For those multi-stopping tours around Europe, Switzerland is an extremely popular country, but very few potential first-time visitors really know where to go. All seem to agree that the views of the alps and some very spectacular towns are the most stunning, but there is a lot of misunderstandings with casual trip planners, so I would like to clear up most of this.
Switzerland is About Outdoor Views Rather Than City Visits
The first prerequisite for visiting Switzerland is that people believe that its largest cité, Zurich, should be (and sometimes only) the first and easiest destination. Zurich is sadly the most expensive traveller town in the world, and it’s not very fun, unfortunately.
Geneva is a very well-known city on a beautiful lake of the same name (although for no tourist reasons), but it is also well-known and discerning. The point is, you won’t go to Geneva unless you have something specific in mind to see there, as Rick Steves puts this on good terms: “Geneva is happily located on the river, like Buffalo or Cleveland,”
Switzerland’s cities in summary
Geneva – second largest city in the French country, no key sights of Basel – Between France and Germany, no major sites of Lausanne – close to Geneva in Switzerland part of the country, quite hilly and certainly more interesting than Geneva, Berne – Capital, small, on a beautiful river, some interesting sights. Zurich – The biggest town, quite pricey, targeted at commercial tourists.
How Much Time And Which Swiss Cities To Visit?
Most people (including me) don’t feel like scraping a new country’s surfacing if they haven’t been in the largest city for at least a day or two. Zurich is definitely pleasant and useful transit hub so it would not be a mistake to spend one or two nights. But the city of Zurich isn’t nearly as close as Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam or even Vienna. You won’t miss so much if you skip it to spend more time outside.
What about Zermatt for Alpine Views?
In Southern Switzerland, Zermatt is a remote city, renowned for being the place to see the Matterhorn. It’s also a heavily populated ski resort and there’s little to see or do here besides. It’s on a private rail, so it’s harder to reach and usually cost more than Interlaken.
In other words, if you irrationally have put “See the Matterhorn” on your so-called bucket list, go to Interlaken for a short visit and miss Zermatt. You will not be sorry. You will not be sorry. You will certainly go and enjoy if you have enough time to visit the most important sights around Interlaken and the Matterhorn.
What About The Swiss Travel Pass?
The Swiss Travel Pass easily looks expensive at first, but for most people who want to take the scenic and panoramic trains is actually a very good thing. For details and information on where to shop, please read our complete Swiss Travel Pass report.
Yes, at least three days it likely is a lot to come to Switzerland and take 2 or more of the amazing trains which are popular in Switzerland. It offers 50% off on the cable car Schilthorn and 25% off the Mountain railway Jungfraujoch. Both are expensive alone, but highly valuable, so the discount is helpful. Opt to Switzerland holiday packages from Dubai.