In Switzerland many other disciplines such as such as gymnastics, cycling, athletics, Swiss wrestling and equestrian sports are just as popular as the country's national sports. The Swiss landscape lends itself to a vast range of outdoor pursuits, and Swiss people love the great outdoors.
Other sports and leisure pursuits
In addition to their national sports, the Swiss also love sports such as cycling, tennis, gymnastics, golf, equestrian sports and shooting. Swiss athletes excel at international level in several of these sports and have various world titles to their names. Among them, the best known and most successful are tennis players.
The Swiss landscape lends itself to a wide range of outdoor sports and leisure activities. An extensive network of hiking and cycle routes attracts walkers and cyclists, while Switzerland's many lakes and rivers are ideal for a variety of water-based pursuits. A visit to the thermal baths is a popular outing – Switzerland has been a popular spa resort since Roman times. Switzerland also has a strong scout movement, and many young people enjoy their leisure time outdoors with a scouting association.
Mention tennis and you'll soon be discussing Roger Federer. The Swiss Tennis Association is the third largest sports association in Switzerland. Every year, over 30,000 players compete in the national inter-club tournaments. Players like Roger Federer and Martina Hingis inspired whole generations of athletes in the course of long careers at the very top of their sport. The most important tennis tournaments held in Switzerland are the Gstaad Open and the Swiss Indoors in Basel.
A popular leisure activity among Swiss people, the Swiss also excel in cycling at the highest level. Swiss Cycling is the most successful summer Olympic sports association in the country. It was in mountain biking that Swiss athletes wrote one of the most beautiful pages in the history of Swiss sport at the Olympic Games: at Tokyo 2021, the podium held three Swiss women.
The Swiss Gymnastics Federation is the largest multi-sport federation in Switzerland. After alpine skiing, artistic gymnastics is the competition in which the Swiss have won the most Olympic medals. A Federal Gymnastics Festival is held in Switzerland every six years and brings together 2,000 gymnastics associations in over 100 disciplines. This much-anticipated event attracts to up to 200,000 visitors.
Athletics is a discipline in which the Swiss shine at international level. Swiss athletes perform well in the sprint, relay, jumping and hurdles events at the World Championships and the Summer Olympics.
Golf is also very popular in Switzerland, which boasts some spectacular mountain courses. The Alpine resort of Crans-Montana is the setting for Switzerland's most prestigious golf competition, the Omega European Masters. The International Golf Federation has its headquarters in Lausanne.
Many people in Switzerland go horse riding or practise equestrian sports. Olympic champion Steve Guerdat and European champion Martin Fuchs are big names in equestrian sport. Several elite international competitions are held in Switzerland, and the International Equestrian Federation has its headquarters in Lausanne.
For a long time, Swiss wrestling was only popular in the villages. In the 19th century it was exported to the cities through wrestling festivals. It has become a modern sport that is considered typically Swiss and has gained in popularity in recent years.
Shooting is also a commonly-practised sport; the Swiss Shooting Association has the second largest club membership of any Swiss sports association. The Swiss championships cover a total of 61 disciplines with different weapon types and distances. Swiss athletes frequently make it to the Olympic podium in this discipline.
Hiking and mountaineering
Hiking is the most popular sport in Switzerland. 57% of Swiss residents aged 15 and over go hiking. Switzerland has a network of 65,000 kilometres of hiking trails, equivalent to one and a half times the circumference of the earth. Several transnational trails also cross through Switzerland, such as the Way of St James and the Via Alpina. Switzerland attracts mountaineers from all over the world, keen to conquer the Matterhorn or the North Face of the Eiger.
Cycling is a favourite pastime for many Swiss. More than 40% of the resident Swiss population aged 15 and over cycle or mountain bike. Almost 70% of Swiss households own a bicycle for sport, leisure or as an environmentally-friendly way of getting around.
Switzerland's many lakes and rivers are ideal for a wide range of water-based pursuits such as sailing, windsurfing, water-skiing, wakeboarding and rowing. Swimming is also taught at an early stage in Swiss schools. In Switzerland, swimming lessons at school teach children how to behave around water and give every child the chance to learn to swim. Free entrance to public swimming pools in several municipalities makes swimming a highly accessible sport and leisure activity. In addition to swimming pools, Switzerland has many lakes and rivers. Whether they swim for sport or leisure, almost everyone enjoys hanging out at their local swimming spot.
Switzerland has been a popular spa resort for more than 2,000 years, when Romans converged on the spa town of Baden to take the waters. Thermal baths became fashionable again in the 19th century and enjoyed renewed popularity at the end of the 20th century. There are some 20 thermal baths in Switzerland today.
The biggest youth movement in Switzerland is scouting, which gives children and young people opportunities to socialise and engage in fun outdoor activities.
There are also 500 or so 'vitaparcours' – freely accessible forest exercise trails that are popular with young an old. Walkers and runners frequent the trails at their own pace stopping along the way at 15 exercise stations designed to exercise mobility and strength.