Things to Do in Switzerland
Welcome to the Olympic Museum Lausanne (Musée Olympique): 1,500 objects, 32,292 square feet (3,000 square meters) and seven hours of audio-visual and interactive material make it the largest archive of Olympic Games in the world. Its state-of-the art, hands-on exhibition immerses visitors in the history and spirit of the Olympics on an approximately two-hour tour of the museum's three stories and surrounding grounds.
Your visit to the museum begins in the basement but ends up in the Olympic Village, where hundreds of athletes live and train over 15 days. Discover how they eat, how they relax and how technology influences their training by trying your hand at interactive devices that will allow you to experience the extent of their physical capabilities.
On the ground floor, you'll learn about the Games themselves with a 180-degree theater and a display room full of memorabilia and Olympic medals. The second-floor exhibit is dedicated to the Olympics' ancient origins and showcases torches from every edition of the Games since 1936, as well as the first Olympic flag, dating back to 1913.
Good for both sports fans and families, the Olympic Museum is a popular stop among visitors arriving to Lausanne on a day trip from nearby Geneva or Chamonix. Most trips include a guided tour of the iconic Château de Chillon and a stop in the lakeside town of Montreux, so you can make the most out of your visit to the Swiss countryside.
Dating back to 1898, Switzerland’s Gornergrat Railway (Gornergrat Bahn) continues today as Europe’s highest open-air railway. Its train whisks sightseers and skiers from the resort town of Zermatt to the mountain’s 10,135-foot (3,089-meter) station, while providing views of Alpine hamlets, colossal glaciers, and the iconic Matterhorn.
Located at the heart of Bernese Oberland and surrounded by the famous peaks of Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) is one of Central Switzerland’s most photographed natural wonders and the country’s fourth largest lake. Whether you’re soaring overhead in a cable car, cruising the lake itself, or visiting waterfront villages such as Weggis and Gersau, Lake Lucerne is mesmerizing from all angles.
Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) is Switzerland's largest body of water, though most of its southern shore lies within France. A crescent of blue hemmed in by the snowy peaks of the French and Swiss Alps, the lake is a year-round hotspot for outdoor activities, with a northern shore covered in picturesque villages, terraced vineyards, and medieval castles.
Gruyères is a Swiss village world-famous for the production of cheese but this cute little Alpine enclave has an eccentric surprise tucked up its sleeve. Known for surreal and sometimes disturbing paintings, film props, album covers and – most famously – the mechanical monster from Alien, the renowned Swiss artist HR Giger (1940–2014) moved here in 1997, buying the medieval Château St Germain. The following year he opened the world’s biggest collection of his work in a wing of the castle; not for the faint-hearted, Musée HR Giger is no ordinary museum but a fully immersive adventure on the dark side of art, made all the more striking by the chocolate-box sweetness of the surrounding village.
Among Giger’s weird and macabre SciFi models, props, sketches and drawings for the film sets ofAlien,Dune andPoltergeist is some of his graphic erotica, all clearly labeled ‘Adults Only’ and displayed in sepulchral gloom. The exhibition also features a short movie on his life, the Academy Award he won for Alien and artwork from his own private collection, which includes pieces by Ernst Fuchs and Salvador Dalí. Following a tour of the museum, most visitors head to the cavernous Giger-themed bar for a restorative strong drink.
This mountain pass in the Bernese Oberland may be best known as the starting point for the scenic Jungfrau Railway, but it's also a hiking hub: several trails from here offer stunning mountain views. From an elevation of more than 2,000 meters (6,560 feet), you can marvel at the peaks of Jungfrau and Mönch, and the stark Eiger North Face.
Europe’s highest suspension bridge, the Titlis Cliff Walk provides panoramas across the Uri Alps for any intrepid explorer willing to cross the 10,000-foot- (3,041-meter-) high, open-air walkway. Linking two snow-capped crags on the summit of Mt. Titlis, the bridge connects the Ice Flyer chairlift and Südwandfenster viewing platform.
The Jungfrau, a sky-high saddle in the Swiss Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers jaw-dropping views of the Bernese Oberland’s massive glaciers and snowy peaks. Travel by narrow cog railway to Jungfraujoch and stand on “the Top of Europe” as you gaze out at the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in Europe, and far, far beyond.
Fed by clear glacial waters that flow down the Swiss Alps, the crescent-shaped Lake Zurich (Zurichsee) forms the scenic backdrop to Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, which spreads along the western tip of the lake. Measuring 25 miles (40 kilometers) in length and 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) in width, this alpine lake offers an easily accessible escape to nature for those based in the city, with plenty of swimming spots, hiking routes, tranquil islands, and picturesque mountain scenery.
Gruyère AOP is one of the most famous Swiss cheeses and has been produced from cow milk in the Fribourg region since 1115; traditionally the dairy herds roam free over alpine pastures and eat fresh foraged grass, which is is said to give the cheese its mellow taste and distinctive grainy texture.
Lying in lush foothills between Bern and Lake Geneva, La Maison du Gruyère in the charming alpine village of Pringy‐Gruyères is a one‐stop mine of information dedicated to the history and making of this gourmet cheese. As well as being a working show dairy where around 40 wheels of Gruyère are made each day, clever interactive displays describe the eight production processes that are vital to producing Gruyère, and how they have been handed down through the generations since the Middle Ages.
It’s easy to spend the day at La Maison du Gruyère; several cheese‐making demonstrations each day give the chance to see master craftsmen at work in the gleaming steel kitchens; slabs of Gruyère crafted in the dairy can be bought in the souvenir shop; the restaurant has a menu of traditional Swiss röstis and fondues; and there’s even a dairy‐themed play park for toddlers. For those wishing to see more of the alpine landscapes around Gruyères, two walk itineraries lead up to the mountain pastures to see the cow herds grazing, with bells tinkling around their
More Things to Do in Switzerland
Set on the left bank of the River Reuss, the Lucerne Old Town is encircled by medieval walls and watchtowers and connected to the right bank by two covered wooden bridges: Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) and Spreuer Bridge (Spreuerbrücke). The narrow streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are lined with half-timbered houses and 15th-century buildings.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Empire State Building, and Geneva has the Water Fountains (Jet d’Eau)—a stunning feature in Lake Geneva launching water 460 feet (140 meters) into the air. Enjoy views and snap a souvenir photo from the waterfront, where the River Rhône meets Lake Geneva.
Montreux, on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva, has been a popular hangout among artistic types since the 19th century. The Old Town of Montreux (Vieille-Ville de Montreux) is an often overlooked part of the city, due to its location on a steep hill high above the town, but the views and relaxed atmosphere are worth the climb.
Chillon Castle (Chateau de Chillon), a medieval castle on the banks of Lake Geneva, is one of Switzerland’s most visited attractions. Travelers come to find out more about its fascinating history—it was used as a defensive outpost, a summer home for the dukes of Savoy, and a state-run prison.
Forces of nature are on full display in Glacier Canyon, which was formed as the Lower Grindelwald Glacier slowly carved its way through the rock in the area. As waterfalls and streams pour down into the Lütschine River, a walk through Glacier Canyon is a total sensory experience.
All visitors to Geneva should spend some time exploring the Old Town (Vieille Ville) area. It’s full of fascinating museums, churches, and atmospheric cafés, plus most of the streets are pedestrian-only, so you can wander aimlessly without a care.
Opened in spring 2016, Chaplin’s World by Grévin in Corsier-Sur-Vevey, Switzerland, is the first museum dedicated to the life of actor Charlie Chaplin. Set in a neoclassical mansion where Chaplin lived for some 25 years, the museum features many of the home’s original furnishings, as well as family photographs, personal belongings, mementos and more than 30 wax figures of individuals who crossed paths with Chaplin or who were inspired by his work.
Chaplin’s World also includes a separate, Hollywood-style studio where visitors can immerse themselves in the world of silent film and try out the art of pantomime. The studio also includes recreated sets from some of Chaplin’s most famous movies. The surrounding park is also open to the public and offers panoramic views of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps.
A snow-coated wonderland perched high in the Vaud Alps of Western Switzerland, the Glacier 3000 resort is a one-stop destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Just an hour from Montreux, it offers spectacular mountain views, ample opportunities for hiking and skiing, and a huge range of adrenaline-fueled activities.
The oldest covered bridge in Europe, Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke) has spanned the river Reuss in Lucerne since the Middle Ages. Decorated with paintings along the interior, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Switzerland.
Soaring over the Bernina Pass and climbing to a dizzying 7,392 feet (2,253 meters) above sea level, the famous Bernina Express is one of Europe’s most beautiful railway routes. Running for 75 miles (122 kilometers) from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy, it’s the only railway that connects the North and South Alps, and offers dramatic mountain views.
Bahnhofstrasse isthe shopping street in Zurich. Running from Bahnhofplatz outside the main train station all the way to the lake, it's full of luxury shops selling designer fashion, furs, porcelain, and, of course, chocolates, clocks and watches. Halfway along is Zurich's first, biggest and best department store Jelmoli. The basement food-hall is a must. Or if you want the best in Swiss chocolate, take a break at Cafe Sprungli, the epicenter of sweet Switzerland since 1836.
Bahnhofstrasse follows the line of the moat of medieval Zurich and is mainly pedestrianized, although watch out for the trams running along it. It runs parallel to the river Limmat and it's easy to punctuate your shopping with visits to churches and other important sites of Zurich dotted in the narrow streets between. Culture and consumerism: Zurich has them both.
Perched on a rocky precipice 11,716 feet (3,571 meters) above sea level, the Sphinx Observatory is a working lab with a large telescope. The landmark sits on Jungfraujoch peak—known as the "Top of Europe"—and offers stunning views of the Bernese Alps and beyond from its observation deck, one of the highest in Switzerland.
Reaching 10,626 feet (3,239 meters) above sea level, Mt. Titlis is Central Switzerland’s highest peak and probably its finest vantage point. The mountain has a cutting-edge transportation system—including, most famously a revolving cable car that turns 360 degrees during the ride to the top station at 9,908 feet (3,020 meters). Those lucky enough to be inside the car are graced with stunning panoramic views of Alpine peaks, sheer rock faces, and an icy crevasse-cracked glacier.
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- Things to do in Swiss Alps
- Things to do in Central Switzerland
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