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How it all began

Until the early 20th century, travelling was a privilege of just a few, generally well-to-do people. Craftspeople went hiking, as well as teachers with their classes and students for study purposes. 

Industrialisation made a lasting change to humanity’s living environment. The youth especially increasingly suffered poor living and working conditions in the industrial world. To escape the confined, less than satisfying living conditions, more and more young people began to hike and travel in their rare free time at the beginning of the 20th century. On the one hand, they wanted to experience nature in contrast to city life, and on the other, hiking was an expression of a self-defined, youth-friendly way of living. 

For young hikers, youth hostels were an uncomplicated place to spend time, stay overnight and socialise. Larger youth hostels also hosted youth conferences and youth sports. 


The «Genossenschaft für Jugendherbergen Zürich» (Association for Youth Hostels Zurich) was founded on 28 April 1924. Which milestones the Swiss Youth Hostels have reached in the last century will be posted from February 2024.

Around 50 years later, the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism was founded in Zurich on 11 May 1973.

We’ll be telling lots of exciting stories and providing contents on both organisations as part of the two anniversaries between 11 May 2023 and 28 April 2024. We look forward to an exciting year with plenty of extraordinary activities.

50 years of the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism

History of the Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism

The Swiss Foundation for Social Tourism achieves its goal by building and furnishing youth hostels for young people, schools and families. You can find out more about the history of SSST here.

Generations of youth hostels

The architecture of Swiss Youth Hostels changes over time and is constantly adapting to new needs. Find out exactly how and which trends have played an important role here.