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Switzerland Popular Places to Visit

Swiss Grand Canyon

The Ruinaulta (also known as the "Swiss Grand Canyon") is a deep gorge surrounded by expansive meadows and forested cliffs. Located in Eastern Switzerland, it was created over 10,000 years ago—when the Ice Age Rhine Glacier retreated, it led to a chain of events that resulted in a massive rockslide in the Rhine Valley. As the Rhine river seeped through the rock walls, the gorge was filled with water.

Today, the Swiss Grand Canyon is not only one of the most beautiful areas in Switzerland, but also a preferred destination for hikers, bird-watchers, and nature lovers. It's possible to raft the rapids here between May and October, or rent a canoe or kayak for a gentler route with stunning views of the steep cliffs all around.

Versam, Switzerland

The Albula - Bernina Railway Line

One of the very few railway lines in the world designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listing, the Albula/Bernina line on the Rheatian Railways offers a majestic ride not to be missed. The route extends throughout the Albula and Bernina landscapes, covering 122 kilometers and winding through almost 200 bridges, the Graubünden mountains, and a number of tunnels and viaducts along the way.

A ride on this train means panoramic seats that overlook unspoiled mountain landscapes, including the Piz Bernina, the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps at just over 4,000 meters tall. The train operates all year long, and the views are just as magical in summer as they are in winter.

Albula, Switzerland

Swiss National Park

Founded in 1914, Swiss National Park in the Engadine Valley is the oldest reserve in the Alps. The park sits right on the border with Italy and encompasses more than 170 square kilometers of flower-dotted hollows, fast-flowing rivers, and limestone crags. The scenery is especially dramatic in winter, when the forested mountains are covered in a blanket of snow, and the views from the cross-country ski trails are stunning.

Nature-lovers can explore the region on the large network of trails, though veering off these paths is forbidden in an effort to preserve the natural ecosystems. More than 5,000 species of wildlife call the park home, including marmot, red deer, chamois, ibex, fox, and more than 100 species of birds.

Engadine Valley, Switzerland

The Rhine Falls

Spanning 150 meters, the Rhine Falls (Rheinfall) at Schaffhausen are the largest falls in Central Europe. The best time to visit is during June and July when the mountain snow melts, and the falls swell in volume to spill over a 21-meter-high ledge of Jurassic limestone.

Boat trips up the Rhine provide excellent views of the falls, as do the viewing platforms on both sides of the river.

Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland's largest city, a major transportation hub, and a top starting point for travelers. The city lies at the northwestern end of Lake Zurich astride the river Limmat. Beyond its buttoned-up façade, this affluent banking capital boasts a rich line-up of cultural treasures.

A great place to begin a walking tour is the cobbled streets of the Old Town with its quaint shops, cafés, and galleries. Mile-long Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe's finest shopping strands, beckons with designer stores selling fashion, watches, and jewelry.

Venturing away from the boutiques, visitors will find more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries, as well as many other tourist attractions. A top pick is the Kunsthaus Zürich, the museum of fine arts.

A short stroll from Zürich's main station, the Swiss National Museum, in a Gothic chateau, spotlights Swiss cultural history. Families will love the Zurich Zoo with an elephant park, penguin parade, and Madagascar pavilion. From the city, take a train ride to Uetliberg Mountain for panoramic views of the city and countryside.

Zurich, Switzerland

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano lies on the Swiss/Italian border in Ticino, Switzerland's only official Italian-speaking canton, and offers a tantalizing taste of the Mediterranean. Citrus, figs, palms, and pomegranates flourish in the mild climate here—even as snow-capped peaks beckon in the distance. In the towns around Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore to the west, the feel of Italy is unmistakable in the architecture, the piazzas, and the passion for fine food, which spills over the Italian borders from the south, east, and west.

Visitors can explore the area by touring the lake on one of the white steamers or renting a boat. For a panoramic overview, Monte San Salvatore offers one of the most spectacular vistas of the surrounding countryside, lake, and snow-capped peaks.

Lugano, a financial center and the largest and most significant town in Ticino, is a popular summer resort. Northwest of Lugano, in sun-drenched Locarno on Lake Maggiore, Swiss lakeside living takes on a subtropical touch with warm days, blossoming gardens, and palm-studded estates. In Bellinzona, capital of the canton, three magnificent castles are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Lugano, Switzerland

Bern

In a stunning location, perched on a peninsula of the River Aare, the Swiss capital of Bern exudes old world charm, and the city's medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strolling along the cobbled streets, visitors can explore the tallest cathedral in Switzerland, with panoramic views from its tower; 16th-century fountains; the Zytglogge medieval clock tower with moving puppets; and six kilometers of shopping arcades, called "Lauben" by the locals. The Rose Garden (Rosengarten) offers beautiful views of the old town center.

Bern has many tourist attractions waiting to be discovered, including many excellent museums. Art lovers will appreciate the impressive galleries, including the Zentrum Paul Klee, the world's largest collection of works by this famous artist, and the Bern Museum of Art (Kunstmuseum). Don't miss the markets, held in the Bundesplatz (parliament square) with views of the elegant Renaissance-style parliament building (Bundeshaus). Families will also enjoy a visit to the Bear Park.

Bern, Switzerland

St. Moritz

Mirror-like lakes, glaciers, jagged peaks, alpine forests, and oodles of sunshine make St. Moritz one of the world's top mountain destinations and a must-have on your list of things to do in Switzerland. Palatial hotels and pricey restaurants are par for the course at this chic resort town, which has hosted two winter Olympics.

Sitting in an alpine valley 1,800 meters above sea level, the town is divided into two parts: St. Moritz Dorf sits on a sunny terrace overlooking the Lake of St. Moritz. The other part of town, lakeside St. Moritz Bad on the valley floor, is a health resort with less expensive lodging. Winter sports run the gamut, from skiing, snowboarding, skating, and bobsledding to tobogganing on the famous 1.2-kilometer-long Cresta Run.

In the summer, hiking, biking, and water sports abound. Glacier skiing is also available in the summer. 

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, Europe's largest Alpine lake, straddles the Swiss/French border, and laps at the shores of some of Switzerland's most popular cities. The city of Geneva (in French Genève; in German Genf) sits between pretty snow-capped peaks at the point where the Rhône spills into Lake Geneva.

This French-speaking "capital of peace" is the European seat of the United Nations and exudes a pleasing blend of French joie de vivre and Swiss structure. Promenades, parks, and gardens surround the lake, and the old town is a lovely spot to stroll among the historic buildings. The Jet d'Eau, a fountain in Lake Geneva shooting water 150 meters into the air, is a famous landmark. Cultural attractions include the Opera House and the Grand Théâtre, which stages international acts.

Also on the lake, about 62 kilometers from Geneva, Lausanne boasts lovely views over the surrounding region and the lake, with the Alps rising in the distance. Take a stroll through the medieval old town with its cute cafés and boutiques and stunning Gothic cathedral. 

Geneva, Switzerland

Lucerne

Imagine a sparkling blue lake surrounded by mountains, a car-free medieval old town, covered bridges, waterfront promenades, frescoed historic buildings, and sun-splashed plazas with bubbling fountains. No wonder Lucerne (in German, Luzern) is a top spot for tourists. Famed for its music concerts, this quintessential Swiss town lures renowned soloists, conductors, and orchestras to its annual International Music Festival. The Culture and Convention Center is home to one of the world's leading concert halls.

One of the city's most famous landmarks is the Chapel Bridge, built in the 14th century. For beautiful views of Lucerne, the Alps, and the lake, ride the funicular to the Dietschiberg on the north side of Lake Lucerne; cruise up Mt. Pilatus on the cableway; or head to the Rigi, a famous lookout point.

Lucerne, Switzerland