Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Switzerland
Switzerland is a haven for sustainable travel and multi-generational trips. With its diverse landscapes and vibrant cities boasting world-class museums and shops, the country has something for everyone—whether you’re interested in hiking the Alps, sailing on glassy lakes, or spending time in the workshop with the world’s top horologists and jewelers. Unlike other European countries, Switzerland has largely remained insulated from overtourism; the country is not accessible to large cruise ships and trains are an increasingly popular mode of transport. A well-kept secret, much of Switzerland remains unspoiled and undiscovered yet it offers as much, if not more, culture and adventure as its European neighbors. If you aren’t already convinced, read on for more.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Report, Zurich and Geneva are among the top places to live in the world, coming in at #7 and #8, respectively.
Image by Henrique Ferreira
The birthplace of the Dada movement continues to reign as one of Europe’s cultural capitals, thanks in part to a newly completed expansion to the Kunsthaus, now the largest museum in Europe. Led by David Chipperfield, the expansion is part of the city’s larger development plan to create a trail of cultural buildings, dubbed the “education mile,” through the city. The area around the museum is already generating buzz with a new art quarter and galleries like Eva Presenhuber and Galerie Brome vying for prime spots near the museum. Guests of La Réserve Eden au Lac, which opened just before the pandemic following a two-and-a-half-year restoration by Philippe Starck, receive city passes granting complimentary access to public transportation and discounts at the city’s world-class museums.
What’s Going On In Zurich….
Guests of La Réserve can also hop on one of the hotel’s e-bikes and cruise over to Pavillon Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect’s last completed work, which will reopen for the season in May.
They can also stroll across the street to the Badi Utoquai, where they receive complimentary access to the lakeside baths.
Image by Anokhi de Silva
Home to the UN’s European Headquarters, Geneva is home to the highest number of international organizations in the world. Over 190 nationalities live and work there and half of its residents are expats, making it a melting pot of culture. Just 10 minutes from the city center, La Réserve Geneva feels worlds away thanks to its location within a 10-acre park on the shores of Lac Léman. When the first hotel under the La Réserve brand (others are in Paris, Ramatuelle, and Zurich), opened its doors in 2003, it was an unexpected newcomer to the city due to its tucked-away location and whimsical? design. Conceived by French designer by Jacques Garcia, its interiors are inspired by an African game reserve, with animal print carpets and copper elephant heads. The hotel is home to the Nescens Spa, the largest spa in Geneva at over 20,000 square-feet. Nescens was developed by Professor Jacques Proust, a pioneer in anti-aging medicine. Guests who participate in the signature Better Aging Programs receive a thorough medical evaluation on their first day, which involves meeting with a team of doctors and clinicians who specialize in physical fitness and nutrition. With the help of these professionals, guests will develop a better sense of their own bio-individuality, particularly as it relates to aging. Armed with information about their genetic, medical, dietary, and psychological profile, visitors will then receive a personalized 4- or 7-day itinerary. The program is tailored to the guests’ individual goals, incorporating three daily meals, exercise sessions with a personal trainer, and spa treatments.
What’s Going On In Geneva….
Swiss wine is still a well-kept secret, perhaps because 98% of it stays in Switzerland. Just fifteen minutes west of the city center is Lavaux, one of Geneva’s top wine appellations. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the steep, terraced vines of the Lavaux boast more than 200 winemakers. Chasselas, a white varietal, is the region's most popular. Visitors will be happy to find that a wine hiking trail connects several stately auberges and estates, most of which have shops that double as tasting rooms.
Foodies will appreciate La Halle de Rive market with its artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, bakeries and chocolatiers, while aesthetes will want to browse the Plainpalais Market for antiques and various bric-a-brac (sometimes, vintage watch parts and tools can even be found).
Switzerland is home to Europe’s largest glaciers and the highest concentration of peaks exceeding 13,000 feet.
Image by Joshua Earle
Switzerland is said to be the birthplace of ski tourism—and in Zermatt, home to over 200 miles of slopes and 54 lifts, visitors can ski 365 days a year. But there is plenty to do beyond skiing and snowboarding. When the temps rise, there are abundant trails for hiking and mountain biking. Fun fact: Zermatt features is home to the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge. Less adventurous travelers might prefer to fly fish in the alpine lakes, stocked with abundant freshwater trout. It helps that Zermatt has over 300 days of sunshine. Since the town is car-free, horse-drawn carriages are available to take guests for a ride.
Mont Cervin Palace has been welcoming guests since 1852. With its alpine-chalet style, this is the pick for the traditionalist. On Thursdays, guests of the hotel have access to ski the Matterhorn before anyone else.
History buffs will want to stay at Hotel Monte Rosa. The Victorian jewel box of a hotel opened in 1854 when Zermatt was establishing itself as a destination for winter sports. The property is famous for being the unofficial headquarters of the Alpine Club, an association of English mountain climbers that made headlines in 1865, when four of them fell to their death while ascending the Matterhorn. To this today, the hotel is filled with climbing memorabilia.
Meanwhile, Schweizerhof is the place for modernists—and families. Renovated just a few years ago, the hotel has fresh decorative touches like oak walls and marble bathrooms, while cowbells and quilts emblazoned with the Matterhorn lend a sense of place. The Kid’s Club has everything a child could dream of. Arcade games? Check. Climbing wall? Check. Movie nights? Check.
What’s Going On In Zermatt…
Zermatt will launch a new ski lift in 2022 that will complete an 'Alpine crossing' between the Klein Matterhorn to Testa Grigia, in Italy’s Aosta Valley.
Image by Tucker Monticelli
Interlaken has firmly established itself as a destination for thrill-seekers. Intrepid travelers can paraglide or skydive while the less daring can hike in the Bernese Alps, which are easily accessible from the town. From Interlaken, cable cars take visitors to Harder Kulm for hikes with mountain views, or the Schilthorn where movie buffs can spot sites featured in the James Bond film, "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service." It's just a 30-minute train ride to Lauterbrunnen, where the picturesque Staubbach Falls are worth the trek.
Located opposite Höhematte Park, where paragliders twirl down from the skies, Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa has been around since 1865 and once hosted luminaries like Goethe and Byron. Oozing old-world glamour, the grand dame is situated at the foot of the Junfrau massif in the Bernese Oberland, at the crossroads of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz (Interlaken means ‘between the lakes’). The common spaces echo the building’s Belle Epoque roots with gilding, chandeliers and marble fountains. At nearly 60,000 square feet, the Nescens Spa has earned the hotel a reputation as a destination unto itself, and has an impressive indoor swimming pool, indoor/outdoor whirlpool, sauna, steam baths, and 16 treatment rooms.
What’s Going On In Interlaken….
Beginning in December 2022, Switzerland’s new GoldenPass Express train will connect the Bernese Alps ski resorts, stopping in Montreux, Gstaad and Interlaken. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the sleek trains come from Ferrari-designer Pininfarina.