We’ve come a long way since our first visit to Switzerland. Back in 2003, we never left the ski hill when snowboarding at Chateau d’Oex and Gstaad, but since then, we’ve visited Switzerland three more times and have had a chance to experience nearly all of the best things to do in Switzerland.
From the cities of Zurich, Basel, and Lucerne to the mountain regions of Zermatt Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, and St. Moritz we’ve crisscrossed the country experiencing everything we ever had on our Switzerland bucket list. Our latest travels finally took us to the Italian region of Ticino. If you want to be blown away by the perfect travel destination, choose Switzerland for your next vacation. And here’s why!
The Very Best Things to do in Switzerland
From its medieval old towns to sophisticated cities, there is something for everyone in Switzerland. The Swiss love exploring the outdoors and you will see some of the best landscapes in the entire world. Many places feel as if you are walking through a painting. So without further adieu, let’s explore all the best things to do in Switzerland from our four different trips around the country.
I don’t think I have ever been anywhere as breathtaking as Gornergrat. Standing at 3089 meters above sea level, Gornergrat is our number 1 pick for the best place to visit in Switzerland. We didn’t know what to expect as we rode the cogwheel train up from Valley Station in Zermatt, but with each turn, we knew we were in for something special.
The views of the Matterhorn in all its glory is one thing, but it is the sea of glaciers is out of this world. The hike down from Gornergrat treats hikers to the most stunning views on earth. You are surrounded by 29 mountains reaching more than 4000 meters and 7 massive glaciers. With every turn, it is one dazzling view after another. Read all about it at The 12 Best Hikes in Switzerland
2. Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
One of ur favorite things to do in Switzerland was to go to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe in the Swiss Alps. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the highest train station in Europe, the largest glacier in the Alps, and incredible mountain views.
Located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland, Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe is an excursion that is not to be missed. It is truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland. When the weather is clear, Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe is spectacular. See why here. Spectacular Switzerland, a Visit to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
3. Go Mountain Biking in Zermatt
Seeing the Matterhorn is on many a person’s bucket list and no trip to Switzerland is complete until you visit Zermatt. Trust me, we know. It took us three visits to Switzerland before seeing the Matterhorn with our own eyes, and not only is this mountain striking, but the region is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland, (if not on earth). If you don’t want to go mountain biking, there are plenty of hiking trails around the Matterhorn region. Hiking the 5 Lakes Hike lets you enjoy the most stunning scenery in Switzerland at a leisurely pace all downhill. Read more: 5 Lakes Hike Zermatt – Incredible Matterhorn Views
Going to the top of Grindelwald-First is one of our favorite places in Switzerland. Not only does it have a hike to Bachalpsee to see the mountain peaks of Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn reflecting in Lake Bachalp, but there are plenty of adventures. From the First Cliffwalk dangling from the mountain the the First adventures of the First Flyer, First Glider, First Mountain Bike, and our personal favorite, the Trotti Bike. Read all about it here.
5. Harder Kulm Lookout – Interlaken
Visiting the Harder Kulm in Interlaken is a must. As the town’s local mountain, it stands at 1,321 meters above sea level and is easily accessible via a funicular railway that dates back to 1908.
The journey up the Harder Kulm is an adventure in itself, providing a steep and exhilarating ascent. Once you reach the top, you are greeted by the spectacular Harder Kulm Panorama Restaurant, resembling a castle, and a viewing platform that boasts a breathtaking panoramic outlook.
From this vantage point, you can feast your eyes on the stunning vistas of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains — the iconic trio in the Swiss Alps. The sweeping views also include Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, shimmering below with their deep azure hues. Read more: Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland – Complete 4 Day Itinerary
6. Marvel at the Matterhorn at Lake Stellisee
When visiting Zermatt, the best view of the Matterhorn is from Stellisee. The iconic mountain peak reflecting in the waters of Lake Stellisee is magical. It takes a bit of work to experience this with an early morning wakeup call to catch pre-sunrise funicular at Sunnegga Valley Station to transfer to a gondola up to Blauherd Mountain Station. It’s then a 20 minute hike to the lake to wait for views. Read more: 23 Incredible Things to Do in Zermatt, Switzerland
7. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise
We’re spending a lot of time in the mountains and Zermatt in particular. The reason is that the mountains around Zermatt are just too darn beautiful. From the top of Glacier Paradise, you are treated to views of 38 four-thousand-meter peaks (13,000 feet) and 14 glaciers!
At the top of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, you can go skiing at the highest ski resort in the world, there is an underground tunnel system under the glacier and you can even hike to Breithorn Mountain, the easiest of all the 4000-meter peaks in the Alps. Read more: Incredible Zermatt, Switzerland – 23 Exciting Things to See and Do
8. Take a Weidling Tour in Basel
One of the most unique things to do in Switzerland is to get on the Rhine River and do some traditional paddling. Weidling is a traditional wooden boat that dates back to the Middle Ages in Basel. They were used to paddle upriver using a technique called spiking. 20 Reasons to Fall in Love with Basel, Switzerland
Basel is an incredible city in Switzerland that deserves at least 3 days to visit. Besides wielding on the Rhine, you can swim in the Rhine. It is one of the most popular things to do in the city. Want to know more about Basel? Read on: 24 Fantastic Things to do in Basel, Switzerland
9. Tour The Lindt Chocolate Factory in Zurich
Zurich is often at the top of any Switzerland itinerary. As the financial capital of the country, Switzerland’s largest city and a picturesque setting on Lake Zurich. There are so many things to do in Zurich that you should spend three to four days there, but one of the most iconic places to visit is The Lindt Home of Chocolate. No trip to Switzerland would be complete without indulging in Swiss chocolate and this is the place to do it.
This isn’t your ordinary factory tour. Upon entering visitors come face to face with a giant chocolate fountain standing tall in the massive hall. It is then onto a tour to learn about the history of chocolate and to eat a lot of chocolate: Read more at The 17 Best Things to Do in Zurich, Switzerland
10. Bask in the Sun in Lake Lugano
Nestled between Lake Como in Italy and Lake Maggiore in Switzerland, Lake Lugano has top billing as one of the best things to do in the Ticino region of Switzerland. Strolling along the Lugano waterfront lets you take in all its beauty. While walking along the lake, it will remind you of Rio de Janeiro as Monte San Salvatore and Mount Bre frame the city. Read more about Ticino at: Things to do in Lugano and the Ticino Region of Switzerland.
11. Hike in Lavertezzo – the Verzasca Valley
The Verzasca Valley is located in the beautiful region of Ticino. Known for its vibrant turquoise waters, Valle Verzasca boasts a vibrant turquoise river of rushing waters flowing through a series of cliffs, rocks, and historic bridges. It’s a popular swimming and hiking spot.
12. Go to the Spa in Bad Ragaz
The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is the granddaddy of spas in Switzerland. Located just 1 hour from Zurich, this is the ultimate luxury spa retreat. The hot springs were discovered in the 1200s and people have been seeking their healing properties for centuries. The hotel opened in 1869 and in 1872 it housed the first thermal water indoor pool in Europe. Today it is a five-star hotel that sits in the Rhine Valley. Visit Tamina Therme for more information on visiting the spa.
13. Take a Spa Day in Leukerbad
Switzerland is known for its spa experiences and one of the most beautiful spa retreats is in Leukerbad. The thermal baths date back to Roman times. This wellness retreat attracts tourists to its 65 natural springs containing 3.9 million liters of hot water to relax in the healing pools of Valais valley. It is one of the largest and most popular spa resorts in Switzerland. For more information on traveling to Leukerbad, visit the tourism website.
14. Indulge in St. Moritz
If there is one place to add to your Swiss bucket list, make it St. Moritz. St. Moritz was the birthplace of winter travel and for good reason. This fairytale town in the Swiss Alps is the playground of the rich and famous. The Muottas Muragle to Alp Languard hike is definitely one of the best things to do in St. Moritz and has the typical incredible views that all hikes in Switzerland have.
The hike begins at the Punt Muragl train station where we took the funicular railway up to Muottas Muagl for a stunning hike with views of St. Moritz, the St. Moritz Lake, and the panoramic views of Upper Engadin from 2,456m (8,057ft). Wow! Read all about it Stunning St. Moritz – Summer Fun in Switzerland
15. Hike The Eiger Trail
If you happen to make your way to the top of our number 2 pick for the best things to do in Switzerland (Jungfraoujoch). Instead of taking the train back down, hike the Eiger Trail instead. It is all downhill with a close-up view of the breathtaking north wall of the Eiger, along with jaw-dropping vistas of the valley below, the Eiger Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in Switzerland. Read more: Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland – Complete 4 Day Itinerary
16. See the Castles of Bellinzona
The Bellinzona Castles are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the capital of Ticino, Bellinzona. Castle Grande is located near the main square and from there you can hike to all the castles. They are connected by trails that weave through vineyards and rolling hills. The return trip is only a couple of hours’ walk. Read more: Things to do in Lugano and the Ticino Region of Switzerland
16. Pay Tribute to Freddie Mercury – Montreux
Freddie Mercury spent his final days in Montreux and this beautiful town on the shores of Lake Geneva is a must-visit in Switzerland. With Queen having a re-emergence since Bohemian Rhapsody people are becoming more interested in the rock band’s frontman.
There is an iconic statue standing on the waterfront which you must check out if you are a rock and roll fan. Montreux has always been a musical town hosting the annual music festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival on the shores of Lake Geneva. Read more: Montreux and its Musical Legacy
17. Château de Chillon
While in Montreux, make sure to go to Chillon Castle. Located directly on the shores of Lake Geneva with the Swiss Alps in the background, this medieval castle is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland.
This medieval fortress, which dates back to the 11th century, stands as a testament to the strategic importance of its location on a rocky inlet against a backdrop of mountains, historically controlling the passage between northern and southern Europe.
The castle consists of 25 separate buildings with 3 courtyards that were gradually connected and now form a single unit. Its layout is designed to follow the natural contour of the rocky island it was built on, making it both a beautiful and defensive structure.
Visiting Chillon Castle is like stepping back in time, offering an immersive experience into medieval history, architecture, and the beauty of the Swiss Riviera. It remains one of Switzerland’s most visited historic sites and is a must-see for anyone interested in the medieval era or seeking the romance of a fairy-tale castle set against one of Switzerland’s most beautiful landscapes.
18. Walk the Bridge of Lucerne
Lucerne was the first city we visited in Switzerland where we actually spent some time. It is a lovely town with its main most iconic landmark, the Chapel Bridge on Lake Lucerne. It is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe, having been built in the 14th century. Today, it houses a small museum that displays artifacts from Lucerne’s history. Read more: 15 Beautiful Cities in Switzerland from our First-Hand Visits
When visiting Lucern, make sure to get on Lake Lucerne. One of the best ways to see it is by paddle steamer. Lake Lucerne is home to the world’s largest fleet of paddle steamers in regular service. The Schifffahrtsgesellschaft des Vierwaldstättersees (SGV) operates these historic boats, offering various routes that allow you to explore the scenic heart of Switzerland, with views of picturesque towns and the Swiss Alps.
19. Mount Pilatus
While in Lucerne, take a day trip up to Mount Pilatus. Mount Pilatus is a mountain located near Lucerne that offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. You can take a trip to the top of the mountain via a series of cable cars that includes a ride on the cogwheel railway which is one of the steepest railways in the world.
20. Stop in the Capital of Bern
Visiting Bern, the capital city of Switzerland is often listed as one of the top things to do in the country. The Old Town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site, distinguished by its well-preserved medieval cityscape, with structures dating back to the 12th century. Highlights include cobblestone streets, fountains, and the famous Zytglogge clock tower are a few of the historical treasures that transport visitors back in time.
The city’s architecture is a mix of Gothic and Baroque styles, epitomized in landmarks such as the Bern Cathedral (Bern Münster) and the Federal Palace (Bundeshaus)
As the de facto capital of Switzerland (officially known as the federal city), Bern houses the Swiss Parliament and Federal Assembly, offering visitors a chance to witness the heart of Swiss democracy.
21. Get Sporty in Lausanne
Lausanne, gracing the shores of Lake Geneva, is home to the International Olympic Committee headquarters and is proudly known as the Olympic Capital. The city hosts the Olympic Museum, which is one of the most visited sites in Switzerland, providing an interactive journey through the history of the Games.
With a rich cultural tapestry, Lausanne is bustling with art galleries, museums, and theaters, including the Collection de l’Art Brut and the Lausanne Opera. The city also frequently hosts festivals, music concerts and international events.
Being on the doorstep of one of Europe’s largest lakes, Lausanne grants access to a variety of water sports, cruises, and relaxation on the beaches along Lake Geneva’s shore. Plus, the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces (a UNESCO World Heritage site) stretch for about 30 km along the lake from Lausanne to Montreux, offering beautiful walking trails and wine-tasting experiences.
22. Rhine Falls
A visit to the Rhine Falls is a journey to one of Europe’s most powerful and mesmerizing natural wonders. Situated near the town of Schaffhausen, these falls are the largest waterfalls in Europe.
From the many viewing platforms, you can witness the sheer volume of water that tumbles over the rocks every second, an awe-inspiring sight, especially during the peak flow in summer.
Taking a boat trip provides an up-close encounter with the falls, allowing for the chance to touch the frothy waters and even reach the rock in the midst of the falls.
23. See the Swiss Grand Canyon
Rhine Gorge, which is often referred to as the Swiss Grand Canyon is located in the southeast of the country, in the canton of Graubünden. Formed by the river Rhine cutting through the high limestone cliffs over millions of years, it is famous for its stunning landscapes and unique geological formations. On the other hand, the Rhine Falls is a powerful waterfall created by the river Rhine as it pours over a rocky ledge near Schaffhausen.
Both are remarkable natural attractions in Switzerland, each offering unique experiences: the Rhine Falls for witnessing the power of Europe’s largest waterfall, and the Rhine Gorge for its breathtaking scenic views that can be enjoyed while hiking, biking, or even taking a leisurely train ride through the region.
24. Eat Fondue in Gruyere
Eating authentic Swiss fondue in Switzerland was at the top of my Switzerland bucket list. We’ve had it every time we visited the country, but nothing quite compared to our first time trying it in the winter in Gruyere.
Renowned for giving the world the delectable Gruyère cheese, the town invites you to indulge in culinary delights, from cheese tasting to exquisite chocolate at the nearby Maison Cailler in Broc. The medieval town, crowned by the majestic Château de Gruyères, offers a journey through history where cobblestone streets lead to art galleries, traditional shops, and the HR Giger Museum, showcasing the surreal work of the artist behind the iconic “Alien” creature.
Surrounded by rolling green hills and the pre-Alpine landscapes, Gruyères captivates with a combination of gastronomic heritage, cultural richness, and old Swiss Charm, making it a unique and must-visit location on any Swiss itinerary.
Gruyere cheese is the preferred cheese for a cheese fondue and to have this delicious Swiss dish in the actual medieval town of Gruyére was a dream come true. Read more: 15 Swiss Foods to Try in Switzerland or at Home
When you find yourself in Switzerland visiting places like the Eiger Trail, Jungfraujoch, or Grindelwad First, chances are you will be spending some time in Interlaken. Interlaken is the largest town in the Bernese Oberland region and one of our favorite things to do is to take the cogwheel train up to Harder Klum. Located at 1322 m above sea level, Harder Kulm is the towering mountain over Interlaken. The 100-year-old funicular railway is a treat to ride up the mountain.
26. Glacier Canyon Grindelwald
Glacier Canyon or Gletscherschlucht is one of the coolest attractions in Grindelwald and you don’t want to miss seeing it. Take a walk through a series of tunnels, walkways, and rocky outcrops as the Lütschine River roars through the 250 million-year-old canyon. This 870-meter-long path is an extraordinary walk through high cliffs stretching up from the canyon floor. It is located just 5 minutes from downtown Grindelwald.
27. Visit Swiss National Park
As Switzerland’s only national park and the first in the Alps, Including a stop at the Swiss National Park in your Switzerland itinerary is highly recommended. It offers a sanctuary of biodiversity. Encompassing over 170 square kilometers of mountains and woodlands it has been a national park since 1914.
There are over 80 kilometers of hiking trails, which are well-marked and cater to various fitness levels. These trails offer breathtaking views and the chance to observe the park’s flora and fauna. Swiss National Park is the largest nature reserve in Switzerland. You can see red deer, lynx, eagles, and some 300 ibex that reside in the park.
It’s a prime spot for nature enthusiasts year-round showcasing each season in the park in a different face of nature, from the blooming edelweiss of spring to the snow-covered silence of winter.
What are 3 Popular Things in Switzerland?
- Exploring the Swiss Alps, for activities like skiing, snowboarding, and mountaineering.
- Visiting historical sites such as Chillon Castle, the Zytglogge in Bern, or the Abbey of Saint Gall.
- Enjoying Swiss lakes and scenic train rides like the Glacier Express or boat cruises on Lake Geneva.
What is the #1 Thing Switzerland is Known For?
Switzerland is known for the Swiss Alps. The Swiss Alps are synonymous with the country’s identity and are home to renowned peaks like the Matterhorn and Jungfrau.
What You Should Do in Switzerland?
- Engage in outdoor sports, including hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
- Taste Swiss chocolates and cheeses, possibly with a local culinary tour.
- Discover cultural diversity by visiting the distinct regions with different languages and traditions.
Is It Cheap to Travel in Switzerland?
No, Switzerland is generally considered an expensive country to travel in, with higher costs for accommodation, dining, and transportation compared to many other countries. Read more: Is Switzerland Expensive?
What are 3 Things Switzerland is Famous For?
- High-quality watchmaking, with brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Omega.
- Financial services, being a global banking hub with a reputation for security and privacy.
- Scenic landscapes and natural beauty, from the snow-capped Alps to the picturesque lakes and well-preserved forests.
Switzerland is a small country and it’s easy to get around. The Swiss rail system is easy and efficient or you can rent a car to have the freedom of being on your own schedule. You can find all these things to do throughout the country, so start planning your Switzerland adventure today!