Top 10 Things to Do in Switzerland Jarastyle travel

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The gorgeous central European country of Switzerland has no shortage of things to do no matter the season. With its alluring alpine landscapes and charming cities, Switzerland has something to offer for every traveler.

Whether enveloped in winter’s pristine snow or covered with green alpine meadows, Switzerland is the perfect playground for adventurers, explorers, and those who appreciate natural wonders. Read on to discover the top 10 things to do in Switzerland.

St. Moritz, Switzerland. Photo by CanvaSt. Moritz, Switzerland. Photo by CanvaSt. Moritz, Switzerland. Photo by Canva

1. Visit the Luxury Resort Town of St. Moritz

If you have any interest in winter sports or immersing yourself in stunning mountain landscapes, a visit to St. Moritz is one of the best ways to experience Switzerland.

Located in the Engadin Valley, St. Moritz is a charming resort village known for its world-class accommodations and its long tradition of hosting sporting events such as the Winter Olympics (in 1928 and 1948) and the Alpine Skiing World Championships. You can plan your visit around the many esteemed cultural events such as the St. Moritz Art Masters, Engadin Festival, White Turf, and many more.

Skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating are some of the many winter sports you can indulge in while staying in St. Moritz. Boasting prime snow conditions, a wide range of slopes, and diverse terrain parks, there are plenty of options for any skill level. The three most popular ski resorts are Corviglia, Corvatsch, and Diavolezza, with Corvatsch being the best for snowboarders looking to hit the terrain parks.

All Season Destination

Not only is St. Moritz an iconic winter wonderland, but it is breathtaking in the Summer as well. The region transforms into a lush paradise with vibrant alpine meadows peppered with wildflowers, a perfect place to hike and bike.

There is an extensive system of mountain biking and hiking trails that meander through the mountains and meadows, offering options for all skill levels. A thawed Lake Moritz welcomes a world of water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, and swimming.

If sports aren’t your thing, you can spend your time browsing the exclusive boutique shops, trying the many fine dining restaurants, or merely relaxing in the region’s thermal springs. The springs are warm year-round and are known for their mineral-rich waters with expansive views of the Swiss Alps.

There is nothing as delightful as inhaling the crisp mountain air while you soak your worries away in naturally heated springs. Some hotels utilize the thermal water as part of their spa, most notably the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains.

Alpine view in Mürren. Photo by CanvaAlpine view in Mürren. Photo by CanvaAlpine view in Mürren. Photo by Canva

2. Stay at Hotel Alpina in Mürren

Hotel Alpina in Mürren is a traditional family-run hotel that’s beautiful year-round. Considered a Panormahotel, it is located on a cliff and boasts spectacular views of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains.

Most rooms have views of the Swiss Alps with a variety of styles and arrangements. Panorama-Restaurant Alpina is a fine dining restaurant with panoramic views featuring traditional Swiss cuisine. With your stay, half board is included (two daily meals). In the warmer months, guest have access to the beautiful terrace overlooking the breathtaking Jungfrau region.

Mürren is a small town located in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland that offers great hiking, sledding, and skiing/snowboarding. Take a cable car to Schlithorn a mountain with lovely panoramic views with the famous revolving restaurant, Piz Gloria.

You can visit Allmendhubel Flower Park, a beautiful garden with a variety of alpine flowers (in the summer). Nearby are the Trümmelbach Falls, an amazing cluster of waterfalls within a mountain. These are accessible via bus or train from Mürren.

If you want to try tobogganing, there is a legendary slope dedicated to the sport, one from Allmendhubel to Mürren. While you visit, it is essential to try local cuisine, especially fondue and raclette, my favorite foods of all time. Fondue was invented in the region and it’s made with some of the best cheese in the world.

Scenic train ride in Switzerland. Photo by Janoka82 (iStock)Scenic train ride in Switzerland. Photo by Janoka82 (iStock)Scenic train ride in Switzerland. Photo by Janoka82

3. Take a Scenic Train Ride Through Switzerland

Switzerland is known for having some of the best train routes in Europe. Here are some of the best:

Bernina Express Scenic Train Route

  • Route: Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy
  • Notable Stops: Chur, Filisur, St. Moritz, Pontresina, and Tirano
  • Highlights: This train route crosses the Swiss Alps with views of mountains, glaciers, and picturesque villages.

Centovalli Railway Route

  • Route: Locarno, Switzerland to Domodossola, Italy
  • Notable Stops: Locarno, Intragna, Corcapolo, Santa Maria Maggiore, Crevoladossola, and Domodossola
  • Highlights: This scenic train route goes through 100 valleys that connect Switzerland and Italy with views of dramatic mountain peaks, both the Swiss and Italian Alps, villages, and landscapes.

Glacier Express Route

  • Route: Zermatt to St. Moritz
  • Notable Stops: Zermatt, Andermatt, Chur, St. Moritz
  • Highlights: This route cuts through deep valleys with views of glaciers, alpine villages, and passes through 91 tunnels and across 291 villages

Golden Pass Scenic Train in Switzerland

  • Route: Lucerne to Montreaux
  • Notable Stops: Lucerne, Interlaken, Zweisimmen, and Montreaux
  • Highlights: The route features picturesque landscapes including Lake Lucerne, mountain passes and the vineyards of Lavaux

Gotthard Panorama Express Route

  • Route: Lucerne to Lugano (or vice versa)
  • Notable Stops: Lucerne, Flüelen, Bellinzona, and Lugano
  • Highlights: Along the way, you’ll see Swiss Lakes, Moutain Scenery, and the Gotthard Base Tunnel

All of these routes are available with the purchase of a Eurail pass, one of the most convenient ways to travel through Europe. Learn more here.

Read More: How to Use Eurail to Travel Across Europe: A Eurail Guide

Performers wearing traditional masks at Basel Fasnacht. Photo by CanvaPerformers wearing traditional masks at Basel Fasnacht. Photo by CanvaPerformers wearing traditional masks at Basel Fasnacht. Photo by Canva

4. Attend the Many Festivals in Switzerland

Montreaux Jazz Festival

  • Location: Montreaux
  • Time of Year: July
  • About: Located on Lake Geneva’s shoreline, the Montreaux Jazz Festival is the second-biggest jazz festival in the world. Historically, the festival has hosted Nina Simone, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and many more musical legends. The main musical genres presented at the festival are jazz, soul, and blues, but other genres have been making an appearance. Modern musicians such as Lizzo, Pharell Williams and Adele have been invited to perform at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in recent years. The festival lasts 16 days and 80% of the events are free of charge.

Locarno Film Festival

  • Location: Locarno
  • Time of Year: August
  • About: Located in the world’s largest open-air cinema in Piazza Grande, the Locarno Film Festival is a haven for those who love movies of all kinds. Founded in 1946, it is one of the oldest film festivals in the world. Its known for featuring a diverse selection of international films, ranging from mainstream to independent.

Basel Fasnacht

  • Location: Basel
  • Time of Year: February/March
  • About: If you’re looking to experience one of Switzerland’s most lively and vibrant carnivals, plan a trip to Basel in February. Beginning at 4 am on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, Basel Fasnacht lasts three consecutive days, filled with elaborate parades, wild costumes, and exciting street performances. It all begins with a pre-dawn parade where the city lights are turned off and participants march down the streets in lanterns and masks. Costumes and masks are a central part of Basel Fasnacht, most often used to satirize political or historical figures. Be sure to book accommodations in advance because Basel Fasnacht is one of the most popular events in Switzerland.

Fête de l’Escalade

  • Location: Geneva
  • Time of Year: December
  • About: Fête de l’Escalade is a historical festival that is celebrated annually in December in the city of Geneva. It is centered around an important moment in Geneva’s history – when citizens of Geneva were able to prevent a surprise attack by the Duke of Savoy in 1602. The event typically spans over a weekend and is filled with exciting activities including parades, bonfires, characters in costume, and other traditions.

Lucerne Festival

  • Location: Lucerne
  • Time of Year: Year-round depending on the program
  • About: If you love classical music, you have to attend The Lucerne Festival, considered to be one of the best international classical music festivals in the world. Events take place three to four times a year, the longest event being the Summer Festival, lasting a little over a month. Performances feature a wide variety of of classical music including symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and contemporary compositions. Here is the lineup for 2024:

Lucerne Festival Dates for 2024

  • Spring Festival 2024: March 22nd – 24th
  • Piano Fest 2024: May 9th – 12th
  • Summer Festival 2024: August 13th – September 15th
  • Forward Festival 2024: November 15th – November 17th

Read More: Discover the Dreamy Town of Annecy in the French Alps

Bern's gorgeous old town. Photo by CanvaBern's gorgeous old town. Photo by CanvaBern’s gorgeous old town. Photo by Canva

5. Explore Switzerland’s Many Medieval Old Towns

Many of Switzerland’s cities have preserved medieval old towns that offer a look into the country’s rich past. Each offers a unique experience with different styles of architecture, beautiful sights and landmarks and stories of what they were like in their heyday. Here are some of Switzerland’s cities that have the best medieval old towns to visit:

Bern

Bern is the capital city of Switzerland, located on the Swiss plateau in the west-central part of the country. Bern’s well-preserved old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring historical landmarks such as the Zytglogge clocktower, the Federal Palace, and the Cathedral of Bern.

Lucerne

Lucerne’s old town is right along the picturesque shores of Lake Lucerne and has a beautiful medieval town ripe with preserved frescos from the Middle Ages. Other prominent medieval landmarks include The Chapel Bridge, Water Tower, and the Musegg Wall. Like many Swiss towns, the views are spectacular due to the town’s prime location in the Swiss Alps.

Zurich

Zurich’s old town is particularly unique because it combines modern and medieval elements. The alleys are narrow, decorated with guilded houses and medieval churches, coexisting with contemporary shops and cafes. The Grossmünster and Fraumünster are two notable churches to visit in Zurich.

Geneva

Geneva’s old town is charming with plenty of elements characteristic of medieval times, including long winding streets, historic homes, with one from the 12th century, and gorgeous churches like the famous St. Peter’s Cathedral. Surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, Geneva is absolutely worth a visit regardless of your interest in medieval old towns.

Lausanne

Lausanne’s old town is located on a hill with stunning views of Lake Geneva. The main impressive landmark to see is the Cathedral of Lausanne and it is well worth exploring the old streets and squares along with touring the medieval castle, Château Saint-Maire.

Basel

Basel’s old town is located on the Rhine River with a gothic cathedral dominating the skyline. There are many other medieval buildings to visit in Basel, including the medieval Rathaus (Town Hall) which is a gorgeous shade of red.

Kleine Scheidegg. Photo by CanvaKleine Scheidegg. Photo by CanvaKleine Scheidegg. Photo by Canva

6. Visit Kleine Scheidegg

If you’re looking to visit a gorgeous mountain pass, Kleine Scheidegg is the one to check out. Two railways meet here which makes it fairly accessible to get to. Kleine Scheidegg is often considered the most beautiful region in the Bernese Oberland.

There are plenty of ways to explore the area, featuring multiple excursions. You can hike the Eiger Trail, climb Lauberhorn, or check out Jungfraujoch, all with incredible views. If hiking isn’t your thing, there are cable car options that offer a great way to see the region and reach the top of mountain peaks that you’d otherwise have to hike to.

The picturesque Lake Lucerne. Photo by CanvaThe picturesque Lake Lucerne. Photo by CanvaThe picturesque Lake Lucerne. Photo by Canva

7. Visit Lake Lucerne

One of Switzerland’s most iconic lakes is the stunning Lake Lucerne (known as “Vierwaldstättersee” in German). This lake is unique due to its unusual shape, with arms extending into the surrounding mountains, offering views from every angle.

It is massive as far as lakes go, 24 miles long (38 kilometers). Besides being surrounded by epic mountains, there are plenty of rolling hills, charming villages, and historic towns including Weggis, Vitznau, Brunnen, and Beckenried.

In the summer, the lake is popular for boat rides, and the northwest shore as a good starting point. There are plenty of scenic cruises, train rides, and roads to explore the region. It’s worth taking a guided tour to gain more insight into the area.

Yodelers in traditional costume performing to celebrate the New Year. Photo by iStockYodelers in traditional costume performing to celebrate the New Year. Photo by iStockYodelers in traditional costume performing to celebrate the New Year. Photo by DuchesseArt

8. Take a Yodeling Lesson

Yodeling is a traditional form of vocal music popular in Switzerland and Austria. People frequently perform it at many festivals and cultural celebrations, often donning traditional attire.

If you’re interested in experiencing live yodeling, attend one of the many yodeling clubs in Switzerland where the unique music is showcased. If you want to take it a step further, you can take a yodeling class where you can learn the fundamentals of yodeling and truly participate in Swiss culture.

Read More: Heart of Switzerland: Alpine Hiking and Adventure

Hot air balloons by the Matterhorn. Photo by Janoka82Hot air balloons by the Matterhorn. Photo by Janoka82Hot air balloons by the Matterhorn. Photo by Janoka82

9. Experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride

One of the most magical ways to see the Swiss Alps is with a bird’s eye perspective high up in the sky. Hot air balloon rides make for a serene and romantic experience soaring above alpine lakes, snow-capped mountains, and all the charming villages. There’s no better way to get panoramic views and appreciate the mere scope of the mountain range.

Popular launching points for hot air ballooning include Lake Geneva, the Lauterbrunnen Valley, and the Emmental region. Hot air balloon rides are typically offered year-round, which makes for a different experience depending on the season. Be sure to book your experience early.

If you want an extra special experience, attend the Château-d’Œx International Balloon Festival where brightly colored balloons are floating above lakes, with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop.

Traditional Swiss fondue. Photo by CanvaTraditional Swiss fondue. Photo by CanvaTraditional Swiss fondue. Photo by Canva

10. Try Swiss Cuisine

Switzerland boasts a fabulous cuisine that reflects a cultural blend of German, French, and Italian influences. It’s a must to give Swiss fondue a try – it’s one of the most iconic dishes in Switzerland. It’s often a blend of Gruyere and Emmental cheeses served with fresh bread.

Cheese is so good in Switzerland due to the precise care of the animals that provide milk. Livestock in Switzerland typically roam rolling hills and graze the grass, never pumped with antibiotics or force-fed food they shouldn’t have.

Be sure to try raclette, another cheese-base delicacy featuring a wheel of cheese placed on a stand over a flame. The melted cheese is scraped off and drizzled on boiled potatoes, cured meats, and pickles.

If you’re in Switzerland, it’s a must to try the chocolate. Many famous chocolate brands are derived in Switzerland including Lindt, Toblerone, and Nestlé. It’s also worth trying homemade chocolate in local shops, particularly truffles, pralines, and chocolate bars.

Read More: Swiss Delight: All Aboard For a Chocolate Train and Cheese Tour in Switzerland

It’s also worth sampling the many traditional Alpine dishes such as Rösti, a potato pancake dish, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a creamy veal dish and Bircher Muesli, a hearty granola-like breakfast.

Switzerland is one of the best places to visit in Europe because of its epic scenery, charming towns, and all the amazing things you can do. The country is often considered to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth and is worth multiple visits to see it all.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, immersion in nature, or cultural experiences, there are options for every traveler. I hope this list of top things to do in Switzerland opens your eyes to all the possibilities and gives you some clarity for planning your trip.

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Isabella Miller is a travel journalist and editor at Go World Travel Magazine. She is a passionate world explorer with an appreciation for the vast range of the human experience. She wants to live it all, from backcountry camping in the Great Sand Dunes to marinating in a saltwater geothermal pool in the Italian Alps. She loves the yin and yang of cities and nature, celebrations and peace, adventure and relaxation. The best kind of trip is when all of the above coexist. This world is nuanced and delicate, filled with infinite stories to tell. She takes great pride and joy in sharing her discoveries with the world.

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