Switzerland is notable for its landscapes and tourism facilities (Matterhorn from the Gornergrat Railway).

Tourists are drawn to Switzerland's diverse landscape as well as the available activities, which take advantage of the Alpine climate and landscapes, in particular skiing and mountaineering.

As of 2016, tourism accounted for an estimated 2.6% (CHF 16.8 billion) of Switzerland's gross domestic product, compared to 2.6% (CHF 12.8 billion) in 2001.[1]


Further information: Exploration of the High Alps, History of the Alps, Golden age of alpinism, and Silver age of alpinism

Tourism began in Switzerland with British mountaineers climbing the main peaks of the Bernese Alps in the early 19th century.

The Alpine Club in London was founded in 1857. Reconvalescence in the Alpine, in particular from tuberculosis, was another important branch of tourism in the 19th and early 20th centuries: for example in Davos, Graubünden. Due to the prominence of the Bernese Alps in British mountaineering, the Bernese Oberland was long especially known as a tourist destination. Meiringen's Reichenbach Falls achieved literary fame as the site of the fictional death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1893). The first organised tourist holidays to Switzerland were offered during the 19th century by Thomas Cook and Lunn Travel companies. Tourism in Switzerland had been exclusively for the rich until it became widely popular in the 20th century.[2]

Notable tourist destinations in Switzerland

Infographic map of Switzerland
Large cities
Smaller cities
Resorts in the Alps
Natural regions


Switzerland comprehends an extensive hiking trail network (here the Schöllenen Gorge on the Gotthard route).


Hiking is one of the main sports activities in Switzerland and is often referred to as the "national sport". About one-third of the population practice hiking regularly, with a total of 520 million kilometres (in 130 million hours) being travelled every year by the Swiss. Along with cycling, walking, in general, is the preferred form of mobility, regardless of social origins. The total hiking trail network is about 65,000 kilometres.[3]

Tourist attractions

Main article: Lists of tourist attractions in Switzerland


Official statistics of tourism were planned in 1852, but were only realized in 1934, and continued until 2003. Since 2004, the Federal Statistical Office had discontinued its statistics, but collaborates with Switzerland Tourism in the publication of yearly "Swiss Tourism Figures". In the year 2011, a total number of 4,967 registered hotels or hostels, offered a total of 240,000 beds in 128,000 rooms. This capacity was saturated to 41.7% (compared to 39.7% in 2005), amounting to a total of 38.8 million lodging nights. 14% of hotels were in Grisons, 12% each in the Valais and Eastern Switzerland, 11% in Central Switzerland and 9% in the Bernese Oberland. The ratio of lodging nights in relation to resident population ("tourism intensity", a measure for the relative importance of tourism to local economy) was largest in Grisons (8.3) and Bernese Oberland (5.3), compared to a Swiss average of 1.3. 56.4% of lodging nights were by visitors from abroad (broken down by nationality: 16.5% Germany, 6.3% United Kingdom, 4.8% United States, 3.6% France, 3.0% Italy).[4]

The total financial volume associated with tourism, including transportation, is estimated to CHF 35.5 billion (as of 2010) although some of this comes from fuel tax and sales of motorway vignettes. The total gross value added from tourism is 14.9 billion. Tourism provides a total of 144,838 full-time equivalent jobs in the entire country. The total financial volume of tourist lodging is 5.19 billion CHF and eating at the lodging provides an additional 5.19 billion. The total gross value added of 14.9 billion is about 2.9% of Switzerland's 2010 nominal GDP of 550.57 billion CHF.[5][6]

The most visited Swiss tourist attractions are first, the Rhine Falls, second, the Berne Bear exhibit (both without entrance fee), and third, with over 1.8 million paid entries: Zoo Basel.

Jungfrau railway (with Eiger in the background), one of the major tourist attractions of the High Alps (1 million visitors in 2015 (up from 0.866 million in 2014).[7] The Jungfraujoch railway station is the highest in Europe, at an elevation of 3,454 metres (11,332 ft).
Rhine Falls
Antelope House at Zoo Basel, Switzerland's most visited tourist attraction with an entrance fee[8]

Overnight stays by country

Most overnight stays in 2019 in Switzerland were from the following countries of residence:[9]

Rank Country Number of overnight stays
1  Germany 3,925,653
2  United States 2,474,360
3  United Kingdom 1,641,429
4  China 1,583,799
5  France 1,227,105
6  Italy 887,679
7 Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Gulf states 863,767
8  India 792,607
9  Netherlands 648,054
10  Belgium 636,425
Total foreign 21,639,611

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ bfs.admin.ch, bazonline.ch 23 February 2018.
  2. ^ Susan Barton, Healthy living in the Alps: The origins of winter tourism in Switzerland, 1860-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2008).
  3. ^ Randonnées, Switzerland.com
  4. ^ Switzerland Tourism, "Swiss Tourism in Figures - 2007 PDF Archived 2012-03-31 at the Wayback Machine"
  5. ^ Tourism, Federal Statistical Office (Switzerland) (page visited on 7 May 2012).
  6. ^ SECO Gross domestic product - quarterly estimates Archived 2010-09-23 at the Wayback Machine (page visited on 7 May 2012).
  7. ^ Jungfraubahn Holding AG
  8. ^ (in German) Wieder ein Besucherrekord im Zolli. Basler Zeitung, published 2013-2-21, retrieved 2013-2-21
  9. ^ Office, Federal Statistical (2020-11-27). "Swiss tourism in figures 2019 - Structure and Industry". Federal Statistical Office bfs.admin.ch. Retrieved 22 September 2021.


Media related to Tourism in Switzerland at Wikimedia Commons