Set against the backdrop of the Alps, most of Switzerland looks like it’s straight out of a postcard.
It may be a small country, but it boasts magnificent peaks, gushing waterfalls, well-preserved medieval towns, and one of the best public transportation systems in the world.
It’s also home to three separate regions — German, French, and Italian — providing visitors a glimpse into multiple different cultures.
Taking a stroll through the Appenzell, a small village in northeastern Switzerland, is like taking a step back in time.
Zurich is a more modern city. It’s small but impeccably clean, well-preserved, and safe.
The city sits on the Zürichsee, or Lake Zurich, as well as the Limmat River. There are plenty of spots to sit along the water and enjoy the scenery.
Zurich’s trams make it easy to get around, though the the city is also easy to explore on foot.
Zurich isn’t the only place in the country that doesn’t require a car. Pretty much everywhere in Switzerland is easily accessible via the country’s pristine, efficient, and comfortable public transportation system.
If you’re in the mood for some street food, try a pretzel, or brezel as the Swiss call it. These mega snacks come plain or topped with butter, cheese, salami, or ham.
Located in central Switzerland, Lucerne is known for its Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge). The bridge was restored in the early 1990s after a fire destroyed most of it.
Crossing the Reuss River, it’s the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe, and the interior is filled with paintings that date back to the 1600s.
The Alps run through much of Switzerland, and the country’s highest peak is the Dufourspitze, which is part of Monte Rosa, a group of mountains that sit on Switzerland’s border with Italy.
The Dufourspitze is in Zermatt, a quaint but luxurious ski resort. It’s also a great spot for hikers during the warmer months.
Many people travel to Zermatt just to catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn, arguably the country’s most majestic mountain peak.
Mountain resorts are the ideal spots to cozy up and enjoy some fondue, a classic Swiss dish that features a pot of piping hot melted cheese in which to dip bread, meat, or veggies.
Switzerland may be a small country, but it’s home to Europe’s largest waterfall. The Rhine Falls are located in the Rhine River in the north of the country, and are best experienced by boat.
The city of Basel borders the Rhine River. It’s known for its red sandstone Gothic cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century and houses the tomb of the famous Dutch scholar, Erasmus.
If you’ve a head for heights you can climb to the top of the cathedral (Wikimedia Commons)
The city’s narrow streets are filled with brightly coloured buildings.
For smaller waterfalls, take a trip to Lauterbrunnen, the site of the Staubach Falls, a narrow waterfall that flows almost 1,000 feet through mountain crevices before dropping onto cliffs that hang over the Lütschine River.
You’ll find rösti, the Swiss version of hash browns, and Zürcher geschnetzeltes, veal served in a creamy, white wine sauce, all over the country. Don’t leave without trying both.
Located in the French part of Switzerland, Geneva has a definite French flair, from the language to the food. The city sits on Lake Geneva and is home to both the United Nations and Red Cross headquarters.
The nearby medieval city of Lausanne also borders Lake Geneva. It’s where the international Olympic committee is headquartered, and where the Olympic museum is.
A visit to Switzerland’s French region isn’t complete without a stop in Montreux to see the island castle known as Château de Chillon, which dates back to the 12th century.
Bern, a city built around the Aare River, is Switzerland’s capital, and where the country’s parliament and diplomats meet. Its old town is great for sightseeing thanks to its medieval architecture.
One such example is the Zytglogge, the city’s famous clock tower that dates back to the first half of the 13th century. The tower has had many purposes, including a prison and guard tower.
In addition to Switzerland’s French region, the country also has an Italian region. This is where Lugano sits, a town that’s named after the glacial lake it sits on. You’ll hear Italian spoken and find plenty of delicious Italian dishes here.
Monte Generoso, a big draw for hikers, hovers over the town and allows for incredible views of Lugano and its lake.
The town of Locarno is also located in the country’s Italian region, right on Lake Maggiore. Take the funicular up to the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, a pilgrimage site that dates back to the 15th century that provides great views of the town along with many works of art.