Cities Near The Swiss Alps: Most Scenic Switzerland Cities

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A journey to Switzerland feels incomplete without a visit to the Swiss Alps. The awe-inspiring landscapes and charming alpine villages are as close to paradise as one can get on earth. The adventures and outdoor activities in the Swiss Alps create unforgettable experiences.

In my opinion, the best of these experiences is found in Switzerland’s premier attractions, Zermatt and Bernese Oberland. The later includes Kandersteg, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, and Interlaken in the Jungfrau Region. These places I mentioned are also some of the most beautiful villages in the Swiss Alps.

However, if you want a unique experience, consider exploring the cities near the Swiss Alps. These cities, specifically Lucerne, Montreux, Brig, Sion, and Thun, offer a combination of captivating architecture, vibrant culture, and picturesque landscapes. That said, visiting these cities can be an effective way to maximize your time in Switzerland.

Moreover, these cities serve as excellent bases for exploring the Swiss Alps due to their proximity to the top attractions. These are certainly closer to Switzerland’s major cities like Bern, Basel, Zurich, and Geneva.

Allow me to provide more details about these cities near the Swiss Alps in this post.

Note: This post is designed to guide you in creating your own itinerary for Switzerland. It includes some of the cities near the Swiss Alps and the region’s top attractions. First, I will introduce each city to you. Following that, I will show the ease or difficulty of reaching the Swiss Alps’ top attractions from each city. Let’s get started!

Here’s a sample itinerary for a trip to Switzerland. This can provide you with ideas on how to explore the cities near the Swiss Alps and other attractions in Switzerland. If you’re planning to stay in Switzerland for a week or more, a Swiss Travel Pass might be beneficial. It could help you save on transportation costs.

Expand this section to understand how I researched the ease or difficulty of reaching the top attractions in the Swiss Alps from each nearby city.

Each city mentioned in this post includes a section titled “Getting to Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from [CITY]

Those section provide information on the duration of travel from the specified city to an attraction in the Swiss Alps. It also details the number of bus, train, or cable car rides required to reach the destination.

I used Google Maps to determine the number of rides needed and the total travel time. Whether you’re traveling to these Alpine destinations from a city or vice versa, the travel duration and the number of rides should be the same. For each route, I will provide a Google Maps link for your reference. This link will immediately display the directions from the nearby city to the town in the Swiss Alps.

Please remember that these are only estimates. The actual data may slightly vary depending on the time of day.

1. Montreux

Cities near Swiss Alps, Montreux, Switzerland

Among the cities near the Swiss Alps, Montreux is the one that you can reach quickly from Geneva. The journey to Montreux from Geneva takes only an hour by train.

Famous for its Jazz Festival, which is the world’s second largest, Montreux is a must-visit when this festival takes place during the summer. However, that doesn’t mean Montreux isn’t worth visiting during the rest of the year.

This beautiful city, nestled between Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps, is a destination for travelers seeking a blend of experiences: from medieval to modern and from culinary to, of course, musical.

Did you know that Montreux was the home of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen, for many years? His legacy still remains in a museum in Montreux. You can even see a statue of the singer along the beautiful lakeside promenade of the city as a tribute to him.

The promenade in Montreux is not just home to the statue of the famous singer, though. It’s dotted with artworks, which, together with the stunning scenery of the French Alps across the lake, make the place amazing.

The memorable experiences aren’t confined to the town’s limits. You can take a boat or public transport from Montreux and visit more attractions around Lake Geneva, like the magical Chillon Castle and the UNESCO Heritage Site of Lavaux Vineyard.

And if you want a taste of the breathtaking views of the Alps, Rochers-de-Naye, a mountain very close to Montreux, is just a train ride away.

Best Things to Do in Montreux

Montreux offers a plethora of activities. In this section, however, are the top five things you can do in a day in Montreux.

Chateau de Chillon — Visit the centuries-old waterside castle, which offers views of the glorious Dents du Midi Mountain. This castle is one of the most visited in Europe, featuring diverse architecture and murals that date back to the 12th century. It houses 300 artifacts, including weapons, pieces of furniture, and archaeological objects.

Chateau de Chillon

Promenade sur les quais de Montreux — Enjoy a relaxing time on the promenade beside the lake. This is where the Montreux Jazz Festival takes place every July. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the statue of the energetic Freddie Mercury! The park also features several plant sculptures worth seeing.

Montreux Promenade

Queen Studio Experience — Visit the museum dedicated to the famous rock band, ‘Queen’, free of charge. The venue, once known as Mountain Studios in the ’70s, is where Freddie Mercury and his band members recorded their albums. You can see the original studio used by the band, handwritten notes, and numerous memorabilia, including instruments.

Freddie Mercury Statue

Rochers-de-Naye — From Montreux station, you can take a train to Rochers-de-Naye, which is 2042 meters above sea level. Once at the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Geneva, the Bernese Alps, and Mont Blanc. While in Rochers-de-Naye, you can visit the marmot colonies, explore the Grottoes de Naye (caves), and wander through La Rambertia, an alpine garden.


Lavaux Vinorama — Discover the impressive Swiss countryside from Montreux. Visit the UNESCO heritage site’s terraced vineyards and view the 300+ wines on display. Every week at Lavaux Vinorama, you can sample a selection of wines at the site’s tasting corner. It’s an excellent experience, particularly for wine lovers.

Lavaux Vinorama

Getting to the Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from Montreux

Below you will see a table showing the summary of the routes from Montreux to the most visited tourist spots in the Swiss Alps.

From Montreux to Transport (Minimum number of rides) Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken 3 train rides 2h 16m to 2hr 40m
Lauterbrunnen 4 train rides or 3 train rides plus 1 bus ride 2h 50m to 3h 15m
Grindelwald 4 train rides or 3 train rides plus 1 bus ride 3h 5m to 3h 35m
Zermatt 2 train rides 2h 31m
Kandersteg 2 train rides 2hr 28m to 3hr 2m
Travel Distance from Montreux to the towns in the Swiss

Find the best hotel deals in Montreux here.

Route references:

If you’re staying in Montreux, consider taking a day trip to Gruyeres. This town is one of the most picturesque medieval attractions in Switzerland, with a stunning castle and unique museums. Gruyeres is also a fantastic destination for food enthusiasts. The town produces its own distinctive cheese. Additionally, a chocolate factory near the town offers an abundance of chocolates for you to enjoy. It’s a delightful experience, especially for all the chocolate and cheese lovers out there!

2. Thun


If you are one of the travelers starting their journey in Switzerland from Basel or Bern, Thun is the city nearest to the Swiss Alps that you can reach quickly. Located 30 kilometers south of Bern, getting to this beautiful city takes only 30 minutes to 1.5 hours by public transportation, depending on your starting city.

In close proximity to the Bernese Alps, Thun is commonly known as the gateway to the Bernese Oberland. This is easy to understand, especially since you can already see the snow-capped peaks of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau from several viewpoints in the city.

One of these viewpoints is Thun’s main landmark, the Thun Castle. If you climb the towers of the castle, you will be rewarded with absolutely magical views of the city, most notably the city’s church with Lake Thun and the Bernese Oberland in the backdrop.

What’s notable about Thun is that it is a city with more than one castle. If you take a boat ride from its charming old town towards the southernmost part of the lake, you can spot not just two, but five castles! Aside from Thun Castle, there is Schadau Castle, Hunegg Castle, Oberhofen Castle, and Spiez Castle. If you like, you can stop at two of these castles and explore their gardens and exquisite interiors.

But before you do that, make sure you don’t forget to explore the old town, which is an attraction in itself, dotted with hidden gems.

Best Things to Do in Thun

In the article I shared earlier, I highlighted five key activities in Thun that you shouldn’t miss. Let’s go over a brief overview of these activities in the following section.

Thun-Panorama — Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the world’s oldest 360-degree panorama painting. You’ll find it housed in a quaint building, nestled next to a park on the lakeshore. Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by a remarkable piece of art. This painting, stretching 38 meters in length and standing 7.5 meters tall, captures the essence of Thun as it was in the early 19th century.

Schadau Castle — Imagine strolling around, dining, and even spending the night in this opulent castle. The backyard offers a majestic view of the Bernese Alps, a sight you won’t want to miss. If you’re accompanied by someone dear to you, it can transform into a romantic haven, particularly during sunset. For those who can indulge a bit, there’s an option to enjoy a picnic meal.

Thun Castle — Explore this multi-level castle, dating back to the 12th century. Each level houses a unique gallery, now serving as a museum showcasing a collection of artifacts from Thun’s rich history. The castle’s tower offers an unparalleled vantage point. From here, you can soak in the breathtaking panorama that encompasses the city of Thun, the serene Lake Thunersee, and the majestic Bernese Alps.

Thun Castle

Old Town Thun — Thun’s city center is filled with hidden gems. These include picturesque bridges, photogenic staircases, and stunning viewpoints. These sights are not to be missed for a memorable visit to the city. One notable feature is the wooden bridge, reminiscent of those in Lucerne. In the summer, these bridges are adorned with flowers, creating a romantic setting ideal for travelers on a date.

Oberhofen Castle — While it’s not located in Thun Old Town, you can take a bus ride or cruise from Thun to visit Oberhofen Castle. It is another other remarkable tourist attraction in the area. This castle, built in the 13th century, is exceptionally photogenic. Upon reaching the Oberhofen port after a cruise ride, you’ll be greeted by the sight of its tower standing in the lake, set against the backdrop of the Bernese Alps.

Oberhofen Castle

Getting to the Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from Thun

Below you will see a table showing the summary of the routes from Thun to the most visited tourist spots in the Swiss Alps.

From Thun to Transport (Minimum number of rides) Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken 1 train ride or 1 bus ride 33m
Lauterbrunnen 2 train rides 1h 9m
Grindelwald 2 train rides 1h 24m
Zermatt 2 train rides 1h 48m
Kandersteg 2 train rides 46m
Travel Distance from Thun to the towns in the Swiss Alps

Find the best hotel deals in Thun here.

Route references:

If you’re looking for suggestions on how to make the most of your time at these destinations, I’ve got you covered. Consider checking out my detailed itineraries for Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken. Each itinerary spans three days and is designed to help you explore these places in depth. They could be just what you need to plan your visit.

3. Lucerne

Lucerne, Switzerland

Are you wondering which city is the nearest to the Swiss Alps that you can quickly reach from Zurich? Look no further than Lucerne.

Traveling from Zurich to Lucerne is a mere 41-minute journey by train. In my opinion, Lucerne is a must-see city in Switzerland due to its stunning beauty. It offers not only eye-pleasing attractions but also memorable experiences that are once in a lifetime.

From its centuries-old wooden bridges to towering medieval walls, picturesque streets to architectural landmarks, and the amusing Museum of Transportation to the breathtaking ride on the world’s steepest cogwheel train, Lucerne has it all.

Let’s not forget that Lucerne is very close to Mount Pilatus, one of Switzerland’s most beautiful mountains. From the top of this mountain, you are rewarded with absolutely stunning scenery overlooking the city, Lake Lucerne, and hundreds of mountain peaks across the horizon.

Like Thun and Montreux, you can also visit a castle in Lucerne. This castle is called the Meggenhorn Castle. To me, it is Switzerland’s hidden gem, thanks to its fairytale appearance and the panoramic views of Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps that you can see as you stroll around the castle.

During your stay in Lucerne, you might also want to ride a boat across Lake Lucerne for a relaxing time. Some boats travel to Burgenstock, where you can find an outdoor elevator that offers a unique view of Lucerne and the surrounding mountains.

Best Things to Do in Lucerne

Lucerne might be smaller compared to its northern neighbors, but it certainly provides a variety of activities that could fill your days. In the following section, we will explore the top five activities that Lucerne has to offer.

Mount Pilatus — Cross off an item on your bucket list by taking a ride on the world’s steepest cog railway to the summit of Mount Pilatus, which is accessible from Lucerne. From this 2,128-meter high point, you can take in the awe-inspiring scenery of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding mountains.

Mount Pilatus

Lucerne Old Town — Take a journey back to medieval times by exploring the Old Town of Lucerne. Stroll along the cobbled streets nestled between houses and establishments, all showcasing the preserved architecture of ancient Europe. The Old Town of Lucerne is free from traffic, so get ready for a genuine throwback to the past!

Lucerne Old Town

Chapel Bridge — Step into the iconic emblem of Lucerne. Here, you can learn about the history of Lucerne by examining the ceilings of the bridge. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, consider visiting the nearby shops and stores. From there, you can relax and admire the bridge from a distance.

Chapel Bridge

Musegg Wall — Constructed in the 14th century, Musegg Wall stands as a marvel that has safeguarded the citizens of Lucerne for many centuries. It’s an impressive sight that will satisfy your curiosity about life in Europe hundreds of years ago. Incorporated into it is the city’s oldest clock, which has been in place for 500 years.

Musegg Wall

Swiss Museum of Transport — Similar to Thun, Lucerne isn’t confined to the past with its cobblestone streets. It is home to the Swiss Museum of Transport, where vehicles from various eras in Switzerland’s history are on display. Here, you can see Switzerland’s first locomotive, cars from different periods, aircraft, and more.

Getting to the Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from Lucerne

Below you will see a table showing the summary of the routes from Lucerne to the most visited tourist spots in the Swiss Alps.

From Lucerne to Transport (Minimum number of rides) Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken 1 train ride 1h 48m
Lauterbrunnen 2 train rides 2h 27m
Grindelwald 2 train rides 2h 42m
Zermatt 3 train rides 3h 14m
Kandersteg 3 train rides 2h 40m
Travel Distance from Lucerne to the towns in the Swiss Alps

Find the best hotel deals in Lucerne here.

Route references:

4. Brig


Did you know that you can also begin your Swiss journey from Northern Italy? This is entirely possible if you are currently in Milan, Bergamo, or Lake Como, and you are traveling by car.

The nearest city to the Swiss Alps that you can reach from these places is none other than Brig. You can get to this city from Italy in a few hours through a scenic mountain pass called the Simplon Pass.

Unlike Montreux, Thun, and Lucerne, Brig isn’t nestled beside a lake but in a valley where one of the longest rivers in Western Europe begins: the Swiss Rhone Valley. Here, in the heart of the valley, Brig serves as a very strategic location for visiting many beautiful destinations in the Swiss Alps.

Getting to Zermatt, Kandersteg, the Jungfrau Region, and other beautiful villages in the Swiss Alps is very quick and easy from this city. As a result, many consider Brig as their home base when exploring the Swiss Alps.

However, Brig is more than just a starting point for a journey to the Swiss Alps. Brig is home to a unique-looking castle that was owned not by a king or bishop, but by a wealthy merchant named Stockalper.

Brig also boasts Europe’s longest alpine thermal waterslide! With it, not only can adults enjoy a relaxing stay in Brig, but also kids who want to have fun during the summer.

Lastly, as mentioned earlier, Brig is connected to Italy via the Simplon Pass. Interestingly, it has a history linked to Napoleon. Several landmarks, museums, and even military bases can be found here, and they can serve as your unique discoveries during your trip to the Swiss Alps.

Best Things to Do in Brig

Brig’s advantageous position enables visitors to reach nearby attractions in roughly an hour or less.

However, if you’re planning to linger in Brig for a bit longer, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. In the following section, we’ll discuss the top five things you can do in Brig.

The beautiful courtyard of Stockalper Palace

Simplon Pass — Consider taking a hike or a drive up to a pass that sits at a height of 2000 meters. This location offers dramatic views that are nothing short of breathtaking. Additionally, you can spot various bridges and watersheds, adding to the scenic beauty of the place.

Stockalper Palace — Venture into the heart of Brig and explore a palace from the 17th century. This palace features a garden where you can relax and take in the fresh alpine breeze. Make sure to step inside the Stockalper Palace and pay a visit to its courtyard. This space showcases two to three levels of arches and columns. It’s an ideal spot for capturing a captivating Instagram photo.

Thermalquellen Brigerbad AG — Try immersing yourself in the warm waters of an open-roof hot spring resort. This could be the ideal activity to unwind after a day of hiking.

World Nature Forum — Take yourself in interactive exhibitions that showcase the exciting and diverse landscapes of the Alps. These exhibitions feature films, infographics, and artifacts for you to explore. It’s an excellent location for expanding your knowledge about the mountains.

City Tour — Join a tour in Brig or go out explore the city on your own. Take the opportunity to see the renowned lifting bridge and the Patrician townhouses that Brig is known for.

View from Simplon Pass

Getting to the Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from Brig

Below you will see a table showing the summary of the routes going from Brig to the most visited tourist spots in the Swiss Alps.

From Brig to Transport (Minimum number of rides) Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken 2 train rides 1h 8m
Lauterbrunnen 3 train rides 1h 45m
Grindelwald 3 train rides 2h
Zermatt 1 train ride 1h 15m
Kandersteg 1 train ride 38m
Travel Distance from Brig to the towns in the Swiss Alps

Find the best hotel deals in Brig here.

Route references:

5. Sion

View of Sion from Tourbillon Castle

Among the five cities near the Swiss Alps mentioned in this post, Sion stands out as a unique destination. And if you want to make your Switzerland trip distinct from most travelers visiting the country, Sion is a must-visit.

It’s a less frequented destination, yet it’s worth visiting for those who are wanderers at heart and travelers wanting to see scenes straight out of fantasy novel movies.

Sion, the capital of the Canton of Valais, is home to a historical castle, Tourbillon Castle, and a time-transporting-looking church, Valere Basilica. Both are perched on a hill.

One look at these landmarks from the viewpoints in the city, and you’ll understand why this city is a paradise for wanderers and a destination for romantics. Let’s not forget the Sorcerer’s Tower of Sion. Along with the landmarks on the hill, this tower will definitely bring your fantasies about the medieval ages to life when you visit Sion.

If you are a traveler who wants to take dramatic photographs, Sion won’t disappoint you. For instance, if you visit the hilltop castle in Sion, you can photograph the historic church of Sion against the backdrop of the spectacular mountains of Valais. An overlooking view of the city is also visible from there.

You should be able to see vast vineyards on the slopes of the mountains around Sion. And you know what that means? Sion has wines! Definitely, if you are visiting Sion with your partner, these wines can be a significant factor in making your visit to Sion even more romantic. Don’t forget to join some wine tasting excursions!

Best Things to Do in Sion

Sion may not be a large city, and the activities it offers might be limited. However, indeed, if you have a passion for history, Sion will not disappoint. In this section, we’ll discuss the top five activities that you can engage in while in Sion.

Sion Cathedral —Take some time to visit the 15th-century church in the town. This church features a Romanesque bell tower and elements of Byzantine architecture. Consider this a quick stop before you head to the hills. There, you’ll find the Valere Basilica and Tourbillon castles awaiting your exploration.

Sion Cathedral

Sorcerer’s Tower — Just a few minutes away from the Sion Cathedral, you’ll find a fortification tower. This is another historical landmark in Sion that’s worth a visit. If you’re a fan of literature, particularly stories like The Legend of King Arthur, you’ll find this place intriguing. It offers a glimpse into the past, helping you visualize the persecution of witches and other sorcerers centuries ago.

Sorcerer’s Tower

Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints — Before you make your way to the Valere Basilica, consider stopping at a small chapel that offers scenic views. This tranquil spot is ideal for meditation, prayer, or even capturing dramatic photos for your social media. Interestingly, this chapel, which was built in 1325, will be celebrating its 700th anniversary in 2025!

Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints

Valere Basilica — Take a moment to explore the early 12th-century structure perched atop Valere Hill. Inside, you’ll find gothic marble statues and murals that are over 600 years old. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to see the oldest playable organ in the world.

Valere Basilica

Tourbillon Castle — Visit the ruins of the castle. This site features various interesting sections such as a watchtower, chapel, sacristy, cistern, palace, that are great for exploration and wanderings. After your exploration, make your way to the castle’s courtyard. From there, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of the town, river, and mountains.

Tourbillon Castle

Getting to the Swiss Alps’ Top Attractions from Sion

Below you will see a table showing the summary of the routes going from Sion to the most visited tourist spots in the Swiss Alps.

From Sion to Transport (Minimum number of rides) Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken 3 train rides 1h 29m
Lauterbrunnen 4 train rides 2h 8m
Grindelwald 4 train rides 2h 21m
Zermatt 2 train rides 1h 49m
Kandersteg 2 train rides 1h 19m
Travel Distance from Sion to the towns in the Swiss Alps

Find the best hotel deals in Sion here.

Route references:

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cities in swiss alps
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