Switzerland in Central Europe is synonymous with jaw-dropping Alpine beauty, picture-pefrect villages and breathtaking train journeys. Also, Swiss cheese and chocolates are celebrated across the globe. Its stunning natural setting is the reason why Switzerland is one of the world’s most bucket-listed destinations.
It might sound strange, but Switzerland doesn’t have an official capital. Bern is its de-facto capital and a wonderful city to explore. The UNESCO listed Old City (also known as Berner Altstadt) is the heart of Bern, where you will discover a plethora of medieval buildings like Zytglogge – a 13th-century clock tower and Berner Munster – a 15th-century Gothic cathedral. Bern’s other highlights include BarenPark – a 6000-sq-metre park and museums like Zentrum Paul Klee, Museum fur Kommunikation, Historisches Museum Bern and Kunstmuseum.
Bern makes a great jump-off point to explore the mountainous Bernese Oberland region – one of the best places to experience the grandeur of Switzerland’s natural wealth. The resort town of Interlaken is its main draw, and with a terrain marked by mountains and thick forests, alpine meadows and glacier-fed lakes, it is not hard to see why. Schynige Platte plateau and Jungfraujoch – which has Europe’s highest train station are popular tourist attractions in this region. From the top of the Jungfrau mountains, you can witness mesmerizing views of the UNESCO world heritage listed Aletsch Glacier.
Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city and a financial powerhouse and is known for its lively environment. Its major attractions include beautiful churches like Fraumünster and Grossmünster, museums like Focus Terra, Kunsthaus and Schweizerisches Landesmuseum and gardens like the Botanical Garden of the University of Zurich and Sukkulenten-Sammlung. From here, you can set off to explore one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls – Rhine Falls.
The city of Lucerne, located on the banks of Lake Lucerne is dominated by medieval architecture and is surrounded by mountains. The iconic wooden Chapel Bridge lies in the centre of the town and its interior is filled with remarkable paintings.
Geneva is another lakeside city that is home to multiple international organisations, including the headquarters of the United Nations. It is a financial hub and people with expensive tastes will love the luxurious hotels, boutiques and dining options that the city offers. Lake Geneva also has the world’s tallest fountain, Jet d’Eau, which sprays water up to 140 metres high. This region provides excellent hiking opportunities in summer and becomes a skiing paradise in winter.
On the shores of Lake Geneva lies Lausanne – with its sprawling vineyards, stunning scenery, medieval architecture and home to the International Olympic Committee headquarters. Lavaux is a picturesque wine region located near the city and is popular for its hiking trails.
Sion is a historically important city with medieval architecture and a rich winemaking tradition. The city’s main claim to fame is its hilltop fortifications of Tourbillon Castle and Valere Castle complex. The borders of Germany, France and Switzerland meet a Basel – known for its art galleries, museums, architecture, Old Town and the world’s biggest international art fair – ART Basel festival.
The Zermatt region located in southern Switzerland is a popular mountain resort and offers excellent skiing and hiking. The stunning Matterhorn is the crown jewel of the region and offers some of the grandest views in the Alps. From Zermatt, the eight-hour train journey to St Moritz on the Glacier Express is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. St Moritz is a luxury alpine resort town from where you can travel onwards to Swiss National Park – the only national park in Switzerland.
Since Switzerland is a landlocked nation, it doesn’t have access to a coastline, but the country compensates for its lack of seaside attractions with its wonderful alpine landscape.
Did you know that Switzerland doesn’t have an official country capital?