Leisure pursuits

For lovers of the great outdoors, Switzerland has a great deal to offer.

Monte Rosa hut with the Alps in the background
The Monte Rosa Hut, infrastructure managed by the Swiss Alpine Club © Swiss Alpine Club SAC

Hiking

A dense 65,000-km-long network of uniformly signposted hiking and mountain paths cover Switzerland. Around 21,000 km of these are spectacular mountain paths. Several transnational trails also cross through Switzerland, such as the Way of St. James and the Via Alpina. Switzerland also attracts mountaineers from all over the world, keen to conquer the Matterhorn or the North Face of the Eiger. The Swiss Alpine Club, which was founded in 1863, has around 143,000 members. It runs 152 mountain refuges and maintains part of the high-alpine hiking path network.

Water sports

Thanks to its many lakes and rivers, Switzerland offers a huge range of water sports activities, including sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding and rowing. The Swiss Sailing Association was founded in 1939 and the Swiss Water-skiing and Wakeboarding Association in 1947. Team Alinghi has twice won the America's Cup, the most prestigious sailing race in the world.

Thermal baths

Switzerland has been a popular spa resort for more than 2,000 years, when Romans converged on the spa town of Baden to take the waters. The popularity of thermal baths spiked in the 19th century, but by the end of the 20th century they had started to enjoy a revival. There are some 20 thermal baths in Switzerland, the most famous of which are Vals, Leukerbad and Bad Zurzach.

Scouting

Around 42,000 young people belong to the Swiss scout movement. Their activities are primarily centred around the great outdoors. In 2015, some 995 Swiss scouts attended the World Scout Jamboree in Japan.

Theme parks

Switzerland has a host of theme parks. The ‘Swiss Vapeur Parc’ in Bouveret is a model steam locomotive park, where trains travel along two-kilometre-long tracks. ‘Alpamare’ in Pfäffikon is the largest indoor water park in Europe. ‘Swissminatur’ in Melide is an outdoor park, which is dotted with miniatures of Switzerland's famous landmarks, landscapes and traditional houses.