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16 things that only happen in Switzerland

We've been scouring social media for the next wave of the most uniquely Swiss 'things' we can find. Have we missed any?

A friendly(ish) cow stares into the camera on a mountain pass in Kandersteig Switzerland.
"Mooo shall not pass". A friendly(ish) cow stares into the camera on a mountain pass in Kandersteig Switzerland. Photo by Frank Holleman on Unsplash

1. Trains waiting for chickens to get off the track

Switzerland is proud of its rural heritage. So much so, that chickens – along with cows and occasionally goats and sheep – get right of way. 


#sbb #schweiz #svizzera #hüehner #dummshuen

A post shared by canonicamarco (@canonicamarco) on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:23am PDT

2. People racing powered up lawn mowers 

A great way to encourage the kids to do their chores is to make it fun – so why not supercharge your lawn mower to encourage housework and freak our your neighbours at the same time. 

Hey, if you’re going to do something, why not do it fast? 

Photo credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

3. Being encouraged to get active – while climbing a mountain

Slackers are not appreciated in Switzerland – especially on the hiking paths. 

4. Sharing an elevator with a cow

OK, so you might see this in India as well as Switzerland, but the treatment of cows in Switzerland is positively Hinduesque. 

As we delved into in the following article however, the Swiss have a close personal bond with cows. 

EXPLAINED: Why are cows so important in Switzerland?

This bovine was lucky enough to take an elevator ride, which I guess is a little easier than taking a cow up the steps. 

But if an elevator isn’t available, then your cow can always…

5. Get your cow to take the helicopter

Yes, this really happened. Check out this video from the Irish Farmers Journal.

6. Simply how much people trust each other

Whether buying from an actual store or even online, the level of trust people place in each other in Switzerland is particularly special – as illustrated by this tweet. 

7. Unicorn warnings 
“Sorry Urs, your unicorn is gonna have to wait around back. Rules is rules. Don’t make me tap the sign.”
8. Vending machines filled with cheese
Several varieties of delicious Swiss cheese available on a 24-hour basis? There are certainly no holes in this idea. 
9. More vending machines with cheese
Fear not, humble tourists, you will not encounter a cheesemergency while on vacation in Switzerland. 

10. Being interrupted by a gang of Alphorners

“Sorry guys, gonna be around five minutes late, the Alphorners have taken over the roads and I’m going to have to take the long way around.”

11. Using a raclette grill to make popcorn

What? How do you make popcorn?

12. Being allowed to ride your bike naked

Bike safety is paramount in Switzerland. As it should be. 

13. Bargain hunting with a difference

If your chair costs less than this, are you even sitting at all? 

READ MORE: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

14. Seeing ‘unique’ missing animal posters 

Perhaps putting a picture on the side of a milk carton would have been in bad taste…

15. Cows hiding out on roof tops

Photo credit: Metro/CEN

“She always was one of my most cantankerous beasts, always wanting to do it her way, not mine,” owner Dieter Mueller told Metro newspaper.”

“She would have stayed up there for eternity if she had wanted to. I tried to coax her off when I first saw her but she wouldn’t budge. She had to do things in her own sweet time. And I am left with the bill for replacing the tiles she smashed.”

16. Eating fondue while surfing


Residents of Swiss village successfully sue after river ‘flows too loudly’

A court has ruled in the favour of residents of a small Swiss village who sued local authorities after a river flowed too loudly.

Residents of Swiss village successfully sue after river 'flows too loudly'

We can’t say with certainty that this only happens in Switzerland, but we suspect this is so.

Residents of a district of Saint Légier in the canton of Vaud complained that a stream in their neighbourhood flows too loudly, demanding that local authorities install soundproofing.

The river, which is primarily used by farmers for irrigation, was partially re-routed in 2020. 

READ MORE: The 12 strange laws in Switzerland you need to know

Authorities denied the request, saying that “the noise emitted by the stream… does not constitute an inadmissible attack on the tranquility of local residents”.

The complainants then took their cause to the district court, demanding that acoustic assessments be made to measure the stream’s noise level, countering the argument that their tranquility is not disturbed. 

Their arguments were heard loud and clear, with the court finding in their favour. 

The court said officials should either bury the stream, make it narrower, or install a noise barrier.

All this may sound bizarre, except that this is hardly the first time a group of residents creates ruckus about ambient noise.

Other instances include people complaining about loud church bells, public clocks chiming every 15 minutes, and cow bells.