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15 Beautiful Places to Visit in Switzerland

From picturesque ski towns to stunning villages, these are the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland.

Switzerland is the quintessential European dream. Mirror-like glacial lakes framed by snow-laden peaks, hillsides strewn with wildflowers and juniper, and cities with towering cathedral spires and arched stone bridges built over fast-flowing rivers – all make for unforgettable visuals that one can never tire of. Add to this hundreds of hiking trails, ski slopes and adventure activities, and there’s rarely a dull moment in Switzerland all through the year.

A superb, well-integrated transportation network – switch between trains, boats, cable cars and gondolas with complete ease and efficiency – makes it extremely easy to get around the country. The red, blue and white trains are rightfully a Swiss emblem and one the country is very proud of. With panoramic coaches and cuisine that rivals some of the finest restaurants in the country, Swiss trains could be a destination in themselves. The regular trains are also some of the best out there and given Switzerland’s cinematic good looks all train journeys in the country are spectacular.

With a focus on sustainable travel, Switzerland is one of the first few countries to put sustainability at the centre of everything, which means you can have the perfect holiday without worrying about the impact of your travels on the planet.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Switzerland

Lucerne

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Embraced by the mighty Alps and strung around the curvaceous banks of Lake Lucerne, the city of Lucerne was destined to be magnificent even before the first medieval houses and charming wooden bridges were built here. Architect Jean Nouvel’s modern masterpiece, the Cultural and Convention Centre (also known as KKL) anchors the city’s thriving music and cultural scene. When the outdoors beckon, get onboard the world’s steepest cogwheel railway and head up to Pilatus. On a clear day, you can spot 73 Alpine peaks and unhindered views of the city below.

Zürich

beautiful places in Switzerland
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The largest city in Switzerland, Zürich offers big city experiences in typical Swiss style, which means the outdoors are just a breath away. The old town delights with its cobbled alleyways and the imposing Grossmünster church. A stone’s throw away Bahnhofstrasse is the high street to see and be seen with luxury brands, fabulous restaurants, bars and decadent chocolate stores. Art enthusiasts are in for a treat at the Kunsthaus Zürich one of the country’s largest art museums with a collection that includes artworks from the 13th century to the present day.

Engelberg

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Come summer or winter Engelberg, a village in the central part of Switzerland is abuzz with activity. Home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery, around 30 monks continue to live and teach here, lending an air of spirituality to this Alpine village.

In summer the grassy meadows studded with wildflowers are perfect to head off on long hikes, more challenging mountaineering expeditions, climbing or biking. Come December and Engelberg turns into a winter wonderland with 35 km of cross-country ski trails. Whatever the season, there are special sets of activities designed specially for kids making Engelberg the perfect family destination.

St. Gallen

beautiful places in Switzerland
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Known for its stunning gilded library and Rococo cathedrals, St. Gallen in northeastern Switzerland also boasts a rich history in embroidery and design. Once the embroidery capital of the country, the Textile Museum of St. Gallen is the perfect spot to get acquainted with this side of the city.

St. Gallen’s old wooden homes with elaborate oriels or protruding windows, turrets and a large bright red outdoor living room designed by architect Carlos Martinez and multimedia artist Pipilotti Rist, delight and surprise in equal measure.

Bern

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Capital city Bern wears its history with pride. Its old town best explored on foot is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a 6 km long covered arcade with plenty of shops and cafes. Follow the crowds and make your way to the ornate clock tower Zytglogge with its rotating figures that twirl four minutes before the hour. If your feet beg for a break, consider jumping into the clean River Aare. In summer, you’ll see experienced swimmers floating downstream enjoying the views as they glide along.

With the Zentrum Paul Klee which houses a large collection of works by the Swiss artist Paul Klee, the Albert Einstein House and Einstein Museum, Swiss Alpine Museum and Communication Museum – there’s a museum for everyone in Bern.

Geneva

beautiful places in Switzerland
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Home to the United Nations European headquarters and the Red Cross, Geneva has a lot going on. For visitors, the cosmopolitan city has plenty on offer from wide-ranging museums, and open-air markets to superb jazz performances. If you are a watch collector or just someone who enjoys watches and the recording of time, make your way to the Musée International d’Horlogerie which has 4,500 watches and clocks on display. The museum is a wonderful chronicle of the evolution of watchmaking.

Zermatt

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If not for the jagged Matterhorn Zermatt would have remained a bucolic farming village, but since the first mountaineers arrived to scale the imposing peak there’s been no looking back. Today, Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most famous Alpine towns drawing skiers and hikers from afar. The car-free town with its wooden chalets with window sills spilling over with colourful geraniums is the perfect base from which to set out on day-long or multi-day hiking expeditions.

For those who want to enjoy the Matterhorn without exertion take the cog railway up to the 3089 m high Gornergrat. Step off the railway and come face-to-face with the Matterhorn. It’s a sighting that’s likely to stay with you for life.

Ticino

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Experience la dolce vita in Ticino, a corner of Switzerland with a strong Italian character. In this Italian-speaking canton vespas zoom past palm-fringed lakes flanked by mountains, meals seem to stretch on endlessly and the good life is celebrated all year round. Capital city Bellinzona has a clutch of castles declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a lively market brimming with fresh produce from around the region. Close by Lugano with its strong Monte Carlo vibes stuns with its picture-perfect lakeside location.

Vevey

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Perched on Lake Geneva, Vevey, one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, is a lakeside town with views of Alpine peaks that you can’t turn your head away from, a hard-to-describe charm and a connection to the one and only Charlie Chaplin. Much loved Chaplin spent 25 years of his life here. Chaplin’s World takes visitors on a wonderful trip down memory lane with clips from his famous films, a display of photographs, awards and personal memorabilia, including his iconic cane and hat.

Interlaken

beautiful places in Switzerland
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Wedged between icy blue-hued Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and surrounded by three mighty peaks, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Interlaken is not new to attention. One of Europe’s top adventure destinations, there’s always something happening here, letting visitors connect with the outdoors in new and exciting ways – paragliding, canyon swing, skydiving, kayaking, glacier trekking and snowshoeing – are just some of the options to choose from. For the best views of the twin lakes and three peaks, take the Harder Railway up to Harder Kulm.

Lausanne

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French-speaking Lausanne is a hilly city, where you’ll find yourself stopping every now and then to admire the view of Lake Geneva and the vine-covered slopes of the hills around. A university town, Lausanne has a young and buzzy vibe, with plenty of cafes and bars.

Its medieval town centre boasts of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, a Gothic edifice dating back to the 13th century. Around the old town, weekly markets are a great place to sample local produce and put together a picnic basket. Later, find a spot in one of the city’s many green pockets or head to a sandy strip of beach in Vidy.

Home to the Olympic Committee, the Olympic Museum in the city will delight sports enthusiasts with its extensive collection of Olympic memorabilia and trivia spanning over a century.

Grindelwald

beautiful places in Switzerland
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A gateway to the extremely popular Jungfraujoch, Grindelwald is one of the country’s prettiest towns and abounds in Alpine charm. Wooden chalets punctuate the grassy slopes dotted with wildflowers and cows grazing during the summer months. Endless walking trails crisscross the surrounding mountains and woodlands. Of these, the high-altitude walk from Grindelwald-First along the Bachalpsee to the Schynige Platte is one of the most scenic walks in the country.

Basel

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With 40 museums and a slew of galleries, Basel attracts culture fiends from around the world. Come June, art takes centre stage during the Art Basel fair that sees participation from over 200 galleries and nearly 4000 artists.

On the banks of the River Rhine, Basel has a well-preserved old town dominated by a Romanesque Gothic cathedral and a red sandstone town hall. One of Switzerland’s oldest university cities, Basel sports a contemporary look as it is home to numerous buildings designed by leading architects from around the world.

St. Moritz

beautiful places in Switzerland
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The original poster child of winter tourism, St. Moritz boasts of many firsts. The country’s first ski lifts started operating here as well and the first golf tournament in the Alps was held here. Having hosted the Winter Olympics twice, visitors can look forward to state-of-the-art winter sporting facilities served up in a perfect setting. Located in the Upper Engadine, a flat valley, St. Moritz sees close to 300 days of sunshine a year.

St. Moritz is also known for the Bernina Express, a panoramic train that starts here and connects to Tirano in Italy. The train operated by the Rhaetian Railway – a part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, goes over the astounding Landwasser viaduct with its 65 m high pillars.

Lauterbrunnen

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In a country where nature puts her best foot forward, Lauterbrunnen ranks right on top with the outdoors that are so perfect that they verge on being other-worldly. One of Switzerland’s largest nature conservation reserves, here valleys stretch endlessly surrounded by towering rock faces with thundering waterfalls. The largest of these, the Staubbach Falls, plunges nearly 300 metres. With miles of hiking routes, ski trails and toboggan runs, there are plenty of reasons to stay outdoors and be active.

Jungfraujoch

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Make your way to the top of Europe through an unforgettable ride up the tricable gondola Eiger Express and then go further by railway to Jungfraujoch. No pictures can match the majesty of seeing the sun beating down on the pearl white 23 km Aletsch Glacier circled by 4000 m plus peaks. The viewing deck is part of the Sphinx, a scientific laboratory and high-altitude research station. Take in the icy wilderness around and then walk through the Ice Palace: a tunnel of ice with hand-carved frozen animals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– Are there any charming Swiss towns or villages worth visiting?
There are many stunning Alpine villages across the country. Some of the most beautiful are Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.

– What’s the best way to explore the Swiss Alps and enjoy the breathtaking scenery?
Hiking, walking, and enjoying a picnic are some of the best ways to take in Switzerland’s staggeringly beautiful outdoors. Travelling by train is another way to slow down and enjoy the changing landscapes.

– Are there any beautiful lakes in Switzerland for water activities and relaxation?
There are several lakes across the country like Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva, Lake Thun, Lake Brienz and Lake Constance. Go on boat rides, enjoy a variety of water sports, spend time by the water’s edge walking on promenades or in some places make the most of narrow sandy strips.

– Can I go visit in winter to go skiing and snowboarding?
Switzerland is one of the best places in the world to participate in a bevvy of winter activities. For skiing head to Zermatt, Engelberg, Grindelwald or St. Moritz.

– Are there any historic sites in Switzerland with beautiful architecture?
There are several cities with well-preserved medieval town centres that are best explored on foot. Here are a few highlights: The Abbey Library with its striking Baroque Hall in St. Gallen; Bern with its 15th-century arcade and 16th-century fountains; and the three medieval castles of Bellinzona.

– Can I take scenic train journeys in Switzerland to enjoy the landscapes?
Switzerland loves its trains. Add to this its unmatched natural beauty and all train rides are stunning. There are a few special ones: the Glacier Express that runs from St. Moritz to Zermatt, passing through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges; the Gotthard Panorama Express from Lucerne to Ticino; and the Voralpen-Express that captures the timeless beauty of Switzerland’s meadows, lakes and mountains between St. Gallen and Lucerne.

– What’s the best time to visit Switzerland for outdoor activities and sightseeing?
The months from spring to fall are the best time to visit Switzerland. However, the summer months of July and August see the largest crowds and can be expensive. For winter activities the months from December to April are the best.

– Are there any guided tours available to explore Switzerland’s beautiful places?
Yes, there are guided group tours available.

– Are there any safety tips for travellers visiting Switzerland’s beautiful places?
Switzerland is a safe country however it’s best to be careful with your belongings in crowded places that see a large number of tourists.

Source: Travel Aand Leisure Asia

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