Switzerland doesn’t need to try hard to grab the attention of the international traveller. Naturally, this central European country flaunts the kind of dreamy scenery that makes you swoon.

But Switzerland is much more than just a pretty face. Its urban centres burst with culture and art at nearly every turn, which is reflective of the happy-go-lucky (sometimes quirky) nature of the Swiss themselves.

So put on your urban adventurer hat and dive into Switzerland’s compact and clean cities, and discover cultural and cosmopolitan communities that are equally smitten over getting out amongst the Alps and the great outdoors as they are in celebrating their unique heritage and being creative.

 

Another side of Zurich

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Zurich may be the financial powerhouse and the most well-known of the Swiss cities, but over in the west side of town, creativity and shipping container bars reign supreme. Indeed, Zurich West has earned itself the nickname as the ‘new Berlin,’ and bohemian types will feel rather comfortable in this cool, creative and colourful enclave of the city.

However, it hasn’t always been this way, and just ten years ago this part of town was nothing more than an industrial district. It’s rapid transformation into something special is a testament to the Swiss spirit of re-invention and progressiveness.

The area has also now become the design capital of Switzerland, thanks to the opening of the Museum für Gestaltung (the national centre of competence for graphics and design) and its housing of four impressive collections, including the one of the world’s most important poster collections.

 

Lausanne’s dance fever

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Zurich may have the talent for graphics and design, but Lausanne tops the class on the stage. Each year in January, this gorgeous jewel of a city in the Lake Geneva region plays host to one of the biggest international ballet competitions in the world: Prix de Lausanne. Aimed at young dancers of all nationalities aged 15 to 18 who are not yet professionals, the Prix de Lausanne reflects the city’s love affair with the stage.

Rivalling Broadway in NYC for the sheer amount of theatre productions and musical performances performed here, Lausanne knows how to put on a show. The city is also home to the world-famous Béjart Ballet, but as if you didn’t already know that…

 

Arty Basel

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As far as Basel’s concerned, Zurich can have its design and Lausanne its dance, but its art that really gets the juices flowing in this culturally rich city by the Rhine. Over 40 museums grace the streets of Switzerland’s oldest university city, including The Kunstmuseum Basel, which houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland.

Basel is a city so in love with art that it moved Pablo Picasso to give the citizens three of his paintings as a gift! Thankfully, the city of Basel believes in paying it forward, and travellers can fill their days (and weeks) visiting some of the finest galleries and museums in the world.

 

Festive Lucerne

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Finally, like its sister cities, Lucerne indulges in the arts. And although it can’t compete with Basel in the sheer amount of museums and galleries it offers, it absolutely dominates when it comes to music festivals.

Throughout the year, this lakeside city with impressive views of the Rigi, Pilatus and Stanserhorn mountains, plays host to almost monthly music events and concerts, including the world-famous Lucerne Festival. Comprised of three festivals throughout the year, this festival brings in over 110,000 visitors annually and features the best performers and orchestras of classical music world, such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic.

Inspired to add a dollop of culture and creativity to your next trip to stunning Switzerland?

Then visit here for even more ideas on putting together the perfect itinerary and experience for yourself why Switzerland ain’t just a pretty face.

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