The 7 best things to do in Switzerland
Switzerland’s known for its soaring mountains, lakes, chocolate and cheese. And neatly knitting everything together is a superb train system that runs like clockwork. There’s so much to see and do on a holiday here – take a look at our top picks.
1. Visit the city of Bern
Right in the heart of the country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also the capital city. You can visit museums and theatres, and wander along the river to the medieval old town that’s filled with fountains and statues. Then climb the 130 steps to the top of the 800-year-old clock tower – and as the clock strikes the hour, watch the little mechanical characters come to life and dance. The summer also brings along a buzz of musical activity, with several jazz festivals across the city.
2. Take a train to the ‘Top of Europe’
Ride up to Europe’s highest railway station at 3,454m and visit the famous Sphinx Observatory on the Jungfraujoch – the glacial ridge between the Jungfrau and Mönch summits. Admire the incredible views of these towering peaks on either side, and see if you can spot the Eiger too, another of Switzerland’s most impressive mountains. And while you’re at the top, you can explore the ice palace’s glass-like tunnels and animal sculptures, and grab a bite to eat or a drink at the café.
3. Get cheesy in Gruyère
Hop on the traditional Belle Époque train and enjoy a trip to Switzerland’s cheese capital, Gruyère. You can take a tour of the Maison du Gruyère factory to find out how the hard cheese is made – and sample some for yourself. Or if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, head to the nearby Cailler chocolate factory, which hosts interactive tours, tasting sessions and workshops. Still got time to spare? There’s also a castle, museums and lively town centre to explore.
4. Make the most of your Half Fare Card
Switzerland’s rail network is one of the best in the world. You could set your watch by it and use it to get pretty much anywhere, from mountain towns to lively cities. And you’ll get a free Swiss Half Fare Card included with your Lakes & Mountains holiday, which will give you great discounts on trains, buses, boats and cable cars.
5. Climb Mount Pilatus by train
Admire the views of Lake Lucerne from above, with a round trip to the top of Mount Pilatus. You’ll set off on the gravity-defying cogwheel railway – the steepest one in the world. And when you reach the summit, you can enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding peaks, lakes and valleys over a drink or lunch. Or plan your visit around one of the many events and activities that happen throughout the summer, from astronomy evenings and flower trails, to paragliding and toboggan rides.
6. See Freddie Mercury in Montreux
Freddie Mercury came to Montreux in 1978 to record the album Jazz, and fell in love with the city. He lived on the shores of Lake Geneva for years, and in his honour, the local community placed a memorial on the lakefront. See the statue and then take a tour of the Mountain Studios – the recording studios that Queen used to own. And while you’re in Montreux, you can also stroll along the 3.5km promenade before visiting the 13th-century fortress, Château de Chillon, to see the Medieval frescoes and Gothic dungeons.
7. Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Lucerne
A trip to Lucerne wouldn’t be complete without hopping on a boat for a tour of the 38km-long lake. You can even travel in style on a paddle steamer that goes from Lucerne all the way to the harbour town of Flüelen, right at the other end. And when you get back, walk across the Spreuerbrücke and Kapellbrücke covered bridges that date back to 1333, and watch the little motor boats journey down the River Reuss.
Top Tip: Use a summer card
Many accommodations in Switzerland will give you a summer card when you arrive. With it, you’ll get perks like free local transport on buses, trains and cable cars, and cheaper entry to attractions in the area. Check with the reception to see if you get one with your stay.
Now you’ve got a list of things to do, you just need to pick where to stay. Find out more about Switzerland and start planning your next Lakes and Mountains holiday.
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