Switzerland offers many beautiful attractions to see year-round. Whether you’re traveling in the winter in hopes of catching a glimpse of the snowy Alps, or in summer in order to visit the cultural goldmines that are the many castles and vineyards, Switzerland has a robust offering of destinations to offer travelers. Detailed below are the must-visit seven wonders of Switzerland.
1. The Castle of Chillon
Located on the coast of scenic Lake Geneva, the castle of Chillon has drawn over 20 million visitors since 1887. With its beauty, rich history, and extravagant architecture, it’s no wonder the Castle of Chillon is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Switzerland. The 13th century is brought to life in the historic castle by impeccable preservation of period details and the castle’s history. One of the most popular attractions within the castle is the dungeon in which Francois Bonivard was imprisoned for over half a decade. Guided tours, solo tours, as well as audio-guided tours, are available for visitors in several different languages.
2. The Lavaux Vineyards
With the French Alps and Lake Geneva serving as a backdrop, the Lavaux Vineyards are certainly an unmissable destination for those touring the Montreaux region. The beginning of the Lavaux Vineyards’ history can be pinpointed back to the 11th century. Much of the lush landscapes and olden traditions remain unchanged to this very day. In fact, the Lavaux Vineyards are so rich in history, that it has become protected as a cultural landmark by UNESCO as one of the 981 protected sites on the World Heritage list. Many tourists choose to bike through the Lavaux terraces in order to intricately experience the scenic views.
3. The Castles of Bellinzona
The castles of Bellinzona are made up of three castles – Castelgrande, Sasso Corbaro, and Montebello. The castles once acted as fortresses and feature fortified walls and defensive construction that were once used to protect the city. Castelgrande, the largest and most fortified of the three castles, overlooks the town center. The Montebello castle closely follows Castelgrande in size and fortification, with Sasso Corbaro sitting highest among the three castles with views that overlook Bellinzona. Though the castles have undergone extensive restoration in order to continue to make the castles safe and accessible to the public, much of their original detail is still intact.
4. The Abbey of St. Gallen
The Abbey of St. Gallen is home to the Abbey Library, which draws visitors from across the globe. The medieval library houses over 2,000 handwritten books in addition to its impressive inventory of over 150,000 books. The interior of the Abbey of St. Gallen is breath-taking and it is certainly a sight not to be missed. However, taking photos within the library is forbidden. Many tourists opt to purchase postcards, books, and other items that display the interior of the cathedral as a keepsake to have an everlasting reminder of the beautiful architecture.
5. The Top of Europe and the Sphinx observatory
The Top of Europe and the Sphinx Observatory arguably provide the greatest views of the Alps – the vantage point provides views so far and wide that it spans over two additional countries including Italy and Germany. The attraction gets its name “the top of Europe” due to the Sphinx Observatory being built at the highest altitude in the recorded history of any building in the European continent.
6. The Grande Dixence
The impressive Grande Dixence is the tallest gravity dam in the world standing at an astounding approximate 300 meters high. The sheer mass of the dam is used to collect water that melts from the Alps, hence the term “gravity dam.” Visitors can access the dam for four months throughout the year between the months of June and September. Hiking trails and paths can be found along the dam wall – the trails are a tourist favorite for photographing flowers and the lush landscape. Guided tours are available; the Grande Dixence can be accessed by foot or cable car.
7. The Landwasser Viaduct
The beautifully carved stone viaduct made up of six limestone arches is a well-traveled tourist destination located in Schmitten, Switzerland. The arches and the view from the railway can be seen while riding the train. However, the best photo opportunities can be taken from the many viewpoints and trails from below or above the viaduct.