The 'world's scariest' suspension bridge at Titlis. Photo: Oscar Nenander/Swiss Tourism
So it’s hardly surprising that both the country and its residents hold numerous world records. Here are some of most impressive. Know of any others? Let us know in the comments below.
1. World’s longest train tunnel: Gotthard Base Tunnel
The Gotthard Base Tunnel opened for scheduled train services in December 2016. At 57km it’s the longest train tunnel in the world. It travels under 2,300m of rock at its deepest point and cuts the journey time from Zurich to Lugano by 45 minutes. However, perhaps even more astounding is that the 20-year construction project for the Gotthard Base Tunnel came in on time and on budget. How very Swiss.
2. World’s steepest cogwheel railway: Pilatusbahn
Photo: Christian Perret/Swiss Tourism
Opened in 1889, this railway near Lake Lucerne winds its way over 4km and 1,635m elevation change from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm, reaching a maximum gradient of 48 degrees. Its max speed is 9km/hr.
3. World’s longest staircase: Niesen
The world’s longest staircase is only open once a year. Located alongside a railway line in the Bernese Alps, it has 11,674 steps stretching over a steep 3.4km. Every June the annual Niesen Treppen Lauf is a gruelling competition to see who is fastest to climb it. The rest of the year, the staircase is closed to the public.
4. World’s first revolving cable car: Titlis
Also near Lake Lucerne, the Titlis Rotair gondola rotates 360 degrees as it transports sightseers and skiers up to 3,020m altitude.
5. “World’s scariest suspension bridge”: Titlis Cliff Walk
Not one for the faint-hearted, this vertigo-inducing suspension bridge is just one metre wide,100m long and is strung 500m above a glacier. Located at around 3,000m above sea level on Mount Titlis, the bridge was dubbed the “world’s scariest” by a UK newspaper when it opened in 2012. Of course, that’s a matter of opinion…
6. World’s only peak-to-peak suspension bridge: Glacier 3,000
Opened in 2014, the Tissot Peak Walk is a 107m suspension bridge connecting Glacier 3,000 with Scex Rouge, the only bridge in the world to link two mountaintops.
7. World’s longest downhill ski race: Lauberhorn-Wengen
Held in January, the famous Lauberhorn-Wengen downhill ski race takes place on the world’s longest ski run, of over 4.4km. First held in 1930, the Swiss-televised event now attracts well over one million viewers and spectators each year.
8. World’s longest rowing race: Tour du Lac
The annual Tour du Léman à l’Aviron (Tour du Lac) is the longest non-stop rowing race in the world, covering 160km in Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). The regatta is held in September.
9. Most paragliding championships won by a national team: Switzerland
Hardly a weekend goes by when you won’t spot a bunch of paragliders making their graceful descent from nearby mountains in Switzerland. Look closely and you might even spy a true master, because the Swiss team holds the most FAI World Championship titles in this sport, having won the event seven times between 1991 and 2005.
10. Most men's grand slam singles titles ever: Roger Federer
Possibly the country’s most recognizable resident, Roger Federer in January won his 20th grand slam singles title when he clinched the Australian Open, making him a men's tennis world record holder.
11. World's longest freedive: Peter Colat
Freediver Peter Colat from Zurich set the world record for holding his breath underwater when he lasted a cheek-popping 21 minutes and 33 seconds in a diving pool in St Gallen in 2011. He also holds a freedive depth record for diving 150 metres below ice.
12. Fastest ascent of the Eiger north face: Ueli Steck
Ueli Steck, who tragically died in April, set the Eiger speed record for the fastest ascent of the north face of the Eiger not once, but three times. His last in 2015 is the current world record and at 2 hours 22 minutes 50 seconds, shaving around five minutes off the previous record.
13. Highest cliff jump: Laso Schaller, Ticino
Brazilian-born, Swiss-raised Laso Schaller made the highest-ever recorded cliff jump in canton Ticino in 2015 when he plunged 58.5 metres down the Cascata del Salto waterfalls in Maggia.
14. World’s highest basketball shot: Valais
An Australian stunt group called “How Ridiculous” achieved the world’s highest basketball shot in Switzerland in September 2016. Derek Herron of How Ridiculous threw the 180.968 m high hoop from the top of Mauvoisin dam in the Valais, setting a Guinness World Record. Watch it here.
15. World’s biggest poster: Geneva
In 2016, as the Swiss referendum on introducing a universal minimum income approached, campaigners in Geneva set a record by creating the world’s biggest poster (8,115m2) to draw attention to the issue.
16. World’s smallest whisky bar: Graubünden
In the tiny town of Santa Maria in the Val Müstair, Graubünden, the Smallest Whisky Bar On Earth stocks more than 260 types of whisky in a pocket-handkerchief size premises. The bar’s floor area is just 8.53m2.
17. Most alphorns in concert: Swiss Pavilion, Expo Milano
The Swiss, unsurprisingly, hold the record for the largest number of alphorns being played in concert. The latest record was set in 2015 on the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy, and involved 420 Swiss alphorn players who were brought together as part of the Swiss Pavilion’s contribution to Expo Milano. Prior to that, the record number was 366 alphorns played on Gornergrat in 2009.
18. World’s largest igloo: Zermatt
The world’s biggest ever dome igloo was built by Iglu Dorf in January 2016 in the ski resort of Zermatt. Measuring 10.5m tall and with an internal diameter of 12.9m, Iglu Dorf took a team of 18 people three weeks to create.
19. World’s fastest phone book ripper: Albert Walter
The world record for tearing a fat phonebook in half was set by Zurich man Albert Walter in Portugal in 2014. Walter tore the 1,551-page Munich phone book in half in 9.3 seconds.
20. World’s largest Swiss army knife: the Wenger Giant
This large, rather unwieldy looking beast was created by Delémont-based Wenger SA in 2007 (Wenger sold the Swiss army knife arm of its business to Victorinox in 2013). The Wenger Giant contains 87 different tools and is the length of an adult hiking boot. Keen to purchase one? They sell online for U$1,300-$4,000.
21. World’s fastest boogie woogie player: Nico Brina
Swiss pianist and singer Nico Brina was awarded this honour in the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records. What is boogie-woogie playing? This video of Brina tickling the ivories at record speed gives you an idea.
Food & drink
22. World’s largest bottle of wine
Swiss car dealership Vogels Offroads presented the world’s largest-ever bottle of wine to the world in Lyssach in October 2014. The wine bottle is 4.17m tall, 1.21m in diameter and contained 3,094 litres of vino.
23. World’s longest skewer of kebab meat
The Swiss being quite partial to a lunchtime kebab, it’s perhaps no surprise they hold the record for the world’s longest skewer of kebab meat, produced by Bernese butchers Meinen AG in May 2011. Weighing in at 350kg, the huge kebab was cooked on a 30-metre grill that used 500kg of charcoal.
24. World’s largest chocolate firework
Who else but Nestlé would produce such a thing? The world’s biggest chocolate firework was 3m high, 1.5m in diameter and was set off as part of the New Year celebrations in Zurich’s Hechtplatz on December 31st 2002. When it exploded, the firework released 60kg of Cailler chocolates over the no-doubt ecstatic crowd.
25. World’s longest raclette oven
The world’s largest raclette oven measured 100m long and was created by Swiss cheese company Mifroma. The oven was set up in Bern’s Bärenplatz and was electricity-free, with the heat coming from 2,600 tea light candles. The oven held 860 raclette pans and was declared a Guinness World Record in 2014.
26. World’s largest fondue set
With a 2.6m diameter pot and two forks measuring 2.61m long, the world’s largest recorded fondue set was created by the Semsales Football Club in Fribourg to celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2010. (Incidentally, the world’s largest-ever fondue was recorded in Wisconsin USA in 2012 – come on Switzerland!)
27. Most chocolate consumed per capita
The residents of Switzerland consume the most chocolate per capita of any country on earth. According to 2015 figures, we eat a hefty 8.98kg (19.8lbs) per year. Although, perhaps surprisingly, the Swiss are ranked 8th for most cheese consumed per capita, losing out to both France (1) and Germany (2).
28. World’s longest Mille Feuille
A group of bakers in Geneva created this monster back in 2012. The giant pastry took four hours to produce and was over a kilometre long — 1,221.67m to be exact. Once it had been confirmed by the Guinness World Record judges, the chocolate and cream-filled, cherry-glazed treat was sliced up and sold for charity.
29. World’s fastest electric car: Grimsel, Zurich
Grimsel is the name of an electric vehicle that was developed by university students from ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Science and the Arts. Grimsel achieved a Guinness World Record in June 2016 when it accelerated from 0 to 100km/h in just 1.513 seconds over a distance of less than 30m.
30. World’s smallest inkjet printed colour image: ETH Zurich
In October 2015 a team from Scrona, an ETH Zurich university spin-off, produced the world’s smallest inkjet-printed colour image, achieving a Guinness World Record. The picture is 0.0092 mm² – approximately the width of a human hair – it contains 256 colours and shows an image of clownfish in an anemone.
31. World’s largest machine: Large Hadron Collider, CERN
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research located on the Swiss-French border, has several Guinness World Records. In 2008 it was officially declared the largest, heaviest and most complex machine ever built, consisting of a 27km-long circular tunnel underground. It has also been recognized for demonstrating the first proof of the Higgs boson particle.
32. First solar powered round-the-world flight: Solar Impulse
In 2016 the two Swiss creators of solar plane Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, completed the first round-the-world flight by solar plane, setting eight world records including longest flight, highest flight and first circumnavigation of the globe by solar power.