When we compare Switzerland to other European nations, it can seem a bit small. Even if it is on the smaller side, Switzerland has a lot to offer to its visitors who almost always come back.
If you are unsure about visiting Switzerland, think no more. Chocolates, castles, lakes, mountains, and glorious views are just a few reasons why you must visit.
This country has extraordinary natural beauty and cultural diversity. It has four official languages.
Places to visit in Switzerland are its mountains, lakes, rural areas. Also, Switzerland has amazing cities that have picturesque historic centers.
This country has a very rich history. You can travel back in time when you are there. Old towns that are nestled in modern ones are living evidence of a bygone era. They charm and invite you to another world.
People in Switzerland cherish love for all types of art. You will be able to experience it on another level. Go to one of many interactive museums, or visit lively artistic fairs.
Adrenaline junkies will love it too. Mountain climbing, off-piste skiing, some serious zip lining, among other activities, will fill their adrenaline reserves to the point of bursting.
Reasons why you should visit Switzerland
Many people overlook Switzerland when they plan their European trip. They shouldn’t. This cosmopolitan country has something for everyone.
There are many places to visit in Switzerland and many reasons why you must visit it. It was really hard to narrow down why you should visit this amazing country.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should visit Switzerland.
Quick facts about Switzerland
The capital of Switzerland is Bern. It doesn’t have an official religion. The monetary unit is Swiss franc (CHF). In 2019, there were 8,582,000 people living in Switzerland. The total area in square miles is 15,940 and in square kilometers is 41, 285.
A small but important country
Switzerland is a remarkable country with big international significance and a lot of places to visit. You would think that such a small country cannot be that important. Don’t let the looks of it deceive you. Switzerland and its cities are international centers of industry and commerce.
Switzerland is a landlocked country located in the confluence of Western, Central, and Southern Europe. It borders with Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Liechtenstein and Austria to the east.
Geographically, it is divided among the Alps, Jura, and Swiss Plateau. The most populated part of the country is the Swiss Plateau where the largest cities are located.
Formation of Switzerland
In 1291 cantons got together and formed an alliance against the Habsburg Dynasty. The abbreviation CH for Switzerland is derived from the Confederation Helvetica (Swiss Confederation) which was formed that year.
It was not until 1848 that a new constitution was adopted and the present nation was formed. Prior to this event, conflicts in the country were not uncommon. Since the mid 19th century this country was relatively tranquil and its organization didn’t change that much.
Switzerland is a union of more than 3000 communes or municipalities. They are situated in 26 cantons. Six of these cantons are traditionally referred to as demicantons or half cantons, but they function as full cantons.
Languages, languages, languages
As mentioned before, there are four official languages German, French, Italian, and Romansh. English is widely spoken as well.
Even though people live in close proximity they can speak different dialects. Sometimes these dialects are mutually unintelligible even if they come from the same first language.
It is not foreign that people living very near to each other speak different languages altogether.
Ordinary people can participate at every level of politics. They can make numerous policy decisions at all levels through referenda and initiatives. It makes political decision making to be slow.
The taxes in Switzerland are very low by European standards. This comes from the fact that voters can review and approve a wide range of expenditures.
Switzerland is a major economic power
This comes as a no surprise after a long tradition of financial services and high-quality manufacture.
Optics, watches, chemicals, pharmaceuticals together with amazing milk chocolate and cheese manufacture has put Switzerland at the top. It has very regularly been judged as the country with the highest standards of living in the world.
What are the majestic places to visit in Switzerland?
Now when we have a general idea about the country, it is time to go deeper and describe majestic places to visit in Switzerland.
All parts of this Switzerland are equally beautiful. To get the essence of what modern Switzerland is all about you must visit its cities and mountains.
Cities to visit in Switzerland
“The beauty is in the eye of a beholder.” It truly is. What one person finds beautiful, the other may not like.
Cities in Switzerland are all striking. They are THE places to visit in Switzerland. It is impossible to say which one is the most beautiful. They all have a unique charm and can seduce you really quickly.
We chose to tell you about Geneva, Zurich, and Bern, but this doesn’t mean that the other cities are not as amazing and worth your visit.
When you are in Switzerland, you must visit Geneva
“Capital of peace”, how some call it, Geneva is the third-largest city in Switzerland. The symbol of the city is “Jeet d’eau” literally meaning water jet. This fountain located in Lake Geneva is one of the tallest in the world.
Geneva is located in the bay where the Rhone River flows out of Lake Geneva. You will be able to see both Alpine peaks and the Jura mountain range from the city.
Geneva is a wealthy city. It is rich in far more than just money. It has an amazing history and culture. People living in Geneva come from all around the globe. All of them combined make experiences in the city very abundant and diverse.
The history of Geneva
Geneva has an interesting history. It used to be a Roman settlement that over time turned into a very important trading town during the Middle Ages. It was a target of many conquerors who wanted to rule the city due to its favorable location in the heart of Europe.
Geneva became independent after successfully defending its walls against the Duke of Savoy’s invasion. This victory is celebrated with a festival by the name of “L’Escalade”.
This city used to be called “Protestant Rome” when in the mid 1600s Edict of Nantes was repealed. Many Protestants from France affected by this decision found refuge in this City.
On September 12, 1814, Geneva joined the Confederation of Switzerland. After this event, the city quickly became a banking hub of the area and leader of the industrial revolution. At that time, Geneva had already gained a reputation for a city of excellent craftsmanship and a place where philosophers and artists set their roots.
When in 1964, Henry Dunant founded the Red Cross in the city it started to take modern shape it has today. From that time on Geneva became the champion of Human rights.
In 1946, the European headquarters of the United Nations was opened in the city making Geneva the “capital of peace”.
Things to do and see in Geneva
This cosmopolitan city has a lot to offer to its visitors, as do other places to visit in Switzerland. There are many museums in Geneva which document ancient and recent history. Some of them are Red Cross and Red Crescent Museums, Microcosm or CERN Museum, Natural History Museum, and many others.
There are various must-see places that you will enjoy during your stay, but we chose these 4 to tell you about.
As mentioned before, this fountain is one of the tallest in the world. Literally translated into English its name means water jet.
The original purpose of the fountain was to control and release the excess pressure of a hydraulic plant at la Coulouvreniére.
Quickly after Jet d’eau started operating it became the symbol of the City. For this reason, its power was amplified and it was relocated to the center of the lake.
This lake is the biggest one in Central Europe. To completely enjoy its beauty you should use a boat.
There are many boat rides that you can take to explore Lake Geneva. Many people start their exploration from the quay at Geneve-Mt-Blanc.
Once you are on the lake you will enjoy the magnificent beauty of nature. You will be able to see the Jura Mountains on the Swiss side. Since this lake curves along the border of France you will be able to enjoy in the view of the snow-capped peak of Mont Blanc on a clear day too.
The old city center
This part of Geneva will take your breath away. It is the most scenic part of the city.
Charming cafes and restaurants will welcome you to experience a little part of history through the amazing architecture that still stands the test of time.
Unique and independent boutiques located in the old town offer different turn on fashion.
The old town of Geneva is located on a hill surrounding the Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the pedestrian square Place du Bourg-de-Four.
When you are there go and see the archeological remains beneath the cathedral. Stroll along the promenade from which you will be able to reach the enchanting Bastions Park. When you are at the park, you will see the Jura mountain range lurking from afar.
The CERN headquarters are located west of the center of Geneva in the suburb of Meyrin.
This is the place where one of the greatest discoveries in the world of physics of our lifetime was made. In 2012, the Higgs boson was discovered in the world’s biggest particle physics laboratory.
When you are there go to the CERN Museum or Microcosm. It is an interactive museum where you can see and experience the work of the CERN particle physics laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider. You really don’t want to miss this experience.
All in all, Geneva is a city of diversity. This is where tolerance rules and everyone feels welcome.
This city of precision, banking, science, and culture cannot be described by words. Geneva must be experienced.
We chose to tell you about Zurich as one of the places to visit in Switzerland. The biggest city in this country has a lot to offer to its visitors. It is not as big as Paris and London but it is equally grandiose. The number of people currently living here is 1,395,356.
It has tourist attractions as well as a thriving economy. Zurich is famous throughout the world as a leader in the financial sector.
The biggest chunk of the city’s revenue comes from the large banks that made this city their home. The residents tend to have very high salaries and pay low taxes. The standard tax rate for the city is 8%. Medical care and education are not taxed. This makes Zurich an amazing city to get educated in.
There are plenty of things to do in Zurich. Stroll along the Lake Zurich or take a dip in the lake during a warm summer day. Enjoy shopping at the Banhofstrasse, go to a museum, and enjoy the old town.
History of Zurich
This vibrant hub of culture and business has grown from a small Roman customs post into the city it is today.
There is some evidence that people lived in this area 5000 years ago. Traces of the early settlements can be found from Bauschänzli to Wollishofen.
The city was first founded by the Romans in 57/58 BC by the name of Turicum. It was a customs station, where people and goods were dispatched before continuing their journey to the province of Raetia.
The evidence of this was found on the Grave inscription that was found on the Lindenhof. In the 4th century, a castle was built on the Lindenhof.
The early settlement of Zurich expanded around the castle which was standing at this place until the Early Middle Ages.
When the last member of the ruling family Zähringers died in 1218, the Zurich became a free city. It was still under the emperor’s rule but was permitted to govern itself.
The late Middle Ages was the time when tradesmen organized themselves into guilds and became a part of the council, together with aristocrats. Zurich was the sixth canton to join Helvetic Confederation, today’s Switzerland. This merger happened in 1351.
The Reformation was started in the 16th century by Ulrich Zwingli. He became the priest of Grossmünster Church. The reformation of the church spread from Zurich to all German-speaking Switzerland.
Zurich became the center of the textile industry thanks to many religious refugees who came to the city following the Reformation.
In the late 18th and 19th centuries, during the age of industrialization, Zurich became the capital of a machine-driven industry. It is at this time when banking in Switzerland started its boom.
After WWII, 70% of the working people were employed by the service industry. Former factory halls were turned into bars, restaurants, galleries, and shops.
The former industrial districts were converted into trendy districts in the modern age.
The people seem to love it since Zurich has been chosen as the city with the highest quality of life in the world over and over again.
Things to visit in Zurich
This happy city has great places where you can spend your time in. Among many, we have chosen three to tell you about. There are many more but these are our favorite.
This wonderful lake is the focal point of the entire city. It is very popular among tourists and locals. Promenades and parks along its entire shore offer a lot of places for enjoyment.
When the weather is nice, people enjoy the sun, go for a picnic, jog along the lake or swim in it.
The best way to capture its beauty is to go on one of many cruises. You will be able to see mesmerizing views of the Glarus Alps.
The boat dock at Burkliplatz, where the Limmat flows from the lake, is definitely worth visiting. This is a market where you can buy many authentically Swiss products. The art you can find here is amazing. From this dock, you will enjoy the best view of the Alps in the distance.
The old town
The old town is a piece of paradise tucked away in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city of Zurich. It is a true remnant of the past that provides an amazing insight into the way the things once were.
You will be able to find other places to visit in Switzerland that paint similar but not the same picture as The Old Town in Zurich.
Altstadt (the old town in German) district is a stunning place filled with historic charm. The winding narrow streets, medieval houses, guild, and town halls make you feel like you have traveled back in time.
But the Altstadt district is not only famous for its historic charm. This is the place where people go to the party. It has the highest concentration of clubs in the entire country. You can find some cafes, restaurants, and shops there as well.
The double towers of Grossmünster (Great Minster) dominate the old town. This is where, in the 16th century, the reformation was started by Ulrich Zwingli. He was a priest in this church.
Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style Protestant church. According to a legend the Charlemagne built the towers on the spot where the graves of two city saints, Felix and Regula, were discovered.
Fraumünster (Minster of Our Lady) is one more church in the old town worth your visit. It is embellished with stained glass windows that were made by the famous Giacometti and Chagall.
The church with the biggest clock face in Europe Peterskirche (Peter’s church) is located in the old town too.
Whether you are looking for a party, or you love the old architecture and history the old town of Zurich is a place to go.
Museums in Zurich
Zurich can also be called a city of museums. The number of museums in the city exceeds 50 with the best in Switzerland among them.
National Museum Zurich is suitable for those curious about the history of Switzerland and its residents. This Museum is the most visited cultural museum in the county. The exhibitions inform visitors about the way people used to live in the time span from prehistory to the present.
As a very important banking hub, Zurich associates many to success and wealth. Money Museum is a place where you will learn a lot about money.
The story about the evolution of money, its transformation from currencies made of leather and bone all the way to bitcoin, is available at the museum.
Swiss numismatist Juerg Conzett has some pieces from his private collection on display in the museum.
Bayer clock and watch museum have found its home in Zurich too. You will be able to learn how people kept time from all the way back in 1400 BC. Oil-lamp clocks, shadow sticks, grandfather clocks are on display among many others.
Zurich is an amazing city. It attracts visitors from all over the world for a reason. Its glorious lake, amazing museum scene, and the old town never stop to amaze.
Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is third on our list. It lies along the Aare River.
Bern is one of the places to visit in Switzerland that bear lovers will adore.
It is not a boring capital which is all about business. In fact, The Old Town in Bern was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.
Bern is not as big as Zurich and Geneva, but it has a lot of charm. The legend says that the city got its name after a bear. Supposedly, it was the first animal that the founder of the city killed during a hunting expedition while the city was still in construction.
This charming capital has been visited by more tourists each year. They all fall in love with the city and so will you.
History of Bern
Bern was founded in 1191. The Duke of Zähringen Berchtold V commanded that a city is built on a peninsula covered by oak forest. The forest was cut down, and the timber was used to build the houses. The famous Clock Tower back then was used as the city gate.
In the 13th century, the city expanded towards the west and the Käfigturum (Prison Tower) became a part of the new main gate. In the 14th century, the city expanded once again. It grew to today’s main railway station.
In 1353, Bern became a member of the Old Swiss Confederacy. Back then, Bern was the most important city-state north of the Alps due to its size and power.
The things took turn for the worse when in 1405 a massive fire destroyed wooden buildings. They were replaced by sandstone, which continued to be used in construction replacing wood.
Bern was occupied by Napoleon’s army on March 5, 1798. The city was stripped of its lands which it regained back in 1802 and 1814.
One more important year in Bern’s history is 1848 when it became the capital of Switzerland.
Things to do/ to visit in Bern
Beauty and tranquility are what this stunning city offers to everyone. It has a long history and a marvelous old town. There are plenty of things to do in Bern. Listed below are only some of them.
Bears in Bern
This city got its name after these animals and even the flag of Bern has the iconic Bernese bear on it. It seems only natural that when you visit Bern you will get to see bears. The bear image can be found on candy boxes and sides of buildings too.
When you are in Bern go to see the famous Bear Pit (Bärengraben). This park is completely dedicated to bears and is free for visitors.
In this park, bears have plenty of space to roam around and enjoy their lives.
The current pit, which opened in 1857, is located at the edge of the old city next to the river Aar. It is a part of the Dählhölzili Zoo.
The old bear pits were not an ideal place for the animals that is why a lot of money was invested to create space for them to enjoy.
Now, the bears have a large swimming pool and hill to climb. They even have tunnels that they use to hide when they have had enough of the crowds.
All in all, you will enjoy looking at these glorious animals, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the river Aar. What a glorious place to visit in Switzerland.
See the Einstein-Haus
Albert Einstein lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905. The apartment he stayed in had been turned into a museum and is open for visitors.
You can get the feeling of his life during his annus mirabilis (extraordinary year). The Year of 1950 was the one that turned out to be Einstein’s most creative period of scientific discovery.
When he stayed there, Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity. This work greatly contributed to the world of modern physics. It revolutionized our understanding of space and time.
The Einstein-Haus is located on the third floor of Kramgasse 49, in the heart of the old town.
The Old Town of Bern
The Old Town of Bern entered the UNESCO’s listing of World Heritage sites in 1983. It is encircled by the Aare River and a place you must visit to understand what Switzerland used to be like.
In The Old Town, you will be able to find unique arcades that provide shelter and shade to everyone strolling through the city.
When you are in this part of Bern, you will be able to experience the scale of urban development in medieval Europe. The buildings in The Old Town date back to different periods of time.
The position of the Alstadt (the old town) used to be ideal. It is surrounded by the Aare River on 3 sides. This offered great protection from invasion back in the Middle Ages.
Today the river is a place for summer recreational activities. It is perfect for swimming and boating.
When you are in The Old Town, make sure not to miss the Clock Tower (Zytglogge), the Prison Tower (Käfigturm), Bern Minster, Budesplatz and Bundeshaus together with the amazing fountains. The Einstein-Haus is also located in The Old Town.
Bars, cultural venues, specialty shops of the Alstadt are just what a person needs when they want to rest after an exciting walk through The Old Town.
Mountains in Switzerland
Switzerland is the land of the giants. Yes, Giants. We are talking about the glorious mountains not the imaginary creatures from the fantasy stories.
More than half of this country is covered by mountains, to be more precise 50 percent of the land is a mountainous area. Therefore, it is safe to say that mountains are some of the places to visit in Switzerland.
There are two main mountain ranges in Switzerland. Those are the Alps (south and east) and Jura (north and west). Swiss Plateau separates these mountain ranges.
Visitors, especially skiers and mountain climbers, adore them. Even if you don’t fall into these two categories you will be mesmerized by their magnificence and beauty.
In this text, we will talk about 3 spectacular mountains in Switzerland. This doesn’t mean that the others are not as great. If I could, I would visit every single one.
The 3 mountains you must visit in Switzerland are:
When you start describing Switzerland you cannot but mention The Matterhorn. It is as Swiss as the fondue, chocolate, and watches. The Matterhorn is a true symbol of Switzerland.
Valais region, the region where you will find the tallest mountains in Switzerland, is where Matterhorn is located. It is 4478 m tall and leys on the Swiss-Italian border.
To enjoy the stunning view of its jagged tooth-like peak people goes to Zermatt. This resort town is completely dominated by the mountain.
Zermatt is the crown jewel of ski resorts in Switzerland. It has a huge ski area and more than enough cable cars. It is where the world’s highest tri-cable car system is located. Trockener Steg and Matterhorn glacier paradise stations are connected by it.
When you go to this mountain you will be able to ski across two countries. There are not a lot of spots on our globe where you can do this.
Only very skilled mountain climbers are advised to climb the Matterhorn. It is very dangerous for the rest.
We chose to talk about Monte Rosa because this is the highest mountain in Switzerland. It is staggeringly 4634m high. Just like Matterhorn, it is located in the Valais region.
Monte Rosa is chillingly beautiful, but at the same time dangerous. If you are not a skilled mountaineer it is best that you don’t try to climb the mountain.
In case you are like the most of population, not a master mountain climber, you can still enjoy its raw beauty. Monte Rosa hut is the place to do so.
Its location at the foot of the mountain may make people feel like it would be OK to go there alone. Please don’t.
In order to reach the hut, you must cross a small glacier. This requires special equipment and experience. The smart thing to do would be to hire a guide.
You can reach Monte Rosa from Zermatt of Saas-Fee. Once you get there you will be able to enjoy the raw and untamed beauty of a mighty mountain.
Pilatus, the mountain of dragons and the world’s steepest cog railway, stands up high at 2129m. It is located in central Switzerland and rises above the southwestern shore of Lake Lucerne.
To get to the mountain you can use the world’s steepest cog railway. It was commissioned in 1889 at a gradient of up to 48% and is still operating now. This masterpiece of engineering was designed by Eduard Locher. At the beginning, he was considered to be a mad man, but when the railway opened it proved everyone wrong.
Pilatus is also known as a dragon’s lair. Many folk stories connect it with these mythical beings. People used to believe that dragons lived in the rugged clefts and crevices of the mountain. You can find a dragon stone with healing powers on the mountain too.
Monte Rosa is not as crowded as the other more known mountains. This is why we recommend that you visit it. The Dragon stories and an exciting train ride will make your stay on the mountain etched in your memory forever.
What is a good time to visit Switzerland?
It is not easy to answer this question and not make a mistake. The beauty of different places in Switzerland varies depending on the season.
The best time will depend on your plans and interests. So, we will say that any time is the best time to visit Switzerland.
There are several factors to consider when you are deciding the month you will visit this amazing country.
Switzerland has four seasons. Just like in the rest of Europe, the seasons are determined by the summer and winter solstices.
Spring starts on 21 March and lasts until 20 June.
The summer starts on 21 June and lasts until 20 September.
Autumn starts on 21 September and lasts until 20 December.
Winter starts on 21 December and lasts until 20 March.
High season is from July to August, on the other hand, October and March are a bit slow. The ski season lasts from December to March.
Many people opt to visit Switzerland from July to August. During this time the weather is the warmest and many try to take advantage of that. A big increase in tourism makes prices jump up to 50 % during this period.
Winter season is the best for skiers. Even though this is the slowest season for the rest of the country, in the mountains it is the busiest. In some of the most popular ski resorts, you will have to book your accommodation way in advance.
If you don’t want to break the bank the best time for traveling in Switzerland is during the shoulder seasons. From September to October, and between April and June the weather is nice and the number of tourists decreases.
There is no question about it that Switzerland is a country where you will see one of the most picturesque destinations. Depending on what you want to do, you should choose the time and part of the country you want to visit.
Some seasons make some destinations irresistible. To decide the best time to visit first you have to know what you love the most.
We are sure that this mystically beautiful country will amaze you no matter where you go and when you visit. All places in Switzerland are remarkable and will make your trip unforgettable. No matter what place you decide to visit, you won’t regret it.
In order to get the gist of the way people live in Switzerland and the way the country functions, you have to visit its cities and mountains. Only then you will be able to understand why people living here are some of the happiest in the world.