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Home to the snow-capped Alps, stunning lake cities, and picture-postcard villages, Switzerland's natural beauty is truly unparalleled in every sense. Some of the best things to do in Switzerland are to explore the great outdoors, be it hiking, cycling, skiing, or simply taking a village walk. The best part about a Switzerland tour is that you can visit any time of the year and have a memorable vacation. Whether it is skiing at the world-famous Adelboden resort, taking a cable ride to the iconic Matterhorn, exploring Lake Geneva, checking out the Lindt Chocolate Factory, or taking a trip to Rhine Falls, there are many things to do and places to visit in Switzerland. Here’s how to have the best Swiss holiday experience.

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1. Ski Down the Majestic Alps in Gstaad

Man skiing downhills in the Swiss Alps.
Skiing in the Swiss Alps is the best thing to do when in Switzerland.

Skiing is one of the best things you can do in Switzerland. As the most beloved sport in Switzerland, the country is full of amazing ski resorts like Gstaad and slopes that range from beginner-friendly all the way up to Olympic level. With the Swiss Alps on your doorstep, winter in Switzerland would not be complete without a visit to the ski slopes.

Alternative destinations:

  • Zermatt: As one of Switzerland's most popular mountain towns, Zermatt is always full of tourists come ski season. One of the best things about Zermatt is that it’s completely pedestrianized, so it feels super safe while you’re trying to get across the road with all your ski gear.
  • Andermatt: Located in the Ursern Valley, Andermatt is a quaint Swiss village with tons of traditional charm. With gorgeous Swiss chalets and even a folk museum, Andermatt brings Swiss history and culture to the forefront, making it one of the best places to go skiing in Switzerland.

Insider tip: If you’re getting the train to the ski resort, check out SBB Snow’n’Rail passes, as they normally offer combo tickets that give you a discount on the train ticket and your ski pass.

2. Ride Past the Matterhorn on the Glacier Express Train

Glacier Express Train in Landwasser Railway.
Explore the scenic Landwasser Railway route seated on a Glacier Express Train.

Switzerland is home to some of the best train journeys in the entire world. Many of these train journeys, including the Glacier Express Train, are on people’s bucket lists, thanks to the stunning mountain views you get along the way. Going past some of the best sights in Switzerland, like the Matterhorn and the Eiger, and connecting major towns and cities, these train rides are some of the best ways to experience Switzerland's beauty and natural wonder.

Alternative destinations:

  • Jungfrau: If you’re looking for iconic Swiss activities, a journey on the Jungfrau railway is one of Interlaken's best things to do. This amazing region is home to the Jungfraujoch mountain pass and the iconic Eiger mountain. Gliding past both of these beautiful sights needs to be on your Switzerland itinerary.
  • Chur: If you’re looking for a beautiful mountain town that’s filled with beautiful architecture, surrounded by mountains, and has super cool cable cars to give you the perfect sunset view, head to Chur. This town is also home to the Bernina Express railway, a picturesque line that goes from Switzerland into neighboring Italy.
    Insider tip: If you’re going on the Bernina Express in winter, make sure you go on the southbound route; otherwise, half your ride will be in the dark, which defeats the point of a picturesque train ride.

Insider tip: If you’re going on the Bernina Express in winter, make sure you go on the southbound route; otherwise, half your ride will be in the dark, which defeats the point of a picturesque train ride.

3. Indulge in Chocolate and Cheese Tastings in the La Gruyere Region

Cubes of Swiss cheese and chocolate.
Swiss cheese and chocolate are world-renowned for their rich taste so indulging in them when in Switzerland for an authentic taste is a must.

As two of Switzerland’s most beloved products, chocolate, and cheese tastings are an essential part of any vacation to this part of the world. While the La Gruyere region is particularly famous for its food scene, especially the delicious cheese that bears its name, there are many amazing food tours around every corner when you visit Switzerland.

Alternative destinations:

  • Zurich: One of the best things to do in Zurich is to visit the Lindt Chocolate Factory and Museum. Here, you can learn more about this amazing brand and its delicious products. Of course, you’ll also be treated to free samples along the tour and end up in the huge factory shop.
  • Bern: As Switzerland's capital, Bern offers plenty of opportunities to indulge in both Swiss chocolate and cheese. Visit the Marktgasse for historic chocolate shops like Schatzli Confiserie to sample truffles and pralines. Then head to the famous BearPark or Rosengarten to enjoy a picnic with local cheeses like Berner Hobelkäse and Alpkäse.

Insider tip: Make sure you hire a local guide for any food tour, as they’re going to know the secret spots away from the tourist crowds and are likely to get better deals with vendors if you’re looking for souvenirs.

4. Try Your Hand at Bouldering in Ferrera

Man bouldering on a cliff.
Bouldering is a great sport to indulge in for an adrenaline rush.

Thanks to its inclusion in the Olympics, bouldering and rock climbing are becoming more and more popular. Outdoor bouldering is especially popular in Switzerland, with Ferrera being home to Magic Wood, one of the best crags in the world. With so many amazing routes, there are plenty of places to hire bouldering mats and gear, and even multi-day tours to build your confidence and take you to different climbing destinations.

Alternative destinations:

  • Cresciano: Located not far from the Italian border, Cresciano has a reputation as being slightly easier than Magic Wood. So if you’re looking for the perfect place for a mixed-ability group, this could be for you.
  • Bellinzona: If you want to stay in a beautiful lakeside town with occasional climbing days, among other activities, Bellinzona is a short drive from Lugano on the Italian border, with its beautiful lake resorts and summery vibes.

Insider tip: If you’re going to Cresciano or Bellinzona, it’s cheaper to fly into Milan, hire a car on the Italian side, and drive over the border than flying into Lugano or hiring a car on the much more expensive Swiss side of the border.

5. Hike Mountains in Zermatt

Female looking at a mountain when on a hike in Switzerland.
Hiking is a great alternate outdoor sport you can indulge in when you take to the Swiss mountains in summer when skiing conditions are not in their prime.

If skiing is Switzerland’s most beloved winter sport, then hiking has to be the summer activity of choice. Whether you’re looking for lakeside hikes, challenging Alpine multi-day treks, or anything in between, there is so much choice all across Switzerland. With its alpine town infrastructure, Zermatt is well suited for both day hikes and multi-day treks, and you can hire plenty of gear in town.

Alternative destinations:

  • Grindelwald: Known as the gateway to the Jungfrau Region, Grindelwald is a perfect base for day hikes or for multi-day treks in the Bernese Alps. Home to the Eiger, there is also plenty for more experienced hikers and mountaineers to explore.
  • Lauterbrunnen: Located in a picturesque valley, Lauterbrunnen offers hiking trails that bring you to some of the best waterfalls in Europe. You can easily make a multi-day route hiking between these natural wonderlands and return to Lauterbrunnen as a circular route.

Insider tip: Paper maps are your friend if you’re hiking in Switzerland. Although there is plenty of signal, the more remote you get, the worse it can be. Also, share your route and location with a friend or local ranger to be on the safe side.

6. Enjoy an architectural tour of Basel

Up close shot of Basel Town Hall.
Marvel at the architectural marvel of Basel Town Hall.

While Swiss architecture might bring quaint wooden chalets and mountain villages to mind, an architectural tour of Basel allows you to see a mix of traditional and super-modern styles. Walking tours with a theme like architecture are a great way to experience a city and learn more about its history and culture - especially in such an old country as Switzerland.

Alternative destinations:

  • Lucerne: Colorful lakefront buildings and beautiful pier-style bridges characterize the architectural style of Lucerne. It gives the feel of a classic European mountain resort town that’s been pulled right out of a fairytale.
  • Bern: If striking modernist design is more your thing, head to the capital of Switzerland, Bern.

Insider tip: Opt for a private architectural walking tour, as you can get the guide to personalize the route to your preferred styles.

7. Shop Until You Drop in Zurich

Multi-colored Christmas candles.
Shop for souvenirs in the Christmas markets of Zurich if you visit in December.

Whether you’re looking for some cool or quirky vintage finds, high-end luxury items, or anything in between, Zurich has you covered. For the best retail therapy, head to the famous Bahnhofstrasse, which is home to all the best high-end shops in the city. For vintage, head towards the Rathaus area of Zurich.

Alternative destinations:

  • Geneva: One of the most popular things to do in Geneva is to browse along Rue du Marché. With beautiful bookstores, tons of designer gear, and a lot of places to get souvenirs, it’s a one-stop shop for your retail needs.
  • Lausanne: If it’s a fancy shopping experience you’re after, wander the streets of Lausanne’s beautiful Old Town area until you reach Rue de Bourg and Place Saint-François. Here’s where you’ll find all the luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Zadig et Voltaire.

Insider tip: If you’re buying Swiss souvenirs like cuckoo clocks or fondue sets, avoid the main shopping districts and head to the markets instead, where you can haggle with artisans.

8. Enjoy a Sunny Summer by the Lake in Geneva

Scenery in Lake Geneva.
Enjoy a boating trip in Lake Geneva to admire its scenic surrondings.

Although Switzerland conjures up images of snowy peaks and skiing, there are plenty of amazing things to do in the summer months, especially along the major lakes that can be found all around the country. There's so much to love here with lakeside beaches, paddleboard and boating rentals, and alfresco eating with lake and mountain views.

Alternative destinations:

  • Lake Lucerne: Have a quintessential Swiss summer by swimming in the lakefront lidos of Lake Lucerne. With safe swimming conditions and mountain views all around you, it’s the ideal family destination.
  • Lake Constance: Located across Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, Lake Constance is a huge destination. In the summer, it’s super popular with windsurfing, so if you want to get that adrenaline pumping, book a trip here.

Insider tip: Try to avoid the peak of the summer holidays and instead opt for late May or the start of September when the weather will still be good but crowds are a lot thinner.

9. Boost Your Adrenaline With Mountain Biking in Verbier

Man mountain biking in Verbier.
Experience exhilarating mountain biking in Verbier's breathtaking terrain – where adrenaline meets stunning alpine vistas.

If hiking isn’t exciting enough for you, one of the best things to do in the mountain resorts after the snow melts is mountain biking. With some seriously challenging routes around Verbier and plenty of guided mountain biking tours with experts, it’s a super pretty place to learn a new, adrenaline-spiking sport.

Alternative destinations:

  • Zermatt: Snaking around the Matterhorn, Zermatt is known as a mountain biking paradise. While you can find intense routes for professionals, the undulating valley also offers opportunities for beginners.
  • Eiger: One of Switzerland's most popular multi-day mountain biking routes takes you through the alpine meadows and valleys surrounding the iconic Eiger mountain. Base yourself in Grindelwald for this challenging but beautiful adventure.

Insider tip: Book a local guide or speak to experts at the local bike store before you hit the trails. What might be a moderate trail in Switzerland could be an intense route where you come from, so get all the local knowledge you can.

10. Go Snowshoe Hiking in the Bernese Oberland

Woman snowshoeing in the Bernese Oberland
Discover the awe-inspiring Bernese Oberland through snowshoe hiking. Immerse in pristine landscapes and embrace winter's magic.

As one of the fastest-growing winter activities, it’s no wonder that snowshoeing is so popular in Switzerland. Essentially, you’re following snow-covered hiking trails with things that look like tennis rackets on your feet. It’s a lot more relaxing than skiing and is largely low-impact, so it’s ideal for people from all walks of life.

Alternative destinations:

  • Ybrig region: Located in the east of Switzerland, the Ybrig region is famous for its snowy trails and towering trees. The long trails with tons of switchbacks are ideal for snowshoeing, although there are some intense routes here as well.
  • Brambrüesch: If you’re getting the picturesque train to Chur, you’re just a short cable car ride away from some of the most beautiful snowshoe routes in Switzerland. The accessibility of this winter wonderland makes it a popular snow sports destination.

Insider tip: Not all hiking trails are suitable for snowshoeing, so get a dedicated paper snowshoe map at the same time as hiring your snowshoes. You can also ask the staff at the rental store for recent reports on individual trails.

So, there you have it - the best things to do in Switzerland! From skiing to cheese tastings to mountain biking, there is a lot to love about this outdoorsy paradise. If you need a hand building your dream tour, get in touch with our experts, and they’ll help you create a customized Switzerland trip.

Do you need more information about the best times to visit and places to stay? We’ve got you covered with our Switzerland travel guide.

Published by Supriya Rayamajhi, updated on January 31, 2024
Plan a trip to SwitzerlandWe offer different tour types. You can also chat with a local travel specialist if you want a customized tour to Switzerland.
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