Switzerland: Holidays

A summer and winter sports paradise


Backpacking in Switzerland

There’s a good selection of hostels in Switzerland, so backpackers should find there is accommodation for them in most areas. Hostels in Switzerland that are members of the Swiss Backpackers Association comply with minimum standards such as self-catering kitchen and/or reasonably priced restaurant, 24-hour access and personal attention at reception. All offer dormitories as well as a choice of smaller rooms. No membership is required. Hostels of the Swiss Youth Hostel Association promote socially responsible and green tourism. Non HI members have to pay a surcharge from CHF 6 per night (families CHF 12 a night). The cheapest way to become a member is to register in your country before you depart.



Beach in Switzerland

Although it’s not a conventional beach holiday destination, Switzerland has beaches on its lakes. The Lido in Lugano, for instance, has palm trees and 75,000 cubic metres of Mediterranean sand imported from Italy. There are also sandy beaches on Lake Lucerne, Lake Zurich and beaches on Lake Geneva, Lake Biel and the Burgseeli natural bathing beach is situated in the vicinity of Interlaken between Ringgenberg and Goldswil and nestles in a hollow. There you’ll find a barbecue area, sunbathing lawn, concerts, events and even a restaurant. There is a small entrance fee for some lakeside beaches in Switzerland.

Lake Maggiore in the South of Switzerland also has beaches, and you’ll find water sports such as water skiing and sailing. For visitors to Switzerland who like to combine a beach holiday with hiking, sightseeing, boat trips and more, the lakes of Switzerland offer an ideal combination.


Camping in Switzerland

Camping is a popular activity in Switzerland. Most towns and even many villages in Switzerland have organised campsites; however, availability of campsites in Switzerland depends on seasonal factors. Because of the cold weather in Switzerland during the winter months, camping is less common and many campsites in Switzerland are closed outside of the peak summer months. This is especially the case for campsites located at high altitudes in the mountains of Switzerland.

The quality of campsites in Switzerland is very good with washing and showering facilities with hot and cold running water. Campsites in Switzerland charge in three ways: per person, per tent and per car. Prices for campsites in Switzerland are generally low but if you want to camp or go mountain walking in Switzerland in the busy summer months are advised to book ahead.

City Breaks

City Breaks in Switzerland

Weekend breaks in Switzerland can be taken in one of Europe’s most elegant cities. Zurich and Geneva are both suitable for a city break in Switzerland. A visit to either Zurich or Geneva in Switzerland for the weekend will offer you a mix of history and tradition, culture, shopping, dining, and wonderful lakeside locations.

A city break in Switzerland can offer the traveller superb scenery, as well as a taste of art, architecture, history and culture. If no city break is complete without some retail therapy, you’ll be glad to know that both Zurich and Geneva can offer high-class shopping, as well as some splendidly atmospheric neighbourhoods such as Schipfe and Lindenhof Square in Zurich, and Jardin Anglais, the Palais des Nations, and Rousseau Island in Geneva.?

Culture and Arts

Culture and Arts in Switzerland

While Switzerland is famous for its landscapes and outdoor pursuits such as walking and skiing, culture and arts lovers will still find plenty to amuse them during a holiday to Switzerland. There are more than 900 museums in Switzerland, including the National Museum at Zurich’s main railway station,
The Picasso Museum and the Glacier Garden in Lucerne, a natural monument with gigantic glacial potholes that also features the oldest relief maps of Switzerland. Theatre lovers should not miss a visit to the Open-Air Theatre in Interlaken. Set in a forest clearing, Tell, the play about William Tell, has been staged at the theatre for more than 90 years, and every year more than 180 actors, 20 horses and a procession of cows and goats take to the stage for this Swiss tradition.

The theatre also offers a free children’s nursery, so parents won’t have to miss out. Folk art is kept alive in organisations all over Switzerland. In Switzerland it is mostly expressed in music, dance, poetry, woodcarving and embroidery. Yodelling, despite being stereotypical for Switzerland, is limited to some mountain areas.

The use of the alphorn is seen mainly in mountainous regions in Switzerland, and like yodeling or the accordion, it has become an epitome of traditional Swiss music.
In Zurich, do not miss the gothic Fraumünster, with its stained-glass windows by Chagall; the imposing twin-towered Grossmünster cathedral. Also while in Switzerland, take a trip to the Horological Museum and watch-making factories at La-Chaux-de-Fonds. There are more factories at Le Locle nearby, all producing celebrated Swiss precision watches

Disabled Needs

Disabled Needs in Switzerland

Although Switzerland can pose difficulties for the mobility impaired, because its most scenic areas are mountainous, the Swiss have gone to great lengths to improve access. According to Switzerland Tourism, more than 150 railway stations now have wheelchair ramps, and another 150 stations in Switzerland have special wheelchair lifts to help passengers on and off trains. In smaller towns in Switzerland, station employees may lift wheelchair passengers on and off the train by hand.

Many lake steamers in Switzerland are wheelchair-accessible. (The main deck is usually at the same level as the landing platform or gangway.) Check with the local boat ticket office, since some sailings may be more wheelchair-friendly than others. Hotels, pensions, and inns in Switzerland vary in their accessibility. Small inns in rural areas in Switzerland may not have elevators, but many do, so it’s best to check before travelling.

Newer or renovated hotels in Switzerland often have special facilities such as bathrooms with roll-in showers and toilets with grab bars. The Swiss Hotel Guide uses symbols to identify accessible hotels, and a special hotel guide for disabled travellers can be ordered by mail from Switzerland. You will find that cities and towns in Switzerland have special public restrooms for disabled travellers. These are usually unisex restrooms with the international wheelchair symbol on the door.
In train stations in Switzerland, the wheelchair restroom may be locked. If it is you can borrow a key from the stationmaster or the clerk at the information counter.

Larger cities and towns in Switzerland such as Zürich, Geneva, Bern, and Lucerne are usually easy to get around, at least in the main tourist areas. Lakeside promenades in Switzerland can be especially nice for wheelchair travellers.
In the mountains, seek advice from the local tourist office. Many hiking paths in Switzerland are paved, some aren't at all steep, and quite a few are accessible by cogwheel train or cablecar. Don’t think that anyone who has impaired mobility will be denied Switzerland's alpine scenery – though it will be easier to visit mountain resorts in the summer, since ice and snow can make it difficult to get around.

Family Holiday

Family Holiday in Switzerland

With a choice of parcs, campsites, hotels, villas, cottages and package tours, holidays in Switzerland are popular with families. With everything on offer from skiing in the Alps, and horse riding, to lakeside beaches and fairytale castles, there should be something for all the family to enjoy in Switzerland. Switzerland also offers special kids’ hotels and family resorts (look out for Kinderhotels and kids Hotels).

And with a diverse array of menus, from German sausage dishes, to pasta and cheese fondues, even the fussiest eaters should find something to their liking. With some spectacular train rides up mountains in Switzerland, even the smallest of visitors can enjoy the stunning scenery – even if they can’t climb or walk that far.

Gay and Lesbian

Gay and Lesbian in Switzerland

Switzerland is well known as one of the most open-minded countries in Europe, and Geneva is the epicentre of gay culture with numerous gay-owned and gay-friendly bars, clubs, hotels, and guesthouses.

Every year in May, Zurich, which calls itself the ‘indisputable gay capital of Switzerland’, is home to Warmer Mai, a gay and lesbian festival offering an array of events, art exhibitions, concerts, cabarets, parties, seminars, workshops, and sports activities.

Another major gay event in the city is the CSD Zürich pride organised on a yearly basis since 1994. In Zurich Old Town, in Switzerland, you’ll find an area filled with theatres, cinemas, discos, cafés and restaurants such as Barfüsser, Europe’s oldest gay bar that has now been converted into a sushi restaurant, or the Labor Bar club with its weekly Sunday Trash Gay and Lesbian party.


Honeymoon in Switzerland

Switzerland is always considered a delight for newly-wed couples. It often surprises travellers with its scenic beauty. Switzerland offers a great range from snowcapped peaks to palm-lined lakes. If you are looking for a great romantic destination in Switzerland then you might like to visit Interlaken.

Zurich is one of the most beautiful and largest cities of Switzerland. The great clubs and bars are great romantic places for nights out. But one of the most popular romantic attractions of Switzerland is Mt. Titlis. If you are looking for adventure on your honeymoon in Switzerland then it is an ideal place. You can go river rafting, bungy jumping and pony riding. Another great honeymoon destination in Switzerland is Jungfraujoch. The snow-covered alps, pristine lakes, alpine villages or fields of edelweiss all make it a visual treat. The untamed majesty of the Alps and the exotic Swiss towns make Switzerland a charming honeymoon destination for couples.


Naturism in Switzerland

Switzerland is a pretty liberal country, so you will find some places to enjoy a naturism holiday in Switzerland. The Camping Club Léman is a naturist club and campsite located close to Lake Geneva, while the Club Gymnique Lumière is a naturist club and campsite situated on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland.

However, if you were intending to go rambling without your clothes in the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, you may have to change your plans. The authorities in this area of Switzerland are planning to introduce laws to impose fines on anyone choosing to walk through this region without clothes on. This is in response to a number of nudists visiting last year, many of them from Germany where “free body culture” is popular.

Party Holiday - Singles Life

Party Holiday - Singles Life in Switzerland

Switzerland is the destination for a more relaxed kind of holiday, but if you are looking for a party holiday and nightlife for singles there are destinations to choose in Switzerland. The famous St Moritz ski resort is a good choice for the single traveller to Switzerland, with bars, clubs and restaurants – and of course great skiing.

Or try the apres ski and nightlife in the village of Saas-Fee, a ski resort in the Swiss Alps. The village may be small but the nightlife scene is not; a number of young snowboarders and young-minded skiers make this ski resort in Switzerland as much fun off the slopes as on them. Zürich has a surprisingly wide range of nightlife and entertainment. Live rock and jazz – although easy to find most nights of the week – take second place to the city’s amazingly dynamic club scene, which covers the gamut from techno to salsa.

Couples Holiday

Couples Holiday in Switzerland

With everything from fabulous scenic walks, relaxing lakeside restaurants and bars, and a choice of excellent bars, restaurants and concerts in the cities, there is something for every couple in Switzerland. Choose a lakeside hotel if you want a week of relaxing together, strolling along the promenades, stopping for mid-morning coffee and cakes, and enjoying picturesque old towns and villages. The service in the hotels and guesthouses of Switzerland is second to none, so whatever your budget, you should find yourself in a pleasant, friendly accommodation.

Enjoying fabulous mountain views, boat trips on the lakes, and even scenic train journeys, can be very romantic with your significant other, which makes Switzerland a great choice for a couple’s holiday.

Golf Activity Holiday

Golf Activity Holiday in Switzerland

Switzerland has a good selection of golf courses and the sport is gradually growing in popularity. However, Switzerland has so much to offer that golf will probably never become popular on the scale it is in other countries. The topography of the country and the cost of land might also have something to do with it. It must be said that the Swiss are excellent for exploiting the wonderful gift from the gods that is the geography of their country.

Switzerland has some 60 golf courses. Make for the Alps and play some dramatic high altitude courses. Golf de Geneve is the premiere course in the Geneva region and has amazing views over Lake Geneva, while Crans-sur-Sierre is set on a mountain plateau in the Alps. There are more than 42 golf hotels for the keen golfer to choose from.

Skiing - Snow Boarding

Skiing - Snow Boarding in Switzerland

Switzerland was the birthplace of skiing holidays, when the English arrived and began to make skiing a sport of the elite. Switzerland is still home to many traditional ski towns that have changed little over the decades. Arosa, for instance, is an original resort at the end of a winding mountain road and has some of the most luxurious, grand old hotels in the Alps.

Klosters in Switzerland shares the slopes with the bustling Davos, but it is a quiet, chalet-style area with old restaurants and hotels. In the Jungfrau region you can ski beneath the Jungfraujoch and its glacier, or in the shadow of the Eiger. Many ski resorts in Switzerland are car-free, including the hugely popular Zermatt, which nestles beneath the Matterhorn.

The skiing is dramatic, and visitors to Switzerland arrive by train and either walk or get to their hotel by horse-drawn sleigh. The scenery and weather in Switzerland are idyllic, with fresh powdery snow perfect for snowboarding and endless backdrops of snow-laden evergreen trees surrounding the runs. There are dozens of resorts across the Swiss Alps for the prospective snowboarder to choose from. Resorts for snowboarding are mostly in the South of Switzerland, and are about 2-3 hours away from Zurich by public transport.

Sailing Activity Holiday

Sailing Activity Holiday in Switzerland

Switzerland, with its choice of lakes, is a wonderful destination for a sailing holiday. The best season for sailing is between May and September. You may find there are no boats for hire the rest of the time as weather on the mountain-ringed lakes can be unpredictable. Even during season, always take heed of local advice, and keep a good eye out for signs of weather changes – storms can whip up very quickly. Whether you want to learn to sail a dinghy, get the kids to learn the ropes, take out a yacht yourself or charter a crew to take you off on a trip, the Swiss lakes are the place to be.

If you stay in a hotel at the lakes in Switzerland, they may be able to organise your boat hire for you. If you are booking a sailing course of any kind, ensure that there are English-speaking instructors, as all Swiss sailing qualifications are carried out in German.

Hiking Activity Holiday

Hiking Activity Holiday in Switzerland

Switzerland may just be the ultimate hiking destination – spectacular alpine peaks, pastoral meadows filled with cows munching wild flowers, fabulous trail system, quaint villages and a renowned tourist infrastructure. But you need to do some research and planning for the perfect hiking holiday in Switzerland, as you could arrive to find whole villages shut down in their off season and the trails choked with snow.

The Valais in Switzerland is an arid canton with many of Europe's highest, glaciated peaks. The weather is sunny and dry, making it a hiker's paradise. Walking trails follow ancient bisses, or hand built irrigation channels, that cross the hillsides and link farming hamlets and high pastures, or Alps. The Valais in Switzerland is home to Zermatt and the Matterhorn, and the resort town of Saas Fee, set beneath glaciers and home to two of the Alps' finest high-level walks.
If you want to get off the beaten path in Switzerland, consider visiting Kippel or Wiler in the Lotschental, a valley that time forgot, just north of the Rhone.

The Oberland, including both the Jungfrau region and the southwestern Oberland, is classic Switzerland. Snowy peaks rise above green meadows in Switzerland filled with the world's most beautiful cows. Perhaps the greatest hiking region of all is Engadine. Canton Graubunden in the southeast of Switzerland is an intriguing corner to explore. The broad valley of the En or Inn River is home to a number of villages and towns that make perfect hiking bases.

Shopping Holiday

Shopping Holiday in Switzerland

Switzerland is not the cheapest of destinations, and as such does not come high on the list for keen retail therapists. However, when visiting Switzerland there are some special purchases to consider, including embroidery and linen. Also look out for Bernese woodcarving, chocolate, cheese, Swiss army knives and luxury handmade clocks and watches when you’re shopping in Switzerland. Zürich is the shopping capital of Switzerland, centred on the luxury boutiques and department stores of the celebrated Bahnhofstrasse.

Well-being and Spa

Well-being and Spa in Switzerland

Switzerland is the traditional location of the world's best spa holidays, including the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel and Spa in Interlaken and the Lausanne Palace and Spa on Lake Geneva.

Wellness holidays combine hiking with luxury spas, and there are plenty of hotels in beautiful locations that combine the two activities in Switzerland. Check out the mountain hot springs at Vals or Bad Scuol in Engadin in Switzerland – the major spas in Graubünden – as well as the many smaller spas with healing waters.

In Baden, in Switzerland, the Thermalbad or public baths can be visited by anyone. The idea is to swim round the perimeter of the baths, which have jets, positioned at different levels. A little buzzer alerts bathers when to move onto the next jet. Try it for a really relaxing experience during your holiday in Switzerland, before you’re wrapped in a warm bathrobe and directed to the relaxation room where talking and cell phones are not allowed.

Touring - Driving holiday

Touring - Driving holiday in Switzerland

Rated as one of the top destination for a tour driving holiday, Swizterland's Grimsel Pass is a Swiss high Apline mountain pass between the valley of the Rhone River and the Haslital. Here you can explore some magnificent mountain country at the eastern end of the Bernese Alps. With many of the most scenic places quite out of the way, driving and touring around Switzerland is a good option. As long as you are prepared for some winding mountain roads, there is much to recommend taking a touring holiday in Switzerland, but be aware that in the winter many roads and passes may be closed or at the least less passable because of the snow. In spring, summer and autumn, by all means take yourself off in the car in Switzerland, but remember to buy your Swiss motorway vignette before you go. You must pay to use motorways in Switzerland.

If you hire a car in Switzerland, the vignette should be already attached to the windscreen. Behind the wheel of your car in Switzerland, you’ll have the chance to experience fantastic mountain scenery, beautiful lakeside views, stop off for walks in alpine meadows, and join scenic railway trips.

Wine Tasting Holiday

Wine Tasting Holiday in Switzerland

The vineyards of Switzerland are not renowned for their vintages, yet the clever Swiss create a variety of wines they prefer to keep for themselves (only about 1% is exported outside of the canton they’re bottled in). Switzerland produces more than 200 million bottles a year, so the Swiss know and enjoy their native wines.

The cantons of Valais and Vaud are chief producers of wine in Switzerland. Cressier, outside of Neuchatel, is known for its family-run caves. Here you can arrange a personal tour of their facilities and enjoy a private tasting at your leisure. For a sampling of wines from several local vintners, try Maison Vallier, which sponsors a group tasting. Switzerland is also home to wine festivals, where the first batch of a certain year’s wine are ready to taste. Food is also available from many vineyards, which cook barbecues during these type of festivals

While you’re in Switzerland you could also venture towards Vevey (about 15 minutes from Montreux) and take the Winetrain through the vineyards of Lavaux.

Cycling Activity Holiday

Cycling Activity Holiday in Switzerland

What better way to discover Switzerland in all its beauty than on your bicycle? With some 8,300 km of cycle routes, stunning scenery and beautiful nature, Switzerland is a cyclist's paradise.

Switzerland is covered with a multitude of special cycling routes, some of which are local, while others are designed to span the whole of Switzerland. Some of the longer cycling routes in Switzerland are approximately 3000km in length. Whether you are looking for a short cycle tour with steep climbs or a long-distance tour lasting several days, Switzerland offers cycle enthusiasts of all fitness levels hundreds of options.

The best place to get up to date information on cycling routes in Switzerland is from any Swiss tourist office where you can obtain free maps of various cycling routes available in Switzerland.