No visit to Switzerland is complete without stunning alpine scenery, marvelling at mirrored lakes, exploring picturesque towns and cities, and eating a good dose of chocolate. Tours of Switzerland ensure you see all of this and more, so to help you choose your dream Swiss itinerary, we’ve compiled a list of the best of the best!
Ride to the Matterhorn
Matterhorn is a world famous snow-capped mountain chain, whose hallmark shark-toothed 4,478m peak has inspired countless visitors and Toblerone’s Swiss chocolate design. Ride Europe’s highest cog railway, Gornergratbahn, from the nearby town of Zermatt for a stunning view of the majestic peak.
Named after 12th century legend of bear hunting in the area, the UNESCO Old Town retains a delightful medieval village-like feel along the green Aare river, making it a worthy candidate for Europe’s most charming capital. Visit the town’s namesake in Bärengraben, where several bears find their home.
Get to know Geneva
The French speaking, Swiss-looking lakeside city has a pretty cosmopolitan centre with its trademark Jet D’Eau fountain splashing the headquarters of major diplomatic organisations, including the Red Cross, UN Europe and WHO.
Lose yourself in Lucerne
There’s good reason why the German-speaking city is on almost every tour itinerary, ticking every chocolate box of Swiss features – a medieval old town with a wooden Chapel Bridge, easy Alpine mountain access, a mirrored blue lake and oodles of souvenir shopping.
Enjoy the view from Mt. Pilatus
Experience heaven above the clouds by taking the world’s steepest cog railway and panoramic cable car to unsung peak Pilatus. Thrill seekers can sled or toboggan the way down, but if you prefer to spend the night there’s a hotel at the top.
The spectacular setting of Lauterbrunnen
A favourite for touring stopovers in Bernese Oberland, Lauterbrunnen is an oil painting brought to life with mighty high cascading waterfalls and bucolic Swiss valley houses. Possibly one of the most scenic locations in Switzerland – and the competition is stiff!
Stand on top of Europe
Ascend by cogwheeled mountainside to 3,471m Jungfraujoch, the highest mountain and railway station on the continent. Dizzily navigate through the high-altitude ice palace and Sphinx observatory, enjoying sublime Alpine views blanketed in snow.
Paraglide over Interlaken
Enjoy stunning views of Swiss Alp scenery dotted with snowy ski fields and emerald lakes, descending slowly on a carefully-controlled paraglider.
Château de Chillon
This well-kept island castle on the shores of Lake Geneva held notable inmates as priest François Bonivard, inspiring Lord Byron to pen the poem The Prisoner of Chillon. Now the drawbridge has opened to the public for inspecting the dungeons and master bedrooms of medieval dukes.
Mercury’s memorial in Montreux
Freddie Mercury wanted to ‘break free’ from paparazzi shackles and recorded an album in scenic Montreux, where millionaire artists and musicians continue to reside in exclusive retreats. Music fans assemble in the town nestled by Lake Geneva, not only for Queen nostalgia, but the world-renowned summer Jazz Festival.
Soak up Swiss legend in Altdorf
The legendary archer Wilhelm Tell – fact of fiction, it doesn’t matter – whose arrow shot through the balanced apple on his son’s head helped form Confoederatio Helvetica (CH) and the Switzerland we know today.
Take a token photo at Rhine Falls
It’s no Niagara or Iguazu, but it’s the best Europe has and is the largest waterfall flow in the continent, so it’s worth a picture!
Lifestyle in Zürich
Topping the polls year after year for excellent quality of life, the fairy tale mountain setting maintains an international banking centre with a vibrant art, culinary and nightlife scene.
Spend some Swiss Franc
Switzerland produces enough well-known products to guarantee you will find a perfect souvenir – and one you might actually use. Expensive watches, chocolates, cuckoo clocks, Swiss Army Knives and even St Bernard dogs are all found here in abundance – though the last one may be more of a hassle at customs.
Look out for charming stereotypes
Keep your eyes peeled and you will be rewarded with oh-so-Swiss stereotypes that exist for a reason – triangular gingerbread chalets, alphorns and yodelling. If you prefer to do rather than watch or listen, flag throwing is one of the oldest sports in Switzerland, and takes place at many traditional festivals.
Marvel at the Large Hadron Collider
The most complex experimental facility in the world is the Large Hadron Collider in CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. It is also the biggest single machine on the globe, stretching for 27 km through a circular tunnel 175 metres below the ground.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC