Where to Travel in Switzerland in Summer
Although commonly thought of as a winter wonderland, Switzerland actually offers a number of fantastic destinations for the summer traveler. From quaint medieval towns and villages to natural attractions and mountainous landscapes, look no further than this list of must-see spots for summer travel in Switzerland.
- 1 Where to Travel in Switzerland in Summer
- 1.1 Creux du Van
- 1.2 Old City of Bern
- 1.3 Lucerne
- 1.4 Matterhorn and Zermatt
- 1.5 Drei Weieren (Three Ponds), St. Gallen
- 1.6 Lavaux Vineyard Terraces
- 1.7 Rhine Falls (Rheinfall), Neuhausen am Rheinfall
- 1.8 Areuse Gorges (Gorges de L'Areuse)
- 1.9 Trift Bridge
- 1.10 Jacob's Trails
- 1.11 Interlaken
- 1.12 Castles of Bellinzona
Where to Travel in Switzerland in Summer
Creux du Van
Created by water and ice erosion from a glacier and 200 million-year-old limestone deposits from when this area lay beneath a prehistoric sea, Creux du Van is an amphitheater-shaped natural attraction within the canton of Neuchatel. For hikers and nature enthusiasts, it's at the top of the list of where to travel in Switzerland in summer. A trek to the summit of the soaring rocky cliffs would be worth it for the panorama alone, but it is also a place of vibrant flora and fauna, including ibex, lynx and marmots.
Old City of Bern
The oldest portion of Switzerland's capital city, Old City Bern is at a sharp bend of the Aare River. Within the Old City is one of Switzerland's most iconic landmarks, the Zytglogge, a medieval clock tower with a 15th-century astronomical clock, moving figures and two bronze bells in its cupola. In its time, the structure has served as a guard tower, clock tower and prison. Other landmarks within the Old City, include numerous Renaissance fountains and the Munster, a Protestant gothic cathedral.
Located on a lake of the same name, Lucerne gives visitors a glimpse of medieval Switzerland. Landmarks include Chapel Bridge, a 14th century covered wooden bridge spanning the River Reuss, and the Lion Monument, a carving of a dying lion in a small park commemorating massacred Swiss Guards at the Tuileries Palace in Paris during the French Revolution. You can set out among the historic fresco-facade buildings on foot or take advantage of the city's extensive public transportation system to enjoy all the waterfront walks, covered bridges and medieval architecture Lucerne has to offer.
Matterhorn and Zermatt
Quite possibly the most recognizable and famous of all the Alps, Matterhorn should not be counted as solely a winter destination. At the foot of this pointed peak sits the charming village of Zermatt. Between both the mountain and Zermatt, you can enjoy summer hiking trails or spend the day roaming a quaint Alpine village. There is even a park nearby that offers summer skiing. Although the terms "summer" and "skiing" used together seems like an oxymoron, it is very much a reality for summer travel in Switzerland. Hit the slopes in your beachwear, but don't forget the sunblock.
Drei Weieren (Three Ponds), St. Gallen
Located on a plateau below Mount Freuden, these ponds originated as water sources for a monastery, but have since become a place to take a cool dip in the heat of the summer. This scenic spot offers panoramic views of St. Gallen below and interestingly picturesque bathhouses done in the Art Nouveau style. There are also trails for hiking and mountain biking with views of Lake Constance in the distance.
Lavaux Vineyard Terraces
This UNESCO World Heritage site offers a Mediterranean feel on the shores of Lake Geneva. Dating back to the 11th century, the vineyard got its roots when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries dominated the area. The grape vines grow on a hillside in landscaped terraces leading down to the sapphire blue waters of the lake. On temperate summer days, you can set out on a hiking trail to immerse yourself in the history of grape-growing and wine-making in the region.
Rhine Falls (Rheinfall), Neuhausen am Rheinfall
Formed during the last ice age, Rheinfall is the largest waterfall in Central Europe. Described by the author Mary Shelley as a "glittering ever-moving veil" the spray and rushing falls are a truly majestic natural wonder, so stunning that famed landscape painter J.M.W. Turner himself captured them in several studies and paintings. You can experience the falls either by boat tour or from viewing platforms located on both sides of the Rhine.
Areuse Gorges (Gorges de L'Areuse)
When looking for a place to travel in Switzerland to cool off on hot summer days, take refuge between the towering rock edifices of the Areuse Gorges. Refreshing breezes blow over the Areuse stream, babbling in some places and rushing in others. There are picturesque stone bridges, vibrant vegetation, railed footpaths and tunnels carved through the rock.
For those hikers with a more adventurous soul—and without a fear of heights—searching for where to travel in Switzerland in summer, venture to the trail of the Trift Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge towering 100 meters over the Trift Glacier in the mountains of the Bernese Oberland. The builders took a page out of Nepalese high wire bridge building to create this scenic footbridge. From the bridge, you can gaze down onto the turquoise glacier lake, Triftsee. Since traffic on the bridge is one-way, you take a gondola on the return trip, but the scenery is just as breathtaking on the ride down.
These trails are footpaths of pilgrimage throughout Europe leading to the tomb of the Apostle Jacobus in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The section of these trails in Switzerland is referred to as the Via Jacobi, following along the foot of the Swiss Alps from the Lake of Constance to Geneva. You can set out on foot or take advantage of bus, ship or train tours. There are several stops along the way, including Einsiedeln Abbey, the Caves of Saint Beatus and the villages of St. Gall, Fribourg, Lausanne and Lucerne.
Withing the canton of Bern, this town translates as "between lakes", the lakes being the Brienz to the east and the Thun to the west. The town is situated along the Aare River, which connects the two lakes. This area is popular with backpackers and outdoor recreationists looking for where to travel in Switzerland in summer, attracted by the rugged trails, skydiving, canyons and hang gliding offered around Interlaken.
Castles of Bellinzona
Located in the capital of the canton of Ticino in the Alpine foothills, this is an attraction of fortified walls and three castles. Due to its strategic location, the valley is the gateway to Italy and was of particular interest to the dukes of Milan. The castles and walls are a fascinating study of medieval fortification architecture. Passing through the valley at this site, you will walk in the footsteps of rich and poor alike, from royalty and ambassadors to merchants, herdsmen and pilgrims.