With its astounding scenery, epic train rides, and eclectic cultures, a trip to Switzerland is a life-changing experience. Make the memories last longer by bringing home a few distinctive Swiss products. From cheeses and chocolates to watches and clocks, the Swiss have been excellent artisans for centuries. The following best Swiss products are more than souvenirs, they’re specimens of a unique country and its accomplishments.
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Swiss Army Knife
The Swiss Army knife reflects the indigenous people’s keen interest in hiking, climbing, and camping in the alpine wilderness. It’s been copied relentlessly in other countries such as Spain, France, and Germany, but the quality of the ones crafted in Switzerland surpasses that of the others.
These multi-purpose knives perform all kinds of functions and are a great addition to survival kits. They can be used as scissors and pliers to open wine and cans, cut fresh bread, and even have tweezers and toothpicks. Some of them come with digital clocks, USB storage, and paintings of the famous Matterhorn.
Swiss Army knives aren’t terribly expensive. You can pick up one for between 20 CHF (21.50 USD) and 100 CHF (107.51 USD). They make wonderful souvenirs for friends and family back home. Look for ones with engravable front plates and have them personalized. Be sure to pick up one for yourself, too.
You can find Swiss Army knives at shops in the city and at souvenir stands at the airport. If you’re looking for one of the highest quality, Victorinox is a tried and trusted brand.
There’s chocolate and then there’s Swiss chocolate. Once you taste it and let its silky richness melt in your mouth, you’ll know the difference. Cacao beans and the cane sugar used to sweeten chocolate aren’t even indigenous to Switzerland. It’s the alpine milk used that sets it apart. Alpine milk from high-altitude farms in the mountains is denser and less aerated than other milk, and that’s what gives it such a creamy texture and rich fragrance.
Adding to the use of alpine milk is the talent of the Swiss chocolatiers that have perfected the process of chocolate making since the 17th century. Brands like Toblerone, Lindt, and Confiserie Sprüngli are produced in Switzerland and have put this small European nation on the map for fine chocolate.
Chocolate is available everywhere in Switzerland, and it’s readily available in supermarket chains. For the tastiest deals, look for local outlets such as Max Chocolatier in Zurich and Lucern. Avoid the chocolate stores that appear touristy.
Switzerland has long been famous for high-end horology. It’s home to several luxury brands such as Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Tag Heuer, and more. If you’re in the market for an exquisite new timepiece, Switzerland is definitely the place to go. Famous luxury brands can be pretty pricey, but there are more affordable options like Wenger and Swatch. But high-end watches from top brands in Switzerland are a good investment and can become a priceless family heirloom.
If you have a keen interest in horology, the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds high up in the Jura region will fascinate you. Known as the world capital of watchmaking, the Musée International de Horlogerie has over 4,500 exhibits including 700 wall clocks as well as 2,700 unique watches. La Chaux-de-Fonds was named a World Heritage Site in 2009.
The same alpine milk responsible for delectable Swiss chocolate also makes the country’s world-famous cheese creamy and delicious. Cheese production in Switzerland is a highly-artisanal process with many arduous processes and stages. There are several varieties of cheese. Some of the best Alpine cheeses include Appenzeller, Emmentaler, and Gruyère.
Appenzeller is a hard cheese produced in the Appenzellerland region in the modern-day cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden. It’s known as one of Switzerland’s tastiest cheeses.
Emmentaler is a medium-hard yellow cheese that originated in the canton of Bern in the area around Emmental. Written records that date all the way back to 1293 mention Emmentaler cheese.
Gruyère is a hard cheese that originated in the cantons of Vaud, Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel, and Bern. It’s often used in Switzerland’s famous cheese fondue and raclette served in eating establishments all around the country. Enjoying a hot, bubbly cheese fondue is a must-do while in Switzerland, especially during the cold months.
If you want to take some Swiss cheese home with you, it’s best to stick with the hard varieties.
Swiss Cuckoo Clocks
Who doesn’t love a charming cuckoo clock with its tiny bird popping out to say “cuckoo” and mark the hour? Although the cuckoo clock is considered to be a German invention, the Swiss added their own touch to its design with the resemblance of a little wooden traditional chalet. You can also find them with people dancing in Swiss costumes, colorful alpine flowers, and St. Bernard dogs.
Swiss cuckoo clocks are known for their high-quality craftsmanship. They range in price with the battery-operated ones being the cheapest and the handmade, wooden pendulum-operated ones being the most expensive. The least expensive ones are easy to find in souvenir shops all across the country. They make a very impressive gift to take to someone back home.
If you really want to splurge on one of these iconic clocks, you can find a range of options on our list of cuckoo clock shops.
Bordering France and Italy, Switzerland has a plethora of vineyards in its southern region. The conditions there in terms of altitude, light, and soil are excellent for growing a variety of grapes. The most famous wine-growing regions are Valais, Geneva, Vaud, Lavaux, and Ticino. Wines from the Zermatt Valley are also worth a try.
White wine made from white grapes and Pinot Noir made from berry black grapes that grow in the Lauvaux vineyards, a Swiss World Heritage Site, won’t disappoint. Unlike other European wines, premium wines in Switzerland are mostly made by locals and sold domestically. They are not imported. They pair especially well with all varieties of Swiss cheese, so you’ll want to take some Swiss wine home with you. Just pack them well to endure the flight home.
The whole world has adored the little girl in a traditional milkmaid dress and braids since the 17th century. Swiss author Johanna Spyri introduced the fictional character Heidi in her stories in 1881. The spirited, kind-hearted girl lives with her grandfather secluded high in the Alps.
Since the stories came out, the Heidi character has appeared in movies and toys as well as books. She epitomizes the spirit of living a simple life close to nature in the Alpine countryside. Her popularity is celebrated with merchandise that has become one of the top souvenirs to bring home from Switzerland. In Zurich, you’ll see entire stores centered around Heidi books and related products. And you can even visit her town in Graubunden in the east of the country.
Whether it’s for the kids or for you, don’t leave Switzerland without a Heidi book or souvenir.
Punctuality is a thing in Switzerland and perhaps a throwback to the precision of their timepieces. Either way, the Swiss are proud of the stereotype and their highly-efficient train system is fast and almost never late. In 1944, Hans Hilfiker, a Swiss engineer and designer, invented the Mondaine railway clock while working for the Swiss Federal Railways. With its bold red hand, one was placed in every federal railway station.
You’ll see Han’s invention when embarking and disembarking on every platform. What makes the railway clock so unique is its movement. The clock’s hand moves for 58 seconds per minute and then stops for two seconds. This helps the trains be on time.
Today, the Mondaine railway clock is a Swiss icon. It’s a great souvenir to take back home.
In addition to excellent watchmaking skills, the Swiss are also known for crafting sophisticated and complex music boxes. The industry began in the early 19th century and at one time even outperformed their watchmaking. The intricate music boxes still function the same today with metal pins and cylinders that play songs like the “Happy Wanderer” and Edelweiss.
The selection of music boxes is larger today and are available resembling traditional wooden Swiss chalets, highly-detailed carvings of alpine meadow flowers, or handpainted scenes depicting life in Switzerland such as shepherds and hikers from the olden days. More contemporary such as a transparent box to see the amazing inner workings are also available.
Music boxes from Switzerland are wonderful souvenirs, and if you really want to go all out, you can find high-end music boxes that allow the cylinders to be changed to play many different songs. Expect to pay up to 10,000 CHF (10,786 USD.)
Alta Terra Alpine Herb Food Products
Switzerland is one of the cleanest countries in the world, and the fresh air and pure soil help produce organic goods for homegrown produce. Alta Terra, a family-based business in Bern, uses hand-processed organic ingredients and old family recipes to produce food products free of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides.
Alta Terra Alpine products include honey, oils, salts, vinegar, and other foods infused with herbs, spices, and dried flowers from the Alps. Alta Terra salt from the mines in Bex in the canton of Vaud is infused with fresh alpine spices and flowers. Alpine herbs are added to salad dressings, oils, and vinegar.
Save room in your suitcase for a few Alta Terra products. Reminisce about your time in Switzerland and impress your friends with salad dressing infused with parsley, basil, and oregano grown in the Alps. Or serve a cup of tea sweetened with black locust flower honey.
Appenzeller Dog Collar
You and your furry best friend will be the envy of everyone at the dog park back home with a fashionable Appenzeller dog collar. The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a mountain dog that was first bred in the rolling green region of Appenzeller. For more than 250 years, dogs in Switzerland have been donning the traditional black, red, or tan Appenzeller dog collar.
The Appenzeller dog collar fad has spread to other parts of Europe as well. The smooth leather has gold cutouts shaped like cows, herders, and dogs. More modern designs include faux alligator print and in red with white Swiss crosses. A good place to pick up one of these iconic dog collars is at The House of Dog on the shopping street Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich.
Kids, classic toy collectors, and anyone who admires fine craftsmanship back home will love a traditional wooden toy from Switzerland. The high-quality wooden toys are carved from local woods like maple, birch, and beech from the high forests of Switzerland. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. You’ll find wooden tops, yo-yos, trains, and planes, and Swiss figurines like St. Bernards and alpine cows painted red with the white Swiss cross.
A good place to shop for Swiss wooden toys is at Schweizer Heimatwerk, the popular “Made in Switzerland” shop in Zurich. It’s an especially wonderful place to visit during the holidays.
Geberit Bathroom Products
Another very well-known Swiss product brand is Geberit. It is just that most people don’t know they are Swiss. You will see their products in most modern bathrooms around the world. They produce everything from porcelain bowls and basins as well as bathroom furniture like taps and handles.
So, next time you are visiting a nice looking bathroom in a hotel or restaurant while traveling around the world, especially in Switzerland, be on the lookout for the Geberit brand in the bathroom!
Logitech Computer Peripherals
Another very famous Swiss brand is Logitech. They have been producing computer keyboards and mice for decades. They also make a wide range of computer-related peripherals these days like speakers, webcams, headphones, remote controls and a whole lot more. So, if you are a gamer, remote computer worker or anyone who likes the best accessories for your computer, this Swiss company might just have the solution for you!
Phonak Hearing Aids
If you are having trouble hearing these days then it is time to head to the local hearing aid shop and perhaps get your hands on the latest tech. The chances are it will be a Phonak hearing aid, straight from Switzerland. Phonak is based on the shores of the lovely Lake Zurich and creates some cutting-edge hearing aids that are helping people hear the world over.
Best Swiss Products – Frequently Asked Questions
What are two very popular products manufactured in Switzerland?
Some very popular products manufactured in Switzerland include Swiss watches like Rolex, Omega and Swatch, as well as Swiss chocolate like Lindt.
What is the most popular brand in Switzerland?
According to brandirectory.com, Nestlé is the most popular Swiss brand with a revenue of 23,395,000 USD (21,813,615 CHF) reported in 2016.
What luxury goods can be bought in Switzerland?
Luxury brands you can buy in Switzerland include Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Loro Piana, Dior, Burberry, Rolex, Breitling, IWC Schaffhausen, Gucci, Versace, Chanel, Dior Omega, Patek Philippe, Montblanc, Bucherer, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Piaget.
If you are in Zurich you can head to Bahnhofstrasse on a walking tour and shop yourself to death on these luxury brands.
Why are Swiss watches so expensive?
Swiss watches such as Rolex, Patek Phillippe, and Omega are renowned around the world for their high-quality designs and exceptional functionality. With intricately designed components, they reflect decades of innovation and refinement.