The lovely town of Glarus is situated in the Swiss canton of the same name, and it’s one of the more popular destinations in Northeastern Switzerland. While it might not be the most exciting place to visit if you’re into sightseeing and nightlife, Glarus is surrounded by spectacular nature and it offers a lot if you want to explore the great outdoors.
Stunning lakes, imposing mountain peaks, and countless hiking trails can be accessed in mere minutes from Glarus, and they’re all great ways to spend your time in this quiet Swiss town. From the best attractions and landmarks in the town of Glarus to all the top locations you should visit on excursions and day trips – here are all the top things to do in Glarus and its surroundings!
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Explore The Old Town
A quick tour of the old town is usually one of the first things you should do when traveling to a new place. Glarus has a small but charming old town that can be toured in about half an hour, maybe longer if you stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants that have been around for ages.
Don’t expect too much from the old town of Glarus; while it’s obvious that there’s a really long history behind the place, it’s far from being one of Switzerland’s best and most impressive historic centers.
The great thing about staying in Glarus is that you can easily explore the wonderful nature of the Glarus canton. Klöntalersee is just a 30-minute bus ride away from the town, and it’s one of the prettiest lakes in this region.
The beautiful lake is situated in a deep valley and offers spectacular landscape views. The region is popular for camping, swimming, and barbecues, but also for the various hiking and mountain biking trails. It’s possible to do a loop hike around the lake shore and it would take you approximately 4 hours. But it’s totally worth it since you can discover the best-secluded spots for swimming, lounging, and picnics.
Spend Some Time in Braunwald
Braunwald is a car-free village in the Glarus Alps, popular for mountain biking, hiking, and also ski tours in the winter. It takes about half an hour to travel from Glarus to Lithal by train, and then you’re just a short funicular ride away from the lovely village of Braunwald.
It features some of the most impressive natural landmarks in this region, so it’s absolutely worth visiting if you enjoy exploring the great outdoors. Braunwald also has quite a few interesting restaurants, where you can enjoy staple local delicacies prepared with the freshest ingredients and lots of love.
Hike The Trails Near Obersee
Obersee is a small lake in the Glarus Nord area of the mountain canton, and it’s easily accessible from the town of Glarus. You can ride the train to Glarus Nord and then take a bus to the lake, or you can just hike for two hours. It’s also possible to drive up to Obersee Lake, and there’s a parking lot close to the shore.
The mountain lake is popular for camping, hiking, and mountain biking. There are several campsites in the area where you can spend the night if you want to be surrounded by pristine Swiss nature, as well as a variety of trails around the lake that will allow you to explore Glarus canton.
See The Majestic Tectonic Arena Sardona
The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona – also known as the Glarus Thrust – is an impressive example of mountain building over the centuries. This vast arena encompasses an area of 32,850 hectares, and it’s one of the most stunning natural landmarks in northern Switzerland.
In 2008, Tectonic Arena Sardona was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical significance. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to reach this magnificent area from the town of Glarus, so it’s easily one of the best day trips you can do while staying in the region.
Hike To Bärglistüber
Bärglistüber is an impressive waterfall situated near Linthal. It’s easily accessible by both car and public transport and it’s one of the top natural attractions to visit in the Glarus canton. If you’re driving through Switzerland, you can just drive up to a parking lot just 10 minutes from the waterfall. It’s also possible to take a train to Linthal, and then get on a bus to the waterfall.
The hike to Bärglistüber is easy, without any major obstacles on the trail. The path is through the forest, so you’re protected from sunlight. There are some roots and rocks on the ground, but it’s nothing too difficult.
Chase Sunlight at Elm
Elm is a village south of Glarus in a mountainous part of the region. The village is surrounded by tall summits and there are several smaller hamlets on the slopes near Elm. A day trip to this destination is a great way to spend your time in Glarus, especially if you want to discover beautiful natural landmarks and picturesque scenery.
The village of Elm features a special layout with timber houses cloistered around the church. It’s certainly an interesting sight, and twice a year it’s even possible to see the sun shining through a hole in the rocks and illuminating the Elm church tower.
This region in the Glarus canton is most popular for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, as well as hiking and mountain biking in the summer. There’s plenty to do and see in the area, and if you enjoy exploring outdoors, you’ll have a great time in Elm.
Crash-Course History Lesson At Anna Goldi Museum
Anna Goldi Museum is possibly the best attraction in Glarus for people who enjoy mysteries and true crime. The museum exhibit details the life of Anna Goldi, who worked as a maid and was tragically executed with a sword in 1782.
Anna Goldi was one of the last people in Europe who were excused on the presumption of witchcraft, and she was locally known as the last witch in Switzerland. Her life story is absolutely tragic, and the museum exhibit does a great job of painting a picture of the various stages of her life, including her final moments.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibits in addition to the main one. The entrance fee for adults is 10 CHF, and that grants you entrance to both the permanent and temporary exhibits.
Admire The Art at Kunsthaus Glarus
Kunsthaus Glarus is an art museum in the town’s public park. The museum often hosts temporary exhibits that mostly focus on modern and contemporary art, just like its permanent collection.
You can see all sorts of beautiful art here, including both impressive contemporary art and examples of Glarus’ local handicrafts throughout history. The paintings and sculptures are mostly contemporary, but there is an entire section dedicated to the manufacturing of decorative textiles, something that’s been done in Glarus for many decades.
Mountain Bike to Tödi
Tödi is a mountain massif at the southern border of the Glarus canton with Grisons. It’s the highest mountain near Glarus, sitting at an altitude of 3,614 meters above sea level. Piz Russein is the tallest summit in the massif and a popular destination among hikers, skiers, and mountain climbers in eastern Switzerland.
It’s possible to drive to the mountain in less than an hour from Glarus. Alternatively, you can ride a mountain bike to Tödi if you’re feeling adventurous: it would take you about three and a half hours to get there from Glarus, and it includes an uphill ride for the final section of the trail.
The summit is popular for hiking and mountain biking in warm weather, but skiing and snowboarding are the most popular things to do in the area in the winter.
How to Get to Glarus
If you’re traveling through Switzerland by car, you’ll be glad to know that Glarus is not car-free. It’s possible to drive to the town and you’ll have plenty of options for parking, whether it’s at the hotel lot or one of the many public garages/parking lots.
The town is only an hour away from Zurich and Lucerne, two hours from Basel, some two and a half hours from Interlaken and Bern, and three hours from Lugano. It’s approximately four hours from Lake Geneva and its coastal cities.
By Public Transport
You can travel to Glarus from most places in Switzerland if you ride the trains. In some cases, the trains will be faster than driving on your own, but they can often end up being more expensive than car rental and parking as well.
It’s only about an hour from Zurich and the journey follows the lower cost of Lake Zurich, offering some spectacular panoramic views along the way. Glarus is approximately an hour and 40 minutes outside Lucerne, including two train changes in Thalwil and Ziegelbrücke. Traveling from Bern to Glarus takes about two hours and 15 minutes, and just one train change in Ziegelbrücke.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Glarus worth a visit?
Yes, Glarus is absolutely worth a visit, especially if you enjoy hiking and spending your time outdoors. The lovely canton has plenty of gorgeous natural attractions including lakes, mountains, and valleys, and you could explore them for days.
What is Glarus known for?
Glarus is known to be a popular holiday destination in Switzerland, but the area also has a long history of industrial tradition. The manufacturing of decorative textiles was particularly popular in the region and there are several museums to testify to that fact.
When is the best time to visit Glarus?
Any time of the year is a good time to visit Glarus. Plan a trip in the summer if you’re into hiking, mountain biking, and swimming in the lakes, but opt for a winter visit if you prefer skiing, snowboarding, and all the other fun activities that can be enjoyed only when there’s snow on the ground.