The best things to do in Switzerland this spring

Win at spring with our guide to embracing all the great stuff that‘s on offer

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

It’s finally happened: winter has pretty much disappeared and it’s starting to get – whisper it – warmer. Spring is definitely here, but banish any thoughts of spring cleaning, as there’s far too much to do.

Whether you want to take a boat trip, do a spot of outdoor shopping at a market, get arty or just remind yourself how awesome Switzerland’s alfresco spaces are, there’s a spring jaunt with your name on it. The best part is that you don’t even have to start searching for ideas, as our editors have rounded-up the very best options. If that doesn’t put a spring in your step, we don’t know what will.

Zurich

See Promenade, Zurich place, Time Out Switzerland
Swiss Tourism

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. 

Botanischer Garten
Elisabeth Real
Things to do

Botanischer Garten

icon-location-pin 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.

Advertising
Frau Gerolds Garten zurich, bar restaurant

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.

Lindenhof, Zurich
Lukas Schlagenhauf/Flickr

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.

Advertising

Geneva

CGN Lausanne-Ouchy
© Christof Schuerpf

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.

Things to do

Get pampered and cultured at Bains des Pâquis

icon-location-pin 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.

Advertising
Marches de Puces Plainspalais
© Michel Frossard
Shopping, Markets and fairs

Browse the bargains at Plainpalais flea market

icon-location-pin 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.

Parc des Bastions, Geneva park, Time Out Switzerland
© Michel Frossard
Things to do

Relax like a pro in Parc des Bastions

icon-location-pin 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

Shopping, Boutiques

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.

Things to do

Fill your belly at Lausanne Market

icon-location-pin 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.

Advertising
Advertising
CGN Lausanne-Ouchy
© Christof Schuerpf
Things to do

Lounge around in Ouchy

icon-location-pin 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.

Bern

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

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.

The Rose Garden Bern park
© Max Schmid
Things to do

Find some fine flora in the Rose Garden

icon-location-pin 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.

Advertising
Bern Cathedral
© Bern Tourismus
Things to do

Get giddy at Bern Cathedral

icon-location-pin 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

Gurten

icon-location-pin Bern

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

Art Basel, Time Out Switzerland
Photo: Swiss Tourism

Mix with the art world’s elite at Art Basel

Spring means it’s time for Art Basel, the oldest and most important contemporary art fair in the world. Even if you don’t have the hefty cash reserves needed to purchase, it’s a great place to browse – and to get a look at the art scene’s movers and shakers.

Basel Ferry

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. 

Advertising
Kleinbasel
© Basel Tourism
Things to do

Browse Kleinbasel’s boutiques and galleries

icon-location-pin 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. 

Shopping

Rummage like a pro in Flohmarkt Petersplatz

icon-location-pin Altstadt Grossbasel (central Grossbasel)

Basel’s popular Saturday fleamarket is a fine place to uncover choice knick-knacks for a bargain price. You’ll find anything from vintage handbags to old manual cameras to silverware to clothes and toys.

Advertising