Must-see Switzerland sights

Despite being one of the most visited countries in Europe, Switzerland remains one of the least understood. Come for a summer mountain holiday, a week of skiing or a short city-break, and you’ll appreciate the pristine beauty, genteel calm and well- oiled efficiency of the country.  If you’re looking for Switzerland holidays, take a look at our fantastic selection.

Switzerland has endless travel opportunities. Venture to the pretty cities of Zurich and Geneva or head to Verbier if you’re looking for adventure. This popular little country has a whole host of exciting travel stories ahead of you. 

1. See the wonderful city, Geneva

Small it may be, but Geneva is one of the most demographically diverse cities in Europe: 38 percent of the resident population is non-Swiss. Geneva is home to dozens of international organizations. Two of them - the United Nations’ European headquarters and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the latter with an award-winning museum (one of the best things to do in Switzerland) - allow visitors a glimpse of the unseen lifeblood of the city, the diplomatic and administrative flair that has made Geneva world capital of bureaucracy.

Best for: A city break in Switzerland with impressive museums.

While you’re there: Don’t miss the Museum of Natural History, too.

2. Discover the Matterhorn mountain

Verbier may have the cool, but Zermatt beats it - Zermatt has the Matterhorn. No other natural or human structure in the whole country is so immediately recognizable. Indeed, in most people’s minds the Matterhorn stands for Switzerland like the Eiffel Tower stands for France. Backpackers, tour groups, hikers, everyone comes to see the mountain. Zermatt is busy year-round, yet the crowds never seem to matter - and with a little effort you can easily vanish into the surrounding wilderness, leaving everyone else behind. One of the quickest ways into that wilderness is by taking a train on the Gornergrat railway, which lifts you up to a spectacular vantage point overlooking the Monte Rosa massif. This is one of the most unique things to do in Switzerland.

Best for: Switzerland’s iconic mountain.

While you’re there: You can also get there by hopping on one of the cable cars to the summits of the Rothorn or Klein Matterhorn - the latter the highest cable-car station in Europe. 

3.  Head to the vibrant city of Zurich

You’re likely to find plenty to keep you occupied in this good-looking city. Poised astride the River Limmat, adorned with over a thousand medieval and modern fountains, and turned towards the Zürichsee (Lake Zurich). It’s so crystal-clear the Swiss authorities have certified its water safe to drink. In recent years the city has undergone a boom in arts and popular culture, expressed most tangibly in the Zurich West district, which has become a hotbed for the alternative scene and a powerhouse for new cultural institutions. The heart of the city, though, remains its medieval Old Town, characterized by the steep, cobbled alleys and attractive, small-scale architecture of the Niederdorf district - perfect for exploratory wanderings. 

Best for: A popular Swiss city to wander around.

While you’re there: Don’t miss the mighty Grossmünster, the Great Minster, while you’re there.

4. See the Rhine Falls

A short trip west from Schaffhausen, the Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfalls, are truly magnificent. Not so much for their height (a mere 23m) as for their impressive breadth (150m) and the sheer drama of the place, with the spray rising in a cloud of rainbows above forested banks. The turreted castle, Schloss Laufen, on a cliff directly above the falls to the south completes the spectacle. August 1 - the Swiss National Day - sees a mighty fireworks display staged on the riverside. Though busy with tourists, it’s worth starting on the north (right) bank, from where you get a broad view of the whole falls from the riverside promenade.

Best for: Waterfalls.

While you’re there: If you’re feeling adventurous, daredevil boats scurry below the crashing waters taking you right into the falls. 

5. Enjoy thrilling sports in Verbier

What to do in Switzerland? Enjoy its sports options of course! Verbier is the main resort of the Four Valleys ski area, covering some 400km of piste at all levels of difficulty. Other sports are also available. Verbier Sports Centre offers a huge range of additional activities including snow-shoeing, ice-climbing, guided high-altitude walking and more. In the summer try canyoning, rafting and caving. Paragliding is also available with centres such as Centre Parapente and Verbier Summits. In August, Verbier also hosts the world’s longest mountain-bike race, the Grand Raid. This is a one-day race across six valleys (rising at one point to 2792m) on a 121km route to Grimentz. 

Best for: Sporty types.

While you’re there: If you’re in Verbier in the summer, why not practise your golf skills? There are two golf courses in the area.

6. Explore the pretty region of Lake Geneva 

The croissant-shaped Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French), bluest of the Swiss lakes, is ringed with villages, castles and gorgeous walks that demand attention. This is wine country, with vineyards carpeting the lakeshore and the first slopes of the hills which rise behind. Over the decades, the lake has attracted some of the world’s wealthiest people, and the shores around the jet-set playground of Montreux in particular are lined with opulent villas. A lakeside stroll can still let you taste the unspoilt beauty which drew Byron and the Romantic poets. 

Best for: A lakeside setting.

While you’re there: Relax on one of the boats which crisscross the lake beneath the Savoy Alps and the Dents-du-Midi mountains.

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