Switzerland is a land of sophistication, high-quality living, and unrivaled natural beauty. Paired with the epicurean delights of Gruyere cheeses, Swiss chocolate, and wine, the Alps are a wonderland of skiing and hiking, peaceful mountain retreats, and majestic vistas. Conquering the towering peak Jungfrau by foot in the Berner Oberlander, or viewing iconic spire of the Matterhorn from Zermatt are memories for a lifetime. But a visit to Switzerland doesn’t end in the Alps; Geneva and Lake Lucerne offer cosmopolitan cuisine, top-notch resorts, and tranquil alpine landscapes. For a change of pace, head to the chic cities of Bern or Zurich and try out their eclectic array of restaurants and wander narrow streets filled with fountains and outdoor markets. You might not be able to see it all, but take a ride on the Glacier Express and the journey becomes the destination.
With the largest airport in the country, travelers flying into Switzerland will likely pass through Zürich. As the financial hub of the country, Zürich is not a typical tourist attraction, but has plenty to explore with a well-preserved Old Town, vibrant nightlife, and a lively art scene. Sitting at the picturesque juncture of the Limmat River and Lake Zürich, this hip city is a pleasant place to spend a couple of nights before venturing into the Alps.
An underrated city in Switzerland’s upper northwestern corner, Basel is often visited more for its convenient location than its inherent charm. It serves as a jumping off point to Germany’s Black Forest, France’s Alsace wine region, or river cruises down the Rhine. But Basel boasts a beautiful medieval town center along the banks of the Rhine River, and a handful of first-rate museums. With inspiring architecture ranging from ancient to modern, Basel is a worthwhile stopover for art-lovers on their way to the next adventure.
Imposing mountains, crystalline alpine lakes, quaint villages, and over 300 miles of marked mountain paths make the Jungfrau Region an irresistible destination. The big three peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau are connected by railway lines built into the mountains, cable-car networks, and a variety of hiking trails which make this rugged landscape accessible for everyone to explore. Spend the afternoon in the peaceful mountain towns of Wengen or Grindelwald, or enjoy breathtaking views on the train ride to Jungfraujoch, which at 11,388 feet is the highest railway station in Europe.
Set amidst snow-capped mountains along a cobalt-blue lake, Lucerne is a storybook Swiss city. With 14th-century city walls enclosing the historic center, and a reputation for traditional music, Lucerne is much more than simply a gateway to the Alps. The city is situated in stunning lowlands made up of spectacular valleys, three great lakes, and picturesque ancient towns such as Beromünster and Sempach.
Located in Canton Ticino, Switzerland’s southern Italian-speaking region, this Swiss-Mediterranean lake town is the pearl of the region. On the shores of Lake Lugano, surrounded by Monte Brè and Monte San Salvatore, the historic city center of Lugano has many Italianate Lombardy style buildings and a handful of flower-filled parks with stunning mountain views. The region is also known for its full-bodied Merlot, a well-kept secret outside of Switzerland.
This famous resort town, along with the nearby towns of Vevey and Villeneuve, lies on the northern banks of Lake Geneva. The mild climate, breathtaking vistas and close proximity to ski-resorts have earned this area the name Swiss Riviera. Take a tour of the Nestle Chocolate factory, enjoy the Montreux Jazz Festival in July, vineyard-train tours in Lavaux, and visit the 13th-century island castle of Château Chillon. Though none of these options quite compare with a simple stroll on the palm-lined lakeside promenade or a cruise on a belle époque paddle steamer.
Surrounded by forests and shadowed by towering peaks, St. Moritz is the home of the bobsleigh, the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, and has a well-deserved reputation for being a world-class ski town. Those willing to pay the high price-tag will find themselves overwhelmed by incredible ski-slopes, breathtaking alpine scenery, and an unmatched five-star winter experience. In the summer you will enjoy long days for hiking, and a number of great music festivals hosted in town.
Set below the Matterhorn, one of the world’s most iconic peaks, the town of Zermatt is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts looking to hike, bike, climb and ski. This ski-resort town has chalets ranging from quaint to luxurious and plenty of upbeat bars to keep you entertained when the sun goes down. The car-free policy in town preserves the quiet charm of the mountains for those looking to unwind and relax in high-altitude serenity.