A Tour of Switzerland in Vintage Tourism Posters

From snow-drenched slopes to glistening lakes and bustling cities, Switzerland is packed with opportunities for tourists.

Luckily for us, that means there is an equally vibrant tradition of beautiful travel posters. During the leisure revolution on the 20th Century, artists created posters revealing a country that is just as famed for its design heritage as for its outdoor activities.

So, let's take a tour of Switzerland through the frame of some classic posters. We will revisit some familiar places, discover some new ones, and perhaps learn a thing or two along the way.

Touring the Alps by bright yellow post bus must have seemed dream-like in 1930. And that is exactly what this poster conveys, as the yellow road weaves its way improbably around the peaks. Here, designer Herbert Libiszewski takes us on a magical journey though the mountains.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Herbert Leupin
 

Where better to begin than at the top of the Alps?

This striking image has become synonymous with Swiss poster design. Pierre Kramer's 1931 poster depicts the two compelling reasons to visit Zermatt (as if you needed them). The symmetry and bold use of color mean you cannot take your eyes of it. Much like the Matterhorn itself.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Zermatt
 

A funicular sledge takes center stage in this simple, but now very rare poster for Gstaad.

It would look amazing on your wall, but it will set you back 10'000 francs. This is the kind of money only people who go to Gstaad have. (Nowadays, the sledge is nowhere to be seen.)

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Gstaad
 

But traveling in the Alps is not all about winter sports.

This 1929 poster by Hugo Laubi shows the sun shining over St. Moritz in all its splendor. Imagine yourself gazing over that famous valley view, silhouetted against the sunrise...

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - St. Moritz
 

Back to the center of Switzerland: Here is an unusual take on the beauty of the Bernese Oberland.

This poster both intrigues and impresses. The Trümmelbach Falls are hidden inside a mountain in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. If this poster, painted by Emil Cardinaux, does not make you want to visit, nothing will.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Trümmelbachfälle
 

Towering above the Trümmelbach Falls is the Jungfrau.

Perfect in its composition, this charming poster depicts the beauty of Switzerland in 1925. Luckily for us, the Jungfrau remains just as picturesque, but husky rides are perhaps harder to come by.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Jungfrau
 

Moving north, this poster for the Rigi-Bahn is a historical artifact.

Look closely to see the name of surrounding peaks, and a railway timetable. It is amazing to see how little this railway has changed. Apart from the billowing steam, this picture could be painted in the 21st century. It was not, as it was created by Anton Reckziefel in 1907.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Rigi-Bahn
 

In the shadow of Mt. Rigi sits the city of Luzern.

One of Otto Baumberger's illustrations, this poster captures the majesty of Luzern, reflected in the river. Anyone who has visited will recognize the bridge, here dwarfed by the surrounding towering buildings. It gives us the sense of a grand, romantic city.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Luzern
 

Nearby Zürich is a fashionable city, with a lakeside setting fringed by mountains.

A fact as true now as it was exactly a century ago, as depicted in another poster by Otto Baumberger. The sense of atmosphere is palpable here.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Zürich
 

We end our tour with much-loved illustrator Herbert Leupin's sweeping S-road.

All of Switzerland is here, mountains, lakes, towns, forests, meadows… and cows, of course. Doesn’t it make you proud?

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Herbert Leupin

For the design aficionado who would love to have one of these posters hung from a wall, most of them are available at the Artifiche Gallery in Zürich.

Tour of Switzerland - Vintage Posters - Zermatt

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Luc

Luc Benyon is a British writer and communications specialist based in Zurich. He has an unhealthy appetite for design and advertising history.
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