8 great Swiss museums you have to visit

8 great Swiss museums you have to visit

Despite its small size, Switzerland is home to many interesting and engaging museums. From exhibits describing Swiss history to galleries showcasing some of the best artists in the world, regardless of your taste there will always be something for you.

The best museums in Switzerland

Museums in Switzerland have a strong tradition of quality, with many having won awards for their exhibitions. If you are looking for a grand day out, look no further than a Swiss museum. Here are some of our favourites:

1. Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum)

No visit to Zurich would be complete without going to the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum). Situated in a castle-like building next to Zurich's main station, this museum takes you on a grand tour through Swiss history - from the first signs of human habitation to the present day.

Along with informative exhibits, the collection includes a number of gothic art paintings and artefacts. The museum is also well known for hosting events like special exhibits, as well as dance and music performances.

2. Red Cross Museum

Arguably one of the most important organisations in the world, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has its base and origins in Geneva. To celebrate and commemorate the efforts of the organisation in helping wounded service members and civilians in war zones, the Red Cross Museum was created in 1988 at its headquarters near the United Nations in Geneva.

The exhibits highlight the history of the Red Cross and how it impacts people to this day. It may be an emotional visit, given the gravity of some of the things that are displayed, but it is well worth the trip.

3. Kunstmuseum Basel

The Kunstmuseum in Basel is the oldest public art collection in the world and is considered to be one of the top art museums in Europe. Visitors can expect to see works by some of the world’s greatest artists like Rembrandt, Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Cézanne, Picasso and van Gogh.

With 10.000 square metres of galleries, there are plenty of things to see during your visit. If you can't get over to Basel, those in Zurich can visit the Kunsthaus, which also contains a large collection of masterpieces.

4. The Olympic Museum of Lausanne

Along with the Red Cross and parts of the United Nations, the International Olympic Committee is also based in Switzerland. Near the headquarters in a district of Lausanne, people can visit the Olympic Museum - a site telling the history of the Olympic, Paralympic and Ancient Olympic games.

The museum contains a large archive of videos and pictures from previous Olympic games and visitors can feel like athletes in the "Olympic Village", testing their balance, agility and mental skills in interactive exhibits suitable for the whole family.

Video: The Olympic Museum / YouTube

5. Technorama Winterthur

Many people who grew up in Switzerland fondly recall the first time they visited Technorama. The museum aims to teach scientific knowledge through play, activities and interactive exhibits that can all be controlled by visitors.

Technorama offers a hands-on experience that is perfect for children and the inner child within us all. Just 30 minutes away from central Zurich, no bucket list would be complete without this unique experience.

Video: Michael Rippas photography /YouTube

6. Swiss Transport Museum (Verkhershaus)

On the banks of Lake Lucerne sits the most visited museum in Switzerland, the Museum of Transport (Verkhershaus). Opened in 1959, the museum features 3.000 cars, planes and trains from public transportation in Switzerland and around the world. 

Along with the massive exhibits, the museum boasts its own planetarium, giving you an unbridled look at our universe. Also not to be missed is the giant floor map of Switzerland, where visitors can don slippers and explore the alpine nation from above. It is also home to the largest cinema screen in Switzerland, the IMAX.

Video: Verkehrshaus der Schweiz / YouTube

7. Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum

Nestled in the heart of the Swiss mountains, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum gives an insight into how people lived in days gone by. Like similar projects across Europe, a large number of old Swiss houses, chalets and farmsteads were disassembled and reassembled at the museum, creating a large collection of immaculately preserved housing.

Along with being able to enter and visit these ancient villages, families with children will find several other unique experiences at the museum. If you are on the way to a ski resort in the mountains or on a Grand Tour of the Alps, be sure to stop off at this hidden gem.

8. FIFA Museum

Finally, for football fans the world over, the FIFA museum is well worth a visit. The exhibits tell you the story of how football came to dominate the globe, and visitors can see some of the most well-known artefacts from the beautiful game, including a genuine World Cup.

The gallery and cinema document the many highs and lows of international football in stunning highlights. Another unique feature of the museum is The Pinball, a football version of mini golf used to test your footballing skills.

Let us know your favourite Swiss museum!

The museums listed here are only a snapshot of the many great exhibitions you can visit while in Switzerland. If you have a favourite museum that you want people to know about, let us know in the comments below! 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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