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Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

Switzerland is known around the world for its chocolate, cheese, charming towns and scenic landscapes. Everywhere you turn, you're treated to a little bit of history and a little bit of nature's beauty, as well as plenty of mouthwatering cuisine in between. U.S. News considered factors like sights, culture, accessibility and variety of things to do, plus traveler and expert input, to calculate the best places to visit in Switzerland. Peruse the list below, and vote for your favorite spots. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)


Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

  • Montreux
  • Lucerne
  • Swiss Alps
  • Zermatt
  • Zurich
  • Geneva
  • Bern
  • Jungfrau Region
  • Swiss National Park
  • St. Moritz
  • Lausanne
  • Basel
  • Brienz
  • Interlaken
  • Lugano
  • Gruyères
  • Stein am Rhein
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    #1 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Tourists may not be as familiar with Montreux as they are with its Lake Geneva neighbors, which makes this Swiss town such an undiscovered gem. Quaint Montreux features a waterfront promenade dotted with flowers and trees, a medieval castle and a charming old town, not to mention a statue commemorating Freddie Mercury (Queen recorded multiple albums here from 1979 to 1996). Montreux is also surrounded by vineyards and hosts a popular jazz festival every summer.

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    #2 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Picturesque Lucerne sits on Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland, framed by snowcapped mountains and medieval buildings. This city's old town is home to historic attractions, lively town squares, boutique shops and old churches. Make sure to see the Musegg Wall and its towers (the preserved fortifications date back to the 13th century) and Europe's oldest wooden covered bridge, the Chapel Bridge, which was originally built in 1333.

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    Swiss Alps

    #3 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Everything you've probably ever heard about the Swiss Alps is true; it's a destination so phenomenally beautiful that everyone should visit at least once. From the jagged, sky-high peaks to the lush valleys that seemingly go on forever to the charming medieval mountain towns that overlook beautiful lakes and rivers, this Alpine region of Switzerland offers one-of-a-kind scenery made for creating lifelong memories. When you're not admiring your surroundings, spend some time hiking or skiing the mountains' trails.

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    #4 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Travelers looking to ski or snowboard in the Swiss Alps should head to Zermatt. This small town in the middle of the Alps is famous for housing the Matterhorn (a peak so popular that it inspired a Disneyland ride) and Switzerland's highest ski resort. Novice and expert skiers and snowboarders can spend the bulk of their vacation hitting the slopes, which showcase incredible mountain views. After shredding powder, visitors can ride the Gornergrat train, pick up a slab of homemade chocolate from a local shop or savor cheese fondue at a traditional Swiss restaurant.

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    #5 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Zurich is a cosmopolitan financial center, a foodie haven and a romantic European city that appeals to all types of travelers. A vacation here should include spending time admiring Lake Zurich, exploring the trendy bars and restaurants (try some fondue), meandering through Lindenhof park and exploring the city's distinct neighborhoods. And you must sample the famous dark chocolate Champagne truffles from specialty chocolatier Teuscher.

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    #6 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Set along the banks of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland, this city is known for its incredible views and as the headquarters of the Red Cross and the United Nations. Geneva is also home to some iconic sights, including the Jet d'Eau (one of the world's tallest water fountains) and an old town with cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. While exploring the latter, be sure to check out the St-Pierre Cathedral, which features Roman, Gothic and neoclassical details.

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    #7 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    The capital of Switzerland, Bern sometimes gets overlooked for flashier Swiss cities like Zurich and Geneva. But Bern is home to many fun things to do and explore, including a UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town, a towering Gothic cathedral and many museums. Head to Gurten mountain – which can be reached by funicular, by bike or on foot – for sweeping views of the city below.

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    Jungfrau Region

    #8 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    The Jungfrau Region is the perfect place for first-timers wanting to experience the otherworldly splendor that is the Swiss Alps. But be forewarned: The destination is sky high. Popular attractions like the Jungfraujoch (which features Europe's highest train station), the Grindelwald-First aerial tram and the First Cliff Walk Presented by Tissot sit at the top of towering peaks. For those who'd rather stick closer to Earth's surface, prioritize a hike on a lower-level valley path and a visit to the Pfingstegg toboggan.

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    Swiss National Park

    #9 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Switzerland's only national park is located in the eastern portion of the country and sprawls across 42,000 acres of land. The sheer beauty of this national park is what draws travelers here: Verdant valleys stretch for miles amid the backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Hikers will find 50 miles of trails to explore, while nature lovers can admire the flora and fauna (think: various birds, ibexes and marmots) that call the park home.

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    St. Moritz

    #10 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Considered "the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism," St. Moritz welcomes travelers with exceptional skiing, swanky hotels and top-notch restaurants. In addition to offering downhill skiing trails so highly regarded that the town has hosted the Olympics twice, St. Moritz features excellent spots for cross-country skiing, sledding and winter hikes. Come summertime, the area invites outdoor lovers to golf, bike, hike or enjoy water sports and swimming in the surrounding lakes.

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    #11 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    The second-largest city on Lake Geneva, Lausanne is characterized by its renowned Gothic cathedral and surrounding hilly terrain. The stunning lake views and colorful city center don't hurt, either. Travelers can take in Lausanne's lively atmosphere by checking out the city's cafes, admire the old town's beautiful architecture and get a dose of history while perusing the exhibits at the Olympic Museum. No visit would be complete without venturing outside the city to nearby Lavaux to see its UNESCO World Heritage-listed vineyards.

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    #12 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Head to Switzerland's third-most-populous city if you appreciate art. The legendary Art Basel event started here and has since migrated to other cities around the world. What's more, Basel's top attraction, Kunstmuseum Basel, houses the country's largest public collection of art, with works from legends like Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. Additional art museums and galleries can be found throughout the city. When you need a break from admiring art, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Basel's picturesque old town or hop on a ferry for a scenic ride on the Rhine.

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    #13 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a small town that boasts more charm and incredible scenery than Brienz. Located in the stunning Bernese Oberland region, Brienz sits right on the northeastern shore of Lake Brienz, which features gorgeous turquoise water and is flanked by towering evergreen mountains. Plan on spending all of your time here soaking up the awe-inspiring setting. Some of the best ways to see Brienz and its surroundings include riding the Brienz Rothorn Bahn (which traverses a steam rack railway) and taking a boat tour to lake attractions like Giessbach Falls.

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    #14 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Interlaken's unique location between two lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun – makes it a breathtaking spot for a vacation. Here, you can spend hours hiking various trails, boating around the lakes or gazing at the surrounding mountains from the Harder Kulm observation deck (accessible via a funicular). To see more of the region's stunning scenery, go for a ride on the Schynige Platte Railway or sign up for a paragliding or skydiving excursion.

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    #15 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    This lakefront city offers visitors a unique Swiss travel experience. Because Lugano shares waters with neighboring Italy, the city features a mix of Swiss and Mediterranean influences in everything from its cuisine to its architecture. Plus, Lugano boasts unforgettable panoramas. Visit Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, both of which you can reach by funicular, for bird's-eye views of the lake and city. Or, spend a few hours hiking the Olive Grove Trail. If you'd rather lounge on a beach, head to Lido di Lugano.

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    #16 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Visit the medieval town of Gruyères if you want to feel as if you've stepped back in time during your next trip. Its good looks (think: car-free cobblestone streets, fountain-filled squares and a 13th-century castle) create an old-world ambiance you're bound to love. Plus, the town is world-renowned for its Gruyere cheese, which you can sample and learn more about at a local cheese dairy or cellar. Chocolate is also big here, so be sure to check out a chocolate factory or attend a chocolate workshop while in town.

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    Stein am Rhein

    #17 in Best Places to Visit in Switzerland

    Stein am Rhein is a European town that is so beautiful that it looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. Situated right along the stretch of the Rhine that spills into Lake Untersee, Stein am Rhein is filled with truly awe-inspiring architecture. Frescoes you would typically see painted on the domes of churches are strewn across the facades of businesses. Meanwhile, the town's cobblestone streets are flanked by colorful half-timbered homes. Though you won't find as many attractions here as you would in other destinations on this list, you'd be remiss if you didn't check out medieval Hohenklingen Castle.

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