Exploring Switzerland: Cantons, Major Cities, and Map

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Exploring Switzerland

Switzerland boasts incredible destinations and spectacular scenery of lakes and mountains.

If you plan to visit the country, in this article you will find detailed information about its location, borders, population, cantons, largest cities, airports, and map.

Exploring Switzerland


Switzerland is a country located on the European continent in the central region and borders 5 countries.

Countries Bordering Switzerland

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Liechtenstein
  • Italy
  • France

Population of Switzerland

Switzerland has a population of approximately 8.698 million. It is the 22nd most populous country in Europe.

Despite its small size, it is one of the more densely populated countries in Europe.

Swiss currency

The official currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, denoted by the symbol “CHF”. The Swiss Franc is renowned for its stability and is widely accepted in both urban centers and rural areas across Switzerland.

To find the current exchange rate between the Swiss Franc (CHF) and the US Dollar (USD), visit the XE Currency Converter website.

Cantons of Switzerland

Switzerland has an area of 41,285 km² divided into 26 cantons as follows.

1. Zurich

ZurichPhoto Credit: Meizhi Lang

The Canton of Zurich is the most populous in Switzerland and is home to the country’s largest international airport, the Zurich Airport.

Some of the top attractions of the canton include Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall, Regensberg Castle, BirdLife-Naturzentrum Neeracherried, and Castle Kyburg, as well as Zurich’s main attractions.

2. Bern

BernPhoto Credit: Carol Jeng

The Canton of Bern is the second most populous canton in the country.

In addition to the capital, Bern, the canton is home to attractions such as the lakes Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and destinations in the Swiss Alps such as Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, and Interlaken.

3. Lucerne

LucerneExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Anthony Da Cruz

The Canton of Lucerne is located in central Switzerland, the canton’s top attractions include Mount Pilatus, the UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch the Schrattenfluh, Sempachersee, Baldeggersee, Mauensee, Rotsee, Zugersee lakes, and Lake Lucerne.

4. Geneva

GenevaPhoto Credit: Lukas Blaskevicius

The Canton of Geneva is located on the border with France and is home to sights and attractions such as Lake Geneva, the Geneva Bioparc, the Palais des Nations, and Genève-Plage.

The canton is home to the second-largest airport in Switzerland.

5. Uri

UriExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Kuno Schweizer

The Canton of Uri is the second least populated canton in Switzerland home to part of Lake Lucerne with the villages and municipalities of Seelisberg, Isleten, Flüelen, and Sisikon surrounding it.

The ski resort Andermatt-Sedrun is one of the canton’s top attractions.

6. Schwyz

SchwyzPhoto Credit: Peter Wormstetter

Schwyz is a canton located in central Switzerland and home to part of the lakes Lake Lucerne and Lake Zurich in the municipalities and villages of Freienbach, Altendorf, Lachen, Tuggen, Wangen, Gersau, Ingenbohl, and Morschach.

The village and municipality of Unteriberg with the ski resort Hoch-Ybrig is one of the canton’s best destinations.

7. Obwalden

ObwaldenExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Stephen Leonardi

Obwalden is another Swiss canton in central Switzerland and one of the least populated in the country.

The canton is home to attractions such as the ski resorts of Skigebiet Mörlialp and Melchsee-Frutt, the scenic Aussichtspunkt Chälrütirank, and the lakes Sarnersee, Lungernsee, Melchsee, and Tannensee.

8. Nidwalden

NidwaldenPhoto Credit: Patrick Robert Doyle

Nidwalden is one of Switzerland‘s least populated cantons, located essentially in the Alps, and home to part of Lake Lucerne in the villages and municipalities of Ennetbürgen, Stansstad, Emmetten, Beckenried, and Buochs.

The canton is home to two of Switzerland‘s most famous hotels, the Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort Lake Lucerne and the Hotel Villa Honegg.

9. Glarus

GlarusExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Janik Fischer

Glarus is a canton in east-central Switzerland with Lake Klöntalersee, the Anna Göldi Museum Glarus, and the Genossenschaft Aeugstenbahn cable car being some of the prominent sights.

The canton has 3 municipalities Netstal, Ennenda, and Riedern.

10. Zug

ZugPhoto Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Zug is one of the smallest cantons in Switzerland in terms of area and is located in the central region.

The canton is home to Lake Ägerisee and a part of the Zugersee.

11. Fribourg

FribourgPhoto Credit: Armand Khoury

Fribourg is a canton in western Switzerland known for its countryside and attractions such as Gruyères Castle, the lakes Lac de la Gruyère, Schiffenensee, Lac de Montsalvens, Schwarzsee, and parts of lakes Neuchâtel and the Murtensee.

12. Solothurn

SolothurnExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Jo L’Helvète

Solothurn is a canton located in the northwestern part of Switzerland.

The canton is home to attractions such as the Regional Nature Park Thal the Neu Bechburg Castle, the Schloss Waldegg, the Balm Ruins, and the Neu-Falkenstein Ruins.

13. Basel-Stadt

Basel-StadtPhoto Credit: Valeriano G

Basel-Stadt is the smallest canton by area in Switzerland and is located in the northwest of the country.

The canton has 3 municipalities, one of which is Basel, the third most populous city in Switzerland.

14. Basel-Landschaft

Basel-LandschaftPhoto Credit: Julian

Basel-Landschaft is a canton in northwestern Switzerland south of the Rhine that borders Germany and France. It is also one of the smallest cantons in terms of area.

15. Schaffhausen

SchaffhausenExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Harry Dona

Schaffhausen is the northernmost canton of Switzerland and borders Germany.

The Rhine Falls (the largest waterfalls in Europe) is located on the border between the Canton of Zurich and the Canton of Schaffhausen.

16. Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell AusserrhodenPhoto Credit: Robert Hrovat

Appenzell Ausserrhoden is a semi-canton located in northeastern Switzerland. The canton was part of the historic canton of Appenzell (split into 2 after the Swiss Reformation).

Appenzell Ausserrhoden is one of the smallest cantons by area and one of the least populated.

17. Appenzell Innerrhoden

Appenzell InnerrhodenPhoto Credit: Xavier von Erlach

The Appenzell Innerrhoden is the other part of the divided historic canton of Appenzell.

It is the second smallest canton by area in Switzerland and the least populated.

18. St. Gallen

St. GallenExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Nadine Marfurt

St. Gallen is one of Switzerlands most populous cantons bordered to the north by Lake Constance(Bodensee) and on the Rhine at the border with Austria and Liechtenstein.

The canton is home to part of Lake Constance, Lake Zurich, Walensee, and the entire lake Gigerwaldsee.

19. Graubünden

GraubündenPhoto Credit: Angelo Burgener

Graubünden is an Alpine canton located in southern Switzerland, known for being home to destinations such as St. Moritz, Davos, and attractions such as the highest railroad in the Alps(Bernina Express), the Swiss National Park, the Val Müstair Biosphere, and the Beverin Naturpark.

20. Aargau

AargauPhoto Credit: ClauDiO Thürlemann

Aargau is one of Switzerlands most populous cantons and is home to attractions such as the Aargau Jura Park, Castle Habsburg, Castle Hallwyl, Castle Wildegg, the ruins of Castle Schenkenberg, and lakes Klingnauer Stausee, Flachsee, and part of Lake Hallwilersee.

21. Thurgau

ThurgauPhoto Credit: Pascal Debrunner

Thurgau is a canton bordered by Lake Constance (Bodensee), the Rhine, and Germany to the north.

Highlights of a visit include the towns along the lake and the Rhine, the Conny-Land amusement park, and the Napoleonmuseum Arenenberg.

22. Ticino

TicinoPhoto Credit: Patrizia Berta

Ticino is a canton in southern Switzerland that borders Italy.

The canton is home to part of the lakes Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano and attractions such as the Castles of Bellinzona, Visconteo Castle, and Sasso Corbaro Castle.

23. Vaud

VaudPhoto Credit: Gabriel Garcia Marengo

Vaud is the third most populous canton in Switzerland and is located on the border with France.

The canton is home to part of Lake Geneva and Lake Neuchâtel. It is the second leading wine-producing canton in the country.

24. Valais

ValaisPhoto Credit: Jeton Bajrami

Valais is the leading wine-producing canton in Switzerland in the upper Rhône River Valley region. The canton is located on the border with France to the west and Italy to the south.

Zermatt is one of the main destinations in the canton of Valais, with several equestrian trails at the foot of the Matterhorn mountain.

25. Neuchâtel

NeuchâtelPhoto Credit: Jo L’Helvète

Neuchâtel is a canton located in western Switzerland and borders France.

The canton is home to part of the lakes Lac de Neuchâtel, Lac de Bienne, Lac de Moron, Lac des Brenets, Lac de Biaufond, and attractions such as the Château de Neuchâtel, the Lac des Taillères, and the Château et musée de Valangin.

26. Jura

JuraExploring Switzerland – Photo Credit: Jacques Bopp

Jura is the newest Swiss canton founded in 1,979 and is located in northwestern Switzerland and on the border with France.

The canton is home to attractions such as the Château de Delémont, the Château de Porrentruy, the Parc Naturel Régional du Doubs, and part of Lac de Biaufond.

Overview of the Cantons of Switzerland

The following is an overview of the capitals, area, population, and number of municipalities in the 26 Swiss cantons.

  1. Canton of Zurich – capital Zurich, area 1,729 km², population 1,521 million, 169 municipalities.
  2. Canton Bern – capital Bern, area 5,960 km², population 1,043 million, 388 municipalities.
  3. Canton of Vaud – capital Lausanne, area 3,212 km², population 814,762, 339 municipalities.
  4. Canton of Argau – capital Aarau, area 1,404 km², population 694,072, 213 municipalities.
  5. Canton of St Gallen – capital St. Gallen, area 2,031 km², population 514,504, 77 municipalities.
  6. Canton of Geneva – capital Geneva, area 282 km², population 506,343, 45 municipalities.
  7. Canton of Lucerne – capital Lucerne, area 1,494 km², population 416,347, 80 municipalities.
  8. Canton of Ticino – capital Bellinzona, area 2,812 km², population 350,986, 115 municipalities.
  9. Canton of Valais – capital Sion, area 5,244 km², population 348,503, 143 municipalities.
  10. Canton of Fribourg – capital Fribourg, area 1,671 km², population 325,496, 168 municipalities.
  11. Canton of Basel-Landschaft – capital Liestal, area 518 km², population 292,955, 86 municipalities.
  12. Canton of Thurgau – capital Frauenfeld, area 992 km², population 282,909, 80 municipalities.
  13. Canton of Solothurn – capital Soleure, area 790 km², population 277,462, 122 municipalities.
  14. Canton Basel-Stadt – capital Basel, area 37 km², population 201,156, 3 municipalities.
  15. Canton of Graubünden – capital Chur, area 7,105 km², population 200,096, 108 municipalities.
  16. Canton of Neuchâtel – capital Neuchâtel, area 802 km², population 175,894, 31 municipalities.
  17. Canton of Schwyz – capital Schwyz, area 908 km², population 162,157, 30 municipalities.
  18. Canton of Zug – capital Zug, area 239 km², population 128,794, 11 municipalities.
  19. Canton of Schaffhausen – capital Schaffhausen, area 298 km², population 83,107, 26 municipalities.
  20. Canton of Jura – capital Delémont, area 839 km², population 73,709, 64 municipalities.
  21. Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden – capital Herisau, area 243 km², population 55,309, 20 municipalities.
  22. Canton of Nidwalden – capital Stans, area 276 km², population 43,520, 11 municipalities.
  23. Canton of Glaurus – capital Glarus, area 685 km², population 40,851, 3 municipalities.
  24. Canton of Obwalden – capital Sarnen, area 491 km², population 38,108, 7 municipalities.
  25. Canton of Uri – capital Altdorf, area 1,077 km², population 36,816, 19 municipalities.
  26. Canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden – capital Appenzell, area 172 km², population 16,293, 5 districts.

20 Largest Cities in Switzerland by Population

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland with an estimated population of 421,878, followed by Geneva with a population of 203,856, and Basel with a population of 178,120.

The following is a list of the 20 largest cities in Switzerland by population.

  1. Zurich – 421,878
  2. Geneva – 203,856
  3. Basel – 178,120
  4. Lausanne – 140,202
  5. Bern – 134,794
  6. Winterthur – 114,220
  7. Lucerne – 82,620
  8. Gallen – 76,213
  9. Lugano – 62,315
  10. Biel – 55,206
  11. Thun – 43,476
  12. Bellinzona – 43,360
  13. Köniz – 42,388
  14. Fribourg – 38,039
  15. Schaffhausen – 36,952
  16. La Chaux-de-Fonds – 36,915
  17. Chur – 36,336
  18. Uster – 35,337
  19. Sion – 34,978
  20. Vernier – 34,898

Map of Switzerland

Largest airports in Switzerland

  1. Zurich Airport (ZRH)
  2. Geneva Airport (GVA)
  3. EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (international airport serving France, Germany and Switzerland) – (BSL)
  4. St. Gallen Airport (ACH)
  5. Lugano Airport (LUG)
  6. Bern Airport (BRN)

Photo Highlighted by Patrick Robert Doyle

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See also

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