How to travel Switzerland the ‘Swisstainable’ way

Renowned for its breathtaking natural sights, Switzerland has its own sustainability blueprint for both locals and tourists to follow.

Many travellers flock to Switzerland for its natural beauty – its spectacular mountains, wild gorges and mystical forests.

With nature being one of the country’s biggest drawcards, it’s no surprise that Switzerland has become a global leader in sustainability.

The nation’s love for nature is in its DNA, and so, the need to preserve the environment and encourage sustainable travel is a matter that lies close to the core for Swiss locals. 

Take on one of the many hiking trails to reconnect with nature © Switzerland Tourism

Sustainable travel in Switzerland doesn’t necessarily mean having to go without. It means greater awareness, authentic experiences, depth and enjoyment. With this in mind, Switzerland follows its own sustainability strategy: Swisstainable.

Swisstainable is all about striving for excellence and becoming the most sustainable tourist destination in the world. It serves as a blueprint that points the way to a responsible world of travel.

As travellers, here’s how you too can take on this strategy and discover Switzerland the ‘Swisstainable’ way:

Enjoy nature up close and at first hand

Switzerland offers countless opportunities to experience nature first hand.

One of the most sustainable ways to get around and embrace Switzerland’s natural grandeur is by hiking. Trek across Aletsch Glacier – the longest glacier in the Alps. Marvel at Switzerland’s Grand Canyon Creux du Van, or hike the vineyards of Lavaux, the largest contiguous winegrowing region in Switzerland.

Then there’s the hiker’s delight that is the William Tell Trail, leading from Altdorf to the Brienzer Rothorn, past soaring mountain peaks and on to picture-postcard Lucerne. In total, Switzerland offers 18 nature parks to explore.

Switzerland: Lake Schwarzsee © Marco Schnyder
Lake Schwarzsee © Marco Schnyder

Alternatively, travel by bike. There is over 12,000 kilometres of signposted cycling paths with everything from local routes, family routes, e-bike tours, vineyard tours, and trails through swiss parks.

In summer, glide through the water in a canoe in places such as the Grande Cariçaie nature reserve. Discover hidden waterfalls in the little town of Rue. Or dive into a refreshing mountain lake, many of which can be found in the canton of Graubünden. Plenty of rivers and lakes can also be found in the heart of Swiss cities such as Basel and Zurich.

Experience the local culture in an authentic way

Sustainable travel isn’t just about preserving the environment for generations to come. It’s also about involving local communities and engaging with local culture.

While in Switzerland, take the time to get to know the cities and destinations you visit. Connect with locals on city walking tours and discover some of the cultural offerings that residents love.

Take to museums to find out the history of a place, such as why Lausanne is Switzerland’s dance capital; how Zurich became the home of the world’s most important poster collections; and why Picasso gave three paintings to Basel as a gift?

Take a trip back in time at Switzerland’s numerous castles, noble houses and domains once built and inhabited by the upper classes. Sample traditional delicacies, from cheese to chocolate, and learn the story of how they are made. Or uncover the knack behind local handicrafts such as the art of watchmaking which the Swiss are famous for.

Switzerland culture © Switzerland Tourism
Embrace authentic travel experiencs © Switzerland Tourism

Consume regional products

Not only does Switzerland offer world-class cuisine and hospitality, but Swiss retailers have been leading the international sustainability rankings for years. Compared to its international counterparts, the country consumes the most organic products per capita.

So when you’re there jump on board with this trend. Support local rather than gravitating to brand names you may be more familiar with. This could be as simple as choosing to stay in local Airbnbs or accommodation options that focus on sustainability.

In summer the Million Stars Hotel offers a collection of unique places to stay in Switzerland surrounded by incredible scenery and ideal for stargazing. Each accommodation is eco-friendly and provides travellers with a unique base to explore the lesser-known areas of Switzerland.

Tiny House Gondel, Piz Nair © Million Stars Hotel

Then support regional wineries and restaurants – particularily those that value nature-based gastronomy and sustainability. In the winegrowing village of Salgesch in the middle of the Pfyn-Finges Nature Park, The Cave du Rhodan has grown to become one of the largest organic wine-growing estates in Valais with a total of 30 distinctive and sustainable wines.

When it comes to restaurants, there are too many to list. However, you can check out the most sustainable restaurants in Switzerland here.

Schloss Wartegg restaurant in Swizterland © Giglio Pasqua
Schloss Wartegg restaurant in Swizterland © Giglio Pasqua

Stay longer and delve deeper

An easy way travellers can help contribute to sustainable travel in Switzerland is simply by extending their trip. Longer stays have a positive effect not only on relaxation but also on the local environment and economy. 

Don’t just tick off the main tourist attractions, delve deeper and take time to explore even the most remote valleys in Switzerland.

With an expensive public transport system, accessing these remote corners of the country is easily done and even climate-friendly. The railway, for example, emits less CO2 than any other motorised mode of transport. This is because much of Switzerland’s SBB train network runs on hydroelectric power, with the goal by 2025 being 100 per cent.

Switzerland: The Landwasser Viaduct railway © Andrea Badrutt
The Landwasser Viaduct railway © Andrea Badrutt

You could take on the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, visiting 11 lakes and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Swiss Travel Pass allows you to hop on and off wherever you please.

Alternatively, discover more on a scenic lake cruise. Even Switzerland’s most luxurious boat, the MS Diamant yacht, is also climate-neutral and powered by hybrid propulsion.

Being Switzerland, you know the journey will often be equally as panoramic as the destination.

This article was produced with content supplied by Switzerland Tourism and is a Vacations & Travel digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the e-newsletter here.

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