15 most beautiful places in Switzerland
Switzerland is a unique country – despite its size it has so many diverse natural landscapes and interesting cities. In one trip you can see mountains, green valleys, snowy slopes, waterfalls, lakes, as well as Gothic cathedrals and ancient castles. Various activities can be included: hiking, skiing, ferry and railroad trips, history tours, wine tasting and many more. Discover the best places and choose which ones to visit first.
Lauterbrunnen is considered the most picturesque Swiss valley. This is a small village in a mountain gorge with the highest free-falling waterfall, hiking trail and also small shops with farm products. It’s worth spending the whole day here, visiting the waterfall, walking in the valley and going to the mountain top. Lauterbrunnen is connected by mountain roads to Mürren, Isenfluh, and Wengen. And also the highest European railway runs from here, which goes to the top of the Jungfrau. The short walk would take up to 2 hours and can be included on your trip from Bern to Lugano.
You can get there by train from Interlaken or by car (from Zurich – 2 hours; from Geneva – 2.5 hours).
Zurich is known for stunning lake views, well-preservered architecture and high-quality living. Even though it’s the Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich is very calm and cozy. There are plenty places for peaceful walks: the Old Town, the promenade along Zurich Lake … You can book a boat cruise to go to cities nearby: Zollikon, Rapperswil-Jona, Mailen and others. Don’t forget museums: Johann Jacobs, Rietberg and also FIFA and Lindt museums.
Lake Leman – or Lake Geneva – is often called the Swiss Riviera. On its coast are many stunning resorts as well as the main cities of French-speaking Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux, Vevey, Nyon. Many artists and musicians admired the beauty of these landscapes. 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.
Near Montreux is the famous Chillon Castle, built in the 11th century. The picturesque castle, located on the shore, was once a defensive structure and then a prison. Now there is a museum with well-preserved historical interiors and mysterious dungeons.
Lausanne Cathedral was built in the 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 flocked for the statue of the Virgin Mary. However, during the Reformation, when the decoration of churches began to be considered improper, the entire interior was plundered and the statue was melted down. But still now you can admire the organ and see the rose stained glass windows. It is also a viewpoint of the entire city and the lake.
Zermatt and the Matterhorn are rightfully considered one of the best Swiss resorts. In winter it is a popular (and of the most expensive) place for skiing, and in summer – for hiking. To see not only Zermatt, but also the surrounding area – untouched nature and alpine landscapes, you should take the Ice Express. This is a train with special panoramic carriages, following the mountain railway from St. Moritz and Davos to Zermatt through three hundred bridges and a hundred tunnels.
Lake Lugano is located in Italian-speaking region of Switzerland and not far from lake Como. The lake is considered one of the main resorts in the country and the pearl of Ticino canton. You can book a circular cruise to the neighboring coast – to Italy, the cities of Morcota and Melida. There is also a bridge across the lake, where the St. Gotthard Railway goes to the Alps.
Famous Gruyère cheese is from Gruyère region near Montreux. Gruyères Castle is the medieval castle that was once an important strategic point in the wars of the 12th-16th centuries. Later it became a residence and has turned from a castle to a big palace. The castle was sold by the owners only in the 1930s, after which a museum appeared here. In the museum you can see how people lived from medieval times to the 20th century, because it has perfectly preserved interiors and household items, as well as many unusual historical exhibits.
Cathedral of Bern
Bern Cathedral was founded in the 13th century and, according to the original design, was to be built in the Romanesque style. But the construction was delayed, and the Gothic style began to prevail. So, in the 16th-19th centuries it was entirely rebuilt in the Gothic style. Above the entrance there is a large bas-relief on the theme of the Last Judgment. Like many Protestant churches, its exterior is much richer than its interior. Almost all of the interior decoration was removed during the Reformation, as the church decoration did not correspond to reform ideas. Despite this, you should still go into the cathedral to see the stained glass windows, carved choirs and sculptures. The theme of one of the stained glass windows, as well as the theme of the bas-relief, is dedicated to death and is called “Dance of Death”, where a skeleton demands human sacrifices. Berne Cathedral, along with Lausanne and Basel, are the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in Switzerland.
The Rhaetian Railway is known as one of the most picturesque roads in the world. It runs through the highlands from Landquart through Davos and St. Moritz. The challenges of the alpine high mountain landscape required engineering skill and careful design: the road passes through 55 tunnels and 200 viaducts. Despite the fact that this route is popular among tourists, it is also in great demand among the local population, connecting remote mountain areas with large cities and helping to get to the ski slopes.
Lake Lucerne is rich in resorts for a relaxing holiday. You can admire the lake from a beautiful city Lucerne, as well as the small towns of Bürgenstock and Weggis. By the way, the history of Switzerland began in this region – the first three cantons were founded here. The area is surrounded by the high Central Alps, which give Lucerne and other coastal areas a mild climate.
The Great Aletsch Glacier, which is 25 kilometers long, is a natural phenomenon and a protected national park. The force of the glacier once formed the canyon that surrounds it, but now the ice is gradually melting. Being a unique natural phenomenon and one of the cleanest glaciers in the world, it was included in the World Heritage List. You can see it from the top of Eggishorn, and the easiest way to get there is from Bern.
The Alps mountains in the south of the country have many viewpoints from which breathtaking mountain scenery opens. To see all their diversity, you can drive through the commune of Innertkirchen, stop by St. Gotthard and Adermatt. Along the way you will see snowy peaks, mountain lakes, and green valleys. This trip can become a part of the Bern-Lugano route.
Basel Town Hall
The Town Hall in Basel is a unique building with many decorative details and frescoes. It was built in the 1500s, the clocks are from the 16th century. The paintings on the walls of the courtyard are dedicated tothe Last Judgment. The Town Hall is the most notable example of the Basel architecture, but there are also many attractions you should see: Basel cathedral, Old Town and museums.
Valères Castle near Sion was once a large defensive complex and it still looks like an impregnable fortress. It consists of a cathedral built in the 12th century, gates, towers and bridges. In the Middle Ages, the castle was the spiritual center of the region, but by the 19th century it had lost its former significance and fell into disrepair. After reconstruction, Valères reopened and is now a museum with archaeological exhibits that allow you to learn more about the history of the site. The basilica preserves frescoes, statues and an organ.
The terraced vineyards of Lavaux between Lausanne and Vevey are the main wine-growing center of the country. In addition to the fact that this is a picturesque place on the Lake Geneva shore, you can come here for a tour and wine tasting.
Benedictine monastery of St. John Müstair
The monastery was founded in VIII by order of Charlemagne and is located in the village of Müstair, not far from Davos. The monastery’s cathedral is a true monument to Carolingian Renaissance art. The unique frescoes of the cathedral were found only in the 19th century, as they were painted over. Now in the monastery you can see paintings from the 8th-10th centuries, the carved ceiling from the 14th century and the sculptures from the 17th century.
There are several options I would highly recommend across the country: hotel in the historical building in Zurich The Dolder Grand, The Chedi Andermatt in the mountains, Mandarin Oriental in Geneva with lake views, Matterhorn FOCUS Design Hotel in Zermatt.