I was lucky enough to live in Switzerland for 4 years. It is a small country, but it is as pretty as a picture postcard. These are some of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland that I enjoyed visiting. Switzerland has a brilliant rail transport network and it is easy to get to all of these towns with a little bit of planning.
There are 4 official languages, French, Italian, German and Romansh and 26 cantons or administrative regions who have all agreed to work together. The languages spoken in each canton is that of the closest border so, for example, Geneva speaks French because France is across the lake a short ferry ride away. Don’t be deterred by this if you are planning a trip as English is widely spoken as well.
The most beautiful towns in Switzerland
Perched on a hilltop with stunning views is the town of Gruyères, in the canton of Fribourg. This is the home of the delicious nutty semi-hard cheese of the same name (without an “s”). 19 Different Counts of Gruyères lived in the chateau from the 11th to 16th centuries. Their emblem was a crane or gru hence the origin of the name.
You will also find the Cailler factory here. They have been making chocolate since 1825. You can visit, do a tour and enjoy some free samples as well.
The streets are cobbled. the houses are medieval and are all adorned with bright red geraniums tumbling out of window boxes in summer. It is the quintessential representation of a Swiss mountain village. It’s not surprising that it was awarded the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2014.
Montreux is on the banks of Lac Léman. In the 19th century, the likes of Byron and Shelley flocked to the town for its beautiful setting and mild climate.
Don’t be surprised if you see statues of Freddy Mercury and Ray Charles as you wander through the streets. The town hosts a world-famous jazz festival in summer that I was lucky enough to attend twice. If you love jazz I can’t think of a better place to enjoy the music of some of the greats for both the setting and the atmosphere.
If jazz doesn’t rock your boat you can spend time exploring the Charlie Chaplin museum, a short walk away along the edge of the lake in Vevey.
For wine lovers, the Lavaux Vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stretches along the hillside for 30 km. Not only can you taste wine, but there are a number of hiking trails that offer spectacular views.
One of my favourite places to visit in the area is the Chateau de Chillon, a medieval fortress on the lake a short distance away from the town.
Geneva is small and easy to get around so you can see most of the sights in the city centre without too much difficulty. It is on the tip of Lac Léman and dwarfed by imposing mountains. Looking across the lake you can see the impressive Mont Blanc, which is actually in France and is often covered in snow. Europe’s UN has their headquarters here as well as a number of other international agencies.
During the day the town is busy but at night many of the people who work in the city leave and cross the border to France, where they live. In the evenings and at weekends it’s peaceful and has a totally different feel about it.
The old town is tiny but quite pretty and is on the hill around the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre. You can even see some archaeological remains that were discovered under the floor. Don’t miss the Place du Bourg-de-Four which is a street for pedestrians only.
You have to have a fondue as well. One of the best can be found at Les Armures where they use Gruyere and Vacherin cheese for a taste of heaven.
You can’t help but see the Jet d’Eau which dates from 1891. The jet rises 140 metres into the air, which is about 50 metres higher than the Statue of Liberty.
Stein am Rhein
Stein am Rhein is at the tip of Lake Constance where the Rhine begins in the canton of Schaffhausen. It has a pedestrian centre and medieval buildings that have been beautifully restored. Many of them are painted with stunning art like on the facades of the Rathausplatz prese. It’s also known as the “Jewel on the Untersee” and is colourful and bursting with history.
To crown it all the Hohenklingen Castle is perched on the hilltop keeping watch over the town below.
Schloss Laufen looks down on the beautiful Rhine Falls. Use the paved path to get to the “Känzeli”, a viewing platform directly over the water for some stunning views. For most of the year the falls are lit up after sunset, so remember to come back and see how different they look at night.
As far as I am concerned this is my first choice for one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland. You will find it in the canton of the Valais. I have visited in the summer and gone skiing in winter and regardless of the time of year, it’s magical.
If you enjoy skiing there are 245 km of pistes for you to choose from. They are graded for all levels so regardless of your level of skill you will find a slope that’s perfect for you.
The majestic Matterhorn lies above the town which is car-free. I have read that it is the most photographed mountain in the world, but maybe that’s a bit of marketing hype. The mountain is impressive and moody and changes constantly. Wherever you are in the town you can’t help but be drawn by it.
Horse-drawn carriages of golf carts whizz you to your destination. It is peaceful and beautiful. The alpine views are breath-taking and the town is everything you imagined a Swiss alpine village to be.
If you need to shortlist destinations because you are pressed for time don’t leave this off your list.
This is another picture postcard village that won the most beautiful village in Switzerland award in 2016. It used to be a fishing village and is called the Pearl of the Ceresio by the locals. There are cobblestones streets and a botanical garden to enjoy. It is near the Italian border and you can see the influence in the architecture and food.
Nestled in the heart of Switzerland, surrounded by mountains and on the banks of a lake is the beautiful town of Lucerne. It’s a city where the old and new blend together well,
The most obvious attraction is the emblem of the city as well. It is, of course, the iconic Chapel Bridge or Kapellbrücke as the locals call it. The bridge was built in 1333 across the Reuss River. In 1993 I watched the footage on television with horror as the bridge was destroyed by a fire. I had visited just 2 weeks before the event. I was saddened at the loss of such a beautiful and historic structure.
The following year the bridge was reconstructed. The old bridge had 158 paintings depicting historic scenes many of which were lost. Thirty of the original works have been restored and have been returned to their home on the bridge. It is just as beautiful as it was before the fire.
Take some time to enjoy the Old Town which is filled with medieval buildings, fountains and painted facades.
Tip: The bridge is a great place to watch a sunset.
Lugano is in the Ticino region of Switzerland and it’s hard not to fall in love with this beautiful town. The lake is stunning, the weather is milder and it combines both Mediterranean and Alpine influences in lifestyle, architecture and of course its food.
Lakeside dining can be sophisticated or rustic in a small grotto with breathtaking views of the lake and the mountains that tower above it.
Wine is also produced in the region and many winemakers offer tours and tastings.
A day on the lake is a must giving you time to explore the stunning towns that are scattered around the lake.
When it comes to choosing beautiful towns in Switzerland the list is endless. It hard to image a country wherever you look is stunningly beautiful, but this really is the case in Switzerland. Its verdantly green is summer with flowers everywhere and in winter it is dramatic with snow-capped peaks dominating the landscape. Some people say that it’s too perfect and sterile, but I think that it is an enchanting country and a bucket-list worthy destination.
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