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Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Travel and Tourist Information

Neuchâtel and lake aerial view

ABOVE: An aerial view of Neuchâtel and its lake. INSET BELOW: The Fontaine du Banneret in the old town.

photoNeuchâtel is the capital of Canton Neuchâtel, in the French-speaking area of Switzerland. It's also the biggest town on Lake Neuchâtel, and it's popular with tourists who come for medieval architecture, boat cruises, and hiking or bicycling in the surrounding countryside.

Neuchâtel is at least a thousand years old, with a recorded history dating back to 1011 AD (when, as Novum Castellum or "New Castle," it was a fortress owned by the Dukes of Burgundy). Over the centuries, Neuchâtel and its canton were ruled by French nobles and the King of Prussia until the 19th Century. The canton joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815, with Neuchâtel as its seat of government.

Today, Neuchâtel is an attractive and lively town of 32,000 residents, including several thousand students at the University of Neuchâtel, which dates back to 1838. It's well worth visiting, and we'd recommend staying for at least two nights--or longer, if you'd like to use Neuchâtel as a base for travel in the region.

  • Note: Neuchâtel is a gateway to "Watch Valley," which has 27 stops along a 200-km or 130-mile circuit through the watchmaking towns of the Jura and Neuchâtel Mountains. Another interesting town on the route, La Chaux-de-Fonds, is profiled in a separate article.

Next page: Sights and excursions

In this article:
Sights and excursions
Tourist information
Neuchâtel photos

On the city's outskirts:
Hotel Palafitte (Europe's only laketop luxury hotel)

Also visit:
La Chaux-de-Fonds (an art nouveau town in Canton Neuchâtel)

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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Photo copyright © Tourisme Neuchâtel.