This guide divides Switzerland into eight colour-coded sightseeing areas, as shown on the map below. Find out more about each area on the following pages.

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Getting to Know Switzerland


The gateway to the Alps, Switzerland’s oft-overlooked capital has a wealth of attractions – from its medieval Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to urban swimming in the clean waters of the Aare River. The city is also the seat of Switzerland’s government and the Houses of Parliament are often open to the public. Always at the heart of the country’s intellectual culture, Bern is a laid-back place for serious thinkers. The former haunt of Albert Einstein has plenty of café-lined squares and pretty gardens to chew over the day’s politics, ponder Modern Masters and debate matters of time and space.

Best for A magnificent Old Town

Home to Zytglogge, Kunstmuseum

Experience The boutiques, cafés and restaurants hidden under the lauben , covered walkways that line the Old Town streets

Go To: Bern i

Getting to Know Switzerland

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t The ornate portal above the main entrance to the Bern Münster

Getting to Know Switzerland

Mittelland, Bernese Oberland and Valais

One of the most beautiful areas in the country, this is the place to tick off half your bucket list. Mountain lovers should make a beeline to Interlaken to soak up the sky-high vistas and climb the Jungfraujoch or the Eiger. To the south, in the canton of Valais, looms the country’s most famous peak: the Matterhorn. For the ultimate journey, catch the train to see hanging valleys and leviathan-sized glaciers from the comfort of a carriage.

Best for Breathtaking panoramas from top-of-Europe summits

Home to Zermatt and the Matterhorn, Aletsch Glacier

Experience Hiking along the incomparable Aletsch Glacier

Go To: Mittelland, Bernese Oberland and Valais i

Getting to Know Switzerland

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t Flower-filled meadowland beneath the iconic Matterhorn

Getting to Know Switzerland


The capital of the French-speaking part of the country is the jewel of the Swiss Lake District. Pocket-sized and impeccably clean, it offers timely distractions for clock-watchers and more casual travellers. The pedestrianized Old Town, a mini-maze of bijou squares and neo-classical cathedrals, is a delight to get lost in. Beyond the city limits, you’ll find the famous CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, the creased hills of Saint-Cergue, and enough lakeside vineyards and castles to keep you here longer than planned.

Best for Museums, culture and lakeside excursions

Home to Musee d’Art et d’Histoire

Experience Taking a tram to the lovely Italianate district of Carouge, with its independent shops and Saturday market

Go To: Geneva i

Getting to Know Switzerland

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t Dusk setting over Geneva’s Brunswick monument and fountain

Getting to Know Switzerland

Western Switzerland

Stretching from the Jura mountains and Vaud Alps to the shores of Lakes Geneva and Neuchâtel, this is one of the most densely inhabited parts of the country. City-breakers flock to buzzing university city Lausanne and the hip-shaking jazz bars of Montreux, while foodies relish the iconic cheese of Gruyères, fondue-friendly Fribourg and the Lavaux’s wine-growing nirvana. In between all this let time slow down in the historical watchmaking hubs of Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Best for Jazz, wine and watches

Home to Lake Geneva, Château de Chillon

Experience Taking the scenic Golden Pass train line from Montreux to Château d’Oex

Go To: Western Switzerland i

Getting to Know Switzerland


t The sun rising over a verdant vineyard overlooking Lake Geneva

Getting to Know Switzerland


Often ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, there’s more to Zürich than a love for money. Switzerland’s largest city punches above its weight as a 21st-century design hub without losing its medieval mojo. Just take a stroll through the zigzagging lanes of the Old Town Niederdorf to the Limmat River, and you’ll wend a path past weathered churches, candy-box clock towers, avant-garde galleries, traditional chocolatiers and high-end boutiques. Most visitors use it as a jumping off point, but the city’s mix of culture and cuisine demands attention.

Best for A city buzz

Home to Schweizerisches Nationalmuseum

Experience Swimming in a badi , an outdoor pool on the lake or river

Go To: Zürich i

Getting to Know Switzerland


t A rooftop bar at sunset overlooking Zürich’s Old Town

Getting to Know Switzerland

Northern Switzerland

Encompassing the river lands of the Rhine, which winds from Basel’s Old Town to Lake Constance (Bodensee) in the east, this region is full of contrasts. Basel is well known for its ambitious skyline – shaped by architects such as Mario Botta and Zaha Hadid – and few cities are so defined by their relationship with art. Elsewhere, hot springs have been attracting visitors to Baden since the Romans. To the east, the rolling vineyards of Regensberg yield some of the prettiest landscapes.

Best for World-renowned art, thermal springs

Home to Basel Kunstmuseum, Baden

Experience The huge annual expo Art Basel

Go To: Northern Switzerland i

Getting to Know Switzerland


t Looking across the Swiss plateau from Mount Rigi

Getting to Know Switzerland

Central Switzerland and Ticino

Most journeys through this alluring region begin in Lucerne, where a boat trip on the Vierwaldstattersee drifts past jaw-dropping cliffs. To the south is the town of Andermatt, with five-star hotels and golf courses. On the other side of the Gotthard Tunnel spills Italian-speaking Switzerland, home to the lakeside towns of Locarno and Ascona, clifftop monasteries, crystal-clear swimming spots, and belly-hugging pizza and pasta.

Best for Superlative scenery and tasty Italian food

Home to Kloster Einsiedln, Bellinzona

Experience Riding up – and up – the Burgenstock mountain’s spine-tingling outdoor elevator

Go To: Central Switzerland and Ticino i

Getting to Know Switzerland


t Dusk falling over breathtaking Lake Lugano

Getting to Know Switzerland

Eastern Switzerland and Graubünden

The Switzerland of storybooks is alive in the east. Dairy farmers and cheese-makers get to work in postcard- ready mountain huts and picturesque farmsteads, while sawtooth peaks rise above turquoise lakes. The region is known for outdoor adventures and its famous “champagne powder” surrounding the ski towns of Arosa and Davos. Beyond the mountain resorts lie tranquil Lake Constance and historic St Gallen to the north.

Best for Outdoor thrills, folk singing and traditional life

Home to UNESCO-protected St Gallen Abbey, Swiss National Park

Experience Participating in local celebrations

Go To: Eastern Switzerland and Graubünden i

Getting to Know Switzerland


t The verdant rolling hills of Appenzell

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