Switzerland has long been the world’s favourite holiday destination. It’s one of the world’s wealthiest countries and offers tourists winter activities, a breathtaking landscape filled with lofty peaks, shimmering lakes, waterfalls, valleys, museums, churches, wines, cheese and chocolates. It is a small country in central Europe made up of 16,000 sq miles of the glacier-carved Alps, which covers 65% of its total land mass. Switzerland’s administrative capital is Bern while Lausanne is its judicial centre. Indian filmmakers love Switzerland, making it one of the most popular destinations for Indian tourists. Here we have listed the 10 best places to visit in Switzerland and things to do in Switzerland for a memorable experience.
How to reach Switzerland
Switzerland has flights from all major Indian cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru and Kolkata. Most flights to Switzerland have at least one layover, usually in Europe or the Middle East. This depends on the chosen airline. A few direct flights are available from Mumbai and New Delhi to Zurich. Zurich Airport is the country’s largest airport that receives the most international flights and is well-connected to other parts of the country by air and rail. Geneva Airport is a smaller facility close to the French border and is shared by both countries. It has flights from within Europe and offers on-ground transportation options. Basel Airport is shared between Switzerland, France and Germany.
Switzerland has well-connected trains from all over Europe as it shares borders with five European countries. All major cities on the continent and various regions of Switzerland are connected by high-speed rail. You will need to fly into Europe and board the scenic and efficient Euro rail. You can opt for a Eurail Pass that will allow unlimited train access across 31 countries.
Switzerland’s network of highways makes it easily reachable by road from neighbouring countries. The most popular routes are between France and Geneva and Germany and Zurich.
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Best time to visit Switzerland
The best time to visit Switzerland is during April to October. Winter sports lovers would prefer December to March. The spring months (March to May) bring flowering trees, Alpine blooms and cows heading out to pasture. Visit this dream-like country in Europe any time of the year and enjoy its beauty and activities.
We have listed the 10 must-visit places in Switzerland for a memorable holiday.
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Switzerland places to visit #1: Zurich
Zurich is one of the must-visit places in Switzerland. Though Zurich is the financial and business capital of Switzerland, there are a lot of places to visit and things to do. The city is divided by River Zurich into the Old Town and the New Town. The Old Town has centuries-old churches, cobbled streets and residences from the Renaissance era. Must-visit is St Peter’s Church, the only baroque church in Zurich. It is famous for its tower clock face, the largest in Europe with a diameter of 8.7 meters. The five bells in the tower date back to 1880 and weigh over 6,000 kgs without clappers. Zurich’s most well-known landmark, the Gross Münster is a beautiful Romanesque Protestant Church along River Limmat. Its emblematic twin towers touching the skyline make it a recognisable attraction. The triple-aisled crypt is the largest in Switzerland. Other must-see places include the Fraumunster Church and its stunning stained-glass windows and the city’s shopping haven, Bahnhofstrasse. The zoo here is known for its exclusive Elephant Park and the Madagascar pavilion. Adventure enthusiasts must hike up to Mount Uetliberg to enjoy the fantastic views of the city from the famous Swiss Alps. Zurich has a large number of museums to visit. For chocolate lovers, Switzerland is at the top of the bucket list. Kilchberg, on the western shore of Lake Zurich, has Lindt Home of Chocolate, the world’s largest chocolate museum, which has a huge chocolate fountain over 9 metres high. With melted chocolate flowing through the fountain, one is transported to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Tourists can visit the largest Lindt chocolate shop and learn about chocolate making.
Timings: 10:00 am – 06:00 pm (Best to book ahead)
Entry fees: CHF 15 (adults), CHF 10 (children aged 8-15). Free entry for children under 7 years.
How to reach
- Take a boat, bus, train or car from Zurich
- Bus stop on line no. 165 (Lindt and Sprüngli stop) is in front of the museum.
- Take a boat ride on Lake Zurich to reach the port nearby.
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Switzerland Places to visit #2: Interlaken
Just two hours by train from Zurich and a three-hour drive from Geneva is Interlaken, the adventure capital of Switzerland. This lovely city has a scenic and unique location, packed between two mountains and two lakes and surrounded by the snowy mantles of Harder Kulm, the Eiger and the Jungfrau, arguably Europe’s most beautiful mountain. With the endless variety of walks, climbs and outdoor excursions, there are many other sports available for active travellers such as canyoning, paragliding and skydiving. You can catch cable cars from Interlaken and get off at trails, summits, cliff-fronts, caves and waterfalls. The Harder Kulm at an altitude of 1,322 metres, is Interlaken’s local mountain and one of the best vantage points. It offers a spectacular panorama over the Jungfrau, Mönch, Eiger, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun. In Interlaken, you will find a statue of Yash Chopra as he shot many movies here. The streets of Interlaken are filled with the memories of Bollywood romantic films.
Places to visit in Switzerland #3: Geneva
Geneva, in western Switzerland, is set along the banks of Lake Geneva. The city is known for its incredible views. It is also the headquarters of the Red Cross and the UN. This beautiful place to visit in Switzerland is well-connected with other parts by road, train and flight. Geneva is home to iconic sights, including the Jet deal (one of the tallest water fountains in the world), picturesque squares and an old town with cobblestone streets. Patek Philippe Museum, Ariana Museum, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Palais Des Nations, St. Peter’s Cathedral and Molard Tower are some of the top attractions to visit in Geneva. Do visit the St Pierre Cathedral, which features Roman, Gothic and neoclassical details dating back to 1150. The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre stands at the highest point of Geneva’s Old Town. Geneva is famous for its watchmaking tradition, being the mother of high-end watchmaking. As a tribute to this honour, Geneva created the biggest clock in the world made from flowers. The Geneva Flower Clock, named Horloge Fleurie in French, was created in 1955 and soon became famous. Around 6,500 flowering plants and shrubs are used for the clock face and the second hand is 2.5 meters long, making it the longest in the world. One of the major attractions in Switzerland is Jet d’Eau, one of the world’s tallest fountains. Its engines pump 500 litres of water per second to a height of 140 metres. It is visible from countless vantage spots in the city, including the peak of Salève Mountain.
Timings: 10:00 am to 04:00 pm
Entry Fee: Free entry
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Places to visit in Switzerland #4: Zermatt
The Swiss town of Zermatt is one of the must-visit places in Switzerland. The easiest way to reach Zermatt is by train as this is a car-free town. There are direct trains to Zermatt from Zurich and Geneva airports that run every hour. The main public transport here is the bus. Zermatt has a small fleet of solar and electric-powered buses, which take you from one end of the town to the other. This beautiful place can also be explored on horse-driven carriages, electric cars, gondolas or simply on foot. Zermatt is known for its long ski runs with terrain for all skill levels. Zermatt is famous due to the mighty Matterhorn – the near-symmetrical pyramidal mountain in the Alps. It looms majestically over the idyllic town and promises an adventure of a lifetime. You must not miss the view of the Matterhorn’s pyramid-shaped peak from Zermatt. The best way to do this is to ride on the Gornergrat Railway or Gornergrat Bahn. Opened in 1898, the Gornergrat Railway was Switzerland’s first electric rack and pinion line and has a vertical distance of 1,484 meters, covering 5.9 miles between Zermatt and the observation platform at Gornergrat at an elevation of over 3,000 metres.
Places to visit in Switzerland #5: Jungfrau
Another must-visit place in Switzerland is the Jungfrau region. Jungfrau, referred to as the Top of Europe, is a place where the highest railway station in Europe (3,454 m) is located. There are three ways to get there – by cable car, by cogwheel trains via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen-Wengen. The Jungfrau region consists of four picturesque towns – Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen – and three majestic mountains – Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. One of Switzerland’s most scenic rail trips, the Jungfrau Bahn takes visitors from the Kleine Scheidegg Mountain through the Eiger and Munch up to the Jungfrau. This alpine wonderland, with its petite town underneath, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site called Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch. Normally, visitors reach Jungfrau via Interlaken, although other stations also connect to this region. Here, one of the must-see attractions is the Ice Palace. Artworks made of ice are exhibited here in niches next to the partially mirror-smooth passages. Eagles, bears, dogs, ibexes and penguins are among the artworks that an artist creates each year. The temperature of the Ice Palace is constantly maintained at -3°C. The vault and the ceilings are regularly reworked because of the evaporation caused by the visitors.
Timings: 7:30 am to 4:15 pm (Open 365 days a year)
Entry fees: Free entry for Jungfrau Bahn passengers
Places to visit in Switzerland #6: Montreux
Montreux is like a beautiful postcard landscape. It’s a paradise that has attracted artists, writers and travellers searching for tranquillity. The closest to Montreux airport is Geneva where a train to Montreux departs every hour. The train journey to Montreux is less than an hour. You can reach Montreux by train from any city in Switzerland. Montreux is a lakeside city that stretches along the shores of Lake Geneva and enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Montreux has many internationally-renowned cultural events like the annual Montreux Jazz Festival. The most-visited historical building in Switzerland, the Château de Chillon, is a 13th-century fortress. Set against Lake Geneva, the fortress has 14th-century paintings, postcards and books about the country’s many breathtaking sights and the Gothic dungeons and medieval frescoes. One of the best attractions of Montreux is the terraced vineyards at Lavaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that stretches for 2,050 acres. You can either see the vineyards from the Lavaux Express train or experience it through the many walking trails. Spend some time on the 3.5-km long stretch between Clarens and Château de Chillon and take a relaxing walk. For four miles along the shores of Lake Geneva, the Montreux Lakeside promenade offers a pleasant and scenic walking path for walkers, joggers and bikers. One of the most popular attractions in Switzerland is the famous Freddie Mercury statue on the lakefront, Place de Marche. For adrenaline-pumping activities in Montreux, a visit to the Glacier 3000 is a must. Vevey is a short drive from Montreux and has the Nestle headquarters. Visit Chaplin’s World, an interactive studio that exhibits multimedia displays, excerpts from Chaplin’s films, recreations of film sets, family photos and memorabilia, right down to Chaplin’s trademark hat and cane.
Timings: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm with slightly longer hours in summer and slightly shorter hours in winter (Open 365 days a year)
Entry fees: CHF 29 (adults, 16 to 59 years), CHF 19 (children, 6 to 15 years)
Free entry for kids under 6 years.
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Places to visit in Switzerland #7: Lucerne
Among the top places to visit in Switzerland is the city of Lucerne, which has lovely lakes and mountains, ancient churches and bustling squares. From Zurich airport, board a train to Lucerne, which is an hour’s ride. Visit the Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden bridge that has connected the centre of Lucerne since 1333. Lake Lucerne, known as the ‘Lake of the Four Cantons’, is a stunning body of water with an irregular shape. Lucerne has majestic Rigi, Pilatus and Titlis mountain peaks. Getting to Mount Pilatus is an adventure in itself. Ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway that operates between May and November. Or opt for gondolas or aerial cableways throughout the year. Summer visitors can take the ‘Golden Round Trip’, which involves a boat ride across Lake Lucerne and a ride up the mountain. The Glacier Garden is a wonderland that will take you back to the Ice Age. Decorated with glacial rocks and preserves, a museum inside provides information about climate change over the years. Among other places to visit in Lucerne are Hofkirche and the Jesuit Church. Visit the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, the Swiss Museum of Transport. It houses Switzerland’s first diesel locomotive, the Autotheater (an attraction where a fleet of cars from all eras are stacked high on shelves as if they were toys) and 30 aircrafts. The museum has a unique collection of more than 3,000 objects related to transport and mobility. Enjoy a plane or helicopter simulator and see real aeroplanes in the aviation section. Travel to mars, the moon and other planets in the space section.
Timings: 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
Entry fees: CHF 56 (adults), CHF 26 (children, 6-15 years), CHF 12.00 (children under 6 years)
Places to visit in Switzerland #8: Basel
The city of Basel is located on the north-western border of Switzerland. The airport is shared with France and Germany. Basel’s famous attraction is the 10th-century Basel Minster known for its Roman and Gothic-influenced architecture. The church’s scarlet-coloured sandstone walls, huge arches, cobbled alleyways and slanting tiled roofs lend it an extremely majestic appearance. As a symbol of diversity, near the church, stands the striking 18th-century Jewish synagogue. Basel Zoo, which is the oldest and largest in Switzerland, has over 600 species of rare animals like Indian Rhino, Flamingo, African elephant and panther. Basel is the cultural epicentre of Switzerland, famed for its concerts, festivals, art events and open-air cinemas. Known as the ‘city of museums’, it has over 40 museums that house world-famous galleries, collections of paintings and artworks. Some of the best museums include the Basel Toy World Museum, Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Antiques Museum for Egyptian Artefacts. The Kunst Museum is among the oldest museums in the country. It has a rich history dating back to 1671. Augusta Raurica is the largest archaeological park in the country that will take you back to ancient Rome. It houses an ancient stadium-like amphitheatre dating back to the 1800s that can seat over 2,000 people. This is where the largest annual Roman festival takes place, in the last week of August.
Timings: 10:00 am to 05:00 pm (open 365 days a year)
Augusta Raurica Museum entry fees including the Roman house: CHF 8 (adults, from 18 years), CHF 6 (children/young people, 6 to 17 years)
Switzerland beautiful places to visit #9: Lugano
Lugano is hailed as the ‘Monte Carlo of Switzerland’ as it attracts celebrities. It is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. The city is located near Lake Lugano in the Italian-speaking section of this alpine country. There is at least one inter-city train from Zurich Airport to Lugano, every hour. Frequent inter-city trains from Basel’s main station are also available. Geneva airport is farther away with good train connections but there are no direct trains and it takes more time. Enjoy the fresh Mediterranean fruits and raw species like palms and figs. The city is home to snow-capped mountains, rivers and other places to visit in Switzerland. The lakes, the sub-tropical climate and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Bellinzona have made Lugano a must-visit place in September or any season for a leisure holiday. A major draw to Lugano is outdoor recreation. There are plenty of ways to stay active in and around the area. Spend the day hiking along the signposted Olive Tree Trail or go for a swim at the easily accessible Lido di Lugano right by the city centre. The picturesque lakeside city of Lugano is loved by all for its beautiful quasi-Mediterranean scenery. Lugano’s old town is delightful with its Baroque and Renaissance places of worship, charming palazzi and squares. Piazza Riforma, Lugano’s main square, is beautiful with its pastel-hued buildings.
Must visit places in Switzerland #10: Bern
Home to bear pits, medieval buildings and a centuries-old clock tower, Bern is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and one of the top tourist attractions in Switzerland. The easiest way to reach Bern is via a flight to Zurich International Airport and from there, a train to Bern. There are trains every 30 minutes and the journey takes about 1 hour. The 12th-century clock tower stands tall in Marktgasse at the Western City Gate in the Old Town. The tower has a beautiful astronomical clock, constructed in 1530 and considered to be one of the oldest in Switzerland. Bern, Switzerland’s capital, has the most impressive medieval architecture. It was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is often referred to as the ‘city of fountains’ because of more than 100 fountains seen on its streets. Visit Zytglogge medieval clock tower with moving puppets and a bear park, which celebrates Bern’s symbol, the bear. Shop at the six-kilometre-long shopping arcades, Lauben. The Rose Garden has beautiful views of the Old Town centre. Art lovers can visit impressive galleries, including the Bern Museum of Art (Kunst Museum) and Zentrum Paul Klee, which houses the largest collection of works by this famous artist.
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What is best to buy in Switzerland?
Switzerland is well-known for its chocolate, Swiss watches, cuckoo clocks, cheese fondue set, Swiss army knives and Swiss cowbells.
What is the best way to travel within Switzerland?
Railway is the best way to travel in Switzerland, as it is economical and popular. The stations are clean and have a variety of services, while the trains are punctual and comfortable.
Why should I buy a Swiss travel pass?
The Swiss Travel Pass makes it more economical to travel within Switzerland than buying excursion and public transport tickets individually. A Swiss Pass is valid on all public modes of transport in Switzerland, i.e., buses, boats, trains and trams. It is an all-in-one ticket for tourists for a period of 3, 4, 6, 8 or 15 consecutive days. If you are travelling with children under 16 years, the Swiss Travel Pass ensures that your children travel free of charge on public transport within Switzerland. You also get free entry to 500 museums across Switzerland.