Switzerland is packed with so much dramatic scenery and charming medieval villages it can be hard to choose where to go. Here is our complete guide to the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland.

By: Mark | Last Updated: 3 Apr 2024 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Snow-capped mountains overlook grassy meadows dotted with alpine flowers and picture-perfect villages. Steep-sided valleys house plunging waterfalls. Turquoise lakes reflect rugged rock faces.

Medieval cities and charming villages preserve a Switzerland rich with history and culture.

With so many unique places to visit in Switzerland, it can be hard to choose where to go.

After several visits to the Playground of Europe, we’ve put together 20 of the most beautiful and interesting places in Switzerland.

MAP – PLACES TO VISIT IN SWITZERLAND

Our selection of beautiful Swiss destinations are spread around the country. To help you plan a trip to Switzerland we’ve added them all to the below map.

For more inspiration, read our other Switzerland guides.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


1 – LUCERNE

Lucerne is a charming city in central Switzerland.

Medieval architecture, a crystal-clear lake and an alpine backdrop make it one of the most picturesque cities in the world.

Dating back 800 years, the Old Town is a maze of squares and narrow alleyways. The unique feature of Lucerne is the beautiful pastel frescoes adorning ornate buildings.

Lake Lucerne is where locals come to relax and it’s the perfect place to enjoy summer in Switzerland. Swim in the lake, stroll along its promenade, or enjoy long nights in a charming square.

Read more in our guide to the best things to do in Lucerne.

travel guide - best things to do in lucerne switzerland
JESUIT CHURCH, LUCERNE

WHAT TO DO? 

  • Explore Lucerne’s Old Town, a fairy-tale collection of medieval squares.
  • Walk the 14th-century wooden footbridge Kapellbrücke.
  • Climb the towers of the 870-metre-long Musegg Wall.
  • Visit the stunning Jesuit Church of St Francis Cavier.

WHERE TO STAY?

2 – JUNGFRAUJOCH

Known as the “Top of Europe’, the Jungfraujoch is one of the most visited Switzerland tourist attractions.

Part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jungfraujoch is located on the saddle between the Jungfrau (4,158m) and Mönch (4,110m) in the Bernese Alps.

One of the highlights is getting there. A cogwheel train climbs 1,400 metres in 35 minutes to deliver you to the Jungfraujoch Observation Station (3,454m).

At the summit, 4,000-metre-high peaks can be seen in almost every direction.

The Aletsch Glacier, the largest in the Alps, arcs away into the distance and you’ll often see hikers heading onto the snowy trails.

Inside there’s a range of different activities to keep you entertained.

But, in summer, strap on those hiking boots and hike to Mönchsjochhütte. It’s the best way to experience one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland.  

Jungfraujoch switzerland
ALETSCH GLACIER FROM JUNGFRAUJOCH

WHAT TO DO?

  • Explore the Ice Palace full of carved ice sculptures.
  • Hike across the snow to Mönchsjochhütte.
  • Watch the 360-degree Jungfrau Panorama cinematic experience.

WHERE TO STAY?

3 – LAUTERBRUNNEN VALLEY

The Lauterbrunnen Valley is deep in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland.

Sheer-sided walls rise from flat green meadows and in our opinion, it’s the most beautiful valley in Europe. 

Seventy-two majestic waterfalls cut the towering granite cliff walls which reach up to 400 metres. Some are thin wisps of spray, others are torrents of water fed from mighty glaciers.

There are plenty of ways to see it.  

Try a scenic hike from our guide to the best hikes in the Bernese Oberland, take a thoroughly scenic cable car ride, or have lunch in the beautiful village of Mürren perched on top of the valley walls.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take in the best views from the top of the Männlichen Cable Car Station.
  • Hike the valley from Stechelberg to Lauterbrunnen counting waterfalls.
  • Ride the scenic train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen.
  • Head underground to the powerful Trümmelbach Falls

WHERE TO STAY?

4 – GRINDELWALD – FIRST

The mountain village of Grindelwald occupies one of the most unique settings in Switzerland.

It’s surrounded by mountains, but the most dominant feature is Eiger (3,967m). The north face of this massive mountain has a vertical drop of 1,800 metres which attracts climbers from all over the world.

Many cable cars leave from Grindelwald and ascend the mountains, offering stunning views.

The newest is the Eiger Express which travels 6.5 kilometres in 15 minutes to Eigergletscher; a station under the towering summits.

On the other side of the valley, the First Cable Car heads up to an Alpine playground. From here, a short hike brings you to Bachalpsee – one of the most scenic lakes in Switzerland.

north face of the eiger switzerland
EIGERGLETSCHER, GRINDELWALD

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take the First Cliff Walk, a 300-metre metal walkway suspended on the side of a cliff under the cable car station.
  • Hike from First to Bachalpsee for spellbinding views of the lake in front of Wetterhorn.
  • Hike the Eiger Trail under the north face of the Eiger. (Details are in our Bernese Oberland hikes guide).
  • Try the zipline, gliders and tritti-bikes from First down to Grindelwald.

WHERE TO STAY?

5 – LAKE BRIENZ & LAKE THUN, INTERLAKEN

Lake Brienz and Lake Thun are two of the most beautiful lakes in the Bernese Oberland region. The adventure capital of Switzerland, Interlaken, lies between them.

Lake Brienz is the smaller of the two lakes, but the walls of rock on either side are steeper, higher, and more dramatic. To the south of the lake, Faulhornweg is one of the best walks in Switzerland.

The town of Brienz itself is a quiet idyll at the end of the lake. A stroll along the banks will place you amongst locals taking their regular dip in the water.

Lake Thun is larger, but the mountains around it are lower and less dramatic. The town of Thun, on its western end, is perfect for some Switzerland sightseeing.

lake brienz and lake thun places to visit in switzerland
LAKE BRIENZE

WHAT TO DO?

  • Ride the cogwheel train from Brienz to Rothorn for a unique Switzerland experience.
  • Visit Schlossberg, a romantic white castle in the town of Thun.
  • Take a boat ride on Lake Thun.
  • Ascend to Harder Kulm high above Interlaken, for incredible views of the two lakes.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • The stylish, historic Hotel Interlaken in the centre of town.
  • Hotel Derby is a great value hotel near the main train station.
  • Enjoy the excellent value for money and quality service at Hotel Alphorn.

6 – BERN

The charming capital of Switzerland, Bern is blessed with medieval architecture in a beautiful setting.

Embraced by a curve of the Aare River, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town is an aesthetic delight. 

For a small city there is a surprisingly large number of wonderful things to do in Bern. The Old Town is packed with well-preserved medieval architecture. Quirky fountains dot the cobbled streets. Beautiful stone buildings and colourful painted clocktowers line the alleyways.

There is a wealth of museums to explore too, covering everything from Einstein to Picasso.

In our opinion, it’s one of the most underrated cities in Europe and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.

things to do in bern switzerland
BERN

WHAT TO DO?

  • Walk around the Altstadt – Old Town of Bern.
  • Admire the stunning Swiss Federal Palace.
  • Learn about the life of Einstein in the Einstein Museum.
  • Visit the bears at Bear Park.

WHERE TO STAY?

7 – OESCHINEN LAKE

Oeschinen Lake is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland. Its blue-green waters are surrounded by 3,500-metre-high jagged peaks that rise steeply from its shores.

During the summer, the whole area looks like a huge pot of ice and rock. When the sun is shining the water is a brilliant turquoise colour. When it’s not, the cloudy mood is spellbinding.

Oeschinen is a great destination for almost everyone. Swim in the lake, picnic on its shores, or take a rowboat out for a romantic paddle.  

For photographers, it’s one of the best scenes in the Swiss Alps.

More details are available on our guide to visiting Oeschinensee.

Oeschinen lake switzerland
OESCHINENSEE, SWITZERLAND

WHAT TO DO?

  • Hike the Panorama Trail for spectacular views overlooking the lake.
  • Take a rowing boat across Oeschinen Lake to Bärglifall Waterfall.
  • Ride the Oeschinen Toboggan Run 

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Hotel Alpina is a great budget stay 10 minutes’ walk from the cable car up to the lake.
  • Enjoy a soak in the hot tub at Hotel Ermatige next to the cable car station.
  • Book a well-equipped 2-bedroom apartment at Büelbad Apartment.

8 – GRUYÈRES

The town of Gruyères has been producing cheese since the 12th century.

When young, it’s creamy and nutty. As it ages, it becomes earthy and complex.

Over the course of its history, the town has developed much like its famous cheese.

The car-free medieval old town, with a 13th-century castle perched on top of a hill is encircled by a protective high wall. Inside, cobblestone streets have well-preserved houses serving local specialties.

In addition to cheese and chocolate, Gruyères has an eclectic mix of museums. The highlight is the surreal art by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, famous for his work on the Alien movie.

The entire town is nestled in the foothills of the Alps. It’s one of the most charming and beautiful villages in Switzerland.

gruyeres places to visit in switzerland

WHAT TO DO?

  • Explore 13th-century Gruyères Castle.
  • Be spooked by the alien exhibits at HR Giger Museum.
  • Take a cheese-tasting voyage at La Maison de Gruyères cheese factory.
  • Sample the delights at Chocolaterie de Gruyères Sàrl.

WHERE TO STAY?

9 – LAKE GENEVA

Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) is 60% in Switzerland and 40% in France.

Its crescent shape sweeps through the cantons of Vaud, Geneva, and Valais, passing some of the best attractions in Switzerland.

The 582 km2 body of water is the focal point of the area. The uniquely mild climate makes it a popular destination for outdoor activities in Switzerland.

Swim, windsurf or sail on the lake. Go wine tasting at the wine terraces on the northern shore.

On the eastern end, you’ll find impressive sights like Château du Chillon. It stands guard outside Montreux, known for its famous Jazz Festival in summer. 

lake geneva switzerland
CHILLON CASTLE, LAKE GENEVA

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

10 – ZERMATT & THE MATTERHORN

Zermatt is one of the most visited destinations in the Swiss Alps.

Car-free lanes are edged by old-fashioned chalets bedecked with flowers. In the evening, bar and restaurants are abuzz with skiers or hikers depending on the season.

Dominating the scene is the Matterhorn, with its iconic pyramidal shape and sheer sides.

Across the valley, the Gorner Glacier is a snarling snout of ice. It circles Dufourspitze, the highest mountain in Switzerland.

In summer, cable cars and trains take you to a maze of hiking trails. Explore beautiful alpine lakes, flowering meadows, rocky wildernesses, and narrow gorges.

We’ve enjoyed several hiking trips to this part of Switzerland. Find them all in our best hikes in Zermatt guide.

Read more about the areas in our guide to the best things to do in Zermatt.

zermatt switzerland to italy cable car
ZERMATT & THE MATTERHORN

WHAT TO DO?

WHERE TO STAY?

There are several different areas in Zermatt, some central, some closer to the transport links up to the mountains. All the details are in our guide to the best places to stay in Zermatt.

11 – TICINO & THE ITALIAN LAKES

The southernmost region of Switzerland, Ticino has an altogether different feel from the rest of the country.

Perched at the northern end of the Italian Lakes, the cultural influences are more Italian than German.

The largest city in Ticino is Lugano. Located on the northern shore of Lake Lugano, it has a Mediterranean vibe with charming squares and sub-tropical plants.

Other highlights include Ascona and Locano, both on the northern edges of Lake Maggiore.

Instead of Alpine hikes, we enjoyed lakeside strolls in Ticino. Soak up the sunniest part of Switzerland, then end the day with Italian food in a local trattoria.

It’s a beautiful part of Switzerland with a charming, relaxed culture.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Have dinner on the colourful waterfront in Ascona.
  • Take the funicular to the Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso for beautiful views of Locarno.
  • Explore the three historic castles in Bellinzona.
  • Take in views of Lake Lugano from Monte Bre.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Soak up the superb Mediterranean garden and award-winning restaurants at Giardino Ascona.
  • Albergo Mirador is a great value choice a few minutes outside Ascona.
  • For a full-service hotel in the heart of Lugano try Luganodante.

12 – FURKA PASS

The Furka Pass is our favourite out of all the dramatic roads in Switzerland.

Connecting Gletsch in the Canton of Valais with Andermatt in the Canton of Uri, it twists and turns for 31.5 kilometres (196 miles). Along the way it climbs to an elevation of 2,429 metres. 

The pass has two series of steep hairpin turns connected by a wonderful high-altitude drive under the flanks of Klein and Gross Furkahorn.

The views are magnificent and there are several iconic landmarks along the route.

The pass is only open in summer, usually between the months of June to mid-October. If you only drive one pass in Switzerland, make it the Furka Pass.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Explore the Glacier Grotto, an ice chamber rebuilt every year.
  • Admire the once grand but still iconic Hotel Belvédère – an Instagram favourite.
  • Stop at the 007 Goldfinger viewpoint.

WHERE TO STAY?

13 – ALETSCH GLACIER

Stretching for 22.6 kilometres (14 miles) and covering over 80 square kilometres, the UNESCO World Heritage Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier in the Alps.

The scale is enormous. It reaches a maximum depth of 800 metres and is estimated to weigh up to 10 billion tonnes.

The top can be seen from the Jungfraujoch. But to get a true impression of its size and beauty it’s best to visit the Aletsch Region. Some of the best villages in the area are Belalp, Riederalp and Bettmeralp.

Here the river of ice grinds its way down the valley between two towering rows of mountains.

It ends at the Massa Gorge where a new suspension bridge hangs 80 metres over its snarling snout.

aletsch glacier from eggishorn switzerland
ALETSCH GLACIER PANORAMA TRAIL

WHAT TO DO?

  • Admire the stunning views of Aletsch from the top of Eggishorn.
  • Hike the Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail.
  • Test your nerves on the Belalp-Riederalp suspension bridge at the Massa Gorge.
  • Take the gondola to the top of Bettmerhorn to learn about the glacier from the interactive centre.

WHERE TO STAY?

14 – STEIN AM RHEIN

At the point where Lake Constance again becomes the Rhine River, you will find the little town of Stein am Rhein.

This medieval town is known for its exquisitely painted facades and half-timber houses.   

Often overlooked by tourists, the Old Town is magnificently well-preserved in a picture-perfect setting on the banks of the Rhine.

It only takes an hour or so to wander the pedestrianised streets but there are plenty of oddities to explore.

The old city walls are now an interesting line of houses. There are grand viewpoints from the Rheinbrücke. Lunch on the square in front of the decorative church is a must.

stein am rhein on the river switzerland
STEIN AM RHEIN

WHAT TO DO?

  • Explore the Monastery of St. Georgen, one of the best-preserved medieval complexes.
  • Admire the painted facades of the Stein Am Rhein old town.
  • Stroll the waterfront and take a dip in this gorgeous section of the Rhine River

WHERE TO STAY?

15 – RHINE FALLS

Most waterfalls in Switzerland are thin sinuous falls dropping over dramatic cliff edges. In contrast, Rhine Falls is a ferocious torrent.

It may only be 23 meters (75 feet) high but at 150 metres wide its power is immense.

In summer, 600 cubic meters per second plunge between the two banks showcasing the sheer beauty and power of nature.

You can take an exhilarating boat ride close to the falls, or walk to one of the many viewing platforms.

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take a boat right up to Rhine Fall’s crashing waters.
  • Stand on the viewing platforms at Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall.
  • Visit Historama for an exhibit on the history of the falls.

WHERE TO STAY?

16 – SAINT MORITZ

St Moritz is a high Alpine resort town located in the Engadine region in Switzerland.

It has a long history dating back to the 17th century when it became a fashionable summer and spa resort. Then in 1864 it became the world’s first winter holiday resort and a playground for the rich and famous.

Today the winter months see visitors flock to the fashionable boutiques and ski slopes.

In summer, we found a wealth of adventures to take part in. The hiking is excellent. Some of the nearby nature reserves are made for biking. If you’re feeling more adventurous there’s also paragliding or windsurfing.

The town is surrounded by magnificent Alpine peaks on the shores of Lake St Moritz.

places to visit in switzerland st moritz
ST MORITZ, SWITZERLAND

WHAT TO DO?

  • Ski and shop in the oldest ski resort in Switzerland.
  • Wind surf at Silvaplana the home of alpine windsurfing.
  • Cycle the short but spectacular Albula Trail.
  • Spot wildlife in the Swiss National Park.
  • Hike from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Indulge in the Kulm Hotel, the oldest in town with its own Michelin-starred restaurant.
  • Enjoy the old-school luxury at Suvretta House.
  • Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski is set on a natural spring with contemporary stylings.

17 – SAINT-URSANNE

Saint Ursanne seems to be untouched by time. Dating back to the Middle Ages, its three gates are still the only access to the old walled town. 

Amongst its narrow streets and charming squares much of its medieval character remains.

The town is surrounded by wooded hills and the Doubs River drifts gently outside the southern wall.

There were few tourists on our visit, and we had the town pretty much free to ourselves to explore.

It only takes a couple of hours, but it’s a beautiful and somewhat hidden place to visit in Switzerland.

saint ursanne switzerland
SAINT-URSANNE

WHAT TO DO?

  • Photograph the old town over the river from Pont Saint-Jean.
  • Visit the Romanesque Abbey Church and cloisters.
  • Wander up to the Hermitage and Cave of Irish monk Ursicinus.
  • Hike or take a boat ride along the Doubs River.

WHERE TO STAY?

18 – APPENZELL 

Appenzell is a hidden gem in Switzerland.

It’s an area of rolling hills and green pastures cut by the majestic Alpstein mountain range. This dramatic set of peaks is connected by serrated rocky ridges.

It’s a wonderful destination for hikers in summer.

Easy to nerve-testing trails lead to stunning mountain huts and panoramic vistas. The highest point is Säntis (2,502m), from where some dramatic walks lead into the valleys below.

It’s one of our favourite places to visit Switzerland and you can read more in our guide to Appenzell.

shafler ridge appenzell
SHAFLER RIDGE, APPENZELL

WHAT TO DO?

  • Grab lunch at Aescher Hut, perched on a precarious ledge.
  • Hike to the magnificent mountain ridges of Shafler & Saxer Lücke.
  • Photograph the stunning lakes of Seealpsee & Fälensee.
  • Take the cable car up to the rocky wilderness around Säntis.

WHERE TO STAY?

19 – ABBEY LIBRARY OF SAINT GALL

The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is a magnificent medieval monastic library located in St Gallen, Switzerland.

It was founded by Saint Othmar in the 8th century. During a fire in 937, the Abbey was destroyed, but miraculously the library and its books survived. 

Between 1758 and 1767 a new library hall was designed in a Rococo style.  

The new library is a unique place to visit in Switzerland and one of the country’s 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Wood panelled walls are adorned with old books in glass bookcases. The baroque ceiling is sumptuously painted.

One of the earliest and most important monastic libraries in the world, the contents are priceless. The collection contains 2,100 manuscripts, and 1,650 incunabula (texts written before 1500 CE).

st gallen abbey library switzerland
ABBEY LIBRARY OF SAINT GALL

WHAT TO DO?

  • Look for the 800 CE Gospel of John.
  • Search out the 7th and 8th century Irish manuscripts.
  • Head to the vault to find ivory embossed tablets supposedly handed to Charlemagne.

WHERE TO STAY?

  • Hotel Appenzell in the centre of town screams traditional Swiss.
  • Hotel Walhalla is centrally located in St Gallen with modern amenities.
  • Hotel one66 is functional for travellers with all the modern comforts.

20 – GREAT SAINT BERNARD PASS

The Great Saint Bernard Pass is the 3rd highest road pass in Switzerland at 2,469 metres, connecting Italy with Switzerland.

It was used by Julius Caesar and his Roman troops as well as Napoleon and his army in 1800.

The pass is named after the hospice of Saint Bernard. Founded in the 11th century, it continues to provide a resting place and rescue services to travellers.

The St. Bernard dog was originally bred for rescue operations in the region. Today you can visit the dogs and explore the museum to their history.

The Mont Blanc massif sits to the west. Grand Combin and the Pennine Alps rises in the east. The Gran Paradiso National Park flickers above the Aosta valley in the south. Great Saint Bernard is a high and beautiful place in Switzerland.

Across the border in Italy, Courmayeur has, in our opinion, access to the best cable car ride in the world.

great st bernard pass switzerland
GREAT SAINT BERNARD PASS

WHAT TO DO?

  • Take the Saint Bernard dogs on a pre-booked walk in the mountains.
  • Explore the history of the pass in the Great St Bernard Hospice Museum.
  • Hike Col Saint Bernard to see some amazing scenery.

WHERE TO STAY?

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