Top 5 Cities in Switzerland
Our pick #1
Located in the heart of Europe, and in the centre of Switzerland, is the city of Zurich. Often recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Zurich is framed by alpine mountains and set where the Limmat River meets Lake Zurich’s shores. As Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest metropolis, Zurich is both an economic hub and a centre for recreation. Its attractions include dozens of museums and art galleries as well as an old town filled with Renaissance buildings, winding lanes and tall church steeples. Take a boat trip, visit a spa or embark on a spectacular hike into the mountains. Zurich also contains the liveliest nightlife in Switzerland, with over 500 bars and clubs in the city. Many are old factory conversions, but open-air Barfussbar is a swimming pool by day and bar by night. Translating to ‘barefoot bar’, the name is to be taken literally - with shoes left at the entrance.
Our pick #2
Gateway to the Alps and capital city of Switzerland, Bern is not to be forgotten. Few cities have been able to preserve their historical features as successfully and the old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city’s six kilometres of covered arcades, referred to as ‘Lauben’ by the locals, are among the longest shopping promenades in Europe - making shopping a delight whatever the weather. The bars, cafes, boutiques and cabaret stages of the old town attract tourists and locals alike, with some located within vaulted cellars. The Houses of Parliament rise above the city and are open to visitors most of the time. The city is also home to the neoclassical-styled Museum of Fine Arts and former home of Albert Einstein. For the best views over the city and the Aare River, head to the elevated Rose Garden or the 101-metre-high platform of the Cathedral tower.
Our pick #3
With its beautiful lakeside setting and impressive mountain panorama, it’s no wonder Lucerne has been a popular destination since the 19th century. Visited by the likes of England’s Queen Victoria, Wagner and Goethe, the city is stunning and serves as an ideal base from which to explore central Switzerland. The medieval Chapel Bridge forms the city’s centrepiece and is one of the oldest wooden bridges in Europe. Full of attractive churches and town squares, Lucerne is also home to the 17th century Jesuit church, regarded as Switzerland’s first sacral Baroque building. Besides its many souvenir and watch shops, visitors can also embark on excursions to the nearby mountains of Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn. The Lucerne Festival is 75 years old and the city’s most famous music festival. Drawing in some 110,000 visitors, the summer festival sees the world’s top orchestras, musicians and conductors come together for a month-long celebration of their arts.
Our pick #4
French-speaking Geneva lies in a scenic bay where the Rhone leaves Lake Geneva. Known as the Capital of Peace, the city is home to around 20 international organisations including the World Health Organisation, Red Cross and the United Nation’s European headquarters. The city’s old town contains a shopping and business quarter and is dominated by the pillars of St Pierre Cathedral. It is worth visiting Geneva’s oldest square, Place du Bourg-de-Four, and relaxing in one of the city’s countless parks. With parkland representing 20% of the urban area, Geneva is one of the greenest cities in Europe. The Jet d’eau is a fountain with a 140-metre-high water jet and the symbol of the city. Geneva’s quayside, lively side-streets, alleyways and boutiques invite visitors to take a leisurely stroll. And with day trips to the museum at CERN and the Salève mountain there’s certainly plenty to see and do.
Our pick #5
Whilst it isn’t unusual for a town to be located by a river, lake or ocean, it is unique to be placed between two beautiful lakes. Straddled between the glacier-fed Thun and Brienz, Interlaken is Switzerland’s biggest adventure destination. Overlooked by the iconic white peaks of the Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau mountains, the town is the gateway to Switzerland’s magnificent Jungfrau region. Adrenaline-filled activities include hang-gliding, glacier trekking, skydiving, canyoning and white-water rafting to name a few. Summer visitors can take a dip in the lakes or hike one of the 27 stunning mountain routes. During the winter months, skiers benefit from Interlaken’s central location and can take their pick among the pistes of the region. Höhe Matte is a large park in the town and a popular gathering place to watch the paragliders come in. And you can end the day in one of the town’s many bars and pubs.