Newly Swissed Online Magazine

8 Famous Quotes about Switzerland

Switzerland - Weltwoche Cover - Copyright Mattias Adolfsson

Just to be clear: We never had any access to Wikileaks cables on Switzerland. Because, as it turns out, getting a hold of top-secret information requires more skills than typing into a browser.

But if some famous and publicly available quotes about Switzerland is what you were looking for, look no further:


"(Switzerland is) a very successful but frequently frustrating alpine democracy." (Peter Coneway, former US Ambassador to Switzerland)

Now that we got this out of the way, let's see how some more or less famous people have described Switzerland!


"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, the skin of grass has made way to armor of concrete in many parts of Switzerland. Nonetheless, I still look at this country as one gigantic National Park!


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. Although still one of the cleanest cities on the planet, Zürich used to be even cleaner a decade or so ago...


"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 the 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)

Nice try.


"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 back of me, he's got a spoon. Back off. I've got the toe clippers right here." (Jerry Seinfeld)

Funny! More on this weapon here.


"They have a high standart 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)

Do you agree? Disagree?

(Pictures from here)

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.


  • 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

Get our newsletter

* = required field

Are you a cheese lover?

For your bucket list

Download our e-book: 77 Facts about Switzerland