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What is Switzerland’s loudest city – and how loud is it?

An aerial picture of Zurich's Rosengartenstrasse
Zurich's Rosengartenstrasse is the noisiest residential street in the country, although Zurich is not the country's noisiest city. Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
Switzerland is known as a calm, peaceful and orderly place, but in some parts of the country, it can get loud.

With its quaint, car-free villages and peaceful, snow-covered mountain tops, Switzerland sometimes feels like a large, outdoor library where everyone is keeping quiet out of fear a giant ‘shhhhhh’ could come at any moment. 

But while Switzerland’s hustle and/or bustle might not rival that of some of its noisier neighbours – we’re looking at you, Italy – some parts of Switzerland still trouble the decibel metre. 

The analysis was completed by the Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) and focused on the noisiest cities in Switzerland.

Cities in the south and west of the country were the noisiest, while those in the centre were at the other end of the spectrum. 

Where is the noisiest part of Switzerland – and how noisy is it? 

The winner  — or loser, depending on how you look at it — is Geneva, whose residents are exposed to more than 60 decibels of noise. 

This corresponds to the volume of a lawn mower at a distance of 10 metres that can be heard even when the apartment windows are closed.

The study didn’t just take into account one point in the city, instead looking at how much noise the city’s residences were exposed to as a whole. 

READ MORE: These are the friendliest – and least friendly – cantons in Switzerland

And 94 percent of Geneva’s residences are exposed to a noise level greater than 50 decibels.

Perhaps surprisingly – or unsurprisingly if you’ve spent time in Ticino – the larger cities were not always the noisiest. 

In second place of noisiness is Lugano, followed by Lausanne, Zurich, Basel and Biel.

Zurich’s Rosengartenstrasse is the noisiest residential street in the entire country, with a decibel reading of 69. 

READ MORE: Ten things Zurich residents take for granted

Winterthur’s Zürcherstrasse came in second place with 66 decibels. 

Where is the quietest part of Switzerland? 

Aarau, Winterthur and Bern, on the other hand, are the quietest locations, according to ZKB analysis.

Aarau’s “whisper surfaces” have been installed in parts of the city with a goal to keep things quiet. 

Winterthur, a common commuter town for people working in Zurich, can thank bike-friendly policies and a large proportion of gardens for its quietness. 

Winterthur is after all known as Switzerland’s ‘Garden City’. 

That Bern featured so highly surprised the researchers, who noted that Bern managed to keep the noise down despite being a car friendly city. 

The researchers noted that Bern had somehow managed to pull off a “near impossible balancing act” in being both pro-car and pro-quiet. 


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