Knowledge & culture

Olten – a town with charm

The small town of Olten is historically, culturally and regionally significant and invites you on a voyage of discovery.

Visit the town of Olten in the canton of Solothurn and discover its most beautiful gems. The picturesque old town with its wooden bridge, which is over 200 years old, the emblematic medieval tower, museums and cultural events are just a few of the treasures waiting to be explored.

Travel comfortably by train to Olten. The town centre is around 10 minutes’ walk from the train station.

Gems of the old town

Entdecken Sie die faszinierende Geschichte von Olten, indem Sie die charmante Alte Holzbrücke überqueren, den imposanten Oltner Stadtturm besuchen und die eindrucksvolle Stadtkirche St. Martin besichtigen. Tauchen Sie ein in die einzigartige Kultur und Architektur dieser malerischen Stadt.

Old wooden bridge

For more than 700 years, the old wooden bridge has connected the two banks of the Aare. Over the centuries, the bridge has been damaged or even torn away completely several times by fire, flooding and ice drifts. Bridge builder Blasius Baltenschwiller constructed an emergency bridge after the French invasion, which was replaced by the current bridge in 1803. The old wooden bridge consists of wooden joists and is built in a charming, traditional style. It offers a picturesque view of the Aare and the surrounding landscape.

Olten tower

The 42-metre-high tower, also known as the “bell tower”, towers above the medieval heart of the old town. It was built in 1521 by Konrad Gibelin of Solothurn as the bell tower for the town’s former church. Over the years, the tower has been restored and renovated several times to preserve its historic character. The tower is of cultural significance to the residents of Olten – it symbolises the town’s history and identity. The “tower concerts” take place here every year.  

St. Martin church

St. Martin church with its two dark, pointed towers is a symbol of the town. Its construction dates back to the 15th century, though the church has experienced several renovations and expansions over the course of time. The church not only serves the church community itself, but also offers space for events and meetings, church groups and concerts. It is an important meeting point for the community and represents a significant cultural heritage site. The church combines various architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque.

Activities

How about a hike or a walk around Olten? We have two great tips for you:

Swiss Writers' Trail

Experience the Swiss Writers' Trail with over 70 listening stations where 21 authors, including Alex Capus, Franz Hohler, Pedro Lenz and slam poets such as Kilian Ziegler, Patti Basler and Lisa Christ, inspire you in short 2- to 4-minute stories in German and French. Use your own QR code-enabled smartphone to listen to them for free. Also enjoy the historic old town of Olten, ideal for lunch and shopping, and you may even be lucky enough to meet one of the authors in person.

More information about the Swiss Writers' Trail

Circular hike to the Säli-Schlössli

Erkunde eine abwechslungsreiche Rundwanderung von Olten zum Säli-Schlössli mit Blick auf Aarburg und der Aare entlang zurück. Die Tour bietet ein wunderschönes Panorama, den Wildpark Mühletäli, die Ruine Alt-Wartburg und verschiedene Grillplätze – perfekt für Familien und Kinder.

Weitere Informationen zur Rundwanderung Säli-Schlössli Olten

Museums

Explore Olten and its rich art and cultural history. The Haus der Mussen houses three interesting museums under one roof: the Archaeological Museum of Canton Solothurn, the History Museum and the Nature Museum. In the Olten Art Museum you can admire historical art and contemporary works.

House of Museums

Archaeological Museum of the Canton of Solothurn

The Archaeological Museum is one of the most important in Switzerland and is home to an extensive collection of artefacts from various eras. The museum presents diverse legacies from 80,000 years of history and conveys a vibrant image of past times.

Historical Museum

The Historical Museum in Olten not only documents the history of the town, but also the development of neighbouring communities. One of the museum’s focal points is the history of transport, as significant trading routes have long since met and crossed here. The museum’s collections and exhibitions also feature the modern history of technology.

Museum of Nature

In the Museum of Nature in Olten, you can experience biology and geology up close. The museum offers insights into the past with an impressive collection of fossils and finds from the Ice Age, while it also presents the diverse animals to be found in the region in their different habitats.

Art Museum

An attraction for art lovers

The Art Museum in Olten was opened in 1905 and offers a collection of the works of artist Martin Disteli as well as modern art exhibitions. The focus is mainly on the works of Martin Disteli, a political artist and caricaturist who was born in Olten. The museum is a vibrant place for the discovery of historical and contemporary art and a meeting point for art lovers.

Events

Immerse yourself in the traditional atmosphere of the Olten Chilbi, discover the fascinating world of photography at the International Photo Festival Olten and be enchanted by authors and stories at the Book Festival.

International Photo Festival Olten

Some of the world’s best photographers, visual storytellers and photo editors get together in Olten every two years to present their work to a wide audience. The festival includes seminars, exhibitions, workshops and portfolio reviews.

Book Festival

Olten Book Festival offers a multitude of events and activities. There are readings, music and films by various authors, and visitors have the chance to make contact with them directly. The 2023 Book Festival takes place from 2 to 5 November.

Olten Cabaret Days

Olten becomes the cabaret capital of Switzerland for one week.

Further information on the Olten Cabaret Days

Oltner Chilbi

Oltner Chilbi is a popular festival that takes place annually. There is a multitude of attractions and entertainment options for visitors of all ages. There are also numerous stalls and stands selling food, drinks and sweets.

Food & Drink

Here are a few suggestions for delicious food or refreshing drinks:

How to get there

Travel comfortably by train to Olten.

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