FIND OUT ABOUT THE TOP 17 CITIES IN SWITZERLAND TO VISIT IN 2023
Are you looking for the best cities in Switzerland to visit? Then this post is for you – find out about the best Swiss cities to add to your itinerary.
Switzerland – the little country known for its stunning Swiss Alps and breathtaking mountain views, not to mention the incredible lakes and fun outdoor activities like skiing and hiking. But that’s not all! Switzerland also has some pretty stunning medieval towns and villages that’ll transport you back in time.
And if that’s not enough to convince you to visit, Switzerland has some pretty cities too! I’ve been to this country more times than I can count, but every time I’m still blown away by its beauty. Whether it is the villages, lakes, or cities I visit.
So, let’s talk about the best cities to visit in Switzerland.
MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES IN SWITZERLAND TO VISIT
And today, I am sharing my favorite Swiss cities with you. So, buckle up, here are the best cities in Switzerland to add to your Switzerland itinerary
1 – ZUG
Have you ever heard of Zug? It’s not just a tax haven! This place is one of the prettiest cities in Switzerland, and trust me, it’s worth a visit even if you’re not a moneybag.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Zug, this little gem is often overlooked by tourists, but let me tell you, it’s got a beautiful old town that is well worth a visit. And if that’s not enough to entice you, Zug is conveniently located between two major Swiss cities, Lucerne and Zurich, making it the perfect pit stop for some sightseeing
This town has been around since the 13th century, and you can still see some of the OG attractions, like the 52-meter-high Zytturm. And if you need a break from all that sightseeing, just head on over to the lakeside for some chill time in the park or a stroll along the shore.
This place is oozing with confidence and it knows it’s got it going on. From its superior quality of life to its stunning views of Rigi Mountain and Pilatus Mountain, Zug’s got it all.
Zug is all about that contemporary vibe, with public art peppered throughout the streets. Plus, with over 100 nationalities calling this place home, Zug’s got some serious cosmopolitan appeal.
So what are you waiting for? Come say “Grüezi” to Zug and see what all the fuss is about!
2 – FRIBOURG
Get ready to travel back in time, because Fribourg is one medieval city you don’t want to miss! Perched on a rocky promontory and surrounded by the Sarine River, this place is straight out of a fairytale.
The Old Town is where it’s at, with over 200 Gothic facades dating back to the 15th century – it is like you’ve stepped into a time machine. And speaking of history, Fribourg used to be protected by town walls stretching over two kilometers. While you can still see some of the remnants, the St. Nicholas Cathedral steals the show.
This cathedral was built in 1283 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. With stunning stained-glass windows and a towering height of 74 meters, the view from the top is like something out of a dream.
Now, I won’t say Fribourg is a must-see if you’re short on time in Switzerland, but if you’re in the country for a bit, you should check this place out. Your inner history buff will thank you.
3 – SCHAFFHAUSEN
Schaffhausen is the capital of the canton…Schaffhausen. Yup, they named it after themselves, talk about self-love. Located in the northernmost region of Switzerland, Schaffhausen is where it’s at.
Its claim to fame is the Rhine Falls, which is basically Europe’s biggest waterfall. But trust me, there’s more to this place than just water. Schaffhausen is a great place and combines natural beauty and medieval architecture.
Schaffhausen has been around since the 11th century, and it’s one of the best-preserved towns from the Middle Ages. The Old Town is a car-free zone and is basically a time capsule, with oriel windows and intricately adorned facades everywhere you look. Seriously, you’ll be feeling like you’re in a fairy tale.
And let’s talk about those facades, shall we? Schaffhausen is known for its oriel bay windows, and they’re seriously impressive. Plus, the town has some small vineyard fields right in the heart of it, making it even more special.
4 – NYON
Nyon is a smaller city, located on the northeastern shores of Lake Geneva, right between Geneva and Lausanne. And let me tell you, it’s got some serious charm.
The most famous sight in town is the Château de Nyon, which sits pretty in the town center and boasts some killer views of Lake Geneva. This gorgeous castle was built by the Counts of Savoy in the 13th century on top of a Roman site, and it’s got five massive towers that’ll make you feel like royalty.
The castle also houses the Museum of History and Porcelain, where you can peep at some precious artifacts from Nyon’s past porcelain manufacturing industry. And speaking of history, Nyon was taken over by Bern in the 16th century, and you can still see evidence of this era in the arcades encircling the market square.
But don’t think Nyon is all about history – oh no! This place is also home to the Lake Geneva Museum, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go hot-air ballooning nearby. But before you do all that, make sure to take a stroll through the small, cute Old Town.
5 – Lugano
Lugano – this southern Swiss city is pretty, lively, and just downright fun – the perfect getaway for a weekend (or longer if you’re lucky).
Whether you’re an outdoors lover, an art enthusiast, or just a city slicker, Lugano has got something for everyone. And with about 67,000 inhabitants, it’s the biggest city in the canton of Ticino and Switzerland’s third-largest financial center.
Plus, its mild climate in the winter months makes it a top pick for winter getaways.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show – Lake Lugano. Nestled within a bay on the northern shore, this place boasts some seriously awe-inspiring views from the surrounding mountains. And the town center is car-free, so you can stroll around and take in all the Italianate Lombardy-style buildings and distinguished museums at your leisure.
And speaking of leisure, Lugano is all about that “sweetness of doing nothing.” From the picturesque lake to the year-round schedule of events, this place is all about unwinding and indulging. And if you visit in the springtime, when the camellias are in full bloom, you’ll be in for a real treat.
And if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, just hop on the funicular or hike up Monte Bre or San Salvatore for some seriously stunning panoramas.
Lugano’s got so many reasons to visit that you’d be crazy not to put it on your Swiss Bucket List!
6 – SION
Sion is the economic center of the canton of Valais, and with Switzerland’s largest bus station, it’s easy peasy to get to from virtually every town in the canton.
The cityscape of Sion is defined by the imposing towers of Castle Tourbillon and the Castle of Valeria, which you can spot from a mile away. And with a history spanning over 7,000 years, this place seamlessly merges ancient history with modernity.
The Basilica of Valère in Sion is famous for housing one of the oldest playable organs in the world, dating back to the early 15th century. And the views from up there are seriously stunning – and free to visit, baby!
It’s not just a pretty face either – Sion serves as Valais’ commercial hub, too.
And if you’re all about that nature life, Sion’s got you covered. The proximity to stunning lakes like Lac Souterrain or Domaines des Iles and the vineyards make this place a top pick for any nature lover. Get yourself to Sion and see why it’s one of the best cities to visit in Switzerland!
7 – THUN
Thun may be a smaller city, but it’s packed to the brim with attractions and sights. Located at the northwest edge of Lake Thun, this place is the gateway to the Bernese Oberland and home to around 44,000 cool people.
And the River Aare, flowing from Lake Thun to Bern, gives this place some serious character.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show – Thun Castle – an imposing structure with a tower that was built between 1180 and 1190. It’s the city’s most iconic landmark, and it overlooks the Old Town.
And inside, you can check out a historical museum that displays artifacts from the past 800 years related to the region’s history. Plus, they’ve got a rotating special exhibition, so there’s always something new to see.
The Knights’ Hall from the 12th century has been restored to its former glory and is seriously noteworthy. And if you’re feeling adventurous, head up to the castle tower for some seriously unrivaled panoramic views of the mountains and the lake. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
But let’s not forget about the old town of Thun, which is seriously splendid. The market square is chock full of ancient buildings that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Disney movie.
I’ve got the lowdown on Schloss Schadau in Thun! This castle is situated on the shores of the stunning Lake Thun, and it’s located in the equally gorgeous Schadau Park.
And if you’re in the mood for some aquatic fun, hop on a boat cruise from Thun to the famous destination of Interlaken. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
8 – LAUSANNE
Lausanne is where it’s at! This Swiss city is located on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, and its picturesque setting has made it a popular destination for ages. And get this – the International Olympic Committee has been headquartered here since way back in 1914.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show – the town itself. Lausanne is built on three hills and surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes, with Lake Geneva right at its feet. And if you look across the lake, you’ll see the Savoy Alps rising up in all their glory. It’s seriously stunning, people.
And the charming old town? It’s mostly car-free, with narrow alleyways lined with cafes and boutiques that’ll make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the medieval city center.
The 12th-century Gothic cathedral is seriously a showstopper. The ornate facade is just the beginning – the inside is just as beautiful. And if you want some seriously gorgeous views, head to the Cathedral Tower.
And if you’re in the mood for some aquatic fun, a Lake Geneva boat cruise is a great way to take in all the beauty this place has to offer.
And speaking of beauty, you can’t miss out on the Lauvaux vineyards. Lausanne is the perfect starting point for some seriously stunning walks and hikes through the vineyards. Trust us, the views will take your breath away.
Get yourself to Lausanne and see for yourself why this place is such a beloved destination!
9 – LUCERNE
People often refer to it as the most beautiful city in Switzerland, and it’s pretty darn stunning.
Lucerne is located on Lake Lucerne and is surrounded by some seriously gorgeous mountains. It’s the perfect spot to start your central Switzerland adventure, whether you’re traveling with a group or going solo. And there’s plenty to do here – shopping, taking in the picturesque lakeside scenery, and exploring nearby attractions like Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and Stanserhorn Mount.
But let’s talk about the real star of the show: Lucerne’s preserved medieval architecture. The colorful Altstadt (Old Town) is seriously a sight to behold. You’ll see unique buildings with stunning facades and historic fountains. And don’t forget about the 14th-century Musegg Wall – you can actually walk along some parts of it for some seriously cool views.
But the most famous sight in Lucerne? That would be the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), a wooden bridge that was built back in 1333. From there, you’ll get a seriously beautiful panorama of the Reuss River, Lake Lucerne (also known as Vierwaldstättersee in German), medieval buildings, and those stunning mountains we mentioned earlier.
10 – ZURICH
Zurich is one of the most iconic Swiss cities! As the financial capital of Switzerland and the biggest city in the country, it’s the perfect mix of culture and outdoor fun.
Sure, Zurich might be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it without breaking the bank.
Take a stroll down the legendary Bahnhofstrasse and window shop to your heart’s content, or check out some of the city’s must-see attractions like the Lindt Museum.
And don’t even get me started on the charming old town – it’s seriously a must-visit spot.
But let’s talk about what makes Zurich truly special: its stunning location. The city is nestled right at the northern edge of Lake Zurich, with the Limmat River running through it. That means you can sip a cup of coffee or beer at a waterfront restaurant or take a scenic cruise on the lake with the stunning mountains as your backdrop.
And if you’re up for some more stunning views, just head up to Lindenhof – a hill in the old town that offers some seriously gorgeous panoramas of the Limmat River and some of Zurich’s most famous landmarks, like the Grossmünster Church.
And let’s not forget about Lake Zurich itself. It’s one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland, and the perfect spot for water sports or just kicking back and relaxing. You can even do a sightseeing boat cruise and take in all the stunning scenery while you chill out.
And to escape the bustle and hustle, get up to Uetliberg, the local mountain of Zurich from where you have a beautiful panorama of the city and Lake Zurich.
11 – GENEVA
Geneva is another popular destination in Switzerland which lies at the southern tip of Lake Geneva (also known as Lac Léman).
Geneva is a cosmopolitan hub and home to the United Nations European headquarters and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) The city is also known for its long-standing tradition of watchmaking and for being the birthplace of many chocolatiers.
Its excellent location, surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, offers some beautiful views of the stunning and well–known Mont Blanc Mountain in France/Italy.
Lake Geneva adds to the beauty of the city. The Jet d’Eau, a 140-meter–tall fountain on Lake Geneva that dates back to the 19th century is one of the most iconic landmarks in Switzerland.
The historical Old Town is worth a visit, yet not as charming as other old towns in Switzerland. The Geneva Saint Peter’s Cathedral and the Chapel of the Maccabees, Bastion Park, the Reformation Wall, the Museum of Art and History, and Tavel House are some more attractions in Geneva.
12 – BERN
Bern, the capital of Switzerland, stands out for its exceptional preservation of historic features. Its old town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its 6 kilometers of arcades – known as ‘Lauben’ among locals – form one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe, providing shelter from the elements while strolling and shopping.
The city is filled with Medieval structures, cobblestone streets, limestone arcades, and lush greenery. With its eclectic mix of culture, history, nature, and breathtaking scenery.
The old town is a must–see and includes the Berner Münster (Cathedral of Bern) with its magnificent Gothic–style building. But also attractions like the Bear Park, the Rose Garden, and the Aare River add more beauty to this Swiss city
Not only is Bern an amazing city to spend a day or two, but Bern is also a great base for day trips because it is near some of Switzerland’s most iconic and stunning destinations.
13 – BASEL
In the very northwest of Switzerland, just at the German and France border, you will find Basel. It is considered the art capital of Switzerland, with plenty of art museums – the most famous and popular are probably the Kunstmuseum and Foundation Beyeler.
Art Basel – an annual international art fair staged in Basel – is known all over the world, and yet there is more than art and museums to see.
Basel, the city of culture for connoisseurs, is home to 40 museums, making it the Swiss city with the highest concentration of museums.
In addition to its rich cultural offerings, Basel boasts a beautiful Old Town. This is a great place to explore – besides old buildings, you will also find the medieval Basel Minister. You can tour the inside of this cathedral and marvel at the interesting architecture. For the best views of the city, head to the tower and enjoy Bern from a different perspective.
The town hall is one of a kind – even though I have seen many medieval town halls the one in Basel – with its red color – is one of the most unique ones. And if you visit Basel in December, make sure to visit the Christmas Markets which are some of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
Basel is located on the Rhine River – the river bank is a popular place to chill and spend time in the summer days. Locals also go ahead and “float” in the river.
14 – ST. GALLEN
The charming town of St. Gallen is a compact metropolis situated in eastern Switzerland, between Lake Constance and Appenzellerland.
St. Gallen is not the most famous tourist destination, yet it is worth a visit. St. Gallen is mostly known for the stunning Abbey of St.Gall, a monastery housing “one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.“ Its cathedral and monastery archives were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983.
In the old town, you will also find several gorgeous oriel bay windows. Actually, St. Gallen is second only to Schaffhausen in terms of oriel bay windows. Thus, keep looking up and admiring these unique houses and windows.
Home to several museums, it is also mostly known as a lively city that is especially popular amongst the younger generation. Given the tremendous amount of stunning places in the country, I would not spend several days in St.Gallen, but I think, one day in St.Gallen is a good amount to see its pretty sights and attraction.
15 – MONTREUX
With Montreux, we have another gorgeous small destination on the shores of Lake Geneva that is a must–see Swiss city. It is nestled between steep hills and the largest “Swiss” lake – Lake Geneva also known as Lac Leman.
Its promenade is probably one of the most beautiful ones in the country – lined with flowers, sculptures, Mediterranean trees, and grand Belle Époque buildings.
The medieval castle, Château de Chillon, with ramparts, formal halls, and a chapel with 14th–century murals is one of the main sights along the shores as is the Freddie Mercury statue. The Queen singer spent several years in the city and recorded six albums here.
Montreux is also worldwide known for the Montreux Jazz Festival – the second-largest Jazz festival in the world – which is held each year in July.
And if you want to spend time in the mountains, Roche de Naye is a perfect mountain excursion that is easily accessible from Montreux via funicular.
16 – NEUCHATAL
The city of Neuchâtel, the French–speaking capital of the canton Neuchâtel, lies on the northern shore of Lake Neuchâtel.It is mostly known for its medieval old town and the two main sights of the city: the Château de Neuchâtel, and the Collegiate Church which were built in the Gothic style dating back to the 12th century.
Lake Neuchatel is the second biggest lake in Switzerland – and perfect for hopping aboard the paddle steamer and enjoying a nice cruise. Outdoor lovers go on day trips to the Jura Mountains west of the city or see the Creux du Vaa – an amphitheater-like canyon.
17 – BIEL
Nestled between two hills in the Jura Mountains and surrounded by some of the best Swiss lakes, Biel is perfect for breaking the monotony of everyday life. The little city charms visitors with rolling vineyards, breathtaking mountain views, and Swiss architecture.
Whether it’s exploring the cobblestone streets of Old Town, enjoying a splash in Lake Biel, or exploring the city’s artistic side, there’s something for everyone.
Most of all, it might be renowned for its watchmaking exploits. While Rolex does not have its own museum, most Rolex watches are actually produced here… Here in this small and pretty town of Biel.
However, there are some other museums where it is all about watches like the Omega Museum, Neues Museum Biel, and Cimer Watch Academy.
So, Biel is a perfect destination with a mix of indoor- and outdoor activities.
SWITZERLAND´BEST CITIES TO GO IN 2023
Switzerland might be mostly known for its mountains, lakes, rivers, chocolate, or watches – but there are more than a handful of beautiful cities in Switzerland that are well worth a visit.
Many of these beautiful cities offer a perfect blend of rich history, breathtaking scenery, and modern amenities. Whether you are interested in culture, shopping, outdoor activities, or just indulging in the Swiss way of life, there is a city in Switzerland that will satisfy your interests.
From the cosmopolitan Geneva to the charming St. Gallen, the traffic-free Old Town of Bern to the picturesque Lucerne, and the international flair of Zurich to the Olympic city of Lausanne, there is no shortage of fascinating cities to visit in Switzerland.
Some are easily explored in one day, for some others you might need days to see the main attractions. Above mentioned places are my favorites and thus my recommendations for the best cities in Switzerland to visit.