Schwyz, More Than Just Knives

Our destination was set for the day – we were heading to the Swiss Army Knife exhibit in Schwyz.  But once we were there, what else would there be to do?  Even though you could easily walk around the entire town center in, oh, 10 minutes, it’s worth it to spend a lot more.  A quick visit to the tourist office had our hands full with brochures and a whole day planned of cultural and historical visits, a hike nearby (with picnic of course), plus a few addresses for a café and pastry in town.

Schwyz, Switzerland

Before doing anything else, you’ll find yourself just staring at the mountains that fully surround the town.  The green of the hills just seemed so much brighter and cleaner than anywhere else.  Perfectly manicured – so Swiss!  First stop for us was the impressive collection of knives at the Forum of Swiss History, just behind the tourist office.  The town is full of history – and not just of knives. (You can read about the exhibit here).  Hey, it’s how Switzerland got its name after all!  So we headed next to the Museum of the Swiss Charters of Confederation to learn a bit more.  For such a small museum, you won’t believe the amount of historical accounts inside.  I recommend a visit if only to see Switzerland’s Constitution, the original document from 1291 in an enormously oversized glass case.  Hop on the computer next to it for an interactive translation line by line, from Latin to French or German (sorry, no English).  Pretty neat in fact.  A must for English speakers – they have a huge binder of explanations in English of every item on display – don’t forget to ask for that at the desk.

To round off your history lesson, you may want to visit the “House Bethlehem” on the Ital Reding Estate, the oldest wooden house in Switzerland, built in 1287 – pre-dating even the Swiss Confederacy!  There’s also plaques all around town explaining the importance of certain streets, 18th century manor houses, monasteries and churches.

Schwyz, SwitzerlandSchwyz, SwitzerlandSchwyz, SwitzerlandSchwyz, Switzerland

Before heading out of town, we made one last visit – a 10 minute walk over the town border from Schwyz to Ibach, and there you’ll see the Victorinx factory store.  A bit disappointing not to be able to visit the factory itself, but if you’re in the market for a Swiss army knife (or two or 20), then this is the place to be.  Next stop for us: Schlatti. A 10 minute bus ride along the mountain turned out to be an attraction in itself for the views.  Next mode of transport: cable car up to Stoos.  But not just any cable car.  The steepest cable car in all of Europe (not cheap either – CHF 22 round trip)!  In 7 minutes, it travels a distance of 1200m, with a difference in altitude of 800m.  Worth it?  Yes. Here’s why, a view below of Swiss Knife Valley:

Stoos, Schwyz, Switzerland

Once at the top, if you can pull yourself away from the above view, there are assorted hiking paths to follow and plenty of prime spots for picnics!  We were ready for that. Fresh bread bought at the market that morning, assorted charcuterie, a thick slice of cheese, radishes with salted butter — ooh, and here’s my trick for that: I put a square of Bordier’s salted butter in the freezer overnight.  That way, by lunch time on the mountain, it was perfect to eat, instead of being a melted mess.  Strawberries from the market too and some Swiss chocolate rounded it all off.  Aside from the French butter, it was 100% Swiss – the food, my Swiss army knife present of course, the views of the snow melting on the mountains and the cows grazing in the fields.

Stoos, Schwyz, SwitzerlandStoos, Schwyz, SwitzerlandStoos, Schwyz, SwitzerlandStoos, Schwyz, Switzerland

If it weren’t for our picnic lunch, we would have taken advantage of the Swiss Culinary Festival taking place in Schwyz this month, the Schwyzer Ess-Spektakel.  From May 8th to the 31st, 18 restaurants have chosen a Swiss canton to represent and have a set menu of traditional dishes from there.  You can download the list of restaurants and dishes here, only available in German though.  En Guete !! (Bon appétit in Swiss German!)


Address Book for Schwyz:

Tourist Office
Bahnhofstrasse 4

Forum of Swiss History (Forum der Schweizer Geschichte)
Hofmatt, Zeughausstrasse 5
Tuesday to Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Museum of the Swiss Charters (Bundesbriefmuseum)
Bahnhofstrasse 20
Tuesday to Friday: 9am – 11:30am, 1:30pm – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 5pm

Ital Reding Estate & Bethlehem House
Rickenbachstrasse 24
Tuesday to Friday: 2pm – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10am – 12pm, 2pm – 5pm

Victorinox Factory Store
Schmiedgasse 57
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 12pm, 1:15pm – 4pm
Saturday: 8am – 3pm

Where to Eat & Drink

Café Haug
Postplatz 4
excellent café and confiserie with rooftop terrace, great view

Kreuz & Quer
Hauptplatz 7
bar with prime corner spot on the main town square, attached to…

Hauptplatz 7
Thai restaurant

Hauptplatz 7
bistro and bar next door to Kreux & Quer (yes, they all have the same address!)

Strehlgasse 3
historic restaurant with Swiss specialties

Wysses Rössli
Hauptplatz 3
4 star restaurant and hotel on the main square



15 Responses to “Schwyz, More Than Just Knives”

  1. kelleyn says:

    Stunning photos! Makes me miss Switzerland.

  2. Lani says:

    I can’t really believe that this place actually exists as I sit here in New York City. It looks so unreal but your photography is breathtaking! The cows grazing in the grass, the snow melting on the mountains and the little town all look perfect for me to take a hike …….all I can say is ahhhhhhhhhh!!! Oh my, love it….Thank you for letting me share in the views!!!!!

  3. jen laceda says:

    What a comprehensive list! Ahhh…this makes me want to pack my bags and move to Switzerland (that was actually my dream when I was 7–long before the internet, and I had to do all my research on Switzerland with an encyclopaedia–gasp!). Oh, just the mountains….so beautiful! So…Sound of Music (ok, different country, but you know what I mean). There are no mountains in Toronto and the province of Ontario, so I’m just loving these photos!!

  4. cindy says:

    Your pictures are wonderful! This just reminded me that i went there over 10 years ago and got a swiss army knife engraved. where is that thing? hmmmmm

    I love reading your blog, you really take me to the destination!

  5. Lilliy says:

    Oh I miss Switzerland, my parents and now my sister still visit every year or at least every second year. To them they haven’t been on a vacation unless they go to Switzerland that year.. I miss those mountains, hiking, riding the train from town to town. Great post and photos. I haven’t been to Schwyz that will be on my list when I visit next time.

  6. katy says:

    sounds so wonderful! can hardly wait for our Swiss adventure on Wednesday. Tell me about radishes with salted butter – that is new to me.

  7. Kerrin says:

    Jen, that is too funny that you wanted to move to Switzerland at age 7, how adventurous at such a young age! You just brought me back to my house growing up, with our World Book Encyclopedia series!! Sometimes I miss paper research… Glad I can give you your fill of mountains – there’s no shortage of them around here, that’s for sure!

    Cindy, thanks so much for your note. Keep joining me on my travels then!! And I hope you find your Swiss army knife too! 😉

    Lilliy, you mentioned some of the very best things about Switzerland, especially how easy it is to get from town to town on the trains here. The transportation system really is impeccable. Glad to hear you’ve got Schwyz on your travel list now. Zürich too, I hope!

    Katy, tell you more about radishes and salted butter? Avec plaisir! Ah yes, a marriage made in heaven! Which is totally funny for me to say, because I have never been one to eat radishes; I used to even pick them out of salads! But when my best friend – a Breton – showed me how they eat them in France, I was hooked. You take your radish, put a thick pat of high quality (unsalted) butter on it and then dip it into big flakes of fleur de sel (or other sea salt). For a picnic, salted butter is much more convenient! Try it and let me know what you think – with an aperitif or part of an appetizer…

    Oh, have a great time in Grindelwald !!

  8. katy says:

    Thanks Kerrin! I woulda never put the 2 together. I’ll definitely give it a try.

  9. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Kerrin, your photos are just amazing. I do love going to some towns and being surprised by how much you can do. Though I’ve usually researched a trip to an inch of its life so know everything available – including all the required transport (e.g. bus numbers!) to get around. Oh, and that’s all in a spreadsheet. HA! I love your butter trick by the way. I think I have to remember that for my own picnics. Butter doesn’t last long in the sub-tropical heat of Brisbane! 🙂

  10. Matt says:

    Hi Kerrin, thanks for your writeup. We went to Schwyz for a visit today and had a very enjoyable time.

  11. Steve says:

    Wow!!!!!!!!!! Fascinating. And oh those pictures. Cindy definitely said it best. You really do take us to your destinations. Your coverage of the places you travel, supported by spectacular photos (which keep getting better) are so… real. Yeah, that’s the word! Your writing and pictures are so very real. Luvit!!!

  12. Lilliy says:

    I always landed in Zurich when I arrived to Switzerland ( even when I am transit) I take the train from the airport and I go straight to Bahnhof (I think I spelled it right) Strass and have lunch in “Manor” the top floor where they make all the freash food in front of you.. or to Migros to buy bread, cheese and Peach Ice Tea.. There is also that wonderful coffee house with great Apple strudel just beside the Train Station.. ahhh Zurich is one of my favorite Cities.
    My sister and her family are actually coming in July to Zurich and then to Davos for a nature relaxing holiday.. She says you havent tasted real good milk, chocolate and cheese unless you had it in Switzerland.

  13. FredJouldd says:

    Thanks, good article.

  14. Solo Road Trip says:

    My husband and I watched an old movie last night. Set in London around the turn of the century, it was a feast for the eyes. Beautiful lighting, perfect homes and gardens, carriages turning down the streets lit with intricate gas lamps, it was a grand orchestration. I thought throughout the movie “if only”. If only I could transport myself into one of those scenes for a moment of experiencing such perfection. I see your pictures of Switzerland and I think the same thing. Only they’re the real deal — no movie backdrops or self-contained sets. I think I need to come over and see it for myself. Transport = airplane ticket 🙂

  15. US Trip says:

    Hi, Kerrin,Very Nice Post
    Swiss Knife:I have one, don’t remmember the name I’ve had it so long, the one with mag. glass, scissors, it’s about an inch thick, I think it looks like the Huntsman. Though it is more of a toy, a Mc Guiver thing. For real life condition
    it did,t work so well. Then, I got a
    “Leatherman” accept no immitations, it was much better and eventhough I bring both I ply with the swiss army only, but actually use my leatherman for stuff the one with a modified needle player and 4 different blades the length of the handles, it’s comfortable, doesn’t collapse and very sturdy

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