Think of Switzerland and at the very first thought, a panoramic view of the alpine meadows will pop up in your mind. However, we must tell you that there is much to add to your thoughts about Switzerland. There are simply so many things to do in Switzerland: explore the castles of Geneva, visit Bern’s Old Town, take an insight of the history of Switzerland at St. Gallen, see the museums of Winterthur, head for to Matterhorn Circuit, seek blessings at the breathtaking churches and walk through those age-old bridges. These and more things to do are enough to make you rush, get your rucksack full and head to this small country set in the heart of Europe.
In this blog, we bring to you the top things to do in Switzerland:
One of the most beautiful treks in the world, Matterhorn Circuit lies between the borders of Switzerland and Italy. The trek takes you through beautiful alpine meadows, glacial crossings, high passes, larch forests, ancient trails and offers spectacular views of the Matterhorn (4478m) and 25 more peaks that cover an area of around 4000 meters. With this trek you cross high cols and frontiers which were once ancient trade routes used by traders, porters, soldiers, peasants, pilgrims and bandits. You get to explore three different cultures as you pass through six valleys. The Germanic High Valais, the French speaking Central Valais and the Italian Val D’Aosta await as you trek through the ancient routes.
The key highlight of the trek is the glaciers and glaciated mountains that offer spectacular views of Matterhorn from all angles, the Arolla Glacier, the Stellisee and many more alpine panoramas.
The trek is tough and weather conditions make it more challenging at times. To cross a few passes of the circuit, one needs to have glacial travel techniques and great fitness level as this a high altitude traverse. The Tour of the Matterhorn is thus, perfect for those who have done some Alpine trekking earlier. 145km long, the route is challenging and one needs to have good stamina and fitness.
Château de Chillon
Château de Chillon is one of the most beautiful castles you will ever spot in the entire world and no wonder we have featured it in our list of top things to do in Switzerland. Located on a rocky island along the shores of Lake Geneva, the castle is set close to the borders of Switzerland and France.
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Though the castle features a fairytale look, no nook and corner of the castle is left untouched with a hint of authentic medieval architecture. This blend seems possible because of the foundations of the castle that date back to the Roman times.
The castle has gone through a number of changes over the years and the result is what we see today.
The interiors of the castle have buildings and out-houses, which are located around four small courtyards. ‘The Courtyard of Honor’ is the largest of all courtyards. This courtyard is considered a site of ceremonial importance. All the rooms and outhouses are connected to each other with both internal and external passages.
It is hard to believe that this fairytale castle wasn’t constructed in one go. Originally, there were 25 little buildings that were constructed on that rocky island. With time, all the 25 buildings were merged together to form todays’ spectacular structure.
Literally meaning ‘water jet’, Jet d’Eau is a colossal fountain standing on the Geneva Lake in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. One of the tallest fountains in the world, Jet d’Eau was originally built to control and release the excess pressure of a hydraulic plant at La Coulouvrenière. Very soon, it became a landmark representing the city.
The 140m-tall fountain throws up water with an incredible force of 200km/h, 1360 horsepower. And as it touches the sky to create a plume, days become brighter at Geneva. Enjoy a spray as water shoots up high in the sky. On special occasions, the fountain is illuminated pink, blue or any other color.
The timings for Jet D’eau are different for all the seasons. The fountain remains closed during the maintenance period in November when strong winds flow and when the temperature drops down to 2 degrees.
Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge)
Crossing the River Reuss is the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) set in Lucerne, the upper part of Switzerland. 204 meter (670 foot) long, the Chapel Bridge stands unique with its paintings dating back to the 15th century. As you walk through the Kapellbrücke, you see 120 captioned triangular paintings coming from the early 1500s. Featuring St. Mauritius and St. Leodegar, the patron saints of Lucerne, these paintings speak much about the history of the city.
One of the major tourist attractions of Switzerland, the Chapel Bridge was originally built in the year 1333 as a defense to protect Lucerne from attacks. Though a part of the bridge was destroyed during a fire in 1993, it was subsequently restored.
The Kapellbrücke is not only the oldest covered wooden bridge but also the oldest existing truss bridge. Today, the bridge serves as the symbol of Lucerne.
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Zentrum Paul Klee
A masterpiece by an Italian architect, Renzo Piano, Zentrum Paul Klee is located in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. This piece of creativity was constructed in the year 2005 using steel and glass. As the name suggests, Zentrum Paul Klee commemorates the work of Paul Klee, a Swiss- German painter who was highly influenced by different movements in art. Every nook of the museum speaks about the vision of Klee of modern art. It tells how Klee’s curiosity made him explore different fields of art- design, literature, culture and music.
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Klee had a special relationship with the city of Bern. He was born in Münchenbuchsee, just outside Bern. It was the place where his first solo exhibition was held in the year 1910. This really makes Zentrum Paul Klee, one of the most special attractions of Bern.
Zentrum Paul Klee houses around 4000 works of Klee, which makes it the world’s largest collection of a single artist. The figure is much higher than that present in museums of Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse. Temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary artists are organized in the museum.
Featuring a thin blue spire, Fraumünster is the star attraction of Zurich’s skyline and definitely one of the top things to do in Switzerland. Overlooking the beautiful Münsterhof square, Fraumünster stands on the left bank.
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There is a small door to enter the church. On entering, one can see three walkways, a Romanesque choir (18 m) and a Gothic nave. A modern series of frescoes by Paul Bodmer marks the foundation of the church.
The major highlight of the Fraumünster is its set of five stained-glass windows that were designed by Marc Chagall in the year 1970. These windows are believed to be best seen in the morning light when each of their color themes gets enhanced. Marc Chagall has used different colors symbolically for the windows where the blue and green represent the earth and red and yellow represent the heaven.
Another highlight of the church is a large stained-glass window done by Giacometti during the 1940s. The window features beautiful work that depicts God and Christ, eight prophets, the Four Evangelists, and ten angels.
During the 20th century, the Fraumünster was renovated and additions were made in the stained glass windows that were designed by Marc Chagall.
Opening and closing timings:
The church remains open on all days of the week.
1 November to 31 March: 10.00am – 4.00pm
1 April to 31 October: 10.00am – 6.00pm
The falls are located amid the municipalities of Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen, which are set near the town of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland. 150 m (450 ft) wide and 23 m (75 ft) high, the falls promise a spectacular view that will surely leave you amazed. The natural beauty of the place surely makes this place worth a visit.
Viewing platforms are present on both side of the fall from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the falls. The platforms can be reached through steep and narrow stairs. To take back an experience like never before, board the boat that takes you amid the gushing waterfall. Feel the power of water as it flows down and makes you spellbound. The boat ride gives a closer look of the falls. Boat trips take you to the rock that is set right in the middle of the falls. Usually, the boat trip lasts for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the tour type you choose. Boat services are available from the month of April to October. However, people who don’t wish to take a boat ride can visit the falls anytime through the year.
The breathtaking Rhine Falls are illuminated by big fireworks that are displayed on every 31 of July at 9.45 p.m. State-of-the-art light effects beautifully add to the natural beauty of the falls and makes it more grand and alluring. This stunning view can be enjoyed free of cost. Every year, more than 10,000 visitors come here to have a look at the fireworks.
There are a number of restaurants such as Schloss Laufen, Schloss Wörth and the Rheinfall Park near the falls where you can enjoy delicious food.
The University Town of St. Gallen
One of the most important regions of Eastern Switzerland, St. Gallen was found back in 612 A.D. by an Irish Monk, Gallus. Gallus set up a hut next to the cathedral which soon evolved into a Benedictine monastery. The monastery became one of the most important intellectual centers of Europe during 8th and 9th centuries. St. Gallen was a town founded around the monastery.
There is much to enjoy at leisure in St. Gallen. Set amid the beautiful Lake Constance and the majestic mountains of the Appenzell Alps, St. Gallen has much to offer in terms of recreation. Cycling, water sports, hiking, and swimming are some popular activities that can be enjoyed at St. Gallen. The town is surrounded by traditional villages, green hills and dairy farms that add to its beauty.
Go for a stroll around the town and uncover the history of Switzerland, have a look at the famous bow windows and ancient passages.
One of the most popular draws of St. Gallen is the Cathedral, which is located next to the abbey. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral was built during 1755 and 1767. The old town located adjacent to St. Gallen is home to a number of historic buildings that feature beautifully carved windows. The town also houses a number of concert halls, museums and cultural attractions. Bleicheli “Stadtlounge” is a new attraction of the town where the streets remain lightened up in red color and overhead lights look like objects from outer space.
Bern’s Old Town
Being the capital of Switzerland, Bern has its own unique charms. The old town of Bern is set amid the Aare River and it offers spectacular views of the Alps. The city was founded in the year 1191 on a hill site by Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen. Till today, the city safely retains the original character of the past phases that speak much about its rich history.
The city is all around covered with limestone buildings and medieval arches that offer it a unique touch. Beautiful spires, Renaissance fountains and stunning rooftops further enhance the beauty of the city. All this and more makes the city a true gem of medieval architecture.
Fotomuseum in Winterthur
Located just 20 minutes away from the beautiful Zurich city, Fotomuseum in Winterthur runs in collaboration with the Fotostiftung Schweiz Association. A museum of photography, Fotomuseum in Winterthur was founded back in the year 1993. The museum is completely dedicated to photography, be it in its art form or as a representation of reality or in the form of a document.
Fotomuseum Winterthur is both an art gallery and a museum. While on one hand, it is an art gallery for photography by contemporary photographers and artists such as Lewis Baltz, Roni Horn, William Eggleston, Andreas Gursky, Nan Goldin, Boris Mikhailov, on the other hand it is a traditional museum that displays the works of 19th and 20th century masters like Karl Blossfeldt, August Sander, Dorothea Lange, Bill Brandt, Lisette Model, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Charles Sheeler.
The museum is also a cultural-historical, sociological museum of applied photography where it exhibits different fields. The museum has exhibitions on industrial photography, police photography, industrial photography, medical photography and dam-construction photography.
The museum also runs a center of photography from the year 2003. It also has a library, bistro, lounge, and shop.
Opening and closing timings:
The museum remains open from Tuesday to Sunday
Timings-Tuesday to Sunday 11.00am – 6.00pm
Wednesday 11.00am – 8.00pm
A Swiss heritage site of national significance, the Lindenhof Hill is a public square located in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland. This moraine hill is a site that depicts all about the Roman and Carolingian era around which Zurich has grown through the years.
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The square offers a green and recreational space where tourists can unwind and get to know more about Zurich. Located at an elevated position, Lindenof serves the old historic city center where people can have an insight of old Zurich.
The hilltop of Lindenhof has remains of prehistoric, Roman and medieval times. This is why, the city center holds much importance for the natives.
From the hilltop, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Zurich’s top attractions including Grossmünster church, the Quai with historical Guild houses along the river Limat and the Rathaus (city hall). The panorama also covers the view of Hedwig Fountain dating back to 1688 and Masonic Lodge ‘Modestia cum Libertate’, adding the vibrant color orange to the square.
St Gallen’s Lokremise
St. Gallen’s Lokremise forms the main venue for cultural programs organized in the city. Located in the heart of the city, this cultural center has a dance area, theatre, cinema, art gallery and restaurant.
The Lokremise was built back during 1903 and 1911. The building is one of the largest surviving locomotive ring depots in Switzerland. This makes the Lokremise, a monument of national importance. A number of renovations were done in the structure during the year 2009 and 2010. However, it was made sure that the basic structure of the lokremise remained intact.
The building still retains the industrial history of Switzerland. The place is open to people who wish to organize cultural projects, festive programs, meetings, and presentations.