There are many interesting and famous Swiss things that are known to most of us, but I bet you don’t know all of these listed in our post. From unique Swiss activities to general Swiss behaviour, the post highlights a bit of everything. These things are great to know and learn before you also travel to Switzerland, as they can inspire you to visit and you can enjoy the country more with this knowledge.
22 Swiss Things
Here is our list of 22 interesting Swiss things, submitted by myself and others to share with you:
When most people think of Switzerland, they think of snow-capped mountains and breathtaking scenery, and they wouldn’t be wrong! Situated among some of the highest mountains in Europe, Switzerland is most often recognized for its location among the infamous Alps.
Notorious for its winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing, and mountain trekking, the Alps include some of the most astonishing mountains in the world. While the Alps range is also spread across the countries of Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Slovenia, Monaco, and Liechtenstein, Switzerland is home to the magnificent Matterhorn in Zermatt and nearby the highest mountain in Europe, Mont Blanc.
With endless activities from hiking to paragliding and even ice climbing, there are no boundaries when it comes to exploring the vast mountains that are scattered all over Switzerland. People come from around the world regardless of the season to take advantage of the Swiss Alps’ exciting activities and unparalleled beauty. Over time, tourists and expats alike have formed the conclusion that Switzerland is best known for its stunning Alps and mountainous landscape!
Written by Emily from Emily Embarks
Switzerland is not all about its picturesque green valley, snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes or lively waterfalls. Besides these, Switzerland is also known for its delicious chocolates. If you are a foodie or a chocolate lover, Switzerland is heaven for you. It is one of the first countries that have produced chocolate! In 1819, François-Louis Cailler opened the first mechanised chocolate factory in Vevey in 1819. But the most famous Swiss milk chocolate was first developed by Daniel Peter by mixing condensed milk and chocolate at a perfect ratio.
Switzerland has a long history of excellence in the chocolate field and many chocolatiers still use the traditional way(hand-made) to make the chocolates. The silky-smooth Swiss chocolates easily melt in your mouth and the flavour stays with you even after several minutes. The creamy texture of Swiss chocolates is praised all over the world.
The main USP of these renowned Swiss chocolate brands (like Lindt, Nestle) is the unique and high-quality ingredients that create an amazing flavour for your tastebuds. Sprungli is another old and popular brand that doesn’t use any preservatives, artificial colour or flavour. You will find these chocolate brand shops almost in all cities in Switzerland. These Swiss treats can make your Switzerland trip more flavourful.
Written by Trijit Mallick from Budget Travel Buff
While you may think of the Swiss Alps as a ski destination, in the summer, Switzerland’s mountains are one of Europe’s best destinations for mountain biking!
If you’re visiting Switzerland in summer, you should definitely add at least a half-day of mountain biking to your Switzerland itinerary.
Switzerland has an immaculately maintained set of mountain biking trails perfect for any level of cyclist. The trails are clearly marked with distances and are easy to combine together to create a ride of the perfect length and difficulty level for you.
The Valais region around Nendaz is a fantastic place for beginning mountain cyclists, as the mountain trails are not too intense. Best of all, bike-friendly funiculars will easily transport you and your bike to the top of the mountains, so you can enjoy a mostly downhill cycling experience!
Of course, there are also more difficult mountain biking trails you can find if that’s the kind of adrenaline-pumping activity you are looking for.
Bonus: You can even rent an e-bike if you want a little more help powering up those hills! There’s no shame in it, and the Swiss love their e-bikes!
Written by Allison of Eternal Arrival
If you love to ski, don’t miss adding Switzerland to your travel bucket list. With the Alps covering almost 60% of the country, its mountainous alpine landscape offers some of the best skiing in the world. In fact, it’s home to the highest ski lift and longest ski run in Europe. The longest ski run is 25km long, taking you from Klein Matterhorn all the way down to the chic mountain village of Zermatt. Zermatt in winter is magical. Tucked away in the alps, the car-free village is known for its stunning views of the Matterhorn, lively apres-ski scene, gourmet restaurants and luxury boutique hotels. One of the most unique skiing experiences you can do is take the lift from Zermatt up to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and ski down into Italy for the day. The setting changes as you see espresso bars and Italian restaurants pop up on the ski hill.
Written by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Switzerland is known for their cheese, and in particular, for their cheese fondue. With fondue, cheese is melted in a communal pot, and then everyone at the table is given skewers with which you can dunk your items – usually crusty bread (although sometimes boiled potatoes, blanched vegetables, or pickles are offered as well) – into the cheese.
Cheeses used generally include some type of mixture of gruyère, emmentaler, and appenzeller. Fondue is served as a main dish, not as a side or starter. It is particularly popular in alpine restaurants, although you can find it on the menu in many restaurants throughout Switzerland.
You can find a fun twist on fondue at the Christmas markets in Switzerland, such as the Basal Christmas market, where they serve fondue stuffed baguettes! (A half baguette is hollowed out, filled with melted cheese, and topped with crispy onions).
Fun fact: Fondue comes from the French verb “fondre”, which means “to melt.”
Written by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast
The Swiss are known to be very punctual in personal and work life. It is a way of life that everyone turns up on time to their appointments, work and personal fun. Which I personally think is good! I mean why make an appointment for 2pm if you dont arrive until 2.15pm?! Making people wait it just not nice.
Being on time also refers to the Swiss public transportation too, with trains rarely arriving or leaving late from Swiss stations. Everyone also allows people to get off first before stepping on board, allowing space and waiting until the last person, which avoids the issue of being in the way.
The Red Cross
Starting in Geneva, Switzerland, the Red Cross is one of the world’s most well known charities. It started as an initiative by Henry Dunant in 1863. Despite hard work and issues along the way, in 1901 Henry became the first recipient of the Nobel peace prize for this. With the Red Cross (and the Geneva Conventions) now operating worldwide for those in need.
Perhaps Switzerland’s most iconic natural landmark and one of the most recognizable peaks in the world, the jagged pyramid-shaped Matterhorn towers above the Swiss Alps near the quaint town of Zermatt in southern Switzerland. You may recognize the shape of the Matterhorn as the logo for the Toblerone chocolate bars! The name Matterhorn comes from two German words: “matte”, meaning “meadow” and “horn”, meaning “peak”.
To get up close to the Matterhorn, you can take a series of cable cars up to Klein Matterhorn (“little” Matterhorn), a smaller peak located next to the Matterhorn. Klein Matterhorn is also referred to as “Matterhorn Glacier Paradise” and features a viewing platform and excellent ski slopes.
While Matterhorn Glacier Paradise gets you up close to the Matterhorn, the most iconic views are found along the 5 Lakes Trail, an easy 6-mile hike featuring a consistent backdrop of the Matterhorn in the distance. The best Matterhorn view is found at Stellisee, the largest of the 5 lakes along the trail. If the weather conditions are just right, here you can see a stunning reflection of the jagged peak onto the still waters of the lake!
Written by Sarah & Matt of Two Outliers
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, is the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Geneva, and in Switzerland in general. It was established in 1954 and today, among other things, it’s the site of the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider.
Even if you’re not into physics, CERN is such a unique place that will certainly spark your interest. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s very difficult to get a spot for one of the free guided tours. Reservations are mandatory and are open in two slots – one 15 days and one 3 days before the day of the tour. The demand is high and spots are being taken very quickly, so be sure to put it on your to-do list to book in advance, if you will be in the area of Geneva.
Since the beginning of the pandemic the process of registration for group tours has been changed. At the time when this article is published, in April 2022, it’s not possible to book a tour online. All visitors have to book their spot at the main desk, maximum 2 hours in advance. All instructions and tour schedules can be found on their main website.
Written by Lyubomira by Bulgarian On The Go
Jungfraujoch – The Top Of Europe
With 48 mountain peaks that are at least 4,000 metres high, it’s no surprise the highest train station in Europe can be included on an itinerary for Switzerland.
Located a whopping 3,466 metres up, Jungfraujoch proudly boasts the title of the “Top of Europe,” and once you visit, it’s easy to see why! Above the clouds and mountain peaks sprawling to the horizon, it really does feel as though one is not just on the top of Europe, but the world.
It’s almost hard to believe the track was such a marvel of engineering for its time, being completed in 1912. Visitors can take the Jungfraubahn from Kleine Scheidegg all the way to the summit, the journey breathtaking as the train passes by chunks of snow and ice.
At the summit, which the temperature can range from -11° / -22° during the winter months and creep up to 0° in summer, visitors can be left in awe at the Aletsch Glacier from the outdoor Sphinx Observation Deck.
If the weather take a bad turn, there are plenty of indoor things to see, such as an ice corridor, animal sculptures carved from ice and a mini museum detailing Jungfraujoch’s lengthy history.
Written by Alyse from The Invisible Tourist
Affectionately known as the ‘slowest fast train in the world’, the Glacier Express is a high speed train connecting some of the most tricky terrain and remote destinations to navigate in the Swiss Alps. Hence the overall slow pace of the train.
The journey connects between Zermatt, a high altitude ski resort located next to the iconic Matterhorn mountain, and the Glitzy winter resort of St Moritz on a 7-hour stretch. Along the way it passes some far-flung and fascinating attractions including the beginning of the river Rhine and UNESCO world heritage site the Landwasser Viaduct. The train only stops once between the 2 destinations, at Chur, dining experiences onboard as well as a bit of luxury with panoramic carriage views.
However it is still a regular route included on local train passes and the Glacier Express is included on Interrail Pass so it is still an affordable/accessible experience for most travellers.
Written by Allan Wilson from It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
Camellia Flowers in Ticino, Switzerland
These gorgeous flowers are well known for blooming in the Ticino region during Spring time. The popular colour you see the most is the pink shown in the photo below, but camellia flowers have up to 300 different types. It usually grows up to 20metres high, making it beautiful to walk under. The camellia flowers are from the Theaceae family, used also for tea (the leaves) in other countries.
Four State Languages
Switzerland is a unique country known for having four national languages. How can four different languages coexist in one relatively small country? The language issue in Switzerland is a very interesting one. The country does not have its own one language like most countries of Europe. Switzerland uses the languages of neighbouring countries: German, French, Italian, while the only language it could consider “its own” – Romansh – is very poorly developed.
Different parts of the country have different official languages. How does all this function successfully and not cause problems? It’s very simple: Switzerland is a confederation, and its member cantons have numerous rights.
In fact, being in different parts of the country, you sometimes feel like you are in different countries. In the French cantons, there is almost no German, there is almost nothing duplicated here. In the German ones, everything is in German, and in Italian Ticino and neighbouring areas, nothing is translated into French or German. Everyone speaks the languages they feel comfortable with, uses them in everyday life, and everyone is happy: no one imposes anything on anyone.
In all Federal bodies (Parliament, Central Bank, Ministries, Supreme Court) all documents are obligatory translated into all 3 languages, and in some cases – into Romansh and English.Not only the languages are different in different regions of Switzerland, but also the Swiss themselves and their culture.
The French-speaking cantons are like France; the German ones are like Germany; and the Italian-speaking cantons are similar to Northern Italy. And it’s not just about the language: the architecture, the infrastructure, and the urban environment. So when you’re planning your Switzerland itinerary, be sure to visit the different language regions to understand this fascinating country.
Written by Sasha from The Alternative Travel Guide
Lauterbrunnen Valley Inspiration for Tolkien’s Rivendell
There are many charming small villages in Switzerland surrounded by amazing scenery and one of the most beautiful is the Swiss alpine village of Lauterbrunnen.
Located in a valley near Wengen, the picturesque village displays Switzerland’s traditional alpine architecture with clusters of wooden houses with shallow roofs, ornate woodwork, and brightly painted shutters.
Lauterbrunnen is surrounded by mountains with vertical cliffs over which cascade an amazing 72 waterfalls.
The most magical of these are the Trümmelbach Falls, 10 glacier-fed falls located inside a mountain and so stunning it’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. This land of waterfalls inspired J.R.R Tolkien’s Rivendell, the magical home of the Elves in his epic novel Lord of the Rings. If you’re a fan of his work, this is a must-visit in Europe.
A great time to visit Lauterbrunnen is during the summer when the waterfalls are flowing and not frozen, the grass is bright green, and the flower boxes on houses are bright with flowers. Foodies can enjoy traditional Swiss favourites like rösti, think hash browns, and of course cheese fondue.
Lauterbrunnen is an easy day trip from Interlaken, taking only 30 minutes by the train and well worth the time.
Written by Lori from Travlinmad
Swiss Army Knives
One of the things often associated with Switzerland are Swiss Army knives (although the Swiss call them “Offiziersmesser” – which means officer’s knife).
They were first created around the 1890’s for Swiss soldiers (although a “common pocket knife; [containing] blades of various sizes, but also screw-drivers, cork-screws, tweezers, awls, pens, rulers, nail-filers and countersinkers” is mentioned in the 1851 book Moby Dick.)
In 1891, the Swiss army wanted a tool for its soldiers which would both be helpful for their food preparation and eating, but also have a tool to hand to maintain their service rifle.
Over time, this has evolved into various versions of the handy multi-tool we know and love today. The traditional ones are nearly all red and have the red and white cross logo on them. If you’re driving or motorcycling around Switzerland, you’ll find these everywhere and they’re very useful to carry. Just be careful if you’re flying as many airlines ban them in hand luggage.
Written by Kat from Biker Girl Life
Switzerland has always been a country with a progressive and amazing music scene with many different types. And nothing says Swiss music like an alphorn player. This is one of the things Switzerland is known for, but you may not know it. It is recently gaining a comeback due to an increase in tourism and the local communities have begun to play it more and more. You’ll see them at local festivals, restaurants, even street performers. It’s due to this increase that the alphorn has become a symbol of Switzerland.
It is a wooden brass wind instrument carved from solid wood, usually from a tree. Shaped as a long tube bent at the end, it produces a unique and impressive sound. In the beautiful alp countryside, shepherds use the alphorn as a way of calling the animals in grazing pastures to return to the main barn. These days it is made from various other types of woods and new techniques involve having the separate parts put together before it is shaped to completion.
Don’t pass up on seeing this unique and fun experience while traveling through Switzerland. You’ll find it quite enjoyable and see how this musical instrument is worthwhile.
Written by Nick from The World Overload
Switzerland is known for mountains, watches and of course cheese! One of the famous cheeses of Switzerland is Emmentaler. You can sample this cheese and see how it’s made at the Emmentaler Schaukäserei. A perfect end to 4 days in Switzerland.
At the Schaukäserei in Emmental in North Western Switzerland Emmentaler cheese has been produced for ages. There’s a museum here where they showcase the current process of cheese making, but also the production of it over the ages. Follow a guided tour and watch the demonstrations in the various farmhouses.
The Schaukäserei is settled in the beautiful green hills of the Emmentaler Valley. There’s a restaurant on site, where you can taste Emmentaler cheese. The cheese is prepared with cow’s milk, is yellow coloured, has large holes in it (why is explained on the tour) and is also known as Swiss cheese outside of Europe. The flavour of this medium-hard cheese is savoury but mild and is delicious.
Written by Cosette from KarsTravels
When you’re planning your trip to Switzerland, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the incredible things to do. However, if you’re visiting when the snow has cleared, and you like mountains and incredible views (who doesn’t!), make sure you allow time in your trip to head to the incredible Gelmerbahn funicular.
The Gelmerbahn funicular is an outdoor railway, in the loosest possible sense of the word. It’s basically a railway car, which goes BACKWARDS, up a mountain with a 106% gradient (which means it’s steep!)
The funicular is often incorrectly portrayed on YouTube as being a rollercoaster, but it was actually created many years ago to help miners get up and down the mountain.
At the top of the ‘ride’, you’ll find the breathtaking Gelmersee lake, which is well worth a visit; be sure to bring a picnic and drinks as there are no facilities up here, not even a toilet.
Tickets must be bought at the bottom for both ways and there’s plenty of parking, even if you’re exploring Switzerland by camper van.
The funicular takes about 20 minutes each way, and on a clear day you can see for miles- the views are spectacular. If you enjoy heights, sit in the front row on the way down- just make sure you don’t drop your camera!
Written by Kat from Wandering Bird
Beautiful Alpine Lakes
Switzerland has over one thousand lakes to explore and admire. Being a mountainous country, many of these lakes are beautiful blue alpine lakes, surrounded by picturesque mountains. Switzerland’s alpine lakes are an integral part of its colourful landscapes: snow-capped mountains, rolling green hills, and icy blue alpine lakes.
Many of Switzerland’s largest cities are situated next to these incredible freshwater lakes, which are fed by melting snow and rain flowing from higher altitude mountains. The cities and lakes often have the same names as well, making them easy to identify on a map. Examples include Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva, and Lake Zürich.
Two of Switzerland’s most famous lakes are located on either side of the town Interlaken in the canton of Bern. The town name literally translates to “between lakes”. Visitors to Interlaken often spend time hiking in the Jungfrau region. Hopping on a ferry to spend time on the beautiful blue waters of both lakes though, is a perfect way to rest and enjoy the view after a great mountain hike.
Written by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
Glacier Cave Arolla
A visit to Switzerland mostly includes, a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne, a gondola ride to the Top of Europe and probably some sweet chocolate tastings.
But let’s shake it a bit and add something adventurous about a unique Swiss thing – A Glacier Cave visit!
You may think that this is way out of your comfort zone because of all the gear and danger involved in such an extraordinary visit. But Switzerland has some glacier caves which are easily accessible for everyone – Like the “Grotte de Glacier” glacier cave in Arolla.
To visit this amazing nature spectacle, you still need to prepare yourself a bit, after all it is a Glacier Cave. Make sure the weather is good and if in doubt contact the Bureau des Guide (Mountain Guide office) in Arolla and hire a mountain guide or ask for advice and the condition of the environment.
The hike is fairly easy, max one hour from Arolla but must be visited during the winter months.
The effort to get there is priceless, standing inside the cave you appreciate who delicate the glaciers are and to preserve them is vital important.
Written by Corina from Packed Again
Did you know that Switzerland has over 500 castles? Switzerland has some of the best-preserved castles in Central Europe. Swiss castles are among the most visited tourist attractions in the country and most of them allow interior visits for a small entrance fee.
The largest castle is Château de Chillon, found in the town of Montreux in the French region of the country. This castle is attractive due to its position on a tiny island in Lake Geneva. The castle was made famous when the famous English poet, Lord Byron, wrote his poem ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’. The poem is about a monk who was imprisoned in the castle dungeons for four years in the 1530s.
Another nearby castle is the Château d’Aigle constructed in the 12th century. The castle is situated in a scenic landscape surrounded by vineyards and snow-covered mountains.
One can’t miss visiting the popular Castle of Gruyères, dating to the 13th century and perched high on a hill in the quaint medieval village of Gruyere. Gruyere is the home of the well-known Swiss cheese. The trip here is worth it just to visit the cute town and eat the traditional Swiss cheese fondue.
Written by Jan from Jan Adventures
Mediterranean weather in Ticino, Switzerland
For some gorgeous, warm, sunny weather, Switzerland might not be the first place you think of. But the Ticino region in Switzerland has the best weather you can think of compared to the rest. Of course Ticino can also get a bit of snow and colder days, but on average Ticino is best for Mediterranean weather in Switzerland. For a statistic, July is the best month of sunshine with the average maximum temperature of 27°C. So if you want to experience Switzerland with the most sun, head to the Ticino in July!
Interested in some other Swiss locations? Check here:
This was just 22 of Swiss things shared for you, but I’m sure there are a lot more that could be added to the list! Switzerland sure is a special place to travel and visit, so if you have the change, enjoy it!
Thanks for reading and sharing our Swiss Things post!