29 May The Best Cities & Sights in Switzerland
Switzerland is a country that welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists a each year. However, those who have not visited may be wondering which cities in Switzerland they should visit and the sights they should see while there. Check out our guide below to the best cities, including Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Lugano and Zermatt.
Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and a cultural hub in the country. You’ll find over 50 museums here as well as more than 100 art galleries. Plus, Zurich is a great place for shopping and famously known for their Swiss brand-name goods. It also has a great nightlife scene. Check out our top three picks for things to do in this city.
1. Lake Zurich Promenade
The perfect thing to do right when you get to Zurich is to head to the scenic promenade along the east shore of Lake Zurich. This is near the Seefeld quarter and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding city.
2. The Swiss National Museum
History buffs should head straight to the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Here you’ll gain insight into Switzerland’s fascinating history from ancient times to present day. The Swiss National Museum actually encompasses three museums. You’ll find the National Museum Zurich, the Château de Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz. You’ll find temporary exhibits year round on current topics which add to the overall experience
3. Alstadt (Old Town)
Zurich’s Old Town is located on the banks of the Limmat. Here you’ll be awed by the medieval and early modern streets full of culture, nightlife and shopping. In addition, Alstadt is home to four medieval churches and the 17th-century Town Hall. After browsing the picturesque streets and shops, head to the Limmat waterfront for a great place to relax and take in the views.
Geneva is a french-speaking city in western Switzerland, set between the Alpine mountains and the Jura Hills. Lake Geneva provides a stunning center to the city. In addition, Geneva is the European seat of the UN and the headquarters of the Red Cross. It’s nickname is the “Capital of Peace”.
1. St. Pierre Cathedral
For an amazing view of the city and lake, climb the two tall towers of St. Pierre Cathedral. Head to the south tower for the best view on a sunny day. On a chilly or wet day, climb the north tower.
2. Old Town
Geneva’s old town is filled with centuries of beautiful buildings, history and culture. Plan your visit around lunch time to take advantage of the many quaint cafes and restaurants. You’ll also find the world’s largest bench here!
3. La Pointe de la Jonction
La Pointe de la Jonction is a great place to enjoy during the summer in Geneva. Here, two very different rivers meet – one muddy and one crystal clear. You can literally see the merging of the two waters and float down the unique sight in the summer. Even in the chillier months, this is a great place to grab a deck chair and some snacks + vino and spend an afternoon.
The ancient city of Lucerne is another Swiss city set on a picturesque lake. It is known for great food, pretty painted historic homes and many notable medieval landmarks. The city also has a more modern side. In addition, the nearby Alpine terrain is easily accessible by cable car.
1. Kapellbrücke, aka Chapel Bridge
The iconic Kapellbrücke, aka Chapel Bridge, crosses the Reuss River in the heart of Lucerne. It was originally constructed in 1333 and was destroyed by fire in 1993. It was rebuilt a year later and today you can see the reconstruction of the original wooden footbridge.
2. Church of St. Leodegar
St. Leodegar Church is relatively modern compared to the medieval architecture you’ll find in the majority of Lucerne. The Roman Catholic church sits at the base of the Old Town near the lake and dates back to the mid-17th century. The members of the monastery here actually founded the city of Lucerne, so it is of great importance to the cities history.
3. Old Town and Museggmauer, aka Musegg Wall
Lucerne’s historic Old Town is full of medieval architecture and narrow streets. At the summit of Old Town you’ll find Museggmauer, aka Musegg Wall. This area is part of the rampart walls built in 1386. Much of the wall is still intact today. Four of its towers are open to the public including Schirmer, Zyt, Wacht and Männli.
Lugano is known as the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland” and is a popular vacation destination for celebrities. No surprise here – it too is located on a picturesque lake in the Italian-speaking section of the country.
1. Monte San Salvatore
Monte San Salvatore is Lugano’s famous mountain. Here you’ll find amazing views of Lugano and the surrounding Alps. You can take a tram from the Lugano suburb of Paradiso which will take you to the top of the mountain in just 12 minutes. It can also be hiked but it is only for skilled hikers!
2. Via Nassa Street
Via Nassa encompasses the area beginning at the very southern tip of the city. It curves along Lugano’s waterfront and leads through the old town center. In addition to great views, this is a great place for strolling, shopping and eating.
3. Cathedral San Lorenzo
This cathedral is stunning and recognizable by its beautiful limestone and marble facade. It dates back to the 16th century. Climb to the terrace for a great view of the lake and mountains.
Zermatt is located high in the Valais Alps. It lies beanth the infamous Mattherhorn Peak. The entire city is full of great places for photo ops of the peak, as well as places where you can learn about the people who have conquered the mountain.
1. The Mattherhorn
You can easily recognize the famous jagged peak of Mount Matterhorn from photos of Zermatt (see above). You should not attempt to climb the Matterhorn unless you are an expert, but you should definitely take some time to savor it from a distance from the city below.
The Gornergrat Bahn is the highest open-air tourist train in all of Europe. This will take you to the observation platform at Gornergrat. While you rise over 4 thousand meters into the mountain wilderness, you’ll see 29 peaks!
3. Zermatt Village
Zermatt Village is car-free which makes it the perfect place for tourists to wander aimlessly and take in the quaint area. Here you’ll find the Monte Rosa Hotel. Monte Rosa opened in 1855, making it the oldest hotel in Zermatt. Other than the hotel, you’ll find 20 typical “Walser” houses in the area.
Are you ready to see Switzerland for yourself? If so, call us today at 402-390-9291 to speak to one of our Europe Travel Specialists or get started here.