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    An Extensive Travel Guide to Switzerland

    An Extensive Travel Guide to Switzerland

    By Kelsey KrahnTrip Guides

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    Let our travel tips for your Switzerland adventure guide you exactly where you want to be, whether exploring the thick of the Alps, revelling in quintessential alpine traditions, or discovering the trails carved into valleys, a glistening lake, or glacier-adorned areas. Winter wonderland seekers will find solace in snowboarding and skiing hotspots, Graubünden, Bernese Oberland and Central Switzerland.

    Another integral piece of Switzerland's unspoiled beauty is the architecture adding storied charm to villages, towns, and cities. Its urban culture is definitely one worth basking in. An adventure trip in Switzerland is a fantastic way to experience the wonderment of Europe all in one spot: stunning architecture, intimidating Alps, valleys, lakes, and more. Read our extensive travel guide to Switzerland to find out some Switzerland adventure travel tips!

    Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you buy one of these products or services. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

    Switzerland’s main city - Zürich

    Switzerland’s main city - Zürich

    About Switzerland

    Switzerland is landlocked between France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein, making it a top-notch destination for anyone wanting to imprint footprints on several European countries. It's also extra easy to travel in and out of Switzerland when you're in Europe as it's one of the Schengen countries! However, you may find there is no need to hop from nation to nation like Switzerland, although small at 41,285 km2, boasts three geographical regions worth visiting: Central Plateau, Alps, and Jura. Most cities are embroidered across the Swiss Plateau, such as Geneva, Basel, and Zürich. And sprinkled throughout the cities, towns, and villages, you'll find remnants of Switzerland's history scattered all over.

    The existence of hominids in Switzerland traces back to 150,000 years ago, and initial farming settlements hark back to 5300 BC. Fast forward to the World Wars, and as most of you may know, Switzerland was not invaded during either war due to their stance of armed neutrality. Therefore, most of their historical architecture remains intact to this day.

    But the charming ancient Roman, gothic, renaissance architecture isn't the only beautiful thing about Switzerland! The natural scenery elevates Switzerland's spectacularity to the next level. Nothing beats standing amidst the Alps, knowing the collection of glacier pools or sweeping valleys just waiting to be explored. Switzerland is an exceptional place to visit for anyone seeking a combination of rustic adventure and quintessential cobblestone-esque European experiences.

    Best Destinations in Switzerland

    Looking for an alpine wonderland or storied villages? Snowy or summertime adventure or quintessential European charm? Take a look at some of the best destinations in Switzerland and pick the spot that resonates with you most.


    Let’s start with Switzerland’s main city: Zürich. Outside of the hardworking, wealthy financial centre, you’ll find historic remnants standing tall amid an ambiance of modern life. Furthermore, outside the savvy cityscape, revel in views of the snow-capped Swiss Alps or spend time at Lake Zürich or Limmat River! Not in the mood to chill? Head up Uetliberg, Zürich’s mountain, for stunning views sprawling below. Or, you can always get your steps in by exploring the numerous high-end shops stretching across Zürich’s streets. There’s definitely a lot to do here!


    Looking for the ultimate winter destination? Consider the Christmas-ready, winter wonderland village of Zermatt! Oh, and it’s often considered the best skiing destination in the world. The astonishing scenery of the famed Swiss Alps paired with world-class skiing opportunities makes Zermatt a must-visit winter destination. Be warned: this is one of the most expensive ski resorts in Europe. Save up before you go! Side note: Zermatt is also a gateway to some of the best hikes in the Swiss Alps.


    Interlaken boasts a reputation as Switzerland’s adventure capital! Get your adrenaline pumping on river rafting trips, flying through the air via bungee jumping or skydiving, or go on a canoe exploration. Interlaken also makes a great base for hikers looking to set foot along the network of trails crisscrossing throughout the Jungfrau region. Then there’s Lake Brienz and Lake Thun—great places to cool off during sizzling summer days.


    Yes, the village in Switzerland, not Gellert Grindelwald from Harry Potter (sorry; had to make that reference—I’m a millennial, okay?). Only 25 minutes from Interlaken, Grindelwald boasts similar advantages: a summer hotspot for hiking and outdoorsy adventures with skiing ventures to be had in winter, thanks to its proximity to the Jungfrau region. Grindelwald is also a bit closer to the mountains than Interlaken—this alone may be enough to sway your decision on where to stay!


    Looking for medieval architecture? Head to Lucerne! But that's not the only draw to this lovely Swiss city. The snow-capped mountains paint an attractive backdrop while Lake Lucerne gives Lucerne a postcard-worthy look.

    Zermatt is often considered the best skiing destination in the world

    Zermatt is often considered the best skiing destination in the world


    A car-free village? Yes, please! That's right. You can access Wengen via train and then spend the rest of your time there immersed in fresh mountain air swirling off the Bernese Alps. Opt to go hiking or spend some time walking around town; either way, you'll find yourself surrounded by incredible mountainous scenery.


    Like most towns in Switzerland, Kandersteg encompasses the magical power to morph into the ideal winter wonderland destination in winter and a boomtown for adventure when the sun melts the snow. There's ice climbing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing. Although, this destination may not be the best for more hardcore skiers! In the summer, Lake Oeschinen becomes a must-visit spot.


    You may know Montreux as the host of the world's second-largest jazz festival or a glamorous resort town that attracted 19th-century artists, thanks to its relaxing lakeshore location. However, this stunning town also embodies a lot of quintessential European wonders: an old town atop a hill, swanky architecture, a medieval fortress, and so much more.


    Lugano's centrepiece, Lake Lugano, may be hemmed by mountains, but it's not the only attention-grabbing asset of this lively Swiss city! If you ever want a break from exploring the mountains, head here for cobblestone streets lined with boutique shops, cafes, and bars. On the other hand, the peaks backing Lake Lugano offer a great escape for anyone wanting to leave the city for a bit.


    The French-speaking city of Neuchâtel beautifully fuses old with new, with an incredibly scenic Old Town. Like almost every other town on this list, Neuchâtel also boasts a shimmering lake, an attractive spot for locals and tourists alike. It’s also close to the Fribourg region, which boasts the Pre-Alps, where more adventures await.

    Best Things to do in Switzerland

    We're sure you can guess some of the best things to do in Switzerland, but we'll help you out here: hiking, skiing, and adrenaline-inducing activities. Switzerland is tailor-made for outdoorsy adventure with a surplus of lofty mountains and snowy slopes—this European nation has you covered whenever you feel like swapping your boots or skis for more relaxing attire. So spend some time exploring the architecture of yore or chilling at one of the many lakes fronting many Swiss towns!

    Long-distance hiking in Switzerland

    Switzerland is a major hotspot for trekking and hiking, with an uncanny amount of trails carved throughout mountain slopes! Three notable long-distance routes are Via Alpina, a 390.0 km challenging, scenic route that traverses the Swiss Alps. Then there's the Jura Crest Trail, stretching 320.0 km and connecting Zurich with Geneva. Finally, if you want something more rugged and wild (not that the others aren't), the Alpine Passes Trail will fulfill your wish! Traverse over 30 passes in about 39 days.

    Day hikes in Switzerland

    With the Swiss Alps creating an ideal adventure backdrop, it's hard not to go to Switzerland without lacing up your boots and going on a hike. Some of our favourite day hikes in the Swiss Alps are:

    However, the Swiss Alps boasts many hikes, ranging from relaxing and family-friendly to intense, sweat-inducing explorations. Expect a highlight reel of exceptional scenery as you explore this stunning area on foot!

    Grindelwald - a summer hotspot for hiking and outdoorsy adventures

    Grindelwald - a summer hotspot for hiking and outdoorsy adventures

    Watersports in Switzerland

    Switzerland is a watersport hub, thanks to the collection of lakes and rivers nestled among mountain peaks and glistening in front of towns! You've got canoeing, kayaking, jet boating, sailing, paddle boarding, windsurfing, and rafting. So, despite being landlocked, Switzerland boasts a crazy amount of watersport options. One of the most popular lakes to swim in or try out watersports is Lake Geneva. Lake Lucerne is another incredible location. And if you're craving a canoe adventure, Lake Thun may be one of your best bets! But, there are so many lakes here, and we could dedicate thousands of words to telling you all about them.

    Mountain biking and cycling in Switzerland

    For some of the best mountain biking in Switzerland, we suggest heading to Saint Luc, where top-notch single-track routes carve through a scenic setting. Check out the Balcony Trail if you go here!

    And then there's road cycling through dramatic mountain passes, such as Saint Gotthard Pass, Grosse Scheidegg Pass, and Grimsel Pass, to name a few!

    Climbing in Switzerland

    Craving an adrenaline rush at higher altitudes? You'll find endless rock climbing opportunities in Switzerland! Some of the best areas to go rock climbing are Matterhorn, Jura Mountains, and Jungfrau. If bouldering is more your thing, head to Magic Wood—this place tailors to expert climbers, so skip this spot if you're starting out. It's always best to look into safety and route info before you go!

    Wengen - a car-free village

    Wengen - a car-free village

    Great Adventure Trips in Switzerland

    Okay: time to start envisioning yourself in Switzerland by choosing your adventure trip in Switzerland! Sift through the pre-planned tours listed below, pick your favourite, and off you go. You'll have to pay for it, but these pre-planned tours help eliminate a lot of planning-related stress. If you're the type of traveller who prefers to organize your trips, let these tours in Switzerland work as a possible point of reference!

    Haute Route to Zermatt Highlights: Trek from Martigny, Switzerland to Zermatt on the self-guided, shortened version of the Haute Route! Expect to collect an array of highlights as you traverse the rugged, wild scenery, enjoying tasty Swiss meals.

    Hiking Adventure in the Swiss Alps: Explore some of the most remarkable alpine Swiss scenery on foot on this six-day hiking tour. But that's not all you'll do! Enjoy time in quaint mountain villages and go cycling and sample wine in Thun.

    Italian and Swiss Lakes Cycling Tour: What better way to explore medieval towns and lakefront towns spanning Italy and Switzerland than by bike? This eight-day tour will have you resting in charming boutique hotels and consuming local delights? This tour starts and ends in Milan, Italy.

    Montreux - a glamorous resort town

    Montreux - a glamorous resort town

    Switzerland’s Geography and Wildlife

    Switzerland's glacial pools, rivers, valleys backed by the Alps create quite the spectacle. One can't help but crave an intrepid exploration! The biggest question is: where do you even start? Switzerland has three regions: the Alps, Jura, and the Swiss Plateau. Seeking people, agriculture, and lakes? Head to the Swiss Plateau.

    Meanwhile, the Jura only covers 10% of Switzerland, stretching along the border of France. Here, you'll find a high abundance of lakes in the foothills.

    Lastly, the Alps take up most of Switzerland's space, enhancing the phenomenal views stretching across the country. Find adventure and wildlife here! Some wildlife includes the ibex, black salamander, black kite, alpine marmot, brown bear (endangered species here), red deer, and more!

    Switzerland is tailor-made for outdoorsy adventure

    Switzerland is tailor-made for outdoorsy adventure

    Switzerland Travel Costs

    Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries to visit in Europe, requiring budgeting and saving in advance. Take a look at some of these average prices (inspired by numbeo):

    • Meal at a cheaper establishment: $33 CAD
    • Average restaurant for two people with three courses: $134 CAD
    • Beer: $8 a bottle
    • Coffee: $6
    • 1 kg of local cheese (important to know): $32
    • A one-way ticket for local transport: $5 CAD
    • Driving 1km in a taxi: $5 CAD

    What about average accommodation prices? Most dorms cost around $47 CAD a night, a private room will have you dishing out around $95 CAD, and hotels can really drain your wallet with a demanding cost of $100 CAD to $270 CAD a night. Yikes! Some cheaper options include camping, and you might be able to score some deals on Airbnb.

    Switzerland Travel Safety

    Switzerland is one of the safest countries globally, thanks to a relatively low crime rate and strict gun regulations. Naturally, it's important to be mindful in crowded spots, as pickpockets can easily snatch your stuff or your bag—a familiar concept among almost all countries worldwide.

    The Swiss Alps boasts many hikes

    The Swiss Alps boasts many hikes

    Best Time to Visit Switzerland

    Switzerland offers year-round beauty: go skiing and explore the winter wonderland come snowy months or enjoy the long, warm days during the summer. You’ll find more crowds between May and September, though!

    Best Ways To Get Around Switzerland

    Public transportation is a great way to get around Switzerland! Trams, trains, funiculars, and buses can connect you to different cities across the country without draining too much of your wallet. Fares can range from $3.5-6.8 CAD for a single far. Prices will climb the further you go.

    Flixbus is also a fantastic, budget-friendly mode of travelling across the country!

    If you're more into cars, you can also use Discover Cars to get great deals on rentals.

    Find adventure and wildlife in Switzerland

    Find adventure and wildlife in Switzerland

    Best Places to Stay in Switzerland

    Switzerland offers numerous places to stay! It may not be the cheapest place to rest your head, but what can you do? Let's start with more affordable: camping. Some epic campsites worth checking out are Camping Arolla and TCS Camping Sempach. If tenting (or glamping) isn't your thing, consider checking out some hostels on When it comes to hotel chains, you'll find common ones, such as Marriott, Radisson Hotel Group, Hilton, Wyndham, and the list goes on.

    Useful Travel Tools

    To Book Accommodation

    Book accommodation that fits your budget with the following websites:

    Discover bed and breakfast spots that cater to your travel style on

    To Book Flights

    The websites below scan other websites for unreal deals:

    Public transportation is a great way to get around Switzerland

    Public transportation is a great way to get around Switzerland

    To Get Gear

    Find outdoor equipment, clothes, boots, and more that will keep you comfy in the mountains:

    Other Useful Travel Services

    A helpful travel service for Americans and Canadians travelling to Switzerland is This resource finds great deals and places to park your car during your trip.

    Visa Requirements When Travelling to Switzerland

    Like several other countries in Europe, Switzerland is a part of the Schengen Area. Twenty-six other European countries can hop in and out of Switzerland without a visa. Those travelling from outside the Schengen Area can spend 90 days in Switzerland and other Schengen countries over 180 days. If you leave the Schengen area to go somewhere like England or Croatia, your 90 days will pause, but your 180 days will go on. Some nationalities will need to obtain a visa before entering.

    Interesting Facts About Switzerland

    Surprise your travel mates with some interesting facts about Switzerland:

    • Switzerland has 7,000 lakes!
    • Apparently, Switzerland ranks as one of the healthiest countries in Europe, thanks to being the least obese nation on the continent
    • There are rules when it comes to owning a dog, such as they must exercise and be around humans at least once a day
    • You're not allowed to give your child super weird names
    • Marvel at 208 mountains here
    • Swiss people consume around 11,000 kilos of chocolate per year per person
    • It's home to the highest railway station in Europe and the world's longest staircase
    Switzerland has 7,000 lakes

    Switzerland has 7,000 lakes

    Frequently Asked Questions About Switzerland

    Have some questions? Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about Switzerland below!

    Do they speak English in Switzerland?

    Around 45% of the population speaks English, but the main languages here are French, Italian, and Romansh, the official language of Switzerland. But only 60,000 speak Romansh. German is also another popular language. Of course, the main language spoken depends on which region you're going to!

    What is Switzerland known for?

    Fondue, chocolate, Christmas markets, to name a few things.

    Does Switzerland use the euro?

    Some places might accept euros, but the Swiss franc is the official currency here!

    A trip to Switzerland guarantees adventure, quintessential European charm, and delicious food. So which area do you hope to explore here?!




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