For a relatively small, landlocked country, Switzerland contains an exceptional amount of natural beauty and cultural diversity. These 10 towns spread across the country demonstrate the best it has to offer in terms of spectacular mountain scenery, flower-lined nature paths, lakefront beauty, and picturesque historic centres.
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Framed by the Aare river, the Swiss capital lies in the west-central part of the country. The charming Old City is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site, known for a number of 16th-century fountains that feature painted figures, including the curious Child Eater Fountain (Kindlifresserbrunnen). Bern also has an immense collection of pieces by surreal Swiss-German artist Paul Klee. They’re housed in the Zentrum Paul Klee, which was designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Set 1.7km (1.1mi) above sea level in the Lower Engadine mountains, Guarda is a remote village, where beautifully-painted 17th-century houses have been renovated so well they’ve earned the Wakker Prize for preservation. The setting of the famous children’s book Schellen-Ursli (1945) by Selina Chönz and Alois Carigiet, Guarda has also preserved traditional customs like the Chalandamarz event in March. The majority of the population still speak Romansch – Switzerland’s fourth official language after German, French and Italian.
Lucerne is a picturesque ancient city on Lake Lucerne best enjoyed on foot – that way you can stroll along gorgeously painted historic houses, such as those in Weinmarkt Square. There are also a number of notable medieval landmarks like the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), one of the oldest covered bridges in the continent. There’s also the Musegg Wall, an intact part of the defensive walls built in 1386. It’s not all ancient history though, as exemplified by the sleek, waterside KKL (Culture and Convention Center) designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Breathtaking Alpine terrain is easily accessible thanks to cableways up to the Pilatus, Rigi or Stanserhorn mountains.
In the southern canton of Graubünden – where German, Romansh, and Italian are all spoken – you’ll find Soglio: a hidden idyll tucked away in the mountains.The landmark Church of St. Lorenzo looms over the cobblestone streets, while the historic hotel of Palazzo Salis exudes a Mediterranean feel. The highlight, though, is the Via Panoramica: a path that travels through a romantic landscape of vibrant wildflowers.
Stein am Rhein is what you’d imagine when thinking of the perfectly quaint Swiss village. The centre is a dense collection of well-preserved medieval structures – many of which have vibrantly-painted facades. Nicknamed the Jewel on the Untersee, Stein am Rhein also wows with a medieval hilltop castle, Hohenklingen Castle. It has a bird’s-eye view of the walled town below and the former Benedictine abbey (St George) erected in the 11th century.
A postcard-perfect mountain village accessible only by train, Wengen is home to timber houses, chalets and Belle Époque hotels. It’s an idyllic base from which to explore the surrounding mountains. Venture out along one of the walking trails, or take a cableway to a rural, panoramic view. For the more adventurous, thrilling sports like paragliding and river rafting can easily be sought out.
The car-free resort town of Zermatt is the highest in Europe. It guarantees a long ski season, including year-round skiing on the glacier. The town lies at the base of the famous Matterhorn, where lifts ascend 3.9km (2.4mi) to give you expansive Alpine views. Zermatt is also quite the hot culinary destination, with two restaurants awarded Michelin stars in 2015: Ristorante Capri, run by chef Salvatore Elefante, and chef Ivo Adam’s After Seven.
Looking for a European city break? Our selection of Mini Trips include itineraries in Munich, Venice and Barcelona, while our Epic Trips offers more expansive adventures in some of the world’s most thrilling destinations.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.