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A man on a bike in the mountains in Switzerland.
Kay Liedl

35 fun things to do in Switzerland

Our guide to the best things to do from around Switzerland that will make you happy

By Time Out contributors
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Switzerland has just been ranked as the third happiest country on the planet in the 2021 World Happiness Report, a survey which reveals the global ranking of happiness in 149 nations. In fact, Switzerland always achieves a great ranking in the survey, but what is it about living there that makes everyone so happy?

We’ve got an answer – 35 answers, to be precise, covering just some of the unique sights, stunning scenery, great things to do, fun events and special experiences from across the country. And while it’s not possible to do everything on our list quite yet, it shouldn’t be too long before things start to open up again, giving everyone the chance to experience all those amazing things they’ve been missing out on.

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CGN Lausanne-Ouchy
CGN Lausanne-Ouchy
© Christof Schuerpf

3. Boat trip, Lausanne-Ouchy

Things to do Ouchy

Making the most of its position on one of Europe’s largest lakes, Lausanne’s ferry port at Ouchy offers cruises to many destinations around the lake in Switzerland. Enjoy the ride down to Montreux, or float further afield to Geneva and the medieval French village of Yvoire, a tourist’s favourite. 

Contra Dam bungee jump
Contra Dam bungee jump
©Switzerland Tourism

4. Contra Dam bungee jump

Things to do Sport events Tenero-Contra

Go bungee jumping off the 220 metre tall Contra Dam in Ticino, as seen in the Bond film GoldenEye. 

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5. Le Deck, Puidoux-Chexbres

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Lavaux-Oron

Tucked within the steeply raked Lavaux vineyards between Lausanne and Montreux, Le Deck enjoys an impossibly scenic position overlooking Lake Geneva and the mountains on the French side opposite.

SolarBob
SolarBob
©Switzerland Tourism

6. SolarBob

Things to do Walks and tours

Fun and ecology – what’s not to like? This no-snow-required bobsled in leafy Langenbruck outside Basel incorporates one kilometre of hair-raising slide, a 540-degree helter-skelter and a solar-powered lift to carry visitors back to the top. 

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8. Seebad Enge, Zurich

Things to do Enge

On-site swim coaches, yoga classes, ving-tsun (a martial art), stand-up paddleboarding and relaxation techniques, plus a beautician and a sauna that’s open all year round – you get it all at Badi Enge. 

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Lake Thun to Bern rafting
Lake Thun to Bern rafting
©Rob Crabtree

9. Thun-Bern float trip

Things to do Espace Mittelland (Jura & Three Lakes, Bernese Oberland)

As a way to spend a hot summer’s day, drifting on the current down the River Aare with the sun on your face and water to cool off in is hard to beat. 

10. PubliBike station, Lausanne

Things to do Ouchy

Ouchy sports one of the many PubliBike hire points in Switzerland which allow you to rent a low-cost bicycle and drop it off at any other ‘velostation’ in the country. Though you’re unlikely to go far, it’s a cheap and accessible scheme that’s ideal for short hops along the Swiss Riviera.

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11. Les Recyclables, Geneva

Restaurants Contemporary European Plainpalais

An antidote to big-name chain cafés and a pocket of calm amid the bustle of Rue de Carouge, Les Recyclables is a delight. Half café, half secondhand bookshop, it lures you in for a drink or lunch and tempts you with a selection of new reading material. The café itself is friendly and cheerful, and the food is imaginative and well-presented – plus, there’s a well-priced dish of the day every lunchtime. On selected evenings you’ll be serenaded as you eat by genuinely talented musicians playing jazz, bossa nova and Brazilian ‘choro’. 

12. Free bike hire, Zurich

Things to do Walks and tours City

Leave a CHF 20 deposit at one of the Züri rollt containers and enjoy the city on two wheels. You might want to cycle down part of either side of the lake or just use the bike to get around Zurich a bit quicker. 

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Morcote Route
Morcote Route
©Post Auto

13. Morcote Route

Travel Public transport Lugano

Discover Lugano's architectural masterpieces and beautiful scenery with this bus ride through Switzerland's Ticino region. 

14. Gurten, Bern

Things to do Bern

At 858-metres-above-sea-level, the Gurten sports fabulous views over Bern on a clear day, and makes for a welcome getaway from the city. 

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The Abbey Library of St Gallen
The Abbey Library of St Gallen
Roland Gerth

15. St Gallen

Things to do Cultural centres St Gallen

The university town of St Gallen was founded by a monk in the 7th century and its focal point remains the abbey district, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a landmark of the city. The highlight is the monastery’s incredible Rococo library – the Abbey Library of Saint Gall – a museum piece in itself. Over 170,000 books and documents, some a thousand years old, are displayed around the walls on wooden bookcases which stretch from the floor to the ornate painted ceiling. Afterwards, wander through the pretty pedestrian streets of St Gallen’s Old Town, which bustles with restaurants and cafés.

16. Freestyle Academy, Laax

Sport and fitness

With over 1,000 square metres of space, this indoor freestyle base allows you to hone your skills in snowboarding, freeskiing, skating, climbing, freerunning and biking, whatever the weather outside. 

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Jet d'Eau, Geneva
Jet d'Eau, Geneva
Geoff Livingston / Flickr

17. Jet d’Eau, Geneva

Things to do Rive Droite / Right Bank

Don’t fight it: as possibly the most recognisable image of Geneva (you can even see it from the plane), it’s practically the law to get your photo taken in front of the city’s giant water fountain. 

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19. Marchés folkloriques, Vevey

Things to do Event spaces Vevey

Featuring traditional crafts, alphorn players and dancers, artisan produce and – best of all – copious wine tasting stalls set up by local winegrowers, a visit to the folk market is a real experience. 

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paddleboard Geneva
paddleboard Geneva
Tropical Geneva

24. Stand-up paddleboarding, Lake Geneva

Things to do Geneva

Hawaii’s love of stand-up paddleboarding has transported itself over to Lake Geneva. The idea is to stand upright on a long surfboard and use a paddle to propel yourself across the water. It's a fun way to travel, as long as you're prepared to fall in once in a while, and it’s also a good upper-body workout. There are also plenty of other watersports on the lake, such as windsurfing and wakeboarding. Book lessons at Tropical Corner and reward yourself afterwards with a drink on the palm-fringed beach, a more secluded location than the main yacht-crammed marina.

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Bellinzona
Bellinzona
hotel-paladina-tessin.ch

25. Castles, Bellinzona

Things to do Bellinzona

Among the most famous monuments of Ticino are the impressive collection of medieval castles at Bellinzona, the capital of the canton, just north of Lugano. 

Rhine river cruises
Rhine river cruises
Avalon Waterways

26. Rhine river cruises, Basel

Travel Public transport Basel

The mighty Rhine river is the heart of Basel, so why not enjoy a cruise as you glide past the picturesque Swiss scenery, perhaps treating yourself to some onboard entertainment along the way

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Zoo Zürich
Zoo Zürich
© Meinrad Schade

27. Zoo Zurich

Things to do Fluntern

There are plenty of fantastic creatures to see, but don’t miss the elephant park with its modern outside spaces and large indoor area.

Wildnispark Zürich, park, nature, trails
Wildnispark Zürich, park, nature, trails
© MARCUS GYGER

28. Wildnispark, Zurich

Things to do Zurich

This park less than half an hour away from the city of Zurich consists of two parts: the Sihlwald forest and Langenberg, Switzerland’s oldest wildlife park. 

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Lac de Joux
Lac de Joux
© Roland Gerth

30. Lac de Joux, Jura

Things to do Jura

The huge Lac de Joux in the Jura valley of the same name is a draw for outdoor enthusiasts at any time of year. In summer it’s a magnet for swimmers, sailors and windsurfers.

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Restaurant Seerose
Restaurant Seerose
© Restaurant Seerose

31. Restaurant Seerose, Zurich

Restaurants Seafood Wollishofen

Seerose is Zurich’s answer to Saint Tropez. Suspended above Lake Zurich, its wooden terrace – complete with pristine white lounge furniture – mimics the deck of a luxurious yacht. 

Bateau Lavoir, Geneva bar, Time Out Switzerland
Bateau Lavoir, Geneva bar, Time Out Switzerland
© Patrick Nouhailler

32. Bateau Lavoir, Geneva

4 out of 5 stars
Bars and pubs Café bars Rive Gauche / Left Bank

A lovely spot to go for a drink, a light lunch or an apéro as the sun goes down. 

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34. Terrasse, Zurich

Restaurants Mediterranean Rathaus

Terrasse, as you might expect, has one of Zurich’s loveliest garden terraces, where you’ll feel you’ve escaped the city and found a little slice of green and pleasant heaven. The food and wine are also excellent, which is a pretty great bonus.

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