From major cities to charming hamlets, Switzerland is one of Europe’s most delightful travel destinations. You can find bustling city energy in Zurich. Adventurous travelers can explore the mountains for thrills in the Alps. Food connoisseurs can find chocolate, cheeses, and wines in Lavaux or Gruyere. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll find something incredible on our list of the 15 best places to visit in Switzerland.
Immerse yourself in Zurich
As the largest city in Switzerland, you’ll always have somewhere to go in Zurich. Explore the city’s historic sights, like the town hall or Romanesque-style church Grossmünster. Make your way to Niederdorf and Paradeplatz for some Swiss people watching. Window-shop along Bahnhofstrasse before making your way to the Kunsthaus Zurich museum to appreciate some incredible and historic art.
Let loose in Lausanne
Lausanne has been home to the International Olympic Committee for over 100 years. While the Olympic Museum is worth a visit, there is more to this city than sport. Make your way up the 300-plus steps of the wooden Sauvabelin Tower for photo ops like no other. After touring the Lausanne Cathedral, make sure to explore the La Cité neighborhood for its boutiques and cafés. If you’re out late enough, you might hear the night watchman carrying out a 600-year-old tradition.
Hit the lake in Lucerne
Lucerne may be the heart of Switzerland due to its central location, but it’s also one of the most charming destinations in the country. Strolling around the city, you’ll walk past striking structures and gorgeous lake views. The 13th-century Musegg Wall protected the city from invaders for centuries. The poignant Lion Monument—the Lion of Lucerne—commemorates Swiss soldiers who fought in the French Revolution. And the iconic Chapel Bridge and Water Tower are both must-see sights in the city. Take a cruise or boat tour around the beautiful Lake Lucerne to see the bridges and towers from the water.
Get your food fix in Gruyères
While you may not want to eat them both at the same time, Gruyères is world-famous for its cheeses and chocolates. La Maison du Gruyere reveals how to make their savory cheese, along with samples to tempt your taste buds for more. Got more of a sweet tooth? Head over to La Maison Cailler. Here, Switzerland’s oldest chocolate factory shows that practice makes perfect after almost two hundred years.
Fall in love with Rhine Falls
Impressive may be an understatement for Rhine Falls. Europe’s largest waterfall thunders by, even more imposing as it dwarfs Laufen Castle on the left bank and Worth Castle on the right. Almost 150 meters wide, 75 meters high, and more than 15,000 years old, the waterfall is a sight to behold. We don’t recommend you try climbing here, but eels regularly make their way up the falls. After witnessing Europe’s largest waterfall, you may want to see Switzerland’s largest miniature world at Smilestones, where you can see a miniature version of the falls.
Go big at Interlaken
Visitors often use Interlaken as a jumping-off point for mountain vacation. You don’t have to travel far to find breathtaking experiences between the two lakes of this region. Test how far your eyes can see from the observation deck at Harder Kulm,. Explore the otherworldly ruins of Weissenau Castle along Lake Thun. Find unexpected delights shopping along Hoheweg Street as you make your way to the Höhematte Park.
See the beautiful St. Gallen
Beginning with only a monastery, St. Gallen is now a thriving city full of old-world charm and youthful creativity. St. Gallen Abbey is the anchor, with a Baroque cathedral, an exceptional library, and a 2,700-year-old Egyptian mummy. Make your way to the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen and the Textile Museum to appreciate the city’s lively art scene. To enjoy some of the city’s delicious treats, stop by Maestrani’s Chocolarium. Swiss chocolate is famous, and here you can watch it made before decorating your own chocolate bar as a tasty souvenir. Once you’ve had your fill of chocolate, head to Säntispark Freizeit to relax at the saunas, fountains, and wave pools.
Visit the incredible Vevey
Uncover why Charlie Chaplin made Vevey his home for over two decades. Stand by his statue looking out on the Fork of Vevey that sticks out of Lake Geneva. Part of a museum in Vevey, this fork statue became the world’s tallest fork in 2014. Make a visit to Chaplin’s World, a celebration of the actor’s life and works. Stop by the Swiss Camera Museum, the perfect place to appreciate the “city of images.” If you have time, take a side trip to Lavaux. Hop on a winery tour or enjoy the catch of the day, Swiss style, with a dinner of Filet de Perche.
Venture into the Swiss Alps
Some say that no journey to Switzerland is complete without climbing the Swiss Alps. Ascend Mount Pilatus for sweeping scenes of Lake Lucerne and beyond. A revolving cable car up to Mount Titlis offers a never-ending feast for the eyes (or your camera). Take the Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 and walk on the world’s first suspension bridge between two mountain peaks—suspended at almost 3,000 meters above sea level. If you’re still looking for a thrill, take a helicopter 4,500 meters up Eiger Mountain and skydive down.
Discover a little of Lugano
Lugano is a small town that has big beauty: A crystal clear lake on one side, mountains on the other, and stunning architecture in between. The town center doesn’t allow vehicles, so walking tours are ideal for exploring and stopping often for pictures. There are galleries and museums galore that nicely capture the region’s cultural history. The simply named church features outstanding murals from one of da Vinci’s students. And the Gandria Olive Trail footpath takes you on a gorgeous lakeside walk accented with olive groves. For pristine panoramas and another quaint village visit, take the funicular up to Monte Brè.
Explore the adorable Appenzell
The quaint, traditional village of Appenzell is the capital of the smallest canton, or district, in Switzerland. Walking around the town, the colorfully painted chalets will make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. A cable car up to Hoher Kasten Mountain will add to the charm, where you’ll look out onto the village and the Rhine Valley. Back in the village, visit a bakery to try the local treat—Appenzeller Biberli—gingerbread filled with almond paste.
Jump into Jungfrau
Jungfrau is not the highest point in Europe, but it does have the highest-altitude train station in Europe. That is still no small feat, and it’s an incredible spot to visit any time of year. Movie buffs may prefer reenacting scenes from a James Bond movie on Schilthorn. Make sure to soak in the Alpine views as you gaze out at the Aletsch Glacier.
Bounce all over Basel
Whether you love the old or new, Basel will deliver. The historic town center is car-free, but you don’t have to walk if you don’t want to. You can take a vintage streetcar through the city, although you may want to take your time strolling through the Botanical Gardens. Be on the lookout for Jean Tinguely’s Carnival Fountain. The fountain moves and spouts water, made to look like the theater performers who used to stand in that same spot. There are over 40 museums, ranging from traditional art history museums, a working paper mill museum, and a medical history museum. Wander toward the Rhine for a trip back to Roman times at the Augusta Raurica. Explore a house from the Roman Empire era, then stand in the theater and imagine watching gladiators fighting for honor.
Make your way to Montreux
Sitting on the Swiss Riviera, Montreux lets you feel like the rich and the famous. The Montreux Jazz Festival established the town as a cultural mecca as well; Freddie Mercury is a famous resident. Take a walk along the many quays to find his statue along with other surprises. Yes, you might find Alex the Lion from Madagascar in plant form. Finally, go old-school with a paddle steamer ride to Chillon Castle, where you’ll see how the Counts of Savoy lived for hundreds of years. Indulge in an authentic, traditional Swiss fondue treat as you look over Montreux from Lavaux Hills.
Find your bearings in Bern
Discover Bern’s whimsical side. Soak in the fountains, pun somewhat intended. See how many of the 100 fountains you can find. There are the modern interactive fountains in front of Parliament, and then there are the 16th-century fountains, depicting characters like Lady Justice and the Child Eater. Since the city’s name derives from bears, also keep an eye out for bears in the fountains (artwork, not actual bears) and in the clock tower performance. Then visit the Bear Park to see some actual bears and learn how the animal has been an important part of the city’s history.