SOLOTHURN What's the most surprising thing about beautiful Solothurn?

Issue: Issue1 2014
Is it the clock with only eleven hours on it? The art supermarket? Or maybe that you can see dinosaur footprints? Visitors to Solothurn are spoilt for choice with things to do, stories to hear and places to see.

Solothurn is, unsurprisingly, the capital of Canton Solothurn. The picturesque Baroque city is situated beside the Aare river, so along with the usual modes of transport you can also get there by boat. Its location on the river makes it perfect for a variety of outdoor activities, including my personal favourite – sitting in the sunshine on the terrace of a riverside café enjoying a slice of Solothurner Torte. For those of you feeling a little more active, there are plenty of walking and cycle paths along the river.

Solothurn boasts a good number of quirky little shops and funky boutiques. The old town, once the site of a Roman settlement, has an attractive layout that encourages wandering and exploring. In between shops you might like to try and count all 11 historic fountains in the city, or find the 11 towers. The big challenge is to find the clock with only 11 hours on it.

For an unsurpassable view of the city, visit the Cathedral of St Ursus and climb the 249 steps to the top. While you're there, count the 11 altars and 11 bells. After that, you'll be ready to enjoy the meringue-y goodness of Solothurner Torte at one of Solothurn's lovely riverside cafes. Actually, you might as well buy a whole one and take it home – if you can make it last that long. A thirst-quenching accompaniment is a glass of Oufi (local dialect for 11) beer.

For a taste of culture, time your visit to coincide with one of Solothurn's festivals. There are so many that everyone is bound to find something of interest. Solothurn hosts a film festival, Carnival, Bike Days – Switzerland's national cycling festival – a beer festival, a literature festival, and a series of open-air concerts.       

Out of the city there are just as many activities. Solothurn is a hub for mountain biking and hiking, catering to all ability levels. One easy excursion is to the quaint St Verena's hermitage, just out of the city. Or you could hop on the train to Lommiswil/Oberdorf quarry and search for the dinosaur footprints.

For somewhere a bit unusual to stay in the warmer months, take a look at the TCS camping ground. As well as a picturesque setting, it also has cute little bungalows for hire. You'll need to get in early though, as in summer they get booked out quickly.

Just to dangle a couple more carrots – does Casanova do it for you? Are you a follower of Napoleon? These are just two of Solothurn's more famous visitors. So go on and find out what brought them there.


Solothurn Tourismus offers guided tours in English.

For more information visit: Gerth and Christof Sonderegger, Region Solothurn Tourismus

Author: Karin Waldhauser

Is a New Zealander living in Switzerland with her Swiss husband and twin toddlers. She enjoys reading and writing and has a severe case of wanderlust.

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