Must-knows about the best Swiss towns

  • Make a wish list of activities first. Then pick a base town close to those activities.
  • Swiss mountain villages such as Wengen and Zermatt are beautiful. But they’re mostly not located centrally, so reaching other Swiss regions takes more traveling time.
  • The famous larger Swiss cities such as Geneva and Zurich are great for short visits. But to experience Switzerland’s beauty, we suggest staying somewhere closer to the mountains too.


Switzerland’s best centrally located towns

The best central towns of Switzerland to stay in are Brig, Interlaken, Lucerne, Lugano, Montreux, St. Moritz, and Thun.

Each town is mid-sized and has all the shops and services you need as a tourist. They’re not overwhelmingly large. And they’re located centrally, so you can easily reach other Swiss towns and mountain activities in the area. Details:

  1. Brig is perfect if you’re exploring the Valais. You can reach Zermatt, Saas-Fee, the Upper Rhone Valley, Sion and even Interlaken for day trips.
  2. Interlaken is the town to stay in if you’re interested in Lake Thun, Lake Brienz, and the Jungfrau Region. Reaching Lucerne or Bern for a day trip is possible too.
  3. Lucerne is the central town of the Lake Lucerne area. You can enjoy lots of boat rides, mountain trips, and museums.
  4. Lugano is our recommendation if you visit the Ticino. Many lake and mountain activities are available there, and you’ll be in other attractive towns such as Locarno or Bellinzona within 30 minutes.
  5. Montreux is our top pick for the Lake Geneva region. It has an inviting town center with a beautiful boulevard. Traveling to Lausanne, the Neuchâtel region and Geneva is easy. Mountains and the Chillon Castle are close by.
  6. St. Gallen is great if you want to explore north-eastern Switzerland. It is famous for its monastery and huge historical library. There are good train connections to Zurich, Lake Constance, and Lucerne. Vaduz in Liechtenstein can be visited too.
  7. St. Moritz is the most famous town of the Upper Engadine. Its central location allows you to travel to the lake area in the west, the Bernina Pass in the south, and the Lower Engadine in the east. We also like nearby Zuoz: a less touristy village with good connections to the Upper and Lower Engadine.
  8. Thun is a pretty lakeside town in an excellent location. Interlaken, Bern, Basel, the Neuchâtel region, and even Brig in the Valais can be well reached by train.

The most beautiful Swiss cities

Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lucerne, and Zurich are among Switzerland’s prettiest cities. They have beautiful old towns that can be explored on foot. Even if you go there for just one day, you’ll can combine pretty historic sites with dining, shopping, and museum visits.


  1. Basel has an inviting old town. The red City Hall at the Barfüsserplatz, the Münster Cathedral, and the districts along the river Rhine are all worth a visit. It’s not located centrally in the country.
  2. Bern is home to the Swiss Parliament Building and many more historic buildings. Its location on the river Aare is gorgeous. The famous shopping arcades are a must-see.
  3. Geneva has international allure. One of the reasons is that a major United Nations office is located there. The pretty old town and the several lake boulevards make for a diverse visit. Geneva is not close to the mountains.
  4. Lucerne is a great town to spend several nights in. If that’s not an option for you, it’s worth visiting it for at least one day. The lake, the river Reuss, the famous Chapel Bridge, and the Lion Monument are just a few of the many options.
  5. Zurich is where many people enter or leave Switzerland. If you can, spend at least a few hours in the city. Walk through the old town toward the lake, and include the famous Bahnhofstrasse for luxury shopping. Zurich is not the best base for mountain trips.

The best Swiss scenic villages to visit

Gandria, Grächen, Mürren, Rapperswil, Stein am Rhein and Wengen are some of the most picturesque Swiss villages. You’ll find traditional Swiss chalets and breathtaking mountain views here, or beautiful architecture.

  1. Gandria is a tiny town on Lake Lugano. The wooden houses and meandering streets are built on the steep slopes rising out of Lake Lugano. Make a walk or boat ride to this remarkable village if you’re in the Ticino. We wouldn’t pick Gandria as a base town though.
  2. Grächen is on a plateau high above the Matter Valley, in which Zermatt is located. There are plenty of traditional wooden chalets, and most of all: a panoramic view of the high peaks of the Valais.
  3. Mürren is on ridge above the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Visit it for spectacular views of the valley and famous mountains such as the Eiger and Mönch. The small town itself looks lovely as well.
  4. Rapperswil on Lake Zurich is also called ‘the ‘town of roses’. It has a romantic lake boulevard and a castle on a hill, with wonderful views over Lake Zurich and the Alps in the distance.
  5. Stein am Rhein is a gem in northern Switzerland. Don’t expect mountain views here, but you can count on lots of beautiful sites in the colorful, medieval town center. A castle and monastery tower over the town center.
  6. Wengen is a favorite destination for many Switzerland visitors. Just like Mürren, it’s on the steep hills surrounding the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The view of the valley, the Jungfrau, and other snow-covered mountains is one of the best in Switzerland. Plus: Wengen is a traditional Swiss village with pretty chalets.

The best Swiss winter places

Are you visiting Switzerland between November and March? Check our guide with the best towns and villages for your winter stay.

Find all Swiss towns and regions

Of course, there are many more options. Use our town and region finders to select the places that suit your plans.

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Page author: AnnikaSince early childhood I've been visiting Switzerland during my holidays and I just fell in love with the country. I spent many summers in the Bernese Oberland, which still feels like my second home, and then started to explore other areas. Traveling, hiking and photographing in the Swiss Alps are my absolute favorite activities.