Zurich, or ‘Zuri’ as it is fondly known by its multicultural inhabitants, lies in northern Switzerland at the meeting point of a beautiful lake and river, with the magnificent snow-capped Swiss Alps standing guard high above it. This fairy tale city is renowned for its beauty, cleanliness, efficiency, and heritage. Explore medieval alleyways peppered with quirky corner cafes, steepled churches, trendy taprooms, and world-class galleries and restaurants. A day in Zurich can include browsing the unrivalled selection of luxury stores on it’s famous shopping strip, the Bahnhofstrasse; riding the Polybahn, the 19th-century funicular up a steep hill to admire the spectacular view; or ‘renting’ a free bike or skateboard to meander along the banks of picturesque Lake Zurich. The venerable palace of art at the Kunsthaus is also a major drawcard, containing numerous world-famous masterpieces.
Set in southern Switzerland’s Valais canton, at the foot of the mighty and jagged Matterhorn, one of the most recognizable mountains in the world, lies the quaint town of Zermatt. This popular tourist resort plays host to a combination of extreme sports enthusiasts, tour groups, backpackers and fur-clad socialites who use it’s ramshackle mazots and gorgeous wooden chalets as a base for exploring. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, hiking and climbing the peaks of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, or explore the depths of the ancient geological marvel that is the Gorner Gorge. Indulge in Zermatt’s delicious cheese fondue served with a refreshing glass of Valais wine while floating past the Matterhorn on one of the city’s famous gondolas. History lovers will delight in the multimedia displays and artefacts at the Matterhorn Museum.
Set on the banks of the beautiful Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, Basel serves as a cultural hub of the country. The university town of Basel, rich in cultural history, offers a host of recreational and pleasurable experiences with its extensive cultural wealth, activities on offer, as well as top class cuisine and nightlife. It is home to the highest concentration of museums in the country. It is renowned for its beautiful Old Town, numerous museums, modern architecture and historic landmarks. Visitors can relax along the Rhine, explore the historic market square edged by a beautiful red sandstone Town Hall, sample the traditional Basel honey cake at the ‘Lackerli Huus’, and discover a host of stylish boutiques and antique book shops lining the streets. Other popular attractions: Botanical Gardens and the impressive 12th-century Gothic cathedral.
Located in the Bernese Oberland Region, at the foot of the Jungfrau Mountains, and resting 400 metres above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Wengen is a picturesque alpine skiing village known for its wooden chalets and belle epoque hotels. In winter, the town provides excellent snowsports conditions and is the perfect base to explore all the major Jungfrau destinations. It’s also the ideal starting point for Kleine Scheidigg-Mannlichen ski region, a family-friendly network of trails that is also home to the World Cup piste on the Lauberhorn. Wengen holds equal value for outdoor pursuits in the summer months, with more than 500 kilometres of hiking trails, 15 cableways, and great spots for some excellent paragliding, river rafting and canyoning. Don’t miss the spectacular Eiger Trail, a medium-difficult climb at the foot of the Eiger north face.
Situated in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland area, on the banks of the Brienzersee opposite Interlaken, Brienz is home to both spectacular nature and enthralling historic attractions. The town is characterised by a collection of fairytale wooden chalets overflowing with geraniums; a gem-blue lake; and a tooting steam train winding up the snowy mountain, between dark green woods. Along with its deep-rooted traditions, lakeside promenade and woodcarving workshops it feels like a step back in time. Meander through the Ballenberg Swiss open-air museum, filled with authentically reconstructed farming hamlets and offering demonstrations on cow-herding, lace-making and more, to take a peek into the rural life of old. Take a ride on the last steam track in the country to Rothorn, and enjoy sublime views from the hotel’s sun terraces at the pinnacle.
Located on the northern shore of the gorgeous Lake Maggiore, the Italian-speaking resort city of Locarno is famous for its remarkably sunny weather. The town is blessed with a veritable treasure trove of historical and cultural attractions. These include, the Piazza Grande, the heart of the city centre and also the major shopping area; Castello Visconteo, a twelfth-century castle housing the fascinating Museo Civico, which showcases Roman antiques; and a charming old town, Citta Vecchia, complete with narrow cobblestone streets, lovely boutiques, excellent restaurants and cafes, and some quaint old buildings and churches. But the city’s most notable attraction is undoubtedly the pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso, established after an apparent appearance of the Virgin Mary. Its location above Locarno, in Orselina, can be reached by a funicular railway and provides panoramic views of the city and the lake.
With its quaint village-like atmosphere and its idyllic, unspoiled, rural surroundings, Klosters presents the perfect peaceful counterpoint to the massive nearby bustling resort of Davos. However, visitors to Kloster need not miss out on all the action. A short ride on the Gotschnabahn cable car will deliver you to Davos ski arena where you can ski, snowboard, toboggan, ice skate or hike to your heart’s content. Must see attractions include the Davos Kirchner Museum, which is dedicated to the German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and the Salginatobel bridge near Schiers. Spanning 90 metres above the Salgina brook, this reinforced concrete bridge is Switzerland’s only engineering world monument.
Located in central Switzerland in the German-speaking part of the country, Lucerne is undeniably one of Europe’s most enchanting cities. With its magnificent lakeside and mountain scenery, its remarkable variety of tourist attractions and its idyllic location at the northwest end of Lake Lucerne, the city is thought by many to be the epitome of ‘true’ Switzerland as well as the gateway to Central Switzerland. The landscape is a wonderland of snow-capped mountains, glistening lakes, cowbells, alpine villages and meadows full of Edelweiss. The pedestrianised centre of the city is a maze of cobblestone streets lined with medieval style buildings adorned with wonderful displays of colourful flowers. Presiding over the old town, the original city wall provides stunning views. One of the main attractions is crossing the Reuss River on the famous Chapel Bridge.
Few towns can boast a position as privileged as the Victorian resort town of Interlaken. As the name implies, this small Swiss gem lies on an alluvial plain between two of Switzerland’s loveliest lakes in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region. Surrounded by crystal-clear streams, incredible waterfalls and extraordinary mountain scenery (including the icy peaks of the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau) Interlaken is an ideal home base for travellers wanting to explore the area. There are plenty of adrenaline-filled activities to thrill adventure-sports enthusiasts, with climbing, hiking and paragliding available in summer and 200km of prime pistes on offer for skiers and snowboarders in winter. Historic paddle steamers cruise the two lakes and a classic funicular will transport you to a high lookout point where you can marvel at the awesome beauty of this picturesque holiday destination.
Located in the southern Alps of Switzerland alongside an aquamarine lake, and surrounded by magnificent emerald forests and towering snow-capped peaks, St. Moritz is the star-studded epitome of exclusive, luxurious, ski resort towns. The quality and diversity of outdoor sports facilities are virtually unrivalled. Snow bunnies flock here in winter for the excellent skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, horse riding, curling, ice skating, ice cricket and the world’s only Cresta run. This same crowd returns in summer to indulge in swimming, sailing, windsurfing, mountain biking, hiking, polo, tennis and luxury shopping followed by a relaxing soak in the famously fizzy mineral springs. Whiskey lovers will enjoy a visit to Devil’s Place Bar, the most extensive whiskey bar in the world (listed in the Guinness Book of Records) – with 2500 varieties.
Resting on the shore of Lake Geneva, in the Vaud region, Lausanne is Switzerland’s smallest city, but more than makes up for its size with its culture, atmosphere, extraordinary Alpine scenery, education and sports. It is home to a lively, world-class university and is renowned as the world’s Olympic capital. The city is lined by lovely undulating hills which afford residents and visitors spectacular glimpses over Lake Geneva and the Alps. The medieval centre is dominated by a grand Gothic cathedral, while the rest of the city boasts unique museums devoted to interests as diverse as Art Brut and the Olympics. The wealth of its cultural life is exceptional, while its modest size keeps it on an eminently human scale. A brief leisurely stroll is usually enough to discover immaculate parks and gardens, vibrant shopping districts and some impressive architectural heritage.
Towered over by the jagged mountain terrain of the snow-capped Alps, Lauterbrunnen is a picturesque toytown tucked between gigantic rock faces and looming mountain peaks of Interlaken-Oberhasli, in the canton of Bern, Switzerland. Visitors to this charming storybook village will be entranced by the stunning natural attractions that include 72 waterfalls, the most famous being Staubbach Falls, a glorious cascade that plunges at 300 metres and is the highest free-falling waterfall in Europe. Take in the romantic views on the hiking trails and meander on the Lutschinen Promenade alongside the River Lutschine. After a day of hiking, skiing at the magnificent Mount Schilthorn, and swimming in the open-air swimming pool, take some time out and indulge in Swiss dishes in the many restaurants and cafes that line the main street.
Resting at the foothills of the wondrous Schilthorn, Murren is a cosy Swiss mountain village. This fairy tale, car-free village draws in both nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts during both winter and summer to enjoy its plethora of natural wonders, which include exhilarating ski pistes, toboggan runs, and walking trails. Travellers can meander along the store-lined streets, indulge in delicious cuisine or grab a souvenir from one of the charming stores, and visit the awe-inspiring Murrenbachfalls. One of the major drawcards of the picturesque Murren is the Allmendhubel funicular, which during the summertime, transports travellers to a panoramic restaurant which overlooks awe-inspiring mountain vistas. Don’t miss out on the themed North Face Trail and the Flower Panorama Trail, both of which provide insight into the history of both the peaks and the region.
Known as the gateway to the famous Four Valleys ski area, Verbier is an alpine village on the sunny plateau of Switzerland’s Valais Canton, surrounded by snowy mountains and offering its visitors spectacular views of the striking landscape. The town’s resort is its central attraction, with a huge variety of ski slopes and lessons to suit all levels, with Mont Gele especially renowned for its off-piste ski slopes. As a venue for the Freeride World Tour, amateurs can watch expert professionals jump off massive death-defying drops. In winter, visitors can try snowshoeing, sledding, and a range of other snowsports; in summer, paragliding, golf, and numerous stunning trails provide plenty of outdoor fun. Make sure to visit the gorgeous waterfalls at the Haut Val de Bagnes nature reserve, and the Foundation’s Sculpture Park, filled with enthralling 3D installations.
Set amidst breathtaking mountain scenery on the lovely Landwasser River in the Swiss Alps, the bustling village of Davos is one of the largest and most popular holiday resort towns in the Alps. In the winter months, visitors can enjoy 54 ski lifts, 320 kilometres of slopes, 75 kilometres of cross-country ski tracks, five sledging runs, two artificial ice-skating rinks, and Europe’s largest natural ice rink. In the summer, the cable-cars provide access to four hiking areas with a total of 450 kilometres of marked footpaths. Explore the rugged, romantic valleys on foot, by mountain bike or by horse-drawn carriage, and enjoy swimming and watersports at the Davos Lake. Take an excursion on the famous Glacier Express, or on either the Heidi or Bernina Express Trains. The town also boasts excellent restaurants, boutiques and a thriving party scene.
Situated in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland, Gruyeres is an 800-year-old medieval town. This picturesque town boasts a rich cultural heritage and top-notch gastronomy. It is because of Gruyere cheese that Switzerland is known as the cheese capital of the world. The undeniable highlight of the town is everything cheese, from watching the cheese-making process at La Maison du Gruyere to sampling the magnificent cheese and enjoying an array of local La Gruyere specialities including raclettes, fondues, rostis, soup de chalet, macaroni de chalet. Stroll the pedestrianised cobblestoned streets, try some Swiss chocolate at the Maison Cailler chocolate factory or ski on the slopes of the Le Molesaon Mountain accessible via Moleson village. History lovers can visit the 13th-century hilltop Chateau de Gruyeres, which overlooks the town as well as the small St. Germain Castle, and the Tibet Museum.
Resting on the north shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland is the small but charming port town of Vevey. An Italian hamlet with a 1970s charm, Vevey is home to lush green vineyards, delightful eateries, lovely museum, and a picture-perfect lakeside central square. Must-see attractions include: Chaplin’s World, a fascinating museum showcasing the life of Charlie Chaplin through interactive displays and memorabilia; Swiss Camera Museum, an exciting museum featuring the evolution of camera’s; and Aile Castle, a magical castle boasting spectacular architecture and Swiss heritage. With the towering French Alps contrasting the green Lavaux vineyards, the best way to experience the wondrous vistas and enchanting surroundings of Vevey is during a leisurely boat ride on the lake or a unique ride aboard the remarkable Mont Pelerin funicular.
Set among the lush wine-growing area near the German border, on the northern bank of the mighty Rhine River, Schaffhausen boasts enthralling landscapes and natural attractions, and a wealth of heritage. The town is home to the famous Rheinfall waterfall, the largest in Europe, which can be experienced in all its glory by taking a boat ride right past it, or from a rocky outcrop protruding from its centre. On the first of August every year, a spectacular fireworks display lights up the falls. In summer, enjoy atmospheric spots for swimming a little further along the river, or make use of one of the pristine public pools. Winter is a good time to soak up the area’s history. Explore the old medieval town, filled with Renaissance and Baroque buildings, and the town’s famous 16th-century fortress.
Resting at the meeting point of numerous Alpine valleys in southern Switzerland’s Ticino canton, the impressive and relatively tourist-free city of Bellinzona is truly a sight to behold. The city’s major drawcard is undoubtedly the three grey-stone medieval castles which tower over its ancient centre. Montebello Castle, arguably the most exquisite of the three, houses a fascinating civic and archaeological museum. A walk along the old city wall will lead you the Piazza della Collegiata, where you can follow the San Michele path up to Castelgrande, which includes a helicoidal ramp allowing visitors to reach the summit directly from the piazza. Contrary to appearances, there is nothing austere about this Lombardic town. The city’s bustling market, as well as the region’s most lively carnival, are enough to enthuse even the most jaded traveller.
Resting in the breathtaking Schanfigg Valley of the Swiss Alps, the postcard-perfect Arosa is a much-loved holiday destination among skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. Hike through the verdant woods from Saletalm to the sparkling, turquoise Lake Obersee, and onwards to the gorgeous 470 metre Rothbach Waterfall. The lake also has water displays, fountains, lights and music at certain times. Indulge in a huge array of luxury treatments at the chic and stylish Bergoase Spa, which is one of the largest in Europe features an entire medical team. Summit the mighty Weisshorn via cable car or mountain rail, and dine at the restaurant on its peak, surrounded by crystal-white and blue peaks. Other highlights include the massive open-air ice rink, the annual winter comedy festival, and uber-cool, modern hotels.
Perched at over 1200 metres in the magical Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland lies the wondrous, high-altitude village of Kandersteg. With an amphitheatre of rugged peaks, snowy meadows and jewel-coloured lakes, this enchanting village draws in travellers from far and wide to enjoy an array of delightful activities, including skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing, with over 550 kilometres of surrounding trails. Travellers to this quaint, medieval town can meander along its cobbled stone streets, dine at one of the award-winning restaurants and visit the acclaimed Kandersteg International Scout Centre. Aside fro skiing and hiking, a major drawcard of this charming destination is the vibrant turquoise waters of Oeschiensee; a magical, alpine lake framed by snow-capped mountains and perfect for ice-fishing and hiking.
Fringed by the Alps and Jura Mountains, and set at the southern end of the magnificent Lake Geneva, Geneva is a French-speaking Swiss city with plenty to offer the discerning traveller. The City’s postcard-perfect old town, lined with a maze of cobbled alleys and strewn with historical monuments, charming antique stores and quaint cafes, appeals to history buffs, ardent shoppers and foodies alike. This old world charm is surrounded by a slick, modern cosmopolitan city complete with a thriving community of international expatriates, world-class restaurants, famous luxury jewellers and enough chocolate shops to satisfy even the most avid chocoholics. Geneva specialises in the finer things in life. The selection is overwhelming and makes for some great window shopping which is practically a national sport in Switzerland.
Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is centred around a crook in the lovely Aare River. Known for its magnificent fountains, sandstone facades, narrow cobbled streets, historic towers, and its gargantuan Gothic cathedral, the city is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. The remarkable design coherence of the historic old town has earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, particularly for its impressive six-kilometre stretch of fifteenth-century arcaded walkways lined with some charming shops and cafes. Bern is also a remarkably green city: in addition to the numerous public gardens and forests, the pretty facades and fountains are typically adorned with a blanket of colourful flowers. Bern has everything you could ask for in a medieval European city – it is small, compact, central and brimming with cultural treasures and old-world atmosphere.
Encompassing awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains and vibrant green meadows, Bernese Highlands, also referred to as the Bernese Oberland, is the region situated in the southern part of the Canton of Bern. A perfect balance of both natural wonders and city charm the Bernese Highlands boasts the snowy town of Gstaad; the historic Swiss village of Interlaken; the mountain village of Wengen; and the magical alpine, Lake Thun. Adventure seekers and nature lovers alike can immerse themselves in the enchanting mountain peaks as they enjoy a leisurely gondola ride up one of the many summits to ski, embark of an invigorating journey along the iconic North Face Trail, admire the beauty of the mighty Staubbach Falls or admire the scenery while they indulge in mouth-watering cuisine at the many village cafes.
Tucked amidst the gorgeous Bernese Alps in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland, the alpine village of Grindelwald is best known for its excellent skiing opportunities in winter and hiking opportunities in summer. Visitors can board Switzerland’s famous cog railroad (the highest in the world) which climbs high into the mountains for a truly magnificent ride and view. Grindelwald also serves as the starting point for visitors ascending the iconic north face of the Eiger Mountain. Other activities include: gondola rides up to the minor summit on Schwarzhorn, where visitors can attempt the thrilling First Cliff Walk; and hiking the magnificent six-kilometre Eiger Trail. Don’t miss the chance to view the Bachalpsee, a remarkable alpine lake, and explore the deep Gletscherschlucht, an otherworldly glacier canyon.
The large and vivacious city of Lugano is set in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino in southern Switzerland, sheltered by a lovely bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano. It offers visitors a remarkable selection of chic boutiques, trendy bars and bustling pavement cafes lining the city’s steep, cobblestone streets. This maze of narrow alleyways winds its way through the historic town centre, with its Mediterranean-style squares and arcades, to the lakeshore and along the gorgeous flower-fringed promenade. As the largest of Switzerland’s three premier world-class waterfront resorts, Lugano tops Ascona and Locarno for architecture, sophistication, and exquisite surrounding terrain. With its Mediterranean flair, its traffic-free historic centre, and its Italianate Lombardy style buildings (which house numerous exclusive museums), Lugano combines all the perks of a world-class city, with the quaint charm of a small historic town.
Located in Switzerland’s Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut district in the canton of Vaud, Montreux lies in a sheltered bay on Lake Geneva, surrounded by exquisite terraced vineyards and the breathtaking snow-capped Alps. The lovely resort town is known for its pleasant climate and its famous jazz festival, held annually in June or July. The town boasts an impressive, long, flower-fringed promenade lined with lush pines, cypresses and palm trees, as well as some grand ‘belle epoque’ buildings. Just offshore visitors will find the remarkable thirteenth-century island castle, Chateau Chillon, with double ramparts, a moat and a chapel adorned with impressive fourteenth-century murals. Fans of the band ‘Queen’ will delight in ‘Queen: The Studio Experience’: a museum centre at the Montreux Mountain Studios filled with memorabilia of the famous band.
The breathing beautiful alpine mountain village of Engelberg is embedded amidst the lush landscapes of the Uri Alps. It is surrounded by major mountain summits, such as that of the mighty Titlis. A magical destination all year round, Engelberg is among the top ten ski regions in Switzerland, and is known for its wonderfully diverse ski and freeride areas. In the summer, on the other hand, Engelberg is the gateway to magnificent hiking, mountaineering, climbing, and biking opportunities. Alongside its natural beauty, Engelberg is rich in history, as the charming village was built around the Benedictine Engelberg Abbey, a late-Baroque style monastery home to a community of monks, one of Switzerland’s largest organs, and a unique cheese factory. Don’t miss the thrilling Titlis Cliff Walk and the enchanting Titlis Glacier Cave.
The exceptionally glamorous resort of Gstaad lies in the south-west of Switzerland, just over an hour’s drive east of Montreux. It is known for its spectacular alpine setting and its wealth of leisure activities year round. While generally associated with luxury and high society, this charming pedestrianised village full of restored weathered-wood chalets tucked between three impressive snow-covered mountains has more to offer than glitz, glam and a celebrity crowd. An authentic alpine lifestyle still prevails in the region, and local artisan food products and craft traditions remain very popular. The main street is lined with cafes, galleries, boutiques and gourmet restaurants and there are impressive facilities for both skiers and non-skiers to ensure weeks of outdoor adventure and cosy indoor entertainment.
Andermatt, meaning ‘on the meadow’, is a little-known and seriously underrated ski resort in the Swiss canton of Uri. The town’s compact centre offers charming cobbled streets lined with quaint alpine-style houses and a range of reasonably priced hotels and restaurants. The town has seen some rapid development over the past few years with the addition of numerous luxury hotels and a plan to construct a lift link to nearby Sedrum. Despite this modernisation, one thing remains unchanged – the exhilarating snow-sure terrain of Andermatt’s two mountains: the gentle Nätschen and the towering Gemstock, the area’s tallest mountain, whose cable car delivers skiers to its sky-scraping peak offering extraordinary alpine views. The town is a typical Swiss image with its little whistling trains popping in and out of tunnels; cows grazing in the sun outside beautifully maintained mountain huts.
Situated in northeastern Switzerland in a valley between Lake Constance and the Appenzell Alps, St. Gallen uniquely borders four different countries. It serves as the capital of the canton of St. Gallen and was founded in the 7th century. Sprawling out from the awe-inspiring Abbey Cathedral of St Gall, this Historical Swiss city boasts an array of charming attractions. The Abbey of Saint Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular tourist attractions. The Abbey’s renowned library houses the oldest literature collection in Switzerland featuring books dating back to the 9th century. With impressive Renaissance and Baroque buildings lining the streets, visitors can explore this town’s medieval origins. Other highlights include: learning about the historic textile industry, visiting the beautiful botanical gardens and enjoying a beer tour at Schützengarten, the oldest brewery in Switzerland.
Situated in the heart of Swiss dairy country in northeastern Switzerland, the quaint town of Appenzell rests at the foot of the Alpstein mountains. The town is set against a scenic backdrop of gently rolling cow-dotted countryside scattered with traditional Swiss chalet-style houses framed by rugged mountains in the distance. This charming town features streets lined with a collection of picturesque wooden houses, amazing konditoreien (cake shops), craft shops and local taverns, which are all beautifully decorated with intricately painted facades and wrought iron signs. Visitors can look forward to enjoying a cheese tasting at the Appenzeller Schaukaserei and sampling an array of world-renowned Swiss cheese. Other highlights include: Ebenalp summit, the Appenzell Museum, the Wildkirchli cave complex which houses a 17th-century chapel; and the old Aescher Inn, a 170-year-old Swiss guesthouse built into the side of a mountain.
Set in Sierre in the canton of Valais, this postcard-perfect mountain town and alpine ski resort is set in a sunny area and boasts fantastic snowsports opportunities, stunning vistas, high-class shopping, and an interesting cultural centre. Excellent spots to ski include the Plaine-Morte Glacial Plateau. The slope trails are mostly blue and red, but there are numerous good off-piste options. Visitors can go on a boat ride through Europe’s largest subterranean lake, St-Leonard, between Sion and Sierre. The town is made up of two villages, with Crans being an upmarket area containing glitzy shopping centres, a wellness centre, boutiques, prestigious restaurants and glamorous cocktail bars, while livelier, youth-focused is Montana offers more traditional apres-ski bars and generally stays up later. Other highlights include wonderful vineyards to explore and a wonderful, action-packed line-up of activities in summer.