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The 20 Best Things to Do in Switzerland for First Timers


Switzerland is a Central European country that is known for its mountainous landscape that makes it the perfect destination for skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor pursuits. It is also known for its lakes, medieval cities, quaint villages, and unique culture. If this is your chosen destination, you will find multiple options for things to see and do during your visit as there are activities and attractions to suit everyone. To help you plan your visit the following are the 20 best things to do in Switzerland for first-timers.

Nestle’s Callier Factory

20. Take a Tour of Nestle’s Callier Factory

One of the delights of visiting Switzerland is having the chance to try Swiss chocolate. An excellent way to sample the chocolate and to also learn how it is made is to take a tour of Nestle’s Callier Factory, says Travel Triangle. Nestle is one of the most famous producers of chocolate in the world, and learning how they produce their chocolate is fascinating. Of course, the highlight of the tour is sampling the goods.

Cheese-Making in Gruyeres

19. Learn the Art of Cheese-Making in Gruyeres

Switzerland is known for its delicious cheeses, and one of its most famous is Gruyeres. This variety of cheese is named after the town in which it is produced. If you are visiting this medieval town, then you can visit La Maison du Gruyere to learn more about how it is made and try some for yourself. After visiting this attraction, you should spend some time strolling down the cobbled streets of the town and seeing the sights.

Wine Tasting in Vaud

18. Enjoy Wine Tasting in Vaud

Wine lovers will enjoy taking one of the many wine tours available around Switzerland, and one of the best places to enjoy these tours is in Vaud. This canton has a 12-kilometer stretch of vineyards that are surrounded by magnificent mountains. Tours include information about wine production in the region, along with the chance to sample the goods.

Hiking in the Alps

17. Go Hiking in the Alps

Switzerland is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts as the scenery is outstanding. There are multiple areas to visit that have excellent hiking trails, not just the Swiss National Park. If you plan to spend a lot of your time in this beautiful country hiking, then you should consider staying in the huts owned by the Swiss Alpine Club, as these are located with hiking in mind.

Scientific experience at CERN

16. Have a Scientific experience at CERN

If you are interested in science, then Switzerland has a unique attraction that will appeal to you. Located on the outskirts of Geneva, CERN is home to the Large Hedron Collider, which is the largest and most powerful particular accelerator in the world. You can only visit the accelerator when it is not on. However, there are plenty of other things on the site that are worth visiting, including exhibitions called the Universe of Particles, the Globe, and the Microcosm. If you want to take a guided tour, then you will need to book in advance.

Oberhofen Castle

15. Go to Oberhofen Castle

If you are interested in history or architecture, then a top attraction to visit is Oberhofen Castle. This 13th-century castle sits on the shores of Lake Thun. It is an interesting landmark because it has had multiple additions since it was originally built, and each of the additions is in a different style. Therefore, in just one building, you will see a variety of architectural styles. These include Bernese Baroque-style in some of the earlier parts of the building and Prussian-inspired building amongst the later additions. There are also Romantic-style facades. Inside the castle, it is a living museum where you can learn about the lives of the people and societies who lived in the castle between the 16th and 19th-centuries.

Swiss Grand Canyon

14. View the Swiss Grand Canyon

Although it is not as large as the Grand Canyon in the United States, the Swiss Grand Canyon is still an impressive sight to behold. It is a deep gorge in Eastern Switzerland that is surrounded by forested cliffs and expansive meadows. It is considered one of the most beautiful areas in Switzerland, and it is a popular destination for hiking, bird watching, and nature lovers. The gorge was created more than 10 thousand years ago and is the result of the Ice Age Rhine Glacier retreating. This caused a rockslide that created the Swiss Grand Canyon.

Train Ride Along the Albula/ Bernina Railway Line

13. Take a Train Ride Along the Albula/ Bernina Railway Line

An interesting way to enjoy the sights of Switzerland over a larger area is to take a train ride along the Albula/ Bernina Railway Line. This is one of the few railway lines internationally that is designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing. After boarding the train, you will travel 122 kilometers through the landscapes of Albula and Bernina. Along the way, you will see the Graubunden mountains, travel over almost 200 bridges, and through numerous tunnels. It is an interesting way to see the sights from a different perspective, and the ride is just as magical regardless of whether you are visiting during the winter or summer months.

Rhine Falls

12. See the Rhine Falls

The focus is often on the mountains in Switzerland, but these are not the only natural landmarks that you should enjoy during your visit to this beautiful country. Another feature that you should see is the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen, as these are the largest falls in Central Europe. They span 150 meters and drop over a 21-meter high ledge of Jurassic limestone. The best time of year to visit this waterfall is in June or July. At this time of the year, the snow from the mountains melt, the rivers swell, and the falls are more magnificent than ever. You can see the falls when you take a boat trip along the River Rhine, or you can hike up the land alongside the falls to enjoy the sights from the viewing platforms on either side.

Swiss National Park

11. Explore the Swiss National Park

A fantastic place to explore is the Swiss National Park, says The Culture Trip. Founded in 1914, this is the oldest national park in the Alps, and it covers more than 170 square kilometers. There are multiple hiking trails to explore, and the sights are spectacular. This national park is also a fantastic place to see native wildlife. Just some of the animals and birds you might see include golden eagles bearded vultures, chamois, ibexes, and marmots.

Museums and Galleries in Zurich

10. Tour the Museums and Galleries in Zurich

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and it is also the financial center of the country. It is a popular destination for those who prefer to enjoy an urban vibe on their vacation. The city is divided into different districts, and each has something different to offer. The Old Town boasts cobbled streets, and it is filled with galleries, cafes, and shops. One of the best areas for shopping is Bahnhofstrasse, which is a mile-long stretch of designer stores. If you are interested in history, art or culture, then you will love spending time in

Lake Lugano

9. Enjoy a Steamer Ride on Lake Lugano

Sitting on the Swiss/ Italian border in Ticino, Lake Lugano is a fantastic place to visit. You can enjoy a steamer boat ride across the lake to enjoy the surrounding views. You will notice that Ticino differs from the other Swiss towns and cantons you may have visited, as there is a strong Italian influence in this town and it has a more Mediterranean feel than other towns in Switzerland.

Chateau de Chillon in Montreux

8. Visit Chateau de Chillon in Montreux

Although there are many castles in Switzerland, one of the best to include in your vacation itinerary is Chateau de Chillon in Montreux. This unusual castle is perched on top of a small rocky island in Lake Geneva, and you can only reach it by boat. Once in the castle, you can spend hours exploring the rooms and admiring the impressive views.

Discover Bern

7. Discover Bern

Bern is the capital of Switzerland, and it sits along the banks of the River Aare. The old town district of this city is Medieval, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In this area, you can explore the historical landmarks, including the Zytglogge clock tower that has moving puppets and the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. Another nice spot to visit is the Rose Garden. Some of the most popular attractions in Bern include the Bear Park, the Bern Museum of Art, and Zentrum Paul Klee.

St. Moritz

6. Dine Out in St. Moritz

St. Moritz is a popular mountain destination that has hosted the Winter Olympics on two occasions. Many people who head to this resort do so to enjoy the winter sports on the mountainside. However, another reason to visit is to visit one of the city’s outstanding restaurants. This city is home to some of the best restaurants not only in Switzerland but in the world.


5. Go to the Medieval Town of Lucerne

To get a true feel for Swiss culture, one of the best places to visit is the Medieval town of Lucerne. This is a car-free town filled with Medieval buildings, old bridges, bubbling fountains, and waterfront promenades. Chapel Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in the town, which was built in the 14th century. This town is also known for hosting the annual International Music Festival. A popular attraction to visit while you are in Lucerne is the Swiss Transport Museum.

Lake Geneva

4. Enjoy a Boat Trip on Lake Geneva

The largest Alpine lake in Europe, Lake Geneva sits along the border between France and Switzerland. The shores of the lake are lined with towns and popular resorts, and the city of Geneva also sits alongside the lake. An interesting feature of the lake is the Jet D’Eau, which is a fountain that was added to the lake that shoots water into the air 150 meters high. You can take boat trips on the lake to enjoy the surrounding sights.


3. Take a Train Journey to Jungfraujoch

An interesting fact about Jungfraujoch is that it is the highest railway station in Europe at 3,454 meters above sea level. It is located in the Bernese Oberland in the Swiss Alps. Due to its elevated position, it offers spectacular views. When you take the train ride to this station, you will see the Great Aletsch glacier, which is the longest glacier in the Alps. You will also see the dramatic peaks of Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch mountains along the way.

Interlaken and Take a Cable Car RIde

2. Visit Interlaken and Take a Cable Car RIde

Interlaken is a popular resort that sits between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and it is set against a backdrop of mighty peaks. In the town, there are cafes, hotels, shops, and flower gardens. So that visitors can explore the surrounding countryside, there are over 45 cable cars, ski lifts, and railways. Once in the countryside, you can enjoy hiking, abseiling, climbing, and kayaking.


1. See the Matterhorn

According to Planetware, the most famous and significant landmark in Switzerland is the Matterhorn. It is one of the tallest mountains in the Alps at 4,478meters, and it stands on the border with Italy. This is one of the most popular destinations in the world for experienced climbers, but this is not a climb that novices should make. However, a lack of climbing experience does not mean that you can not enjoy the lower levels of this magnificent landmark, At the base of the mountain is a village called Zermatt, and this has excellent restaurants and quaint chalets. There are no cars allowed in this village, but you can get around in a horse and carriage. This resort destination has plenty of winter sports to enjoy, along with many other activities.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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