Jungfrau Railway, for use with Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa travel package offer

How to have a great staycation this summer in Switzerland

With so much choice on offer, staying put is the new going away

By Time Out editors
Advertising

As people’s minds slowly turn towards summer once again, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to travel to far-flung exotic locations to have a great holiday – whenever you decide to take one. Switzerland, you see, is actually choc-full of fantastic stuff to do, meaning that a Swiss staycation is a geuinely great way to spend your summer. 

Whether you’re looking to go to the beach, find a peaceful island hideaway, get active, learn a little history or treat yourself to top-notch food and drink, you’ll find tons of options around Switzerland. Here’s our pick of some of the very best things to do on the ultimate staycation.

21 great ideas for a Swiss summer staycation

Strand des Lido di Lugano mit dem Monte Brè, Ticino, for Ticino commercial campaign. Do not reuse.
Strand des Lido di Lugano mit dem Monte Brè, Ticino, for Ticino commercial campaign. Do not reuse.
Milo Zanecchia

Lay down at the lido

There’s quality beach-time to be had just a few hours from Zurich. Take a daytrip to Lugano, a pretty town with a Mediterranean feel, thanks to its colourful houses and warm climate. Head to the popular, buzzy Lido Lugano when you’re there to enjoy an Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool, volleyball courts and – crucially – a large sandy beach overlooking beautiful Lake Lugano where you can get in some serious sunbathing.

Pilatus-Bahnen, for family experiences advertorial.
Pilatus-Bahnen, for family experiences advertorial.
Christian Perret

See the Alps from up high

Seeing Mount Pilatus is a quintessential Swiss experience. Overlooking Lake Lucerne, Pilatus offers stunning Alpine mountains views and can be reached by the world‘s steepest cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad. Visit Fräkmüntegg on the way, where you’ll find children’s playgrounds, restaurants, hiking routes and one of the longest toboggan runs in the country.

Advertising
Paragliding, Ticino
Paragliding, Ticino
Milo Zanecchia

Try extreme sports

Crank things up a notch in Ticino, where you can take advantage of the mountainous landscape by rock-climbing or canyoning in mountain rivers and waterfalls. Those with a head for heights should try paragliding (as a bonus, you’ll get unrivalled sunset views from the sky) or even sky-diving at Para Centro Locarno.

Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen in Andermatt. Do not reuse.
Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen in Andermatt. Do not reuse.
Valentin Luthiger

Stay in a mountain village

Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen is a smart, modern hotel nestled in Andermatt, a picturesque Swiss Alpine village, meaning that it’s perfect for anyone looking to escape the city and get out and about into the countryside. The hiking trails and mountain biking routes are a big draw for many, and after a long day of activities you’ve got a comfortable, stylish hotel to relax in, featuring a state-of-the-art spa and even an on-site concert hall.

Advertising
Museum of Communication, for family experiences promotion
Museum of Communication, for family experiences promotion
Thijs Wolzak

Brush up on your communication skills

At the Museum of Communication you’ll discover the many weird and wonderful ways that people connect with each other, from gestures and body language to media, telecommunications and pop culture. It’s an interactive affair, and during your visit you can work on your flirting skills, become immortalised on a self-designed stamp, identify different Swiss dialects and chat to the museum’s ever-knowledgeable ‘communicators’.

Brissago Islands, Ticino
Brissago Islands, Ticino
E Pescantini

Hideaway on a tropical island

Once you disembark on the Brissago Islands, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a hidden, tropical paradise – which you essentially have. Over 1,700 species of plant flourish here, including flora from as far away as Chile, South Africa, Australia and California, creating an exotic environment that – let’s face it – will look great on your Instagram.

Advertising

Explore the Jungfrau Region by rail

Make the most of the magnificent Jungfrau region while soaking up some five-star luxury at Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. The hotel offers a special Top of Europe Pass Package that gives you ultimate freedom to explore beautiful Interlaken and the surrounding mountains with a top-notch travel pass – and you’ll have an immense range of first-rate facilities to enjoy once you’re back at the hotel after a day out.

Stand Up Paddling, Ticino
Stand Up Paddling, Ticino
Ticino Turismo/Nicola Demaldi

Try stand-up paddling

Stand-up paddling has really taken off over the last few years in Switzerland, and with good reason: it’s super-simple (all you need is a board, a paddle and a sense of balance), a great workout and great fun. And best of all, you can get to grips with it on some of the most scenic lakes around the country, including Lake Zurich, Lake Geneva, Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore.

Advertising
Monte San Salvatore
Monte San Salvatore
Milo Zanecchia

Hike over a mountain

For a truly scenic stroll, embark on the popular 10km hiking route that guides walkers from the summit of San Salvatore (the ‘Sugarloaf Mountain of Switzerland’) to the pretty village of Morcote. You’ll pass the Parco San Grato botanical garden and a 17th century pilgrimage church, Madonna d’Ongero, and afterwards you can enjoy Morcote’s charms and take a boat back to Lugano.

Botanischer Garten, Zuerich, Juni 2014. Photo by Elisabeth Real
Botanischer Garten, Zuerich, Juni 2014. Photo by Elisabeth Real
Elisabeth Real

Find inner peace in a beautiful garden

Take an early morning stroll across the vast grounds of Zurich’s botanical garden or just sit and relax for a while on a sunny afternoon. The garden is rarely crowded and can deliver instant peace and happiness when you stumble upon a pretty flower or watch the branches of the old trees swing with the wind.

Advertising
MTB Lugano Region, Monte Tamaro, Ticino
MTB Lugano Region, Monte Tamaro, Ticino
Marco Toniolo

Go mountain biking

Keen mountain bikers should venture out to Lugano this summer. The area is known for its superb, rugged biking trails – over 370km of well-marked paths – and there are routes to suit all abilities, from veteran cyclists to absolute beginners. Along the way you’ll zip through dirt roads, forests and meadows, passing mountains, lakes, Alpine huts and other marvellous sights.

The Kunsthaus Zürich is a museum of Fine Art
The Kunsthaus Zürich is a museum of Fine Art
© Zürich Tourismus / Kunsthaus Zürich

See some inspiring art

Now that lockdown is gradually easing, Switzerland’s galleries are beginning to reopen – with safety precautions firmly in place, of course. So if you feel ready to go and get your culture fix, many venues are open for business once again. These include Zentrum Paul Klee, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Collection de l’Art Brut, Kunsthaus Zürich and lots more – just remember to check their websites before you go.

Advertising

Get browsing

Many of Switzerland’s open-air markets are back in business, so whether you’re after artisan snacks, fresh produce, clothes, jewellery or just vintage bits and pieces to jazz up your home, you’ll find it somewhere. Markets that have reopened include Geneva’s much-loved Plainpalais, Lausanne Market, Zurich’s Flohmarkt Kanzlei and many others. As ever, it’s always best to check opening times on the market’s website before heading out.

Castello Sasso Corbaro, Castles of Bellinzona, Ticino
Castello Sasso Corbaro, Castles of Bellinzona, Ticino
Ticino Tourism

Explore a Medieval castle or three

Bellinzona’s three magnificent castles were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and each one – Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – has its own distinct strategic importance and fascinating architectural features. Visiting all three in succession is a great way to venture back into Medieval times. 

Advertising
Lindenhof, Zurich place, Time Out Switzerland
Lindenhof, Zurich place, Time Out Switzerland
Gian Marco Castelberg & Maurice Haas

Soak up the views

Overlooking the Old Town, Limmat river and cathedral, the elevated spot of Lindenhof is the former site of a Roman castle, around which the city of Zurich grew. There are still remnants of Roman settlements, but these days people come here to relax rather than ruminate on history. It’s always a good place to head with a book or for a stroll, while giant chess boards provide entertainment for players and spectators alike.

Bellinzona, Haengebruecke Carasc
Bellinzona, Haengebruecke Carasc
Switzerland Tourism

Conquer a dizzyingly high suspension bridge

Feeling adventurous? Make your way across one of the longest suspension bridges in Switzerland. The 270-metre-long ‘Tibetan bridge’ of Carasc, near Monte Carasso, connects to the hilltop village of Curzútt and you’ll need a head for heights, but the dramatic views from the bridge are definitely worth the bravery. 

Advertising
Gstaad family hiking for family experiences promotion
Gstaad family hiking for family experiences promotion
Destination Gstaad/Melanie Uhkoetter

Get back to nature

Gstaad is often cited as one of the most picturesque places in Switzerland, and it’s not hard to see why. Making the most of the area’s many winding hiking trails is the best way to enjoy the marvellous Alpine scenery, and there are routes to suit everyone, from families with children to experienced hikers. If you’re all hiked out, there are opportunities for biking, golf, swimming and other activities.

St. Peter’s Island, Jura - Three-Lakes. for Swiss Islands Switzerland Tourism campaign. Do not reuse.
St. Peter’s Island, Jura - Three-Lakes. for Swiss Islands Switzerland Tourism campaign. Do not reuse.
Andreas Gerth

Visit Rousseau’s favourite island

Set within Lake Biel, St Peter’s Island is little slice of paradise and one of famous Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s favourite places – you can well imagine the island as a place of contemplation and tranquillity. Cars aren’t allowed here, adding to the peaceful vibe and further upping its credentials as a great place to walk and cycle. There are also vineyards on the island for when you need some locally-made refreshment.

Advertising
Monté Bré, Lugano place, Time Out Switzerland
Monté Bré, Lugano place, Time Out Switzerland
Andreas Gerth

See Lugano from up high

Since 1912 the people of Lugano have been escaping the city on a sunny day and heading to the hills, specifically to the summit of Monte Brè. At the top you can follow various hiking trails, race down a mountain bike run, have lunch in one of the mountaintop restaurants or simply explore the pretty village of Brè, a short walk down from the summit.  

Bern's Old Town, for use with Best things to do in spring
Bern's Old Town, for use with Best things to do in spring
Flickr / Mariano Mantel

Explore a UNESCO-approved city

One of the prettiest and best-preserved in Switzerland, Bern’s Old Town is understandably UNESCO-protected. Stretching from the train station to the bear park, the Medieval cobbled streets, ornate fountains and arched walkways are a photographer’s dream, but best of all are the cellars strewn along the streets, which throw up artisanal workshops, independent shops and idiosyncratic bars to grab a drink from.

Advertising
Bern Rose Garden
Bern Rose Garden
Mike Lehmann/Wikimedia Commons

Smell the roses

Bern’s Rose Gardens date from 1765 and as you might expect, this public park is a thoroughly pleasant spot to while away a sunny day. There are around 250 types of rose to gawp at in summer, and the views out across Bern’s Old Town and the Aare river are pretty magical at any time.

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising