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Say what? Top 15 famous quotes about Switzerland

Switzerland is frequently referenced in popular culture, and many famous visitors have gone on the record about the Helvetic Republic.

Be it banking secrecy, direct democracy, the Swiss Alps, cheese, or chocolate: Switzerland offers lots of narratives and unique things to talk about. Authors such as Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway visited Switzerland during their lifetimes, prompting them to describe the experience in some rather interesting ways.

Here are some of the most famous quotes about Switzerland:


"(Switzerland is) a very successful but frequently frustrating alpine democracy."

Peter Coneway, former US Ambassador to Switzerland


"Switzerland would be a mighty big place if it were ironed flat."

"Switzerland is simply a large, lumpy, solid rock with a thin skin of grass stretched over it."

Mark Twain

The part about the rock is still true and will never change. However, in many parts of Switzerland, the skin of grass has been covered by concrete and pavement. Personally, I agree with this quote by Mark Twain in that I consider Switzerland to be one gigantic National Park interspersed with some towns and cities.


"I love Switzerland. It's so clean and cool. We don't get much snow where I live so I get real excited in Lausanne and Geneva. I'd like to buy a house there when I'm older and settle down. It's all so cute that it looks like a movie set."

Michael Jackson


"Switzerland is my favorite place now because it’s so – nothing.
There is absolutely nothing to do."

Andy Warhol


"I have fond memories from growing up in Switzerland and drinking a glass of warm milk with a spoonful of honey before bed."

Daniel Humm


James Joyce, the famous Irish writer, is reputed to have once said that Zürich's Bahnhofstrasse was so clean that one could drink minestrone soup off it.

I would not advise it, though. Although still one of the cleanest cities on the planet, Zürich used to be even cleaner a decade or so ago…


"Switzerland is a place where they don't like to fight, so they get people to do their fighting for them while they ski and eat chocolate."

Larry David


"Swiss cities remind me of the kid at high school who’s great at sports, has perfect hair, the best girlfriend, and the teachers all love him. He’s just too perfect."

Rick Steves

Souvenir Snow Globe of Switzerland

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance.

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Orson Welles

I beg to differ with Mr. Welles: contrary to conventional wisdom and kitsch culture, the cuckoo clock was actually invented by the Germans! And while we are on record, so were Lederhosen...


"Switzerland is a small, steep country, much more up and down than sideways, and is all stuck over with large brown hotels built on the cuckoo style of architecture."

Ernest Hemingway

Small it is, but where have all the brown hotels gone? Probably to Germany's Black Forest region, where the cuckoo clock was invented in the first place! It is amazing how many cuckoo clock references there are...


"Senator John Kerry released his plan today to eliminate the deficit. He said all we have to do is find a really rich country like Switzerland and marry it."

Jay Leno


"A U.N. study claims the happiest country in the world is Switzerland. When asked why they’re so happy, Swiss people couldn’t answer because their hands were counting money and their mouths were full of chocolate."

Conan O’ Brien


"The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever see that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there.

Corkscrews. Bottle openers. 'Come on, buddy, let's go. You get past me, the guy in the back of me, he's got a spoon. Back off. I've got the toe clippers right here."

Jerry Seinfeld


"They have a high standard of life, they speak many different dialects, they are cool. They like to party, they are proud of their Bratwurst. (…) In my opinion, Robidog is typically Swiss."

Felicie Reid, Student, North Lima/USA

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

6 comments

  • Hahhaah so basically people know nothing of my country…I’m ashamed to see none of the big names mentioned here…besides rock, grass and neutrality, we’ve harboured some of the centuries greatest minds (they may have not been Swiss, but they did do their research there). Thought I do like Orson Wells’s wit here’s a little more about the Swiss.

    To name but a few, the world wide web, the large hadron colider, Einstein, Lenin (you may argue that wasn’t a good thing), Calvin, The Red Cross, Carl Jung…it’s not bad for a country with the population the size of London.

    Besides they also missed out on Chocolate and the military biking brigade (which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore) plus the Pope’s guards.

    • I fully agree with you, Guy! Some of the most famous quotes I was able to find reflect typical stereotypes and have little to do with the many innovations from this tiny country…

  • That just confirms my love for Jerry Seinfeld. I can totally hear him say that :-D

Dimitri Burkhard

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