Gorgeous mountain views, striking blue lakes, incredible skiing and hiking opportunities, and a melting pot of cultures are just a few of the aspects that make these cities to visit in Switzerland some of the most exciting in Europe. If you’re planning a trip, these are some of the most beautiful cities to visit in Switzerland that need to be on your itinerary.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!
Table of Contents
Best Cities to Visit in Switzerland
Despite its relatively small size, Switzerland is home to plenty of cities, each with its own unique allure and essence. Because of its central location, Switzerland is a place where you’ll feel like you’re traveling to different countries without crossing any borders, as some places feel and look like the neighboring country nearest to it. Some places feel more French, while others might be mistaken for Italy or Germany.
Below is a list of some of the most beautiful cities to visit in Switzerland. Start plotting your perfect Switzerland itinerary in this gorgeous European country full of natural beauty.
As the financial capital of the country, it only makes sense that is right at the top of our list of the best cities to visit in Switzerland.
Zurich is home to more than 100 art galleries, over 50 museums, and plenty of high-end dining options. Shopping is huge here as well, especially along Bahnhofstrasse, which is a long shopping street. It’s the perfect place if you’re after designer items.
If you prefer shopping locally, you’ll find tons of other options all over Niederdorf. This is a trendy neighborhood where you’ll find plenty of bars, coffee shops, boutique stores, and car-free streets.
Truthfully, there’s an endless list of things to do in Zurich. Some of the must-do options for first-timers include visiting the Museum of Art, the Swiss National Museum, Fraümunster (home to the famous Chagall windows), Confiserie Sprungli (for the chocolate and stunning upstairs café), and the Uhrenmuseum Beyer to see a beautiful collection of clocks.
For beautiful views, climb up to Lindenhof. A hill that offers glorious vistas of some of the oldest quarters and landmarks of Zurich, including the Grossmünster Church and City Hall.
Even though it’s an extremely busy city, you can easily escape the bustle and hustle of Zurich by heading out to Lake Zurich for relaxation. Here, you can enjoy plenty of activities, which include going on a bike ride, renting a canoe, swimming, or dining at the many restaurants scattered along the shore.
Geneva is home to an incredibly charming Old Town and one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe. It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland. Actually, it is one of the most beautiful on the continent.
Strolling its historical Old Town should take up a lot of your schedule during your visit. It is the largest historic center in Europe and contains plenty of attractions!
Geneva Saint Peter’s Cathedral and the Chapel of the Maccabees, Bastion Park, the Reformation Wall, the Museum of Art and History, and Tavel House are just a few of the must-see highlights here.
When you need a break, head over to Place du Bourg-de-Four. This is a beautiful square where you will find a variety of coffee shops and restaurants where you can sit for a while and enjoy people-watching while you eat a delicious meal.
Much like Zurich, there are plenty of activities along the shores of Lake Geneva. Make sure you also stop by to see the Jet d’Eau shooting water into the air!
Lucerne is home to the oldest covered wooden bridge in the world (it dates back to the 14th century!), but that’s not the only reason to visit. It’s also an easy day trip to Lucerne from many Swiss cities.
The gorgeous historic Old Town sits right next to a lake, with beautiful views of the mountains. Lucerne is another of the best cities to visit in Switzerland, especially if you want to combine a little bit of everything into one destination.
Start by checking out the Old Town, which is made up of traffic-free streets and tall painted houses that will make you feel like you’re walking in a fairytale.
Some must-see highlights include the Renaissance Altes Rathaus, the Old Town Hall that has been around since the beginning of the 17th century, as well as the Weinmarkt. Make sure you also check out the Musegg Wall. It’s a fortified wall that was built back in the Middle Ages to protect the city.
Another must is spending time enjoying Lake Lucerne. Here you can simply sit by and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains or take a boat ride or cruise along the lake.
Sitting on the edge of the Rhine River, Basel is known for being a city in Switzerland that sees sunshine almost year-round, even during the winter months!
The city is also considered the art capital of Switzerland. There are plenty of art museums throughout the city, as well as urban art and tons of local art galleries. Many creatives from all over the world call Basel their home. It is the third-largest city in Switzerland, which means it has a lot to offer for all ages.
A visit to the Kunstmuseum Basel is a must! Especially if you love art and want to see original pieces by artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh. Other can’t-miss activities include strolling the old town and checking out the medieval Basel Minister.
If you like unique museums, the Pharmazie-Historisches Museum and the Antikenmuseum Basel are great choices.
During the summer months especially, the Rhine River becomes a star in Basel. You can enjoy lots of water sports, sunbathe, and even swim in the river as the locals do!
Chur is the oldest city in Switzerland, with a history that dates back a whopping 5,000 years!
With so much to uncover, you can start by visiting the Altstadt. This is where some of the most historical buildings in the city are located, including the clock tower, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, and Saint Martin’s Church. For a super in-depth look into the city, make sure to visit the Rätisches Museum.
For nature, there are many mountains around Chur and they all have beautiful scenery. You can hike or take a cable car up to Braumruesch mountain for an easy day outing! A great place to relax is also to walk to Haldenhüttli, which provides beautiful views of the city.
If you want a bucket list of cities to visit in Switzerland, Chur is the starting point of the Bernina Express. It is considered one of the most scenic train rides in the world!
Home to Chillon, one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, Montreaux is a post-card perfect looking Swiss city where you’ll feel like you landed in the pages of a storybook.
The castle dates all the way back to the 13th century. It sits right over Lake Léman on top of a rocky hill and looks absolutely gorgeous contrasted by bright blue waters. Visitors are even welcome to take a guided tour through the castle. This way they can imagine what life was like there during the Middle Ages.
If you’re visiting in July, don’t miss the Montreaux Jazz Festival. If you find yourself there during November or December, Chillon is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Aside from the castle, there’s plenty more to do in Montreaux. Activities like enjoying water sports like boating and strolling along the Montreaux Lakeside Promenade, which is a 7-kilometer walk along the lake!
Montreaux is also an ideal place to experience Swiss wine. A great place to do so is the Lavaux Vineyard.
Active travelers shouldn’t miss an opportunity for hiking. There are plenty of trails in the area that will get you close and personal with the mountains around the city.
This city is located in the middle of two gorgeous alpine lakes (Lake Thun and Lake Brienz). Interlaken is a gorgeous city towered by striking snow-capped mountains. This makes it a popular place for those who want to experience the best the Bernese Alps have to offer.
The city is small and easy to explore on foot. What makes it a great destination though, is the destinations that surround it. Interlaken is a beautiful hop-off spot to some of the best places to visit in Switzerland for nature,
Within the town, you can reach two of the peaks that surround the city by riding a funicular. Or spend hours on end strolling Höheweg to find bars, shops, and restaurants.
Outside of Interlaken, you’ll have a plethora of choices to explore nature. Enjoying the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun is an option, both of which offer plenty of activities. This spot is perfect for nature lovers. Make sure you also take time to visit St Beatus Caves just northeast of Lake Thun. This is a karst cave system that features striking chambers, waterfalls, and chasms.
You can also take a day trip to Unterseen, a beautiful medieval town on the lake.
For an exhilarating experience, head over to the Interlake Ost railway station. Here you can ride an epic train that will take you through gorgeous landscapes until you reach Jungfraujoch.
If you happen to be visiting Interlaken during the winter months, this is also the best city in Switzerland for all things winter sports!
This capital city is often overlooked by tourists. However, it definitely deserves a place as one of the best cities to visit in Switzerland. The city’s medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s fun to explore the arcades and walk along the charming cobblestone streets.
Some of the city’s top attractions include its Zytglogge Clock Tower, Rosengarten (with beautiful views overlooking the city, and its BearPark. Yes, you read that right, the bear is the symbol of Bern and you will see it throughout the town. It’s most commonly seen on medieval buildings, flags, and statues – they are literally everywhere. It only makes sense that there’s an area dedicated to these beloved animals, where they have space to roam and visitors can see them from a distance.
If you’re visiting during the summer, be sure to join the locals who love to bathe and swim in the Aare River.
Have you ever been to Switzerland? For such a small country, there are truly countless places that could be called the most beautiful city.
Europe Travel Tips
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.