Home to a very diverse range of different landscapes and climates, Switzerland is renowned around the world for its beautiful mountain scenery and the 4,478m high Matterhorn is undoubtedly its most famous peak. The most populous area is the Swiss Plateau and it is here that you can find rolling hills, open pastures and sprawling forests which contrast starkly with many of the other regions and landscapes in the country.
Although it is mostly known for the Swiss Alps and the Jura Mountains, Switzerland is also home to over 1500 lakes including Lake Geneva, Lake Constance and Lake Maggiore. In addition to this, it has four national languages and so each region has its own identity depending on whether French, German, Italian or in the case of Graubünden, Romansch, are spoken in its cities and villages.
In this post, we'll cover:
Lake Geneva Region
While many visitors are drawn almost instinctively to Geneva and its list of fabulous sights such as the famous Jet d’Eau and its marvellous Old Town, the rest of the Lake Geneva Region is awash with beautiful nature for you to discover and so it is definitely worth venturing further afield.
As it is partially surrounded by France, the region’s three main cities of interest – Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux – are all French speaking and each of them lies on the shores of the stunning Lake Geneva. This means you can take a scenic cruise around the lake from one to the other and bask in the amazing scenery you pass along the way before stopping off to explore their many sights.
Whether it is taking a cable car up to the top of Mont Saleve and taking in the astounding views of the Jura Mountains and Mont Blanc, hiking along the fantastic trails and paths that weave their way around the mountains in Hauts-de-Montreux or visiting some of the vineyards and wineries that surround Lausanne; the Lake Geneva Region is not to be missed out on when travelling around Switzerland.
Located in the northwestern part of the country, the Jura Region has a wide variety of different landscapes for you to explore with mountains and valleys lying side-by-side with sparkling lakes and flower-filled meadows.
Just one of its many highlights is the Three-Lakes district that is home to rolling hills, vineyards and forests and the idyllic scenery is perfect for hiking through or taking a scenic boat trip on the lakes of Biel, Murten or Neuchatel. For one of the best views imaginable, make sure to hike to the top of the Chasseral as the highest point in the area offers up unrivalled panoramas of the surrounding countryside.
With lots of charming and historic towns such as Solothurn, Estavayer-le-Lac and Biel tucked away amongst all the splendid scenery; the Jura Region is definitely worth visiting for all that it has to offer up.
Often referred to as the Swiss Mittelland, the Bernese Lowlands are located on the Swiss Plateau and so most of the landscape is made up low lying hills, green pastures and clumps of forests.
While the capital of the country Bern is undoubtedly the main draw in the region with its magnificent Old Town, there are also a number of lovely spa towns such as Baden and Schinznach-Bad for you to check out as well as quaint little rural villages and communities.
Although the Swiss Plateau is the most populated part of Switzerland, there is still a lot of untouched and pristine countryside on offer and Bern makes for a great base if you want to explore the surrounding region.
The Bernese Highlands as they are known in English could not be more different from the Bernese Lowlands as the region is home to some of the tallest, most famous and indeed iconic peaks in the country.
Wherever you go in the region you are greeted with towering mountains and alpine valleys and there are also some delightful lakes and glaciers on offer. Consequently hiking, rock climbing and skiing are all very popular activities here.
Whether it is basking in the most breathtaking view imaginable from atop of the domineering Jungfraujoch, stopping by the scenic mountain towns of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen or staying at Interlaken which is bordered by two beautiful alpine lakes, visitors are sure to come away spellbound at all of the incredible nature they’ve seen before them.
Located right on the border with France and Germany, Northwestern Switzerland is dominated by the city of Basel which has an amazing medieval old town centre for you to explore alongside lots of great museums, contemporary architecture and historical landmarks. In addition to this, it also makes for a fantastic base if you want to visit the Jura Mountains or the Black Forest in Germany and Alsace in France.
Running through the city is the wonderful Rhine river which peacefully meanders its way through the charming towns of Laufenburg and Rheinfelden in the east of the region as well as the beautiful medieval city of Aargau which is where the Hapsburgs originated from.
Dotting the picturesque countryside are some great castles for you to visit such as those at Wildegg and Lenzburg and lots of charming little villages for you to stop off at as you explore Northwestern Switzerland.
Lying right at the heart of the country, Central Switzerland is widely regarded to be the birthplace of the nation and it is fittingly home to some of its most impressive sights.
Located on a stunning lake of the same name, the charming city of Lucerne is just one of the most popular tourist destinations that it has to boast of and from here you can hike to the top of a number of amazing mountains with the views from atop of Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi and Mount Titlis all being equally beautiful to behold.
Due to all of the splendid scenery on show in the shape of craggy mountains and alpine valleys, the region is a nature lover’s dream and there is lots of great hiking to be had as well as watersports and boat trips to be enjoyed on its lakes.
Encompassing both Switzerland’s largest city and the area surrounding it, the Zurich region has much more to offer than just the country’s financial capital and so it is well worth spending a few days exploring its many sights.
While Zurich has lots for you to see and do and a wonderful lakefront for you to enjoy, nature is never too far away and so in no time at all you can be cycling or hiking through the nearby Alps or taking a boat trip on Lake Zurich.
At the other end of the lake likes the lovely medieval town of Rapperswil which is also well worth checking out as is the small lakeside town of Zug and the ski resort of Flumserberg.
As it stretches from Lake Constance in the north to the Alps in the south, Eastern Switzerland boasts a diverse array of landscapes and is a delight to visit whatever time of year you go.
In summer the alpine meadows are ideal for hiking or cycling in while in winter the scenery is just as spectacular and lends itself perfectly to skiing and snowboarding. Indeed, the views on show are nearly always heart wrenchingly beautiful to behold as scenic alpine villages are tucked away amidst the Appenzell Alps and valleys.
In addition to its wealth of outdoor activities and natural sights, Eastern Switzerland is also home to Saint Gallen which boasts lots of fantastic old buildings, interesting museums and of course the famous Abbey of Saint Gall which has a wonderful library for you to visit.
Lying in the south of the country on the border with France and Italy, the region of Valais is based around a long, narrow valley that follows the flow of the Rhone River as it makes its way through the Swiss Alps.
With glorious glaciers, towering mountains and dramatic valleys all on offer, Valais boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland and is great to visit both in summer and winter for its outdoor activities as lots of fantastic ski resorts are dotted around the area.
One of the must-see sights in Valais is the distinctive peak of the Matterhorn which is one of the tallest mountains in the Alps and many mountaineers, hikers and skiers set off from the scenic resort of Zermatt which lies at its base.
Although it is the largest region in the country, Graubünden is also the least populated and this means that you can find loads of untouched and unspoilt nature on show wherever you go.
While the exclusive ski resorts of St. Moritz and Davos certainly have incredible snow-topped mountain scenery right on their doorstep, there are lots of other less well known spots to visit, each with their own amazing vistas, landscapes and natural beauty.
The valley of Engadine for instance is wonderful to explore with its lovely river, forests and meadows and the wild and free Swiss Natural Park has a plethora of winding trails and paths for you to make your way along. In Graubünden you really can’t go wrong as the scenery on show is almost unrivalled around the world.
As it is located in the south of the country bordering Italy, it should come as no surprise to learn that Ticino is the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland and as such there is a very different look and feel to its many villages and towns.
This is evident in the city of Lugano which lies on the lake of the same name and is bordered by Monte Bre and Monte San Salvatore, both of which offer up some fantastic hiking and panoramic views from their summit.
Away from its most popular destination, Ticino also has the historic city of Bellinzona for you to visit and some of the best hikes in Switzerland on offer in the stunning Verzasca Valley and along the crest running from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema.