Switzerland offers countless amazing spots and it would take half a lifetime to visit them all.
This claim becomes even more impressive considering the small size of the alpine country. In order to help first time visitors not to miss any highlights, here are nine places in Switzerland you have to see in your lifetime!
The Appenzell region and Aescher restaurant.
Located in the eastern part of Switzerland are the rolling hills (and mountain tops) of Appenzell. The Aescher Restaurant has gained worldwide fame a few years ago thanks to National Geographic. But my grandmother used to work there as a nanny back in the day, so that’s how long the Aescher has really been around.
(Photograph copyright Christian Langenegger)
The Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen.
The highest waterfalls in Europe are 150 meters wide and 23 meters wide – but these are just numbers. To feel the amazing force of the water making its way down the Rhine, you should hop on a boat and climb the rock in the center of the Rhine Falls. But if this experience seems too risky, at least step on the platform underneath the Laufen Castle and snap a selfie…
(Photograph copyright Kristine Strazdina)
The Engadine Valley from inside the Bernina Express train.
Here’s a case where a picture is worth a thousand words. The iconic red trains of the Bernina Express are old-fashioned in that the windows can be lowered. The stretch between Pontresina and Tirano is a photographer’s dream because there are scenic mountains, raging rivers and Lago Bianco, a stunning lake at the top of the pass. During the descent to Tirano, the Bernina Express will make several sharp curves that allow for Instagram worthy train pictures.
The Albula Pass.
When we stopped our car at the top of the Albula Pass in Eastern Switzerland, we could not believe the sight. Those high alpine slopes are like out of this world! If you love driving curvy roads, crossing the Albula from Thusis to La Punt and onto Bergün should be on your Swiss bucket list.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Switzerland’s valley of waterfalls was the inspiration for Rivendell in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. As you make your way to the back, the valley floor narrows and the majestic cliffs grow taller. Depending on the season, you will be able to view up to 72 waterfalls! (A bucket list sight are the Trümmelbach Falls.) No wonder they called this valley “Lauterbrunnen”! It translates to “many fountains”…
Bern, the seat of Switzerland’s parliament.
Not to single out only one town, but Bern should be on your list for several reasons. You will quickly understand why the old town with its arched passageways is under UNESCO World Heritage protection. The turquoise Aare river snakes around the old town, creating a sight of its own. And the countless museums and architectural gems are but another reason to put Bern on your Swiss list.
Lake Geneva with the Lavaux vineyards.
Built centuries ago, the sweeping vineyards along Lake Geneva are unique in every sense of the word. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but the wine culture of this region is home to many traditions worth experiencing. During harvest season, all the small towns will hold festivals. And during summer, you and I can hike the narrow paths in between vineyards and stop for wine tastings along the way.
Zermatt and the mighty Matterhorn.
Here’s a highlight many Swiss have never seen: The Matterhorn. Located in the very south of Switzerland at the end of the Matter valley, this mighty peak has a special draw. One way to travel there is by Glacier Express train from St. Moritz. Or you could fly into Geneva and make Zermatt your first stop. Book a couple of nights at a hotel because you might not see the Matterhorn at all times due to fog or clouds.
You can’t go wrong with Ticino! Pick Ascona, Lavertezzo, Locarno or Lugano…
Here’s an unmissable Ticino moment: To see the clear waters of the Verzasca river with your own eyes. One place to do so is the town of Lavertezzo with its Roman bridge. It can be reached by public transport from Locarno, but it pays to arrive early in order to beat the crowds…