Traveling through Switzerland and you’re not sure which souvenirs to take home? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide features all the best souvenirs you can buy in the Alpine country!
Sure, magnets and bottle openers make for cute little souvenirs, but they’re not very representative of Switzerland. It’s better to choose your Swiss souvenirs wisely and get the items that are representative of classic Swiss character, or items that the Swiss make the best.
So, keep reading to see our top picks of Switzerland souvenirs and where you can find them!
Table of Contents
When in doubt, pick up a chunk of Swiss cheese. Few other countries are as famous for their cheeses as Switzerland is, and that’s because they produce some of the best and tastiest kinds of cheese in Europe.
Gruyere cheese, Tilsiter, Emmentaler, Raclette – the list goes on and on. You can find locally made cheese everywhere in Switzerland, so it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling through the country or staying in a big city for a few days. You can even visit some of the local cheese factories and see how cheese is really made!
For the best Swiss cheeses, you’ll want to go straight to the source. Many villages in the Swiss Alps are famous for cheese production, and it’s usually possible to try a few different varieties of cheese if you’re not sure what to buy.
And even if you are hiking in the mountains, there is often Alpkäse on sale from local farmers. For me, this is often the best cheese you can get in Switzerland. Fresh, local, organic, and definitely very Swiss!
Of course, if you just want to indulge in some fondue, or learn more about the making of it there are some great tours in the major cities that are a once-in-a-lifetime Swiss cultural experience!
Swiss Army Knife
Swiss army knives are famous for their versatility and quality, and you will find the best selection of them in Switzerland. You can find Victorinox stores in most big cities, and they carry by far the widest product range.
They are always available for purchase in souvenir shops and many other stores throughout the country, plus the prices are generally the same regardless of where in Switzerland you are.
You can bring a Swiss army knife in your checked luggage and you might even be able to take it on a plane if you can find one at the duty-free shop when you’re flying out of the country. Just keep in mind that whether you’re allowed to keep it depends on where you’re traveling to – if you’re heading to the US, you most likely won’t be able to pass through security with the knife.
Switzerland is world-famous for its watches and clocks. Some of the best and most renowned manufacturers of watches are Swiss, so there’s truly no better place to purchase a lasting timepiece than the Alpine country.
Swiss watches are known for outstanding quality, but also for high prices. A high-quality Swiss watch is not the best souvenir to buy in Switzerland if you’re on a tighter budget, but if you’re looking to splurge and you want to get something that will last forever, you don’t have many better options.
You can buy a genuine Swiss watch anywhere in the country, but you’ll find the best selection of luxury stores in bigger cities like Basel, Bern, Zurich, or Geneva.
And if you really want to dive into watchmaking you can take part in a Swiss watchmaking tour in Lucerne and see how they are made in person. This is a rare opportunity as honestly, I have never seen a watch made in 20 years of living here!
If you want to commemorate your travels through Switzerland with an iconic timepiece but can’t quite afford a Rolex or a Breitling, consider getting a Swiss cuckoo clock. It’s just as famous and representative of Swiss culture, but it’s much more budget-friendly.
Cuckoo clocks are German in origin, but they exist in their current form because of Robert Loetscher. The Swiss business produced music boxes, but it wasn’t until 1920 that it manufactured the chalet-style box. When the dial and mechanical movement were added to the box, the cuckoo clock was officially born!
Swiss cuckoo clocks can be found in various souvenir shops and even watch stores throughout the country.
Perhaps the most delicious of the Swiss souvenirs is decadent Swiss chocolate. The Alpine country is popular for its many chocolatiers, which are known for making world-famous chocolates.
Chocolate bars, pralines, truffles, and various unique creations can be found in many stores throughout Switzerland, so be sure to do a quick chocolate tour of the city you’re visiting before you purchase anything.
Also, you could just attend a chocolate-making class at one of the high-end stores or even factories. Not only do you get to make chocolate alongside some of the best people in the business, but you’ll also get to take home anything you make with your two hands.
Chocolate tours and workshops usually include a discount for goers, so you’ll be able to save some money on the delicious Swiss chocolates as well.
If your travels through Switzerland have taken you to the southern or western parts of the country, you already know just how big on the wine they are. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and anyone who has visited them has wanted to take at least one bottle back home to remember the wonderful experience.
Swiss wine is just as iconic as cheese or chocolate, and it makes for an amazing gift for the people back home. The only thing is, you can’t just bring a bottle of wine in your carry-on luggage. So, consider getting Swiss wine as a souvenir only if you’re traveling by land, or you’re checking a bag at the airport.
You’ll find the best selection of Swiss wine at the source. Visit the vineyards and wineries in the southern and western parts of the country, try the selection, and see what you like most. Alternatively, you can always pick up a bottle or two at the duty-free store, which is the best option if you’re flying out of the country with just a carry-on.
Appenzeller Dog Collar
If you own a dog or you’re shopping for friends who are dog parents, an Appenzeller dog collar makes for an excellent gift. Appenzell is a village in the Swiss Alps from where the Appenzeller Sennenhund breed originated, and they’ve been wearing the signature dog collars for more than 250 years.
Most dogs in Switzerland sport this trendy collar, and just like everything else in the country, they’re premium quality. The dog collar will last your pet for ages, especially if you pick a good one made from premium leather.
These dog collars can be made in traditional or modern designs. The traditional dog collars are usually adorned with Alpine details, while the modern versions feature a more simplistic design, often with white Swiss crosses.
You can buy dog collars in most pet shops throughout the country, as well as in souvenir shops. They start at around 50 CHF for the smallest collars and can cost up to several hundred francs, depending on the materials and size. They’re worth the money though – the quality is amazing and they will outlast any other dog collar.
For many of us who didn’t have the privilege of being born into the wonderful Alpine country, Johanna Spyri’s Heidi was our first encounter with Swiss nature. It’s been decades since I first read the novel and I still vividly remember the descriptions of the wonderful nature of the mountaintop cabin where Heidi was sent to live.
This is one of the most famous works of Swiss literature, so it’s not too surprising that there are countless Heidi-themed souvenirs in Switzerland. There’s everything from a Heidi magnet to an actual Alphorn, so you’re definitely not short on options from it comes to Heidi souvenirs.
Whether you just want something to remember the travels by, or you’re looking to get a gift for a child in your life, you won’t be disappointed with Heidi souvenirs. Also, it’s worth noting that you can get a two-in-one Swiss souvenir this way – pick up a Heidi-themed cuckoo clock or fondue set, for the most Swiss souvenir ever.
Traditional Swiss Costume
The Swiss don’t miss an opportunity to don their traditional outfits. Whether it’s for a festival or a national holiday, it’s common to see the locals roaming around the city streets in traditional Swiss wear.
A traditional Swiss outfit makes for a great souvenir to take home if you want something that will undoubtedly remind you of your travels through Switzerland. It also solves the problem of what to wear for Halloween for the rest of your life, or as long as you fit in the costume – if you’re fine with dressing up as a Swiss soldier, that is.
You can find Swiss folk wear at specialized shops in the bigger cities. It’s not quite as ubiquitous as fondue sets and Swiss Army Knives, but it’s worth it to try and find an outfit you like because you can’t buy anything like it in the rest of the world.
The Swiss are world famous for their delicious chocolates and other desserts, Kambly biscuits included. The brand is synonymous with fine Swiss biscuits, and they have a tradition that dates back more than a century ago.
If you need souvenir ideas for a foodie, Kambly biscuits are right up there with fine Swiss cheese and Laderach chocolates. They’re delicious and soft, and pair perfectly with tea or even coffee.
Kambly biscuits are available in many different versions, so you’re bound to find at least a couple of things you like in their product range. An assortment of flavors and textures is the best option if you want to try as many biscuits as possible, but it’s also possible to purchase just one type of biscuit.
Also, it’s worth noting that you can find both sweet and savory biscuits in their product range, as well as some truly delicious chocolate bars.
Cows are very important for Switzerland – without them, there wouldn’t be any delicious Swiss cheeses or chocolates! They’re widespread in the Alpine regions and they’re usually outfitted with bells so that the farmers can locate them more easily on the vast Alpine pastures.
Cowbells make for great souvenirs if you just want a token to remember the trip. They’re also great presents – you can choose from a variety of different sizes, colors, and designs, plus you can get them engraved. And in case you’re shopping for someone who actually owns a cow, there’s really no better present to bring them from Switzerland!
If you like the idea of a cowbell but you’re not sure what to do with such a thing, go for a smaller-scale version of the item. A cowbell keyring is a great little souvenir from Switzerland that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and it doesn’t take up as much space as the real thing.
Cheese Fondue Set
Swiss cheese fondue is ubiquitous in the country, whether you’re stopping at a mountaintop cabin or going on a boat cruise on Lake Zurich. It’s a staple Swiss dish and it’s so delicious that we don’t blame them for including it absolutely everywhere. After all, who can say no to a bucket of melted cheese?
Cheese fondue sets vary in price depending on the size and what exactly you are getting. You can buy just a fondue pot if you want, or you can get the whole package that includes a burner and utensils. Pots are generally more affordable than sets with burners, and you can normally find them in souvenir shops and cheese shops throughout the country.
Pair the fondue set with your favorite Swiss cheese, and you will be able to relieve a part of your travels back home. If you end up at a cheese shop, don’t forget to ask for tips on how to make the best Swiss fondue!
Model SBB Train
If you actually spent time traveling through Switzerland, you’re likely already familiar with the Swiss railway and why it’s so famous. The trains are spacious, comfortable, fast, and pretty punctual – they’re easily the best part of traveling through the country!
If you had the honor of riding on one of the more panoramic trains in Switzerland like the Bernina Express or Glacier Express, you might want to take something home to remind you of that amazing journey. A model train makes for an excellent souvenir – it doesn’t have to be a collector’s item, but just a small toy that will sit on your shelf and remind you of the time you spent riding the SBB trains.
In case you’re buying gifts for someone who is a true train aficionado, you can hardly get them a better present than a tiny Swiss train.
Cheap Things to Buy in Switzerland
If you want the cheapest souvenir of your trip to Switzerland then I recommend you buy some supermarket chocolate. You can easily get a bar of top-quality chocolate for just a few swiss francs in any Swiss supermarket. Similarly, you can get great cheese from the supermarket, as well as reasonably priced wine and sweets.
There are also quite cheap souvenirs available in most souvenir stores in cities and tourist towns. Small items like mini cowbells, figurines, Swiss t-shirts, panoramic photos of the Alps and so forth.
For the cheapest Swiss army knife, I recommend you head to Migros where they have the most basic models on sale for the cheapest prices you will see in Switzerland. I had mine from my first visit here for over 20 years!
Where can visitors buy their souvenirs in Switzerland?
It depends on what specific souvenir you are after. There are always souvenir shops in the downtown areas of all major cities like Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Basel. You will also find them in all major tourist towns like Grindelwald, Interlaken, Zermatt and so on.
For some items, it pays to go to specific shops to buy the best souvenirs. For example:
- A top-quality Swiss watch is best bought from a professional watch store. Many brands have their own like Rolex, IWC, Omega, Hublot etc.
- Swatches are best bought at a Swatch store
- Swiss cheese can be bought in the supermarket but you get better selections at specialty cheese stores
- Fondue sets can be bought in department stores
- Wine, cookies/biscuits can be bought at Coop supermarkets (cookies almost anywhere)
- Chocolate can be bought at most Swiss supermarkets except Läderach which has to be bought in their stores. Lindt also has specialty stores in some locations. If you do a chocolate factory tour like Lindt’s, then wait until you go there for your chocolate
- Swiss army knives can be bought at Migros, souvenir stores, specialty knife stores or even Victorinox stores in some cities and towns.
Frequently Asked Questions
What 3 products are Swiss specialties?
Three Swiss specialties are Swiss chocolate, Swiss cheese and Swiss watches. If you are looking for a souvenir or gift, chocolate is a great idea, as is a Swatch watch. A Swiss army knife is also a great option for outdoor enthusiasts or just as a handy tool to have at home.