The 13 Most Beautiful Places on a Road Trip through the Swiss Alps 🇨🇭
Updated: 14 hours ago
The mountainous country in the heart of the European continent is blessed with some of the most splendid landscapes on the entire planet. From the countless gorgeous lakes, villages, alpine peaks and scenic drives we’ve compiled a guide to the most beautiful must-see places in Switzerland for you.
Switzerland ranks highly among the worlds best places to live. The formerly poor country today has some of the highest living standards in the world. One thing we love as locals are the fabulous scenic roads that are in absolute spotless condition.
Therefore for travellers looking for the most scenic and alluring places in Switzerland we recommend travelling by car. This way you set your own pace and decide how much time you spend at each of the many Swiss highlights. Switzerland never has been about the fastest route. Instead the journey makes the destination.
We share a few of the best spots with you:
1. The Lake Lucerne region has without doubt the most splendid landscape of Switzerland and should be your base.
Only about 45 minutes drive from Zurich you find yourself inside a diverse mountain and lakeside scenery with iconic peaks, dent forests, shimmering waters and stunning alpine panoramas. Exactly what the Switzerland tourist is typically looking for.
The German name of the lake: “Vierwaldstättersee” literally translates to "Lake of the four forested settlements". In size the massive lake is only number four in Switzerland and yet has it played an essential role in the founding of the country. It was here on the shores of Lake Lucerne that that the Swiss Confederation was set up in 1291.
2. Edged between the shores of Lake Lucerne on one side and impressively towering mountain walls on the other side is a road that circles the lake.
The drive between Brunnen in the north of the lake and Altdorf in the south is by far the most impressive and scenic part of the drive. It serves as a gateway to the Central Swiss Alps. Signs are popping up on the roadside to show what alpine routes are open and will get you even more excited for the things to come.
3. The most iconic view-point at Lake Lucerne is the look-out on the roadside near the village of Weggis.
The lovely view has graced thousands of Swiss postcards and is absolutely worth the stop. The iconic location is a small resting area with no more then a bench sitting inside a tight left turn when coming from Lucerne. BUT the view! Pay good attention when approaching the village of Weggis, the location can easily be missed.
Spend a few minutes here admiring the view before your continue on your scenic driving adventure for the most beautiful spots in Switzerland.
4. Stop for coffee on Switzerland's most lovely terrace setting overlooking Lake Lucerne.
Shortly after Weggis you will reach the idyllic bay of Vitznau with a riviera-like atmosphere. Here and there you will notice palm trees growing in gardens and the roadside. The mild climate influenced by the lake allows this tropical trees to grow here admit the alpine scenery.
The small village also hosts an absolute jewel of Swiss hospitality: the historic Parkhotel Vitznau inside a 100-year old castle like building. Even if you don't want to spend the (big) money to stay here, we still recommend a coffee on the terrace.
5. The English name of the lake refers to the biggest and arguably most striking city on its shores: Lucerne.
The iconic Chapel Bridge with the Water Tower inside the cities Old Town is the landmark of a hole region and the most photographed monument in Switzerland. The lake promenade with the beautiful cafes and old chestnut tress providing shade are an inviting setting for a stroll.
But be warned the stroll could easily become expensive and end with shopping for a Swiss watch at one of the countless luxurious boutiques in town.
6. The Bürgenstock Resort is the most outstanding luxury resort in Switzerland.
Since May 2018 a very special and stylish new boat provides an hourly shuttle service between Lucerne and Kehrsiten. The catamaran is together with a 20 minute ride on a private funicular the first stage of a journey to reach the legendary Bürgenstock Resort.
Audrey Hepburn got married up here at the little chapel in 1954. Other famous guests who stayed here include actors like Sophia Loren and Sean Connery and politicians such as Jimmy Carter and Henry Kissinger.
After an excessive renovation the resort today is again a state-of-the-art luxury resort with four hotels and a 10000 m² spa area featuring indoor and outdoor pools of which one offers an infinity edge with breathtaking views of Lake Lucerne.
The resort is also the perfect base to experience the most scenic route of the Swiss Alps.
7. The "BIG3" make the most spectacular mountain pass ensemble in the world!
The Alpine Pass Route features the high alpine passes: Susten, Grimsel and Furka forming an exceptional loop of about hundred-twenty kilometre. The route opens up views of breathtakingly beautiful mountain landscapes, quaint villages, deep valleys and glaciers before climbing on far more than two thousand meters above sea level.
The drive can be comfortably completed in a half day trip with Lake Lucerne as the start and end point. At least if you can resists the countless view-points. Otherwise it might take you considerably longer. But on a stunning journey like this nothing will feel like an eternity.
Especially when driven in a convertible this journey will leave an unforgettable imprint on your travel memories. We recommend a performance car, like a Porsche 911 to handle the sometimes twisty mountain roads with ease. We would also not advise against a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But we strongly advise to do yourself a favour and say no to the smallest engines available for hire in Switzerland.
BIG3 Swiss Alps Drive
The most stunning mountain road ensemble in the world! Driven in the car of your choice:
mid of June - October
The Susten Pass at the foot of the Gotthard Mountain is with 26 bridges and tunnels hewn into the rock massive our absolute favourite Swiss Alpine Pass. Even Porsche shot a few scenes of the promotion video for the 2016 model of the 911 R up here.
The beautiful Grimsel Pass zigzags gently trough towering granite, tunnels, past hazy blue and water reservoirs. On the way you can stop at countless lookouts and get the perfect shot of the landscapes from the top looking back.
The Furka Pass is widely known from the appearance in the 1965 James Bond “Goldfinger” movie with Sean Connery. Be aware of some exhilarating steeps drops and a few narrow stretches on this alpine road.
But rest assured after mastering the wider and less dramatic Susten and Grimsel Passes you will manage the Furka without any trouble. But take our advise and do not try them the other way around. Especially if you're a rookie when it comes to alpine driving roads.
Towards the end of the Furka Pass don’t miss out on another highlight up here:
8. The easily accessed 100-metre long blue ice tunnel and ice chamber that has been cut new into the Rhone glacier every spring since around 1870.
The glacier is sitting right next to once thriving Hotel Belvedere, that lost the battle for tourists since the glacier declines more and more every year.
There are countless authentic Swiss lunch options in the valley between the three alpine passes. However Swiss food is usually very rich and we recommend only a small snack en route to prevent getting into food coma on the passes.
But towards the end of the driving loop it is then safe to eat something. We recommend to make it to the mountain village of Andermatt and treat yourself to a culinary experience at one of the many restaurants at The Chedi Hotel.
Keep Lake Lucerne as your base. Returning to the Bürgenstock Resort will get you in good location for the following driving day into the Bernese Highlands.
9. Switzerland's most beautiful village is Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Highlands.
The village is dominated by 72 waterfalls that flow along the cliff edges of the valley during the summer when the snow melts. The name “Lauterbrunnen” means “many fountains” of which the Staubbach Falls runs pretty strongly throughout the year.
By the way also the tallest free-falling waterfall in Europe. Using superlatives to describe the natural wonders of Switzerland are no exaggerations.
10. At Lauterbrunnen experience one of the most stunning alpine views in Switzerland.
The viewing platform on Schilthorn mountain is reached by cable car and provides a spectacular view over the Swiss Skyline Mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau (UNESCO World Heritage) plus a bonus of 200 more alpine peaks.
Up here on 2.970 metres above sea level enjoy a magnificent 360-degree panoramic view and a delicious meal in the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria.
11. Stop at Oberhofen; for Switzerland’s most beautiful castle.
The medieval keep and lake tower looks like a toe in Lake Thun. Since 1200 the architects mixed different styles resulting in an appealing fairy-tale like castle that can be admired the best from the nearby boat landing stage.
A tour of the living museum inside Oberhofen Castle is a walk through history. The bedrooms, the elegant dining room and the servant floors are providing a good idea of what life was like for the noble family hundred years ago.
12. With 1’400 meters length and up to 200 meters depth the Gorge formed by river Aare is surely the most fascinating gorge in the Alps.
It took the Aare River about ten thousand years to erode a path through the rock formation in the Swiss Alps. And it is only for the past one hundred years that the Aare Gorge it is easily and safely accessible on wooden planks.
Especially during hot summer days, the walk between the staggering walls and the cool water of the river underneath your feet is a very special and refreshing way to experience nature.
13. Travel Switzerland's and the world's most scenic train route — the iconic Glacier Express.
The world's slowest express train runs between St. Moritz and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. The full train journey will take about 8 hours and cross 291 bridges and pass through 91 tunnels, along untouched landscapes, deep ravines and up to 2,033 metres.
LEG 1 — St. Moritz to Andermatt is the most scenic stretch of the journey including: the iconic Landwasser Viaduct, the highest point of the train route on Oberalp Pass and the Rhine Gorge. This section of the route will take about 4:45 hours.
LEG 2 — Andermatt to Zermatt is equally stunning and will take you to car-free Zermatt. Travel time is about 15 hours including the Rhone valley and of course the Matterhorn Mountain.
Ready to do discover Switzerland on a Road Trip?
We created bespoke luxury driving tours to the most beautiful places lined up on what is guaranteed the most scenic travel experience you can have in Switzerland:
mid of June - October
all year round
Before you go... one last travel idea:
With only one hour drive from Zurich you can reach the Klausen Pass as the first real alpine pass in Switzerland with an an elevation up to 1948 metres (6,391ft) above the sea level. Over 46 kilometres (29 miles) and 136 curves the stunning pass is spoiling us with incredible views.
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