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Things to do in Switzerland: these are the 15 most beautiful cities

Picturesque cities - there are countless of them in Switzerland. Today I'm going to show you the most beautiful cities in Switzerland, which you should definitely have on your list for your trip to Switzerland. And believe me, there will definitely be one or secret places. You've definitely heard

of Lucerne , Zurich, Bern, Geneva, and Basel . But do you know Murten, Gruyere, Thun, Montreux, Lugano, and Locarno? Be curious about the beautiful cities in Switzerland we will show you.

Created on26.02.2023
Phototravellers-Autorin Nathalie

The most beautiful cities in Switzerland

In Switzerland, it’s difficult to choose a favorite for the most beautiful cities, because really very many places in Switzerland are beautiful and worth a visit. We have agreed on a total of fifteen beautiful cities. Here I tell you first my personal top 5 places to visit in Switzerland.

1. Lucerne

The Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
The Chapel Bridge at sunset in winter in Lucerne

My favorite city is and always will be Lucerne. Therefore, it’s for me one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. No matter if in winter or in summer – Lucerne is incomparable. Just by the fact that Lucerne is located directly on the water, it offers a great flair. You can either walk directly along the shore of the huge Lake Lucerne or stroll along the Reuss River in the middle of the city

The most famous bridge in Lucerne is the historic Chapel Bridge. It’s the main attraction of the city. No wonder, it is the oldest and the second longest covered wooden bridge in Europe. It’s 202.90 meters long – without canopies, of course. It was built in 1365.

The Jesuit Church in Lucerne
The Jesuit Church on the banks of the Reuss is a top thing to do in Switzerland. It already looks imposing
The Vierwaldstättersee in Lucerne
The lakeside promenade at the Vierwaldstättersee

Lucerne’s city wall is also still very well preserved today. Especially striking are the huge towers that stand on a small hill in the city. In the summer, you can climb up to the Musegg wall I loved strolling through the city.

2. Zurich

The Zurich Opera House looks impressive
The Zurich Opera House is an amazing thing to do!

Zurich is for me the best city in Switzerland for summer. A walk on the shore of the beautiful Lake Zurich, as the locals affectionately say, a summer night on the Uetliberg – Zurich is gorgeous.

There is also a special trend: floating. In summer, hundreds of people get on a rubber boat and float down the river. You should experience that once. It’s unbelievable fun. In addition, Zurich hosts the Street Parade in the summer, the biggest techno party in the world.

Impressions from Zurich
What to see in Zurich? Here are some impressions from Zurich

Of course, Zurich has not only something to offer for party people, but convinces with the lake of Zurich (Zürichsee), St. Peter, the Augustinergasse, the Fraumünster, and much more.

3. Bern

View of the city from the rose garden
Bern really enchanted us – we show you the most beautiful thing to do and a great view of the city

Bern is a fascinating city with beautiful photo spots. Moreover, real bears live here in the middle of the city center. The Bear Pit has a long tradition in Bern and is still inhabited by three bears.

In Bern, we were especially thrilled by the Kramgasse. The old town as well as the Kramgasse with its baroque facades is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s 330 meters long and was built after the city was founded in 1191.

View from the Bern Cathedral to the Old Town
Bern seen from the tower of the Bern Cathedral. Here you look into the famous Kramgasse
View of the portal of the Bern Cathedral
The entrance of the Bern Minster with its countless figures is absolutely worth seeing

The most famous view of Bern, the Bern Minster, the Minster platform, and the Bundeshaus is from the Kirchenfeld Bridge In our eyes, Bern is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland.

Recommended travel guide

For your vacation in Switzerland and on your road trip to the most beautiful cities, I can recommend this travel guide: Frommer’s Switzerland (buy it here*). Take also a look at the guide about Lucerne, Switzerland: And the Lake Lucerne Area (get it here*).

4. Geneva

The Jet d'Eau fountain from a close-up
The Jet d’Eau fountain is a must-do. When you stand right in front of the fountain, it’s an incredible feeling
View of the St. Peter Cathedral in Geneva
What’s to do in Geneva? St. Peter’s Cathedral in Geneva is centrally located and a good starting point to explore the thing to do in the city

The city of Geneva (französisch Genève) is the second largest city in Switzerland after Zurich. What else can you do in Geneva? Well, first of all, of course, you can take an idyllic walk along the shore of Lake Geneva. In the middle of the lake is the famous fountain Jet d’Eau. We were totally enthralled by the masses of water shooting up into the sky

Cobblestone streets then lead you into the historic old town. Inside, old houses alternate with luxury stores. The top attractions of the city are the Reformation Monument across from the University of Geneva, the Grand Théatre, the Opera House, and the Pont de la Coulouvrenière. We enjoyed sitting on the banks of the Rhone River and drinking a cold beer.

But also the Cathedral Saint-Pierre, the Place du Bourgh-de-Four, as well as the MAMCO Museum, are definitely worth a side trip to Lake Geneva and its sights are also highly recommended. In our eyes, Geneva is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland.

5. Basel

The red city hall in Basel
Basel – here the famous city hall – is a cool thing to do in Switzerland!

Basel is in our eyes also one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. Here you can stroll along the banks of the Rhine. In summer, we found it wonderful to drink white wine at Ufer 7. Over the Mittlere Brücke, you can get from one side of the city to the other.

We found especially the marketplace with the city hall. Very beautiful. It’s the landmark of the city and dates back to the 16th century. We spent a lot of time here and also took a lot of pictures.

But you should also not miss the Gothic Basel Cathedral. It was built in the 12th century. Have a look at the Spalentor and the Tinguely Fountain – both sights are worth seeing. Especially the old houses have more than impressed us in Basel. By the way, a graffiti tour through the city is also worthwhile. You’ll discover a few masterpieces if you’re interested in the subject. Basel has been a hotspot for this since the 1980s.

6. Zermatt

Zermatt in winter
Zermatt in winter is an unusual thing to do in Switzerland
View of the Matterhorn in winter
Where to visit the Matterhorn? In Zermatt! It’s the city’s landmark

The most beautiful thing about Zermatt right at the beginning: the town is a car-free zone. You can only get here by train. Otherwise, Zermatt is a popular winter resort. One of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland is located at an altitude of 1,600 meters, directly at one of the hot spots in Switzerland, namely at the foot of the famous Matterhorn.

At 4,478 meters, Mount Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains in the Alps. The most popular way to get there is to take the Gornergratbahn up to the Gornergrat. From there you have a magnificent view of the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is a landmark of Switzerland and a very popular tourist attraction. By the way, we have been snowshoe hiking here. Zermatt in itself is a beautiful mountain resort, but it also has quite expensive boutiques to offer. Apré-ski parties are popular here and also otherwise the high society is rather at the start here.

By the way, you can take three cable cars from Zermatt to the little Matterhorn which is located at 3,883 meters. The ride costs 62 Swiss francs. With that, you can also visit the Glacier Palace besuchen.

7. Murten

View of Murten in Switzerland
Murten in Switzerland is one of the most beautiful things to do in Switzerland

In my eyes, Murten on Lake Murten is a really great insider tip for one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland. We were overwhelmed when we stopped in the small town and walked through the beautiful old town with its towers, city gates, and, winding streets. Especially worth seeing is the city wall of Murten. Here you can reach the city wall via towers and then walk along above the city. We thought that was fantastic. By the way, Murten reminds us of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany.

View of a boat landing at Lake Murten
Lake Murten with its many boats and bathing possibilities is a cool attraction

But not only a walk through the city of Murten is fantastic. Lake Murten is also a cool activity that you should enjoy. So on your city trip through Switzerland, pack your swimsuits as well to go swimming at one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland.

8. Gruyère

View of Gruyère Castle
Gruyère Castle is a top thing to do

What is to do in Gruyère? If you’re an absolute cheese fan, then you’ll prick up your ears at the name Gruyère . Because that’s exactly where the cheese of the same name comes from. Just a few kilometers from Lake Geneva lies a beautiful, tranquil little town that offers two other cool things to see at once.

Above all Gruyères Castle is worth a visit. The complex is impressive. It was built in the year 1270 and the museum not only shows the castle rooms, but also art by international artists.

Really wacky and thus a top place to see is the Giger Museum. The director and creator of the movie and character Alien has a huge exhibition there. The museum is located in a medieval castle. If you don’t know the movie, you may be a bit disturbed by the drawings. However, the art and the design of the rooms are exciting even for non-Alien fans.

View of the houses at the marketplace of Gruyères
What’s to see in Gruyère? You’ll find little houses, Swiss flags, and beautiful views of the Swiss mountains
Flo sitting in the HR Giger Bar in the alien look
The incredible HR Giger Bar in Alien style is located opposite the museum and is a must-do!

I’m not promising you too much when I say that you absolutely must stop by the La Maison du Gruyère (Google Maps) – its a typical cheese factory, where you can watch the cheese making-process.

9. Thun

View of Lake Thun from the shore
View of Lake Thun – a visit here is a fun thing to do!

Right on the shores of Lake Thun in the canton of Bernese Oberland, you’ll find a small, tranquil, beautiful town. Thun impressed us very much. Because besides the lake, the river Aare also flows through the middle of the city. In the medieval old town, quaint bridges lead across the river – similar to Lucerne.

Castle Thun (Schloss Thun) towers above the city. From up there, you not only have a view of the city but also of a magnificent mountain panorama and Lake Thun. The castle dates back to the 12th century.

If you descend from the castle down numerous steps into the town, you will reach the town church. This in turn was built in the 14th century and has a distinctive octagonal tower.

We really liked the arcades as well as the hidden cellars in the alleys of the town. Today there are small boutiques and stores in them. In the summer you can sit by the river and have an apero. Wonderful. The special flair in Thun makes it one of the best things to see in Switzerland.

10. Montreux

View of the marketplace in Montreux
The marketplace of Montreux with a house from the fashionable 19th century is a place you must see
The statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux
The statue of Freddie Mercury in Montreux is a cool sightseeing

Another great thing to do on Lake Geneva in Montreux. In no city in Switzerland have I seen such sophisticated houses as in Montreux. The buildings date back to the Belle Époque period.

Montreux is known for music. For one thing, the Montreux Jazz Festival is always held there in July. It’s one of the biggest in the world. Right at the location of the festival, there is also a jazz bar with a retro interior. During the festival, live music performances take place all over the city.

The second highlight of Montreux is the story of the famous musician Freddie Mercury. On the waterfront, there is a larger-than-life statue of the singer, with which you can take a photo. The background is that the group Queen owned the Montreux Mountain Recording Studios there since 1979. You can visit the studio today.

11. Solothurn

DThe town hall in Solothurn with the imposing town hall clock
Solothurn, here the imposing town hall with the historic clock, is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland

Solothurn is also an insider tip and a cool thing to do in Switzerland. Because this place is often underestimated. People would rather go to Zurich, Lucerne, or Basel than to Solothurn. Yet the city has a lot to offer.

Built-in 1520, the city center is characterized by beautiful buildings from the Baroque period. Solothurn is also called the most beautiful baroque city in Switzerland.

We immediately fell in love with the place and were very taken with it. As we walked across the cobblestones of the market square, the striking Zeitglockenturm immediately caught our eye. The fountains with their beautifully designed figures and the St. Ursen Cathedral with its elaborate church ceiling were definitely worth a visit.

We especially liked the shore of the Aare. Here you can find one cute restaurant and café after another. The houses in the city center all have shutters, which creates an Italian flair. The best ice cream in our eyes is at Vitaminstation (Google Maps).

12. Lugano

Now we dive into the Italian Dolce Vita. Italian-speaking Switzerland whisks you away to Bella Italia without having to leave the country. Lugano is located on Lake Lugano and is an absolutely must-see city that you should not miss.

The city of Lugano on Lake Lugano
The city of Lugano on Lake Lugano is a wonderful thing to do in Switzerland
The view of Lake Lugano from Lugano
From Lugano, you have a beautiful view of Lake Lugano

As soon as I got off the train in Lugano, it was there: the Mediterranean feel. I immediately picked up snippets of Italian conversation next to me and gelato, pizza, and pasta were my daily companions from then on. You can tell that you’re still in Switzerland by the punctuality of the trains. Otherwise, you feel like you’re at least right in Italy.

13. Ascona

Ships moored in the port of Ascona
Ships in the harbor of Ascona – the promenade is beautiful

Oh, Ascona. I honestly lost my heart in this beautiful Swiss town on Lake Maggiore. The location directly on the lake, the beautifully romantic atmosphere in the evening when you walk through the alleys there, as well as the beautiful sunsets on Lake Maggiore have enchanted me.

Ascona at night
Ascona at night is a great thing to do
View of Lake Maggiore from Ascona
Ascona at Lake Maggiore – the flair is incredible

Ascona, like Lugano, is also part of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland and here, too, the Italian feeling is unavoidable. Especially when you walk along the shore of the lake with a delicious gelato in your hand, the vacation feeling sets in.

14. St. Moritz

The view over Lake St. Moritz to St. Moritz
The sophisticated alpine town of St. Moritz is situated on a beautiful mountain lake, the St. Moritzersee. A visit here is a cool thing to do!

When it comes to the most beautiful towns in Switzerland, then of course a cliché must not be missing St. Moritz is considered one of the dreamiest winter resorts in Switzerland.

St. Moritz has a very peculiar history. Many things happened here for the first time. For example, the first electric light was installed here in 1878, the first powered flight in Switzerland took place in the town, and, as an established winter resort, the first ski lift nicht fehlen. Der wurde 1935 eröffnet.

One of the most famous buildings in St. Moritz is the leaning tower of the demolished Mauritius Church. In addition to beautiful old houses and Lake St. Moritz, St. Moritz also advertises that it has 322 days of sunshine a year. No wonder that the higher society likes to stay here, isn’t it? There are luxury hotels to match.

The most popular skiing area starts directly in the village, the skiing area Corviglia-Marguns-Piz Nair. And so that one more special detail is not left unmentioned: There is also a bar in St. Moritz that holds a world record. You can find the most whisky varieties in the world in the bar Devil’s Place of the Hotel Waldhaus am See. To test the more than 2500 varieties, however, you will have to travel to St. Moritz more often.

15. Aarburg

Finally, I have an insider tip for you. Aarburg.is a top thing to do and not for nothing one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland. As the name suggests, the city is located on the Aare River. But it has a special significance.

Of course, in addition to the castle, you must also see the medieval old town. Here, the reformed church, which is located below the fortress, is definitely interesting.

I hope I could give you some incentives for new visits and maybe a short vacation in Switzerland with the most beautiful cities in Switzerland. A road trip through Switzerland is also a good idea. Because the cities mentioned are all worth a visit.

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