Switzerland has many incredibly beautiful cities and towns in mountainous and alpine surroundings. Many of these Swiss cities and towns also benefit from being on the shores of idyllic lakes. Switzerland is the perfect getaway, whatever time of year you travel. In winter, explore the Christmas markets in its cities before heading up into the mountains to ski. In summer, relax and unwind in the sunshine at the edges of lakes or stroll through tree-lined streets. Many towns and cities in Switzerland are medieval and fairytale in their architecture and design, with towering spires of churches, ageing castles covered with ivy and narrow cobblestone streets.
This romantic air gives a city break in Switzerland an atmosphere like no other in Europe. Switzerland is the ideal destination if you enjoy food and drinks, as some of the best chocolates and cheeses come from the country. Its unique blend of Italian, French and German allows Switzerland to have a varied and delicious range of dishes on their menu,, offering the best cuisine each country has and giving visitors a chance to try something new and unique. Whether you are visiting for food, culture or nature, here are 20 of Switzerland’s best cities and towns to explore on your next trip to this incredible country.
- Towns And Cities In Switzerland
Towns And Cities In Switzerland
20 Swiss Cities And Towns To Visit
Zürich is well known for its role in the world of banking, however, there is much more to this picturesque city than finances.
Take a moment to stroll along Lake Zürich to marvel at its crystal clear waters, many swans and serene natural landscape.
In the summer, expect to see yachts sailing on the lake or mooring at the docks.
Explore the historic centre of Zürich in Altstadt, or Old Town, which lies on either side of the Limmat River.
The streets date back to medieval times and are narrow and winding, with plenty to discover as you wander.
Look out for cosy coffee shops, guild houses and examples of 17th-century architecture.
On the southern tip of Lake Geneva is Geneva, a picturesque city surrounded by the Alps and Jura Mountains.
Marvel at the unique Jet d’Eau fountain in the Eaux Vives jetty as it sprays water 140 m (459 ft) into the air.
The fountain was originally designed in 1891 to release water pressure from a city water facility.
Since being updated in the 1950s, the fountain is simply an attractive and unique water feature that makes for incredible photos.
Head to one of the city’s most beautiful and historical buildings, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Genève.
Built in 1535, the Protestant church is much simpler in exterior design than its Catholic counterparts but is still a wonderful site with its tall arched windows and Greek columns.
The top of the tower has excellent views over the city.
Lucerne is a lakeside city on the shores of Lake Lucerne that is filled with medieval architecture and a wide variety of other historic buildings.
Cross the iconic and historic Kapellbrücke bridge, a pretty wooden bridge that runs over the Reuss river.
The bridge dates back to 1333 and features alpine floral baskets and many paintings depicting the city and its history hanging inside.
When in Lucerne, look out for the Lion Monument, an intricately carved rock relief on the side of a cliff.
Bertel Thorvaldsen designed the sculpture, which Lukas Thorn completed in the 1820s.
The lion was designed as a memorial to remember the Swiss Guard who lost their lives during the French Revolution.
Winterthur is near the German border in the north of Switzerland and is less than 30 minutes drive from Zürich.
The city is quieter compared to others in Switzerland, however, it is still worth a visit.
If you are travelling with children, check out the Technorama museum, a fully interactive science museum that offers the opportunity to get involved with more than 500 different and exciting experiments.
Art lovers should spend some time enjoying the Oskar Reinhart Collection, an extensive collection of 19th-century French artworks.
Works from Monet, van Gogh, Manet and Renoir are within the gallery.
Basel is a quaint medieval city on the banks of the Rhine River and close to Switzerland’s borders with both France and Germany.
Meander through Basel’s medieval centre to see its old decorative homes, baroque guild halls, and beautiful examples of medieval church architecture and pleasant stone fountains.
For one of the most incredible examples of Gothic architecture in the city, visit Basler Münster, a church with two tall spires and an ornately patterned roof.
The church was built over a Roman fort site and was rebuilt in the Gothic style after an earthquake in the 13th century.
Despite further destructive attempts by protestant worshippers, much of the original church remains, including the impressive Romanesque St Gallus doorway.
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6- La Chaux-de-Fonds
Venture into the mountains to explore the alpine city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, sitting at 1000 m (3281 ft).
The city dates back to 1656 and is integral to the Swiss watchmaking industry.
In 2009 the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Immerse yourself in the city’s watchmaking heritage at the International Clock Museum, which houses an incredible collection of clockwork, watches and wall clocks.
Uncover more impressive design by visiting the Maison Blanche, a spectacular white house designed by 20th-century architect Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier’s parents used the house and, for a time, served as the architect’s studio.
Bern’s origins date back to the early 12th century, with many well-preserved examples of medieval architecture still standing in the old town.
The city is considered the capital of Switzerland, however, the country does not have an official capital city.
Begin your time in Bern in its UNESCO World Heritage Site medieval centre.
The architecture here is stunning and the cobbled streets are lined with colourful flags and vibrant hanging baskets of flowers.
Spend some time with the city’s emblem at BärenPark, a leafy and relaxing park home to three brown bears.
The city has admired and loved bears since the 12th century, with these majestic creatures becoming the emblem of the city.
Since the 16th century, Bern has kept bears in a spacious natural habitat.
Enjoy watching the bears roam around their forest or taking a dip in the river.
The alpine city of Chur has a historic centre dating back to the 13th century.
The town includes a range of architectural styles dating back to its founding, and including Romanesque and Baroque buildings lining its cobblestone streets.
Enter the unique and careful design of Shelter for Roman Ruins, an architectural marvel designed to protect and preserve a Roman excavation in the city.
Peter Zumthor designed the shelter in 1986, using carefully positioned slats of timber to protect the ruins from the sun while encouraging air flow throughout the building.
The ruins themselves are impressive, this modern building juxtaposes the ancient interior and elegantly preserves history.
Fribourg is another spectacular medieval city in Switzerland and sits on the banks of the Sarine River.
When in Fribourg, sample some traditional and delicious cheese fondue.
Cafe du Gothard serves some of the best fondue in the city, a rich dish of hot melted cheese served with cubes of delicious bread and potatoes.
Take in views over the city, river and surrounding mountain landscape by scaling the 365 ft (111.25 m) tall tower at St Nicholas Cathedral.
After descending the tower, spend a little time exploring the cathedral and admiring its colourful stained glass windows.
Another of Lake Geneva’s spectacular cities is Lausanne, which is on the lake’s northern shores.
Board a boat tour of Lake Geneva departing from Lausanne for a relaxing way to see the city and more of its surroundings on the azure waters.
Visit the awe-inspiring Cathedral of Notre Dame to follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims.
The cathedral, entered through a 13th-century doorway, is large and open and adorned with stained glass windows, many biblical carvings and stone sculptures depicting the Apostles.
Uncover the history of the modern Olympics at the Olympic Museum.
The Olympic headquarters are in the city, and the museum showcases everything that makes the Olympics great.
There are a range of interactive exhibits allowing you to get hands-on with some games and to see if you have what it takes to be an Olympian.
On the shores of Lake Lugano and overlooked by mountains lies the city of Lugano.
In contrast to many Swiss cities, its location on the Italian border has given Lugano a Mediterranean vibe in its architecture, design and food.
Spend some time by the shores of the beautiful Lake Lugano, either strolling along a walkway or taking to the water on a canoe or tour boat.
Some of the best views across the lake are from Civico-Ciani Park, a large park filled with trees, colourful flowerbeds and peaceful fountains.
Those with a sweet tooth should head to the Apprise Chocolate Museum to uncover how chocolate is made and to try plenty of samples along the way.
12- St Gallen
St Gallen is a baroque-style city filled with history, magnificent architecture and fairytale vibes.
One of the most fantastic things to do in St Gallen is visiting the Abbey Library of Saint Gall.
The library is the oldest in Switzerland and dates back to the 9th century, however, the current structure is from the 18th century.
Inside the library are wall-to-floor bookshelves filled with antiquarian and rare books, row upon row of shelves, some of which form part of a high walkway around the library, and intricate and ornate painted ceilings.
Get a breath of fresh air by visiting the Botanical Garden St Gallen, home to more than 8000 plants from across the globe.
The botanical garden includes perfectly designed gardens and luscious greenhouses filled with tropical plants.
Towns In Switzerland
The resort town of Montreux is on the shores of Lake Geneva, with a dramatic backdrop of the Swiss Alps.
The town is a literary paradise frequented by writers such as Mary Shelly and Lord Byron.
Marvel at the spectacular Chateau de Chillon, a 9th-century castle that rises out of Lake Geneva.
The castle is the setting for The Prisoner of Chillon by Lord Byron and is a must-visit for literary fans.
Costumed guides will show you around the castle and its buildings and recount tales from its days as a stronghold for the Dukes of Savoy.
Thun is a quiet and pleasant medieval town a stone’s throw from Lake Thun and overlooked by Mount Titlis.
For the best views of the lake, visit Bonstetten Park, a public parkland and gardens running along the edge of the lake.
There are plenty of spots for a picturesque picnic and a children’s playground to keep little ones occupied.
Inside the French neo-classical Grand Hotel Thunerhof is the Thun Art Museum which exhibits the city’s art collection.
The exhibitions change frequently and showcase the best of Swiss and international artworks.
Look for a bite to eat along Obere Hauptgasse, a historic cobblestone street lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants featuring colourful flower baskets and quaint balconies.
Interlaken is the perfect getaway for summer breaks or winters on the slopes and is one of the oldest resort towns in Switzerland.
The best way to see Interlaken nested in the valley, the lake and the mountain region surrounding them is to take in the view from Harder Klum.
Board the funicular to reach the summit quickly, or hike on one of its many hiking trails.
Once at the top, there is a lookout pavilion stretching out from the mountain and excellent views from the mountaintop restaurant.
Head underground and explore the caves of St Beatus and its cascading waterfalls.
Legend tells of a dragon hiding in the caves from a monk hunting him.
While you may not see a dragon, you can enter the caves and explore the 1-kilometre (0.62 miles) of underground walkways to take in its underground waterfalls and mirror lakes.
Thanks to its central location, sion sees more sun than any other Swiss city or town, making it a great destination year-round.
Visit the imposing clifftop 11th-century Château de Tourbillon for the best views over the town and the mountains.
The chateau was fully restored in 1996 and is open to the public on guided tours.
For a truly delicious and local meal, dine at La Sitterie, a tiny restaurant in an old house.
The restaurant is surrounded by a garden paradise filled with colourful flowers and large leafy plants.
The menu changes with the seasons, ensuring that diners enjoy a meal with only the freshest produce.
Locarno is on the shores of Lake Maggiore and is an Italian-speaking Swiss town giving it a perfect blend of fairytale Switzerland and Mediterranean Italy.
Savour a glass of wine and watch the world go by in the 18th-century Piazza Grande, the town’s main square.
Surrounding the square are colourful buildings, many of which are built in the Lombard style.
Take a short walk from the Piazza and explore Visconteo Castle, a 12th-century castle that houses an archeological museum today.
Be sure to admire Leonardo’s Rivellino, a 16th-century fortification designed by Leonardo da Vinci.
Biel/Bienne is famous for being the home of where many Swiss watches are manufactured.
This quaint town is at the foot of the Jura mountains and is filled with charm.
Wander along the 18th-century streets of the old town to feel the heart of the city.
The buildings and houses lining the narrow streets are often beautifully decorated with colourful paintings, ornate carvings and plenty of flowers.
When in the old town, look for a bite to eat at a cosy restaurant or buy a local souvenir from an independent store.
Learn more about the town’s watchmaking history at the Omega Museum, opposite the brand’s headquarters.
Inside the museum are around 4000 watches from Omegas history and a range of tools, drawings and engravings depicting the manufacturing and design process.
Bellinzona is the perfect Swiss town to visit if you want immediate access to the Alps, with plenty of history and an Italian vibe.
The city has three castles; Castelgrande, Catello di Sasso Corbaro and Montebello Castle.
Explore all three during your visit to learn more about the town’s history and these castles’ role in protecting the landscape.
Each castle is located on hilltops offering spectacular views over the town below.
Indulge your tastebuds at Casa del Popolo, a beautiful and centrally located restaurant specialising in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.
Yverdon-Les-Bains is another lakeside Swiss town and is on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel.
The town is famous for its spa resorts and inviting thermal springs.
Take a dip in a thermal spring at the Thermal Centre of Yverdon to relax or ease muscular and joint aches.
The naturally heated springs are a pleasant 29 degrees Celsius and are accessible through one of the resort’s four pools.
Visit the second-largest castle in Switzerland at Castle Grandson, an 11th-century castle.
The castle was in active use for four centuries and today is open to the public to view its impressive collection of medieval armour and weaponry.
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