1. CHASING WATERFALLS
Waterfalls are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Switzerland, but Switzerland is home to the biggest waterfalls in Europe.
The Rhine Falls, one of the main tourist attractions in Switzerland, located in Neuhausen/Schaffhausen and close to the German border, are worth a visit.
But, there are way more gorgeous waterfalls in Switzerland to visit. I love the Giessbach Waterfalls at Lake Brienz (find out more about the hotel with waterfall room view I had), the Staubbach Waterfalls are another famous choice in Lauterbrunnen, as well as the Trümmelbach Falls.
However, if you are road tripping, you´ll see many more gorgeous waterfalls along the way. I spotted the most on my way from Zurich to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Keep your eyes and ears open and you´ll eventually stumble upon them!
2. VISIT CITIES
Well, Switzerland´s cities are not the biggest – though they are big enough to give you a nice city feeling, so add a city visit to your Switzerland itinerary. My favorite city is Zurich, as there are many cafes and (vegetarian) restaurants, good clubs, and plenty of shopping options (the Bahnhofstrasse is the most expensive shopping street in the world) and of course Lake Zurich is just a beauty: by the way, each city has its own lake and, often, even has its own “home mountain”.
Most of the cities in Switzerland have well-preserved old towns as well, which should be on your list when exploring the cities as they are popular points of interest in Switzerland.
Geneva does not feel Swiss. In Geneva, the Swiss flags actually make sense because without the flags everywhere I would easily forget I am in Switzerland. Geneva is international, a bit cosmopolitan – definitely not Swiss standard.
It is also the “watch” city – so, if you are on the hunt for a new, very expensive, watch, you´ll have to visit Geneva – Lake Geneva is also the biggest lake in Switzerland and if in Geneva, I tend to spend most of my time around Lake Geneva. Switzerland has more beautiful cities to visit, so add Bern and Lucerne to your Switzerland itinerary as well.
3. EXPLORE TOWNS
You cannot leave Switzerland without having visited at least a handful of cute, colorful towns there.
In Switzerland, each town has its own charm, and believe it or not, they are indeed very different and unique. Appenzell has its own very special kind of architecture, and Stein am Rhine has its own fantastic style.
If in Switzerland you must visit the most beautiful towns and I am sure you will fall in love with Switzerland.
Besides the two mentioned towns, you should put a few more towns on your itinerary: Schaffhausen, Thun, Zermatt, Rapperswil, Solothurn, and Montreux are just some beauties.
4. DISCOVER VILLAGES
After adding towns and cities to your list, do not forget to visit the cute, little villages that make up Switzerland´s charm.
There are plenty of lovely villages, and you´ll surely stumble upon some eventually, but instead of relying to eventually stumble upon some, make sure to plan in some time for those cute villages.
Some of my favorite best Swiss villages are: Lauterbrunnen, Appenzell, Mürren, and Wengen.
5. GO HIKING
I hear some people grumbling already, wondering how I can recommend hiking while I, amongst others, showed in my Instastories that I lazily took the cable cars up the mountains.
My friends, you are so wrong. I actually hiked a couple of times, too. And, yes, I enjoyed every single one of those hikes. And yes, I did not do the hardcore hikes.
Though I did not hike the huge mountains I did have fun hiking some parts of a mountain o just chose some easier hikes. I believe that hiking is a must-do activity in Switzerland.
Easy hikes include Flims, the Ebenalp, and Harder Kulm. There is definitely not a shortage of more difficult hikes but luckily Switzerland has hiking trails for each kind of person.
Wherever you are, there will be places to hike up – most often, you´ll meet some (Swiss) hikers along your way (side note: though some regions of Interlaken have quite a high number of Arabian and Indian tourists, you´ll notice that some nationalities probably do not enjoy hiking as much – my own conclusion is that no nation enjoys hiking as much as the Swiss do and if you like to bend in just go hiking.
6. DO BOAT TOURS
My addiction to boat tours is probably not normal, however, I cannot imagine that anyone would NOT LIKE a boat cruise on one of the beautiful lakes of Switzerland.
I have done so many on so many occasions, but I will likely never get enough of them – and that is for many reasons.
My top tip for things to do in Switzerland…go on a boat cruise.
There are many great (literally) lakes in Switzerland, and boat tours are possible on basically all of the bigger lakes.
My favorite boat cruises in Switzerland are the ones on Lake Geneva (Lake Geneva is awesome AND there are little lounges in the first class – sp perfect for a nice nap as well, I recommend planning in 1 day so you can hop off in Nyon and Montreux).
Lake Lucerne (or Vierwaldstättersee in German) is also perfect for long boat cruises – plan in enough time to hop off some stops like Weggis or Vitznau.
When in Zurich… do a boat tour on Lake Zurich and if you do the 4-hour boat trip tour you can get off in beautiful Rapperswil and spend a few hours there before heading back (as you can see, boat tours also bring you from one place to the other).
The best: most boat tours are free with your Swiss Travel Pass, without a travel pass the prices vary strongly. A day pass for Lake Brienz is about 100€ (one of the most expensive tickets for boat rides though). Seriously, boat cruising is one of the best activities in Switzerland. Find out more about day passes for tours on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
7. DISCOVER LAKES
Aside from the mountains, the lakes are the most stunning things that Mother Nature has created in Switzerland, so it does not surprise that one of the top things to do in Switzerland is to check out lakes.
You´ll find every lake color you can imagine. Lake Brienz is turquoise, Blausee is greenish (I am not sure if I have issues with my eyes, but the lake looks more green than blue, despite its name), Lake Geneva comes in different colors (blue for the main part, greenish at the shores), Lake Cauma and Lake Thun have a wonderful emerald color, and Lake Oeschinen has a unique color I cannot even describe.
However, each lake is amazing and unique. Though not all of the lakes offer boat cruises they are all worth to be visited. Few more lakes that I absolutely love and are Lungernsee and Zugersee.
Though they are not that famous, they are absolutely stunning – if you road trip (or train travel) you´ll pass them when traveling from Zurich to Interlaken. If you get the chance hop off the train and spend some time at the less popular lakes as well.
If you like to have a lake almost all to yourself I recommend Lake Sufers – I never fail to have a break when I travel from Zurich to the Italian-speaking part (apart from some fishers I rarely see any soul at all).
Some are located in a park and entry has to be paid (Blausee, Lake Cauma, Lake Cresta, etc.), but most are free to visit – and they are so extremely clear and clear that even I swam in a few of them (and that says a lot).
8. HOP ON A TRAIN
While it often scares me to embark on a train in many other parts of the world (naming no names), train travel in Switzerland is fun, and so I highly recommend it.
The first time I traveled from Zurich to Lugano 8-9 years ago, I was awestruck. The scenery is one of a kind, and ever since then, train travel has been an awesome activity I do in Switzerland. I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass and exploring Switzerland by train.
For more window view pictures of my train travel experience read my review of the Swiss Travel Pass.
P.S. With the Swiss Travel Pass you also get a discount on many activities, so check if you can save money with it, too!
9. ROAD TRIPPING
This is not a contradiction – road tripping through Switzerland is as much fun as train travel, and I would bite my tongue rather than choose one over the other.
Road tripping allows you to discover Switzerland on your own path and stop wherever you like – believe me, there will be many spots you will want to stop.
The Grand Road Tour gives ideas on where to drive and which places are the most scenic – each route has its own charm, and while I am – normally – not the biggest fan of driving, I cannot wait for my next road trip through Switzerland.
Favorite places to drive along by car in Switzerland: around Lake Lucerne (Axenstraße), and the way from Lucerne to Weggis and Vitznau; and in Interlaken, around Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
The Italian-speaking part of Switzerland is also awesome, though a bit more difficult to drive. I loved the route from Locarno to Valle Verzasca the most.
10. VISIT MUSEUMS
Well, traveling with a dog means I cannot visit museums, but at least one museum should be on your Switzerland itinerary (my first pick would be the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva), but you can choose from more than 900 museums to visit in Switzerland.
If you prefer to spend your time outdoors, you could visit the Wallenberg museum in the Jungfrau/Interlaken museum which is one of the main tourist attraction in Switzerland.
Most museums are free of entry with your Swiss Travel Pass. P.S. Basel is the best city to go if you are interested in museums and art – find out more about Basel here.
11. DO SOME WINTER SPORTS
Though I have to admit that I have never tried skiing, Switzerland is one of the best countries to do winter sports.
Some places allow winter sports even in the summer – Jungfraujoch or Klein Matterhorn have winter sports activities of all kinds, and in the winter, Switzerland becomes the dream destination for ski lovers.
Click here for the best places to ski in Switzerland.
12. WALK OVER SUSPENSION BRIDGES
The best views in Switzerland are from the summit of the mountains, but if you prefer it to be less high, check out a few of the amazing suspension and panorama bridges all over Switzerland.
Just recently, the world´s longest suspension bridge opened in Zermatt ( I will let you know how it was once I visit), but there are many more stunning bridges that are worth visiting – like the suspension bridge in Sigriswil.
13. SEE GORGES
Switzerland has some amazing gorges which await your visit.
Switzerland has some amazing gorges which await your visit. The Trümmelbachfälle (waterfalls) is located in a gorge. More great gorges to visit: Aare Gorge and Gorner Gorge.
The Rhine Gorge is a different kind of gorge and you have the best view from above or from a train. It is one of the best tourist attractions in Switzerland – in my option though totally underrated.
Those gorges are often not totally crowded so make sure to add them to your Switzerland itinerary.
14. SNAP PICTURES OF CASTLES
Though Switzerland is often considered a winter wonderland fairy-tale, the castles in Switzerland seem to be in the shadow of the mountains and lakes (or to shorten it: in the shadow of stunning scenery).
However, there are beautiful castles in Switzerland that should be on your Switzerland itinerary.
Some of the most famous castles are Chateau du Chillon in Montreux (indeed, a very pretty castle on the shores of Lake Geneva), Schadau Castle (it is pinkish, a color you rarely find in Switzerland), and Castel Grande in Bellinzona. These are beautiful Switzerland attractions you should not miss out on.
15. ENJOY THE MOUNTAIN VIEW
I am still not finished, I have a few more great things to do in Switzerland….
However, if you are not a hiker (and some mountains cannot be hiked), you can, and should, enjoy some amazing mountain views. There are many great mountains that offer cable car rides up and a trip to Switzerland would not be complete without have not visited a mountain summit in at least 2000 meters height.
My favorite train ride up was at Brienzer Rothorn, but there are many more to enjoy, like Klein Matterhorn, Mount Pilatus, and Mount Rigi.
Jungfraujoch is probably the most famous mountain trip – though expensive, it is still an awesome trip and it does not come as a surprise that it is one of the most popular Switzerland attractions
16. SLEEP IN A MOUNTAIN GUEST HOUSE
When in Switzerland…spend a night in a mountain guest house. A night in a guest house in probably a unique experience in Switzerland.
Most mountain guest houses are not really fancy, but sleeping in one was an incredible experience and I cannot wait to spend more nights in the mountains.
Ebenalp Guest House on Ebenalp was my choice – a choice I did not regret. Compared to “normal hotels” the prices are moderate as well. Do not forget to pack warm clothes for a night; it gets cold at an elevation of 1,800 meters (I learned it the hard way) and the heater might not work.
17. MAKE FRIENDS WITH COWS
Make new friends. Swiss are known to be a bit reserved in general…but not so the cows.
Most animals actually scare me – so do the cows, which are numerous in Switzerland. Seriously, they are basically everywhere!
However, Swiss cows are lucky enough to spend their lives in nature, and if you are outside the cities, you´ll most likely stumble upon them. Take some pics – and befriend them. After all, they help to produce that awesome Swiss chocolate and if you do not befriend them they might not make any more for you (or worse: not for me).
18. WATCH A MOVE AT AN OPEN-AIR CINEMA
One of the best things to do in Switzerland in summer is to visit an open-air cinema.
In summer, you will see advertisements for open-air cinema everywhere – it is one of the main events for locals. The weather might not be your best friend, but if you are lucky and it does not rain, enjoy a movie night at the open-air cinema. The best: open-air cinemas can even be found in small towns.
19. EXPERIENCE ADVENTURE
So tiny, yet so much to do. Switzerland is a paradise for outdoor sports lovers.
Paragliding, glacier hiking, bungee jumping, or even base jumping (though I definitely do not recommend the latter one). You can do any kind of adventurous activity in Switzerland.
20. COFFEE WITH A VIEW
Whether you are on a mountain peak or at one of the (relatively few) high buildings in Switzerland: take your time and have a coffee. These views are one of a kind, so take the time for a break, get a drink and enjoy the views. Often, there are guest houses and restaurants on mountain peaks that come with view but there are also some high buildings which offer great views (in Switzerland, I prefer the first option though).
21. EAT SWISS CHOCOLATE
I definitely think that Swiss chocolate is DELICIOUS. You can even do your own chocolate and visit Chocolate
Bad news: Swiss chocolate can be extremely expensive.
Good news: Lindt is not the most expensive chocolate in Switzerland, but it is my favorite. So plan to replace some meals with some tasty bars of chocolate.
22. COOL DOWN IN CAVES
The best thing to do in Switzerland when it is hot is to visit a cave.
Switzerland has a few gorgeous caves. I recommend planning a visit to one of the caves on a very hot day, so you can cool down and learn about a different aspect of Switzerland. Surely, this is not an activity for those suffering from claustrophobia, but if you don´ make sure to add at least one to your Switzerland holidays.
My favorite caves are the St. Beatus Caves – the guided tour is definitely recommendable. Plus, outside the caves, amazing views of Lake Thun await you (seriously, the view is so amazing so I have visited twice in the last 2 years).
23. VISIT A LIDO
Lidos are great places to swim. Though I mentioned beforehand that it is super safe and fun to swim in the Swiss lakes and rivers, swimming in a lido is another great way to relax and cool down.
Lidos are natural swimming pools in the lakes and rivers, often watched by guards and fenced. Some have a pool, as well. You can get in for just a few Swiss Francs and have more “security” than at the lakes. Since I have my dog traveling with me we actually get kind of banned to visit Lidos (so if you are scared of dogs, this another argument for visiting lidos)
24. WATCH A SUNSET
Sunsets in Switzerland can be amazing – however, you should do some research on where to watch the best sunset. My tips for an incredible sunset: Vitznau near Lucerne (especially from Mount Rigi) and from a boat on Lake Thun (there are sunset boat cruises).