Switzerland - places not to miss by Mark Sukhija

Being more of a urban socialite (not to be confused with a socialist!) these are 14 great Swiss cities all of which are must considers for any more urbane visitor to Switzerland.

    German-speaking Switzerland

  1. Lucerne - Lucerne is one of the most touristed cities in Switzerland and it's not hard to see why. The picturesque setting on the lake and old town with a background of Alpine mountains contribute to the overall beauty of the city. The frescoed buildings, wooden bridges and riverside cafes all contribute to the overall ambience and scenic loveliness of the place. The tourists then proceed to turn it into Disneyland with mountains.

  2. Basel - serves as a cultural centre which rivals, and artistically surpasses, Zürich Close to Alsace in France and the Black Forest region of Germany , the Basel old town and museums are easily incorporated into a larger tour of Europe or of Switzerland itself.

  3. Berne - the old town of the Swiss capital is one of the best preserved medieval old towns in Europe and is justifiably inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visit the the largest gothic Cathedral in Switzerland, Albert Einsteins house or take a tour of the Parliament building.

  4. The twin spires of Zürichs Grossmünster Zürich - home to fabled Swiss Gnomes that supposedly inhabit the Swiss banking industry, Zürich is also the centre of Switzerland's nightlife and prestigous shopping districts.

  5. Thun - often overlooked in favour of the rather soulless touristic town of Interlaken which serves as the gateway to the Jungfraujoch. Thun is much more picturesque with its own castle and old town nestled above the lake which bears its name.

  6. St Gallen - St Gallen is home to one of Switzerland's most important Convents in the Baroque style. The Convent and the impressive Baroque Library is rightly inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list and is home to several beautifully decorated Gaelic texts.

  7. Fountain in the main square in front of the Castle in Rapperswil on the shores of Lake Zürich Rapperswil - Rapperswil is one of my favorite cities in Switzerland. It's got a beautiful old town, great setting and wonderful people. Don't miss the annual Blues 'n' Jazz Festival.

  8. Schaffhausen - Schaffhausen is famed as Switzerland's most beautiful baroque city. And I'm not one to fly in the face of public opinion. Not on this occasion at least. The Baroque is much in evidence in the Cathedral, Jesuit Church and town planning as imported by the French Ambassadors to Switzerland who resided in this Catholic stronghold during the reformation.

  9. Schaffhausen - Capital of the only canton which is exclusivly north of the Rhine river, Schaffhausen boasts a charming old town with many elaborate oriels and, of course, the Munot - a fortress overlooking the old town and the Rhine river. The Rhine Falls, Europe's largest waterfalls, are a very enjoyable hours walk away or a short bus / train ride.

  10. French-speaking Switzerland

  11. Statue above a fountain in the old town of Neuchâtel Neuchâtel - Described as a "toytown carved from butter" by Alexandre Dumas, the sandstone buildings which adorn the whole of the old town are as characteristic of the city of the city as the lake on which it is perched. Be sure to take in the castle, Collegial Church and a lake cruise.

  12. Geneva - known for its lake and Old Town, Geneva is also home to a host of international organisations, including the United Nations, which has resulted in Geneva playing host to more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city in Switzerland

  13. Lausanne - known as the San Fransisco of Switzerland for it's steep hilly nature, Lausanne is home to one of the most beautiful Swiss old towns and probably the most impressive Gothic Cathedrals in Switzerland. It's federally funded university (one of two in Switzerland ) and French-influenced culture make for an excellent night-life and good dining options. I recommend you try the beer at Les Brasseurs.

  14. Ticino

  15. Lugano - situated on the banks of Lake Lugano, Lugano is a little bit of Italy with Swiss organisation - although that could hold for most of Ticino. The Piazza of the pretty old town and the waterfront promenade provide excellent people-watching oppurtunities - although the promenade is by far the more scenic and sterotypically Swiss lakes and mountains, which is a good thing in this case.

  16. The Castelgrande above the Old Town of Bellinzona Bellinzona - Many people pass through Bellinzona for the Lakes of Ticino and Lombardy which lie beyond. Which is their loss. Bellinzona's historic old town is host to three of the most important castles and fortifications in Switzerland - built in the Lombard style - which provided control over the major passes between the Swiss Confederation and modern day Italy

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Further reading

Neuchâtel - where to stay - Personal recommendations on where to stay in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Switzerland - recommended hotels - Recommended hotels in Berne, Fribourg, Lugano, Neuchâtel and Rapperswil

Rapperswil - What a visitor to Rapperswil needs to know

Switzerland - sacred destinations - Nine of the finest churchs, cathedrals and monastries in Switzerland

Zürich - recommended hotels - Recommended places to stay in and around Zürich city

Berne - recommended restaurants - Recommended places to eat and drink in the Swiss capital city Berne

Zürich - recommended pubs and bars - Personally selected and recommended pubs and bars from around Zürich

Lugano - what not to miss - What not to miss in and around Lugano

Zürich - bread basket at the train station market - Selection of breads on sale at the Wednesday market at Zürich main station

Zürich - cheese stall at the market - Selection of cheese on sale at the Wednesday market at Zürich main station

Basel Tourismus - Official website of Basel City Tourism

Bellinzona Tourism - Official website of Bellinzona Tourism

Bern Tourism - Official website of Bern Tourism

Geneva Tourism - Official website of Geneva Tourist Board

Lausanne Tourisme - Official website of Lausanne Tourism

Lucerne Tourism - Official website of the Lucerne Tourism Office

Lugano Tourism - Official website of Lugano Tourism

Neuchâtel Tourism - Official website of Neuchâtel Tourism

Rapperswil-Jona - Highlights of Rapperswil-Jona from the Verkersverein Rapperswil-Jona

Schaffhauserland - Official website of Schaffhauserland Tourist Board

St Gallen Bodensee Tourismus - Official website of the St Gallen Bodensee Tourist Board

Thun City - Official website of Thun City

Zurich Tourism - Official website of Zurich Tourism Board

About Mark Sukhija

Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook