What are the best Swiss cities to visit? Switzerland is a land of diverse landscapes, fascinating cities, and unparalleled natural beauty. While many Swiss cities are worth a visit, we’ve selected five that will give you a well-rounded experience, from multicultural metropolises to age-old mountain towns nestled in picturesque valleys.
Each city offers its unique charm, coupled with the opportunity for memorable day hikes amidst stunning alpine scenery.
Here’s an ECHO Rail guide to the best Swiss cities to visit during your next summer holidays.
Lucerne: Historic Charms and Alpine Adventures
Lucerne is one of the oldest cities in Switzerland and presents a wonderful starting point for your Swiss holiday. Thanks to its location, Lucerne offers many opportunities for day trips into nature. First, wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town lined with centuries-old buildings. Immerse yourself in history with iconic landmarks like the Chapel Bridge and the Lion Monument. Go on a cruise on Lake Lucerne, where shimmering waters mirror the surrounding mountains. Its proximity to nature, excellent cultural offer and cozy cobbled alleys make it one of the best Swiss cities to visit.
Day trips from Lucerne:
- Mount Pilatus trip: ride the steepest cogwheel train in the world and enjoy panoramic views from the mountain top. Come back to Lucerne by boat.
- Mount Rigi day hike: and a hike to Rigi Kaltbad, a wellness hotel based around natural mineral springs.
- Panorama Walk with Wine Tasting: enjoy a leisurely walk along the lakeshore paired with wine-tasting at the age-old local winery.
Zurich: Urban Flair and Vibrant Culture
Zurich exudes an air of cosmopolitan sophistication blended seamlessly with rich cultural heritage. The only Swiss city with a truly metropolitan atmosphere, Zurich is definitely one of the best Swiss cities to visit all year round.
Wander along the bustling Bahnhofstrasse, explore the medieval streets of the Old Town (Altstadt), and marvel at contemporary art at the Kunsthaus Zurich. The city’s vibrant neighborhoods offer diverse culinary experiences, from street-side cafes to fine dining establishments.
Day trips from Zurich:
- A day hike to Uetliberg: Zurich’s local mountain, offers panoramic views of the city and Lake Zurich.
- Day trip to St. Gallen: visit an impressive 1000-year-old Benedictine Monastery and its 18th-century rococo library containing medieval manuscripts.
Lugano: Mediterranean Pearl Amidst Alpine Beauty
Lugano beckons with a fusion of Swiss sophistication and Mediterranean allure. Located in the picturesque bay of Lake Lugano, the city invites its visitors to enjoy a unique blend of cultures and a relaxed atmosphere. Location at the crossroads of countries, languages, and cultures makes Lugano one of the best Swiss cities to visit.
The city’s Old Town, with its cobblestone streets and historic buildings, showcases a blend of Swiss and Italian influences. If you wish to experience local culture and cuisine, bearing a mark of the neighboring region of Lombardy, why not try our Lugano Private Culinary Experience?
Day trips around Lugano:
- Funicular ride to Monte San Salvatore or Monte Brè for breathtaking panoramas of Lake Lugano.
- Olive Trail in Gandria: walk through a historical path traversing olive groves and admire breathtaking views of the Lake Lugano.
- Cruise on Lake Como: take a short bus ride to Menaggio and embark on a breathtaking cruise on the Lake Como, one of the most stunning lakes in Northern Italy.
St. Moritz: Alpine Elegance and Luxury Adventure
- Day trip to Tirano with Bernina Express: one of the most stunning mountain railways in Europe invites you to traverse the Bernina range and enjoy a multicultural day trip.
- Day hike from Corvatsch to Corviglia: this moderate panorama hike showcases the beauty of the Engadine Valley with its shimmering blue lakes.
- Visit at Muottas Muragl: this famous viewpoint is located above the village of Pontresina and reachable by an old funicular.
Zermatt: Majestic Peaks and Alpine Treasures
Zermatt captivates with the majesty of the Matterhorn and its surrounding peaks. The car-free village retains its rustic charm, welcoming visitors with its alpine architecture and cozy chalets.
The Matterhorn stands as an iconic symbol of the Swiss Alps, attracting mountaineers and adventurers from across the globe. Zermatt offers an array of outdoor adventures, from skiing and mountaineering to serene day hikes.
Day trips from Zermatt:
- Gornergrat Railway Experience: the oldest electric railway in Switzerland invites you to Gornergrat peak and promises the most incredible views of Matterhorn and 29 surrounding peaks.
- Riffelalp Hike: here is where all the famous pictures of Matterhorn reflected in the lake are taken. Stroll around the lake or take a longer walk down to Rotenboden station.
Best Swiss Cities To Visit
Switzerland’s charm is hidden in a perfect blend of natural and cultural sites. Visting Switzerland, you can indulge in all the spoils a big city provides, from shopping to dining experiences, and escape into the nature on the same day. Each featured city – Lucerne, Zurich, Lugano, St. Moritz, and Zermatt – boasts its unique cultural heritage, architectural marvels, and a gateway to a world of outdoor adventures.
The best way to benefit from all the cultural offers, is to travel through Switzerland by rail. Our 12-Day Grand Train Tour of Switzerland is a perfect way to immerse yourself in Swiss nature and culture.
Travel in small groups escorted by local, English speaking guides, sleep in authentic Alpine hotels and travel light thanks to dedicated luggage transfer.
Check the details below.