Beyond its mountain landscapes and lakes, Switzerland is renowned for its pretty towns that combine history and culture. Here is our selection of the best museums to visit in Switzerland.
Did you know that the Swiss has almost as many museums as the France ? The Federal Statistical Office counts exactly 1,053 museums in Switzerland, compared to just over 1,200 in France. Faced with such an offer, our selection invites you to cross the door of the 10 institutions that stand out the most, by the heritage importance of their collection or the originality of their theme. Expect surprises, from the crazy sculptures of Jean Tinguely to the jersey worn by Zinédine Zidane during the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne: mobility in all its forms
The Swiss Museum of Transport stands out as the most visited museum in Switzerland, with more than 560,000 admissions in 2019. It traces the epic of transport in Switzerland, from the beginnings of the railway to the fairings of Ariane rockets manufactured in Switzerland , passing by the automobile and the steamboats. Explore the carriages, step into the ambulance plane and ride the Convair 990 Coronado of the former Swissair company!
Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Lidostrasse 5, Lucerne. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 5 p.m. in winter). Price: 32 CHF (21 CHF for children aged 6 to 16).
Chaplin’s World in Vevey: the universe of Charlot
Inaugurated in 2016, this museum dedicated to Charlie Chaplin occupies his former property on the heights of Vevey. The American star bought this mansion in 1952, fleeing McCarthyism, and he lived there until his death in 1977. The course lifts the veil on the life of the family. A few steps away, the Studio immerses visitors in the fascinating world of silent cinema, with film screenings, reconstructions of film sets and realistic wax figures.
Chaplin’s World, Route de Fenil 2, Corsier-sur-Vevey. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (until 5 p.m. in winter). Price: 29 CHF (19 CHF for children aged 6 to 15).
Olympic Museum in Lausanne: faster, higher, stronger!
On the shores of Lake Geneva, the Olympic Museum aims to be the guardian of the tradition inherited from the first games of ancient Greece. The permanent exhibition carefully preserves the founding text written by Pierre de Coubertin, the medals of all the Olympic Games since 1896, the first Olympic flag from 1913 and all the torches since 1936. The museum is also intended to be interactive, with a sports area. On your marks !
Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva: watchmaking shows itself
Go back in time by browsing this museum founded in 2001 by the prestigious Geneva watchmaker. The old collection brings together more than 500 priceless pieces, from the 16th to the 19th century, including the first portable mechanical watch in history. Then relive the evolution of the brand since its creation in 1839. On the ground floor, follow the meticulous gestures of the master watchmaker installed in his workshop.
National Museum in Zurich: Swiss History
Founded in 1898, the Landesmuseum Zürich surprises with the juxtaposition of an imposing medieval-style building and a modern wing opened in 2016. The main permanent exhibition summarizes the history of Switzerland over 1000 m², from the founding pact of 1291 to social issues today. The museum also exhibits more than 7,000 characteristic objects of Swiss crafts and decorative arts.
Landesmuseum Zürich, Museumstrasse 2, Zurich. Open every day, except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on Thursday). Price: 10 CHF (free for children up to 16 years old).
Fondation Beyeler in Basel: the great names in art
Ernst Beyeler transformed his old book business into an art gallery in 1952. The beginning of an adventure that culminated in the creation of his foundation in 1982, like Solomon R. Guggenheim, then the opening of a museum in 1997. The collection has more than 400 works of modern and contemporary art, including 21 paintings by Paul Klee. See also: Claude Monet, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Piet Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein and the Swiss Alberto Giacometti.
Beyeler Foundation, Baselstrasse 101, Basel. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays). Price: 25 CHF (free for young people up to 26).
Tinguely Museum in Basel: funny machines
Jean Tinguely was not only the husband of Niki de Saint Phalle. This artist, born in Friborg in 1925, also created a sensation with his “Méta Matics”, strange animated sculptures. The museum in his name, opened in 1996, brings together 55 creations, bequeathed by his wife, in a setting designed by the famous Swiss architect Mario Botta. Nice nod to the couple: a “Nana” by Niki de Saint Phalle has found its place.
Tinguely Museum, Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, Basel. Open every day, except Monday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (until 9 p.m. on Thursday). Price: 18 CHF (free for children up to 16 years old).
FIFA Museum in Zürich: the temple of football
Based in Zürich since 1932, the international football federation opened its museum in 2016. The exhibition looks back at the birth of the Football World Cup and illustrates the highlights of each of the editions since 1930 with photos, videos and more 1000 objects and relics, jerseys, balls and shoes. Without forgetting the original of the famous trophy! At the end of the course, a fun area even allows you to practice your kick!
FIFA Museum, Seestrasse 27, Zürich. Open every day, except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Price: 24 CHF (14 CHF for children aged 7 to 15).
Einstein Museum in Bern: the cradle of relativity
Albert Einstein moved to Bern in 1902, graduating from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Three years later, at age 26, he formulated his special theory of relativity and the iconic equation E=mc2. A scientific revolution detailed by the Einstein Museum, using more than 500 original objects. The exhibition also sheds light on the private life of the brilliant physicist. To be completed with a visit to his house, at number 49 Kramgasse.
Einstein Museum, Helvetiaplatz 5, Bern. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Price: 18 CHF (8 CHF for children aged 6 to 16).
Paul Klee Center in Bern: the key to the enigma
With its strange wave-shaped architecture, designed by Renzo Piano, the Paul Klee Center stands out in the Swiss capital! The museum is also astonishing by the completeness of its collection: in total, more than 4000 paintings, watercolors and drawings by the prolific German painter. A work described as “enigmatic” by his son! The Center regularly highlights other artists during original temporary exhibitions.
Zentrum Paul Klee, Monument im Fruchtland 3, Bern. Open every day, except Monday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Price: 20 CHF (7 CHF for children aged 6 to 16).