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Switzerland is a small country, but it’s a place with big mountains, big culture, and big opportunities for travelers. Here you can spend time in cosmopolitan cities to explore the museums and culinary scene, then head to the colorful villages to learn about life as a Swiss local and take in the beautiful scenery. These are our favorite things to see and do in Switzerland!
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The Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains in Switzerland, but it really stands out for its unique shape and role in mountaineering history. Standing at 4,478 meters tall (14,692 feet), this highly photographed mountain draws in alpinists from all over the world to summit to the top. It’s located near Zermatt, one of Europe’s most beautiful mountain towns, which is very pedestrian-friendly and a year-round destination for skiers and hikers. The best and most scenic way to get here is by train, and once you arrive, all vehicles in the city are required to be battery-operated. It’s also fun to take a cable car ride in Zermatt to get to the other mountains for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.
One of the most memorable things you’ll ever do in Switzerland, the Bernina Express takes you on a journey through the Swiss Alps. This train route will take you through alpine scenery, historical sites, and you’ll see amazing views around every turn. The route goes from the town of Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy and crosses the canton of Graubünden on a ride that takes about four hours. Alternatively, you can take a route from Davos for a 15-minute ride or a ride from St. Moritz for about a two-hour ride. But the full route is definitely the best one to take if you have the time. The first section overlaps with a section of the Glacier Express Route, the second section offers views of the highest peaks in the region, and the third section offers views of the southern scenery along Lakes Lugano and Como via bus to Lugano.
Geneva is an international city that’s known for its role in the United Nations and the International Red Cross. But the city itself is also full of interesting attractions, including a collection of lovely parks. One of the best ways to get to know Geneva is to take a boat ride out on Lake Geneva and experience it from the water. This is one of the largest lakes on the continent, and it offers amazing views of the surrounding cities and towns, as well as the Alps and Jura mountain ranges, which are great for skiing and hiking depending, on the season. It’s also fun to explore the Vaud wineries because there are many vineyards that surround Lake Geneva.
Interlaken is known as the adventure sport capital of the world, and this resort area offers so many things to do for people who love getting active outdoors. Start your journey at the Bernese Oberland region for your adventures. This is also a popular resort area because of the spas and fresh mountain air that’s unique to this part of the world. Interlaken is a very popular place to go hang gliding, kayaking, paragliding, river rafting, jet boating, and hiking. There are many local guide companies here that will set you up with the gear you need to be safe and have an unforgettable time.
The Old Town part of the city of Bern, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is definitely a great place to visit when you plan a trip to Switzerland. Here you’ll find the Bern Minster, which is an iconic Gothic cathedral and beautiful town hall. While in Bern, you can also see the Zytglogge, which is a famous clock tower with moving puppets. This is also an ideal area for travelers who love to shop for souvenirs, gifts, and personal items to take back home. Other top things to do here include the weekly market and Bear Park, which celebrates the city’s animal symbol.
The largest plain waterfall in all of Europe is Rhine Falls, which is near Schaffhausen and in the northern part of the country. Here you can watch the Falls from a viewing deck and see the falls drop around 500 feet down. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can even rent a canoe and head out on the water. You can even reach the castles of Wörth and Laufen by boat from this area. There are boat tours offered by local companies to get you closer to the Falls, and these tours typically operate between April and October.
Another lake worth visiting during your time in Switzerland is Lake Lucerne. This region is in the German-speaking part of the country and is incredibly beautiful. The city of Lucerne is also known for its Chapel Bridge and Water Tower. Come here for picture-perfect postcard views and a lovely charm that will make you fall in love with Swiss culture. Consider taking a boat cruise on a historic paddle steamer or salon motor vessel to really experience this lake. It’s a perfect way to spend a mild summer’s day or evening with the lights of town making the water glisten with magic. You can also combine a boat ride with a walk along the Swiss Path to learn about the history of the country.
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and is a favorite spot among art and culture enthusiasts. There are so many museums and art galleries here that it would be impossible to see them all in just one trip. One highly recommended thing to do in Zurich is to explore the Old Town area, known as Altstadt. This area is home to the Swiss National Museum, the Kunsthaus Zürich (Museum of Art), the Fraumünster Church (Minister of Our Lady), and Bahnhofstrasse (shopping avenue). It’s also interesting to admire the unique architecture of the buildings here and experience the city’s hip nightlife scene. It’s easy to get to and from Old Town via city tram.