Sofia De Vera combines a heartfelt passion for cinema with over 15 years of critiquing for esteemed film publications, wielding academic credentials from the University of Southern California and New York University, to serve as your personal guide through the enchanting worlds of film and television.
Are you ready to spend a vacation or business trip in Switzerland? Or are you only thinking about visiting? We got you covered with a list of the best movies set in Switzerland or in which Switzerland plays a starring role.
This list contains both Hollywood blockbusters that were partly filmed in Switzerland and a few gems from the Swiss film industry. Watching some of the movies on this list will provide you with a valuable insight into a small yet highly unique European country filled with soaring mountains, alpine lakes, pristine snow, gorgeous towns, and quaint farms.
It is these emblematic elements and more that have attracted (and continue to attract) storytellers throughout the history of modern cinema and today the spirit of Switzerland has been immortalized in different films resulting in a wonderfully intricate and excellent array of movies set in Switzerland.
We love this because one of the reasons why we watch movies is that they are an excellent way to travel to different places while staying at home – and to determine if a destination elicits that oh-so-important spirit of wanderlust in us before ever investing in a ticket there.
This is what motivated us to visit Costa Rica, Italy, and Las Vegas – among many other places. Then there are those glorious moments you can step out in a real-world location and feel spontaneously transported back inside to an iconic movie scene (thus the abiding popularity of visiting Middle Earth / New Zealand or Godzilla’s Tokyo in Japan).
In Switzerland, of course, such magical places exist too and many of them are now considered iconic landmarks of Switzerland.
In the following paragraphs, we will take a deep dive into some of the most extraordinary movies set in Switzerland and the remarkable places where they are filmed.
Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.
You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.
Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best.
While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.
Point Break is an American action / thriller film directed by Ericson Core and starring Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramírez and Teresa Palmer.
The movie revolves around a young FBI agent who infiltrates a group of extreme athletes suspected of committing a series of unseen corporate heists. He goes undercover at the risk of his own life and tries to prove that these athletes are the architects of the mind-boggling crimes that rocked the financial markets around the world.
Point Break was filmed in various countries around the world. One of the most impressive stunts seen in the film is a wing suit-flying sequence that was filmed in Switzerland. These scenes were filmed at the Walensee, one of the larger lakes in Switzerland, with about two thirds located in the Canton of St. Gallen and about one third in the Canton of Glarus.
Filming was also done in Walenstadt, a municipality that is located at the lake.
Goldfinger is a British James Bond film directed by Guy Hamilton and starring Sean Connery, Honor Blackman and Gert Fröbe. It is the third installment in the James Bond series of films and remains one of the most iconic movies set in Switzerland to this day.
The movie tells the story of special agent James Bond (Connery), who comes face to face with one of the most notorious villains of all time called Goldfinger. He must outwit and outgun this powerful tycoon to prevent him from cashing in on a devious scheme to raid Fort Knox, and obliterate the world’s economy in the process.
Goldfinger was filmed mainly in the United States, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. In the movie Bond chases Goldfinger trough the Swiss Alps near the municipality of Andermatt and meets Tilly in the mountain village of the same name. We see Bond drive his Aston Martin on the Furka Pass, a high mountain pass located in the Swiss Alps that connects Gletsch, Valais with Realp, Uri.
While driving we can also spot the Rhône Glacier which is the source of the river Rhône, and the deserted Hotel Belvédère which is located near the top of the Furka Pass. The village of Realp and the city of Lucerne were also used as shooting locations.
Youth is a comedy / drama film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino and starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz. It is a co-production among Italy, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
The movie tells the story of Fred and Mick, two old friends approaching eighty, who are on vacation in a cozy hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is retired. Mick, a director, is still active. Knowing that they don’t have much time left in their lives, the two friends observe with curiosity the confused lives of their children, Mick’s eager young writers and the other hotel guests, who all still have the time they lack. And while Mick is finishing a screenplay for a movie he believes will be his last major, Fred has no intention of returning to his music career. Yet there is someone who at all costs wants to hear his music and see him lead an orchestra again.
While some filming on Youth was done in the United Kingdom and Italy, the main shooting location was the 5 star hotel Waldhaus Flims in Switzerland. The hotel is located in Flims, a resort village to the west of Chur, in the eastern Swiss canton of Graubünden. The very large Berghotel Schatzalp was also used as a shooting location. This impressive hotel is located within the biggest hotel park of Switzerland in Davos, an Alpine resort town and a municipality in the Prättigau/Davos Region in the canton of Graubünden. The train station scenes were filmed at the Davos Wiesen railway station. Additional filming took place in the municipality of Kandersteg.
Fun fact: The entire cast and crew actually stayed at the Waldhaus Flims during the entire production.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Stellan Skarsgård. The movie is based on the 2005 novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson and is a co-production of the United States, Sweden and Norway.
The film tells the story of journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig), who is given an unusual assignment. He is asked by industrialist Henrik Vanger, whose 16-year-old daughter disappeared without a trace in 1966, to write the history of his family. But what Vanger really wants is to find out the truth about his daughter Harriet. Together with computer expert Lisbeth Mikael starts the assignment. They dig deeper and deeper into the family’s past and come across dark secrets.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a few scenes that are set, and were filmed on location in Switzerland. While in Zürich the character Lisbeth Salander stays at the Dolder Grand, a 5 star hotel located on Adlisberg Hill, close to the city center. Additional Swiss scenes were filmed at Zürich Airport, the largest international airport of Switzerland, and at Zürich Hauptbahnhof, the largest railway station in Switzerland.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a British James Bond film directed by Peter R. Hunt and starring George Lazenby, Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas. It is the sixth in the James Bond series of films.
In the movie special agent James Bond prevents a young woman, Tracy Draco, from committing suicide. Her father is the leader of a powerful crime organization and he wants Bond to protect her by marrying her. In return, he will receive information that will lead him to his nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond promises to kill Blofeld, but falls in love with Tracy. When he discovers that Blofeld wants to destroy humanity with a deadly virus, he faces a difficult choice: be loyal to his country or marry Tracy.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service brings James Bond back to Switzerland while tracking Blofeld to his lair in the Swiss mountains. This was filmed on the Schilthorn Mountain in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland. The building that houses Blofeld’s clinic is actually Piz Gloria, a revolving restaurant. With Bond in Switzerland, we can spot other well-known Swiss landmarks on screen like the Jura Mountains and the Schilthorn summit.
The scenes at the train station were filmed at Lauterbrunnen, a railway station in the village and municipality of Lauterbrunnen in the canton of Bern. And in the scenes taking place in Gumbold’s Solicitors Office if you look out the window you will spot the Heiliggeistkirche, a Reformed Church located in Bern. There are many more Swiss locations to see in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, too many to list them all. A lot of these locations are tourist attractions today thanks to this film.
Fun fact: At the time of filming the Piz Gloria restaurant had not opened yet and was still under construction.
Les petites fugues is a Swiss / French comedy film directed by Yves Yersin and starring Michel Robin, Fabienne Barraud and Fred Personne.
The movie revolves around Pipe, a simple worker on an isolated Swiss farm. He comes into possession of a moped and he finds out that there is more to life than just his daily work. He discovers a new freedom, but after a while that freedom becomes too much for him to handle and he wants to go back to his farm.
Les petites fugues was shot entirely on location in Switzerland and remains one of the best movies set in Switzerland to this day. The main filming location, the farm house, is located in the municipality of Saubraz, in the district of Morges, which lies in the canton of Vaud. The chocolate factory scenes were filmed in and around a factory located in Broc, a town located in the municipality of the same name, in the district of Gruyère in the canton of Fribourg.
The railway scenes were filmed in Arnex-sur-Orbe, a municipality in the Swiss canton of Vaud, located in the district of Jura-Nord Vaudois.
Syriana is an American political thriller film written and directed by Stephen Gaghan and starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Jeffrey Wright. It is somewhat based on Robert Baer’s memoir See No Evil published in 2003.
The movie is about CIA agent Robert Barnes (Clooney), who discovers the disturbing truth behind his life’s work. A young oil trader (Damon) faces a family tragedy and seeks refuge in a partnership with an idealistic Arab prince. A corporate lawyer faces a moral dilemma during the merger of two powerful US oil companies while on the other side of the world. A Pakistani teenager falls prey to the recruiting methods of a charismatic cleric. All characters play small roles in the immense and complex system behind the oil industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have on the world.
This Hollywood blockbuster features multiple, parallel storylines taking place in various locations around the world like the United States, Spain, the Middle East, and Switzerland.
The Swiss scenes were filmed on location in Geneva, the second-most populous city in Switzerland. Filming was done around the Hotel President Wilson, a luxurious hotel located near the United Nations building on Lake Geneva. The park where the meeting takes place is located on Quai du Général-Guisan street in Geneva.
Uli der Knecht is a Swiss romantic comedy film directed by Franz Schnyder and starring Hannes Schmidhauser, Liselotte Pulver and Emil Hegetschweiler.
The movie is about Uli, a farmhand who pays more attention to drinking and women than to his work. But his boss still manages to turn Uli into a useful servant. His work is widely praised, after which Joggeli, a large landowner, asks him to become a foreman on his farm. Uli accepts the job and thus meets the beautiful daughter of his new employer. But then he will have to make a choice between her and his beloved Vreneli.
Uli der Knecht was filmed on location in various parts of Switzerland. We will name a few of them. The Boden farm scenes were filmed in Eggiwil, a municipality in the administrative district of Emmental, which is part of the canton of Bern. The church scenes were filmed at the Würzbrunnen Church, a former pilgrimage church in the municipality of Röthenbach, located in the Canton of Bern.
The Gunggle farm is today a restaurant called Zum Wilden Mann. It is located in Rüedisbach, in the Canton of Bern, which is part of the Emmental District. The Tribunal Cantonal can also be seen in the film, it is a courthouse located in Fribourg, a city and the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg and part of the district of La Sarine.
Sister is a Swiss / French drama film directed by Ursula Meier and starring Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein and Gillian Anderson. Sister won the Silver Bear award at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. It was also selected as the Swiss entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards.
The movie is about 12-year-old Simon (Klein), who lives with unemployed Louise (Seydoux) in the valley of a luxurious ski resort. He regularly takes the lift upstairs to steal all kinds of ski equipment from the tourist dressing rooms. By selling this equipment, he provides for himself and Louise’s livelihood.
Sister was filmed in various locations in Switzerland, all located inside the Canton of Valais. The scenes at the ski resort were filmed in the village of Verbier, a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps. It is widely recognized as one of the premier backcountry ski resorts in the world. The apartment building is located in the municipality of Massongex, in the district of Saint-Maurice.
The aerial tramway lifts are located in Chalais, a municipality located in the district of Sierre. The roadside selling scenes were filmed in Saxon, a municipality in the district of Martigny.
Vitus is a Swiss drama film written and directed by Fredi M. Murer and starring Teo Gheorghiu, Bruno Ganz and Julika Jenkins.
The movie revolves around Vitus (Gheorghiu), a gifted boy whose parents have determined his entire life. They have great ambitions and want him to become a famous pianist. One day Vitus is fed up with his meddling parents and the high expectations they have of him. He decides to set out to live his own life.
Vitus was filmed on location mainly in Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. Additional scenes were filmed in and around the city of Solothurn, which is located in the municipality of the same name, and is the capital of the canton of Solothurn. Waldegg Castle can also be seen in the film. This Swiss heritage site of national significance is located near Solothurn, in the municipality of Feldbrunnen-St.Niklaus that is part of the Canton of Solothurn.
The well-known Tonhalle was also used as an interior and exterior filming location. It is a concert hall located in Zürich, and home to the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, one of Switzerland’s leading orchestras. Fun fact: The final sequence of the movie was the first thing filmed. That day following an actual concert inside the Tonhalle Teo Gheorghiu played last and his performance was filmed for the movie. All the audience members served as extras, which they were notified of beforehand.
This concludes our list of the best movies in Switzerland. We hope after watching one or more of these movies you will feel the urge to visit and enjoy the Swiss Alps, beautiful lakes, impressive mountains and charming villages. It is what makes Switzerland a great destination for your vacation or business trip.