City guide Solothurn
Swiss cities up close and personal.
Discover the unique charm of our Swiss cities - with the vision and the heart of a local:
The most important information, excursions, events and much more.
A printed version for the road.
From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the Catholic town of Solothurn was the residence of the French king’s ambassador. Fine Baroque and Renaissance buildings, such as the noble Palais Besenval, and magnificent religious buildings meet the visitor at every end and turn – the Old Town has eleven churches and chapels and the same number of fountains and towers. Truly magnificent is the St.Urs Cathedral, with an Italian-style staircase in front. Inside are wonderful Baroque stuccos. The town walls, which are still intact in some places, were built according to the principles of the French military engineer Vauban.
Between the beautiful historic monuments, the patrician buildings and the sturdy fortifications, the traffic-free Old Town is a pleasant place to wander, with lots of small shops and inns. On warm summer evenings, it is very pleasant to sit in the garden restaurants and bars by the Aare.
The town has a range of cultural attractions going far beyond the regional, including the Solothurn Film and Literature Days. The museums range from the History Museum to the internationally acclaimed Natural History Museum, a Museum of Stones, the ENTER PC Museum and Schloss Waldegg, not to mention a collection of sentimental light fiction. Finally, in the «Old Arsenal» is one of the largest weapons collections in Europe.
Children feel perfectly at home in Solothurn. And the Natural History Museum is particularly popular with families and a fascinating way of viewing the region’s animal, plant and mineral life. Utterly unique are the 150 million year old fossilized turtles from the quarries of the city, the beautiful starfish from Weissenstein and of course the famous Lommiswil dinosaur tracks.
A little outside the town is the romantic Verena gorge with its chapel and hermitage, a popular destination for walkers. Hikers and cyclists will find an extensive network of footpaths and 600 km of cycle tracks in the surrounding area and along the Aare. Solothurn is on two national cycle routes: the Mittelland Route and the Aare Route.
This is Switzerland’s finest Baroque city with its Old Town alleys, dotted with magnificent buildings, decorative fountains and towers – a delight to explore on leisurely strolls or admire from the atmospheric street cafés.
The culturally rich city has a special charm during the Christmas season. The exhibition of the Solothurn «Ambassador crib», an ensemble of charming crib figures, is a delight to the eye and soul – and the idyllic «Chlausemärt» (St. Nicholas Christmas market) on the downtown cemetery space is yet another great attraction.
Here, on the oldest square of the city, around 70 beautifully decorated stalls sell beautiful Christmas gifts. Culinary delights are also well taken care of, whether with a cup of warming mulled wine or delicious grilled dishes. The Solothurn «Weihnachtsmäret» (Christmas market) takes place on the outskirts of Solothurn.
- Old Town – one of the finest and most compact Old Towns in Switzerland, with many Baroque highlights and a marked French influence.
- St. Urs Cathedral – made of pale Solothurn marble, is the most important Early Classical building in Switzerland, and has 11 altars.
- Museum of Fine Art – important collection of Swiss Art from 1850 onwards, with works by Cuno Amiet, Ferdinand Hodler, Bernhard Luginbühl, Meret Oppenheim, Jean Tinguely.
- Boat ride on the Aare (in summer) – to the Stork Colony in Altreu and via Büren, whose Old Town features in the National Inventory of Heritage Sites, to bilingual Biel/Bienne.
- Weissenstein – Solothurn's home mountain (1291 m) and the Hotel Kurhaus Weissenstein – are reached in just 10 minutes by panoramic gondola. Unique views of central Switzerland and the Alps. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and sledging.
- Solothurner Film Days – important platform for Swiss films; independent film producers are well represented here; awarding of the Swiss Film Prize (January).
- Solothurn Carnival – «Chesslete», torch-lit procession through the Old Town, the participants wear white nightshirts and make a deafening noise. Masked balls, burning of the Böögg (February/March).
- Biertage – an invitation from 20 breweries to celebrate Swiss beer culture during the 9th Solothurn beer days (April).
- Bike Days – more than 26,000 visitors are likely to view this world of bikes and gather information about the current and future Planet Bike (May).
- Solothurn Literature Days – a forum for contemporary writing in Switzerland (on Ascension weekend, May).
- Solothurn Classics – stands for high-standing opera presentations and concerts (June).
- Art Supermarket – the works of both young and more famous artists are presented and sold here (November-January).