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

Written by
Time Out editors
Advertising

Have you noticed? Those sub-zero temperatures have once again made way for warmer temperatures and even the occasional actual sunny day. 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 boat trips to botanical gardens to luxurious pampering sessions to paragliding to world-class art museums and galleries. This is how to do spring like a true pro.

Around Switzerland

  • Things to do

Basel’s connection with art runs deep, demonstrated to the world via the annual Art Basel, a famous, glitzy fair that brings the art world’s movers and shakers to the Swiss city each year. But art in Basel isn’t a once-a-year happening – culture is part of the lifeblood of the city, year-round. This can be seen and experienced wherever you go, thanks to a superb selection of museums, galleries and other cultural hubs. Click through below to find out our picks for the best venues in town.

Paid content
Advertising
  • Hotels

There’s a lot going on in Lucerne. From boat trips on the lake to historic sightseeing, you’ll never be short of things to do in this attractive city. But whatever you do with your time, you’ll need a great place to stay to really make the most of it. That’s where Art Deco Hotel Montana comes in. Perched high up on a hilltop above Lake Lucerne, this gorgeous 4* hotel has everything you need for a truly memorable holiday in Lucerne.

Paid content
  • Things to do

Nestled in the Bernese Oberland, the first thing you’ll notice about the gorgeous town of Interlaken is that, well, it’s gorgeous, filled with traditional Swiss Alpine scenes everywhere you turn. But Interlaken isn’t just a pretty face, as it’s also known to be a hub for active pursuits and thrilling sports. This is the place to be if you want to tick-off some bucket-list activities on land, in the water or even up in the air. Click through below to discover ten of our favourites and remember you can find more Interlaken inspiration by clicking here.

Paid content
Advertising
  • Things to do

The wonderful town of Thun is one of Switzerland’s ‘hidden’ treasures, boasting sights and attractions that include centuries-old castles and churches to cool cafes. But many visit Thun primarily for the top-notch shopping opportunities, particularly on Bälliz, an island on the River Aare. Around the town you’ll find a huge selection of stores catering for all tastes, from hip, independent boutiques to family-owned venues selling traditional goods to designer outlets. Don’t miss the locally famous Schoder shop (now run by the fourth generation of the same family), which sells Swiss knives and cutlery.

Paid content
  • 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.

Advertising
See Lugano from up high at Monte Brè
Andreas Gerth

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.

  • 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. 

Zurich

People-watch at the Zurich Horn
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. 

  • 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.

Advertising
Wander the hip hangouts of Zurich West

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.

Soak up the views from Lindenhof
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
Seebad Enge
  • Things to do
  • 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

See Lake Geneva from a paddle steamer
Chris Slupski

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.

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

Splash some shopping cash
  • Shopping
  • Boutiques

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.

Advertising
  • 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.

Advertising
  • 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.

Take a dip at Bellerive Plage
  • 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 Olympic-sized swimming pool, 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. 

Bern

Shop in style through Bern’s Old Town
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.

Advertising
  • 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. 

Gurten
  • Things to do
  • 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

Eco-sail over the Rhine

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. 

Advertising
  • 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.

E-bike hire
  • 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 Basel and the surrounding region’s lush countryside, including the historic town of Liestal. 

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Walks and tours

Fun and ecology – what’s not to like? This no-snow-required bobsled in leafy Langenbruck outside Basel incorporates one kilometre of hair-raising slide, a 540-degree helter-skelter and a solar-powered lift to carry visitors back to the top. 

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising