If you plan to travel to Switzerland, you might plan on visiting Zürich and Geneva. But besides the obvious, biggest cities in Switzerland, what are the most beautiful places in Switzerland you cannot miss?
I share my personal experiences with the most scenic towns in Switzerland that you probably haven’t heard of (yet!) and provide practical information on the best things to do, how to get there and where to stay.
Beautiful Places in Switzerland you didn’t know existed
After touring Switzerland for 2 weeks by train, traversing the country from north to south and from east to west, we saw many gorgeous places in Switzerland. Some bigger cities, many smaller towns and tiny places I never knew existed. For the purpose of this post, I focus on the most beautiful places in Switzerland that stay below the radar. Here are the unknown places I found most rewarding to visit:
Click the links below to jump ahead or scroll down and read the full post.
- St. Gallen
- Wengen and Jungfraujoch
- Zermatt and the Matterhorn
- Rhine Falls
I was not paid or sponsored to write this post. All opinions are my own and based on my own experiences. To help you with your trip to Switzerland, this post contains informative links as well as practical and budget saving tips. The post also contains affiliate links. If you purchase something via a link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Read more: Bernina Express Train, is it worth the hype?
Best Cities in Switzerland to Visit
Let’s start with the best cities to visit in Switzerland. Obviously, you’ll visit Zürich and Geneva. But if you want to get off the beaten track and love cute and unknown places, there is more to explore. I take you on a journey to discover the most scenic unknown cities in Switzerland you should travel to.
Basel, 3rd largest city of Switzerland
And chances are, you’ve never heard of Basel. Located all the way in the north, near the border with Germany, Basel is dominated by a vibrant art scene and local pharmaceutical companies. This means loads of business travelers and a good variety of places to eat. Cut in two by the meandering river Rhine, Basel offers a lot of scenic vantage points and cute medieval streets to explore!
Things to do in lovely Basel
We only stayed for 1 day in Basel, but we had a great time. Discover the city and surrounding area and get off the beaten track. Here are some must-do things when you visit the city of Basel, Switzerland.
Read more: 24 hours in Basel Switzerland
Walking tour of Basel
Basel is best discovered on foot. Her close-knit center is easily explored on foot and it is the best way to take in the small alleyways, charming houses, and impressive squares. Visit the bright red Town Hall of Basel, try to find the smallest museum of Basel and visit the Basel Münster, the main church of the city.
Book your Basel walking tour here.
Enjoy the River Rhine through Basel
The River Rhine flows slowly through the city, curving through the center of Basel. Take full advantage of the stream and let yourself flow downstream. Or use the old ferries and cross the Rhine without any motorized assistance.
But the best thing you can do is sit back and enjoy the view! Either from above at the Pfalz look-out point or from the banks of the river.
Get outside of Basel
Basel has a wide network of well-established biking path and hiking routes. Hit the trails and explore nature. Or go to Kaiseraugst and visit the Roman Ruins of Augusta Raurica for free!
How to get to Basel?
Are you excited to visit Basel and experience one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland? Wonder how to get there? I got you covered:
Basel Airport: Basel is close to Germany and France. The airport closest to Basel is the Basel Mulhouse Freiburg airport. You can use airport code EAP (EuroAirport) when you look up your flight in Skyscanner.
Trains to Basel: Basel has 2 major train stations. Basel Bad Bf is in the north of the city and Basel SBB in the center. If you come from Zürich or Lucerne or Bern, you have to choose Basel SBB. Find your train tickets to Basel here. If you plan on traveling around Switzerland by train, consider the Swiss Travel Pass to save some serious money!
Roads to Basel: Motorways 3 and 18 bring you from Switzerland to Basel. From Germany and France, you can also reach Basel by road. Avoid the old town center of Basel, the Alt Stad, as roads are tiny and parking space is sparse. Don’t have your own car, but want to take a road trip to Basel? Rent your car here.
Where to stay in Basel?
Basel is full of outstanding accommodations, mainly on the outskirts of the city and catering to business travelers. As you’re traveling in Switzerland, I assume you want to find a bit more authentic and charming place to stay.
Budget Hostels in Basel
Is there such a thing as budget hotels in Switzerland? Even when you’re looking for budget options, Switzerland proves to be expensive. Here are some budget options I recommend:
Hyve Hostel Basel: Bright, modern hostel with 8-bed dorm rooms (mixed and female-only) starting from €32. Located right next to the Basel SBB train station, this is your perfect crash pad for your Interrail or Eurail adventure. Book your bed here.
Basel Youth Hostel: Hip and minimalistic, the dorm rooms have 4 beds. The prices range upwards from 45€ but the Basel Youth Hostel is located on the banks of the Rhine River. Take a peek here.
Value for Money Hotels in Basel
Are your backpacker days and sharing sleeping arrangements behind you? Do you want a nice private room, with space and ensuite bathroom in a good location? And save some money for fondue dinner? Then you need a value for money hotel in Basel:
Hotel Rheinfelderdorf: Located right in the shopping street, we loved staying here. Big spacious rooms, outstanding breakfast and starting at €150 a night, it was an affordable luxury. Check availability here.
Motel One Basel: With a decor of vibrant neon light, the Motel One Basel showcases their city in every room. Slight design and spacious rooms. And located right in the old town of Basel. Rooms start from €130. Book your room here.
SET Hotel Teufelhof: Crisp, clean, and spacious. How do a 24-hour reception, gym, and fantastic breakfast sound like? Located in Altstadt, this is the place to be. See if they can accommodate you by clicking here.
Luxury Boutique Hotels in Basel
Do you want to pamper yourself with a luxurious place to stay in one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland? Why not choose one of these amazing hotels:
Grand Hotel les Trois Rois: Sleep like royalty in this amazing Rhine river side historic hotel. Sleep in the same room as Napoleon or Elizabeth II or just enjoy the opulent decor. Check prices and availability here.
Lugano, Switzerland’s Southern City
Located all the way in the South, Lugano is not as big as Zürich or Geneva, but it is mighty important for the Swiss. Close to the border with Italy, Lugano is the country’s city of banks!
I found Lugano one of the best cities in Switzerland as it was a smidge more affordable and has a wide variety of activities to keep you entertained. Add in an overdose of sunshine year-round, impressive mountains and that run-down gritty Italian sauce and you have a recipe for charm!
Things to do in Lugano
Located on the Lake of Lugano, the main things to do focus on in Lugano is exploring the lake and the views. Hiking, biking and enjoying the views is the top thing to do in Lugano. And eating gelato.
San Salvatore Lugano
The mountain overlooking Lugano and the lake is called San Salvatore. We took the cable car up the mountain and hiked down through lush woodlands and small villages. Don’t like hiking? Don’t worry, after numerous panoramic pictures and a drink with a view, you can take the train down as well.
Book your San Salvatore trip here.
Sounds Italian doesn’t it? A lovely, lake-side village that attracts day-trippers from all over the region. Take the boat out to Morcote, have gelato and enjoy the views before you head back.
Nearby Bellinzona has 3 historic castles that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site together. Take the train from Lugano and explore the fortified walls and the small streets of the town.
How to get to Lugano?
As Lugano is located in the south, you will probably arrive either via Italy or from Switzerland.
By plane: Lugano does have an airport (LUG) but it is not really convenient. Only Swiss airlines have direct flights from Zürich. The international airport of Milan serves much more destinations or fly to Zürich and take the train from there. Find your flights on Skyscanner.
By train: The train is a much better way to travel to Lugano. The panoramic Gotthard Panorama Express train leaves Zürich and brings you via lovely Wassen and the Gotthard Tunnel to Lugano. Or take the Bernina Express train and bus to Lugano. Check out my Bernina Train web story here.
Where to stay in Lugano?
Lugano is one of Switzerland’s cities that is quite spread out. Hugging the lake and dotting the mountains that surround it; if you’re not careful, you’ll find your accommodation far away from the center of Lugano.
Budget hotels in Lugano
Lugano is much more affordable than the rest of Switzerland, making it one of the best cities in Switzerland to visit for budget travelers. Find a hostel or rent a private room via Airbnb.
Hotel & Hostel Montarina: How does an outdoor pool, central location, and budget price sound like to you? Located near the train station, the hostel offers 16-bed dorm rooms for €26 a night. Want more privacy? They also offer private rooms but they will cost you more. Check prices here.
Youth Hostel Lugano Savosa: Also with an outdoor pool, this hostel offers 8-bed male and female dorm rooms but also a wide range of private (family) rooms. Located in the hills of Savosa, you can use the free public transport to get around Lugano. Check for availability here.
Value for money hotels in Lugano
Going self-catering is a good money-saving tip in Switzerland. But if you don’t want to stay up in the mountains, a downtown guesthouse might be a good option for you.
Lugano Center Guesthouse: We stayed here and it was quite unusual. It was close to the San Salvatore station, we could do laundry and have our own kitchen to cook our own meals. The rooms were sparsely decorated and not really a place to hang out for a long time. However, the beds were comfortable and it was affordable. Check it here.
Hotel Victoria: This hotel looks like an old-world charm and is located right at the lake’s shore at Paradiso, offering amazing views of Lugano. Choose a simple double room for €115. Check the hotel here.
Luxury stays in Lugano
Hang with the jet-set or royalty. Don’t stray away from Lake Lugano because that is where the money is. Indulge in a luxury lake-side stay at one of these luxury Lugano hotels:
Hotel Splendide Royal: 19th-century hotel with the dazzling charm of old money. Located right on the main street and the lake, book a deluxe palace room with lake views and you never want to go home! Check this splendid luxury choice here.
Hotel Lido Seegarten: Not as decadent as the Splendide Royal, the Lido has equal charm. This family-run hotel offers a lovely pool and direct access to the lake. Perfect for when you arrive with your own speed boat! Check if you can park it, by clicking here.
The capital city of Bern, Switzerland’s most overlooked city
Did you know the capital of Switzerland is Bern? That is correct, not international Zürich or swanky Geneva. The seat of the government is in Bern. Only the 5th most populous city in Switzerland, Bern feels like a big town. The old center of the city is filled with red-roofed closely packed houses and covered streets and has the UNESCO status.
Things to do in Bern
Bern can easily be explored on foot and the main draw of the city is to wander around and take in the views of the medieval city and lovely houses and streets. The many covered arcades make Bern one of the best cities to visit year-round.
Read more: Can you travel Switzerland on a tight budget? Find out my Switzerland travel expenses here.
Explore the old town
Walk around the Inner Stadt and find the Federal Palace of Switzerland. Or gawk at the moving puppets at the clock tower (Zytglogge) and visit the main church, the Bern Müster.
Purchase your ticket to Zytglogge Clock Tower here.
Visit the Albert Einstein House
Did you know Albert Einstein lived in Bern? You can visit his apartment at the Einstein House and be inspired by the place where Einstein wrote his theory of relativity.
Go statue hunting
Bern is full of fountains, topped with quirky statues. These figures depict stories from the past, trying to teach the Medieval people a lesson. Learn more about Bern’s Ogres and statues here.
Book your Bern city tour here
How to get to Bern?
Bern is located in the north-west of Switzerland and is well connected with the other big cities in Switzerland.
By plane: Bern also has its own airport, Bern Airport (BRN) but this is mainly serviced for private jets and Helvetic Airlines, with a few destinations in Italy and Spain.
By train: If you want to visit charming Bern, the best way is to take the train. From Basel, Zürich and Lucerne and Geneva, frequent trains stop at the country’s capital. Search for trains via the site of SBB, but make sure to consider a half-fare train pass or other railcards as it saves you considerable amounts of cash.
By road: Bern is a major intersection for the Swiss motorways 6,12 and 1, which makes it easy to stop on route in Switzerland. Make sure to find a hotel that offers free parking to save you the hassle.
Where to stay in Bern?
Although many people visit Bern on a day trip or on-route to other beautiful places in Switzerland, staying overnight in Bern will allow you to slow down in the city. Here are my accommodation recommendations:
Budget hostels in Bern
Real budget hostels are hard to come by in Bern. Maybe all those government people have enough cash to burn but here are the only options for a budget night sleep in Bern.
Bern Backpackers Hostel Glocke: 6-bed mixed dorm rooms but close to the main sight of Bern: the bell tower. This hostel is basic but makes up for it by its location. For €42 it is at the top end of what I consider “budget”. Check options here.
Hostel 77 Bern: The only other real budget option in Bern is a 7-minute bus ride from the Bern station. Luckily, your reservation is your bus ticket, so you can stay on budget. One night at their 8-bed mixed dorm room will set you back €36. Splurge on a 6-bed dorm room for only €38. Choose your dorm room here.
Youth Hostel Bern: Overlooking the swirling Aare river, this youth hostel offers 4,6 or 8-bed dorm rooms, either mixed, male-only or female only. The cheapest options start at €35 but they also offer 4-bed private rooms for small groups. Check your options here.
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Luxury stays in Bern
Bern is made to burn some cash. Stay in the lovely and luxurious river-side hotels the city has to offer. My top pick:
Hotel Bellevue Palace Bern: This hotel is easily mistaken for the seat of the government. 5-star art nouveau luxury, right next to the federal palace of Bern. Mainly government official has stayed here so dress to impress. Rooms range from €450 for a standard double to €1500 for the tower suite. See if they have any availability for when you visit Bern, by clicking here.
Hotel Schweizerhof Bern & Spa: After a full day of exploring the charming city of Bern, you might want to kick back and enjoy your hotel. And Spa! Relax at this lovely 5-star almost resort-like city hotel. Find the prices here.
The charming city of St. Gallen
St. Gallen or Sankt Gallen is located all the way in the East of Switzerland. It is close to Liechtenstein and Lake Konstanz or as the Germans call it: the Bodensee. I’m going out on a limb here but I think this is for sure one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland and you’ve never heard of it?!
Things to do in St. Gallen
The main draw of the university town is the Abbey of St. Gallen. That is also the main sight to see. The whole center of town seems to revolve around the historic 8th-century abbey of St. Gall. You can roam the streets of St. Gallen, delve into some chocolate tasting or have a picnic on the grass in front of the Abbey.
Abbey of St. Gall and Library
A visit to the Abbey is mandatory but the outside is more spectacular than the interior. Another fun thing to do in St. Gallen is a visit to the Abbey’s Library. Slip on some massive felt slippers as you enter the wooden room where ancient treasures of the literary world are carefully being preserved.
Is visiting every country in the world on your bucket list? Even the tiniest of them all? Liechtenstein is a spec on the globe but closely situated to St. Gallen. Take a tour and explore this miniature mountain state and tick it off the list.
Take the train from St. Gallen to border town Buchs and hop on a bus to Vaduz in Liechtenstein from there.
How to get to St. Gallen?
St. Gallen is located in the far right corner of Switzerland. Nearby Winterthur and Zürich are your main connections, as well as neighbor Austria.
By plane: St. Gallen Airport mainly caters to business travelers via Austrialine. Not really convenient when you come from abroad. The most logical option would be to fly to Friedrichshafen in Germany, across the lake, or Zürich airport. Find a flight to Zürich here.
By road: Motorway 1 hugs St. Gallen and is your main connection to discover this city in Switzerland.
By train: You’ll most likely arrive in St. Gallen by train. Express trains service Winterthur and Zürich direct. If you feel like you’d like to take a panoramic journey, I highly recommend the Pre-Alpine Express. A scenic train journey from Lucerne to St. Gallen.
Where to stay in St. Gallen?
St. Gallen is small but also popular with day-trippers. If you want to have the place to yourself, stay overnight and enjoy the quiet streets of St. Gallen.
Budget hotels in St. Gallen
Share a room in a hostel to save some serious money on accommodation. This is your best pick in St. Gallen:
St. Gallen Youth Hostel: Typical HI Hostel with shared bunk-bed rooms. A 6-bed dorm bed will set you back €40 but the hostel is conveniently located. The reviews are a bit diverse, so make sure if this is the place for you by checking here.
Top hotel in St. Gallen
St. Gallen doesn’t really do luxury hotels or real value for money accommodations. However, the following hotel would be my absolute top pick if I’d stay in St. Gallen again.
Hotel Restaurant Falkenburg: Typical wooden timber features and soft, spacious rooms. The lake view rooms are high up but you do see a slither of the lake. Charming hotel with onsite restaurant, you don’t have to leave! Find your room here.
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Central City of Lucerne
Ok, you might have heard of Lucerne, right? Or Luzern, in German. If you look at a map of Switzerland, you’ll see Lucerne comfortably sitting right in the middle. This makes it an excellent base to explore more of the surrounding area. Add in a lake with a name that translates to ‘Lake of the Four Forested Settlements’ and you have the perfect adventure hub to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland.
Things to do in Lucerne
Wow, do you have a minute? Or a week to spare? We stayed for 3 days in Lucerne and it wasn’t remotely enough to discover the city and the region. Lucerne itself is not that big, but if you add in the amazing villages and beautiful towns surrounding the lakes, amazing views from the mountains and boat rides, you’ll need time.
Explore Lucerne city
I loved Lucerne. The little wooden houses, closely packed together, bending over the cobbled streets. The Kapelbrücke is a must-do, walk over the ancient wooden bridge, decorated with fragrant flowers, overlooking the two sides of Lucerne and the green water flowing underneath you.
Book your Lucerne Walking Tour here.
Take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne
Learn about the history of Switzerland and visit the most beautiful places in Switzerland around the lake. Take in the views of the mountains and the water. We took a boat ride that took us in 3-hours to the other side of the lake in Flüelen.
Read more: Wilhelm Tell Express from Lucerne
Take a round trip up Mt. Pilatus
One of my first real Swiss mountain experiences, we climbed Mt. Pilatus by the steepest cogwheel train in the world and found ourselves taking in the 360-degree panoramic views of the area around Lucerne. We tried to make out the famous Alpine mountain tops in the distance and looked down on the emerald lake below us. We then hovered over the mountains, in a modern, state of the art cable car, the Dragon Ride, to arrive back in Lucerne.
There is also Mount Titlis for panoramic views and Rigi Mountain for amazing scenery.
From Lucerne, you can also start your journey on the Gotthard Panorama Express or the Golden Pass Line to Montreux.
How to get to Lucerne?
By plane: Lucerne doesn’t have its own airport. The nearest airport is Zürich from where you can take a 1-hour train ride to Lucerne. Find your flight to Zürich here.
By train: The main train station of Lucerne is a big train hub in Switzerland. It is located near the harbor where also all the boat rides on the lake arrive and depart, so it is super convenient. Check SBB rail app for departure times of the trains and make sure to purchase your Swiss Travel Pass to save money.
By road: Motorways 14 and 2 will bring you to Lucerne. Be aware, the roads surrounding the lake might take a lot longer than you would think.
Where to stay in Lucerne?
Lucerne is full of apartments and rooms to rent. If you’re looking for a more traditional hotel or accommodation, I found the following suggestions. We stayed outside Lucerne, in a village 20-minutes by train from Lucerne, and booked it via Airbnb.
Budget hotels in Lucerne
Lucerne actually has several backpacker hostels on offer. See all of them here.
Barabas Lucerne: This hostel is situated right across the train station in the old center of town. Expect cobblestones so leave your wheelie-suitcase behind. They offer 6-bed mixed and female-only dorms, starting from €48. They also have a twin private for €123 for a little more privacy. Check all the options here.
Backpackers Lucerne: Located a little south of the train station, this hostel offers a variety of rooms, single and twin privates, but also 4-bed mixed and female-only dorms. They also offer 2-bed dorms. The cheapest option starts at 38€ per bed. Check availability here.
Capsule Hotel Lucerne: If sleeping is all you need from a hotel then this hotel with single sleeping pods might be the perfect solution for you. The pods start at €40 a night, but the hotel offers comfortable communal rooms, a rooftop terrace, and working space. Check the pods out here.
Value for money hotels in Lucerne
In the range from €100 to €200, you can find quite a few hotels and accommodation options. These are the best accommodations location-wise:
Hotel Rothaus Luzern: Located on a quiet street near the center, this hotel feels like an old German stube. The double rooms start at 120€ and this get’s you bright and cozy looking rooms. The bathroom might need a little updating but for that price, you can’t expect the world. Peruvian cuisine is served downstairs. Check for prices here.
Ameron Luzern Hotel Flora: This hotel will set you back €150 a night for a double but it is located almost opposite from the train station. The hotel has a dark interior design with many wooden features and impressive images from the area. Check rooms and prices here.
Luxury stays in Lucerne
Luxury hotels around Lucerne are usually up the mountain, with a view to dazzle you.
Boutique Hotel Weisses Kreuz: This is an adult-only hotel, offering heavy decorations in bold statements. Make sure to stay and have the Prosecco breakfast on Sunday’s. The hotel is located in the old town, near the river. Rooms start from €200 but check all the options here.
Park Hotel Vitznau: Technically not located in Lucerne, but it does offer amazing views of the lake and the city. Vitznau can be accessed by the lake or by road and offers the most amazing luxury. Choose a mountain view suite or the lake view suite and try out their spa. Check for prices here.
Most scenic towns in Switzerland you might have never heard of
Switzerland doesn’t have many cities to visit but it has an abundance of towns, villages and lovely hamlets that are worth your time. Here are my favorite towns in Switzerland that you might not have heard of, but are worth to add to your Switzerland itinerary.
When you think of Lake Geneva, you probably immediately think of Geneva city. And I can’t blame you. However, I was absolutely charmed off my socks by sunny Montreux. As the name suggests, it is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and we stayed here for 3 days! Montreux offers stellar lake views, an abundance of flowers year-round and great gastronomy.
Things to do in Montreux
I never imagined we’d spend 3 nights in a town like Montreux, but I absolutely loved it. As soon as we settled down, we discovered so many things to do, so I list them shortly below:
Discover the Lake Geneva from Montreux
- Take a steamboat and explore Lake Geneva. Travel between Montreux and Lausanne and enjoy the best lake views.
- Don’t like boats or care to have some exercise? Walk on the broad paved road along the lake. From Montreux, you can enjoy the lake, the abundance of flowers and the city, all the way up to Chillon Castle
If you’re a music fan, enjoy the statue garden with famous blues and jazz artists and pay your respects to one of the greatest musicians of my age. The statue of Freddy Mercury is located right at the waterfront.
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Explore Chillon Castle
A real piece of history, Chillon Castle sits picture perfect on an outcrop at Lake Geneva. Not only boasting 180-degree views of the lake, but it also offers an insightful history of this stronghold. Make sure to pay a visit. But don’t bother with the white wine from the castle. It wasn’t as good as the views from the main keep.
Purchase your Chillon Castle entrance ticket here.
Cogwheel train to Rochers de Naye
Climb high above the vineyards and the lake, through small hamlets all the way to the top at Rochers de Naye. Try to spot some Swiss marmots, explore the alpine botanical garden or just simply take in the stellar views from the top.
Read more: 10 things to do in Montreux
How to get to Montreux?
Edged on Lake Geneva, the best way to arrive at Montreux is by boat. However, if a private yacht is not an option, try this instead:
By plane: Montreux doesn’t have an airport, but the international Geneva Airport (GVA) is only 1,5 hours away by train. Many international airlines fly to Geneva so find your flight here.
By train: Pulling into Montreux railway station was a treat. They have several railways starting their journey here, like the famous Golden Line Pass Train that connects Montreux with central Switzerland. If you want to travel to Switzerland by train, make sure to buy your Swiss Travel Pass before you go.
By road: The main motorway 9 connects Montreux with the south of Switzerland and along Lake Geneva to Lausanne. There was plenty of parking at the hotels in Montreux so pick one that has free parking.
Where to stay in Montreux?
Montreux was a real sunny treat. It felt like we were at the Riviera and we indulged in a 3-nights luxury stay. If not in Montreux, then where?
Budget hotels in Lugano
Montreux has one budget option, that isn’t that budget but it has to do if your pinching pennies. It is also not located in downtown Montreux.
Youth Hostel Montreux: Although it is called the youth hostel of Montreux, it is actually located in Territet. 2 minutes by local train offers you a clean and quiet hostel with 6-bed mixed, male-only and female-only dorm rooms. Pay 44€ for a bed for one night. See if they have availability here.
Value for money hotels in Montreux
Montreux offers many conference centers and caters to the business travelers. If you stay during the weekend or outside conference season, you might be able to land a good deal at one of Montreux’s many lakeside hotels.
Eurotel Montreux: It is not pretty but it is high. And high means striking views of Lake Geneva. No begging for a lake view room, the budget doubles have the view included. At €145 you do need to pay extra for breakfast. Check if you like the view here.
Hotel Eden Palace au Lac: If the glass monolithic designer hotel is not your thing, you might like the old Eden Palace hotel. Situated right at the lake it offers charming details and ornaments. They vanish in the standard room, which is standard at best but for €149 a night, it does the trick. Check if you can upgrade to a luxury lake view room here.
Luxury stays in Montreux
Looking to upgrade and want something special? Montreux and Lake Geneva are full of luxury pads. If I’d had the money, I’d happily stay here:
Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic: This hotel is your welcome card when you arrive at Montreux by train. Visit their spa or just enjoy the view. Make sure you pick the right room as they also offer many city view rooms. See what is available here.
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace: Yellow is the color of luxury in this sun-soaked beautiful town. I’m not sure what I like best, the view of the hotel from the outside or the interior. The Fairmont offers everything you’d want in a luxury hotel, but with a price tag of € 500 for a standard city view room, that should be expected. Check if their signature suite with lake view is available here.
Most Beautiful Places in Switzerland
When I first planned my trip to Switzerland, I did not expect Switzerland to be that diverse. We saw a lot of places in Switzerland and it seemed almost all of them were strikingly gorgeous.
Maybe it is the lack of mountains where I am from, or the abundance of flowers everywhere you look, or the typical cute wooden houses straddling the mountainside.
We visited numerous cities in Switzerland and stayed in many towns, we also visited some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland that I highly recommend to you.
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Beautiful Wengen in the Jungfraujoch region
Wengen surprised me a lot during our stay in Switzerland. This little town in Switzerland is one of the best places to stay when you want to explore the Jungfraujoch region. The town of Wengen sits at 1,274 m (4,180 ft) above sea level and you can reach it by train. Many people have the Jungfrau on their bucket list and it is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland.
Of course, a day trip to the Jungfraujoch is amazing but my suggestion would be to stay overnight at one of the villages in the mountains. I chose Wengen for the perfect base to discover the Jungfrau region.
Things to do in Wengen
Wengen is only a small town. You can walk around, take in the views of wooden houses, cows grazing or have fondue at one of the restaurants in town. The main thing to do in Wengen is to explore the Jungfraujoch region.
Go up the Jungfraujoch by train
The main reason this region receives so many visitors a year is the impressive mountains of Mönch (Monk) at 4.107m (13.474 ft), Eiger at 3.967m (13.015ft) and the Jungfrau (Virgin or Maiden) at 4.158m (13.642ft). You can easily access the Jungfraujoch station at 3.454m (11.332ft) and take in the views of the mountains.
The train journey is quite expensive but it is the easiest way to see glaciers, stand (nearly) at the top of some of the highest mountains and travel through the famous North Face of the Eiger.
Read all about the Jungfraujoch and my visit here.
How to get to Wengen?
Wengen is a small mountainous village. Wengen itself is car-free so you have to arrive by train.
You will start your journey at Interlaken-Ost railway station. Here you’ll buy a ticket to Wengen or all the way to the Jungfraujoch. Purchase your Swiss travel pass to save money here.
From Interlaken-Ost you’ll take the train to Lauterbrunnen. You deboard the train and wait for 15-minutes for the train to Kleine Scheidegg that will stop in Wengen. From Lauterbrunnen, you will meander up the mountain and finally arrive at the train station in Wengen where you can see the Jungfrau mountains in the distance.
From Wengen, you can take the same train up to Kleine Scheidegg to finally board the Jungfrau train to the Top of Europe Station. Going back is the same route.
Where to stay in Wengen?
Wengen offers a lot of small chalets and bigger typical Swiss hotels. The chalets are usually located a bit outside the village, so be prepared to climb some hills to your accommodation.
Here is my selection of places to stay in Wengen.
Budget: Swiss Lodge Hotel Bernerhof: If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom but do want to stay up in the mountains in Wengen, then this hotel is a good budget selection. Starting at €85 for a twin with a shared bathroom, the hotel is made with typical Swiss features like wooden balconies, thick carpet, and cheap wooden furniture. And a view of the mountains! Check it here.
Mid-Range: We stayed at the Hotel Victoria & Spa Lauberhorn which offered basic rooms, but a great view from the balcony on the mountains. Located next to the train station it was perfect for that 7 am train ride up the Jungfrau. We enjoyed their Spa and pool facilities which made our stay in Wengen a really great experience. They are now the Arenas Resort & Spa Victoria Lauberhorn. You can check to make a booking here.
Luxury: Hotel Regina is what you’d want for a luxury hotel. Spacious rooms with 4-poster beds in Victorian style. Striking views from your own balcony and shiny luxury all around you. Add in a spa, gourmet restaurant and you never want to leave here. Rooms start at €300 a night so check it here.
Striking Zermatt & Matterhorn
Owh Zermatt, by far my favorite place where we stayed 2 nights on our 2 week Switzerland trip. Yes, you might have heard about the Matterhorn. The famous Toblerone icon of Switzerland. Of course, you want to add it to your list of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. One might even argue THE most beautiful place in Switzerland. Yes, there, I said it. I loved Zermatt.
Things to do in Zermatt
Zermatt is one of your typical mountainous Swiss villages that thrive off of adventure seekers, climbers, and tourists that come in summer, and winter, to take in the impressive scenery. Off course, Zermatt is the place to be if you wish to climb the Matterhorn, but I assume you’re looking for a softer adventure in Zermatt.
Ride the Gornergrat Cogwheel Train
Take this spectacular ride by twisting and turning cogwheel train up to the observation deck of Gornergrat at 3.089 meters (10,135 ft.). Gawk at Gorner glacier and the surrounding majestic mountain peaks.
Buy your Gornergrat ticket in advance here.
Hike the 5-Seen Weg
One of the most spectacular days I experienced in Switzerland was the day we went hiking in Zermatt. We took the cogwheel train and cable car up to Sunnegga where we followed a trail around 5 of the lakes in the area.
The trail was easy to follow, the lakes were pristine and the views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding area were spectacular. It was quite a hard hike for me, as I was terribly out of shape and caught a nasty cold but I did it.
Read all about the 5-Seen Weg in Zermatt here.
How to get to Zermatt?
Just like Wengen, a mountain village like Zermatt doesn’t have an airport for commercial passenger flights.
The closest airport to Zermatt would be Milan Airport in Italy or Geneva airport in Switzerland. The train from Geneva to Zermatt is quite easy and straightforward, so I recommend that.
By train: Zermatt has quite a big train station for such a small mountain town. And that’s not odd when you imagine that the most famous panoramic train in the world starts here.
Travel on the Glacier Express, the slowest express train in the world, connecting the most beautiful villages Zermatt and St. Moritz on the other side of Switzerland.
If you don’t have all day to travel on the Glacier Express, local trains come from all over the country to arrive in Zermatt. Last connection is in Visp, an hour from Zermatt.
Zermatt is car-free so I strongly advise to leave your car and take the train to arrive in Zermatt.
Where to stay in Zermatt?
The area of Zermatt is actually quite big. As it is car-free the only option you have is to walk or take the local electric buses. If you stay at a fancy hotel, they can arrange for a horse-drawn chariot to pick you up at the station. Make sure to check the map before booking.
Budget hostels in Zermatt
Youth hostel Zermatt is located a 15-minute walk from town and offers a wide range of different rooms. Their 8-bed mixed dorm starts at 35€ per bed which is by far the best budget option in Zermatt. Check if they have a bunk bed for you here.
Hotel Bahnhof: Located next to the train station, this hotel always seems to have some rooms available for you. They offer mixed and female-only dorm rooms starting at €35 and also double rooms with either shared or private bathrooms starting at €100. The reviews are mixed, I guess it really depends on what type of room you select. Make your choice here.
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Value for money places to stay in Zermatt
We stayed in an Airbnb in the center of Zermatt. This was actually the cheapest accommodation I’ve booked during our 2 weeks and it allowed us to further save money by cooking our own food. After a day of hiking, it was perfect to arrive in our private apartment and relax as if we were at home. Curious where this hidden gem is located? Check here.
Hotel Alfa Zermatt: Basic and small rooms without any added luxury. Basically, a room that does the trick to accommodate you for the night. They do offer excellent breakfast selection and Matterhorn-view rooms with a small balcony. For 150€ night this is your mid-range choice. Check prices here.
Luxury hotels in Zermatt
Unique Hotel Post: This hotel is a household name in Zermatt. Arrive at the train station where your horse-drawn chariot awaits you. Disembark at the Hotel Post to check into your luxury room with a lot of wooden details and high-end features. Relax in the hotel’s spa and take in the Matterhorn views. Check if it is available here.
The Omnia: This hotel sits high above the rest of Zermatt on a rock. Access the hotel’s lobby by entering a tunnel and elevator and gawk at the amazing rock’s surface from the hotel. At the Omnia, the rooms are ballroom sized with wooden tubs and luxury bathroom features. Check it out here.
Rushing Rhine Falls
I was surprised that I didn’t want to visit museums and historic sights in Switzerland. I wanted to see nature rush by. At the Rhine Falls, nature does just that: rush by!
The Rhine Falls (or Rheinfall) is the largest waterfall in Switzerland and Europe. The River Rhine rushes through the falls that are 150 meters (490 ft) wide and are 23 meters (75 ft) high.
The Rhine Falls website teaches us that in the winter months, the average water flow is 250 m3/s (8,800 cu ft/s), while in the summer, the average water flow is 600 m3/s (21,000 cu ft/s).
How to see the Rhine Falls?
Our visit to the Rhine Falls was a bit of a rushed visit, as they were about to close down for the day. The best way to experience the Rhine falls is to walk on the Northern shore to take in the views from a distance. Walk from train station Neuhausen Rheinfall towards the restaurant and dock of Schlössli Wörth.
After this, cross the bridge on foot to Neuhausen Laufen Castle. After you pay an entrance fee, you can go down to the river and see the water rush past you at exhilarating speeds.
Boat tour to Rheinfall Felsen
Of course, you can get up close to the water and take a boat tour. From the dock, you’ll set out to the pinnacle in the middle of the waterfall: Rhine Fall Felsen. Here, you can disembark and climb to the observation deck before you go back again. Expect to get soaking wet!
How to get to the Rhine Falls?
The Rhine Falls are located in the most north-eastern tip of Switzerland and this part of the country is almost entirely surrounded by Germany. Closest airport would be Zürich to fly into Switzerland. From there you can take the train to the Rhine Falls:
Rhine Falls by train: The biggest town near the Rhine Falls is Schaffhausen. Here, regular trains arrive from Winterthur and Zürich. You can take the local bus to Neuhausen Rhine Falls and walk from there, or wait for the local trains.
Local trains stop at Neuhausen Rheinfall on one side of the river, and less frequent trains stop at Neuhausen Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall. You just need to buy your local train ticket, preferably with a 50% discount because you have the Half Fare Pass.
By car: Arrive on motorway 14 or 15 and park your car at one of the many (paid) parking lots surrounding the Rhine Falls. I’d say, once you found a spot, leave the car and explore on foot to the other side.
- Fodor’s Essential Switzerland Guidebook is a good guide for information and practical travel tips. Purchase your copy here.
- Travel in style and hang this super cool Swiss Flag luggage tag on your bag. Check out these cool designs!
Where to stay for seeing the Rhine Falls?
If you want to see the Rhine Falls and stay overnight for epic sunset waterfalls pictures or to get up at the crack of dawn for water rushing selfies then you need to stay either in Neuhausen, Laufen or Schaffenhaus. Here is my selection for the best places to stay:
Dachsen am Rheinfall Youth Hostel: One of the top sites to see the Rhine Falls is from Schloss Laufen. This old fort boasts amazing views and is your chance to get up close with the water. Just meters from Schloss Laufen, you’ll find this Youth Hostel. I guess you cannot sleep closer to the waterfalls. They do only offer 18-bed mixed dorm rooms from €38 on. See it here.
Hotel Kronenhof in Schaffhausen: Historic hotel overlooking the main center of Schaffhausen with newly refurbished rooms. The common areas look sleek and stylish but their economy rooms are a bit basic but you only pay €120 a night. Check for availability here.
Hotel Park Villa in Schaffhausen: Located 3 km from Rhine Falls, this hotel is situated near the Rhine River and offers quirky details and features. Spacious and voluptuous would be the best words to describe the rooms. They also have a tennis court. Check it out here.
The most beautiful places in Switzerland and now you’ve heard of them
One trip is never enough to explore a whole country and there are so many beautiful places in Switzerland, that I can never mention them all here. To increase the odds that you have the best experience and see the most scenic towns and cities in Switzerland, this guide shows you the tip of the iceberg. Rest assured, wherever you go in Switzerland, you’ll find cute villages and sweeping views of lakes and mountains.
Have you been to Switzerland? What was your favorite town in Switzerland? Share your top selection in the comment section below, I’d love to read new suggestions!