Solothurn is a town in Switzerland, in the Berne Region at the southern edge of the Jura Mountains, on the River Aare, the capital of the canton of Solothurn. It's also known as St. Ursen City, Wengi City, the City of Ambassadors. Some say it's Switzerland's most beautiful baroque city and the city of culture.
Pronounced like SOLL-Low-Toorn for English speakers, it is called Soleure in French and Soletta in Italian; the average visitor will not need to know these, but it might help to understand references or announcements.
With a population of 17,000, Solothurn is small even by the standards of Switzerland. The town and canton are traditionally Catholic, but not strictly so and the only concern for the average visitor will be if the shops are closed for a holiday. There are churches of various denominations in Solothurn.
Solothurn's history dates back to Roman times. As early as 350 BC the Romans built their "Castrum Salodurum", a bell-shaped walled fort. The remains can still be seen at Friedhofplatz and in Löwengasse.
Because the French ambassadors to Switzerland had their seat in Solothurn from 1530 to 1792, the city is also called "Ambassadorenstadt" ("city of ambassadors"). Solothurn still bears signs of the presence of the ambassadors and their lavish lifestyle. The name St. Ursen City recalls the legend of the two Roman legionnaires, Urs and Victor, who were beheaded in Solothurn due to their Christian beliefs. In honour of their martyrdom and the associated miracles, both were declared city saints. St. Ursen Cathedral dominates the city skyline and is its emblem. The third popular nickname Wengistadt refers to Niklaus von Wengi, a Catholic mayor of Solothurn in the 16th century who prevented a religious war between the Catholic and Protestant Solothurners, according to legend by standing in front of a cannon that was ready for shooting, declaring that he should be the first burgher to die if his fellow Catholics were willing to attack the Protestants. A large painting showing Wengi in front of the cannon is on display in the Altes Zeughaus military museum.
Solothurners are very fond of the number 11. With 11 museums, fountains, chapels and churches, and a clock with a dial that only shows 11 hours, and there are numerous references to 11 in the design and construction of the cathedral. Not to mention the local beer called Öufi Bier ("Eleven Beer"). A possible reason for this is that Solothurn was the 11th canton to join Switzerland.
Solothurn is a German-speaking town but, as in the rest of Switzerland, communication in French and English is easy in the city centre. Solothurn is not a common destination for international tourists, but the presence of several international companies in the city and the area makes it common to hear English on any walk around the town.
Solothurn has a four-season climate typical to central Europe. Temperature in winter is usually around zero degrees, which means that snow can linger or melt away. Summers are warm with temperature in the 20s and increasingly in the 30s. The nearby Jura mountains are significantly colder than in the valley, with snow remaining well into spring.
During autumn and winter temperature inversions results in fog building up over the Swiss flatland. Whilst not the worst place for fog in Switzerland, it can still be bad and leave the city blanketed in a thick grey fog for days on end. Typically this period lasts from October to February.
Solothurn has direct hourly railway connections to Zurich Airport (1 hr 20 min) and Geneva Airport (2 hours). Basel EuroAirport is reached with changes at Olten and Basel SBB (1 hr 30 min). Bern Belp airport is also nearby (1 hr 20 min with train and bus), but offers only a limited selection of destinations (as of early 2020, mainly holiday destinations for Swiss tourists). Small Grenchen Airport is by far the closest (about 11 km from Solothurn city centre by road), but does not have any regular scheduled or charter flights. It is used for private transport, recreational flying and training.
- 1 Solothurn Main Station.
Solothurn is well served by the Swiss Federal Rail (SBB) system. Intercity trains running along the southern foot of the Jura provide fast and direct trains along the east/west axis of Switzerland as far as Zürich, Rorschach, Lausanne, and Geneva. A direct connection to Bern is provided by the slower S-Bahn like RBS. Slower regional trains also run along the south foot of the Jura stopping at more points along the way (to Biel or Olten), into the Jura (to Moutier), and to the Emmental (Burgdorf and various stops on the direct BLS train to Thun). Solothurn station also functions as a hub for regional bus and tram transport in the city and greater region. Check the SBB website for timetable information.
The E25 autobahn provides connections to other major cities in the country.
Underground car parks (Bieltor, Baseltor, Dornacherplatz) provide ample parking right next to the old town.
- 2 BSG Solothurn-Biel. Solothurn is also connected by boat to the bilingual town of Biel/Bienne. Boats by the BSG take 2 hours 50 minutes to complete the journey between the two towns, stopping also in the towns of Altreu, Grenchen and Büren. Service is limited, however: As of 2018, boats leave three times a day except Mondays from May to September (there is an additional evening boat on Wednesdays with service only as far as Grenchen) and twice a day in October. There is no service from the last week of October until April.
The town is small enough to be easily explored on foot. The old town is 500 m north of the train station, across the river. The best view when approaching the old town from the train station is attained by using the Kreuzackerbrücke foot bridge, not one of the larger bridges. For destinations outside of the town centre a number of regional bus/train/tram routes service the area, or a taxi rank can be found at the station.
- Solothurn Old Town. The old town is easily fully explored on foot within an hour or two at the most. Farmer's markets are held in the old town every Wednesday and Saturday morning. Cultural festivals or events are held in or near the old town on most weekends. Many cafes and bars are scattered around, the river front ones are especially pleasant on a warm summers evening. The Solothurn tourism office is located at Hauptgasse 69 (by the Cathedral). free.
- 1 St. Ursenkathedrale / Kathedrale St. Urs und Viktor (Solothurn Cathedral). The cathedral is impossible to miss as it dominates the Solothurn skyline. Entry into the cathedral is free. You can go up the tower which offers views over the town, river valley, Jura mountains, and on a clear day a panorama of the Alps. The tower entrance is on the outside of the building at the rear of the Cathedral. The cost is stated at the entrance door and you pay when you reach the top of the tower which serves as the cashier/gift shop. The tower is closed in winter.
- 2 Zeitglockenturm (Clock tower). A clock tower overlooking the main square. The building is the oldest in Solothurn and there is an astronomical clock similar to the Zytglogge in Bern. It features a verse in German and Latin, probably by Glarean (1488-1563), that states that there is "no older city in Gaul than Solothurn, except Trier", and calls these cities sisters.
- 3 Bastion (To the north-east of the old town outside the Baseltor.). A section of the towns fortifications that were not torn down and now serve as a park where visitors can walk along or below the walls. The walk along the wall offers an easy (and free) view of the Alps on a clear day. A number of events take place in the park. A unique sight is the Soldatendenkmal (soldier's monument) which commemorates the Swiss soldiers that died in service watching the borders during the world wars. Free.
- 4 11i Uhr (11 Clock) (Located next to the Coop supermarket outside the Bieltor.). A modern novelty clock by an artist from the region which only has 11 hours, referring to Solothurn's special fondness for this number. At 11:00, 12:00, 17:00 and 18:00 the clock plays the Solothurn Song.
- 5 Naturmuseum Solothurn (Solothurn Natural History Museum). Mostly focused on the local fauna, flora, and geology in very well put together exhibits. There is also a temporary exhibition in the basement which changes every 6 months or so. Information is mostly only in German. Free.
- 6 Kunstmuseum Solothurn (Solothurn Art Museum) (on the north side of the old town by the bastion). Contains a number of surprisingly big names for such a small town, for example the "Solothurner Madonna" by Hans Holbein the Younger, other old master paintings, as well as impressive paintings by Hodler, other modern artists (including van Gogh and Klimt) and a collection of Swiss contemporary art. A peculiar point of interest is the Wellington boot sculpture, by Roman Signer, over the pool outside which is periodically propelled around a swing by a water jet shooting out of the heel. Free.
- 7 Museum Altes Zeughaus (Old Arsenal Museum), Zeughausplatz 1. A large collection of weapons and armour. The old building itself is very impressive too, and is turned into a giant advent calendar from the outside during December. Fr. 6 (adult).
There are a number of spots of interest a short walk or ride from the centre.
- 8 Schloss Blumenstein, Blumensteinweg 12. A palace that is host to a historical museum. The museum is located in the suburbs 15 minutes walk from the old town, or take bus 4 to "Solothurn, Kantonsschule". Free.
- 9 Einsiedelei im der Verenaschlucht (Hermitage in the Verena gorge). A church and house in a gorge in the forest. Reached by following the footpath signs for "Einsiedelei" with a 30- to 45-minute walk north of the city (15 minutes through pleasant housing, and 30 through the forest along the Verena gorge), or take bus 4 to "Rüttenen, Brüggmoos". The hermitage and gorge are a beautiful place to walk around, especially in the evenings when candles are lit and placed in between the rocks throughout the gorge. Free.
- 10 Schloss Waldegg, Waldeggstrasse 1, Feldbrunnen. A palace that is partially open as a museum dedicated to the Solothurn aristocracy from the 17th to 19th centuries. Located a 5-minute walk from the Verenaschluct, or take the tram to Feldbrunnen. Fr. 6.
- Schloss Landshut, Schlossstrasse 17, 3427 Utzenstorf. A picturesque schloss with a moat set in a well tended garden. The park and café in the schloss courtyard are free to enter, with entry into the building itself limited to the museum of hunting (Fr. 7 adult). 20 minutes from Solothurn via the RBS to Bätterkinden and bus to "Utzenstorf, Schloss Landshut", or a 12-km walk/cycle along the Emme river.
- ExtraBall, Obachstrasse 34. A pinball machine collection that opens one night a month. Serves drinks and tapas.
Along the Aare
- Hiking and biking along the Aare. Options are available in the Aare river valley offering very flat trails through farmland and along the river banks. There are a large number of spots where you can safely enter the water, often with a stone firepit to cook at. Wildlife can also be easily found, with deer and beavers in the wild within a few km of the city.
- Swim in the Aare. June-August. During the summer months the river fills with people swimming or floating slowly along on inflatable tubes (or giant unicorns). There are lots of options for entry points in the centre of town or if you follow the river along in either direction. Generally the Aare is safe around Solothurn with a slow flow and a low level of river traffic. There is also a guarded section of the river at the Freibad an der Aare, which also has changing rooms and swimming pools (Fr. 6 adult entry). Free.
- Attisholz Areal. A long disused factory complex on the river that is being converted into a public park, art, music, and cafe/restaurant space. A 6-km walk/ride along the Aare (1 hr by foot from the old town), or you can take the regional train to Luterbach-Attisholz. Free.
- [dead link] Stork colony at Altreu. April to September. Altreu is a small village on the river with a very large number of storks and an information center. During the summer nesting season, there are storks on every bit of rooftop. There is also the riverside Grüne Affe restaurant. Altreu is reached by car, bike/hike along the river, boat, or train with a bus connection.
- Visit Büren an der Aare or Wangen an der Aare. Two villages that are roughly 15 km upstream (Büren) or downstream (Wangen) from Solothurn. Both have a small but pretty old town on the riverside with a covered wooden bridge. Büren can be reached by boat or bus from Solothurn, Wangen by train, or in both cases hiking or biking along the Aare is a nice option.
Other activities around Solothurn.
- Wolfschlucht. A deep gorge in the 2nd chain of the Jura. A bus stop at the base of the gorge lets you start at the entrance then drop down to Welschenrohr afterwards.
- [dead link] Burgäschisee (13 km from the centre). A lake. Visitors can walk around the lake (30 minutes), swim in the wild or at the Lido, and hire a boat. The Restaurant Seeblick is also on the shore.
- Explore the Bucheggberg. A raised area of land to the south west of Solothurn that is filled with rolling hills, forests, and villages. Makes for good hiking and road/gravel bike exploration.
- See a game of Hornussen. The Swiss sport of Hornussen (best described as a mix of cricket, golf, and hammer toss) is played in the region around Solothurn and the Emmental. Every village to the south east of Solothurn will have at least one Hornussen club. The Grenchen Club is one of the easier to see for visitors.
- Castles. Following the feet of the Jura along to Oensingen and through to Balsthal are a number of castles (Schloss Bipp, Burg Neu-Bechburg, Alt-Falkenstein, Ruine Neu-Falkenstein). Bipp and Neu-Bechburg are mostly closed to the public but can be admired from the outside, Alt-Falkenstein is open as a museum on weekends, Neu-Falkenstein is a ruin that is fully open with a tower that can be climbed for impressive views up the valley.
- Kürbis-Erlebniswelt (Lüterkofen pumpkin farm), Kesslergasse 30, 4571 Lüterkofen. August to October. A farm that turns into a pumpkin-themed playground and experience area for children in autumn.
- Jura World of coffee, Kaffeeweltstrasse 1, 4626 Niederbuchsiten (Drive or take the train to "Oberbuchsiten".). A series of themed rooms tell the story of coffee and the Jura coffee machine company. There is also a cafe and showroom/shop for the companies' products. 9 CHF adult (including a coffee).
The Hausberg (Home/local mountain) of Solothurn is Weissenstein. From the Kurhaus hotel/restaurant at Weissenstein itself there is a view over the Swiss plateau to the Alps, with the local peaks of Röti and Hasenmatt offering even more extensive views along the Jura and to the Vosges in France and Black Forest in Germany. With easy access and good views the mountain is a popular destination in the region, especially in winter when visitors can escape for the fog in the valley and enjoy sunshine and clear alpine views. At night three lights at the Kurhaus are turned on, creating an iconic symbol of Solothurn that can be seen from far away.
There are a number of restaurants along the ridge eg: at the cable car station the Kurhaus/Hotel Weissenstein offers table and self service food.
Getting to Weissenstein:
- Cable car. A modern cable car built in 2014 offering a fast 10-minute ride from just above the village of Oberdorf to the Kurhaus hotel complex at Weissenstein. The lower cable car station has ample car parking, or is reached at the stop (Oberdorf SO) on the train route to Moutier, or by the number 1 bus to Oberdorf (get off at the last stop and follow the marked walking path over the fields for 5-10 minutes). Be aware of the hourly train times and plan to board the cable car down 15-20 minutes before your train to avoid a long wait at the station. Fr. 28 adult return.
- Postbus to Balmberg. A Postbus runs from Solothurn station to "Oberbalmberg, Kurhaus" on the Balmberg Pass roughly every 2 hours. It is much cheaper than the cable car. You can follow the paths to Weissenstein (1 hr, easy), walk back down to Solothurn via the ruined fortification at Balm (2 hr 30 min, easy), or walk along the ridge to the northeast (Fr. 14.80 adult return).
- Drive. Visitors can drive up to and over the ridge on the Weissensteinstrasse running from Solothurn to Gänsbrunnen. The road is narrow and parking is limited at the top, the road is closed to traffic on Sundays and during the winter. Another alternative is to drive to the pass at Balmberg which offers more parking and the south side is kept open year round.
- Hike. There are multiple paths leading up from all around the ridge. Signs lead from the center of Solothurn (4 hours).
The ridgeline is relatively flat allowing for easy hikes, those looking for a challenge can push out further along the ridge or take the steeper routes up or down from the ridge.
- An easy and popular family friendly walk is taking the relatively flat 40-minute walk along the ridge to the restaurant at Hinterweissenstein.
- The highest point of the Weissenstein ridge is Röti (1395m) which has full panoramic views of the region, reached by a 40-minute gentle uphill walk from the Kurhaus to the east.
- The "Planetenweg" (planet walk) starts with the Sun at the Kurhaus and carries on to Pluto close to Grenchenberg to the west. The highest point in all of the canton of Solothurn, Hasenmatt (1444m) is also reached by walking into that direction, with different paths leading to the summit (about 5km from the Kurhaus, depending on the route).
- A downhill trail runs from Nesselboden (the middle cable car station) down to Oberdorf. Bikes can be carried up on the cable car.
- Chasseral–Weissenstein Bike - Stage 2, Sonceboz–Solothurn.
- The path to Hinterweissenstein is turned into a prepared path, with snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing options along the ridge. The Weissensteinstrasse (on both the north and south sides) is turned into a sledging track. There are ski lifts at Balmberg and Grenchenberg, the pistes are small and limited compared to the Alps but they are very practical for visiting when in Solothurn.
- Seilpark Balmberg. A tree top ropes course.
- Paragliding. Weissenstein is a popular paragliding take-off point. Tandem sessions can be arranged.
Events and festivals
Solothurn has a number of annual festivals and events. Check the relevant websites or the official city website for the exact dates, which vary by year.
- Fasnacht (Carnival). Takes place in the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. Luzern and Basel have bigger and more famous carnivals, but the Solothurn one is still full of life and is mostly attended by locals giving it more of an authentic atmosphere. Starting with a bang on Maundy Thursday, the whole town puts on fancy dress and goes crazy for a week. People in costume can be found watching brass bands play Guggenmusik everyday. Pop-up bars appear all over the old town, with people also bringing their own drinks. The main events of interest are: Chesslete (Thursday at 05:00) The parade starts the events off with residents of the town dressed in white gowns and making as much noise as possible by any means. Grosser Umzug (Sunday and Tuesday at 14:31) A parade of floats and marchers, passes through the old-town throwing confetti and sweets at onlookers. Böögg (Wednesday at 20:00) Essentially a giant wickerman filled with explosives which is burnt to bring the event to a close. A number of other smaller events take place during the time - check the website for more info. Be warned when booking accommodation that most of the old town is filled with loud music until the early hours of the morning on the Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday nights. Fasnacht is very much a love/hate thing; whilst some people will take the time off work and party for a week, others will flee to a quieter place. Free (however the event is supported by attendees buying Plaketten (badges) starting from around Fr. 8, this is mostly voluntary unless you want to get into the old town during the parade on Sunday).
- Beer Days. Late April. A popular beer festival show casing a whole range of local beer.
- Solothurner Literaturtage. Late May. A multilingual literature festival focussing on current Swiss literature. Founded in 1979.
- Slow Up. Mid June. Some roads are closed off, allowing cyclists and roller skaters to take over the roads on loops through the Buechibärg region, varying from 11 km to 46 km. Free.
- Märetfest (Market Festival). Late June. A large street market and music festival. The streets of the old town fill up with stalls selling food/drink and handicrafts, a number of stages for live music are also setup. Free.
- Weissenstein Schwinget (next to the cable car station on Weissenstein). July. A Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) contest.
- [dead link] Swiss National Day fireworks (in the trench around the defences at the north east of the old town). August 1st, 22:15. A firework display. Free.
- [dead link] Solothurner Chästag (Solothurn Cheese Day). Early September. A showcase of local cheese products to eat or take away. Activities for children such as a petting zoo too. Free.
- HeSo - Herbstmesse Solothurn (Solothurn autumn fair). Late September. In a number of large pavilions and tents outside the Baseltor, this showcases businesses and products from the region. Almost every shop in Solothurn and the area will have a stall here. Bars and restaurants are scattered among kitchen displays and whirlpool salesmen in a strange but fun mix. Events like pig racing and late night club tents keep it from feeling like a trade show. Free.
- Advent im Kloster, Kapuzinerkloster Solothurn, Kapuzinerstrasse 18, 4500 Solothurn. Late November. Christmas market showcasing local products in a former monastery. A 5-minute walk out of the old town from the Baseltor. Free entry.
- Chlausemäret (Santa Market.). Early December. Held on only two days in early December and hidden in the Friedhofplatz this little market is easy to miss. The cosy setting and red decoration theme make it worth a visit however. Stalls offer typical Christmas Market food/drink and handicrafts. Free.
- [dead link] Solothurner Weihnachtsreise (Solothurn Nativity Play). Mid-December. An enactment of the nativity story in the streets of the old town.
- Soledurner Wiehnachtsmäret (Christmas Market). Mid December. A Christmas market held across the river from the old town for 5 days. Free.
Shows and theaters
- Stadttheater Solothurn.
- Kofmehl. A well known concert venue, a 5- to 10-minute walk from the old town. A surprising number of international bands go there in addition to (and sometimes rather than) the bigger towns in the area. Check their website for listings.
There are also a number of small cinemas showing a mixture of mainstream films and special interest. Most mainstream Hollywood films are only shown with German dubbing, anyone wanting to see films in English may have to go to Biel/Basel/Bern instead.
As with most other cities in Switzerland, store opening and closing hours in Solothurn are strictly regulated. All stores, including supermarkets, close by 18:30 from Monday to Friday. An exception is on Thursdays when they can remain open until 21:00 in Solothurn, and on Friday when the Ladedorf shopping centre in nearby Langendorf is open until 21:00. On Saturdays shops close by 17:00 (often 16:00; but 18:00 in the Ladedorf shopping centre). On Sundays all stores are closed, except for those in the main railway station which are open 7 days a week until 22:00. In addition many of the smaller and independent shops are closed on Mondays.
A number of mainstream and specialised shops can be found in the old town. The largest and more mainstream shops are on the Hauptgasse and Gurzelngasse, with smaller shops scattered around the lanes and squares.
- Stadt-Chäsi, Gurzelngasse 19. A small grocery shop in the old town with a large selection of cheese. A good option for picking up local products.
- Bäckerei Müller, Pfisterngasse 12. A popular bakery, noted for their woodfire oven.
- Kunstsupermarkt, Schöngrünstrasse 2, 4500 Solothurn. A large art shop with the goal of selling original works at affordable prices, open each year only from ca. November to January). Fr. 100-600.
There are no supermarkets in the old town but a number of medium sized supermarkets are a short walk outside. Coop and Migros supermarkets can be found between the Bieltor and Solothurn West. Aldi at Dornacherstrasse 26-28 by the main station. And Lidl at Werkhofstrasse 29d to the north of the old town.
There is a small Coop and Avec at the main station. These offer a limited range of products, but are open everyday and for longer hours than the other shops.
Larger retailers and retail parks can be found outside on the town edges.
- Ladedorf (Weissenstein road towards Langendorf/Oberdorf; city bus no. 1 to Oberdorf, station "Ladendorf", it's also close to the Langendorf station of the Solothurn-Moutier railway line (S21).). An indoor shopping centre dominated by Migros with a standard supermarket, sports, clothing, chemist and electronics chains. Also has a small post office for basic postal services (Postagentur).
- Birchi Center, Dorfackerstrasse 45, 4528 Zuchwil. A shopping centre. A number of larger retailers can also be found in the surrounding area.
- Wochenmarkt (Weekly Market), Hauptgasse and Gurzelngasse. W 07:15 - 12:15, Sa 07:15 - 12:15. A farmers market held twice a week selling local produce in the old town. The Saturday market is much larger in terms of stalls and attendance (and is as much a social event as it is for shopping).
- Monatsmarkt (Monthly Market), Hauptgasse and Gurzelngasse. Second Monday of the month 08:00 - 18:00. A general market with stalls selling a range of products.
Solothurn has a surprisingly large number of restaurants for such a small town. Italian and Swiss are the most common, with a few Thai restaurants being the more exotic options. There will always be a table free somewhere, but it is recommended to reserve if you want to eat at a particular restaurant on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
A local speciality is Soledurner Wysüppli (Solothurn wine-soup) which can be found at many restaurants in the town, there is also Solothurner torte, a dessert with cream sandwiched between two biscuits. You're bound to like this if you like the Luxemburgerli of Sprungli in Zurich.
Those spending a long period of time in Solothurn can purchase a voucher booklet Zwei für Eins (two for one) which runs from October to October and offers two one for select meals/drinks at a number of businesses in the area.
Kebab shops and similar cheap take-aways are doted around the town.
- Pittaria, Theatergasse 12, ☏ . Middle Eastern food offering falafel, haloumi, shish kebab, etc. to eat in or take away. Fr. 12-25.
- Zur grünen Ecke, Gerberngasse 5, 4500 Solothurn. A cherished pizzeria in Solothurn
- Bistro Vorstadt, Hauptbahnhofstrasse 6. Near the main railway station. Low prices (for Switzerland), often frequented by English-speaking guests.
- Zunfthaus zu Wirthen, Hauptgasse 41. Swiss.
- Trattoria Pizzeria da Daniele, Goldgasse 15. Italian.
- Jägerstübli, Stalden 6. Swiss.
- Härdöpfu-Huus, Berntorstrasse 11. Very Swiss. The menu offers 11 dishes. The menu is only in Swiss-German, though the staff will likely be able to help translate to English (or translate it online beforehand).
- Kreuz, Kreuzgasse 4, email@example.com. Was the first "cooperative pub" in Switzerland and still has an "alternative" feel to it. Swiss-International cuisine of good quality. Also has budget hotel rooms.
- Baseltor, Hauptgasse 79.
- Salzhaus, Landhausquai 15.
- Restaurant Steakhaus Löwen, Löwengasse 15.
- La Couronne, Hauptgasse 64.
Solothurn has a number of local drinks to try. The main local brewery is Öufi who do a range of beers (and even a whisky) that can be found in bars and shops around the town, the smaller Wyssestei and Buechibärger beers can also be found in local shops. Whilst Solothurn does not have any vineyards itself the town has an agreement with nearby Le Landeron resulting in Domaine de Soleure wine, again this can be bought in shops around the town.
- Vitaminstation, Stalden 7. Ice cream and fruit juices. Expect a queue on a warm summers day.
- Confiserie Hofer, Stalden 17. Cafe / confectioner.
- il Bar Soletta, Landhausquai 13. Cafe.
- Stadtrösterei, Hauptbahnhofstrasse 7. Coffee shop across from the main station.
- Suteria, Hauptgasse 65. Cafe and confectioner.
A number of bars are gathered on the riverside in the old town (Landhausquai). The area is very popular, with a nice atmosphere and live music on Thursdays/Fridays in the summer. Even during the winter you will find lots of people sitting outside with a drink when the sun is shinning.
- SolHeure, Ritterquai 11. On the bank of the river Aare you will find this nice bar/restaurant which used to be the old slaughterhouse of the town. It's very popular with every demographic in Solothurn, so you can always expect a mixed crowd.
- Hafebar, Kreuzackerquai, Prisongasse 4. A seasonal bar, open in summer only. Set under trees in a park, with views over the river to the old town and the Jura mountains, this is a very popular spot on warm (and dry) days. Seating is limited, but there is no defined bar area so you can simply grab your drink and move along to a free spot of wall by the river.
- Badmeister Solothurn, Römerstrasse. A seasonal bar, open in summer only (and liable to be closed on rainy days). Located 5-10 minutes walk along the river.
- Red John, Landhausquai 1. A popular Irish pub with sports and live music.
- Oufi Brewery, Fabrikstrasse 4. Brewery for the local beer; offering drinks, food and tours of the Brewery. A 5- to 10-minute walk from the old town.
- Kofmehl, Kofmehlweg 1. In addition to shows there are also club and jam nights.
There are a large number of hotels and guest houses in and around the old town. Reserving early is recommended during events such as the film or literature festivals.
- TCS Camping Solothurn. A campsite next to the Aare. Roughly 15-20 minutes walk from the old town.
- YouthHostelSolothurn, Landhausquai 23 (next to the river Aare). The youth hostel used to be the first school in town, and offers nice and cosy rooms. Next to the hostel are several good bars and restaurants. Dorms start at Fr. 31.50 for Members. Doubles with shower/wc Fr. 49 per person..
- An der Aare, Oberer Winkel 2, fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Member of Swiss Quality Hotels International. One-person room from Fr. 120. Two-person room from Fr. 157 (rates 2009).
- H4 Hotel Solothurn, Schänzlistrasse 5. A modern hotel located on the river with easy access to the station and old town.
- La Couronne, Hauptgasse 64. A boutique hotel with a long history in Solothurn that was renovated in 2017. Very central location in the old town.
Solothurn is a very safe place with very low crime levels in general, and no scams or crimes targeted at tourists.
In the event of medical emergencies the nearest emergency room (Unfallzentrum) is at the Bürgerspital Solothurn, and the emergency telephone numbers are the same as in the rest of Switzerland (112 as general emergency number; 117 for the police, 118 for firefighters, 144 for an ambulance).
With a relatively central location on the transport system much of Switzerland can be reached within a few hours from Solothurn, offering a wide range of day trips or destinations to move on to.
Towns and cities:
- Thun - A lakeside town with old town and a castle. 1 hr 7 min, change at Bern.
Travel into the Alps takes 1½-2 hours by car or train with the closest options in the Berner Oberland being:
The Jura mountains are much closer and offer a number of scenic and recreational options. The Jura can be accessed directly from Solothurn (such as Weissenstein or with the train to Moutier) or via connections at other towns along the Geneva-Zürich trainline.
- Saint-Ursanne - A small but very beautiful medieval village on the river Doubs.
- From Biel connections can be made to access areas such as Mont Soleil, or the watchmaking towns of la Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle.
- Val de Travers. Noteworthy sights are the Gorges de l'Areuse and the Creux du Van. It is also the home of Absinthe with several manufacturers and museum. Connection at Neuchatel.
- From Yverdon-les-Bains there are connections up to the caves at Vallorbe and the Val de Joux.
Another option is the Emmental region. Rolling forested hills, giant farmhouses, close up alpine views. Getting in and about by car or public transport can be a little slow due to the limited Infrastructure but is worth it.