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TOP 10 cities in Switzerland

Updated on November 28, 2023

Switzerland is one of the most beautiful and interesting countries in the world. It has a lot to offer and to see. Some of the biggest companies worldwide have their European headquarters in Switzerland. Therefore, a lot of expats move to Switzerland with their families. We have listed the ten most popular swiss cities and give you a short review of them.

1. Zurich

Zurich, the capital of the canton of Zurich, is the largest city in Switzerland with a population of more than 400’000 and is located on the beautiful lake of Zurich. It is one of the largest financial centres and harbours many companies from overseas. The official language spoken in Zurich is German, even though most Swiss mainly speak a Swiss German dialect called Zurich German in their everyday life. Zurich offers many museums, art galleries and theaters such as the Swiss National Museum, the world-famous Opera House or the Schauspielhaus Zurich. Besides this, the cultural offer and free time activities are versatile and bring expats from all over the world to make this city their new home.

2. Basel

Basel is the principal town of the canton of Basel-Stadt and is located on the border triangle between Germany and France in the northwest of Switzerland. It is a global centre of the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, a world-famous exhibition centre as well as an important banking centre. The city is loved by many for its high quality of life as well as the offer in public transport. The Rhein river provides a beautiful scenery for a nice get-together as well as an opportunity for a refreshing swim during the lunch break of many natives. Besides this, the manifold of cultural activities such as almost 40 different museums allow expats to feel at home very fast.

3. Zug

Zug is located about 23km away from Zurich and is the capital of the canton of Zug. Right beside the city, the Lake Zug invites going for a swim or a stroll along the waterside. The city is internationally known as the tax haven of Switzerland, which is why many multinational companies, which are mainly active in commodity trading and the financial sector, have their headquarters in the city of Zug. Even though, this city only counts about 30’000 inhabitants, there is a lot to discover – various museums, cinemas and theatres offer entertainment for everyone.

4. Lausanne

Lausanne is a city with more than 144,000 inhabitants and located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The city is located on Lake Geneva and with 43 percent of the population not holding Swiss citizenship, Lausanne is a city with a particularly high proportion of foreigners. It is an important economic, cultural and educational centre and the capital of the canton of Vaud. There are many museums, theatres and libraries to discover, as well as a lot of green space to relax right by the lake. Special attractions are the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the Olympic museum, the Chateau Saint-Maire, and other baroque buildings.

5. Geneva

Geneva is located on the edge of French Switzerland near the Rhone river on Lake Geneva. With more than 200’000 inhabitants, it is the second largest city as well as the second largest financial centre in Switzerland after Zurich. It is the principal town of the canton of Geneva and besides New York City, the city is home to most international organisations worldwide, including the UN, CERN, the ICRC and WHO. Many public fairs and trade fairs such as the Geneva International Motor Show are organised in the Palexpo trade fair complex. Countless museums and places of interest such as the jet d’eau or the jardin anglais attract visitors and expats from all over the world.

6. Bern

Bern is the capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their “federal city”, as well as the capital of the canton of Bern which is the second-most populous of Switzerland’s cantons. The river Aare forms with its loop-like course a tongue of land on which parts of the city are located, which served as a natural protection during the times of urban planning almost 1000 years ago. In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city itself is home to 114 Swiss heritage sites of national significance, including the old town and many sites within and around it such as the Cathedral, the Zytglogge, the Swiss National Library and the Bärengraben (Bear Pit). Like the other cities, Bern also offers divers cultural attractions and beautiful green areas for recreation.

7. Lucerne

Lucerne is the capital of the canton of Lucerne and has about 82’000 inhabitants. It is located on Lake Lucerne with a view of the Alps. Each year its panoramic views attract thousands of international tourists. The city is known as the social and cultural centre of Switzerland and is frequently visited because of cultural or social events of great importance. Famous cultural events are for instance the Carnival in Lucerne or the Lucerne Blues Festival. Besides this, the city is famous for attractions such as the Kapellbrücke and the Swiss Museum of Transport.

8. Lugano

Lugano is a town and a municipality in southern Switzerland in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino bordering to Italy. It counts over 63’000 inhabitants and lies on Lake Lugano, where it is surrounded by the mountains of the Lugano Prealps. The charming streets and squares of the city immediately create a feel-good atmosphere. Many restaurants and wine cellars bid for spotting the culinary delights from the south of Switzerland. Over 830 km of hiking trails and 370km of trails for mountain biking invite sport addicts from all over the world to explore the lovely city and region. Due to its mild climate and beautiful landscapes, the region also popular with Swiss natives who like to spend some of their holidays in the “sunny state” of Switzerland.

9. St. Gallen

St. Gallen is the capital of the Swiss canton of St. Gallen, which lies in the eastern part of Switzerland. St. Gallen has around 80,000 inhabitants and is one of the higher situated cities of Switzerland, lying at about 700 m above sea level. The historically evolved old town with the abbey, which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1983, blends with a dynamic urban development around the core, with large-scale urban projects including the construction of the Swiss Federal Administrative Court and the St. Gallen University of Applied Sciences (FHS). First-class cultural institutions such as the Theatre, the Tonhalle, the home of the symphony orchestra or the art museum all contribute to the wide-ranging cultural offering and the diverse social life. Furthermore, the annual agricultural fair OLMA attracts countless visitors every time.

10. Biel / Bienne

Biel/Bienne is a city in the canton of Berne. Possibly the most bilingual city in the whole country, Biel, as it is known in German, lies right on the linguistic border. Therefore, half of its 55’000 inhabitants know it by its French name, Bienne. Its charming location at the foot of the Jura Mountains overlooking lake Biel makes it a great place to stay and invites to explore the mountains or go for a swim. The hills surrounding the lake also offer many traditional vineyards where many delicious wines are produced. In addition to the views that it offers of the Alps, it has a quiet and picturesque Old Town worth exploring.

Do you want to get more information about life in Switzerland? Contact us now and get the best insider tips and find out everything you need to know about Switzerland!

Evgeniy Timoshenko

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