Things to Do in Switzerland - page 5
Limmatquai is the street along the right side of the river Limmat in central Zurich. On one side is the Rathaus, Zurich's Baroque parliament building.
Limmatquai is a vibrant shopping, dining and hotel area with many interesting buildings dating from the days of the rich Guilds which governed Zurich until 1789. It is the perfect place to start your exploration of the narrow, charming streets of the Old Town.
Legend has it that in the 6th century, a dragon took shelter in these caves while the monk and hermit Beatus of Lungern was hunting him. The St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus Hohlen), which sit next to the lakes of Interlaken, were formed over many centuries and are full of stunning stalagmites, stalactites, lakes, and waterfalls.
Weggis is a municipality in central Switzerland, which is located right on the shores of Lake Lucerne and at the foot of the Queen of the Mountains, the Rigi. The inhabitants of Weggis often claim that their town is a little bit warmer than other places on the northern side of the Alps and they might just be right. Due to being protected from the harsh north wind, the climate is milder and there is hardly a garden in Weggis that doesn’t spread that little bit of vacation feeling with a palm tree or two. Even Mark Twain once described Weggis, where chestnut trees, grapes and figs flourish, as “the most charming place…” and compared it to the French Riviera.
The town is strongly based in tourism and has many great hospitality and gastronomy options, but is also the starting point for a number of beautiful hikes around the Rigi. Many visitors choose to arrive aboard one of the old paddlewheel steamers and follow the trail of history through Weggis and beyond. One of them is the Mark Twain Trail, which commemorates the famous author and leads to Rigi Kulm. Another historic walk follows the side of the mountain to Küssnacht , leading through the Hohle Gasse, a historic alley that played an important part in Swiss mythology. According to the legend, it was in that spot, where Switzerland’s national hero William Tell shot Gessler, the evil Habsburg bailiff, with his crossbow.
The picturesque little village of Gruyères is best known the world over for its cheese manufacture but it is also home to two very different museums: one is the slightly sinister HR Giger Museum, full of SciFi models and paintings. The village’s second revelation is right next door; the Tibet Museum specializes in spectacular historic art from the Himalayan region and is tucked away in the renovated Chapel of St Joseph in Gruyères’ medieval heart.
Founded in 2009, the Tibet Museum showcases Buddhist iconography, textiles, gleaming golden statuettes and ritual artifacts that were lovingly collected over 30 years by Alain Bordier. Displayed in half-light to a background of serene music, the antique furniture and decorative pieces are of the highest quality from across Himalayan Asia, with many more than 1,500 years old.
With its reputation as the mecca of high-fashion shopping, Milan not only offers the hallowed designer-filled streets of the Quad d’Oro and the world’s most beautiful department store at 10 Corso Como but is also conveniently located for sorties into Switzerland to hoover up cut-price bargains at FoxTown Factory Stores.
Switzerland’s most popular discounted outlet mall is found in Mendrisio near the border with Italy. It offers over 160 designer stores including world-renowned names, plus the chance to secure savings of up to 70 percent on recommended retail prices.
With most items selling at factory prices, fashion stores include the niche jeans brand 7 for all Mankind, British high-end store Burberry and favorite Italian designers Versace, Valentino, Prada and Gucci; sleek interior design stores Le Creuset and Villeroy and Boch compete for the homeware market; and in the middle-price range Nike, Adidas, Swatch and Diesel all have outposts here. Several lunch venues are found conveniently on site, including traditional fondues at Chalet Suisse or brioche and pastries at FoxCaffè, and if you’re really determined to spend all your money, there’s even an onsite casino.
Mönch is a mountain peak in the Switzerland’s Bernese Alps that, together with Eiger and Jungfrau, forms one of the most recognizable groups of mountains in the country. Located on the border between Valais and Bern, it is the most climbed of the three peaks. Mönch was first summited in 1857 and today, is thought to be a good starting point for climbing in the area. A one-day climb up Mönch can be a good way to adjust to the altitude and get an introduction to climbing in the area. The normal route follows the southeast ridge, which includes come exposed ridge climbing on snow and gneissic rock. The Nollen route on Mönch’s northwest side is considered more challenging due to the presence of ice.
Nobel Prize-wining physicist Albert Einstein (1879–1955) resided in a sandstone-fronted second-floor apartment in Bern between 1903 and 1905 while working at the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property. Although he lived and worked in the city for seven years, 1905 was pivotal to his life as he developed his Theory of Relativity, turning scientific perceptions on their heads and laying down the foundations of modern physics. His modest two-room apartment in the heart of Bern’s UNESCO-listed Old Town (Altstadt) is now a museum showcasing his family life with wife Mileva Marić and son Hans Albert.
To celebrate the centenary of Einstein’s life in Bern, the apartment was restored in 2005 to feature period furniture and décor. The suite of rooms feature original family photographs and permit a sneaking glance into the private life as well as the unorthodox genius of one of the world’s brightest intellectuals. On the third floor of the townhouse is an exhibition celebrating Einstein’s many achievements in physics plus a 20-minute video detailing his life in Switzerland.
Recognized as the largest glacier in the Swiss Alps, Altesch glacier stretches across nearly 50 square miles of protected mountain terrain. While visitors lament its far-flung proximity to any major Swiss city, most agree that the well-kept hiking trails, impressive views and natural beauty make it worth a trip. Active adventurers can explore the glacier on foot, while less intrepid travelers can venture to the top of Aletsch aboard one of the famous cable cars. Uninhibited 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape make for a most memorable journey regardless of how visitors voyage to the top.
Known to many as the Bodmer Library, the Martin Bodmer Foundation (Fondation Martin Bodmer) outside of Geneva is a library and museum whose permanent collection attempts to retrace the history of civilization through writing. Bodmer established the library in the 1920s and built two neo-Baroque houses in the town of Cologny to house works focused on five pillars of world literature: the Bible, Homer, Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Today, the collection includes more than 160,000 items.
Highlights include a Gutenberg Bible from 1452, a first edition print of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses from 1517, and the oldest surviving Gospel of James, as well as a collection of 22 papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. Known as the Bodmer Papyri, the latter include segments from the Old and New Testaments, writings of Homer, and pieces of early Christian literature.
Visit for free with the Geneva Pass, which includes admission to over 30 city attractions, such as the towers of St. Peter's Basilica and the Art and History Museum.
The Furka Pass is a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps that reaches a high of nearly 2500 meters above sea level. Considered one of the best drives in Europe, it connects the town of Gletsch in Valais with the town of Realp in Uri. The pass may be best known as the site of a memorable car chase scene in the James Bond film, Goldfinger. A drive along the pass starts from Gletsch with a few tight switchbacks before turning into a long path along the rock face of the valley for about six kilometers, providing scenic views of the surrounding area. The road then gets steeper toward the top of the pass and the route down the other side is quite narrow and steep.
The pass also brings visitors within a few hundred meters of the Rhone Glacier, the source of the Rhone River. Stopping at the Hotel Belvedere, just short of the top of the pass, is a good opportunity to walk to the glacier, just two minutes from the hotel. Don’t miss the glacier grotto, an ice chamber that is built anew each year.
Before starting out, visitors may want to check out the short nature hike near Gletsch that provides information about the pre-glacier era. Also in Gletsch is the train station for the Furka steam train to Realp.
More Things to Do in Switzerland
Surrounded by a white wall topped with the golden East Asian roofs and interspersed with bright red gates, Zurich's Chinese Garden(Chinagarten) is about as far removed from the traditional Swiss houses neighboring it as possible. The garden is a quiet oasis of little ponds, lush vegetation and intricately decorated buildings with tiered roofs, red pillars and bright green railings, a place where strolls on perfectly planned paths and meditation sessions are possible. Paintings and ornaments feature the unique culture of Yunnan Province and a big focus is set on the three friends of winter: pine, bamboo and plum. The plants are a big theme in Confucianism and since they don’t wither in winter and instead flourish, they represent perseverance.
The Chinese Garden was a gift from Zürich’s sister city Kunming, as thanks for the help it received in the construction of a drinking water and drainage system. Now the garden is not only seen as one of the most beautiful Chinese gardens in the world, but is also considered to be the highest ranking temple garden outside of China. Apart from the pavilions and bridges, there is also a Chinese take away next to the main entrance, where one can enjoy the fresh spring rolls with a fitting view.
The beautifully tended Lakeside Flower Promenade (Chemin Fleuri) winds its way for 6.25 miles (10 kilometers) along the Swiss northwestern shoreline of Lake Geneva from Vevey to Villenueve, taking in the stylish town of Montreux and the fortified lakeside Château de Chillon. The pathway is lined
with cacti, palms and plane trees as well as numerous funky sculptures, including one of Freddie Mercury in the center of Montreux; there are benches from which to contemplate the delightful alpine views and neatly planted parks full of exotic flowers. On summer evenings it seems the whole of Montreux gathers along the promenade to take the air, chat, jog, rollerblade or simply admire the spectacular views.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants scattered along the sparkling lakeside, and kids will love the little train that chugs up and down the prom in Montreux during the summer. An easy section of the walk for families to follow runs from Montreux to the 11th‐century Château de Chillon, perched on a rocky islet just south of the town. This gentle stroll takes around 45 minutes amid glorious panoramas; from the castle it is possible to take an old‐fashioned steamer back up the lake to Montreux.
Zoo Zurich is very conservation-conscious, aiming as much to protect animals and sustain biological diversity in the world as to enable humans to look at the creatures they share their planet with. Home to over 250 species, including the endangered snow leopard and red panda, the zoo's slogan is 'Those who know animals will protect them.'
Children can feed sheep, pigs, ponies and goats at the zoo, while forest, mountain, aquatic and tropical ecosystems are also spread out throughout the site. Enclosures are spacious and aim to allow the animals to wander relatively freely in environments that echo their natural habitats.
Adventure Park Interlaken (Seilpark Interlaken) provides adrenaline-pumping forest adventures in the scenic foothills of the Swiss Alps, with nine different courses of varying difficulty suitable for everyone from young children upwards, although there is a minimum height requirement of 3.3 feet, or one meter. A maze of wooden platforms is connected through the forest by Tarzan lines, rope bridges, ladders and zip lines from ground level up to high among the treetops in unspoiled pine forest.
All equipment is provided and a safety briefing is given on an easy low-level circuit before visitors are let loose in the park; the harnesses lock magnetically as a further safety precaution. All of the rope courses are graded, the gentlest being Grasshopper, which is aimed at young kids and runs five feet (1.5 meters) above the ground for 115 feet (35 meters). Far more demanding and requiring a degree of physical fitness is Eagle, reaching up to heights of 65 feet (20 meters) for 492 feet (150 meters) and packed with strenuous high-rise challenges.
Mt. Stanserhorn’s CabriO cable car is the first in the world to boast a roofless upper deck, bringing you closer to the Swiss landscape. Breathe in fresh Alpine air as you ascend to the 6,227-foot (1,898-meter) summit and enjoy panoramic views of the mountain towns, lakes, and meadows below.
Kloster Engelberg is a working monastery that’s home to around 30 Benedictine monks. It was built in 1120, and then rebuilt after fire damaged it in the early 18th century. Visitors can take a guided tour to check out the beautiful interior, interesting artifacts, and the baroque monastery church.
Located in the Western Rhaetian Alps in the far eastern corner of Switzerland, the Swiss National Park (Parc Naziunal Svizzer) is Switzerland’s only national park and the country’s largest protected natural area. Virtually untouched by human development, the park offers a huge variety of hiking trails for all abilities and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.
The Rosengart Collection (Museum Sammlung Rosengart) is Lucerne’s newest museum addition and houses the extensive and once private collection of Angela Rosengart, a Swiss art dealer and good friend to the famous Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. Rosengart, who has collected one of the biggest private art stashes of the classical modernist era, wanted to make these paintings, which would normally just be passed from one private collector to the next, more accessible to the public. The museum, which now draws art lovers from all over the world, has earned international recognition for its focus on the works of Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee, a Swiss German painter famous for his unique style of cubism, expressionism and surrealism. While the Klee collection consists of 125 watercolor pieces, paintings and drawings showing the artist’s whole career, the Picasso part of the exhibition mainly focuses on his older works that were created after 1938, with a couple sketches from earlier eras thrown in to compliment the paintings. A third floor houses more than 20 other world famous artists of the impressionist and classical modernist eras, such as Monet, Matisse, Miró and Léger.
The collection is located in the center of Lucerne in an empire style building originally constructed for the Swiss National Bank. The simple but well-built palazzo is a fitting place for the museum, as the neo-classical structure was built in the same time period when many of the great pieces of art it houses themselves were created. The inside is an interface between old and new, with high walls and an open floor plan to give the art more than enough room to breathe. Some more light sensitive works have even found their home in the old bank vaults.
Seeming to defy gravity, the First Cliff Walk by Tissot is a metal walkway desperately clinging to the cliffside in Switzerland’s Jungfrau region. The suspension bridge and viewing platform offer adventurous travelers heart-racing views over the Alps and give the ethereal sensation of flying over the valleys below.
The Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps is the source of the Rhône River, which travels through Switzerland and France into the Mediterranean Sea, and contributes to Lake Geneva. It’s estimated to be more than 10,000 years old. Visitors can view it from the outside and also walk inside the glacier.
The Richard Wagner Museum is located in a country manor where the 19th-century German composer Richard Wagner lived for a short time, just before his death. The building, located on the southern shore of Lake Lucerne, in Tribschen, houses a variety of interesting items, including historical musical instruments and Wagner memorabilia.
Travelers looking to experience the pure beauty of the Mannlichen region need look no further than the Wengen-Männlichen Aerial Cableway. This high-speed cable car takes travelers straight to the top Wengen where unmatched views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley continue for miles.
Visitors love the comfortable seats, smooth ride and huge, crystal-clear windows that are perfect for taking in the picturesque surroundings. Alpine flowers, snow dusted peaks, winding roads and stretches of lush green hillside make for memorable photo ops and remind visitors why a visit to Switzerland is worth the trip any time of year. A favorite destination for travelers to the region, the high-flying aerial cableway is not for the faint of heart!
Acting as a microcosm of Swiss rural tradition and history, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum covers 66 hectares in area and displays a collection of around 100 historic buildings from different regions and different times, all carefully reconstructed in scenic Alpine foothills. The museum was opened in 1978 with just 16 wooden chalets and barns; since then stables, bakeries, mills, ornate half-timbered townhouses, a chapel, and cuckoo-clock-cute chalets have been added to the mix, with many Swiss francs spent relocating these buildings brick by brick. They are located among flower gardens and crop fields to create a convincing 17th-century rural community, where horses and cows – complete with tinkling bells – roam free and costumed characters farm the land, work the waterwheel, weave textiles and make cheese and chocolate. There are exhibitions of clothing, tools and herbal medicines in many of the buildings; a full schedule of craft demonstrations –and even Swiss wrestling – throughout the day; pony-and-trap rides across the park; and beautiful mountain vistas to fall in love with.
Europe’s highest aerial cableway leads to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, beneath the north face of the mighty triangular peak made famous by the Toblerone logo. At an altitude of 12,740 feet (3,883 meters), the glacial wonderland offers incredible views over the Alps and thrilling activities year-round.
- Things to do in Geneva
- Things to do in Zurich
- Things to do in Lucerne
- Things to do in Interlaken
- Things to do in Basel
- Things to do in Montreux
- Things to do in Davos
- Things to do in St Moritz
- Things to do in Zermatt
- Things to do in Monaco
- Things to do in Luxembourg
- Things to do in Swiss Alps
- Things to do in Central Switzerland
- Things to do in Lake Geneva
- Things to do in Rhône-Alpes