Things to do in Neuchatel, Switzerland
Neuchatel, or Neuenburg in German, is located on the Lake of Neuchatel in Switzerland. Neuchatel is a colorful city! It has narrow streets, colored houses, many frescoes and paintings, a street which makes you think you are in the South of Europe, and cheerful Fisherman’s cabins by the lake. We loved Neuchatel and were surprised we had actually never been here before. Now we know, we will for sure be back soon!
Things to do in Neuchatel
Belle Epoque Scavenger hunt to discover the Old Town of Neuchatel
Discover the beautiful Old Town of Neuchatel through this fun and interactive scavenger hunt suitable for the whole family! The Belle Epoque scavenger hunt is very well done and starts right in the center of town by opening the door of an old tram carriage. After a short movie in that tram which will transport you to the Belle Epoque period in time, off you go for about 2 hours of fun in Neuchatel! You will solve puzzles and search for frescoes which will guide you along the most beautiful places in the town center!
You can get your scavenger hunt kit at the tourism office in Neuchatel. We cannot say more, as you of course will have to discover the rest for yourself.
Where to eat in Neuchatel:
A highly recommended place for lunch in the Old Town of Neuchatel, is the restaurant Brasserie Le Cardinal, which is beautifully decorated in Art Nouveau style. The menu has most things you would find in a Parisian Brasserie, and the staff is super friendly.
Their website: https://www.lecardinal-brasserie.ch
A stroll by the Lake in Neuchatel
At the end of the scavenger hunt, you will be back right where you started, close to the tourism office by the lake. Take a moment to look at all the colorful fisherman’s cabins by the lake. Not one is the same, and we loved their happy colors!
Rue des Chavannes
Make sure you are on the lookout for this street during the scavenger hunt, or your stroll in the old town, because the Rue des Chavannes will transport you to the South of Europe instantly! Colored houses and laundry hanging out, a perfect Instagram spot in Neuchatel!
What to taste in Neuchatel:
Are there any local specialties from Neuchatel we were wondering? Well, several actually! Neuchatel is home to Suchard chocolate. Philippe Suchard opened his first shop in Neuchatel in 1826. What we didn’t know is that Suchard is also behind the candy every Swiss really knows: Sugus. The first 2 letters of Sugus simply come from Suchard. And then there is Absinthe which originates from the Val-de-Travers region in the Canton of Neuchatel. In Neuchatel, you will find several products with Absinthe, like for instance Absinthe chocolates!
Laténium, the biggest archeology museum in Switzerland
Just outside of Neuchatel, in Hauterive, you will find the largest archeology museum of Switzerland, Laténium. The Laténium is located on the lake, in a beautifully designed building. The Laténium takes you through the history of mankind in the region, from the Neanderthaler men, until now. The treasures found in this region are really amazing, and a lot of them were found on the bottom of the lake. The collection of Roman pieces is also impressive, which is not surprising, since Avenches (former Aventicum and Roman capital of Switzerland) is just across the lake. Stones were brought from Neuchatel to Avenches in Roman times to build the city, and some treasures from Avenches also ended up in Neuchatel.
The museum also has a special Menhir stone representing a person, the Menhir has a face, and hands. We had never seen that before!
On the outside of the museum, you can visit reconstructions of pile dwelling settlements, and a small playground for kids.
More information on Laténium: https://latenium.ch/en/
Noiraigue train station, the gateway to hikes and visits in the region of Neuchatel
Noiraigue is in the Val-de-Travers, and is the starting point of many hikes, and cultural visits like museums. At the train station, which also serves as a post office, and as a shop, you will find a great selection of local products to complete your picnic! Cheese, sausages, and chocolate with, or without, Absinthe.
The Pays de Neuchatel is surrounded by beautiful nature. One of the most famous sites is the Creux du Van, which is an impressive cliff. There is also the beautiful hike along the Gorges de l’Areuse. You can leave for this hike directly from the Noiraigue train station. The hike will lead you alongside the Areuse river. The most remarkable sight on this hike is the old stone bridge ‘Pont de Brot’ which is located between Noirague and Champ-du-Moulin (about 1 hour hiking for this part of the Gorges de l’Areuse). In Champ-du-Moulin you will find a cute buvette for some refreshments. If you are motivated to do the entire hike, you could continue all the way to Boudry (less than 3 hours in total), and take the train back to Noiraigue.
The region is not only home to natural highlights, but also to many interesting cultural sites. It will be difficult to choose from the many options! Close to Noiraigue, you will find the asphalt mines which you can visit. Our son had been with school and loved it.
More information: https://www.mines-asphalte.ch
We chose to go to the small town Motiers, which has a lot of local museums for a small town! Motiers has the Musée Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Regional Museum (Musée Régional du Val-de-Travers), and the ones we visited, the Maison de l’Absinthe and the Musée de la Grange.
Maison de l’Absinthe
Maison de l’Absinthe is much more than a museum, and that is one of the things we loved about it. Maison de l’Absinthe is also the local post office (would that not be the most special post office in Switzerland?), a place where you can take cooking classes, and an important regional museum which tells you about the history and culture around Absinthe which has its birthplace in the Val-de-Travers region! I must say before our visit I did not know Absinthe was from Switzerland! What we loved was the sweet smell in the museum, and the Absinthe syrup you can taste and which our children loved.
Musée de la Grange
Just across the street from the Maison de l’Absinthe, you will find another small museum, Musée de la Grange which is specifically dedicated to Aboriginal Art from Australia. You will not need much time for a visit, but it is a beautiful exhibition.
We stopped in the town Gorgier on the Lac de Neuchatel to see the historic ‘Pavillon des Bains’. The pavilion dates from 1907 and has a separate changing room for men and women.
Where to stay in Neuchatel:
We stayed at a Bio Hotel close to Neuchatel. Bio Hotel l’Aubier has an on-site farm with cows and produce and serve their own milk and cheese in their restaurant. The hotel also has a shop with biological products, and their own cheese and dairy products can be bought in the shop. The restaurant is good and a choice is given at dinner between a vegetarian, or meat based menu.
More information on this hotel: https://www.aubier.ch/en/friendly-organic.html
If you prefer to stay in the old town center of Neuchatel, l’Aubier also has a hotel there, at a beautiful location in the historic heart: https://www.aubier.ch/en/organic-cafe-hotel.html
Our trip to Neuchatel was hosted, our reviews and opinions are our own.
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