best places to visit in switzerland

24+ Best Places to Visit in Switzerland [in 2023]

Switzerland is so much more than just ski slopes and green pastures, though it certainly has enough of these to bring any The Sound of Music-inspired traveler’s vision to life in a heartbeat! Travelers are often surprised to find just how much diversity there is to be found among the best things to see and do in Switzerland, from medieval fortresses and plunging waterfalls to award-winning restaurants with rich international cuisines.

Planning an unforgettable trip to some of the most beautiful destinations in Switzerland? From tiny mountain villages in the Swiss Alps to the largest, most cosmopolitan cities in Switzerland, these are the best places to visit in Switzerland on your trip.

grindelwald mountain view

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Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

1. Grindelwald

Step off the train in Grindelwald, nestled in the shadow of the north face of the majestic Eiger, and be blown away by the stunning mountain views: you’ve arrived somewhere truly special. With its perfect combination of the quaint charm of a mountain village and the attractions to keep you busy for days, Grindelwald is easily among the best places to visit in Switzerland

There’s plenty to do in Grindelwald, making it a destination you’ll want to spend at least three or four days exploring. The town is small, but an impressive network of nearby hiking trails, skiing slopes, adventure sports activities, and even a growing culinary scene means there is more than enough here for visitors.

Grindelwald is also an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the stunning Jungfrau Region, considered the most classically Swiss area of the country with its dramatic mountains and quaint mountain towns in the Alps. Excellent connectivity to nearby places to visit in Switzerland and stunning surroundings make it an ideal destination.

Where To Stay in Grindelwald

jungfraujoch switzerland
Courtesy of Jungfrau Region

2. Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe

The highest railway station in Europe, the impressive Jungfraujoch will take your breath away – literally and figuratively. Part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jungfraujoch is dramatically perched over Europe’s largest glacier where it enjoys snow year-round and expansive views you have to see to believe.

After riding the Eiger Express cable car from Grindelwald Terminal and the railway, there is plenty to do upon arrival. Take in the views from the Sphinx Observation Deck before heading down to the glacier where you can enjoy a hot chocolate overlooking the glacier or innertube down the slopes. An ice palace with dramatic ice sculptures is yet another favorite with kids and adults alike.

Jungfraujoch is among the most popular places to visit in Switzerland on a day trip for travelers on a short Switzerland itinerary. While it’s best experienced with plenty of time to spare and a night in Grindelwald afterward, it’s a destination you won’t want to skip, no matter how quick your trip is.

Where To Stay Near Jungfraujoch

Jungfrau Travel Pass

If you’re heading to the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, you’ll need the Jungfrau Travel Pass. Purchase passes online for unlimited access to the region’s trains, cable cars, and funiculars – trust us, you’ll need it!

zurich switzerland

3. Zurich

Start your visit to the largest city in Switzerland in the heart of the city’s romantic old town at Lindenhof for views overlooking the river and charming historic center. From here it’s clear why this bustling if refined city is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.

Visitors will want to spend several hours exploring the Zurich historic center with its treasures like Grossmünster Church and the opposing Fraumünster Church, home to stained glass windows painted by Marc Chagall. However, upscale and modern areas of the city like the Bahnhofstrasse with its world-class shopping offer even more reasons to stick around after touching down in Zurich.

You’ll have no problem finding gorgeous, if expensive, accommodations in Zurich. This cosmopolitan city is home to everything from modern boutique hotels to historic spots. Just a short drive from town, the historic Dolder Grand with its extensive spa and hillside city views reigns as the city’s luxury destination supreme.

Where To Stay in Zurich

Eva Bocek / Shutterstock

4. Lucerne

On the edge of the Alps and in the shadow of some of the country’s most impressive mountains, Lucerne is one of the preferred cities for travelers in Switzerland, with plenty of charm and beauty to spare.

Lucerne’s Altstadt Old Town is particularly idyllic, home to a 14th-century wall known as Museggmauer (Musegg Wall) with nine original towers. The covered, wooden Chapel Bridge, also known as Kapellbrücke, is one of the city’s most famous destinations; adorned with flowers in the summer, it’s a gorgeous, classically Swiss spot travelers shouldn’t miss.

Travelers should also plan to visit nearby mountains Pilatus and Rigi, each offering panoramic views over the lake and surrounding Alps. Both are accessible via either train or cable car from their surrounding towns. The fairytale village of Weggis sits below Mount Rigi, offering a combination of cable car and railway access to the summit that makes for a particularly memorable journey.

Where To Stay in Lucerne

bern switzerland
bloodua / Depositphotos

5. Bern

Switzerland’s capital city and the seat of its government, Bern is best known by many for its ties to science, having inspired Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While the Einstein House and Einstein Museum are still some of Bern’s most popular attractions, this charming and historically significant city on the edge of the Bernese Alps has much more to offer visitors.

Bern’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated as such both for its impressive beauty and medieval foundations, which are remarkably well preserved. Embark on a self-guided walking tour of town before climbing to the top of the tower in Bern’s cathedral for the best views of the Aare River and the surrounding countryside.

One must-visit destination in Bern is its infamous bear pit. Bears have been kept on display in Bern since 1513, after the city’s founder, Duke Berthold V von Zähringen, vowed to name the town after the first animal he killed in a hunt. The modern enclosure is much more animal-friendly than it was in years past, making a visit to the city’s most unique if polarizing attraction is a must.

Where To Stay in Bern

Travel Essential

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chateau de chillon
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6. Château de Chillon

Head east along the shores of Lake Geneva until you hit Montreux’s stunning Château de Chillon, a site occupied since the Bronze Age whose existing construction dates back to the 1100s. This historic property is considered one of the most well-preserved medieval castles in all of Europe, easily earning it a spot among the best places to visit in Switzerland.

Château de Chillon is considered the most visited historic monument in Switzerland, dramatically suspended over the lake once only accessible by a drawbridge. It has an incredibly rich history, making guided tours of the property a must. Visitors can explore countless rooms and chambers, courtyards, and spaces that also hold frequent events, concerts, and exhibitions.

Many visitors enjoy Château de Chillon as a day trip from Geneva, though lakeside accommodations in Montreux make for a laidback escape and welcome retreat from the city. It’s one of the reasons that Montreux makes our list of the best cities in Switzerland for travelers.

Where To Stay Near Château de Chillon

Oliver Foerstner / Shutterstock

7. Zermatt

One of the most well-known ski resort towns in Switzerland, Zermatt is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts and adventurous travelers looking for the ultimate Alpine ski experience. This car-free village filled with timber chalets is among the most picturesque towns in Switzerland.

With 53 different ski lifts serving more than 200 miles (323 kilometers) of slopes in the Zermatt resort area, there’s no better destination for skiers in the Alps. An impressive array of shops, restaurants, and bars in town are more than enough to keep non-skiers busy.

Zermatt is also famed for its location below the iconic Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in Switzerland if not the world. Visitors will get views of the mountain’s nearly symmetrical pyramidal peak from ski lifts and hiking trails throughout town. Take the Gornergrat Bahn railway to the summit of nearby Gornergrat mountain for incredible Matterhorn views and a scenic journey along the way.

Where To Stay in Zermatt

st moritz
Jan Kokes / Shutterstock

8. St. Moritz

The town of St. Moritz has long been the posh winter playground of Europe’s elite. Its storied streets have welcomed everyone from movie stars to sports stars – St. Moritz hosted two Winter Olympic Games years ago – and continue to be one of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland.

While Zermatt offers a pure paradise for winter sports enthusiasts and a small Alpine village feel, St. Moritz is much more upscale and grand, with luxe hotels and a city-like feel. The skiing in St. Moritz is phenomenal as well, but it’s a destination that offers much more for the après ski fan as well, whether shopping, spas, or sightseeing are what you’re after.

Splurge on a luxury stay to get in the full St. Mortiz spirit at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel – it was named among The World’s 50 Best Hotels this year and has had a grand history since its opening more than a century ago.

Where To Stay in St. Moritz

Travel Essential

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san salvatore
gevision / Depositphotos

9. Lake Lugano

Situated on the Swiss-Italian border, glacier-fed Lake Lugano doesn’t quite match with many visitors’ vision of Switzerland. Its mild climate, laid-back Mediterranean vibe, and rich mix of gastronomic traditions make Lake Lugano a one-of-a-kind place to visit in Switzerland. That’s one of the best reasons to add it to your Switzerland itinerary.

A cruise along the lake is one of the best things to do when visiting Lake Lugano and the best way to take in all the region’s beauty.

Nearby mountains San Salvatore and Brè, though tiny in comparison to the snow-capped mountains of the Bernese Oberland, provide incredibly picturesque views of the lake and neighboring towns. Take a funicular up the side of either peak or drive up to the village of Ciona on the side of San Salvatore to enjoy one of the country’s most charming towns.

Where To Stay in Lugano

serge.krinitsa / Depositphotos

10. Oberhofen Castle

Just when you think the lakes embracing Interlaken couldn’t get any more idyllic, Oberhofen Castle will sweep you off your feet. Oberhofen Castle presides along the northern shore of Lake Thun, with over eight centuries of history.

Take a guided tour of the castle to explore its gorgeous interiors, offered in different languages throughout the day. Visitors will also want to spend time exploring the lush castle grounds, complete with an impressive orangery and gardener’s house, all offering vistas towards turquoise Lake Thun. It makes for an easy day trip from Interlaken or other destinations in the Jungfrau.

For a particularly immersive experience, you can even spend the night in Oberhofen Castle! Seven beautiful and individually decorated rooms allow overnight guests to enjoy a taste of nobility with stunning lakefront views to match.

Where To Stay Near Oberhofen Castle

sam741002 / Depositphotos

11. Geneva

The cosmopolitan lakefront city of Geneva is one of Europe’s most important capitals and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland for travelers. Home to the United Nations and an endless list of international organizations like the Red Cross and countless others, it’s a center for history, culture, and change unlike any other.

Geneva’s small but impressive historic center is worth a visit, with highlights like the 12th-century Cathédrale St-Pierre and Geneva’s central square known as Place du Bourg-de-Four. Even better, take a cruise along Lake Geneva to spot the city’s famous water fountain known as Jet d’Eau as well as stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside.

Read More: 15 Best Things To Do in Geneva, Switzerland

Where To Stay in Geneva

grindelwald first

12. First

It’s close enough to be an extension of Grindelwald, but First (pronounced “fear-st”) deserves its own mention among the best places to visit in Switzerland for all that it has to offer. The combination of some of the best views in the Jungfrau Region with a full day’s worth of activities and experiences designed to get your adrenaline pumping make it one of a kind.

Take the cable car from Grindelwald to the station at First early in the morning for a packed day of adventure. Start with an easy hike to Bachalpsee, a stunning Alpine lake framed by snow-capped peaks before heading to the First Cliff Walk to cross bridges suspended over canyons and cantilevered over the mountainside for unparalleled views of the north face of the Eiger.

After lunch at the mountaintop restaurant, enjoy the adventurous activities that will take you down the slopes and up again. A thrilling zipline and glider are for the truly adventurous, but don’t underestimate the other two activities on offer at First. Mountain carts, similar to non-motorized go-carts, get going fast down the side of the mountain, as do the trotti bikes that send you flying down the mountainside back into Grindelwald – these were some of my favorite things to do in Switzerland!

Read More: 20+ Best Things To Do in Grindelwald

Where To Stay Near First

lauterbrunnen swiss alps
Courtesy of Jungfrau Region

13. Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is a mountain village in the Swiss Alps considered among the most photogenic and recognizable destinations in Switzerland. Its historic church spire sits against plunging cliff faces and Staubbach Falls, offering visitors a breathtaking welcome to one of the most dramatic landscapes in Switzerland, home to a grand total of 72 different waterfalls.

Spend an hour or two soaking in the charm of Lauterbrunnen before heading out on one of the nearby hiking trails or Via Ferrata that pass along the sides of the valley’s sheer cliffs. The hike between the town of Wengen and Männlichen is perhaps the most scenic, and at just two hours it’s quite manageable even on a day trip to Lauterbrunnen.

Lauterbrunnen is really quite tiny. Despite its beauty and undeniable charm, many travelers prefer to stay in nearby Grindelwald, which has much more to offer in the way of accommodation, restaurants, and nearby attractions.

Where To Stay in Lauterbrunnen

Courtesy of Jungfrau Region

14. Mürren

A visit to Jungfrau is a staple on any Switzerland itinerary, particularly for first-time travelers to Switzerland looking for the classic beauty the Alpine country is known for. You’ll find the best of it in towns in the Swiss Alps like car-free Mürren, sitting in the shadow of some of Switzerland’s most famous mountains.

Spend time exploring and taking in the undeniable beauty of this mountain town before departing to some of the surrounding attractions, chief among them being the cable car to the summit of Schilthorn. Also known as Piz Gloria, this peak is known for being featured in a James Bond movie; an exhibit at its summit in the rotating restaurant is a must for fans of 007.

Where To Stay in Mürren

swiss national park
yulan / Depositphotos

15. Swiss National Park

With breathtaking natural beauty everywhere you look in Switzerland, you may ask yourself if a trip to Swiss National Park is worth it. It’s a question that will have a slightly different answer for every traveler, but this haven of fresh air and pine-studded mountains is undeniably one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.

Swiss National Park was founded in 1914 and is the oldest national park in the Alps. Nearly 50 miles (80 kilometers) of hiking trails and paths, which offer something for everyone from families to the most adventurous trekkers, offer the easiest way to explore the pristine areas within the park.

For a multi-day visit to Swiss National Park, base yourself in nearby Zernez for a day or two for the most hassle-free way to explore. Alternatively, Swiss National Park is just over 40 minutes away from the legendary ski resort of St. Moritz, making it within striking distance for an easy day trip.

Where To Stay Near Swiss National Park

Leonid_Andronov / Depositphotos

16. Basel

Basel is known as the cultural capital of Switzerland, and with over forty museums and numerous galleries, theaters, and event spaces, it handily earns the title. It’s one of the best places in Switzerland for culture and history-minded travelers, though it has even more to offer than you might imagine.

In addition to Basel’s cultural gems, it also has a gorgeous Old Town with beautiful, historic architecture. The city’s central square with its vibrant red town hall should be just the start of a self-guided walking tour that is a must for any visitor.

From Basel, embark on a cruise along the Rhine River all the way to Amsterdam. This riverfront city is the departure point for most cruises along the Rhine, yet another reason it’s among the best places to visit in Switzerland, whether you’re heading out on a cruise or not.

If you visit during the festive season in late November or December, a visit to Basel’s Christmas market is a must. It’s considered among the best Christmas markets in Europe and is one of the most beloved in Switzerland.

Where To Stay in Basel

rhine falls
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17. The Rhine Falls

Just a stone’s throw from the Swiss-German border and along Europe’s most famous river, the Rhine Falls are one of the most famous attractions in Switzerland in the northern part of the country.

Granted, these falls are no Iguazú, but Europe’s largest volume waterfall is certainly one to impress. Take a boat ride through the churning water or stroll along viewing platforms on the south side of the river for the most spectacular views, adding in a stop at nearby Schloss Laufen (Laufen Castle) for good measure.

The Rhine Falls are just a short drive to Stein am Rhein (another one of the best places to visit in Switzerland!), meaning that an overnight in the area will allow you to take in the beauty of both spots without feeling rushed. Stay overnight in Schaffhausen, Stein Am Rhein, or even within eyeshot of the falls!

Where To Stay Near the Rhine Falls

towns in the swiss alps

18. Interlaken

While the word Interlaken means between lakes, the name of this stunning city in Switzerland doesn’t convey the incredible beauty that its lakeside setting adds to one of the most popular places to visit in Switzerland. A haven for those seeking adventurous activities like paragliding and panoramic hikes at the Harder Kulm, Interlaken will truly take your breath away.

For many travelers, Interlaken is the gateway to the Jungfrau Region, one of the most picturesque areas of the country and among the best places to visit in Switzerland. Easily accessible from transportation hubs like Zurich, Interlaken is an easy addition to a Switzerland itinerary.

You may start your Jungfrau journey in Interlaken, but don’t let this be the last place you visit! Mountain towns like Mürren and Lauterbrunnen are some of the most enchanting fairytale villages in the country, while attractions like Jungfraujoch and panoramic viewpoints like Grindelwald First and Schynige Platte are more than memorable.

Where To Stay in Interlaken

fotoember / Depositphotos

19. Engelberg

The ski resort town of Engelberg doesn’t have nearly the international name recognition of towns like Zermatt or St. Moritz, but savvy travelers looking for a winter paradise in Switzerland know there’s no better destination. In the shadow of Mt. Titlis, Engelberg boasts some of the country’s best skiing.

Engelberg is also a particularly family-friendly destination, with delightful sledding and toboggan runs alongside kid-friendly beginners’ slopes and even summer activities programming that families will enjoy.

Engelberg is also home to an impressive Benedictine monastery that has been in use since 1120 and is still home to monks to this day! Take a guided tour of the sanctuary and its charming gardens; the colorful frescos in the church are breathtaking, as is its idyllic location surrounded by snow-capped peaks.

Where To Stay in Engelberg

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20. Bellinzona

Nestled along Switzerland’s southern border, the town of Bellinzona feels like it was plucked straight out of Italy. Close enough to be a day trip destination from Milan, it’s one of the best places to visit in Switzerland for a Mediterranean-feeling escape.

Bellinzona is best known for having not just one but three medieval castles, part of a fortress system from the 1500s designed to protect the territory against the city-states in northern Italy. Spend the day hopping from one to another or choosing just one to visit. We recommend Sasso Corbaro for its impressive views, though they’re all thoroughly impressive and were designed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

From Bellinzona, head to other memorable destinations in the Ticino border region, including stunning Lake Lugano. Don’t skip the journey to the peak of San Salvatore, among the most beautiful mountains in Switzerland, for sweeping vistas over the lake.

Where To Stay in Bellinzona

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21. Stein Am Rhein

The small town of Stein Am Rhein is a charming destination best known for its classically Swiss half-timbered medieval architecture. However, it’s the ornately painted facades of these historic buildings clustered around Stein Am Rhein’s Old Town that distinguish it from other Swiss towns and villages.

In addition to its impressive age-old architecture, Stein Am Rhein has a number of historic monuments worth a visit: a former Benedictine monastery known as St. George’s Abbey and the medieval Hohenklingen Castle are both impossibly old and impressively well-preserved. The castle boasts dramatic views over the rest of the town.

A visit to the nearby Rhine Falls while you’re in the area is a must; just twenty minutes down the river, it’s the perfect stop to cap off a day trip to the area from nearby Zurich. Or, if you’re looking for more places to visit in Switzerland nearby, head onward to charming St. Gallen or Appenzell and nearby Säntis mountain, one of Switzerland’s most distinctive peaks.

Where To Stay Near Stein Am Rhein

emmental valley switzerland

22. Emmental Valley

Foodies will immediately recognize the Emmental Valley as the home to emmental cheeses and know why this lush green valley is among the best places to visit in Switzerland. The local dairy industry is still a vital part of the economy here which means visitors are in for some of the freshest cheeses in Switzerland.

Located between Lucerne and Bern, the Emmental Valley hasn’t really felt the impact of tourism for the most part, giving it a strong local feel that will be refreshing compared to some more popular areas of Switzerland you may want to visit during your trip. Rolling green hills, rather than dramatic mountains, make for unique scenery and the perfect destination for biking and hiking.

In addition to tasting as much local cheese as you manage, make sure to visit the small village of Trub. This tiny town was voted the most beautiful place in Switzerland in 2019 and is one of a handful of towns considered a Swiss Heritage Site of national importance.

Where To Stay in the Emmental Valley

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23. Gruyères

Gruyères is yet another particularly cheesy and perfectly delicious destination in Switzerland, but it has plenty to offer beyond its historic dairy traditions. Start your visit to Gruyères at La Maison du Gruyeres for a visit to observe cheese production and try samples before spending the rest of the day exploring the rest that this charming town has to offer.

Gruyères is among the best cities in Switzerland for visitors thanks to its charming medieval center and all the things to do in the town’s vicinity as well.

Historic Gruyères Castle dates back to the 1200s and is one of the most famous and recognizable castles in Switzerland, while numerous hiking paths and trails (we recommend Les Grands Chemins!) surround the town. Whether as a day trip from Bern or a dedicated destination on you’re itinerary, this is one of the places to visit in Switzerland you won’t want to miss.

Where To Stay in Gruyères

Mor65 / Depositphotos

24. Appenzell

Located on the eastern edge of Switzerland, just minutes from the tiny independent principality of Lichtenstein, tiny Appenzell feels off the beaten path among the many overwhelmingly popular places to visit in Switzerland that make this list. However, its gorgeous, rolling countryside dotted with traditional villages and an array of world-class hiking paths handily earns it a spot among Switzerland’s best destinations.

The hike to Seealpsee, an Alpine lake, is a particularly memorable yet doable trek in the area. After reaching the lake, continue on to the idyllic Berggasthaus Äscher guest house, built perilously into the side of a sheer mountain face. It’s worth the effort to reach it!

While the more rural areas of this corner of Switzerland can be more challenging to explore without a vehicle, basing yourself in the village of Appenzell, which is well connected by train, makes for a hassle-free carless vacation.

Where To Stay in Appenzell

Places to Visit in Switzerland

More than just a destination for skiing, cheese fondue, and soaring mountain views, Switzerland offers a diverse range of bustling cities, lively towns, and mountain villages with something to appeal to the interests of every traveler. No matter where your Switzerland itinerary takes you, you’re in for a memorable stay in one of Europe’s most idyllic destinations.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.