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The basics
Switzerland: Once you arrive - Must read

The five best things to do in Switzerland

There are so many fun things to do in Switzerland for an international student! Here's Raif Howley with a list of the top five.

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When you study abroad, you want to be able to explore the country as well as getting your degree done. With that in mind, here are some of the best things to do when you get some spare time in the lovely country of Switzerland:



CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) has not only been a pioneer in scientific discovery since its formation, but it’s also the birthplace of the world wide web after its creation by British scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. This means it is a very exciting place to visit!


Based on the border between Switzerland and France, you can explore the world’s biggest physics lab with free of charge guided tours. Whether you’re studying a science-based subject or not, there aren’t many more interesting things than trying to understand how, and why, we all got here.


Open since 1954, CERN has been trying to understand how our world began. Using the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, scientists make protons collide at close to the speed of light in a bid to recreate the first moments of the universe. Physicists from around the world then analyse this data through a worldwide network of computers. Cool, right?


Also, hundreds of students from local universities are invited to CERN every year for unique training in research and engineering. Work hard and you could be one of them!


You probably wouldn’t even be reading this without their help, so maybe you owe Tim and his team a visit!


If you are interested in studying physics in Switzerland, check out our article on where a physics degree can take you.



The Alps

If you’re studying in Switzerland, you have to make time for a trip to the world-famous Swiss Alps.


One of the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world, the Alps has no shortage of things to do, and it is a brilliant way to explore Switzerland’s beautiful countryside.


Take advantage of a reading week in true student style by going skiing at the Zermatt ski resort. Zermatt even has stunning views of the Matterhorn, which is the mountain featured on Toblerone packets.


If you want to take up skiing whilst you study in Switzerland, it might be worth joining the ski club at your university. That is another great way to meet new people! There are also loads of other ways that joining a society can benefit you.


Or you could wind your way through the mountains on the Bernina Express, a train that makes its way through a World Heritage Site with memorable views. Floor to ceiling windows and onboard commentary mean you won’t miss a thing. Travel in spring for gorgeous green countryside, or winter for scenic snow-covered mountain tops.


Tatiana, who grew up in Switzerland before studying in the UK, says “The Alps are great for hiking, they’re alpine so there’s lots of small flowers, grass, and even cows in the summer! On one hike that I did, I found a whole field full of purple daisy’s! They’re pretty unusual, and beautiful too.”



Visit Gruyere and eat cheese!

If you love cheese, then Switzerland is a great place to study!


The Swiss are famed for making tasty cheese fondues, and if you like the sound of that, then Gruyere could be the place for you.


Based in the west of Switzerland, quaint countryside town Gruyere is home to famous cheese factory, La Maison du Gruyere. The tour of the factory is perfect for any cheese lover. A multi-sensory exhibition takes you through the process of the making of gruyere. You can even watch the master cheese-makers at the factory create up to 48 wheels of the stuff every day, using 400 litres of milk per 35kg wheel of cheese.


Tatiana says that Gruyere is a great place to visit no matter the season, “if you go in winter the typical food to eat is fondue or raclette [a type of cheese which is often melted before use], but if you go in summer you should have the raspberries and gruyere cream!”


There’s no shortage of types of cheese to try in Switzerland, so why don’t you wow your flatmates by throwing a cheese-themed dinner party?! If you’re worried about making friends whilst studying abroad, read our student blog on it.



La Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory 

Just like their cheese, Swiss chocolate is famous all over the world. Think about it, have you ever been through duty free in the airport without seeing a bar of Toblerone? Didn’t think so.


Other famous chocolate companies such as Lindt, and Milka, are also from Switzerland, so there is plenty of options for some comforting snacks to get you through your busy study schedule.


But if you want to have a look at how Swiss chocolate is made, look no further than La Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc, near Gruyeres. Learn about the history of chocolate, how it made its way to Europe and its refinement by the Swiss throughout the nineteenth century. Cailler is generous with sampling too, so don’t hold back. However, the best chocolates are served closer to the end so make sure you save space for those!


There’s also a cinema showing chocolate-related movies, and you can even make your own chocolate at one of the Cailler cooking sessions in their chocolate studio. What more could you want?



Montreux Jazz Festival

You may not usually associate jazz with the Swiss, but couple it with the backdrop of Lake Geneva’s picturesque shoreline, and you can understand why the Montreux Jazz Festival is so popular.


Lasting over two weeks, with an audience of over 200,000 people, Montreux is the second largest annual jazz festival in the world. Running since 1967, the festival has hosted some of the biggest names in jazz such as Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald.


But if jazz isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Montreux has been expanding the types of music at the festival since the 1970s. If the 2017 line up is anything to go by (artists range from Tom Jones to Kasabian), you should be covered no matter what sounds you love.


It usually runs at the end of June or beginning of July, so it could be the perfect summer trip with new friends at the end of a long year of uni work! Check out our article on other ways that you can make the most of your summer holiday.



If these five things haven’t inspired you to study abroad in Switzerland, we don’t know what will. Don’t wait around, use our search to look for a Swiss university which is best for you now.