Summer in Switzerland
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50 ways to have the best summer in Switzerland

From swimming to festivals to rooftop cocktails to the perfect picnic spot, here’s everything fun you need to do in Switzerland this summer

Written by
Time Out editors
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Yes, Switzerland is a landlocked central European country surrounded by the highest mountains on the continent, but that doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to a bit of the summer essentials. From secret lakeside beaches to riveting river frolics; rooftop bars to pool parties; the Swiss summer offers as much revelry for the warmer seasons as it does for its snowy ones. 

Time Out Switzerland has put together the definitive list for the things to do in the Swiss heat.

Rheinbad St Johann • Basel
  • Sport and fitness
  • St. Johann

Located in the centre of town, it has historically been a popular meeting place for Baselers young and old, particularly when the sun is shining. Recently renovated, but retaining its 19th century “wooden boat” feel, Santi Hans has been named one of the most beautiful pools in Switzerland.

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  • Things to do
  • Geneva

TCS Geneva-Vésenaz’s leafy setting on the edge of a park belies its location – the campsite is just six kilometres outside Geneva. Nestled beneath willow trees on the banks of Lake Geneva, the modern site is perfect for people who want to get away from it all. 

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Pully-Plage
  • Things to do
  • Lausanne

There may be a great big lake on our doorstep, but sometimes the convenience and facilities of swimming in an outdoor pool appeal instead – it’s all the fun with none of the hassle that comes with al fresco bathing.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Wollishofen
  • price 3 of 4

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. When the weather plays along, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on the Mediterranean. 

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Friends Café • Lausanne
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wineries
  • Flon

Accessed from the downstairs bar via the hotel lift, this terrace looks out over the urban jungle of Flon, making for a good inner-city spot for people-watching and lapping up the sunshine on a hot summer evening, mojito in hand.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Seefeld
  • price 3 of 4

It goes without saying: a grande dame on the Zurich hotel scene, Eden au Lac has created the swishest of the swish rooftop bars. High above Seefeld on the shore of Lake Zurich, Sky Bar allows you to channel your inner Hollywood film star. 

Adventure Park • Davos
  • Things to do
  • Davos

Situated at the foot of the Flüela mountain pass, this high wire and cycle park offers a fun day out for adventurous adults and children alike. 

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

Swim in the crystal clear waters of one of the world's most beautiful lakes. The Seebad Luzern offers a laid back vibe with its simple wooden construction of two courtyards surrounding open air pools. 

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Golf
  • Ascona

What better way to enjoy a fine summer's day than with a round of golf? Considered one of Switzerland's finest golf courses, the Golf Club Patriziale Ascona is flat and well planned and can be enjoyed by players of all levels from beginners to pro. 

Seebad Utoquai • Zurich
  • Sport and fitness
  • Seefeld

With men’s and women’s pools and gender-separated sun decks, superb lake access and a range of sauna and massage treatments on offer, this is the place to be during summer in Zurich. Plus there’s the supercool Bato Bar, which has a summer programme of music performances and talks.

E-bike hire • Basel
  • Things to do
  • Basel

Switzerland's popular e-bikes or pedelecs have a bit of extra va-va-voom. These electrically-assisted bikes can be rented at the rail station and are a nippy way to get around town or explore more of the region's lush countryside.

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Splash & Spa Tamaro • Ticino
  • Health and beauty
  • Spas
  • Monteceneri

Get set for a tidal wave of fun and, er, relaxation! Splash & Spa Tamaro has a huge amount of water-based activities on offer including five exciting waterslides to try (we suggest the Gravity Killer!). 

Rochers de Naye
  • Things to do
  • Montreux

At 2,042 metres and yet entirely accessible by train from Montreux, the summit of Rochers de Naye is one of the most attainable alpine peaks in Switzerland, which leads to the rather odd sight of tourists in high heels and other inappropriate attire standing on top of a mountain without having broken a sweat. 

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The Alps Trail • Davos
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Davos

The Alps Trail Davos has been named an IMBA Epic Trail and with good reason. This 45km mountain bike route starts near Europe's highest-altitude city of Davos and offers some amazing views along the way. 

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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. The stretch between Thun and Bern is hugely popular. Hire an inflatable raft from one of the boat companies at Thun-Schwabis or bring your own blow-up number, fill it with people, beer and barbecue supplies and hop in for a three-hour drift downriver to Bern. While it’s not exactly white water, the Aare does have a strong current and there’s a small rapid about a third of the way down, so come prepared with life jackets and leave non-swimmers behind. Picnic places abound, if you can react quickly enough to stop the river carrying your boat past your chosen spot. As the river reaches Bern more and more people take to the water for a dip, before it’s time to drag your raft out of the river at the Eicholz park or further along at Marzili.

Chillon Castle
  • Things to do
  • Montreux

Explore one of Switzerland's top historic tourist attractions, which inspired the likes of Lord Byron, Rousseau, Delacroix and Courbet. Chillon Castle on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) features architectural styles including gothic vaulted chapels, medieval dungeons, sumptuous Savoy-period bedrooms and renaissance banqueting halls.  

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Fischstube  • Zurich
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Seefeld

This is an ideal summer oasis located near one of Zurich's most famous local attractions, the Chinagarten. It's the perfect place for drinks after work or lounging around on a sunny Saturday afternoon on sofas set on a wooden decked terrace which sits right out on the waters edge.

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Café Cuba  • Geneva
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wineries
  • Plainpalais
  • price 2 of 4

Big, brash and loud, there’s nothing subtle about this Cuba-inspired bar which imbues this prime spot in Plainpalais with a beach holiday feel. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Kreis 1

When it comes to a pool-party venue, Rimini is a bar that excels in chilled-backed atmosphere. With tropical foilage, oriental cushions and exotic cocktails, you could be forgiven  for forgetting that you're only a few miles away from the Alps in this bohemian paradise.

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  • Restaurants
  • Lucerne

In the clement months, youth radio station Radio 3FACH opens its alfresco bar on the site of a former aviary on the shores of Lake Lucerne. The emphasis is on the local – homemade iced tea, Luzerner Bier on draft and freshly made snacks. 

Bellerive Plage  • Lausanne
  • Things to do
  • Ouchy
  • price 1 of 4

The place to hang out in summer, this 1930s outdoor leisure centre is eternally popular when the sun comes out. There’s an (unheated and rather chilly) Olympic-sized swimming pool for lane swimming, a large leisure pool with various water spouts and massage taps, a diving pool, plus ping pong tables, volleyball courts and loads of grass to lounge around on. 

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La Buvette des Bains  • Geneva
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Swiss
  • Pâquis
  • price 1 of 4

This café-restaurant is part of Geneva’s Bains des Paquis, a 1930s-era public swimming baths and spa on Lake Geneva’s right bank. As such, it’s a great place to hang out in the sun right next to the lake, whether for coffee, drinks or a light bite. 

  • Things to do
  • Biel/Bienne

Minutes outside the beautiful Baroque town of the same name, TCS Camping Solothurn is a get-away-from-it-all campsite that is also full of things to do. The site is on the River Aare with its own harbour, runs boat trips into Solothurn (Saturdays only) and has motor boats, stand-up paddle boards and e-bikes to rent on-site. 

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Freibad Allenmoos  • Zurich
  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies
  • Oerlikon

A badi season favourite, at Allenmoos you'll find three separate pools surrounded by grass-covered open space that's perfect for sunbathing and summer picnics. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Lugano

El Mojito Tropical Lounge is a throbbing summertime cocktail bar-cum-beach shack on a lakeside jetty. Admire the view or the beautiful people, or both. Chill on deckchairs or dance to DJs. The mojitos, as you might imagine, are sublime.

Horn Richterswil
  • Things to do
  • Festivals
  • Richterswil-Samstagern
The Richterswil Horn is a popular local park, no doubt due to its stunning location on the shores of Lake Zurich. Offering access to a range of water sports as well as beach volleyball and lake swimming in the summer months, the Horn hosts annual events including Chibli (funfairs), the Beach Party dance music festival and Cine au Lac outdoor cinema. The park also has an excellent children's playground.
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  • Things to do
  • Sion
Whether you’re in it for gazing at mountains from your tent, going on a hike or making friends with Willy the campsite cat, there isn’t much that Camping Arolla in Canton Valais can’t offer.
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Bourg Plage  • Lausanne
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Ville Marché
Owned by alternative theatre and performance venue Le Bourg, this outdoor pop-up bar tucked under Bessières bridge is a great spot to kick back with a drink in summer.
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Bars and pubs
  • Café bars
  • Rive Gauche / Left Bank
  • price 2 of 4
Bateau Lavoir is a lovely spot to go for a drink, a light lunch or an apéro as the sun goes down. In summer the rooftop terrace is a great spot to linger, soaking up the sun with the sound of water lapping at the side of the boat. 
Seebad Enge  • Zurich
  • Things to do
  • Enge
A Badi is never just about swimming, and this one offers much more than an audience to flash your perfect body to. On-site swim coaches, yoga classes, ving-tsun, SUP and relaxation techniques plus a beautician and a sauna which is open all year round - you get it all at Badi Enge. 
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Bains des Pâquis  • Geneva
  • Things to do
  • Pâquis
  • price 1 of 4
Built in the 1930s, the Bains des Pâquis is a public swimming baths right on Lake Geneva and a popular social meeting place for Genevois of all ages, shapes and wallet-sizes. In summer it’s a lovely place to swim, lounge about in the sun and have a cheapish lunch on the large terrace of the Buvette. 
Lido di Lugano
  • Things to do
This large, central Lugano swimming centre has an Olympic-size swimming pool, a diving pool and children's water play area. Plus there's a large, sandy beach where you can sun yourself before testing the waters of the stunning Lake Lugano.
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