Categories Switzerland

Is everything closed on August 1st in Switzerland? (public holiday)

August 1st in Switzerland is a highly significant date as it marks the country’s National Day, also known as “Swiss National Day” or “August 1st Day“. On this day, the Swiss celebrate their history, culture, and independence, making it a momentous occasion for the entire nation. However, while August 1st is indeed a public holiday, not everything is necessarily closed on this day.

Swiss National Day on August 1st is indeed a public holiday, and while some businesses and establishments may close or have limited hours, not everything in the country is shut down. The day is a significant occasion for the Swiss people to celebrate their history and heritage, and it offers a unique opportunity for tourists to experience the vibrant culture and traditions of Switzerland. So, if you plan to visit Switzerland on August 1st, embrace the festive spirit and explore the various events and activities happening throughout the country.

History of the Swiss National Day

Swiss National Day commemorates the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291, when three cantons came together to form an alliance. Over the centuries, this event evolved into the modern nation of Switzerland, and on August 1st, 1891, it was officially declared a national holiday. Since then, August 1st in Switzerland has become a cherished tradition for the Swiss people, filled with various festivities, events, and celebrations.

However, it is crucial to note that Switzerland is a diverse country with linguistic and cultural variations. The observance of public holidays can differ from region to region and even between cantons. In major cities and tourist destinations, you can expect to find more places open for business on Swiss National Day, catering to both locals and tourists who may not participate in the festivities.

Is everything closed on August 1st in Switzerland?

As with most public holidays, certain establishments and institutions observe the day and close their doors to allow their employees to participate in the celebrations or spend time with their families. Government offices, banks, and many businesses, especially smaller ones, tend to be closed on Swiss National Day. Additionally, some shops, supermarkets, and malls might also have limited hours or remain closed entirely on this day. It’s best to check at least the day before if the supermarket you intend to visit, is open, for at least a few hours on August 1st. Often opening hours are updated religiously on Google Maps, otherwise, the respective website or online presence might inform you about the special opening hours.

Despite closures in certain sectors, the Swiss National Day is vibrant with events across the country. Cities and towns hold parades, fireworks displays, concerts, and traditional performances to celebrate their heritage and unity. One of the most iconic customs of this holiday is the lighting of bonfires on hillsides across Switzerland, illuminating the landscape in a breathtaking spectacle.

Top Activities to do on the public holiday August 1st in Switzerland

Many people also host or attend private gatherings, barbecues, and picnics to celebrate the occasion with family and friends. Additionally, tourists visiting on August 1st in Switzerland can immerse themselves in the rich culture and enjoy the festive atmosphere during their stay. Here are some top activities to make the most of this special day in the picturesque Swiss landscape:

  1. Swiss National Day Celebrations: Join the locals in their festivities at various towns and cities throughout the country. From Zurich to Geneva, you’ll find vibrant parades, traditional music performances, and awe-inspiring fireworks displays as the sun sets. An annual highlight is the unveiling of the largest Swiss flag in the world at Mountain Säntis, read more here.
  2. Alpine Hiking: August is the perfect time to explore Switzerland’s breathtaking alpine trails. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a casual walker, there are routes suitable for all levels. Revel in the stunning vistas of snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and charming villages.
  3. Picnicking by Lakes: Switzerland boasts stunning lakes like Lake Geneva, Lake Lugano, and Lake Zurich. Pack a delicious picnic and spend a leisurely afternoon by the serene waters, surrounded by the picturesque Swiss scenery.
  4. Festive Cuisine: Delight your taste buds with traditional Swiss delicacies. Treat yourself to fondue, raclette, and rösti in local restaurants, or savour regional specialities at food stalls during the celebrations.
  5. Folklore Performances: Experience Switzerland’s rich cultural heritage through captivating folklore performances. Traditional dances, music, and storytelling offer a glimpse into the nation’s history and traditions.
  6. Swiss Museum Visits: If you seek a more informative experience, visit renowned Swiss museums that showcase the country’s art, history, and innovation. The Swiss National Museum in Zurich and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne are top recommendations.
  7. Water Activities: Take advantage of the warm August weather and indulge in various water sports. From paddleboarding on lakes to rafting down rivers, there’s something for everyone.
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Blogger Lisa sitting at the shore of Lake Zurich


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