Asking what to do in Switzerland is like asking if you can gamble in Vegas. A central European country bordered to the east by Liechtenstein, south by Italy, west by France and the north by Germany, Switzerland has all the assets to seduce visitors. Its breathtaking landscapes where nature is queen but also the privileged welcome that its inhabitants reserve for you will make your stay unforgettable, for a weekend or several days. And this is without counting on the richness of its medieval past, which offers the opportunity to visit monuments, each one more marvelous than the next. Switzerland is one of our favorite countries to visit and explore. Here are just some of the highlights of Switzerland:
Nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva, Geneva is a large, cosmopolitan international city full of life, surrounded by lush greenery. Stroll through the old town rich in museums, visit a 15th-century granary, and contemplate the Gothic-style tower and the sumptuous mosaics of the Saint-Pierre cathedral erected between the 12th and 13th centuries. Unmissable is the Russian church dating from the second half of the 19th century offers a total change of scenery. Its Muscovite Byzantine style and nine golden bell towers instantly challenge the visitor. Also worth visiting is the Philippe Patek Museum, and if you have children, the Natural History Museum (free admission). Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the botanical garden or during a boat trip on the lake to get up close to the famous Jet d’Eau, the symbol of Geneva. Finally, take the cable car to the top of Mont Salève to admire a superb panorama of Geneva and the surrounding area.
Ideally located at the foot of the Alps on Lake Lucerne, Lucerne attracts visitors from around the world every year. Indeed, this picturesque city is nestled in the heart of what can be considered authentic Switzerland. Between steep mountains, crystalline lakes and meadows strewn with edelweiss, historical monuments rub shoulders in a postcard landscape, including the famous Chapel Bridge. This 204-meter-long (over 600 feet) covered bridge, called Kapellbrücke, was built in 1333 and then enjoyed the status of the oldest fortified wooden bridge in Europe. In the shelter of its roof, it is possible to admire paintings retracing the past of the city since the Middle Ages. Exhibitions and museum walk along the Reuss, trekking in untouched nature, steamboat cruises, concerts… plan to stay several days in Lucerne. Not far from there, the fascinating Gletschergarten (the glacier garden) testifies to the existence of a subtropical beach lined with palm trees more than 20 million years ago.
Crossed by the Aare, Bern is a city where life is good. The provincial rhythm of this German-speaking city has something to seduce visitors. No matter where you are, the banks of the river are very close and lead us to believe that we are in the countryside. The medieval streets of the historic centre, listed since 1983 as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, attract tourists who come to see street performances. The festive atmosphere is permanent and instantly transports us to medieval times. Take the opportunity to browse the 6 kilometres of arbour arcades, this covered shopping promenade being one of the largest in Europe. Go to the rose garden suspended above the bear park to discover an extraordinary panorama of the Swiss capital. The bell tower of the cathedral, the highest in Switzerland, also offers an extraordinary view. You can see the largest bell in the country there.
The financial heart of Switzerland and a mecca for alternative culture, Zurich attracts bankers, tourists and also a large number of young people who come to attend major concerts. Here, models rub shoulders with artists and students in a very friendly atmosphere. This powerful cultural metropolis is noted around the world for its incredible creativity. Indeed, it was in Zurich that the Dada movement appeared in 1916. Peacefully nestled on the banks of the Limmat at an altitude of 408 metres, the German-speaking city is very pleasant to explore. Take the winding pedestrian streets of the old town to discover 16th-century residences, courtyards and squares enhanced by no less than 1,030 fountains. The very refined Bahnhofstrasse, built on the old ramparts, is a pleasantly shaded avenue lined with luxury boutiques.
Just be careful where you park. We lost our car for about 6 hours walking around the city looking.
THE RHINE FALLS
Considered to be the largest waterfall in Europe, the Rhine Falls dump 750 cubic meters of water per second. The power of the falls is impressive when you get closer to the falls via a system of pontoons. A boat (paying) allows you to approach the bubbling waters, which rush from a height of 23 meters to 150 meters wide. A steep rock emerges from the falls and allows you to admire this natural spectacle, almost unreal up close. For thrill-seekers, it is possible to rent canoes. Be sure to climb up to Laufen Castle, which majestically overlooks the Rhine Falls. The panoramic view is stunning!
THE CITY OF STEIN AM RHEIN
Renowned for its perfectly preserved old town, Stein Am Rhein systematically charms visitors with its ancient half-timbered houses and colourful facades. Built on the banks of the Rhine, this picturesque medieval city is worth a look, especially for its magnificent natural setting. Visit: the convent of Saint-Georges, where you can admire its sculpted ceilings, its woodwork and its sumptuous rooms decorated with marquetry furniture. As for the 12th-century Romanesque church, you will recognize it by its gargoyles representing dragons. Finally, Klingen Castle built in 1225 seems to overlook this Rhine town which seems to have come straight out of a fairy tale. Even if the town is tiny it deserves a visit during a trip to Switzerland (it also serves as a good base for visiting the nearby Rhine Falls).
A true myth of mountaineers and emblem of photographers, the Matterhorn rises to 4478 meters above sea level on the Italian-Swiss border near the Aosta Valley. The village of Zermatt is worth a visit for its chic and picturesque side but also because it is the ideal base for exploring the surroundings of this imposing Alpine peak. If you are looking for thrills, its ascent will give you chills. The Hörnligrat ridge route is best for reaching the summit, provided of course that you have enough stamina and excellent physical condition. You can also conquer the Matterhorn by skiing down its foothills. Hikers suffering from vertigo, abstain!
Our Final Word
Switzerland is definitely a jewel in Europe. These are just a few places to visit and explore but there is so much more. There are Swiss chocolate and Swiss cheese to sample and explore. Incredible scenic railways that can be taken and iconic mountain ranges to see. We love Switzerland and return there again and again. And if you get tired of all things Swiss, hire a car and travel through the Splugen Pass up to Bavaria in Germany. It really is incredible. See you there.