Despite the fact that Solothurn lays in the flat region of Switzerland, I really like this city with its beautiful medieval streets and charming riverside walks.
Solothurn is the capital of Solothurn canton (Yes, the same name of the canton and city as Zug or Schwyz) and has lots of historical value to Switzerland.
Let’s have a look at some facts about Solothurn, how to get there, and 7 top things to do there.
How to Get to Solothurn, Switzerland
Solothurn is very well connected and you can reach by car or by train.
Solothurn is just 98 kilometers from Zürich and it would take you up to 1h 30 min to reach it by train. Please check out all the latest time schedules and prices right here.
If you come to Solothurn by car, the best and closes to city center parking is right here: Parkhaus Baseltor and the address is Pisonipl., 4500 Solothurn. You can pay the very comfortably with a credit card. When you leave the parking lot, just go through the Baseltor (Basel (another city in Switzerland, not so far from Solothurn) gates) and you will be in the city’s old town.
Interesting Facts About Solothurn
As I mentioned before, Solothurn is a proud capital of Solothurn canton. Each canton and there are 26 of them, have their own capitals: from Zürich to Altdorf (the capital of beautiful and mountainous Uri canton).
Solothurn canton is one of the smaller cantons: the smallest one is Basel Stadt (the city of Basel) and the biggest one is Graubünden.
Solothurn city population is over 16 000 people and its main language is german, swiss german. Do not forget to say Grüezi (that is Swiss german Hello) in there.
As I mentioned before, Solothurn has a lot of historical value as it was first settled by Romans (Switzerland was not even on the map then) in AD 15-25. The first mentioning of the name of the city is found in 219 – Vico salod[uro]. Saloduro is pretty close to the name of Solothurn which is used now.
As mentioned before, Solothurn is in a flat part of Switzerland, but the Jura Mountains are right next to it, so if you miss mountains while visiting Solothurn, they are right next door.
What to Do in Solothurn, Switzerland
Solothurn has a lot to offer to a fellow traveler and adventure seeker, so let’s have a look at 7 options I would offer you:
- Solothurn old town tour. That would take you around 1 hour.
- Kosciuszko Museum. If you are interested in a great guy who was friends with George Washington and Tom Jefferson – it is a place to visit.
- Museum of the Old Arsenal. It has one of the oldest collections of armor in all Europe.
- Naturmuseum Solothurn. A place for nature lovers.
- Verenaschlucht – a beautiful place in nature.
- St. Ursen Cathedral – a beautiful huge Cathedral in Solothurn.
- Hiking to Weissenstein. I must always offer a nice hiking trail 🙂 It is a peak next to Solothurn from which, if the weather is clear, you can see a lot of surroundings and even the white peaks of the Swiss Alps.
Ok, let’s dive into each activity.
1- Solothurn Old Town Tour
If you parked in Baseltor parking or coming from the train station, the old town is very close to each of these points.
Once you enter the old town, there’s no need to follow some kind of specific old town walk tour path, just enjoy the medieval buildings and do not miss these most important ones:
Baseltor – that is a Basel gate, the road from there (if you go by car) leads straight to Basel city. It would take you around 1 hour by car to reach Basel.
Zeitglockenturm – to translate from german that would be Time Bell Tower. It is a beautiful old tower with an old swiss clock. You are going to love the looks of it. Switzerland is famous for its clocks.
Foundation Jesuit Church Solothurn – that is one of the oldest Solothurn churches built by Jesuits.
Sankt Peters Kapelle – Kapelle, if you guessed it, you maybe guessed it right, is a chapel. That is an old Saint Peter chapel.
Rathaus – city hall of Solothurn.
Solothurn 11 hour clock – that is a clock that plays Solothurn song at 11 o’clock, but as well at 12, 17, and 18. If you are around at that time, go and visit it. All info about this clock right here: Solothurn clock.
Gerechtigkeits-Brunnen – translated from german that sounds “The fountain of Justice” – sounds deadly serious. Switzerland has many many fountains in the cities and this one is right in the old town of Solothurn.
Solothurn’s old town is full of many other old buildings with a very rich history. I would advise you not to rush through it, appreciate the old architecture and the history which rests there. Stroll around, sit down in a coffee shop, and enjoy the historical city.
2- Kosciuszko museum
This one is a bit personal to me as I admire the guy. His full name: Tadeusz Kościuszko. He was born in the country which was then Lithuanian-Polish commonwealth in 1746. And I am from Lithuania, so as a historical figure he is very important to us. In many places, it is written that he is Polish, but you can not deny the fact that he was born in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
His may be the most impressive life fact is that he fought for USA independence together with George Washington and Tom Jefferson and of course many other great soldiers. After the war he didn’t stay in the USA (he was offered a great deal of money with a mansion) and came back to Europe to fight for Polish-Lithuania independence, unfortunately, he lost that war and got into prison in Russia.
His life is long, complex, full of victories and defeats, but the last two years of his life he spent in, yeah, that’s right, Solothurn. In a small Swiss village back then.
This is the reason why Solothurn has a museum of this great war hero.
The entrance to the museum is just 5 CHF and you can check all the information about this place right here: Kosciuszko museum.
Depending on how much you like the history of such a person, you can spend there up to a couple of hours.
3- Museum of the Old Arsenal
Another great place for history lovers. This place has a lot of armor: from the old medieval metal one to the newer. It has different kind of weapons, artillery, and guns. This place has it all. If you are interested in war, history, specific topics of battle, you must visit this place.
The museum is very neat and very well organized, you are going to walk through different halls while breathing in history.
The entrance price is 8 CHF and you can spend there 1-2 hours.
You can find all the other information about the museum right here: Museum of the old Arsenal.
4- Naturmuseum Solothurn
The pristine nature of Switzerland has so much to offer, so why not to visit the museum of Nature.
It is a very neat and informative museum for everyone: families, old and young, nature lovers and big city people. You are going to find their information from bugs and fossils to birds and bigger animals.
Check out all the latest information and ticket prices right here: Naturmuseum Solothurn.
This place is for nature lovers and who love the tranquility of hidden paths.
Verenaschlucht meaning Verena canyon is a beautiful path in nature, in a small canyon where you can get to the hermitage of Solothurn.
There are small waterfalls all around you and whilst walking you can relax and breathe in the pristine air. It is as close to the fairy tale path as it can get.
While walking there you are going to pass this beautiful hermitage dedicated to Saint Verena, this small chapel is there from the 17th century.
The walk from the city to Verenaschlucht and back would be around 6 kilometers and take you up to 1h 30 minutes if you decide not to stop at any restaurant or other place to relax and enjoy the place. For nature lovers, it is a must, but even if you do not really like hiking or walking in nature, you should try it as it cleans the head immediately.
You can find all the information about this walk right here: Verenaschlucht hike.
6- St. Ursen Cathedral
The first church was built back in the 5th century, but the last shape it got back in 1664 when sacristy was extended, but in 1762 the tower collapsed and the city decided to build a new church which took its final shape in 1773.
It is a neoclassical church built in white stone.
The church has as well the oldest swiss boys choir which dates back in 742! This choir is older than Switzerland’s country itself.
Just have a look at the insides of this huge beautiful church. The facade and exterior is the real marvel of neoclassicism.
7- Hiking to Weissenstein
As you have wandered around the old town and visited a couple of museums, it is time to embark on the hiking trail. Weissenstein is a peak right next to Solothurn which stands at 1395 meters.
So the hike you can start straight in Solothurn or you can go in a car or public transport to Rüttenen or Oberdorf villages, then hike will be two times shorter.
Short information about the hike:
Time needed both ways: 3 – 4 hours.
Hiking distance in both ways: 7 kilometers.
Conditions: moderate, good well maintained hiking path.
Altitude change: you will gain more than 550 meters.
Best time to do it: from late spring till late autumn, but when it is snowing, you can do it with snowshoes. It is not an isolated mountainous region, so you can enjoy the place all year round.
Things to consider: it is a pretty easy hike, but still I highly recommend having good hiking shoes, extra clothes, water, some snacks.
Below you will see the hiking map from Oberdorf. As well, if you are in a hurry and have no time to hike, you can take the cable car from Oberdorf to Weissenstein. The ticket back and forth is 28 CHF. All info is here: Weissenstein cable car. Actually, Weissenstein’s peak is great for winter hikes, ski with sleds, cross country skiing, hiking, biking, and even paragliding. That place offers a full package of activities.
Ok, back to the map:
As you can see in the map, the hike is not long, over 3 kilometers, the elevation change is not very rapid and you are going to gain over 550 meters in altitude, so take it easy, it is not like wandering in the old town 🙂 You will have to work for it.
On the top, if you are lucky, you will see a lot of surroundings and white peaks of the Swiss Alps, that is an amazing place.
Weissenstein has a hotel, restaurants, it is a really really cool place to relax, have a good time with friends or family. You can do it both ways: you can enjoy, do some sport and hike up to it or take it easy and use a gondola 🙂 Gondola rides are always funny.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Solothurn? Share your thoughts & experiences below!
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