Switzerland is well known for its picturesque landscape featuring alpine scenery and quaint villages. Furthermore, the Swiss people are some of the friendliest in the world. Below are our recommendations for the top 8 best things to do in Switzerland for your next trip abroad.
The Matterhorn is one of the most picturesque mountains in the world. Its pyramidal shape rises 14,692ft above sea level along the border of Switzerland and Italy. This is a must-visit destination for any trip to Switzerland. To get there, travel to the mountain resort town of Zermatt. Then, you can decide how you wish to experience the Matterhorn. For those happy to stay in town, you will be able to see the north face of the Matterhorn from Zermatt valley. However, the best way to experience the Matterhorn is by traveling on the Gornergrat railway. This railway gains almost 5000ft in elevation traveling from Zermatt to its terminus in Gornergrat. Once at the top you will find multiple viewpoints of the Matterhorn’s east face. Another option is the Glacier Paradise cable car. This is the highest cable car station in Europe and will no doubt offer amazing views of the Zermatt Valley. Most importantly, however, it will offer you an amazing view of the Matterhorn’s south face.
This is the largest protected area in Switzerland at 174.2 km². It offers a look at the extensive wilderness Switzerland has to offer. The Swiss National Park offers a plethora of ways to explore depending on the season. In winter there are extensive cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails to explore. In the summer there are various hiking trails to be explored. The 21 hiking trails offer options for people of different skill sets and fitness levels. Get out and enjoy seeing the natural beauty and wildlife of Switzerland.
The city of Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland with a population of over 400,000. This city has been permanently settled for over 2000 years and offers some amazing insights into its history. Take a walk through Zurich’s Altstadt (Old town) to find traditional Swiss restaurants, art museums, historic churches, and more. The Swiss National Museum also makes its home in Altstadt. Built in 1898 by Gustav Gull, the building itself is something to behold. The French Renaissance city chateau has many towers and courts throughout. It has become one of the main tourist attractions in Zurich’s old city district. Another famous building to visit while in Zurich is the Grossmünster. The construction of this Romanesque church began over 800 years ago. Its two towers rising above the city make it one of Zurich’s most iconic landmarks.
The Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen are a must-see during your trip. As the most powerful waterfall in Europe, they are 490 feet wide and 75 feet high. The best time to visit is as the snow melts in June-July, however, winter viewing also offers an amazing experience. The best way to see the falls is by taking a boat trip downstream to Rheinfallfelsen in the center of the falls while passing historic castles. Once at Rheinfallfelsen, you can climb the rock and take pictures from the viewing platforms over each side.
Though smaller than Zurich with a population of 144,000 Bern is the Capital of Switzerland. Bern’s location is truly stunning as it sits on a Peninsula against the River Aare. This quaint city will provide you with endless old-world charm. Bern’s medieval old town became a UNESCO heritage site in 1983. One of the most prominent buildings in Bern is the Bern Minster. The 330ft tower makes Bern Minister the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. Another historic landmark to see is the Zytglogge (Clock Tower). It was built around 800 years ago and was originally the gate tower to Bern’s western fortifications. The final must-see destination in Bern is the Kunstmuseum. This museum was built in 1879 and is home to over 51,000 drawings, photographs, sculptures, paintings, films, and prints. This internationally known museum is one you do not want to miss.
Also known as the ‘Top of Europe’ Jungfraujoch is the saddle connecting the Jungfrau and the Mönch. Located on Jungfraujoch is the Sphinx observation terrace and scientific observatory. The Sphinx observatory is one of the highest in the world located 11,719 feet above sea level. It is accessible by gondola from Grindelwald Terminal or the train from Interlaken. The train runs partially underground through both Eiger and Mönch and is an amazing experiencing ending at the highest railway station in Europe. While at Jungfraujoch be sure to visit the Ice Palace, filled with amazing ice carvings, and take a hike across the glacier for breathtaking views.
Interlaken is a popular summer resort town, with endless activities for the whole family. Right in the center of town is Höhematte, a stunning 35 acres of open space. This area is perfect for picnics, playing, and taking pictures of the surrounding mountainscapes. From Interlaken, you can see the peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau towering above. There are more than 45 different mountain railways, chairlifts, and cable cars to transport you into the surrounding countryside and mountain ranges. If you aren’t fond of heights, consider a paddle steamer cruise around the surrounding lakes instead.
Visiting the medieval-style town of Lucerne feels like stepping into a different world. This car-free town is located on the shore of Lake Lucerne and was founded in 1178. While in town, ensure you visit the Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century. This wooden bridge spans the river Reuss diagonally and has a historic water tower in the center. The Chapel Bridge is the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. Take your time to wander around town to see bubbling fountains, historic buildings, and monuments, like the Lion.
These are just 8 of the best things to do in Switzerland during your trip abroad. This multicultural country offers an amazing range of activities for everyone. Two other honorable mentions include visiting the historic Chateau de Chillon, and Oberhofen Castle.