What to do in Switzerland? 25 Best Things to Do in Switzerland
+ Important Travel Tips for Switzerland
Without a doubt, Switzerland has a lot to offer its visitors.
Most know about the stunning nature, with mountains throughout the country, including the mountain ranges of the Alps and the Jura, pristine lakes, colorful small towns, vibrant cities, traditional Swiss villages, waterfalls, and of course, pristine lakes wherever you look.
However, there is even more to do and see in Switzerland, and as a regular Switzerland visitor, I have compiled the best things to do in Switzerland.
If you are asking yourself questions like “hat to do in Switzerland?”, “Where to go in Switzerland” and about the best things to join Switzerland, you will find all the answers here.
Though I have been in Switzerland numerous times and have traveled to many parts, Switzerland still amazes me every single time. You might think, that a few days in Switzerland might be enough to see all… Actually, even despite Switzerland´s small size, there is still a lot to do and see, and so I am happy to share my favorite activities in Switzerland.
Before you find out about the top things to see in Switzerland, you´ll find some important, pre-travel information before making your trip to Switzerland.
Things to know before visiting Switzerland
Important Travel Information for Switzerland
Though Switzerland is located in Europe, Switzerland is not part of the European Union (so citizens from EU countries might have to pay customs when shopping in Switzerland).
Four official languages are spoken in Switzerland. Most of Switzerland consists of the German-speaking part (north and east), while the south west speaks French, and Italian is the main language in the southern part of Switzerland.
Some, but few, people speak Romansh – however, many people speak (basic) English (at least in the areas that have tourists).
Swiss people are very friendly and quiet people – some might say boring, but I say they are very polite. Loud talking, e.g. in public, is not well received. However, I have noticed that the people in the Italian-speaking part are different than (meaning a bit more livelier) the people in the German-speaking part. If you travel to Switzerland and do not want to attract negative attention, keep it quiet.
People in the villages and towns are very conservative. Not Vatican-city conservative, but Switzerland is not the most liberal country.
The Right-wing party is strong in Switzerland. However, unlike many other places in Europe with such a strong right-wing politics, I never felt threatened or felt uncomfortable.
But you should know that even in popular places like Interlaken, people do not necessarily like foreigners – not even as tourists, and not even if their job depends on tourism
Swiss people are extremely polite and friendly, overall, and will not openly display their disapproval – and after all, not all Swiss are conservative or dislike foreigners.
Do not be surprised to see Swiss flags wherever you are. Seriously, they are everywhere. After all these years, it is still strange to me, and I think the only other country where I have seen so many national flags was Turkey.
Can you spot the Swiss flag in the picture below?
In which country am I? Tip: there is a hint on top of the mountain:) – -p.s. Yes, you were right so I tagged the right location:)) #verliebtindieschweiz #switzerland.vacations #visitswitzerland #inlovewithswitzerland #schweiz #switzerland #nature #mountains #puppy #maltesepuppy #instadogs #reiseblogger
Swiss Francs are the main currency, but Euros are accepted in many shops, as well as credit cards (though American Express is accepted in less shops). However, I recommend having some Swiss Francs with you at all times.
Yes, Switzerland is expensive, so I have written an extra post on “how to save money in Switzerland“.
Water in Switzerland is not only drinkable from the tap, but there are also many water fountains offering fresh water (so always have an empty bottle with you to refill).
How to Get Around in Switzerland
Public Transportation in Switzerland
Switzerland has an amazing public transportation system – you can get to the most remote area by just using public transportation (seriously, there are just a few exceptions). The public transportation system in Switzerland is reliable, punctual, and clean. It is not cheap, though, but if it is your only means of getting around, then I recommend using the Swiss Travel Pass for tourists.
Road Tripping in Switzerland
I have not figured out which form of transportation I enjoy more – driving a car myself or using public transportation. Both are fantastic ways to get around – Switzerland´s streets are well-paved and not normally busy (expect in the bigger cities), which makes them easy to drive.
If you want to use the highway, you need a toll sticker, which you can buy in Switzerland (just after the border), or in the neighboring countries. For a one-year toll sticker, you pay about 40€.
Most places can be reached without using the highways – these routes are actually the most scenic, but I get my toll sticker anyhow, as I never know where I will be heading.
Do not drive too fast – speed cams are basically everywhere and speeding is expensive (speaking from experience, driving 59 kmh instead of 50 kmh I had to pay a 55€ fine).
Petrol costs about 1.40€ (as gas prices can vary strongly, this is just an estimate).
Parking in cities is not always easy, and it is definitely not cheap.
Walking in Switzerland
Switzerland is pretty safe and the streets are paved, so walking and hiking in many parts of the country is a great way to get around – at least for short distances.
Security Tips for (Female) Travelers
Switzerland is a very secure and safe country. I, personally, never take any extra precautions and actually tend to be less cautious than in Germany.
However, I am careful and I always exercise common sense, but feel fine wearing luxury brands or walking around in the evening/nights. But, in the last three years, I have been visiting with my dog – and though he is small – he does a great job as a watchdog, so this makes me feel even safer.
If you are a solo female traveler, always be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to where to go.
Towns and villages are so safe that your Airbnb host might not even close the door at night. However, there are areas that are safer than others; towns and villages are naturally safer, cities are a bit less so. According to locals, the Italian-speaking part is a bit less secure, as well as cities like Geneva.
I always felt safe though.
The Best Time to Visit Switzerland
Switzerland makes a great destination for any time of the year. However, if you are into skiing and other winter sports, naturally, winter is the best time to visit (though you can also do winter sports in some parts of Switzerland throughout the year).
Summer is a very popular time to visit, though rain and cold days are not uncommon, even in July/August. Winter and summer are the most expensive times in terms of accommodations, so visiting in fall or spring might be great choices, as well.
Where to Stay in Switzerland
Switzerland is not geographically big, but traveling from A to B might take a while. I love all parts of Switzerland, though some parts, like Lucerne, Zurich, or Interlaken, are ridiculously expensive.
The most popular places to visit and stay in Switzerland are:
For a luxury stay in Lucerne, I recommend the gorgeous 5* hotel Schweizerhof Luzern
One of my favorite hotels ever is the 4* luxury hotel Grand Giessbach Hotel
I have not had much luck with hotels in Geneva, the only hotel I can actually recommend is the colorful and stylish 4* hotel NvY Mantel Hotel
Locarno and Lugano
Lacando Castagnola is a very lovely 3* hotel in Lugano I can truly recommend if you are on a budget
In Zermatt, I can recommend the 4* Sunstar Style Hotel Zermatt 4* Sunstar Style Hotel Zermatt
St. Moritz (in winter)
Of course, it depends on which attractions you mostly want to see and visit in Switzerland. Accommodations a bit further the main tourist attractions are probably cheaper – whatever you opt out for I definitely recommend staying close to one of these areas.
So, ready to finally find out about wha to do in Switzerland?
Best Things to Do in Switzerland
Okay, here are the fun things to see and do in beautiful Switzerland (they are in a random order).
Chasing Waterfalls in Switzerland
One of the best things to do in Switzerland is to chase waterfalls.
Waterfalls are probably not the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Switzerland, but Switzerland is home to the biggest waterfalls in Europe. The Rhine Falls, one of the main tourists attractions in Switzerland, located in Neuhausen/Schaffhausen and close to the German border, are worth a visit.
But, there are way more gorgeous waterfalls in Switzerland to visit. I love the Giessbach Waterfalls at Lake Brienz (find out more about the hotel with waterfall room view I had), the Staubbach Waterfalls are another famous choice in Lauterbrunnen, as well as the Trümmelbach Falls.
However, if you are road tripping, you´ll see many more gorgeous waterfalls along the way. I spotted the most on my way from Zurich to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Keep your eyes and ears open and you´ll eventually stumble upon them!
Visit Cities in Switzerland
Well, Switzerland´s cities are not the biggest – though they are big enough to give you a nice city feeling, so add a city visit to your Switzerland itinerary.
My favorite city is Zurich, as there are many cafes and (vegetarian) restaurants, good clubs, and plenty of shopping options (the Bahnhofstrasse is the most expensive shopping street in the world) and of course Lake Zurich is just a beauty: by the way, each city has its own lake and, often, even has its own “home mountain”.
I might be biased because Zurich was the first place I visited in Switzerland (and to which I have come back around 8 times in the last 9 years) but it really is a lovely city and one of the best places to visit in Switzerland.
Most of the cities in Switzerland have well-preserved old towns as well, which should be on your list when exploring the cities as they are popular points of interest in Switzerland.
Geneva does not feel Swiss. In Geneva, the Swiss flags actually make sense because without the flags everywhere I would easily forget I am in Switzerland. Geneva is international, a bit cosmopolitan – definitely not Swiss standard.
Though I personally love Geneva, Geneva cannot hold a candle to Zurich or Lucerne. Geneva is the city to see if you are interested in learning about international politics (the United Nations has one of their main offices located in Geneva, and the International Red Cross Committee is based there). It is also the “watch” city – so, if you are on the hunt for a new, very expensive, watch, you´ll have to visit Geneva – Lake Geneva is also the biggest lake in Switzerland and if in Geneva, I tend to spend most of my time around Lake Geneva.
Here are a few more ideas on what to do in Switzerland.
Explore Towns in Switzerland
You cannot leave Switzerland without having visited at least a handful of cute, colorful towns there.
In Switzerland, each town has its own charm, and believe it or not, they are indeed very different and unique. Appenzell has its own very special kind of architecture, and Stein am Rhine has its own, btw, fantastic style.
If in Switzerland you must visit the most beautiful towns and I am sure you will fall in love with Switzerland.
Discover Villages in Switzerland
What else to do in Switzerland? Well, I have a few more ideas…
After adding towns and cities to your list, do not forget to visit the cute, little villages that make up Switzerland´s charm.
There are plenty of lovely villages, and you´ll surely stumble upon some eventually, but instead of relying to eventually stumble upon some, make sure to plan in some time for those cute villages.
Some of my favorite best Swiss villages are: Lauterbrunnen, Mirren, and Wengen.
Hiking in Switzerland
One of the most fun things to do in Switzerland is….to hike.
I hear some people grumbling already, wondering how I can recommend hiking while I, amongst others, showed in my Instastories that I lazily took the cable cars up the mountains.
My friends, you are so wrong. I actually hiked a couple of times, too. And, yes, I enjoyed every single one of those hikes. And yes, I did not do the hardcore hikes. Though I did not hike the huge mountains I did have fun hiking some parts of a mountain o just chose some easier hikes. I believe that hiking is a must-do activity in Switzerland.
Easy hikes include Flims, the Ebenalp, and Harder Kulm. There is definitely not a shortage of more difficult hikes but luckily Switzerland has hiking trails for each kind of person.
Wherever you are, there will be places to hike up – most often, you´ll meet some (Swiss) hikers along your way (side note: though some regions of Interlaken have quite a high number of Arabian and Indian tourists, you´ll notice that some nationalities probably do not enjoy hiking as much – my own conclusion is that no nation enjoys hiking as much as the Swiss do and if you like to bend in just go hiking.
Do Boat Tours in Switzerland
My addiction to boat tours is probably not normal, however, I cannot imagine that anyone would NOT LIKE a boat cruise on one of the beautiful lakes of Switzerland.
I have done so many on so many occasions, but I will likely never get enough of them – and that is for many reasons.
My top tip for things to do in Switzerland…go on a boat cruise.
There are many great (literally) lakes in Switzerland, and boat tours are possible on basically all of the bigger lakes. My favorite boat cruises in Switzerland are the ones on Lake Geneva (Lake Geneva is awesome AND there are little lounges in the first class – sp perfect for a nice nap as well, I recommend planning in 1 day so you can hop off in Nyon and Montreux) :).
Lake Lucerne (or Vierwaldstättersee in German) is also perfect for long boat cruises – plan in enough time to hop off some stops like Weggis or Vitznau.
When in Zurich… do a boat tour on Lake Zurich and if you do the 4-hour boat trip tour you can get off in beautiful Rapperswil and spend a few hours there before heading back (as you can see, boat tours also bring you from one place to the other).
The best: most boat tours are free with your Swiss Travel Pass, without a travel pass the prices vary strongly. A day pass for Lake Brienz is about 100€ (one of the most expensive tickets for boat rides though).
Seriously, boat cruising is one of the best activities in Switzerland.
Aside from the mountains, the lakes are the most stunning things that Mother Nature has created in Switzerland, so it does not surprise that one of the top things to do in Switzerland is to check out lakes.
You´ll find every lake color you can imagine. Lake Brienz is turquoise, Blausee is greenish (I am not sure if I have issues with my eyes, but the lake looks more green than blue, despite its name), Lake Geneva comes in different colors (blue for the main part, greenish at the shores), Lake Cauma and Lake Thun have a wonderful emerald color, and Lake Oeschinen has a unique color I cannot even describe.
However, each lake is amazing and unique. Though not all of the lakes offer boat cruises they are all worth to be visited. Few more lakes that I absolutely love and are Lungernsee and Zugersee. Though they are not that famous, they are absolutely stunning – if you road trip (or train travel) you´ll pass them when traveling from Zurich to Interlaken. If you get the chance hop off the train and spend some time at the less popular lakes as well.
If you like to have a lake almost all to yourself I recommend Lake Sufers – I never fail to have a break when I travel from Zurich to the Italian-speaking part (apart from some fishers I rarely see any soul at all).
Some are located in a park and entry has to be paid (Blausee, Lake Cauma, Lake Cresta, etc.), but most are free to visit – and they are so extremely clear and clear that even I swam in a few of them (and that says a lot).
Hop on a Train and do Some Train Travel
While it often scares me to embark on a train in many other parts of the world (naming no names), train travel in Switzerland is fun, and so I highly recommend it.
The first time I traveled from Zurich to Lugano 8-9 years ago, I was awestruck. The scenery is one of a kind, and ever since then, train travel has been an awesome activity I do in Switzerland. I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass and exploring Switzerland by train.
For more window view pictures of my train travel experience read my review of the Swiss Travel Pass.
P.S. With the Swiss Travel Pass you also get a discount on many activities, so check if it you can save with it, too!
Switzerland things to do – here are more ideas.
Explore Switzerland when Road Tripping in Switzerland
This is not a contradiction – road tripping through Switzerland is as much fun as train travel, and I would bite my tongue rather than choose one over the other.
Road tripping allows you to discover Switzerland on your own path and stop wherever you like – believe me, there will be many spots you will want to stop.
The Grand Road Tour gives ideas on where to drive and which places are the most scenic – each route has its own charm, and while I am – normally – not the biggest fan of driving, I cannot wait for my next road trip through Switzerland.
Favorite places to drive along by car in Switzerland: around Lake Lucerne (Axenstraße), and the way from Lucerne to Weggis and Vitznau; and in Interlaken, around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
The Italian-speaking part of Switzerland is also awesome, though a bit more difficult to drive. I loved the route from Locarno to Valle Verzasca the most.
Visit Museums in Switzerland
Well, traveling with a dog means I cannot visit museums, but at least one museum should be on your Switzerland itinerary (my first pick would be the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva), but you can choose from more than 900 museums to visit in Switzerland.
If you prefer to spend your time outdoors, you could visit the Wallenberg museum in the Jungfrau/Interlaken museum which is one of the main tourist attraction in Switzerland.
Most museums are free of entry with your Swiss Travel Pass.
See Vineyards in Switzerland
One of the best things to see in Switzerland are the vineyards.
Though I do not care about wine, the views of vineyards in Switzerland are amazing. You´ll find vineyards in many parts of Switzerland, and the most beautiful and biggest is probably in the area of Montreux – for the best view, get to Chexbres and enjoy (views on Lake Geneva are inclusive). Wine lovers can book a wine tasting
Do Some Winter Sports in Switzerland
Though I have to admit that I have never tried skiing, Switzerland is one of the best countries to do winter sports. Some places allow winter sports even in the summer – Jungfraujoch or Klein Matterhorn have winter sports activities of all kinds, and in the winter, Switzerland becomes the dream destination for ski lovers.
Walk over Suspension Bridges
The best views in Switzerland are from the summit of the mountains, but if you prefer it to be less high, check out a few of the amazing suspension and panorama bridges all over Switzerland.
Just recently, the world´s longest suspension bridge opened in Zermatt ( I will let you know how it was once I visit), but there are many more stunning bridges that are worth visiting – like the suspension bridge in Sigriswil.
See Gorges in Switzerland
Switzerland has some amazing gorges which await your visit.
Switzerland has some amazing gorges which await your visit. The Trümmelbachfälle (waterfalls) is located in a gorge. More great gorges to visit: Aare Gorge and Gorner Gorge.
The Rhine Gorge is a different kind of gorge and you have the best view from above (click here to find out how to get that epic view) or from a train. It is one of the best tourist attractions in Switzerland – in my option though totally underrated.
Those gorges are often not totally crowded so make sure to add them on your Switzerland itinerary.
Snap Pictures of Castles
Looking for more great things to see in Switzerland? Visit castles!
Though Switzerland is often considered a winter wonderland fairy-tale, the castles in Switzerland seem to be in the shadow of the mountains and lakes (or to shorten it: in the shadow of stunning scenery).
However, there are beautiful castles in Switzerland that should be on your Switzerland itinerary.
Some of the most famous castles are Chateau du Chilean in Montreux (indeed, a very pretty castle on the shores of Lake Geneva), Schadau Castle (it is pinkish, a color you rarely find in Switzerland), and Castel grande in Bellinzona. These are beautiful Switzerland attractions you should not miss out on.
Enjoy the Best Mountain View
I am still not finished, I have a few more great things to do in Switzerland….
Hiking is a great way to get up a mountain (in theory…).
However, if you are not a hiker (and some mountains cannot be hiked), you can, and should, enjoy some amazing mountain views. There are many great mountains that offer cable car rides up and a trip to Switzerland would not be complete without have not visited a mountain summit in at least 2000 meters height.
My favorite train ride up was at Brienzer Rothorn, but there are many more to enjoy, like Klein Matterhorn, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Rigi.
Jungfraujoch is probably the most famous mountain trip – though expensive, it is still an awesome trip and it does not come as a surprise that it is one of the most popular Switzerland attractions
Sleeping in a Mountain Guest House
When in Switzerland…spend a night in a mountain guest house. A night in a guest house in probably a unique experience in Switzerland.
Most mountain guest houses are not really fancy, but sleeping in one was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to spend more nights in the mountains.
Ebenalp Guest House on Ebenalp was my choice – a choice I did not regret. Compared to “normal hotels” the prices are moderate as well. Do not forget to pack warm clothes for a night; it gets cold at an elevation of 1,800 meters (I learned it the hard way) and the heater might not work.
One of the most iconic buildings in Switzerland is the restaurant and mountain guest house, The Aescher in Appenzellerland.
You need to book way in advance to get a room though, so plan in a night in a mountain guest house in Switzerland.
Make Friends with Cows in Switzerland
Make new friends.
Though I am a vegetarian and have a dog, that does not mean that I am actually an animal lover (this is probably because of my Afghan heritage).
Most animals actually scare me – so do the cows, which are numerous in Switzerland. Seriously, they are basically everywhere!
However, Swiss cows are lucky enough to spend their lives in nature, and if you are outside the cities, you´ll most likely stumble upon them. Take some pics – and befriend them. After all, they help to produce that awesome Swiss chocolate and if you do not befriend them they might not make anymore for you (or worse: not for me).
Open-Air Cinema in Switzerland
One of the best things to do in Switzerland in summer is to visit an open-air cinema.
In summer, you will see advertisements for open-air cinema everywhere – it is one of the main events for locals. The weather might not be your best friend, but if you are lucky and it does not rain, enjoy a movie night at the open-air cinema. The best: open-air cinemas can even be found in small towns.
Experience Adventure in Switzerland
So tiny, yet so much to do. Switzerland is a paradise for outdoor sports lovers.
Paragliding, glacier hiking, bungee jumping, or even base jumping (though I definitely do not recommend the latter one). You can do any kind of adventurous activity in Switzerland.
Eat Swiss Chocolate
I am vegetarian and do not like raw cheese – not the best conditions to survive in Switzerland.
Though I definitely cannot recommend eating any Swiss cheese, I definitely think that Swiss chocolate is DELICIOUS.
Bad news: Swiss chocolate can be extremely expensive.
Good news: Lindt is not the most expensive chocolate in Switzerland, but it is my favorite. So plan to replace some meals with some tasty bars of chocolate.
Cool Down in Caves in Switzerland
The best thing to do in Switzerland when it is hot is to visit a cave.
Switzerland has a few gorgeous caves. I recommend planning a visit to one of the caves on a very hot day, so you can cool down and learn about a different aspect of Switzerland. Surely, this is not an activity for those suffering from claustrophobia, but if you don´ make sure to add at least one to your Switzerland holidays.
My favorite caves are the St. Beatus Caves – the guided tour is definitely recommendable. Plus, outside the caves, amazing views of Lake Thun await you (seriously, the view is so amazing so I have visited twice in the last 2 years).
Visit a Lido
Lidos are great places to swim – though I mentioned beforehand that it is super safe and fun to swim in the Swiss lakes and rivers, swimming in a lido is another great way to relax and cool down.
Lidos are natural swimming pools in the lakes and rivers, often watched by guards and fenced. Some have a pool, as well. You can get in for just a few Swiss Francs and have more “security” than at the lakes. Since I have my dog traveling with me we actually get kind of banned to visit Lidos (so if you are scared of dogs, this another argument for visiting lidos)
P.S. As you can see I have added links for tours in Switzerland. I mostly book my own tours via GetYourGuide lately, and though I also like Viator. However, I like GetYourGuide a bit better and recommend giving it a try if you have not booked with them yet!
Okay, that were my tips for visiting Switzerland. Click on the links to find out more about each place.
Let me know if you have visited Switzerland and which were your favorite activities.
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