It should come as no surprise that Switzerland has been named the ‘Best Country in the World’ for three years in a row. Switzerland is a land dotted with Alpine villages, snow-covered mountain tops, rolling green pastures, emerald lakes and cozy chalets offering various fondue. With so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming which activity to choose, that’s why we’ve got you covered with our top ten list of the best things to do while in Switzerland to ensure you get the most out of your Swiss stay.
1. PARAGLIDING INTERLAKEN
If time allows, we highly suggest you spend a full week in Interlaken. Located in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region of central Switzerland, Interlaken stands out as one of the thrill-seeking capitals of the world. Surrounded by alpine meadows, glaciers, rivers and dense forests with high snow capped mountains in the distance, this resort town is truly one of a kind and embodies all things adventure.
From skydiving to bungee jumping, canyoneering to river rafting, there are countless options to help spike one's adrenaline; this area is especially famous for their paragliding opportunities and once you've experienced it with Paragliding Interlaken, you’ll soon understand why.
Paragliding Interlaken is one of the leading companies in all of Switzerland for tandem paragliding flights. Flights are led by experienced, licensed pilots that fly you high into the sky - soaring through the clouds and slicing through the wind with ease like a bird.
You’ll feel an overwhelming sense of freedom as your feet leave the ground - the air softly catching your wings, as it slowly lifts you towards the heavens. The feeling is almost indescribable - an unmatched thrill that leaves you feeling mesmerized and invigorated.
Once in flight, sit back and relax as you take in the view: with the Swiss Alps bordering all sides, impenetrable green forests, twinkling blue lakes and sparkling turquoise rivers below, your eyes will be enchanted from every direction.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with family or in a group, Paragliding Interlaken can make your flying dreams come true. This unique outdoor activity is the pinnacle of adventure and a once in a lifetime experience you’ll never forget.
2. MOUNTAIN BIKE THE SWISS ALPS
Mountain biking the Swiss Alps is one of the best ways to explore Switzerland. We found Interlaken to be the perfect mountain biking starting point. With over 50 trails to choose from, all ranging in degrees of difficulty, there is a little something for everyone.
If you are looking for a scenic ride that isn’t too strenuous, we highly suggest the Staubbachfall – Lauterbrunnental Loop from Interlaken Ost. This 4 hour, 25 mile biking trail takes you past glacier-laced mountains as you climb your way up the verdant valley floor, cross icy cold rivers, and coast by villages and chalet farmsteads - all dotted with red geranium blossoms and pink alpine asters.
Start your day at Flying Wheels Interlaken - they’ll provide you with a mountain bike, helmet and hard copy trail map. For those who prefer an easier ride, e-bikes are also available. Highlights of this trail include photogenic pit stops in various locations like Staubbach Falls, Mattenbach Falls and Lauterbrunnen. Lauterbrunnen hiking is also highly recommended but you can return on a separate day to give you ample amounts of time to explore. On your mountain biking adventure, make sure to also do a brief pit stop at Airtime Cafe for tea and schnapps, or a flat white. Coffee and tea are staples here but leave room for their world famous brownies - they’ll whisk you away into a chocolate haven.
Staubbachfall–Lauterbrunnental Loop - Trail Map
See below for a downloadable trail map for the Staubbachfall – Lauterbrunnental Loop.
3. GRINDELWALD - FIRST TOP OF ADVENTURE
For an all-inclusive thrill, make your way to Grindelwald First to experience their Mountain Top Adventure - offering adrenaline junkies an exhilarating range of activities that include a Scenic Cliff Walk, First Glider Zipline, Mountain Cart Racing, and a Trottibike Scooter descent through rolling green pastures and flower laden meadows.
START WITH - FIRST GLIDER
Fly like an eagle with this state of the art zip line. Passengers lie face first, and glide 800 meters down the hillside going up to 83 km/h as they soar past rugged landscapes and snow capped ridges. The panoramic views are out of this world.
NEXT STOP - MOUNTAIN CART
Spike your adrenaline and test your speed with the First Mountain Cart experience; a cross between go-karting and extreme sledding. On designated tracks, take these modified tricycles with hydraulic brakes down the mountainside for an exceptional ride on three kilometers of naturally paved road.
FINISH WITH - TROTTIBIKE SCOOTER
For your last set of thrills, make your way to the Trottibike Scooter. These new found innovations are the perfect combination between a scooter and bicycle. Standing upright, you’ll curve your way past farmhouses and lush grasslands, gaining speed as you descend. But not to worry, thanks to their modern design, suspension, and brake systems you can handle these scooters with ease as you take in the alpine scenery.
4. PFINGSTEGG TOBOGGAN
A trip to Switzerland would not be complete without a Pfingstegg Tin Toboggan Ride. This 736 meter track descends a whopping 58 meters in a matter of minutes and can quickly reach speeds up to 40 km/h. It’s an absolute rush for any age as you drift down tin slides nestled amidst the hillside, with snow covered mountain peaks gleaming like crystals in the distance, under blue sunny skies. The Pfingstegg Toboggan is seasonal however, and can only be experienced May - October so plan your trip accordingly.
5. STAND UP PADDLE BOARD LAKE BRIENZ OR LAKE THUN
In the summer months, stand up paddle boarding on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun is a must. Between these two main lakes are a wide range of rental providers to teach you the paddle basics before you take to the waters. There is something inherently serene about gliding across the surface with the Swiss Alps as your backdrop - a scene too picture perfect to forget.
6. JOIN A CHOCOLATE WORKSHOP IN INTERLAKEN
If you don’t already know, Switzerland has earned its rightful reputation as one of the highest quality chocolate producers in the entire world. Milk Chocolate was invented here in 1875 and has become part of the Swiss’ sense of pride and tradition. Each chocolatier creates their chocolate confections with the utmost care and precision.
The best way to experience this part of Swiss culture is to partake in a Chocolate Workshop and we found Funky Chocolate Club in Interlaken to deliver on their promise to fulfill chocolate lover’s hopes and dreams.
During their customized workshop you will learn how to taste like a professional Swiss chocolate connoisseur; determining chocolate quality, types and cocoa percentages as you master your own chocolate creations while in class. Our personal favorite was the “All You Can Eat” motto - where you can nibble to your heart's content on various white, milk and dark chocolate offerings that are so smooth and creamy in character, you can’t stop savoring these delicate, well-orchestrated creations with every bite.
7. JUNGFRAUJOCH - TOP OF EUROPE
Jungfraujoch, also known as the ‘Top of Europe’ is 3,454 meters (11,332 feet) above sea level, and stands as one of the highest railway stations in the world, close to the famous peaks of Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch mountains. Its one of a kind cogwheel train slowly climbs its way to the uppermost main station, conquering an altitude of 570 meters and crossing several microclimates while offering guests scenic views of the surrounding Swiss Alps.
Once you’ve made your ascent, guests will take a second lift 117 meters up to the Sphinx Observatory for an unobstructed, 360 degree view of the surrounding snow capped Swiss Alps. Visitors can also tour the Ice Palace, originally built in the 1930’s by mountain guides using only ice picks and saws, it has become home to a beautiful display of ice sculptures and imaginative creations. If that doesn't suit your fancy, play in the snow or join a chocolate workshop at Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven where one can learn all about the history of chocolate, how it’s made, and why it’s so absolutely delicious.
8. EXPERIENCE HIKING
The Swiss Alps have legendary hiking trails that crisscross the beautiful landscape and allow you to see more of the countryside than you ever could by car or bike. Not only are these trails filled with stunning views, they are well marked, frequently maintained, and vary in difficulty so anyone can make the most of this legendary setting.
For those who want to maximize views and minimize effort, a quick train ride to the Schynigge Platte offers verdurous vistas and an accessible, 5.6km panoramic trail. The trail offers unparalleled views of Interlaken’s twin lakes, the towering Jungfrau region, and the perennially snow-capped Alpine mountains. With under 250 meters (820 feet) in elevation, and a casual walk through the Botanical Alpine Garden sure to satisfy the biologist within us all, this trail is the perfect introduction to the abundant hiking opportunities available to you.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, the Interlaken - Ringgenberg - Roteflue - Harder Kulm hike with over 1 kilometer (3280 feet) of elevation and 6 hours of hiking is the perfect, difficult day hike experience. Starting from the center of Interlaken, you will experience a natural rock arch, grueling climbs, wonderful views of wicked ridges, and culminate at Harder Kulm; arguably the best view overlooking Lakes Brienz and Thun, and mounts Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.
There are over 700 trails in Interlaken alone, and countless more to be discovered in the Swiss region - whether you’re looking for a stroll or a multi-day mountaineering expedition, you could explore for the rest of your days and never see all this ravishing country has to offer.
9. EAT FONDUE
After a hard day of hiking, biking, or paragliding, nothing satisfies more than the warm, cheesy delight known as Fondue. This inescapably Swiss, melted cheese and white wine dish is served in a pot over a candle and eaten by dipping bread or potatoes into the cheese using long-stemmed forks.
Typically meant to be enjoyed with friends and family around the table, Fondue is as delicious as it is filling, with every region in Switzerland having their own variation on cheeses, wines, and dipping condiments.
Not in a cheesy mood? Try one of the many unctuous alternatives such as velvety chocolate with fruit concoctions, autumnal game in a umami broth, or air-dried, local meats.
This gooey, decadent delight has been recognized as Switzerland’s national dish since the late 1800s, and has only grown in popularity as the fun, communal nature of the dish lures us to enjoy it again, and again, and again.
10. THE MATTERHORN
The Matterhorn may not be the tallest mountain in Europe, but it’s certainly the most unique. With its summit standing at 4,478 meters (14,692 ft), the famous peak straddles the borders of Switzerland and Italy but stands unusually alone, giving it a world-renowned outline and consistently unpredictable weather.
The faces and climate of this mountain are so dangerous that it was not successfully ascended until 1931, with the highest, western face not being conquered until 1962. It is estimated this mount has claimed over 500 lives, with an average of 10 deaths per year.
Unless you find your lineage tracing back to Sir Edmund Hillary (the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest), you’ll likely enjoy the Matterhorn much like we did: from the safe confines of your hotel in Zermatt. This mountain has been named as the most photographed in the world with good reason: the photos of this peak are magical but be prepared to wait as the notoriously fickle elements make it difficult to see the Matterhorn. Thankfully, the adorable town of Zermatt offers wonderful hiking, biking, and fondue opportunities for you to enjoy and experience the best Switzerland has to offer.