Celebrating its 1000th anniversary in 2011, Neuchâtel has a wonderful location between the eponymous lake and the Jura mountain chain. You can travel from the mountains to the beach in just a couple of minutes. There's a magnificent view to the Alps as well across the lake. Lac Neuchâtel itself is 38km long and 8km and thus the largest lake entirely in Switzerland.
- 1 Neuchâtel Tourism, Hôtel des Postes (in the massive post building at the lakefront), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 09:00-12:00, 13:30-17:30, Sa 09:00-12:00, in Jul and Aug longer times and open on Sunday too. The tourist office have great maps of the city, very useful for exploring the old town on foot. The office itself is located in the city's massive central post building, itself worth seeing.
Neuchâtel is served by the major train line which crosses Switzerland on the southern Jura. Trains arrive in Neuchâtel hourly, if not more often, from major Swiss cities such as Bern, Lausanne, Geneve, and Zürich. The railway station is a 15 minute walk from downtown, alternatively you can take the bus 7 or 9 towards Place-Pury or take the funicular down to the lakefront.
The nearest major airports are in Geneva and Basel, the one in Berne is chiefly for charter flights.
The A5 motorway between Basel and Geneva passes next to the city. Neuchâtel has nine car parks, six underground and three outdoors.
Thanks to the many boat lines on the lake, you can easily get into town from places like Estavayer-le-lac, Yverdon-les-Bains, Morat or Bienne. At the web site of Navigation you can find schedules and prices.
By public transport
Public transportation in Neuchâtel is fairly good. Neuchâtel has a reliable bus, tram, and train network operated by Transports Neuchâtelois (TN) [dead link] and running throughout the city itself as well as the many outlying communities, as well as other towns in the area. In addition to that public transport network also comprises three funiculars. All bus lines converge at the main square of the city, Place Pury.
You can buy a ticket from vending machines found at bus stops and there is a 24 hour pass for Fr. 7.00 which allows you to use any transport in the Neuchâtel area for 24 hours from the time of issue.
Getting around by bike is possible even if you didn't bring one. The local organization Neuchâtel roule rents bikes and biking equipment like helmets and child seats.
The old town is pedestrianized and pleasant to walk in. The way up to the railway station from downtown is fairly steep, though.
- 1 Château du Neuchâtel. The old Chateau (castle) which sits atop a small hill in the center of town houses the parliament of the Canton of Neuchâtel, as well as an old medieval cathedral. The Chateau is also situated in the midst of the city's Old Town, which features many centuries old yellow sandstone buildings and narrow cobblestone streets free, the inside of the church can be visited by guided tour only which also is free.
- 2 Collégiale. The collegial church is part of the castle complex.
- 3 Tour des Prisons. 8-18, open from Apr-Oct. Formerly prisoners were locked up here, today tourists can get up and have a view of the town and the lake below.
- 4 Église Rouge. A large red Catholic church dominates the skyline of Northeastern Neuchâtel.
- 5 Le Jardin Botanique. The permanent exhibitions and the large spaces reserved for natural environments of the Jura mountains are open for visitors around the year. Temporary scientific and artistic exhibitions are open from May to October.
- 6 Le Jardin des Senteurs. Over 2000 herbs, both medical and practical can be seen in this garden of 3000m2. This includes 350 kinds of sage, 100 kinds of geranium, many mints, rosemaries, thymes, sweet plants and 60 different fig trees. There's also a playground for kids and a small monastery.
- 7 Le Casino. The city's casino is in the Rotonde district. It has 150 slot machines, six game tables, two bars and a restaurant.
- 8 Le Gor de Vauseyon. An educational park centered around the ruins of a 17th century water mill. This is also the starting point for a hiking path leading to Valangin.
- 9 Le Funiculaire panoramique; La Coudre-Chaumont (3km northeast of the railway station). A funicular up to Chaumont, 1160m over the sea level. The gradient is steep, up to 46%. On the top there is a viewing tower from where you can see three major lakes, the Alps and even the Mont Blanc massif.
- 10 Musée d'Ethnographie, 4, rue Saint-Nicolas.. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Permanent and temporary exhibitions of artefacts and other objects from around the world - mostly from Africa. adults Fr. F8, students etc. Fr. 3.
- 11 Musée d'Histoire naturelle, 14, rue des Terreaux.. Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. Permanent exhibitions of stuffed Swiss animals in their local environment as well as insects and geology. They also have fossils on display as well as a terrarium. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions too, themed around different animals. There's a café and a shop too. adults Fr. 8, students Fr. 4, under 16 yrs free.
- 12 Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (MAHN), Esplanade Léopold-Robert 1.. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. The collection of paintings, though not very big, includes works of Pissarro, Renoir, and some other important artists. Among other exhibits a special place belongs to Jaquet-Droz automata, three 18-century life-size clockwork dolls of exquisite complexity: the musician, the draughtsman, and the writer. They can be seen in action on the first Sunday of each month. adults Fr. 8, students Fr. 4.
- 13 Les Galeries de l'Histoire, Avenue DuPeyrou 7. (in a part of the MAHN). In this gallery you can learn about the history of the city from the Middle Ages until today.
- 14 Le Laténium - Parc et Musée d'Archéologie, Espace Paul Vouga.. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. The archaeological museum shows 50,000 years of local history and is itself located in an archaeological park. adults Fr. 9, students Fr. 5.
- 15 Centre Dürrenmatt. A cultural center showcasing the life and works of the Swiss author and dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt.
Visit the old downtown with a historic center. Neuchâtel is home to several museums, including a museum of natural history and a museum of ethnography.
- 1 Le Minigolf de Neuchâtel, Quai Robert-Comtesse 4. A pleasant lakeside mini golf track for kids.
- 2 Lake Neuchâtel. One can take a stroll along the shoreline paths of Lac Neuchâtel, the largest lake located fully within Swiss borders. The lake is also suitable for swimming, although can be quite chilly. Many hiking and biking trails leads out of Neuchâtel into the surrounding Jura hills to the north and west, including the Creux-Du-Van, one of the symbols of the canton. Sailing on Lac Neuchâtel is also a very popular pursuit during the spring, summer, and fall months, when winds can blow quite strong down the long lake.
- 3 Swin Golf Club de Neuchâtel, Parc de pierre à bot. A golf course above Neuchâtel, open to everyone.
- 4 Indoor and outdoor pools at Nid-du-Crô. 25m and 50m swimming pools, slides, diving boards, wading pool as well as changing rooms and lockers. In the summer there's also a basketball court, ping-pong table and a kiosk and a snack bar.
- City Games. A role play where your police team is hunting down a fictive criminal around Neuchâtel. Participants search for leads and collect "secret codes" around the city and to successfully complete the mission they need to answer questions about the city's history. It is marketed as a new way to discover the city. Fr. 55/person, teams of min. 4 persons.
- Local wines. Try some wines from the Neuchâtel region. The local producer's organization has information of wine-related events like wine tastings, open cellars, selling events and gastronomical events.
- The walk of Chasseral (Randonnée du Chasseral). A hiking path passing Vue-des-Alpes and Chasseral.
A Swiss watch made in the Val-de-Travers.
Neuchâtel features a variety of small fashion boutiques in the downtown area; however, cheaper items of clothing can easily be purchased at the city's only shopping center, the Maladiere, which is combined with the soccer stadium near the waterfront.
Fondue Neuchâteloise, which is a speciality of Switzerland, that consists of molten cheese in which you dip bread.
Neuchâtel features an abundance of restaurants and eateries, including several Crêperies. As well, there are several chocolate shops and bakeries throughout town which sell small sugary treats at varying prices.
- 1 Munzur Croissantierie Kebab. One of the local landmarks of the town is the Kebab, or Shawarma, stand, Munzur Kebab, located at the center of Place Pury, and which remains open well into the wee hours of the morning.
- 2 Deluxe Bar, Route de la Place d'Armes. Sandwiches made on order and cold and warm drinks, one block from the lakefront.
- 3 Houky, 15 rue du Seyon (Ecluse), ☏ . An Asian restaurant for all budgets. starting from Fr. 10.
- 4 Paprika, Rue de l'Evole 39, ☏ . Paprika is an Indian restaurant that also does take-away. During local festivals, Paprika is often present with a food stand. Fr. 20-50.
- 5 La Maison du Prussien, Rue des Tunnels 11, ☏ . Gastronomical restaurant. dishes Fr. 45-70, menus Fr. 140-170.
- 6 Hôtel du Peyrou, Avenue du Peyrou 1. Fine dining in a 18th century palace, also one of the town's landmarks.
A number of regional wines, including the ones from Auvernier, Cortaillod, Hauterive and La Coudre. They may seem bitter.
Neuchâtel has many bars and clubs throughout the city center, with varying degrees of classiness. Depending on the bar, different crowds are often present.
- 1 Bar au 21, Fauborg du Lac 43. Located in the area of the university, and likewise frequented mainly by the university crowd
- 2 Les Brasseurs, Faubourg du Lac 1. A combination eatery/brewery, popular among the more trendy locals
- 3 Le Café Du Cerf, Rue Ancien Hôtel de Ville 4. A pub in the old town specializing in dozens of varieties of beers, oft frequented by Neuchâtel's English speaking populace.
- 1 Hotel L'Ecluse, Rue de l'Ecluse 24 (located a short ways back from the waterfront, still somewhat in the downtown area), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 Hotel Beaulac, Esplanade Léopold-Robert 2 (located on the waterfront as well, but further to the East of the city hub), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Hotel Palafitte, Route des Gouttes-d'Or 2, ☏ , fax: . The five star hotel "Palafitte" is located at the lake.
- 4 Hotel Alpes Et Lac, Place de la Gare 2 (located by the Gare, or train station, up the side of the hill which rises to the north of town.), ☏ , fax: .
- 5 Hotel Beau Rivage, Esplanade du Mont-Blanc 1 (located on the waterfront by Place Pury), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A very expensive and high-class affair.
Neuchâtel is a fairly safe city, but compared to the rest of Switzerland, it may have a relatively high "crime-rate". Although violent crime is unheard of, petty crime and pickpocketing is a problem. Avoid going to suspicious places like Jolimont and Serrieres after dark.
Train travel from Neuchâtel can easily take you to many of the major destinations in the area; the TGV from Bern to Paris passes through Neuchâtel, taking four hours to reach the City of Lights. Train travel to major Swiss cities is also very simple: 40 minutes to Bern, 1 hour 30 to Zürich, 40 minutes to Lausanne, around 1 hour to Geneve, and between 2 and three hours to reach destinations in the Swiss Alps such as Grindelwald, Brig, and Kandersteg.
- Murten - A small town by Lake Murten with a beautiful old town and intact defensive walls.