Cities Near The Swiss Alps: Most Scenic Switzerland Cities

The Swiss Alps is full of stunning sceneries and exciting activities, a paradise for nature lovers and mountaineers. It is the ultimate destination in Switzerland that everyone dreams of visiting.

However, it is expensive to travel to and within Switzerland. It is ranked as one of the most expensive countries to visit. Visiting Switzerland without a plan could be a cash-burning activity.

As much as possible, we must create an efficient itinerary to save a lot of money from transportation. Avoiding out-of-the-way destinations is the first task that we must do.

Lucerne, Switzerland

In this blog post, I will show you the cities near the tourist attractions in the Swiss Alps. This is to help you decide what Swiss City you can explore before and/or after visiting the destinations in the Swiss Alps. Also, which city you can choose as your base.

In short, I want to help you avoid lengthy and expensive train rides. 😀

Cities near Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Cities near Swiss Alps

Here are the five Switzerland’s cities near the Swiss Alps:

  1. Montreux 
  2. Thun
  3. Lucerne
  4. Sion
  5. Brig

Tip: Swiss Travel Pass will give you unlimited train, bus, and boat rides (free entrance to more than 500 museums) on consecutive days.

Here are the five of the most visited towns/destinations in the Swiss Alps that we will use as the basis for determining which Swiss city we should be traveling to:

  • Interlaken
  • Lauterbrunnen
  • Grindelwald
  • Zermatt
  • Kandersteg
Towns in Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Towns in Swiss Alps

You can use my article about The Villages and Towns in the Swiss Alps to see more and learn more about the beautiful destinations in the Swiss Alps. In that article, you can find the unique things to do for each town, as well as the nearby countryside destination you can visit next. 

If you want to know why you should visit the towns in the Swiss Alps, you must see these 31 Swiss countryside photos. They are my ultimate photo inspiration. I hope they inspire you too! 🙂

IMPORTANT

Each city listed below has a section: “Distance of to The Towns in the Swiss Alps.” There, you will see how long (time) it is to reach a town in the Swiss Alps if you’re coming from the indicated city. You will also see how many bus/train/cable car rides you will have to get there.

I used Google Maps to know how many bus/train/cable car rides will be having to reach each destination, as well as the total time you’ll be spending on the road/track/rope line. Going to these destinations in the Swiss Alps from a city and vice versa should have the same travel time and a total number of bus/train/cable car rides.

Google Maps, Schedule Explorer
Google Maps, Schedule Explorer

I will leave a link to Google Maps for each route so you can have a reference. That link should instantly show you the direction to the town in the Swiss Alps from the nearby city. Lastly, please note that these are only estimates, and the data should vary a little depending on the time of the day.

Alright! That would be all. Let’s now check the cities we’ll be visiting. 😀

Montreux

Montreux is a traditional resort town or a small city near the swiss alps, nestled between a lake and steep hills to the east. Its location creates a microclimate comparable to the Mediterranean. It is a perfect environment for gardens and vineyards, a thing that Montreux is famous for.

Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux

Lavaux Vineyard Terraces is the renowned vineyard Montreux is proud of. It is a recognized UNESCO heritage site that stretches for about 30 kilometers starting from the eastern outskirts of Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon.

Chateau de Chillon is another impressive attraction accessible from Montreux. It is a castle sitting beautifully on the shores of Lake Geneva, an absolute eye-catcher and shutter button presser.

However, Montreux town center isn’t a place to be skipped. The town has promenades shaded by Mediterranean trees, lined by colorful flowers. Grand Belle Epoque buildings are there too. Back up and clean your camera’s storage because coming to Montreux is certainly an Instagrammable thing to do!

Montreux is within the Swiss Riviera. Thus, you can also expect to experience here the best of Swiss gastronomy, music, and nightlife!

Read my The 10 Best Reasons Why Montreux Is Worth Visiting post to learn more about Montreux.

Best Things To Do in Montreux

Many activities await you in Montreux. But here are the best 5 things that you can do for a day in Montreux:

  • Chateau de Chillon. Visit the centuries-old waterside castle with sights of the glorious Dents du Midi mountain. It is one of the most visited castles in Europe, featuring different architecture and murals dating from the 12th-century. It is home to 300 artifacts ranging from weapons, pieces of furniture, and archeological objects.
Chateau de Chillon, Montreux, Switzerland
Chateau de Chillon
  • Promenade sur les quais de Montreux. Have a relaxing time in the promenade beside the lake. It is where the Montreux Jazz Festival every July (summer). Don’t forget to take a selfie with the statue of energetic Freddie Mercury! There are also several plant sculptures to see in the park.
Montreux Promenade, Montreux, Switzerland
Montreux Promenade
  • Queen Studio Experience. See for free the museum of the famous “Queen” rock band. The place was once called Mountain Studios in the ’70s, where Freddie Mercury and his band members recorded their song albums. See the original studio used by the band, handwritten notes, and many memorabilia-like instruments.
Freddie Mercury Statue, Montreux, Switzerland
Freddie Mercury Statue
  • Rochers-de-Naye. From Montreux station, you can take a train up to the Rochers-de-Naye (2042 meters above sea level). There you can see the panoramic views of Lake Geneva, Bernese Alps until Mont Blanc. When you’re in Rochers-de-Naye, you can access the marmot colonies, Grottoes de Naye (caves), and La Rambertia (Alpine garden).
Rochers-de-Naye, Montreux, Switzerland
Rochers-de-Naye
  • Lavaux Vinorama. Discover the impressive Swiss countryside from Montreux. See the UNESCO heritage site terraced vineyards and the 300+ wines on display. Every week in Lavaux Vinorama, you can taste a selection of wines at the tasting corner of the site. It’s definitely a good experience, especially for all wine lovers!
Lavaux Vinorama, Montreux, Switzerland
Lavaux Vinorama

Distance of Montreux to The Towns in the Swiss Alps

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

 From Montreux
ToTransport (Minimum number of rides)Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken3 train rides2h 16m to 2hr 40m
Lauterbrunnen4 train rides OR 3 train rides plus 1 bus ride2h 50m to 3h 15m
Grindelwald4 train rides OR 3 train rides plus 1 bus ride3h 5m to 3h 35m
Zermatt2 train rides2h 31m
Kandersteg2 train rides2hr 28m to 3hr 2m

Route references:

In Google Maps, select “Schedule explorer” in the side panel to see all the routes and departure times.

Thun

Thun is the home of not more than 50,000 Swiss people, a small city near the Swiss Alps located southeast of Bern. On the map, Thun is easily found on the northern shores of Lake Thunersee. Here is where one of the longest river in Switzerland ends, River Aare.

Thun, Switzerland
Thun

Its location is the reason why Thun is beautiful. Thun faces the Bernese Alps by its lakeshore, giving visitors an absolute picture-perfect scenery.

Thun is known for its medieval town hall square and sky-scraping Thun castle. It houses two other two majestic structures, Schadau and Kunstmuseum Thun. Thun is also one of the starting locations in exploring Lake Thunersee and the attractions surrounding it.

From Thun, you can cruise or take a bus and visit other tourist attractions like the Oberhofen Castle and Spiez Castle. Oberhofen Castle is a picturesque castle that has a tower in the lake. Please read my article about Thun to learn more (how to go and access each attraction).

Best Things To Do in Thun

Thun is a historic town too. It means there are things we can discover from Thun. Based on my resources, here are the 5 best things to do in Thun:

  • Thun-Panorama. Check out the oldest 360-painting panorama in the world! It is stored in a small building beside a park near the lakeshore. Inside, there is a 38-meter long and 7.5-meter tall painting that shows the image of Thun back in the early 19th century. 
  • Schadau Castle. You can walk around, dine, and sleep in this multimillion castle. Its backyard has an epic view of the Bernese Alps, don’t forget to visit it, especially when you are with your special someone. It could be a romantic place to be during sunsets. If you have the luxury, you can avail a picnic meal where you will be served sumptuous food in the garden.
  • Thun Castle. Explore the multi-level 12th-century castle, which has different galleries for each. Now it is used as a museum of many artifacts used by the people of Thun. The castle’s tower is the best spot to see a very stunning view combining the sights of Thun, Lake Thunersee, and the Bernese Alps.
Thun Castle, Thun, Switzerland
Thun Castle
  • Kunstmuseum Thun. Thun has a touch of the historical past, but it does not mean that it stayed that way until now. Thun is a mixture of old and new, and you can see the proof of its modernity, especially in the field of art, in Kunstmuseum. There you can see the exhibitions of modern artworks of Swiss artists.
  • Oberhofen Castle. It is not actually in Thun, but you can get a bus ride or cruise from Thun to explore other stunning sights in the area. One of these beautiful attractions is the Oberhofen Castle. It is a 13th-century-made-castle that’s absolutely photogenic. If you reach Oberhofen port after a cruise ride, you can see its tower stand in the lake in front of the Bernese Alps.
Oberhofen Castle, Oberhofen, Thun, Switzerland
Oberhofen Castle

Distance of Thun to The Towns in the Swiss Alps

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

 From Thun
ToTransport (Minimum number of rides)Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken1 train ride OR 1 bus ride33m
Lauterbrunnen2 train rides1h 9m
Grindelwald2 train rides1h 24m
Zermatt2 train rides1h 48m
Kandersteg2 train rides46m

Route references:

In Google Maps, select “Schedule explorer” in the side panel to see all the routes and departure times.

Lucerne

Lucerne is another city near the Swiss Alps in Switzerland beside Thun and Montreux. And like, Thun, it is sitting splendidly beside a lake, also on the northern shores facing the beautiful snow-capped alpine mountains in the south.

Lucerne, Switzerland (2)
Lucerne, Switzerland

You can discover the city’s main marvels when you explore its center (Old Town). There are tons of preserved colorful and medieval-architectured structures in the city waiting for you to behold. But, don’t skip exploring the lakeshore, there you’ll see the 14th-century bridge, Lucern is best-known for.

This centuries-old bridge is called Chapel Bridge, the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. It is also the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge, with art decorations painted inside way back to the 17th-century. These paintings show the images representing the history of Lucerne.

Beside the bridge is the Water Tower. It is where the armors used by the guards and soldiers were kept. Now, it is used as a gift shop you can visit when you explore the bridge.

I have created a list of reasons why you should visit Lucerne. Let it help you decide if it is really a place you must see or not.

Best Things To Do in Lucerne

Lucerne may be smaller than the neighboring cities to the north, but the sure thing is it offers you lots of things that you can do for days. Here are the 5 best activities that you can do in Lucerne:

  • Mount Pilatus. Draw a slash to your bucket list by riding the world’s steepest cog railway to the summit of Mount Pilatus, accessible from Lucerne. This 2,128-meter will let you see the awe-inspiring sceneries of Lake Lucerne and surrounding mountains. 
Mount Pilatus, Lucerne, Switzerland
Mount Pilatus
  • Lucerne Old Town. Travel back to medieval times by exploring the Old Town of Lucerne. Walk along the cobbled streets nestled in between the houses and establishments structures with the preserved architecture of old Europe. The Old town of Lucerne is traffic-free, so prepare to experience an absolute throwback to the past!
Lucerne Old Town, Lucerne, Switzerland
Lucerne Old Town
  • Chapel Bridge. Enter the iconic emblem of Lucerne. There you can learn the history of Lucerne by looking up to the ceilings of the bridge. After the bridge, you can go to the nearby shops and stores to see relax and admire the bridge from afar.
Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland
Chapel Bridge
  • Musegg Wall. Built during the 14th-century, Musegg Wall stands as a wonder that has protected the citizens of Lucerne for centuries now. It’s a breathtaking sight that will quench your curiosity about life in Europe way bay hundreds of years ago. Embedded to it is the oldest clock in the city that has been there for 500 years now.
Musegg Wall, Lucerne, Switzerland
Musegg Wall
  • Swiss Museum of Transport. Like the town of Thun, you can Lucerne isn’t stuck in the past with its cobblestone alleys. Lucern houses the Swiss Museum of Transport, where the old to modern vehicles used in Switzerland are exhibited. See Switzerland’s first locomotive, cars from all eras, aircraft, and more!

Distance of Lucerne to The Towns in the Swiss Alps

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

 From Lucerne
ToTransport (Minimum number of rides)Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken1 train ride1h 48m
Lauterbrunnen2 train rides2h 27m
Grindelwald2 train rides2h 42m
Zermatt3 train rides3h 14m
Kandersteg3 train rides2h 40m

Route references:

In Google Maps, select “Schedule explorer” in the side panel to see all the routes and departure times.

Sion

Sion, the capital of the Canton of Valais, is located in the Rhone Valley, surrounded by scenic mountains. This small city near the Swiss Alps is famous for the two hilltop fortifications found in the heart of the town.

Valere Basilica, Sion, Switzerland
Valere Basilica

From afar, in the plains, you will immediately see the two hilltop structures, Valere Basilica and Tourbillon Castle. They are the icon of Sion, scenic, and historical.

Tourbillon Castle is now in ruins, but the Valere Basilica still stands intact. Valere Basilica is where we can find the “oldest playable organ in the world,” a musical instrument that is already turning 600 years by 2030.

Hiking to the top of Tourbillion hill, where the Tourbillion Castle is, will let you give a bird’s eye view of the whole town of Sion. You can enter the Tourbillion castle, by the way. Though most of its parts are in ruins now, some portions are still preserved and maintained.

Check out my article about Sion to learn more about Tourbillion Castle and Valere Basilica. There are interactive 360-views that will show you the interiors of the structures. See the murals and check out how the oldest playable organ looks like.

Best Things To Do in Sion

Sion isn’t that a big city and could offer you only a few activities. But if you love history and seeing century-old murals and artifacts, Sion will satisfy you. Here are the 5 things that you can do in Sion:

  • Sion Cathedral. Check out the 15th-century church in the town. It is a church with a Romanesque bell tower and touches of Byzantine architecture. It’s a quick stop before you go to the hills where the Valere Basilica and Tourbillon castles are.
Sion Cathedral, Sion, Switzerland
Sion Cathedral
  • Sorcerer’s Tower. A few minutes away from the Sion Cathedral, you can reach a fortification tower – another historical landmark in Sion. It’s best to visit if you are a fan of literature like The Legend of King Arthur, and so on. It will help you visualize the persecution of the witches and other sorcerers that happened centuries ago.
Sorcerer's Tower, Sion, Switzerland
Sorcerer’s Tower
  • Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints. Before you reach the Valere Basilica, have a stop at a small chapel with scenic views. It is a perfect place to meditate or pray or create dramatic photos for Instagram. This chapel, constructed in 1325, is already turning 700 years old in 2025!
Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints, Sion, Switzerland
Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints
  • Valere Basilica. Peek inside the early 12th-century structure at the top of Valere Hill. See gothic marble statues, 600-year-old murals, and the oldest playable organ in the world.
Valere Basilica, Sion, Switzerland
Valere Basilica
  • Tourbillon Castle. Explore the destroyed castle and its remains. It has different parts like a watchtower, chapel, sacristy, cistern, palace, and keep that you can visit. Proceed to the castle’s courtyard after, and you’ll see a stunning view of the town, river, and mountains.
Tourbillon Castle, Sion, Switzerland
Tourbillon Castle

Distance of Sion to The Towns in the Swiss Alps

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
ToTransport (Minimum number of rides)Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken3 train rides1h 29m
Lauterbrunnen4 train rides2h 8m
Grindelwald4 train rides2h 21m
Zermatt2 train rides1h 49m
Kandersteg2 train rides1h 19m

Route references:

In Google Maps, select “Schedule explorer” in the side panel to see all the routes and departure times.

Brig

Brig is a settlement of not more than 15,000 people in the canton of Valais. This small city near the Swiss Alps is situated in an “important” junction in the upper Rhone Valley, lying in the route of the famous Glacier Express.

Brig, Switzerland
Brig

Many people find Brig a very strategic spot in exploring the tourist attractions in the Alps. It is near Zermatt, Aletsch Glacier, Goms, and other tourist attractions to the central Swiss Alps. Regardless, it is known for its thermal baths, Stockalper Castle, and San Sebastian Chapel.

Stockalper Castle was built by Stockalper, who was called “The King of Simplon.” He was a powerful man, an entrepreneur, a politician, and a military official. The castle he constructed was the largest project in Switzerland during his time.

Brig is also at the foot of the Simplon Pass, which is one of the most beautiful Alpine passes in Switzerland. The pass is historical as well since it was Napoleon who created it to move his armies across the mountains. Simplon Pass is the first man-made road in the Alps.

Best Things To Do in Brig

Brig’s strategic location allows visitors to Brig to access nearby attractions quickly within, more or less an hour. But if you want to stay here for a while, here are the 5 best things that you can do in Brig:

Beautiful courtyard of Stockalper Palace, Brig, Switzerland
Beautiful courtyard of Stockalper Palace
  • Simplon Pass. Hike or drive to a 2000-meter high pass offering dramatic views of the Alps mountains, bridges, and watersheds.
  • Stockalper Palace. Explore the 17th-century palace in the heart of Brig. It has a garden where you can hang out for a while, enjoying the fresh alpine breeze. You must enter the Stockalper Palace and visit its courtyard. It is a place where you can see 2 to 3 levels of arches and columns, perfect for creating a mesmerizing Instagram shot.
  • Thermalquellen Brigerbad AG. Try dipping your body in warm waters in an open-roof hot spring resort. This is probably the best activity to do after hiking.
  • World Nature Forum. Experience interactive exhibitions showing the thrilling and varying sceneries of the Alps. There are films, infographics, and artifacts for you to discover. It is a good place for learning.
  • City Tour. Join a tour in Brig or explore it on your own. See the famous lifting bridge and Patrician townhouses in Brig.
View from Simplon Pass, Brig, Switzerland
View from Simplon Pass

I have a separate blog post (Nice Things to Do in Brig, Switzerland: City in The Alps) about Brig. There you can exactly know what else is to discover in Brig. 

Distance of Brig to The Towns in the Swiss Alps

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
ToTransport (Minimum number of rides)Approximate Travel Time
Interlaken2 train rides1h 8m
Lauterbrunnen3 train rides 1h 45m
Grindelwald3 train rides 2h
Zermatt1 train ride1h 15m
Kandersteg1 train ride38m

Route references:

In Google Maps, select “Schedule explorer” in the side panel to see all the routes and departure times.

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cities in swiss alps
cities in swiss alps

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