buildings and also hosts Bern’s vibrant weekly farmers market. The highlight of Bern is undoubtedly the Gelmerbahn, one of the best things to do in Switzerland. One of the steepest funiculars in the world, Gelmerbahn is more commonly known as the mountain rollercoaster taking you on a reverse ride up the mountain where a sparkling turquoise lake awaits your viewing.
Just one hour from the Swiss capital of Bern is the Lauterbrunnen Valley in heart of the Alps. Often known as the valley of 72 waterfalls is home to the highest freefall waterfall in Europe – the Staubbach waterfall. Infact, the waterfall can be spotted from anywhere in the town. The steam of Staubbach waterfall is very striking especially after it has rained in the region. If you fancy getting up close there is a path that takes to a tunnel which runs underneath the waterfall.
It is a wonderful excuse to pull on your climbing boots to enjoy the marvellous Swiss countryside. Just down the road from Staubbach waterfall lies the Trummelbach Falls which are a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside the mountain that can be accessed by a tunnel-funicular. As well as getting up close to these beautiful waterfalls, you can spot the high peaks of the Eiger, MÖnch and Jungfrau from Lauterbrunnen Valley.
The town of Murren in Lauterbrunnen offers a cable car service that will take you up to the top of Mount Schilthorn which is at 2,970m. Not only are spectacular views on offer, but there is also a revolving restaurant called 360°-Restaurant Piz Gloria.
Related: 20 Hidden Destoinations in Europe
As the most popular Swiss summer resort, Interlaken is a vibrant hub of activity located on the iconic Golden Pass Line. During the year’s warmer months, Interlaken comes alive when an adventurous community of holidaymakers descends on the resort for a summer of lake activity and mountain exploration. Home to 129 gondolas and 251 cable cars, Switzerland provides ample opportunity for everyone to climb the country’s breathtaking alpine peaks with Interlaken boasting an exceptional number of funiculars and ski lifts taking visitors on mountain excursions. In the winter months, Interlaken transforms into a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding.
The homeland of Swiss cheese, Gruyeres is the birthplace of the country’s most famous and popular cheese. Whilst there is an extensive list of exceptional things to do in Gruyeres, the city is centred on its dairy specialty with fascinating cheese factories, mouthwatering tasting tours and animal encounters with the creators.
Not only is Gruyeres a cheese-lovers paradise, the city is also a famous chocolate-making hub with numerous factories offering mouthwatering and educational tours. In addition, Gruyeres is a charming destination in its own right featuring the iconic cobbled streets and mediaeval architecture Switzerland is renowned for.
16Swiss National Park
Tucked against the Italian border, the Swiss National Park is one of Europe’s oldest nature reserves and best accessed from St Moritz. Home to an abundant wildlife community of over 5000 species, the Swiss National Park is a breathtaking nature spot with cascading rivers, cavernous rock formations and towering trees.
Beautiful year-round, the Swiss National Park is one of the best places to see in Switzerland, particularly in the winter months when it takes on a mystical illusion creating the most astounding landscape. Immerse yourself in the wilderness of the National Park by going on one of the many excusrions on offer.
Discover: Hotels in St Moritz
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