The Very Best Places to Visit in Switzerland
Our look at the best destinations in this diverse country
From Bern to Valais, and from Grisons to Obwalden, Switzerland is a country most gorgeous and exquisite. Snow-capped mountains dazzle and dance their way along the Swiss Alps, their valleys resembling the deepest holes in the country’s famous cheese. Yet dotted around the troughs and peaks of this dairy-like topography are myriad quaint villages with church steeples and cuckoo clocks that come straight out of the storybooks of your childhood. And within many of these hamlets and cities lies something rather remarkable: our collection of homes. Just kidding: the destinations are of course the highlight. We here at Plum Guide just provide the lodgings to make your stay aptly luxurious for such a wonderful place, with only the top 3% of homes in any given destination making the cut. And they really are impressive. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look through some of the best places to visit in Switzerland.
It’s quite possible that the name Bern actually comes from the German for ‘Bears’. This is because, as you may have noticed from the emblem and souvenir shops in and around the city, they’ve got a real thing for bears. Some say this is because Duke Berthold V of Zähringen held a hunt in the woods, before choosing a bear as his first prey. With this in mind, you might want to visit the Bärengraben (Bear Pit) that has been in place here since 1857 (recently extended into the larger Bärenpark). Enough with the bears already. Take a trip through the charming Old Town, explore the Rose Garden and take a cable car around the spectacular Gurten park. Visit the Cathedral at Munsterplatz, marvel at a very Swiss-looking Clock Tower and embark on a romantic stroll with your partner (or a pleasant and platonic one with your pals) along the banks of the Aare River.
Alpine resorts like those on the postcards and in your dreams adorn the ribbon-like green terrain of Valais (known as Wallis in German). It’s about as idyllic a spot for hiking as exists on the planet, and you’ll recall The Sound of Music and countless other movies and books, as you traverse this remarkable rural region. In summer, you’ll hike until you drop, picking up wine in the vineyards of the Rhône Valley. As winter falls, snow turns the region white, and the likes of ski resort town Zermatt come to the fore. Take on the ski slopes of one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, and head back to your Plum Guide cabin for some hot cocoa after a day at the slopes.
While searching for the best places to visit in Switzerland, you might just find Grisons popping up time and time again. It may be a little less well-known than Bern and Valais, but that only adds to its charm. You’ll find yourself wandering through the Swiss National Park or skiing down the slopes of the Diavolezza without seeing any crowds. Climb aboard the Bernina Express and chug up and down the mountains, taking in the spectacular views all around.
Sticking with the Swiss archetype of snow, mountains and charming countryside, Obwalden is next on our list. The Lake Lungern and its surrounding terrain are as though the most optimistic of painters dreamed up some otherworldly natural paradise...and then turned the dial up to eleven. Wander up and down its green slopes in summer, before taking a boat out on the water. Climb up Mount Pilatus (and do Pilates from its summit), before taking on the Pilatus Railway for unforgettable vistas.
Yet another mountainous district in Switzerland, this one stands out for its proximity to Geneva (and its namesake lake) and its village attractions. Delve into the ruins and historic attractions of Lausanne, where you’ll find the Olympic Museum in Ouchy Port, and a rather marvellous medieval cathedral. Change it up by trying the grape varieties in the vineyards of Lavaux, before taking on the lakeside promenade of Montreux.
Last but not least on our list is Ticino. This rural region in southern Switzerland conjures the spirit of neighbouring Italy. They even speak Italian in this picturesque area, where the lakes are lined with palm trees, and the food tastes like Rome. Admire the medieval castles and see the neoclassical designs in Lugano.