You’ve heard of Swiss cheese, but there’s plenty more to the culinary landscape in Switzerland than delicious dairy. With influences from Germany, France, and Northern Italy, plus a surprising regional diversity, Switzerland can win over even the most discerning foodie. Here’s what you need to know.
If you only have a chance to eat one thing in Switzerland, make it cheese fondue. This deceptively simple dish involves spearing cubes of bread with a long fork and dipping them into melted cheese. Speaking of cheese, another common entree is raclette, jacket potatoes covered in melted cheese and served with gherkins, onions, and sometimes pickled fruit. For a carb fix, order some rosti, made by thinly grating and pan-frying potatoes to a crisp golden brown. And no meal would be complete without some Swiss chocolate for dessert.
Regional specialties abound in Switzerland as well. In French-speaking Romandie, sink your teeth into some croute au fromage (cheese on toast), while in St. Gallen, the dish to order is bratwurst (without mustard). Bern is famous for a dish of various meats and sausages known as Berner Platte, and Zurich has its very own veal dish made with mushrooms in a cream sauce called Zürcher Geschnetzelte. Central Switzerland is all about the cheese, as you can see (and taste) in dishes like Älplermagronen, a Swiss take on mac and cheese made with potatoes and roasted onions. In Basel, order a warm bowl of Basel flour soup (Basler Mehlsuppe), often made with butter, onion, beef stock, and grated Gruyere cheese.
- Go off the beaten track during a self-guided food tour with recommendations from a local in Basel, Lausanne, Bern, Lugano, or Vevey.
- Sample fine Swiss chocolates at a local chocolatier (chocolate shop).
- Grab a coffee in Bern in the same building where Albert Einstein lived in the early 1900s.
- Shop for local cheese, confections, wine, and produce at the Hall’titude Market in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
- Tour a Swiss brewery in Lucerne to learn the art of Alpine brewing.
- Visit a cheese factory in Gruyeres on a day trip from Geneva.