Today (June 10, 2019): Top 10 best things to see & do in Switzerland.
The variety of different sights to see in Switzerland is truly incredible, with famous landmarks everywhere you look. The Alpine country allows its visitors to discover a ravishing mountain landscape – there are more than 200 peaks higher than 3000m (10.000 ft) – alongside epic glaciers, mighty rivers, rural countryside, historic buildings, world-class museums, and clear turquoise lakes. Here’s my selection of the ten best attractions in Switzerland. In case you plan a trip to the Alpine country, I highly recommend the official tourism website of Switzerland, MySwitzerland.com which offers plenty of tips, information and itineraries.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed an attraction in Switzerland? Leave a comment or take my poll below.
*** Read: Top 10 best luxury hotels & resorts in Switzerland ***
The Museum of Transportation, opened in 1959, is Switzerland’s most popular museum, featuring numerous exhibitions, theme parks and simulations. With its exhibition areas of road transport, rail, navigation (water) and aviation, the Museum of Transportation is one of the most extensive museums for mobility in Europe. The large outdoor area complete with lake and playing facilities make it an experience whatever the weather. Alongside the museum, other unique attractions are waiting in store for visitors: documentaries are shown in the film theater on the biggest screen in Switzerland; Switzerland’s biggest and most state-of-the-art planetarium offers a 360-degree flight to the stars; and cutting-edge communication trends await in Media Word, such as virtual reality. A multimedia journey through the Swiss Chocolate Adventure shows how the cocoa bean is made into the famous Swiss chocolate.
Chillon Castle – located on a rock island on the banks of Lake Geneva – is the most visited historic building in Switzerland, and consists of 25 buildings and three courtyards, protected by two circular walls. For hundreds of years, the passage of ships on Lake Geneva and the important land route to the St. Bernhard Pass was controlled from this island. Chillon belonged to the Counts of Savoy from the 12th to the 16th century, then the inhabitants of Bern conquered the water castle, and subsequently the inhabitants of Vaud prevailed. More than 400,000 guests visit Chillon per year. They view the wall paintings from the 14th century, the subterranean vaults, parade halls and the bedroom (which has been preserved in its original form) dating to the time of Bernese rule. It’s possible to rent the castle for various events. From the Castle, you can reach Montreux (by boat, by bus or on foot), where you can admire ten mile of sheltered bays, bordered with flower-lined promenades, exotic plants and palm trees.
The Rhaeto-Romanic speaking inhabitants of the Vorderrhein ravine call it Ruinaulta, a word meaning high heap of rubble. And indeed, the bizarre whitish rock and canyon-like gorge formations consist of debris from a prehistoric rockslide that blocked the Rhine near Flims after the retreat of the Ice Age valley glacier. Since then the river has eaten its way through the rubble, forming an impressive gorge. The Rhaetian Railway runs through the canyon, where adventurers enjoy river rafting and observers make their way to the “il Spir” viewing platform. What has come into being is a natural, magical place full of mysterious lakes in the Mountain Forest, rare orchids and breeding grounds for endangered species of birds. Further below, gently sloping sand banks alternate with wild rapids and make the region of the Rhine gorge an adventure for hikers, bikers, rafters, canoers, nature lovers and explorers alike.
Creux du Van, a natural rock arena of immense proportions, is located at the border of the cantons of Neuenburg and Vaud. Impressive 160 meter (524 ft) high vertical rock faces surround a four kilometer (2.4 mi) long and over one kilometer (0.6 mi) wide valley basin. First the glaciers, then the brooks have shaped the breathtaking rock formation from the 200 million year old lime deposits of a prehistoric ocean. The steep rock faces afford detailed insight into the geology of the Jurassic folding. The regional climate of the “Creux du Van” is exceptional and unusual – there are forests and arctic-alpine flora in the rock arena. Chamois, ibex, lynx and numerous other wild animals inhabit the pristine natural landscape, which is protected through the existence of a 25 square kilometer nature reserve. A natural water spring, the “Fontaine Froide”, has its source in the middle of a sinkhole.
Even the Romans avoided the immense mass of the Gotthard. But today the Gotthard Pass is the main North-South connection, traversed by leisure hikers and pass enthusiasts. The famous Gotthard Train Tunnel, and thus the Gotthard Railway was opened in 1882. The highway tunnel was built about 100 years later. But you will be missing something well worth experiencing if you always take the tunnel. One should take the path through the Schöllenen Ravine and through the barren Urseren Valley up to the Pass Heights at least once: whether on foot, in a nostalgic Post Bus or in a horse carriage like in the days of the famous Gotthard Post in the 19th century. The ride across the cobblestone paved Tremola on the southern side of the Gotthard Pass is breathtaking. The Tremola takes you in hairpin turns and serpentine curves from the peak of the pass to Airolo and is considered to be Switzerland’s longest historical monument.
Crossing the Alps in the Bernina Express certainly is one of the most spectacular ways to do it. Along the way, the Bernina Express rolls Hollywood-style over the 65 meter (213 ft) high Landwasser Viaduct, the signature structure of the Rhaetian Railway and the UNESCO World Heritage site. Altogether the train passes through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges on its way from Chur to Tirano. Travelers are treated to marvelous sights during their journey, like the Montebello curve with a view of the Bernina massif, the Morteratsch glacier, the three lakes Lej Pitschen, Lej Nair and Lago Bianco, the Alp Grüm and the Brusio Circular Viaduct. In summer, open panorama coaches are available on the Bernina Express between Davos Platz and Tirano. The glass-free Cabrio coaches bring you closer to nature. And let you take perfect photos of the breathtaking scenery!
To stand high above Europe’s largest waterfall, feeling the roar and vibration of the water over one’s entire body – this can be experienced at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. Due to tectonic shifts in the Ice Age, the Rhine River was forced into a new riverbed over 15,000 years ago. The Rhine Falls came into being at the transition point where hard chalk turned into soft gravel. Over a breadth of 150 meters (492 ft), several hundred cubic meters of water rush into the depths at the rate of 23 meters (75 ft) per second. In the middle of it all stands a mighty rock that has withstood the elements for a thousand years. The rock can be reached on a circular tour of the Rhine Falls, during which one can observe the natural spectacle from up close. Virtually in the middle of the waterfall, visitors stand on platforms that jut out and partially hover over the Rhine. The castles of Wörth and Laufen can be reached by river boat, and very daring visitors can rent canoes.
Incredibly immense, incredibly beautiful: the Aletsch Glacier – a Unesco World Heritage Site – is the Alps’ mightiest ice flow. And the most popular, for it is easily accessible and is ideally situated for extensive hikes, winter sports and special nature excursions. The ice extends from the northern slopes of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau down towards the Valais. The water flows through the untamed Massa Gorge into the Rhone. The entire region is a habitat for many rare animal and plant species, for instance in the Aletsch Forest. The Pro Natura nature reserve is located close to the forest. Innumerable vantage points offer a good view of the glacier, such as the Bettmerhorn above Bettmeralp. Eggishorn, which can also be reached via cable car from Fiesch via cable car, offers a magnificent view of the winding upper part of the large glacier. Lake Märjelen, which is fed by glacial meltwater, lies at a corner of the ice flow.
A visit to the Jungfraujoch puts a jewel in the crown of any visit to Switzerland. For more than 100 years, the Jungfrau railway has been making its journey to Europe’s highest-altitude railway station at 3454 meters (11332 ft), right at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch”. All through the year, the cog railway runs steeply up through a tunnel to the Jungfraujoch from Kleine Scheidegg. The tunnel leading up from the station Eigergletscher is seven kilometers (4.3 mi) in length and was built between 1896 and 1912. One stop within the tunnel offers spectacular views onto the glacier world outside through windows in the Eiger North Face. On the summit, visitors are greeted by a high-Alpine wonder world made of ice, snow and rocks. All of this can be marveled at from the viewing platforms “Sphinx” and “Plateau” on the Aletsch glacier or from the “Ice Palace”.
The Matterhorn and Switzerland are inseparably linked to each other. The pyramid shaped colossus of a mountain, which is very difficult to climb, is said to be the most photographed mountain in the world. The first ascent of the Matterhorn in the year 1865, which cost the lives of four out of seven alpinists, changed the region (which had been isolated until then) forever. The Matterhorn became world-famous, and ambitious mountaineers aspired to climb it. Even today the ascent of the Matterhorn is very challenging and can only be achieved by expert mountaineers with excellent equipment and a competent guide. One has a fantastic view of the world’s most photographed mountain from the Klein-Matterhorn (Matterhorn Paradise), which is only separated from the Matterhorn by the Theodul Pass and Glacier. Visitors can board the aerial cable car in Zermatt. The mountain station at 3820 meters (15532 feet) above sea level is the highest cable car station of the Alps.