Particle physics art

Switzerland’s ultimate art trail: take our tour

From snow-capped mountains to turquoise glaciers and jewel-like lakes, it’s easy to be wowed by the spectacle of Switzerland’s dazzling natural landscapes. But as the saying goes: beauty is not just about the skin. And that adage is certainly true for the small, perfectly formed country, where an arts scene has formed to rival the world’s great “conventional” cultural capitals, and where, as Switzerland Tourism proudly declares, it is possible to take the “breakfast in town”. , lunch at an altitude of 3,000 m and visit to an art exhibition in the evening”.

Here we tour an exceptional group of world-class art museums – collectively known as the Swiss art museums – which enhance the cultural cachet of the Alpine country.


Beyeler Foundation, Basel. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Basel is a city passionately devoted to art, culture and architecture, packing some 40 museums and numerous buildings designed by renowned architects into its relatively compact footprint. An example is the Beyeler Foundationa creation of Renzo Piano whose permanent collection extends from Josef Albers and Leonor Antunes to Rachel Whiteread and Jordan Wolfson.

Tinguely Museum, Basel. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Then there’s Mario Botta’s pink sandstone building for the Tinguely Museuman interdisciplinary art center with a comprehensive exhibition program and also home to the world’s largest collection of its namesake, Swiss kinetic sculptor Jean Tinguely.

Kunstmuseum Basel. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Elsewhere on the three sites of Kunstmuseum Basel – which sparked a famous protest in the 1960s among Basel youth who insisted on making a pair of Picassos a permanent acquisition – visitors to the museum can explore art as early as the 15th century.

Where to eat
At Zum Wilde Maa, everything from furnishings to regional ingredients and the wine list is carefully curated.

Where to stay
The rooms of the elegant hotel Teufelhof were designed as inhabitable works of art. The hotel has its own theatre, brasserie and well-stocked wine cellar.

Geneva & Lemanic region

Mamco, Geneva. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Scenic from every angle, the crescent-shaped shoreline of Lake Geneva – stretching from the Swiss side of Geneva to Lausanne and Montreaux – has become fertile ground for creatives. Installed in a former physics laboratory in the Plainpalais district of Geneva, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Mamco) offers a coherent vision of art from the 1960s.

The new building that houses Photo Elysée and Mudac, Geneva, designed by Aires Mateus. Photography: Matthieu Gafsou

On the north shore of Lake Geneva, the Budding Platform 10 – a 25,000 m² arts district taking shape next to Lausanne central station – brings together three institutions: the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts (MCBA), in a concrete monolith designed by the Barcelona studio Barozzi Veiga; and the Elysée Photo and Cantonal Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts (Mudac)both due to open in June 2022 in a new building by Portuguese architects Aires Mateus.

Where to eat
Chef Rafael Rodriguez pulls out all the stops to spoil guests at the Auberge de l’Abbaye de Montheron, above Lake Geneva.

Where to stay
At the Maison d’Igor, a boutique hotel in Morges, Igor Stravinsky found the peace and inspiration he needed to create his flagship work. The Rite of Spring.
Discover contemporary comfort in a superb Art Nouveau setting at Grand Hotel du Lacon the shores of Lake Geneva.


Museo d’Arte della Svizzera Italiana (MASI Lugano). ©StudioPagi.CHCH-6900-Lugano

With its palm trees, cobbled streets and Mediterranean climate, it’s no wonder Lugano is known as Switzerland’s “Little Italy”. The largest city in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino is also home to the Art Museum of Italian Switzerland (MASI Lugano). Established in 2015, it offers a diverse program at its two sites – the LAC cultural center and the historic Palazzo Reali – with upcoming exhibitions, including a retrospective of 19th-century Swiss photography.

Where to eat
Taste local culinary specialties such as Luganighe sausage with polenta in the rustic cave of La Tinèra, in the heart of the city.

Where to stay
The Gabbani family not only runs a charming delicatessen in the heart of the old town, but also an ultra-modern boutique hotel just a stone’s throw away.


Paul Klee Center, Bern. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

The de facto capital of Switzerland, Bern has several cultural claims to fame – among them, it is the site of the first building ever completely enveloped by Christo, while the historic old town with its romantic arcades has been rightly listed as a world ranking of Unesco in Switzerland. Heritage site. And on the outskirts of town, in the Bernese countryside, visitors can find the most extensive collection of works by Swiss-born German artist Paul Klee, whose fluid style is reflected in Renzo’s undulating steel structure. Piano Paul Klee Center.

Where to eat
Promising a cozy atmosphere and bohemian interiors, Provisional 46 is a concept of gastronomy with inclusiveness at its heart: it is made up of young people with and without disabilities.

Where to stay
the Hotel Innere Enge has its own jazz hall – what better way to end your day in Bern?


Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, Ausstellungsstrasse. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Zurich is the other capital of Switzerland, that is to say of design. Spread over two sites (Ausstellungsstrasse and Toni-Areal) as well as the Le Corbusier Pavilion, the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich has a collection of half a million copies focusing on the history of design, architecture and visual communication.

Kunsthaus Zurich. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

the Kunsthaus Zurichmeanwhile, not only houses one of Switzerland’s largest art collections – with works ranging from the 13th century to the present day – but it’s also now the country’s largest art museum thanks to an extension recently opened by David Chipperfield Architects.

Fotomuseum Winterthur. Photography: Switzerland Tourism / Oliver Baer

Elsewhere, a short train ride from Zurich city center to Winterthur, the photography center focuses on the world through two independent institutions: the Fotostiftung Schweiz (exploring a wide range of artistic and cultural forms of photography) and the Fotomuseum Winterthur (dedicated to the acquisition and preservation of photographic works ).

Where to eat
from Zürich Kronenhalle is an incomparable institution, where artists, actors, authors and musicians came together (and sometimes paid with works of art). The walls of this century-old restaurant are now adorned with works by Chagall, Matisse, Miró and Picasso, as well as letters from Dürrenmatt and Joyce.

Where to stay
The owner of a five star hotel The Great Dolder has made part of its extensive private art collection open to the public in the hotel. Meanwhile, arty furniture and designer interiors await guests at the Hotel Greulich in the trendy Langstrasse district of Zurich.

Swiss museums on the map

Getting to Switzerland

Swiss International Air Lines (Switzerland) connects Switzerland to more than 100 destinations in more than 50 countries around the world. The airline – which operates one of Europe’s most carbon-efficient aircraft fleets – is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of the Star Alliance.


Another jewel in Switzerland’s crown is its seamlessly integrated rail and public transport network – the most tightly knit in the world and offering sustainable travel options all year round. Traveling from city to city is a seamless experience with the Switzerland Travel Pass (available for three, four, six, eight or 15 days). The all-in-one ticket offers non-residents the greatest flexibility and includes unlimited travel throughout Switzerland by public transport, including train, bus and boat.


From alpine chalets to luxury resorts, from country inns to grand European hotels, Switzerland’s accommodation offerings are as diverse as its landscapes. Looking for a lakeside boutique hotel with a solarium, or a mountain retreat with a Roman-Irish bath? Finding the ideal place to stay is simply one click away. §

Take a video tour