Switzerland is known as the land of chocolate and cheese, mountains and lakes, as well as watches and finance.
It is a country that everyone should visit at some point in their lives. Sitting in central Europe it is home to some of the most magical landscapes you might ever see. From stunning mountains to turquoise lakes and rivers, you can’t ask for much more natural beauty.
There is more to it than just the beautiful countryside though. The Swiss are responsible for a lot of great things from watches to cheese, chocolate, and more, all of which we will discuss in detail below.
Join me as I answer the question, of what is Switzerland known for and cover the top things Switzerland is famous for so that you can get a sense of what this awesome country has to offer and what to see, try, or taste while you’re there. Enjoy!
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When you think of Switzerland you can not help but have the Swiss Alps come to mind, the Alpine ski schools, and the stunning Swiss Alps towns that come with it.
Sixty percent of Switzerland is made up of the mountains of the Swiss Alps and these Swiss mountains run from its western border with France, along Switzerland’s southern border with Italy, and across to the eastern border with Liechtenstein.
The Swiss Alps might be the most beautiful mountain range in the world or at least one of them with its pristine snow-capped mountains that give rise to steep valleys and jagged landscapes.
Home to huge mountains and steep mountains, the alps are a playground in both winter and summer. It is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world and the skiing resorts are so varied, that everyone from experts to beginners and families can find a full skiing resort service to suit them.
In the summer, the mountains open up to hikers, rock climbers, fly fishermen, and you can even go skiing in the summer on some of the glaciers.
Switzerland’s most well-known mountain is the Matterhorn due to its iconic peak. This famous mountain lies in Zermatt, known as the best skiing resort in the country, or at least one of them.
One of the things Switzerland is famous for is, without a doubt, watches. Swiss watches are known the world over as some of the best watches on the planet. From Rolex to Omega, Tissot, Cartier, and Tag-Heuer, luxury Swiss watch production goes back centuries.
If you are looking for a quality watch, Switzerland is the place to find it. Their watches are incredibly accurate, keep time, look good, and last for generations.
The center of the watchmaking industry in Switzerland lies in the Jura region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the small town of La Chaux-de-Fonds close to Geneva. It is here where you will find the Musée International d’Horlogerie, a Swiss watch museum that is home to more than 2500 watches and 700 clocks.
Some Swiss watches also have a claim to fame, for example, the first watch on the moon was an Omega, and the saying “You never actually own a Patek Philippe” means these watches are so good, they last for generations, so you will end up handing it on someday.
Something we all know Switzerland is famous for is its Swiss Chocolate which is deliciously creamy and melts in your mouth.
Swiss people eat more chocolate per person than any other country in the world, and why wouldn’t they when Swiss chocolate is so damn good.
What makes their chocolate so good is the combination of top-quality cocoa, delicious milk, and amazing chocolatiers.
It all started when the first machine-run chocolate factory in the world was created in Switzerland in the town of Vevey by the famous chocolatiers Theodore Tobler, Rodolphe Lindt (of Lindt & Sprüngli fame), and Henry Nestle.
By creating a smooth texture, and adding new ingredients like almonds, milk, and nougat, they created the starting point for the luxury chocolate Switzerland is famous for today.
It would be a crime not to visit a chocolate-making workshop while you are there. Chocolate lovers should also go to master chocolatier shops and the Chocolate Museum just outside Zurich which has a chocolate fountain 10 meters high.
Switzerland is famous for its Swiss cheese along with its chocolate. Switzerland is said to have the finest milk in the world thanks to the sweet Swiss cows, hence why both amazing chocolate and cheese have made Switzerland famous.
When you think of Swiss cheese, you probably think of Emmental with holes in it but there are actually 450 different types of cheese in Switzerland. If you love cheese, Switzerland is going to be a taste sensation, so be sure to try a lot of different ones. You can even just grab a bunch at the supermarket.
Something else that made Switzerland famous along with it is cheese is its national dish, cheese fondue. Swiss fondue is made from melted delicious cheese (Gruyere) and mixed with some corn starch and wine, this melted cheese dish is the national dish of Switzerland.
Be sure to try some Swiss fondue while you are there as it dates back to the 1700s. Dip your bread in the delicious melted cheese and have it with some white wine, it is to die for. Don’t drop your bread in the cheese though!
If there is one person who is quite responsible for making Switzerland famous then it kind of has to be the Swiss tennis star, Roger Federer.
If you haven’t heard of Roger, then chances are you have been living on an island with no connection for the last 20 years. This Swiss legend is known as one of the greatest tennis players to have ever lived.
Roger broke the record by winning some 20 Grand Slam singles titles and by being ranked the number one tennis player in the world for a record time of 302 weeks in his career.
Roger was born in the famous Swiss village of Basel in 1981 and became a pro tennis player in 1998. Today he is a Swiss tennis icon and is loved by all across the sports community across the world.
He has recently retired and was one of the highest-paid athletes to have ever lived!
Swiss Army Knives
The first multi-tool or pocket knife I ever owned, and I am sure it is the case for a lot of you too, was a Swiss Army Knife.
The Swiss Army Knife was originally called an Offiziersmesser but US soldiers during World War II struggled to pronounce it and started calling it a Swiss Army knife instead, which stuck.
Swiss army knives are made by Victorinox and come in a variety of different multitools. You can grab a very basic version with two knives and a corkscrew or a complex version with more than 50 useful tools.
Every Swiss soldier is issued with a Swiss Army Knife, that is how much of an icon they have become. If you are looking for a great gift from Switzerland, then taking a Swiss army knife home to someone is a great choice.
Swiss trains are a master of efficiency and engineering, so much so, that when you visit Switzerland, you will find a train to take you anywhere. It is the heart of the Swiss public transportation system!
Switzerland has the most sophisticated train network on the planet. Whether you want to climb Swiss peaks or visit the most famous Swiss village in a remote place, there is a Swiss train that will get you there on time.
Their cogwheel trains are quite incredible as they can carry you up insane gradients of up to 48 degrees, making the mountain towns very accessible to all.
One of the best things about Swiss trains is the scenery that goes with the ride. Riding a train up a mountain in Switzerland or along one of the lakes is such a breathtaking journey.
It is hard to beat gazing across the alps while you sit in comfort, knowing you will arrive on time. The ultimate Swiss feeling – no wonder it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
The Swiss Guard, officially known as the Pontifical Swiss Guard is an elite unit of the Swiss armed forces.
The Swiss guard dates back to 1506 and is the oldest army unit on the planet. They are responsible for protecting the pope at the Vatican and you might have seen them in their colorful red, blue, and orange uniforms that have a Renaissance style to them.
Members of the Swiss guard are known to be some of the most elite soldiers on the planet. To qualify for the unit, you must be between 19 and 30 years old, a man, be an unmarried Swiss Catholic, and have completed basic training.
There are future plans to allow females to join the Swiss guard but only men are allowed in at the moment.
Zurich was actually founded by the Romans and you will find it in the north-central part of Switzerland. Sitting on the shores of Lake Zurich with the Limmat River running through the heart of the city’s Old Town, the views across the lake and into the mountains are to die for.
You can do everything in Zurich from sunbathing on the lake shores and swimming in the summer to hiking in the mountains, skiing, rock climbing, and more. Once you are done exploring nature, the city has it all to offer too.
Zurich is packed full of awesome architecture, amazing restaurants, and luxury shopping, and the most popular attractions include the Swiss National Museum, the Art Gallery of Zurich, and the Zurich Zoo.
We have already mentioned Swiss cows, as they produce the amazing milk that helps make some of the best cheese and chocolate on the planet. But, the cows deserve their own mention!
The Swiss people adore their cows and they look after them incredibly well, which is why their milk is so delicious. These cows are as organic and free-range as they get, strolling around mountain pastures with almost no fences and eating some of the best grass on the planet.
You might even stumble upon a cow on a mountain pass way higher than you might have expected.
Sometimes you can see the shepherds leading cows through the pastures with Swiss cow’s bells clunking as they move along.
If you want to see some Swiss cows, get off the beaten track and into the more remote villages and chances are they will be everywhere.
The Red Cross
The Red Cross humanitarian aid organization that you see helping people survive in some of the most difficult parts of the world was born in Switzerland.
The organization was formed by five men in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland. One of the five founders, Henri Dunant, wrote the book “A Memoire of Solferino” which is said to have inspired its creation. They also have a symbol that is very similar to the Swiss Flag, but that is another story!
You can visit the Red Cross today as its headquarters are still in Geneva and there is even a museum you can visit too. The museum outlines all the amazing work the Red Cross has done over the years and how they have managed it – it is well worth a visit.
If there is one thing Switzerland is known for from a political point of view then it is Neutrality. Despite having a large and very well-trained army, Switzerland has not engaged in any conflict since 1815b after signing the Treaty of Paris and that is mighty impressive considering it was in the middle of two world wars.
The reason Switzerland remains so neutral is that its foreign policy stresses neutrality and it cannot interfere or be involved in armed conflicts with other states. Switzerland hasn’t even been involved in any United Nations peacekeeping missions either. That is also one reason the Red Cross is found here.
By not going to war, Switzerland is known as one of the most stable countries in the world and has benefitted from this hugely. Also, between their huge standing army, smart fortifications, and their geo barrier of the Alps, it is a very hard place for anyone to invade.
If there is one story that is synonymous with Switzerland, it is the story of Heidi. Heidi is a children’s book about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Alps along with her friend Klara, and a young goat herder called Peter.
Written by Johanna Spyri, Heidi was first published in 1880 and since then has become one of the best-selling books on the planet, and Heidi is without question, Switzerland’s most famous fictional character.
The story is packed full of alpine adventures and it has since been made into many different TV, film, and theatrical versions. There is even a theme park called Heidiland!
If you haven’t read the book, I would highly recommend you read it before or while you are visiting Switzerland so you can imagine all the adventures while seeing the Swiss Alps.
Swiss banks have long been featured in movies when spies or mobsters want a secret and safe place to store their money.
Swiss banking and the secrecy that goes with it was a huge selling point for anyone who wanted their money to be safe and secret. The main banking area of Switzerland is in Zurich and on the street of Bahnhofstrasse.
Bahnhofstrasse is home to so many small and secretive banks that it might just blow your mind. It is also thought that the vaults beneath it are packed full of Nazi gold.
These days, Swiss banking isn’t what it used to be as the US and EU’s complaints about tax evasion happening through Swiss banks have changed the rules a bit. The laws concerning taxes and secret bank accounts have changed. This means Swiss banks aren’t as useful as they once were and lots of money has since moved out of the country.
You might not know it but Switzerland is host to a lot of amazing music festivals that cover every genre from jazz to classical and rock.
The Montreux Jazz Festival is, without a doubt, my favorite Swiss festival. It takes place along the shores of Lake Geneva in the summer and with views across the lake, a backdrop of the Alps, and amazing music playing, it is hard to beat. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Montreux if you visit in July.
The Interlaken Music Festival is another excellent choice if you love classical music as it features some of the top soloists and orchestras from across the world.
Some of the biggest and most popular festivals in Switzerland include Lumnezia and Frauenfeld which host some of the biggest artists on the planet. If you really want to party, be sure to attend one of these awesome festivals.
If I am honest, when you add music to the stunning scenery of Switzerland, life doesn’t get much better. You will struggle to find a better landscape to enjoy music in.
What Alcohol Is Switzerland Known For?
Although Switzerland has many vineyards and people there certainly love their beer, the alcohol Switzerland is famous for is Absinthe. This anise-flavored spirit was invented in Neuchatel in the 18th century and has been widely banned for supposedly being a highly addictive psychoactive drug.
What Is Switzerland Known For Economically?
Switzerland is known in the financial world for its banks and also for its wealth management. A wide range of wealthy people store their money in Switzerland for both safety and anonymity. The Swiss Franc is also a very stable currency, and the country itself is neutral, which both help to add to the security of any investment.