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Activities in and around Solothurn

Solothurn has been my home for 8+ years, so I have collected a few ideas for things to do in Solothurn (and the region) over that time.


In General

Useful websites

Blogs

Local culture

  • Krokus, the biggest band to come out of Solothurn. See the stone dedicated to them in the Pisoniplatz park behind the cathedral.
  • Hornussen, the whacky world of ‘Swiss Farmer Golf’.

Challenges


In Solothurn

Definition: In the urban area itself.

Most of what is in Solothurn is covered in the Wikivoyage page.


Immediately around Solothurn

Definition: Either comfortably walkable/rideable both ways, or with transport one way.  Within 10km by foot or 20km by bike. 

Along the Aare

Swimming/BBQ spots along the Aare. Following the north bank upstream by bike tends to be nicest and offers the most spots, though the south side is generally quieter (once you get past the 1km or so of pavement alongside the road).

Downstream:

  • Attisholz Areal. The former cellulose factory being turned into a park/art/bar/etc space is well worth an explore. The 1881 Kanteen does very acceptable Fish and Chips. An easy 6km walk or ride along the Aare from Solothurn. It is about equidistance between the tram stop at Riedholz and the regional train at Luterbach-Attisholz.
  • Wangen an der Aare. Nice little old town with a wooden bridge. 12km if you follow the Aare as closely as possible. Regardless of which bank you take it involves a segment alongside the Autobahn. Direct regional trains to Solothurn (12 mins).
  • Beyond Wangen a.d.A the Aare swings south into the hilly Oberaargau region. This can be quite pretty, but following the riverbank by bike is much harder and getting there by public transport from Solothurn is very slow. The Schloss at Aarwangen is the most notable sight.

Upstream:

  • Strawberry picking by/above Selzach. When in season (around June).
  • Altreu. A small village on the Aare notable for playing host to a large number of storks and the Witi information center (the plain between Solothurn and Grenchen is the Witi). There is a rare sandy beach at the end of Burgweg at the east end of the village. The restaurant Zum Grüene Affen on the river is a nice spot, but the staff are often overloaded at weekends.
  • Büren an der Aare. Pretty little old town and wooden bridge with some waterfront cafes/restaurants. An easy 19km flat ride along the Aare via route 5/8. 23 minutes from Solothurn by hourly bus, or on the Solothurn-Biel boat line.
  • The whole 30km bike ride along route 5/8 to Nidau by Biel is flat and follows quiet and wide roads/paths along the Aare. The path along the southern bank of the Aare from Solothurn to Büren tends to be quieter than the northern bank.

Towards Weissenstein and Balmberg.

Places:

  • Chuchigraben Rüttenen. Hidden gorge in the Chuchigraben by Forsthaus.
  • Rundloch. Literally is a round(ish) hole. Requires following an easy to miss unmarked path with a few bits of scramble (chains for support), and a slightly sketchy ladder to the cave itself. Use an Open Street Maps source like Maps.me to find this.
  • Balmfluechöpfli. The exposed white cliffs you see from Solothurn.Offers a fantastic view. 
  • Nidlenloch caves. Extensive cave system accessed near Hinter Weissenstein (you need to get a key from the restaurant). Guided visits are possible (and advised).
  • Ruine Balm. There is also a hidden waterfall.
  • Saurierspuren (dinosaur footprints) by Lommiswil. Dinosaur footprints on a quarry wall, best visibility with the light early or late in the day. Information board but not in English. An easy walk up from the Oberdorf or Im Holz stations. 

Routes:

To the south

Places:

  • Start of Buchiberg.
  • Burgäschisee
  • Imwillersee.
  • Steinhof. An exclave of Canton Solothurn separated by a thin strip of Bern. Like the name suggests there are some (big) stones.
  • Schloss Landshut. Moated castle in a nicely landscaped garden which you are free to look around. A cafe in the courtyard is open at weekends in the warmer months. 12km away. Close to Bätterkinden. An easy flat ride along the Emme by bike (follow the signs for Burgdorf).

Routes:

  • Bike: Wasseramt Route. An easy and low traffic ride out to the south. I would suggest going to Steinhof instead of Herzogenbuchsee after Burgäschi.

Slightly further outside of Solothurn

Definition: Requires transport there and back, or a decent ride out by bike. Within 45 mins by public transport or 30km by bike.

First ridge towards Oensingen

The ridge running from Balmberg east to Oensingen including Schmiedenmatt/Wolfisberg. 

The tram to Oensingen passes along the base of the mountainside to the south and a bus runs along the base to the north from Balsthal to Gänsbrunnen, but other than an infrequent bus to Farnen (and even less frequent to Wolfisberg) you will need to use your own feet or wheels to get about. The road to Rumisberg/Farnen is the only ‘nice’ climb. All the other roads/paths are very steep.

  • The south side of the ridge is a mix of meadow and forest with lots of fruit trees make it beautiful to visit around May-time. The north side is mostly just forest.
  • Wiedlisbach. A really beautiful little old town. 15 mins on the tram from Solothurn.
  • Schloss Bip. Private so you can’t go inside, but looks impressive and there is a little honesty shop out the front.
  • Bättlerchuchi lookout.
  • Waldneralp, the closest Alp to Solothurn (with the name Alp at least, Nesselboden by Wessenstein probably takes that crown otherwise). On the far side of Oensingen there is also is the very simply named ‘Alp’.

Routes:

  • Hike: Matzendorf – Horngraben – Bättlerchuchi – Attiswil (10km, +650m, -680m). Up a beautiful hidden gorge to the fantastic lookout at Bättlerchuchi. Bus to ‘Matzendorf, Mühle’ and then tram from Attiswil back to Solothurn.
  • Hike: Farnen – Stierenberg – Ruemlisberg – Schloss Bipp – Wiedlisbach (8.3km, +250m, -670m). Bus to Farnen and then tram back via Wiedlisbach.

Around Oensingen

Oensingen itself isn’t somewhere to spend much time, but it has connections through to Balsthal and the nature park.

Locations:

  • Castles around Oensingen.
  • Allerheiligen. A restaurant which offers a good view and makes a good starting or resting point on a number of hikes, plus it has some of the strangest art in Solothurn.
  • Tüfelsschlucht. A surprisingly large and deep gorge, much it is deep woodland rather than sheer cliffs (but there are some sections of that too).
  • Belchenflue. A prominent viewpoint.

Routes:

Towards Grenchenberg and along to Bözingeberg

Locations:

  • Bettlachstock. Now a UNESCO world heritage site. Getting up is steep and pretty much a dead end, but the meadow is very quiet and has great views of the Grenchenberg cliffs.

Routes:

  • MTB: Sonceboz – Weissenstein (33km, +1450m, -840m). See the info for Chasseral–Weissenstein Bike Stage 2. After a big climb this is mostly scenic riding through quiet meadows and forest, the biggest problem is after Grenchenberg where you have to drop down on a very steep and slippery path.

2nd chain and further back

Locations:

  • Wolfsschlucht and Bärenloch. A surprisingly deep gorge and a very unique cave. Train/bus to. 
  • Moron Tower.
  • Tete de moin, bellamy
  • Mont Raimaux. The highest point in Canton Jura.
  • Gorges. You can’t move for gorges and pretty little passes around Moutier.

Routes:

  • Hike: Gänsbrunnen – Moutier.
  • Hike: Mont Raimaux.
  • Hike: Waldenburg – Wasserfallen – Mümliswil.
  • Hike: Waldenburg – Belchenflue – Tüfelsschlucht – Hägendorf.
  • Bike: Gänsbrunnen – Binzberg – Althüsli – Weissenstein – Solothurn (25km, + 830m, – 1125m). Train from Solothurn to Gänsbrunnen.
  • Bike: Gänsbrunnen – Melsenberg – Balsthal.

Bucheggberg

The hilly region to the south-west of Solothurn. 

A fun playground for bikes (including the Slow Up event).

  • Graben Oili. A pretty little old mill in. Sometimes has open days.
  • Teufelenburg. 

Emmental and Oberaargau

Getting in and about by public transport is possible, but is rather slow and very indirect. Burgdorf is the gateway from Solothurn, with connecting trains or the (very slow) BLS to Thun offering some more destinations.

Locations:

  • Burgdorf.
  • Lueg. A prominent viewpoint with the curious novelty of a Swiss war memorial.
  • Affolten dairy.
  • Napf.
  • St Urban.

Routes:

  • Hike: Wynigen – Schwanden – Lueg – Burgdorf.

Biel and the Bielersee

Biel isn’t well loved. The old town is however really nice.

  • Watch industry. Museums.
  • Taubenlochschlucht.
  • Villages along the north shore (Twann-Erlach) are worth a visit. Ligerz is probably the nicest as it isn’t cut off from the lake by a busy road.
  • Twannbachschlucht.
  • St Petersinsel. Not actually an island.
  • Riding around the lake is a bit mixed. On the southern side you are often back from the shore which is given over to private houses.  

Routes:

Towns

  • Neuchatel.
  • Lenzburg. A little bit of old town and topped with one of the most impressive castles in Switzerland. 
  • Yverdon-les-Bain. Not overly interesting, but the Sci fi museum is worth a look. 

Points of interest

Historical oddities.

  • 1000er Stägli (1000 steps). Literally 1000 steps going up a hill near Olten. One way system in place (up).
  • Roma Brunnen, Grenchen. The remains of a Roman villa in a quiet spot on the outskirts of Grenchen. Not much to see other than the well and a few bits of wall, but proof there was once some culture in Grenchen.
  • 1798 memorial, Grenchen. 
  • Internment camp, Hafti. Possibly the only WW2 interment camp to be in the shape of a bunny rabbit. 

Look out towers.

  • Moron Tower. This is partly collapsed as of 2022, so might be closed for a while.
  • Tower Seedorf.
  • Aussichtsturm Chuderhüsi. Quite a way off in the Emmental, but good views of the Alps.
  • Bantiger.
  • Château d’Eau de Montmagny.