Lakeside Metropolis: Zurich
As a lakeside discovery metropolis with views of the snow-covered Alps on the horizon, Zurich Downtown Switzerland offers a unique mix of adventure, enjoyment, nature, and culture. The old town of Zurich around the river and the Lindenhof square are made for a relaxing stroll. Walking along the river shores you will discover picturesque historic buildings like the Helmhaus and the Zurich town hall.
Close to the river, the two towers of the Romaneske church Grossmünster stand out among the buildings. Climbing up the 187 steps is well worth the great view of Zurich you’ll see at the top. Another feature of this church is the modern design of the windows created in 2009 by the German artist Sigmar Polke with semi-precious stones.
Two other churches that are also famous for their windows, are the Frauenmünster and the Wasserkirche. Wasserkirche means “Church of water” in German, as it was originally built on an island in the river Limmat. Three windows of the choir have been designed by Augusto Giacometti, the master of colour, as he was called. At the Frauenmünster there are five stained glass windows of Marc Chagall, with its characteristic blue colours.
If you are looking for an outdoor experience, the Zurich Lake is perfect for a boat tour on and will provide a pleasant way of exploring the surrounding landscape. For the more adventurous, a hike on the nearby mountains might be the thing to do. There is the Uetliberg on the western shore of the lake, to which you can either hike or take a train. From the lookout tower on Uetliberg you have a stunning view of all of Zurich.
Sightseeing City: Lucerne
Whatever you expect from a unique city, Lucerne offers more. Take for instance modern architecture; the futuristic design of the KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern) by Jean Nouvel, comes hand in hand with the historic sites telling stories from older centuries. Lucerne is renowned for its romantic wooden bridges, nearby mountains and Baroque buildings that all shape the historical city center of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee).
Many will identify this city as the home of Wilhelm Tell. Among one of the locals favourite pastime activities is a steam boat tour of the lake, revealing breathtaking scenery. And if you’d rather enjoy the Alps from a higher perspective, a cable car ride to Mount Pilatus is highly recommended. From here, you can experience some of the very best views in the Alps.
Another vantage point is Mount Rigi, go on a clear day and from the very top you will get to see half of Switzerland. If you are into hiking, a walk along the nine Towers over the hills provides an insight into the history of Lucerne as well as exercise.
Another place which is worth a visit is the Gletschergarten. The glacial pothole that gives the museum its name demonstrates the geological formation of this area. The Lion Monument, the Labyrinth of mirrors and the natural history museum are other interesting visits. Lucerne is mainly known for its festivals and quality of life. The Blue Balls Festival and the Swiss carnival, also called Fasnacht, are great occasions to enjoy open-air.
Old Town: Zug
Zug is known for being the only Swiss city from which the sunsets can be admired at the lake, as the mountains to the West are not as close as in the other cities. Apart from the beautiful sunsets, find yourself admiring the old town of Zug, which dates back to the sixteenth century.
Take a walk from Zytturm or the Clock Tower, along the town hall with its spectacular wood carvings, the Powder Tower, the Gothic St. Oswald’s Church and the Beinhaus or a cemetery church, leading you to the must-see sights. Enjoy a stroll through the picturesque streets with colourful buildings and eat one of Zug’s Kirsch specialities.
The mild climate makes Zug the perfect place for growing cherries, which are used to produce Kirsch liquor. And, for those who love Swiss bakery, the cream cake made with Kirsch (Zuger Kirschtorte) or chocolate pralines made with the liquor (Zuger Chriesiblüete), taste just delightful.
If you prefer to explore the surroundings, you can do an excursion to the Zugerberg, one of the favourites of the locals in Zug. From there you can witness a stunning view of the city and the Alps. There are 80 km of hiking trails, Nordic walking trails and playgrounds for children like the Schattwäldli. During the winter season, Raten or Nollen are the perfect skiing destinations.
Cultural Capital: Basel
Located on the Rhine River in northwestern Switzerland, Basel is bordering two countries: France and Germany. The Old Town surrounds the Marktplatz, where the red sandstone Town Hall is located.
Basel is the third biggest city in Switzerland, however still a small city compared to large metropolises. Despite that, this cultural city has around 40 museums. Once a year the Art Basel, the world’s oldest and most important fair for contemporary art takes place in the city and attracts people from all over the world.
With multicultural and good atmosphere, Basel also presents the biggest Carnival in Switzerland, the Basel Fasnacht, a 3-day party part of UNESCO’S world cultural heritage.
Hosting the Switzerland’s oldest university and the oldest public art museum worldwide, Basel has always been an intellectual city. With a long history of chemical-pharmaceutical tradition, Basel became the center of the pharmaceutical industry.
The Basler Münster (Cathedral) built in Romanesque and Gothic styles, is one of the main landmarks of Basel. The tomb of Erasmus de Rotterdam is situated inside. But the symbol of Basel is the Mittlere Brücke situated on the oldest existing bridge crossing the Rhine, between Lake Constance and North Sea.
Whether the art scene in a historical architecture or local food market and carnival, Basel is has a lot to offer and is definitely a city to visit in Switzerland.