When you hear of Switzerland, chances are you think of the famous cities of Geneva and Zurich. While definitely beautiful and worth seeing, however, these cities will not give you the full Swiss experience. So what other places in Switzerland would you definitely not want to miss?
As most tourists would tell you, Switzerland is all about its snow-capped peaks and quaint villages. Its old world charm and idyllic scenery make for its extreme popularity. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s modern and comfortable transportation system makes it extremely easy to explore its numerous tourist spots.
Sitting smack straight in the middle of Germany, Italy, and France, Switzerland features a wonderful and harmonious fusion of different cultures and influences. The following are five of the most beautiful places in Switzerland which you should definitely visit.
Zurich is located in north-central Switzerland, just north of Lake Zurich. It is the largest city in Switzerland and is among the world’s largest financial centers, making it a popular destination of businessmen from all over the world.
Despite being an urbanized financial center, Zurich remains a sight to behold, with its numerous architectural highlights, churches, and artworks. Niederdorf, the popular promenade in Zurich's Old Town, features an array of culinary delights and market booths and gives a good view of Grossmünster.
The Grossmünster church is a famous landmark in Zurich, the church rumored to have been built on the graves of Felix and Regula, the city’s patron saints. Also located at the city’s center is Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s shopping boulevard where you can buy anything from artworks to clothes.
Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland and is located south of Lake Geneva, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Geneva is a global center for diplomacy, housing the headquarters of both Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross, in addition to over 200 international organizations.
Best known for its cosmopolitan flair, Geneva entices tourists with its international cuisine and scenic view. Surrounded by the Alps and the Jura mountains, its panoramic view balances the metropolis’ urban grit, as can be seen in the Rhône’s industrial shores teeming with local neighborhood bars.
Geneva is frequented by tourists and artists alike, with international artists performing in the Grand Théâtre and Geneva Opera House. For the artsy, Geneva features different museums, including the Musée international de l'horlogerie and the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Particularly noteworthy is Geneva’s landmark, the 140-meter high Jet d’eau located at Geneva’s lakefront. Near the Jet d’eau is the famous Pâquis Bath, a bustling meeting point that offers a great view of the lake, as well as a variety of different activities.
You can take the Geneva Wine Trail, the longest vineyard walk in Switzerland. Visit the Rive Droite and pass through Satigny, Switzerland’s largest wine-growing village. From there, you can go to Entre Arve et Rhône through the “champagne region” and the Entre Arve et Lac through Geneva’s historic villages.
While Geneva and Zurich are must-see places in Switzerland, your experience isn’t really complete until you have visited the country’s less-populated towns. One such town is Interlaken, a stark contrast to the bustling commercial centers of Geneva and Zurich.
Interlaken is a small resort town lying on an alluvial plain, surrounded by the glistening Lakes Thun and Brienz. You can cruise on these pristine lakes aboard excursion boats, and stop at the western end of Lake Thun to explore its medieval Old Town and the famous lakeside castle filled with historic artifacts.
If you intend to spend a few days in Interlaken, the best place to stay is in one of the hotels strewn along Höheweg, a boulevard connecting Interlaken’s East and West train stations. Being the town’s social meeting place, Höheweg is frequented by tourists and locals alike.
Aside from offering a wonderful view of the Jungfrau and being surrounded by colorful flower beds, Höheweg also features a variety of souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and gardens. With its collection of restaurants and number of shading trees, it is an ideal place for strolling and relaxing.
Come winter, Interlaken transforms into a winter wonderland with vistas of the Alps. Hailed as the adventure capital of Switzerland, Interlaken has a lot of mountain railways, cable cars, and lifts, allowing skiers and hikers alike to easily reach slopes and navigate dense hiking trails around the area.
Lucerne is a city in central Switzerland, located in the German-speaking part of the country. While it does not offer a great view of the Alps as Interlaken does, it is surrounded by a mountainous panorama and has a beautiful lakeside setting, it being located just at the north end of Lake Lucerne.
Known for its great music, tourists flock to Lucerne to see the performances of leading soloists, orchestras, and conductors during music festivals. The summer music festival is an event highlight, but mini-festivals and various performances occur throughout the year.
More than its music, Lucerne is in itself a city worth seeing, with its well-preserved medieval architecture and historic buildings. Particularly noteworthy are two wooden covered bridges, Kapellbrücke and Spreuerbrück, which both run across the River Reuss.
Lucerne also houses Switzerland’s first large church which was constructed in the Baroque style. Built for the Jesuits in the 1660s, the Jesuit church on the left bank of Reuss features a painted ceiling and ornate faux marble side altars, courtesy of its Rococo style update in 1750.
Looking straight out of a storybook, the Museggmauer or the town walls remains an imposing structure along the north side of Lucerne’s old town. Built between 1350 and 1408, nine towers were constructed in differing styles, with four towers open to tourists and offering great views of the landscape.
Equally astonishing is the city of Bern, the de facto capital and political center of Switzerland. Like Geneva, Bern is home to a number of international organizations and enterprises and has gained the reputation of being a place of science and research.
But more than just being a political center, Bern is also popular for being a picturesque medieval city dating back to 12th century. It is a well-preserved historic city and is, in fact, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city is decorated with numerous 16th-century fountains, grey-green sandstone facades, and historic towers, lending it its distinctive provincial air. The Zytglogge tower, Bern’s landmark medieval tower known for its moving puppets, used to serve as a clock tower, prison tower, prison, and a civic memorial.
Also worth visiting is the elevated Rose Garden above the Bear Park. The Rose Garden, home to hundreds of different roses, irises, and rhododendrons, is a haven for flower-lovers. A great place to unwind, the Rose Garden provides a spectacular view of the Old Town and River Aare.
Bern is also home to Das Berner Münster, Switzerland’s largest ecclesiastical building. The cathedral is one of the highlights of the Old Town’s architecture, and notable for its portal depicting the Last Judgment. Its 100-meter-high tower provides a great view of the Bernese Mitteland and Oberland.
Located right in the heart of Switzerland, Bern is a great place to stay overnight or to begin excursions across the country. Its superb transportation notwithstanding, this picture-perfect city is best explored on foot, giving one a better view of its picturesque streets and architecture.
Switzerland is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, with its charming mix of idyllic scenery and bustling centers. Truly an amalgamation of different cultures, Switzerland’s cities and towns are distinctively cosmopolitan and very welcoming to tourists from all over the world.
The five spots are just a few of the stunning sceneries in the country and if you have more time to spare, you might want to visit other spots across Switzerland as well. How about you? What are your favorite destinations in Switzerland? Share your travel stories and recommendations on Swiss tourist spots in the comments below.