15 Best Cities to Visit in Switzerland

by Benjamin Nico
Aerial view of historic Zurich city center with Fraumunster Church and river Limmat at Lake Zurich

It’s hardly surprising that many Swiss cities are situated in the middle of such picturesque landscapes, given the country’s abundance of picturesque lakes, mountains, and rivers. The red roofs of the houses tower above the castles and churches that dot the landscape, and the winding, cobblestone streets will take you to even more breathtaking locations.

The best Swiss cities are vibrant destinations because they successfully blend the old and the new via their museums, galleries, bars, and restaurants.

15. Biel-Bienne

Erlach village overlooking Lake Biel in Switzerland
Erlach village and Lake Biel, Switzerland Image source: Christian Guerra/Shutterstock.com

Biel, as it is called in German, is located on the linguistic border, therefore half of its inhabitants also know it by the French name, Bienne. This makes it perhaps the most multilingual place in the whole country. Most visitors only pass through, although the city’s picturesque setting at the base of the Jura Mountains with Lake Biel as a backdrop is worth stopping for.

Apart from the Alps, it also has a peaceful and attractive old town that is perfect for strolling. You may as well sample the regional vintages and cool down in the lake water while you’re here. If you want to see the Alps and the rest of Drei-Seen-Land, Biel-Bienne is a fantastic place to stay as a home base.

14. Sion

Historical Sion town with its two castles, Chateau de Tourbillon and Valere Basilica, spectacular set in the Swiss Alps mountains, canton Valais, Switzerland.
Historical Sion Town with Two Castles in Swiss Alps Mountains Image source: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.com

Sion, a small city in the Rhone Valley, has a picturesque setting on the river’s banks. It has a contemporary side, but the two stunning hilltops that overlook the old town are the real draw. The Alps can be seen peeking out from behind them, and the ruins of a castle and a church from the 13th century make for a spectacular sight.

Given the abundance of vineyards in the area, wine is an integral element of social life in Sion, and the city is filled with wonderful restaurants and cozy cafés where you can try some of the local vintages. Some of the best hiking trails in the valley begin right here.

13. Fribourg

Evening skyline of Fribourg, Switzerland.
Evening skyline of Fribourg, Switzerland.Image source: Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock.com

Fribourg is spectacular to look at thanks to its position straddling the canyon that divides the city in two, and the city itself offers a variety of fantastic vantage points.

Two magnificent bridges rise over the Samara River, connecting the French-speaking western half of the city with the German-speaking eastern section. There are excellent museums, strong fortifications, and stunning architecture in addition to the gorgeous medieval old town with its towering cathedral. Because of the high number of students living there, the city also has a vibrant nightlife.

12. Interlaken

 People standing on the observation deck in Interlaken, Switzerland on a beautiful summer day
Interlaken observation deck on a beautiful summer dayImage source: Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.com

Interlaken is a wonderful Swiss destination because of its picture-perfect location between two alpine lakes surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The city itself is small and overrun with souvenir stores, but the area’s natural beauty is what really attracts visitors.

It’s the starting point for trips to the world-famous Jungfrau region, where you can enjoy outdoor activities like white-water rafting, abseiling down waterfalls, and hiking to picturesque lakes and peaks.

11. Chur

View of Chur town, vineyards, and Alps mountains in summer
Scenic view of Chur town, vineyards, and Alps mountains in summerImage source: Avatar_023/Shutterstock.com

Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city, is pleasantly surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Alps. Therefore, the nearby mountains are fantastic for climbing and trekking. The Old Town is the undisputed crown jewel of the city, and it can be explored on foot in a single day.

The area is a great place to relax, with its old buildings housing a variety of great restaurants and bars. In the winter, St. Moritz and Davos are convenient access points to some of the best skiing in the world.

10. Thun

Cityscape of Thun, Switzerland with reflection in Aare river at sunset
Thun, Switzerland Cityscape at Sunset with Reflection in Aare RiverImage source: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock.com

Thun, a town in Switzerland, is situated on the banks of the Aare River and seems like a picture-perfect Swiss village because of its mountainous backdrop. Thun has a majestic castle perched above the city, old buildings bordering the river, and pleasant cafés along the water. The city bustles with life, and it is filled with one-of-a-kind artisanal stores.

9. Bellinzona

Ancient castle in the city Bellinzona, Switzerland
Bellinzona Castle in SwitzerlandImage source: Olgysha/Shutterstock.com

It is astonishing, given Bellinzona’s richness of attractions, that so few people come. The city is surrounded by three medieval fortresses and sits in a stunning location at the convergence of multiple valleys.

Bellinzona’s Old Town is a delight to explore; its winding streets are dotted with Renaissance churches, cozy cafés, and ringing bell towers. Due to its history under Italian authority, this charming jewel has a unique fusion of Swiss and Italian traditions.

8. St. Gallen

View of the Saint Gallen old town with its famous monastery and catholic cathedral in Switzerland
Saint Gallen old town and monastery in SwitzerlandImage source: AsiaTravel/Shutterstock.com

These ancient streets in St. Gallen, Switzerland, are great for history buffs because of the town’s rich past. Winding through the old town’s lovely squares and narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll eventually come upon the majestic cathedral.

The abbey is most famous for its stunning baroque library, which houses a vast collection of ancient books. St. Gallen, a scholarly and cultural center, is located amid rolling green hills with distant mountains in the background.

7. Lugano

Panorama view of Lake Lugano, mountains, and city Lugano, Ticino canton, Switzerland.
Panorama View of Lake Lugano, SwitzerlandImage source: Oleg_P/Shutterstock.com

Lugano, a city in the Italian-speaking section of Switzerland, is located on the shores of Lake Lugano and is surrounded by mountains. Lugano is a picturesque destination with a posh and glamorous vibe owing to its upscale shops, restaurants, and nightlife.

From the city’s central Piazza della Riforma, charming cobblestone streets wind outward, and beautiful promenades along the lakefront provide stunning vistas of the sea. Lugano offers more than enough to warrant a visit, with its beautiful cathedral, excellent contemporary art museum, and access to excellent hiking in the surrounding mountains.

6. Lausanne

Twilight blue hour over downtown Lausanne, Switzerland
Lausanne Cityscape during Twilight Blue HourImage source: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock.com

Lausanne is a great place to spend some time because of its vibrant nightlife and huge student population. The city has a lively and young vibe, making it a fantastic destination for a night out on the town. Lausanne, more than simply an university town, is situated on the hills above Lake Geneva. The city sprawls out over the mild hills, with the stunning gothic old town perched above them.

Lausanne offers something for everyone, from its scattering of excellent museums to the cafés and bars that line the riverfront warehouses at the city’s base.

5. Geneva

Aerial view of Leman lake - Geneva city in Switzerland
Aerial View of Lake Geneva and the City of GenevaImage source: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock.com

The country’s second-largest city is an affluent, cosmopolitan hub that exudes an air of luxury. The UN and World Bank call it home, so it’s no surprise that the city’s streets are paved in gold and glitter.

Geneva, located on the shores of Lake Geneva, is known for its high-end shopping, dining, and lodging options. Bars with plenty of character and vitality can be found at Les Grottes and Quartier des Paquis, neighborhoods that are a far cry from the staid halls of the United Nations.

4. Basel

Old Town of Basel with Munster cathedral and Rhine river at sunset
Old Town of Basel with Munster cathedral and Rhine river at sunset Image source: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.com

Basel’s prime position on the Rhine, close to the borders of France and Germany, has allowed the city to prosper as a result of the influx of trade and business. As a result, it exudes an air of affluence and is home to many beautiful old buildings. In addition, there are several excellent museums and art galleries to visit.

Basel may lack Bern’s attractive old town, but it nevertheless has a magnificent old town and some outstanding architecture, both old and contemporary, within its limits. Kleinbasel’s exquisite dining along the riverbanks is a great way to experience local life and culture.

3. Bern

"View of old city center and Nydeggbrucke bridge in Bern, Switzerland"
Bern, Switzerland: View of Old City CenterImage source: SCStock/Shutterstock.com

The Swiss capital has a picture-perfect setting. If you take a stroll around the Old Town, you’ll see many old buildings, as well as fountains and bell towers. Some of Bern’s most remarkable structures stretch back more than 500 years, to when the city was rebuilt after a devastating fire.

Covered arcades stretch for more than six kilometers across Bern, giving the city its unique character and housing a wide variety of excellent restaurants, shops, and bars. The city is drenched in history, and there are several excellent museums to visit. Bern’s idyllic setting on a peninsula bordered by the tree-lined Aare River only adds to the city’s enchantment and laid-back atmosphere.

2. Lucerne

Historic city center of Lucerne, Switzerland with Chapel Bridge and Mt. Pilatus in the background
Lucerne, Switzerland: Historic City Center with Chapel Bridge and Mt. PilatusImage source: SCStock/Shutterstock.com

Visits to this city are made all the more memorable by the majestic mountains that surround it and the shimmering lake that forms its southern boundary. There are many beautiful vistas, and Lucerne’s quaint medieval quarter only adds to the city’s enchanting atmosphere.

Strolling along the shoreline in the sunshine is a wonderful experience, and the narrow streets of the old town twist their way along the banks of the river that cuts through the heart of the city. Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century, is a major tourist attraction, and the city also has a thriving music culture.

1. Zurich

Aerial view of historic Zurich city center with Fraumunster Church and river Limmat at Lake Zurich
Aerial view of historic Zurich city center with Fraumunster ChurchImage source: canadastock/Shutterstock.com

On the shores of Lake Zurich is Switzerland’s biggest city, Zürich. Through the center flows the Limmat River, and on the horizon are snow-capped mountains. Besides its beautiful location, the city itself is a fascinating site to visit or settle down in.

The charming historic center of Zurich coexists well with the city’s vibrant cultural and artistic landscape. Excellent retail establishments coexist with trendy restaurants and a vibrant nightlife in this forward-thinking metropolis.

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