Planetariums and observatories in Switzerland
Gaze into the night sky at one of these gorgeous planetariums in Switzerland, perfect for a day or evening out with family and friends. If you’re interested in space travel and astronomy or just want to admire the twinkling night sky, these are the places to visit.
Fall in love with the stars at these Swiss planetariums
Switzerland is known for its breathtaking scenery of mountains and lakes, but there are plenty of places to visit if you're more interesting in casting your gaze skywards to see the beauty of the stars. Here are some of the ones we'd recommend.
1. Urania Sternwarte
Reach for the stars in the heart of Zurich! The Urania observatory has a 50-metre high tower with a telescope capable of up to 600 times magnification, which allows visitors to see the celestial bodies of the night sky. Whether you want to gaze into the intricate clouds around Jupiter or see into the deep craters of the moon, the powerful telescope offers a variety of glimpses of the wonders of the night sky.
The observatory also has guided tours (in German) on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The building itself is a very distinctive part of the historical old town, and it was the first building to be built from concrete in Zurich in 1907. If you’re looking for something unique to do in while visiting Zurich, make sure to check out the observatory!
2. Verkehrshaus der Schweiz
The Swiss Museum of Transport or the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz in Lucerne is one of the most popular museums in Switzerland that showcases a variety of trains, automobiles, ships, aircrafts, and technologies for communication. Among all that, they have a wonderful planetarium that transports you into the realm of the stars. The museum has a fantastic variety of programmes that are perfect for visitors of all ages.
They also host special events and shows in the evening. The shows come with a guided audio experience that is usually in German, but there are some shows with translations in English, French, and Italian. The planetarium has been open since 1969, but was recently renovated in September 2022 with latest technology to display the starry night on the planetarium dome.
3. Observatoire François-Xavier Bagnoud
The François-Xavier Bagnoud Observatory in southern Switzerland stands at a height of 2.200 metres above the village of Saint-Luc. The observatory has opened its doors to the public and can be visited during the day to see the sun or at night to observe the sky with its many powerful telescopes. Additionally, the building contains a planetarium as well as an auditorium with audio-visual equipment.
A novel aspect of this observatory is the recent transformation of the dome and the telescope, which can now be controlled remotely from any place on Earth, as long as there is an internet connection! This allows astronomers to connect to the observatory and conduct astrophotography from the powerful telescopes at Saint-Luc. This feature has been open to the public since September 2022.
4. Bodensee Planetarium und Sternwarte
The Bodensee Planetarium und Sternwarte in northern Switzerland always offers a fascinating experience with its latest technology and live shows. With various astronomy and astrophotography courses and classes, and interactive presentations in the planetarium, there is plenty here for everyone. The planetarium is open to the public for a visit, but it is also open for private bookings for events or even a romantic starry night, perfect for someone wanting to propose marriage.
The planetarium is only open to the public on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons, while the observatory is open every Wednesday evening after 7pm. Keeping the weather in mind, in the summer, the planetarium is air-conditioned and on overcast days an interesting alternative programme is displayed.
5. Chamin des Planètes
The Path of the Planets or Chamin des Planètes takes a different approach to astronomy. It is a hiking trail in the canton of Valais near the village of Saint Luc. The path begins at the funicular in Tignousa to the Hotel Weisshorn, and the walk is a reduced representation of our solar system with small landmarks along the way that represent the planets and other various celestial bodies within the solar system. The 4,5-kilometre walk takes around three to four hours and ends with a balcony, where the dwarf planet Pluto is represented.
The interactive hike is complete with telescopes, games, and a visual and audio guide that take everyone along the adventure to discover the universe. The Path of the Planets also has Planetpark, an adventure playground for kids with a space shuttle, slides, a zip line, swings, and a high-altitude course that is near the Tignousa restaurant.
6. Sternwarte Planetarium Sirius
The Bernese Oberland has more to offer than unbelievable scenery of the Alps. Escape the bustle of everyday life and delve into the depths of space at the Sternwarte Planetarium Sirius, located above Lake Thun. With one of the largest publicly available telescopes in Switzerland, this observatory emphasises the everchanging sky. There are many events and shows that display a live view of the sky and explain how that will change with time.
The observatory also has a planetarium with an impressive gallery and many demonstrations that are open to the public. Attend one of their astronomy courses or learn more about how the positions of the stars and planets constantly change around us. For anyone interested in looking at the sun, they also have a state of the art solar instrument that allows guests to look at the sun in detail, while keeping their eyes safe.
7. Gornergrat Observatory
One of the most iconic options on this list is the Gornergrat Observatory in Zermatt that overlooks the famous Matterhorn, also known as the Observatory at the Top of the Alps. It is open to the public, and observations of the cosmos can be made on-site or even remotely via the internet. There is an audio tour (only available in German or French), explaining the celestial phenomenons, and they are currently working on an Italian component.
The Gornergrat Observatory has favourable conditions due to the high altitude, great meteorological conditions, and clean air. Thus, there has been significant astronomy research done at this observatory in the past, and it is still an important research centre for astronomy in Europe with its ideal placement and powerful telescopes.
Stargaze in Switzerland
Explore the glimmering night sky along with the marvellous landscapes in Switzerland while learning more about the universe and astronomy. With the many events and opportunities to see the sky during daylight or at night, there is much to do at these planetariums.