The Stanserhorn-Engelberg ridge hike.
Silvano Zeiter

30 great things to do in Switzerland this summer

Discover more of Switzerland than ever before this summer, with our guide to the very best activities and days out

Written by
Vin Shahrestani
&
Time Out editors
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The waiting is over: summer is here and we’re all over it. Swiss summers are a thing of wonder, particularly when you get out and about and start exploring the countless beautiful places that the country has to offer. 

To help fire-up your summer, we’ve selected 30 of our favourite activities and experiences for everyone’s favourite season. There’s hiking, biking and rafting if you fancy getting active, thermal baths and wine-tasting if you’re more in the mood for indulging, and plenty in-between. Read on and ready yourself for a truly memorable summer.

  • Travel

Summer is definitely the best time to experience Lausanne in all its glory. Make the most of the handsome scenery and ample waterfront hotspots that open out across Lake Geneva, before indulging in all that Lausanne has to offer: sample local wine in Lavaux’s beautiful wine-growing terraces, get sporty at the Olympic Museum, hit the water on a cruise across the lake or go gothic at Lausanne Cathedral. For more Lausanne highlights, click through below.

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  • Things to do

Who says you need weeks to see Switzerland at its best? Some of the most memorable and exciting parts of the country can be experienced perfectly on a day trip, such as the ace excursions available in the Lucerne and Pilatus regions. Take five different modes of transport in the Pilatus Golden Round Trip or get active at Pilatus Rope Park for starters. Click below for more day trip inspiration.

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  • Things to do

Standing at a towering at 4,478 metres, the Matterhorn is an iconic Zermatt landmark, making it an essential part of any visit to the region. The best way to see the most-photographed mountain in the world is via the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the highest cable car station in Europe at 3,883 metres-above-sea-level. For more great things to do around Zermatt, click below.

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View six countries from one location
  • Things to do

The mighty Hoher Kasten, in the Appenzell Alps, has a lot going for it, including that fact that you can see an incredible six countries from one spot when you’re at the summit: Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy and, of course, Switzerland. And that’s just the tip of the mountain, because there are lots more awesome activities available in the region. Click below to find out more.

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  • Things to do

If you’ve never explored the Engelberg-Titlis region, this summer is the time to do it. Jump straight in at the deep end by trying the Titlis Cliff Walk, a nerve-wracking 150 steps across a bridge suspended 500 metres from the ground, which itself is 3,041 metres-above-sea-level. If that’s whet your appetite for more adventures, click below for other exciting Engelberg-Titlis activities.

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  • Things to do

You’ll discover all kinds of fascinating sights and oddities while hiking around Herznach. Look out for a mine, numerous fossils and various exciting playgrounds that children will love. The picnic you’ve packed will be another big highlight of the day, and you can enjoy your feast on a well-deserved break at one of the many beautiful spots in the area. Read more tips for top-notch summer experiences around Switzerland by clicking below.

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Go canyoning and test your nerves
  • Things to do

Thrill-seekers will love the opportunity to go canyoning in the Région Dents du Midi. This exhilarating outdoor pursuit involves making your way down various rocky gorges and through waterfalls into flowing water below. As for how you get down there, it could be abseiling, climbing, scrambling or even leaping into the water. For more fantastic activities that showcase what the Région Dents du Midi is all about, click below.

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Treat yourself by escaping to a great hotel
  • Hotels

It makes sense to explore a country as beautiful and varied as Switzerland as much as you can. And a great way of doing that is through Hotelcard, an affordable to get exploring. The good news is there’s an exclusive offer for Time Out readers, who can grab a discounted one-year Hotelcard subscription, making it easier than ever to explore, whether you want to sightsee your way across Geneva, relax in a wellness oasis or get active in the Alps. Click through below for more adventure ideas and info on how to grab a discounted Hotelcard.

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  • Sport and fitness

Located 3,883 metres above one of Switzerland’s best ski resorts, Snowpark Zermatt offers a summer skiing adventure, and the best part is that you can do it in your beach wear.  

  • Things to do

With the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to explore Olympic history – and there’s no better place to do that than in Lausanne, thanks to The Olympic Museum. The huge permanent exhibition spans 3,000 square metres and is divided into different themes, explored through artefacts from Olympic history and fascinating audiovisual material. Elsewhere, there are temporary exhibitions, such as the current installation, ‘Tokyo 2020: Sport X Manga’, examining Japanese pop culture, and how sport and manga have influenced each other around the country, alongside a big digital programme. Discover more great reasons to visit The Olympic Museum by clicking below.

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Hire a pedalo on Lake Zurich
  • Things to do
  • Kreis 2

Don't just stand there on the promenade admiring the lake, get out and enjoy it. Pedalos can be hired from the lake's many boat hire companies and although it may look like you're messing around with an oversized child's toy, you'll be burning more calories than on a bike ride up an Alpine pass.

  • Things to do

Did you know that Switzerland has its own pyramid? Head to the Niesen in the Bernese Alps and you’ll see what we mean. At 2,362 metres-above-sea-level, this much-loved mountain offers an unrivalled panorama, which you can travel to in style via the delightful funicular railway. Time your visit shortly before sunset and you’ll witness the pyramid of Niesen’s shadow reflected on Lake Thun – a truly memorable sight. For more awe-inspiring activities around Thun, click below.

 

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Take an e-bike tour around Lake Lucerne
  • Things to do
  • Basel

Using Swiss-engineered, electrically-powered bikes, you can explore the beauty of Lucerne and its surrounding areas in a three-hour tour. The tour winds up at the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife Visitor Centre, where you'll be able to assemble your very own knife. 

  • Things to do

Whether you want to go glamping, sleep under canvas, relax in a cosy wooden pod or even sleep in a giant bubble while gazing at the stars, Switzerland has a huge range of camping experiences. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites to help you start planning for summer, which you can read about by clicking below.

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

‘SolarBob’ is a nifty no-snow-required bobsled in Basel’s leafy outskirts which allows you to hurtle down a one-kilometre track before being carried back to the top by a solar-powered lift. Fun and ecology? We like it.

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

Enter Bern in style this summer by rafting the River Aare from Thun. There are various sizes of inflatable raft and canoe avilable, and the journey takes around three hours.

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Take a thermal bath with a view
  • Things to do

Lean back, relax and get pampered in the most scenic of settings. When it comes to spas and thermal baths, you’re spoilt for choice in Switzerland, but two of many highlights are the Bergoase Spa in Tschuggen Grand Hotel and Thermalbad & Spa Zurich. Click through below for more spa tips.

Sip locally grown wine
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Lavaux-Oron

The UNESCO-protected vineyards of Lavaux are perfect for a stroll and a spot of wine tasting. Make the short bus ride from Lausanne into the Lavaux vineyards and you’ll be in wine heaven.

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  • Things to do
  • Geneva

Hawaii's love of stand-up paddleboarding comes to Lake Geneva. The idea is to stand upright on a long surfboard and use a paddle to propel yourself across the water. There are also plenty of other watersports available to try on the lake, such as windsurfing and wakeboarding. Book lessons at Tropical Geneva and reward yourself afterwards with a drink on the palm-fringed beach, a more secluded location than the main yacht-crammed marina.

  • Museums
  • Interlaken

Fancy a meal with a setting epic enough for a James Bond movie? Simply travel 3,000 metres up to the peak of the Schilthorn Mountain and enjoy the 360-degree panoramic views from what’s claimed to be the world’s first revolving restaurant. The Schilthorn cableway offers a smooth and scenic 7,000 metre journey to the summit and warmer summer weather means the opportunity to experience all kinds of seasonal activities, including hiking trails, a via ferrata route and a journey out to the mighty glacier waterfalls of the Trümmelbach.

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Escape city life up a mountain
  • Things to do
  • Bern

A short ride from Bern city centre by tram and the funicular Gurtenbahn sits this low mountain. 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. The leafy offering at the top includes a viewing tower, several restaurants and a children’s play area, plus hiking and mountain biking trails.

  • Things to do

Having rocketed to fame after featuring on a National Geographic cover and built right into the side of the mountain, the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli will provide you with one of the most picturesque settings for lunch on the planet. Only accessible via the Wasserauen-Ebenalp cable car and a 15-minute walk through the Wildkirchli caves, it offers both stunning views of St Gallen and Lake Constance and some of the best rösti around. Find more unique experiences around the St Gallen-Lake Constance area by clicking through below.

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Lounge around Seebad Luzern
  • Sport and fitness
  • Yoga and Pilates
  • Lucerne

With two courtyards surrounding open-air pools, luxury surrounds the crystal clear waters of one of the world's most beautiful lakes. There’s food and drink in the open-air bistro and bar, which also has great views, plus dance and yoga classes on offer.

  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Hewn into chestnut woodland high above glistening Lake Maggiore in Canton Ticino, the ‘Sentiero dello Yoga’ is a self-guided outdoor yoga trail that incorporates nine exercises in the structure of a yoga class.

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Plainpalais

On Saturday mornings in Geneva there’s no better place to be than the Plaine de Plainpalais, which hosts one of Switzerland’s biggest and best flea markets. From bric-a-brac to vintage clothes, second-hand toys to ethnic jewellery, plus larger pieces of furniture, a regular rummage among the hundreds of stalls could rustle you up a real one-off. 

  • Attractions
  • St Moritz

Be an early bird and start the day with a bang by heading 3,000 metres above sea level to watch the sunrise. Take a cable car up Piz Nair in the Engadine Valley for a healthy dose of spectacular views and sunshine before the crowds hit the summit. 

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  • Museums
  • Specialist interest
  • Grand-Saconnex

The outstanding International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva is unmissable for its moving and sometimes shocking permanent exhibition, which charts the vital humanitarian work carried out by the organisation for the past 150 years. Combine this with a guided tour of the Palais des Nations, the European seat of the United Nations, for an insight into how the biggest issues facing the world today are tackled. 

  • Things to do
  • Valais

Wine and cycling: sounds like a dangerous mix, right? Not in Valais, where local athletes, politicians, cultural figures and the public gather to taste the region’s wine and cycle through the vineyards. It's not just locals that get involved, tourists are also welcome to join in the festivities. 

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  • Things to do
  • Bellinzona

Among the most famous monuments of Ticino are the impressive collection of Medieval castles at Bellinzona, north of Lugano. Castelgrande (home to an archaeological museum), Castello di Montebello and Castello di Sasso Corbaro are strung out along the original defensive wall spanning the Ticino valley. It's a reminder of the region's historic past at the centre of Europe and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Things to do
  • Friesenberg

Depart on a train from Zurich and head all the way up to the city’s local mountain, the Uetliberg. Complete the journey by making your way to the summit, where you can climb the observation tower and enjoy stunning views in all directions.

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