Three hikers walking in Swiss mountains.
Photo: Yente Van Eynde

The best things to do in Switzerland this spring

Find out where to go and what to do this spring with our ultimate guide

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Have you noticed? Those sub-zero conditions are gradually making way for warmer temperatures and there are even some sunny days appearing. Yep, spring is here and we couldn’t be happier about it, frankly.

Mainly because it signals the start of tons of good stuff happening across Switzerland, including lots more options for exploring the country’s great outdoors. Below, we’ve given you a heads-up on the very best a Swiss spring has to offer, from world-class art exhibitions to boat trips to botanical gardens and much, much more. This is how to do spring like a professional.

Around Switzerland

  • Things to do

Once you’ve seen Zurich’s big-draw sights, how do you get deeper into the city? How do you learn about Zurich’s achievements, its vibrant neighbourhoods and its secrets? By booking on to an insider’s guided tour, covering anything from architecture to local love stories to conceptual art. Click here for more information and to start revealing fascinating tales from incredible places and tucked-away locations.

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  • Things to do

The St Gallen-Lake Constance region is a wonderfully scenic place, but perhaps the most jaw-dropping sight of all can be found 2,502 metres up Mount Säntis, the highest mountain in the area. Take the Schwägalp-Säntis cable car to the summit and enjoy the stunning views over six countries: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy. And don’t forget to explore the rest of the region, too, where you can cruise around Lake Constance, lunch at a landmark restaurant (Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli) built into the side of a mountain.

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  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

Propel yourself into the 2024 Olympic Games, whether or not you managed to get tickets, by visiting a temporary exhibition at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. ‘Paris Olympique™: An Immersive Journey’ lets visitors put themselves in the shoes of former champions and discover how the Games have evolved over the centuries to become the world’s foremost sporting competition. This free and experiential exhibition is a chance to explore all three Parisian editions of the Olympic Games, as well as glimpse into past and present identities of the City of Light. Find out more by clicking here.

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See Lugano from up high at Monte Brè

Catch the funicular railway from the lake shore at Cassarate, which trundles up to the summit of Monte Brè, Lugano’s local mountain. At the top, active types can follow hiking trails or race down some of the 30 mountain bike runs, or you can simply enjoy lunch in one of the mountaintop restaurants, perhaps explore the pretty village of Brè afterwards, a short walk down from the summit.

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  • Travel

Ready to take your train travel to the next level in just three hours and 15 minutes? Then step aboard the GoldenPass Express and get comfy. This stylish locomotive travels smoothly between Montreux and Interlaken, passing through some of Switzerland’s finest scenery along the way and offering passengers a unique and sleek experience. Click through to get to know this special route a little better.

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  • 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. From spring it’s a magnet for swimmers, sailors and windsurfers making the most of the warm water and favourable winds, while cyclists and hikers take to the many marked trails around the lake. 

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Zurich

People-watch at the Zurich Horn

People flock to the promenade in Lake Zurich’s Seefeld district, known as the Zurich Horn, to stroll, cycle, skate or show off their street art skills. Take it all in by sitting on a bench and watching the world go by – with an ice cream, of course. 

  • Things to do
  • Industriequartier

This stretch of shops, restaurants and bars is built into the arches of the old railway viaduct that runs between the bank of the river Limmat and Hardbrücke station. It has become one of the places to be in town. During the day, visit the quirky shops (don’t miss Westflügel, a book shop with a carefully curated selection) and buy organic delicacies at the Markthalle. The bars and restaurants attract a busy crowd in the evening, and there is always an event or concert going on in one of the arches.

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  • Things to do
  • Weinegg

Take an early morning stroll across the vast grounds or just sit and relax on a sunny afternoon. The botanical garden is rarely crowded and can deliver instant peace and happiness when you stumble upon some fine flora.

Wander the hip hangouts of Zurich West

Get your finger firmly on the pulse by exploring the alternative heart of Zurich. These days, the ‘Industriequartier’ is filled to the brim with buzzy bars, restaurants, cafés and shops, particularly those in the Viadukt and the cool, cute Frau Gerolds Garten.

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Soak up the views from Lindenhof

Overlooking the Old Town, Limmat river and cathedral, this elevated spot is full of history, but people now come here to relax rather than ruminate on the past. It’s a great place to head for a picnic or just with a good book to while away an afternoon.

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  • Things to do
  • Enge
Seebad Enge
Seebad Enge

A badi is never just about swimming, and this one offers on-site swim coaches, yoga classes, ving-tsun (a martial art), stand-up paddle-boarding and lots more besides. 

Geneva

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Carouge

There’s never a bad time to hang out in Carouge, Geneva’s Italianate district created by a bunch of architects from Turin in the 18th century as an independent town. Its shuttered townhouses are attractive, it’s packed with great restaurants and nightlife and the area’s numerous independent shops and artisanal workshops mean the shopping is way more interesting than in the centre of town. On Wednesdays and Saturdays Carouge gets a further boost with the arrival of the market on the lovely Place du Marché. Take a big bag and fill it with fruit and veg, cheese, honey, fresh bread, flowers, wine and locally made treats.

See Lake Geneva from a paddle steamer

Hop on a ferry and explore the towns that sit on the vast shore of this ever-endearing lake, including Montreux, the medieval French village of Yvoire and famous spa town Évian-les-Bains.

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  • Things to do
  • Pâquis
Relax and get cultured at Bains des Pâquis
Relax and get cultured at Bains des Pâquis

It doesn’t have to be summer to take advantage of this public swimming bath, as there’s a sauna, Turkish bath, hammam and massage service to enjoy year-round, plus all manner of cultural happenings.

  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs
  • Plainpalais

This long-running oasis of bric-a-brac appears every Wednesday and Saturday, and the first Sunday of the month, offering punters the chance to sift through everything from books to clothes to vinyl, in hope of finding a gem.

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  • Things to do
  • Old Town (Vieille Ville)

This leafy idyll in the heart of Geneva is perfect for a lazy sit in the sun or to spectate on people playing chess and go on giant boards. Reward your strenuous efforts with a coffee at the old bandstand-turned-café. 

Lausanne

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Lausanne

Sandwiched between the medieval Cité and the Sauvabelin forest, this well-tended park blooms in spring and summer, making it a beautiful spot for lounging around with a book, picnicking or kicking a ball with the kids. At its centre is the Hermitage Foundation, which sits on a plateau with a lovely view over the lake and mountains beyond. When snow hits town the slope below the Hermitage is a great place to take the kids for a spot of gentle tobogganing.

  • Things to do
  • Ville Marché

You can find all sorts at Lausanne’s twice-weekly market, but the foodie side is really where it’s at, whether you’re after fresh fruit and veg, cheese, charcuterie, local booze or premium snacks like empanadas and macaroons.

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  • Things to do
  • Ouchy

Warmer weather means it’s time to head back to Ouchy, Lausanne’s lakefront district. The best tactic is to go there with absolutely zero plans and just see what’s going on. Grab an ice cream and go for a stroll, café-hop to your heart’s content or just sit outside a bar and watch the world go by.

  • Shopping
  • Boutiques
Splash some shopping cash
Splash some shopping cash

If you feel the need for some serious retail therapy, Lausanne’s hip boutiques, gift shops and quirky independent stores will set you right. Start off at shopping hub Place St François and just start wandering.

Bern

Shop in style through Bern’s Old Town

Bern’s Old Town isn’t just a feast for the eyes – it’s also full of endearing, classy stores, such as über-cool stationery shops, ludicrously beautiful flower boutiques and a packaging-free concept store.

  • Things to do
  • Bern

No matter how many times you’ve been, Bern’s Rose Garden is still a winner. Home to over 220 rose varieties, it also offers a splendid water lily pond and grand views of the River Aare and Old Town.

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  • Things to do
  • Bern

Even if you’re a local and you’ve done it before, visiting the gothic wonder that is Bern Cathedral is always a lovely distraction, offering amazing architecture and incredible views across the city – as long as you have a good head for heights. 

  • Things to do
  • Bern
Gurten
Gurten

Clearer spring days mean it’s the perfect time to soak up jaw-dropping views from this mountain, just a short hop from Bern city centre. There’s a funicular if you don’t feel like the walk, plus restaurants at the top and a viewing tower to really make the most of those views.

Basel

Eco-sail over the Rhine

One of the best ways to experience the free-flowing heart and soul of Basel is in an environmentally friendly boat. Powered by the river current, these vessels ferry passengers along the Rhine from four different locations, all without noise or pollution. 

  • Things to do
  • Altstadt Kleinbasel (central Kleinbasel)

On the other side of the Rhine to Basel old town, Kleinbasel is bubbling with small independent businesses, including art galleries, eateries and boutiques that knock the socks off the city’s tourist traps. Great for shopping or a culture fix, and as a great bonus, the south-facing riverbank also enjoys a serious amount of sun. 

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  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours
  • Basel

Get to grips with Basel’s extensive and very well-preserved historic heritage by leisurely strolling through the Old Town without too much of a plan. But make sure you factor-in the Mittlere Brücke, which also allows you to appreciate the beauty of Basel on the river.

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

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 Basel and the surrounding region’s lush countryside, including the historic town of Liestal. 

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