Switzerland is one great big picture postcard, while the towns in Switzerland offer a compelling mix of cultural diversity and influence, Switzerland’s magical villages is a paradise of breathtaking scenery and epic natural beauty, from snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes to flower meadows and fairytale castles, its alpine and lakeside villages are the very definition of postcard-perfect.
The best places to go Swiss are its charming villages, with gorgeous rugged mountain views punctuated with picturesque villages hugging valley floors. These small towns are gateways to this alpine paradise for hikers in the summer and skiers in the winter.
The Swiss have always maintained and nurtured their own local customs, during a rural tour of Switzerland, discover enormous wealth of Swiss cultural activity and living tradition.
First-class travel destinations such as Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland, Verbier in the Valais, the Titlis in central Switzerland and the Bernina region in the Engadin are located in the high Alps. The Swiss Alps have some particularly high and therefore snow-sure ski areas, such as Zermatt, Sankt Moritz, Verbier, Crans-Montana, Andermatt, Grindelwald, Arosa and Saas-Fee.
The areas around the large lakes on the northern and southern edges of the Alps are also popular. These include in particular Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), Lake Constance, Lake Zurich, Lake Thun, Lake Lucerne and Lake Lugano. Taken together, the area around Lake Biel, Lake Murten and Lake Neuchâtel forms the “Seeland”, which is known as the “vegetable garden of Switzerland” because of the fertile agricultural soil.
Other destinations that are typical of the landscape can be found in the Pre-Alps and the Pre-Alpine Hill Zone; Appenzell with the Säntis, central Switzerland with the Rigi, the Emmental, the Freiburg Alps (Greyerz) and the Vaud Prealps with the traditional Grand Hotels near Vevey are particularly worth a detour.
Due to differing traditions, climate and building materials, villages in each region are distinctly different. Each region in Switzerland developed their own style of vernacular architecture to meet these factors. Beginning in the 11th century many of the out-buildings began to be combined into a single multi-purpose farm buildings. Farm houses now often contained living quarters, larders, stalls and feed storage under a single roof, but isolated by walls. External decoration became increasing visible on both wood and stone buildings after 1500. Façade decoration reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries.
In western Switzerland and the Jura mountains most houses were built of stone due to limited timber supplies. However, in northern Switzerland and the Bernese Mittelland plentiful wood meant that most construction was either all wood or wooden with a stone foundation. In both regions, by the 15th century, the local style had evolved into a multi-story, multi-purpose byre-dwelling with animals, fodder, storage and living quarters under one roof. Houses in the high Jura mountains were built with small windows to protect them from winter wind and snow, while those in the more temperate Swiss Plateau usually had lighter walls and larger windows. Shallowly sloping shingle roofs were replaced with ones with a steeper, tiled roof beginning in the 16th century.
In the north-east along the Rhine river, half-timbered construction was imported from southern Germany and gradually spread into the eastern Middlelands. Other houses were built with stacked plank construction, such as the example from Wila below. Despite the different building materials, multi-story byre-dwellings developed in north-eastern and eastern Switzerland around the same time as they did in the west. In the 16th century restrictions on building and the rise of the home textile industry led to the creation of the Flarz, a complex of smaller apartments created by expanding existing buildings, in the Zurich Oberland.
In the foothills of the Alps cattle breeding and dairy farming were common after the second half of the 13th century, which led to a different style. Unlike the more northern byre-dwelling, here the house and barn remained separate. Generally, they were each built as simple block structures made of heavy, square beams. The gable ends often have a windows and are protected by large eaves. In the Bernese Oberland the gable ends are often richly decorated. The design remained basically unchanged from the 12th century until the 19th, and is still built today. There is no clearly defined border between the byre-dwellings of the Swiss Plateau and the separate structures of the foothills so both designs may be present in a single village.
In Valais the entire valley was originally French speaking until the 13th century when upper valley was settled by German speaking colonists. This led to differing architectural styles as well as extensive borrowing from the other culture. In the French speaking part, stone construction is much more common, while in the German speaking area, wooden beam styles dominate. However, in the Val d’Illiez region the houses are generally wooden, but with a distinctive roof ridge that projects much further forward than the bottom of the roof.
The modern Canton of Ticino was an Italian province conquered by the Old Swiss Confederation in the 15th century. The local architecture is more similar to that of northern Italy, though each small, isolated valley developed their own style. The southernmost parts of the Canton the villages are small and compact while the farms are isolated, sprawling stone and wood complexes that developed over centuries as apartments, storage and production buildings were added. In the northern part, narrow alpine valleys limit the size of fields and villages. Northern Ticino was conquered and administered by Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden. These foreign overlords brought the wooden block construction from the Alpine foothills into Ticino. In the last 200 years stone construction has replaced the earlier wooden structure in most villages in Ticino.
Folk and Traditions
Swiss culture is characterised by diversity, which is reflected in diverse traditional customs. A traditional pastoral culture predominate in many areas, and small farms are omnipresent in rural areas. Folk art is nurtured in organisations across the country. Switzerland most directly in appears in music, dance, poetry, wood carving, and embroidery.
Alpine symbolism played an essential role in shaping Swiss history and the Swiss national identity. Alpine farming has a long history. It is believed that the pastures above the tree line were being farmed as far back as 4,000 BC. The production of cheese in the summer enabled people to preserve milk and stockpile it for the long winter months. The practice of Alpine farming gave birth to various customs such as the festive processions up into the Alps and down from the mountains, the call to prayer, the Älplerchilbi carnival and the Chästteilet cheese sharing.
The romantic Alpine lifestyle involves hard physical work and simplicity of life attracted especially urban dwellers from both home and abroad. Many alpine areas and ski resorts attract visitors for winter sports as well as hiking and/or mountain biking in summer. The quieter seasons are spring and autumn.
The swiss textile crafts industry also has an eventful past. A few areas, thanks to advanced technology, have enjoyed worldwide attention in haute couture, and the once popular textile handicrafts have found a niche for themselves. Many sectors of the crafts industry, such as wood sculpture, furniture painting and farmers’ ceramics are closely connected with the history of Swiss Tourism.
The food in Switzerland is a potpourri of influences from various countries. It combines the cuisines of its neighbours and creates from them a local cuisine with local ingredients. There are a few dishes and specialities, such as fondue, Älplermagronen and chocolate, that are typical of Switzerland. Switzerland is home to almost 350 different varieties of sausage. Besides the well-known classics wines, Switzerland provides for unique tasting pleasure with its new types of wine and development of indigenous varieties.
There is a cuisine with Bernese Platter and Bernese Rösti. A cuisine with Vaud sausage and leeks. A cuisine with St Gallen Ribelmais and whitefish from Lake Constance. The Valais is famous for its raclette, Graubünden for its Capuns, Zurich for its Geschnetzeltes, Lucerne for its Chügelipastete and Ticino for its Mortadella und Luganighe.
Swiss folk music is mainly dance music, the Alpine folk music developed with the unwritten transfer of skills and compositions over generations, decades and even centuries. The oldest known Kuhreihen are from Appenzell and were recorded in 1545. The Alphorn, so typically Swiss, was originally a musical and signaling instrument used by the herdsmen and the many yodeling choirs that have been formed since the 19th century.
The most commonly heard musical instruments include the “Schwyzerörgeli” (accordion), the violin, bass violin, clarinet and, in certain regions, the dulcimer or Trümpi (Jew’s harp). The alphorn, a trumpet-like musical instrument made of wood has joined yodeling and the accordion as epitomes of traditional Swiss music. Switzerland has an extensive amateur music scene, and in virtually every village there is at least a choir or a brass band.
Switzerland has many customs that are tied to the calendar, differ considerably depending on the season and the region. Most swiss festivals are of pagan origin or have a religious connection, the expulsion of winter and of evil spirits and demons forms part of the tradition. Other celebrations recall historical events such as important victories in historical battles.
Some festivals celebrated in Swiss villages are based on ancient traditions, reflect the course of the agricultural year, such as the ringing in of the vineyard workers in spring, the Alpine ascent and descent during the summer months, and the wine festivals, the Chästeilet cheese sharing and the Älplerchilbi carnivals in autumn. Because there was less for farmers to do in winter than in other seasons, there were more celebrations and customs during this time.
Major sports events such as the Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival ESAF are increasing in popularity; At these multi-day festive occasions, athletic wrestlers, sturdy boulder throwers and strong Hornussen players gave of their best, all to the accompaniment of yodel choirs and accordion orchestras.
Switzerland uniting so many different regions over such a small area with a unique charm to indulge in.. Mountains and plains, east and west, French and German-speaking, the villages across Switzerland are slightly different. In some places it feels as if you are in southern climes, while elsewhere lush plants, rugged mountains, cultural highlights and much more await.
Many small Swiss villages are worth a visit, includes: Aarau, Appenzell, Ascona, Bellinzona, Biel, Chur, Estavayer, Freiburg, Locarno, Martigny, Rapperswil-Jona, Neuchâtel, St. Gallen, Sitten, Solothurn, Thun, Vevey Winterthur, Schaffhausen, Schwyz.
Switzerland has a fantastic transport system, swift and disturbingly punctual trains, clean buses, and half a dozen different kinds of mountain transport systems, all integrated into a coherent system. Bus and trains in Switzerland are complementary to each other. That way, almost all inhabited villages and towns in Switzerland can be reached by public transport. Even if there is no train or city transit available, the comprehensive PostBus Switzerland network gets you there.
Discover all sights and landmarks Switzerland has to offer from the comfort of the train, you can hop on and off wherever you please. The Switzerland train travel system merges the most beautiful panoramic lines into one unique route. There is no prescribed direction or duration. Switzerland’s train routes are among the most beautiful rail routes in the world. They are part of the country’s heritage and history. They pass through the most majestic mountain scenery, idyllic valleys and villages; along crystal-clear lakes and ice-blue glaciers.
Zurich is top for leisure and pleasure. Gentle hills, peaceful woods, the unpolluted lakes and rivers, picturesque villages – and all just a stone’s throw from the Alps. Zurich is the ideal starting point for all kinds of varied excursions.
Winterthur is a service and high-tech industrial satellite city within Greater Zürich. Winterthur has blossomed from a former industrial town to a lively venue for all ethnic groups and types of culture. Being a city small enough to get around conveniently while also having a big-city atmosphere makes Winterthur a popular destination. Shops, restaurants, markets and festivals bring the charming Old Town to life and provide a meeting place for locals, visitors and businesspeople alike.
Winterthur is a treasure trove of art, history and nature. The medieval heart of the city is full of life no matter what the time of day. Winterthur is an important museum town – it has 17 in all – and also offers a wide range of culture, sports and entertainment. Amongst the numerous night clubs and bars you will also find the only bar in Switzerland that opens 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe, is just a 20 minute drive from Winterthur.
The pedestrian zone in the charming Old Town is considered to be Switzerland’s largest. Venerable mansions in and around the Marktgasse, the City Church, the Fisher Maiden’s Fountain and the famous Town Hall Passage are great attractions. Culture has a long tradition in Winterthur. The city boasts 17 museums, including the Oskar Reinhart collection “Am Römerholz” with its masterpieces of European art from the 14th to the 20th century. This tradition continues with the internationally renowned Centre for Photography, the Casino Theater, which has become a centre of the German-language cabaret scene, and the Swiss Science Center Technorama, which makes technology and science an accessible experience.
The extremely diverse cultural agenda also comprises a series of festivals – Afro-Pfingsten, the International Short Film Festival and the Winterthurer Musikfestwochen festival as well as the performances by the Winterthurer Musikkollegium. With the city’s regular fare of exhibitions, films, concerts, readings and theatre – it is clear that Winterthur’s residents are well catered for when it comes to matters cultural.
Despite its industrial tradition, Winterthur is also a “garden city” with a large number of parks and gardens. There is even a city tour dedicated to “Villas and Gardens”. The city’s delightful environs are home to castles and fortresses set in the woods, in the wine country, and on the Töss and Rhine rivers, and to which the locals have long felt a special relationship. Winterthur is also an ideal base for excursions to the Rhine Falls, Lake Constance and to the nearby metropolis of Zurich.
Baden located at northwest of Zürich in the Limmat Valley, its mineral hot springs have been famed since at least the Roman era. The village of Baden is designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. A historical city with a very lively present, is worth a visit, not just because of the Grand Casino Baden. The old town, the Tagsatzung room in the city hall, the 1847 railway station and the building of the Stiftung Langmatt are listed as heritage sites of national significance.
In addition to the Roman city, the ruins of castle Stein and the other sites listed above, Baden is home to a number of other Swiss Heritage Sites. The industrial sites include the ABB Schweiz archive along with the former offices of Brown Boveri Company as well as the regional former utilities plant on Haselstrasse 15. There are three designated religious buildings in Baden; the Catholic city church and Sebastians chapel, the Swiss Reformed parish church and the Synagogue on Parkstrasse 17.
2 km south of Baden, on a distinct peninsula of the Limmat, is the Cistercian Wettingen Abbey (1227-1841), with old painted glass in the cloisters and early 17th century carved stalls in the choir of the church. 8 km (5 mi) west of Baden is the small town of Brugg (9,500 inhabitants) in a fine position on the Aare, and close to the remains of the Roman colony of Vindonissa (today Windisch), as well as to the monastery (founded 1310) of Königsfelden, formerly the burial-place of the early Habsburgs (the castle of Habsburg is but a short way off), still retaining much fine medieval painted glass.
Capital of the Swiss canton of Zug, a stylish town that values public art, and goes together with the town’s business world, which lends the pretty town a certain international flavour. Zug is a high quality of life, a view of the Rigi and Pilatus, and a jewel of a historic centre.
Zug is surrounded with mountains, rivers and lakes including the mountains Zugerberg and the Walchwilerberg Oberallmig, the Höhronen and the river Sihl. The Choller nature reserve is also near Lake Zug. Enjoy the sunsets, when the sun goes down over the lake, the horizon goes blood-red, and all eyes turn to the romantic show of colour on the water.
The charming historic centre of the town, best experienced by strolling its narrow and winding alleys, lingering on the pretty lakeshore and sitting at one of the many street cafés to watch the world go by. Sights within the town include the late Gothic church of St. Wolfgang, near Hühnenberg, or St. Oswald in Zug, the old town of Zug with the Town Hall and the Zytturm (clock tower), the Huwiler Tower, the Zurlaubenhof, feudal estate of the family Zurlauben, on the outskirts of the town.
The lake shore has been embanked and forms a promenade, from which views of the Rigi and Pilatus, as well as of the snowy peaks of the Bernese Oberland, are gained. Towards its northerly end, a monument marks the spot where a part of the shore slipped into the lake in 1887. The older part of the town is rather crowded together, though only four of the wall towers and a small part of the town walls still survive.
Lake Zurich region
Lake Zurich is a lake in Switzerland, extending southeast of the city of Zürich. The Lake Zurich region lies in the cantons of Glarus, Schwyz, St. Gallen and Zurich, which includes the towns and villages around Lake Zurich. The Prehistoric pile dwellings around Lake Zurich comprises 11 of total 56 Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps in Switzerland. Lake Zurich with beautiful scenery is not only a treat to the human eyes but also an excellent place for some recreational activities. Lakeside promenades, bars, restaurants, shops and many other facilities.
On the west shore (which gradually becomes the south shore) are Rüschlikon, Thalwil, Horgen, Wädenswil, Richterswil, Pfäffikon, and Lachen. On the opposite shore are Küsnacht, Meilen, Stäfa, and Rapperswil-Jona with the medieval town of Rapperswil, whose castle is home to the Polish museum. Schmerikon is close to the east end of the lake, and a little further east is the larger town of Uznach.
Lake Zurich is a popular place for excursions, picnic. Bathe in the deep blue water, or cycle around it. With the soft splashing of the water on the shore, fresh fish on the plate and particularly romantic sunsets over the lake: the restaurants on the water have a Mediterranean attitude to life. The surrounding area also includes some well-known destinations: Ufenau Island, the Lindt Home of Chocolate, Rapperswil Castle or a winery near Stäfa.
Take a boat trip on the lake, guests spot the snow-covered Alps on the horizon. Gently rocking waves, peace and quiet, relaxation and fine food: the best way to discover the Lake Zurich area is by taking a boat trip. The two historic paddle-steamers, the “Gipfeli-Schiff” (early mornings) and the “Sonnenuntergangs-Schiff” (sunset sailings), offers all kinds of special excursions available. Musical trips and special tours on public holidays are all part of the programme offered by the Lake Zurich shipping company.
Stäfa is a municipality in the district of Meilen in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland. At Confiserie Isler, a confectioner well known among aficionados, you can learn all about the fine art of chocolate making. Without any previous experience, you can make and decorate your own chocolates, and learn how to make and decorate a moulded Easter bunny. Along the way you get to taste a variety of chocolates,finishing off with an aperitif.
Rapperswil-Jona, also know as town of roses, is a municipality located on the upper end of Lake Zurich. The riviera at the upper end of Lake Zürich, will charm you with its many attractions: the castle, the medieval old town, the historical wooden bridge and Knies Children’s Zoo. At the eastern end of the lake is the “rose town” of Rapperswil. In the public gardens with over 15,000 rose bushes blooming, of more than 600 different varieties. The Alpamare water park and Atzmännig slide & trampoline paradise are just as much part of this family-friendly destination. The lakeside promenade with its Mediterranean charms, the picturesque Old Town and the medieval castle make this harbour town a popular place for excursions.
Rapperswil-Jona combines sights, cultural life, hiking and sports possibilities with a Mediterranean holiday atmosphere. The castle towers above the town and lake and is the landmark. The castle hill affords a panorama view from the Glarus Alps all the way to the Zurich Oberland. Several churches, chapels and monasteries bears testimony to the past. The medieval old town is a protected historic monument, the lake promenade and varied excursion possibilities make Rapperswil particularly suitable for families with children. Rapperswil is an embarkation point for the regular ship services on Lake Zurich, the wooden bridge for pedestrians happens to be the longest wooden bridge in Switzerland.
Knie’s Children’s Zoo is a particular attraction for children and circus fans. The animals at the children’s zoo can be stroked and there are also elephant rides on offer. In summer a 700-metre-long summer toboggan run on the nearby Atzmännig is great for some family fun. In winter there is a ski region suitable for families with easy ski pistes. On the other side of the lake, Pfäffikon with the Alpamare fun and experience baths featuring a wide range of water slides and wellness treatments is well worth visiting. Einsiedeln, the most important place of pilgrimage in Switzerland with a famous monastery.
Horgen is a municipality in the district of Horgen in the canton of Zürich in Switzerland. Horgen has been a traffic hub on the north/south axis since the year 1230. This long period of time has left its historical and economic imprint on our town. Due to its proximity to Zurich, the multifaceted small town on Lake Zurich meets the local inhabitant’s as well as the visitor’s need for cosmopolitan life and big city entertainment.
Today this important district town is a popular location for living and working. At the same time it is the regional recreation and excursion destination. Horgen is at the same time an abode of peace, of ambience and congeniality. The main street is part of the historic town center and is a car-free pedestrian zone. Horgen offers from the busy town center with its educational institutions and seminar facilities to the nature reserve and regional leisure time and recreation area.
Zürich Wilderness Park is a wilderness park near the city of Zürich in Switzerland. It includes the Sihlwald forest, the largest mixed deciduous and coniferous forest in the Swiss Mittelland, and the Langenberg Wildlife Park, the oldest Swiss wildlife park. Both sites are situated in the Sihl Valley to the south of Zürich. In the Wilderness Park Zürich Langenberg, visitors can observe 19 native and formerly native animals like deer, bear, lynx, wolf, wildcat, marmot, elk, wild boar, and the Przewalski horse on 80 hectares. The animals live in a spacious and natural environment and makes encounters with animals fascinating and memorable. Adventure worlds intensify man’s encounter with the animal world.
At Gürben Valley and the Schwarzenburgerland, gentle hills, which mark the end of the pre-Alpine region, blend into the Laupenamt and Seeland plain, bordered in the north by the Jura range, next to Lake Bienne and the Oberaargau region. A slight haze tints quiet rivers with subtle pastel hues. Impressively vast roofs shelter prosperous Emmental farmhouses. Or a stroll through Bern along six kilometres of arcades lining the streets of the old city. The prosperity of the villages flows into the cities with their massive protective walls, arcades, romantic alleyways and fountains topped with statues, which stand as silent witnesses to a colourful past.
The eastern city limits of Bern rises the Bantiger mountain (947m); behind it stretches the Emmental, the valley (tal) of the River Emme. It’s a quintessentially Swiss landscape of peaceful, vibrantly green hills dotted with happily munching brown cows, sleepy rustic hamlets and isolated timber-built dairies. The Alpine foothills, the Jura range, the Emmental and the Gurnigel-Gantrisch are renowned for their winter sports, and Gstaad, the Bernese Oberland and Jungfrau ski regions are close by.
Adelboden is a mountain village and a municipality in Switzerland, the relaxed holiday resort in the middle of the Bernese Alps is characterised by its village atmosphere. Adelboden is the first destination in Switzerland to have been awarded the Alpine Wellness holiday resort certificate. With its numerous mountain transport facilities, growing number of wellness havens and family-friendly attitude, the idyllic chalet village at the foot of the Wildstrubel in summer and winter is among the most versatile holiday destinations in the Bernese Oberland.
The mountain countryside encourages you to slow down and consciously enjoy. Adelboden boasts over 300 kilometres of well-groomed hiking and theme trails (including a wheelchair-passable circular hiking trail), as well as several cycling and mountain biking routes. Traditional mountain farming with Alpine huts and cheese dairies characterise the countryside.
The Adelboden-Frutigen-Lenk ski region is a tempting destination even for top athletes. In winter the idyllic chalet village and hikers’ paradise turns into a winter sports paradise. 72 high-performance transport facilities provide access to a piste network of just over 210 kilometres. Winter hiking on the Adelboden sun terrace, cross-country skiing trails, a snow park, freeride arena, hiking and tobogganing trails invite visitors to explore the Alpine winter world.
Bernese Jura is the name for the French-speaking area of the Swiss canton of Bern. On the borders of the Jura Mountains Area is the Bernese Jura a welcome land which invites you to live the nature. Between lake and mountain, forest and pasture, the richness of the fauna and the variety of the flora. In the heart of Jura & Three-Lakes, the Bernese Jura has a rich heritage, reflection of a culture with contrasted and varied influences. With the passing of the seasons, the area offers many culinary specialities cooked with the local products. From the prestigious restaurant to the typical and traditional farm restaurant, the gastronomy resources of the Bernese Jura are real and varied.
Biel / Bienne
Biel is the largest Swiss city in which German and French are equally spoken. The town of Biel lies at the eastern end of Lake Biel, at the foot of the Jura in the delightful Lake Region. Biel is a town of many facets. The modern part of the city with its high-rise buildings lies at lake level, the intact old town with its gothic town church stemming from the 15th century. The town has been an industrial and watchmaking heart of Switzerland since the 19th century. The town of Biel is a tradition-imbued watch metropolis in which this Swiss craft is still fostered. Swatch, Rolex, Omega, Tissot, Movado and Mikron are all located here. Biel has additionally also positioned itself in the field of other industries and in communication.
Its location makes the town an attractive gateway to the excursion and holiday region around Lakes Biel, Neuchâtel and Murten – also known as the “Three Lakes Region” – with vineyards on the hillsides and extensive vegetable cultivation on the level areas. The options for rambling and cycling excursions are huge. On the North Shore of Lake Biel the vineyard trail and the viticulture museum in Ligerz attract visitors. Several attractive mediaeval small towns like Nidau, Twann, La Neuveville and Erlach are well worth an excursion.
The Emmental is a valley in west central Switzerland, it is a hilly landscape comprising the basins of the rivers Emme and Ilfis. The region is mostly devoted to farming, particularly dairy farming. The principal settlements are the town of Burgdorf and the village of Langnau. Emmental region offering hiking, snow shoe walking, Nordic walks, panning for gold, golf, cycling, riding, pottery. Discover the legendary Emmental cheese to ham, to a Gault&Millau menu, an almost unparalleled range on offer and often made from regional products.
National museums like the Franz Gertsch Museum, the Zither Museum or the Museum of Folk Culture in the Grain House have their place here in the Emmental region just as much as regional exhibitions in the Chüechlihus or Culture Mill. Castles, wooden bridges, the cheese dairy, themed paths, Alpine horn makers, idyllic farms are an embodiment of the region great philosopher and poet.
Gstaad is part of the municipality of Saanen and is known as a major ski resort and a popular destination amongst high society and the international jet set. With its top hotels, gourmet restaurants, luxury chalets and nearby Saanen airport, this traffic-free holiday village is popular with international celebrities. In addition to celebrity guests in the chalet village of Gstaad itself, the smaller, rustic neighbouring villages offer attractive options for families with children. The centre of Gstaad has developed into a popular shopping area in recent years, and is the shortest shopping street in Switzerland.
The Saanenland region, include the neighbouring towns of Saanen, Schönried, Saanenmöser, Zweisimmen, Gsteig, Lauenen, Feutersoey, Turbach and Abländschen, has just so much to offer: The nature reserve by the idyllic waters of Lake Lauenensee with its waterfalls and raised bogs, the narrow streets and alleyways of the historic village centre of Saanen or the peace and quiet of the dreamy mountain village of Abländschen.
The wide, open landscape of the Saanenland region offers a wide range of sporting activities: Hiking (on a network of trails of more than 300km), mountain biking, paragliding or golf. Whitewater rafting and canoeing adventures await on the River Saane. Summer cross-country skiing is available in the “Glacier 3000” glacier ski area. The Schönried summer sled run, a via ferrata and the natural paradise of Lake Lauenensee.
A major centre of winter sports, Gstaad has over 47 chair lifts. These can be reached from several villages by link transport facilities. Winter in the smaller towns in the region, such as Lauenen, means peace and quiet and enjoying long winter hikes, cross-country skiing or romantic horse-drawn sleigh rides. 200km of slopes situated between 1,000m and 3,000m above sea level await skiers and snowboarders in winter. Guests can choose from several snowparks, numerous tobogganing runs and 42 kilometres of perfectly groomed cross-country ski trails – half of which are classic trails and half of which are designed for skating. There are around 185 kilometres of winter hiking trails.
Interlaken is an important and well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Oberland region of the Swiss Alps, and the main transport gateway to the mountains and lakes of that region. Interlaken lies in the Bernese Oberland on an alluvial plain, between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The vacation destination, which is presided over by the three mighty mountains, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Interlaken is an ideal starting point for countless excursions. Over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, chair lifts and ski lifts lead to 200 kilometers of pistes and a dense network of hiking trails. Excursion ships, including historic paddle steamers, ply the waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.
Trains to the Jungfrau region in the direction of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen with connections to the railways to Mürren and from there to the Schilthorn as well as via the Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch depart from the Interlaken Ost railway station. A fleet of ships, including one historic paddle-steamer on each lake, cruises on Lakes Thun and Brienz. Interlaken is located on the «Golden Pass» panorama route from Montreux on Lake Geneva past the luxury holiday resort of Gstaad to Interlaken and from there across the Brünig Pass to Lucerne.
Cross-country skiers and toboggan riders also are well catered for in the vicinity. And there are over 220 kilometres of winter walking trails in Interlaken, Beatenberg, Axalp-Brienz, Habkern, Wilderswil and the Jungfrau region. Among the ski regions of the Jungfrau Top Ski Region (Mürren/Schilthorn, Kleine Scheidegg/Männlichen and First) or the family-oriented ski region of Beatenberg or Axalp-Brienz. Over 45 mountain railways, aerial cableways, chair and ski lifts take athletes to 200 kilometres of pistes.
The Simmental is an alpine valley in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. Traveling from Lake Thun in a westerly direction, the Simmen Valley opens up. The pyramid-shaped Niesen and the Stockhorn preside over the imposing entrance to the valley. The hiking-mountain and vantage point beckon with an imposing panoramic view of 200 peaks. Some villages play a role in the winter tourism of the region of Bern, such as Lenk or Zweisimmen. From Zweisimmen the resorts of Gstaad and Château-d’Œx can be reached.
The Simmen Valley stretches in a long arch up to Lenk with its lush green meadows. The Niedersimmen Valley is the main rail and road link to the Saanenland. Near Boltigen the road turns toward the Jaun Pass and leads into Freiburg’s Jaun Valley. The small but lively Simme River is ideally suited for canoeing and wild water rafting. The Simmen Valley House Trail between Erlenbach and Weissenburg is dedicated to the abundantly decorated farmers’ houses of the Simmen Valley.
A three-partite Diemtig Valley House Trail is dedicated to the farmers’ houses in the idyllic Diemtig Valley. The side valley branching off from Oey offers over 200 kilometers of marked hiking trails. Deep-blue mountain lakes such as the Seeberg Lake in the Spillgerten Nature Reserve, and the Aegel Lake with its protected high moorland on the Diemtigbergli, are well worth a hiking tour.
In the Diemtig Valley winter sports enthusiasts can indulge in their favorite sport on the Wiriehorn, Springenboden and Grimmialp. Fast rides on the snow tubing course, which boasts a conveyer lift, five kilometers of toboggan runs as well as cozy winter hiking tours and playgrounds in the snow add to the fun. The skiing areas of the Upper Simmen Valley above Zweisimmen and St. Stephan are linked to the skiing area “Gstaad Mountain Rides”; Lenk is link to Adelboden.
Thun is a town with its historic buildings, towering raised promenades steeped in history, the white castle on the Schlossberg and the fantastic views over the lake set against the backdrop of the imposing Bernese Alps. Thanks to its enormous diversity, the city of Thun is worth a visit at any time of the year: While the charming old town and the delightful river and lakeside promenade are bursting with life in the spring, cultural open-air events such as the popular Lake Thun Festival get everyone in the mood for a summer of fun.
The city’s most famous landmark is the mighty Thun Castle, with its tower that was built between 1180 and 1190, which towers majestically over the Old Town. A historical museum is housed in the tower rooms, showcasing finds from the past 800 years relating to the region and its history, as well as a special exhibition which changes each year. The restored 12th-century knights’ hall, however. The view from the castle tower of the mountains and the lake is also unparalleled.
The historical raised promenades in Thun’s old town are yet another highlight. The Thun Art Museum or the Thun Panorama in Schadau Park, an imposing panoramic painting of the city from 1814. And then again, walkers have always been particularly drawn to the coldest season too, with its wintry lakeside landscapes, and which offers the perfect opportunity for fine diners to enjoy the culinary delights on offer in the city’s many restaurants.
The Jungfrau region
The Jungfrau region is a fantastic place, there are many activities here, fFrom hikes to famous villages, waterfalls, and even mountain tops, visiting Jungfrau is one of the best decisions you could make. Imposing mountains, a plethora of leisure activities and a wide range of hotel offerings make the Jungfrau Region (including the resort towns Wengen, Mürren und Lauterbrunnen) a highly desirable vacation destination.
Many facilities have been built in the Jungfrau Region, including numerous mountain railways. A large complex of tunnels and buildings has been constructed at the Jungfraujoch, referred to as the “Top of Europe”. There are several restaurants and bars, shops, multimedia exhibitions, a post office, and a research station with dedicated accommodation facilities. An elevator enables access to the top of the Sphinx and its observatory, at 3,571 m, the highest viewing platform of the area.
Over 500 km of marked walking, hiking and mountain paths. The crystal-blue mountain lakes and gushing waterfalls provide a welcome refreshment. Every holidaymaker in the Jungfrau Region gets the spectacular views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau thrown in for free. The landscape has also been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the level of the Jungfraujoch, there is a ski school, and the “Ice Palace”, a collection of elaborate ice sculptures displayed inside the Aletsch Glacier. Another tunnel leads to the east side of the Sphinx, where one can walk on the glacier up to the Mönchsjoch Hut, the only hotel infrastructure in the area.
The Schilthorn above Mürren, the Männlichen above Wengen, and the Schynige Platte above Wilderswil, offer good views of the Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen valley. On the south side, the Eggishorn above Fiesch also offers views of the Jungfrau, across the Aletsch Glacier. The ski areas around Grindelwald, Wengen, Mürren and Hasliberg offer a total of 260 km of ski runs ranging from fast to leisurely, and from six to twelve kilometres in length. Furthermore, with its countless toboggan runs, the region is a real paradise for tobogganing. Amongst them is the longest toboggan run in the Alps.
Spending time in a dream-like village surrounded by mountains and green valleys, Grindelwald was built under the famous North Face of mountain Eiger. This part of Eiger was first climbed in 1938 and attracted hundreds of visitors yearly who battle the rock and try to conquer it. Grindelwald’s alpine pastures are blissful, and with the help of cable cars, it is easy to hit the trails and find mountain lookouts, the Grindelwald Glacier, and lakes.
This mountainscape and the numerous lookout points and activities make Grindelwald one of the most popular and cosmopolitan holiday and excursion destinations in Switzerland, and the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau region. Similarly to Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald is connected to Interlaken by the Bernese Oberland Railway and is the start of the Wengernalp Railway, leading to Kleine Scheidegg. The latter resort is the start of the Jungfrau Railway, the highest railway in Europe and a gateway to the Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area.
Thanks to its magnificent vista and the glacier which once reached right into the basin, Grindelwald attracted alpinism guests from the end of the 18th century onwards. Road and railway construction made Grindelwald much more accessible towards the end of the 19th century. There are 300 km of walking trails around Grindelwald. The high-altitude walk from Grindelwald-First along the Bachalpsee to the Faulhorn mountain hotel and then on to the Schynige Platte ranks among the most beautiful hikes of the region. An easy walk with fantastic views of the three, world-famous mountains of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau leads from the Männlichen up onto the Kleine Scheidegg.
The two ski regions of First and Kleine Scheidegg – Männlichen – Wengen offer 160 kilometres of pistes with around 30 lifts reaching up to an altitude of 2500 m. The Schilthorn near Mürren, also part of the Jungfrau region ski arena, even reaches 2971 metres. The Lauberhorn piste near Wengen, popularised by the World Cup circus. From the Faulhorn into the valley, naturally Grindelwald also has many further winter sports on offer. 80 kilometres of winter walking trails with views across seven four-thousand-metre peaks and majestic glaciers, as well as 60 km of toboggan runs, including, at 15 km, one of the longest toboggan runs in the Alps.
Wengen is a car-free Swiss village perched on a sun terrace 400 meters above Lauterbrunnen valley. The holiday resort lies on a wind-protected sun terrace at the foot of the Jungfrau, 400 metres above the Lauterbrunnen valley at an altitude of 1274 m. The tradition-imbued, car-free holiday resort offers a family-friendly ski and rambling area around the Männlichen and the Kleine Scheidegg. The entire region around Wengen and alongside the Aletsch Glacier has been established as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
With its nostalgic timber houses, the many dispersed holiday chalets and hotels dating from the belle époque period, this Bernese Oberland holiday resort has retained all the character of a picture-postcard mountain village. Opening widely to the south west, the terrace guarantees above-average hours of sunshine. Since 1893, car-free Wengen has been able to be reached from Lauterbrunnen via the Wengernalp railway; cars remain parked in Lauterbrunnen.
Over 500 km of marked walking trails and 15 mountain cableways in the nearby surroundings lead to the most beautiful vantage points of the Jungfrau region; take for example the classic panorama route between Wengen and the Kleine Scheidegg, which offers up a particularly impressive view of the rock massif of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Those who like things a bit more spirited might like to try their skill at paragliding, river rafting or canyoning.
The key excursion destinations within the Jungfrau region can all be reached easily from Wengen. Climbers on the Eiger north face – one of the world’s most spectacular and difficult climbing faces – can be observed by telescope from the Kleine Scheidegg. Provided you change trains on the Kleine Scheidegg, the Jungfraujoch can even be reached by railway. And you can reach the Schilthorn summit from the valley floor resort of Lauterbrunnen via Mürren or Stechelberg.
Wengen is the ideal starting point for the family-friendly ski region of Kleine Scheidegg-Männlichen with 110 km of predominantly easy to medium-difficulty pistes, and the renowned World Cup piste on the Lauberhorn as its crowning glory. The neighbouring ski areas of the Jungfrau region, Grindelwald-First and Mürren-Schilthorn are also readily accessible. The clean air, the long hours of sunshine – especially in winter – the toboggan runs and around 50 km of winter hiking trails also serve to attract non-skiers to the sunny resort.
The Grisons is the largest and easternmost canton of Switzerland, known as the most diverse canton in terms of natural and cultural geography, as it encompasses both sides of the Alps and several natural and cultural regions. The diversity of the canton is often compared to that of Switzerland as a whole and warrants it the name of “Little Switzerland”. One of the birthplaces of winter sports, the canton is a major tourist destination year-round, including a large number of Alpine resort towns, notably Davos and St. Moritz.
The canton of Graubünden is also renowned for its extensive narrow-gauge railway network, operated by the Rhaetian Railway, and linking the capital with most valleys of the Grisons. Take the Rhätische Bahn to Klosters, Davos, Arosa, St. Moritz, the Surselva region, the Engadine and Valposchiavo. See Savognin and the Müstair valley, Lenzerheide, and the Mesolcina and Bregaglia valleys by postal bus. Climbing a sheer rock face, and storming peaks and traversing glaciers.
Chur located on the right bank of the Rhine, is reputedly the oldest town of Switzerland. Chur charms visitors with its fine mountain setting, twisting alleys and historic buildings. Numerous boutiques, restaurants, bars, museums and galleries in the largely traffic-free Old Town create a Mediterranean-style atmosphere. Chur is the gateway to important trade routes and alpine passes, remains its 5000-year history, discover witnesses to the past and stories, documented by Early Stone Age and Bronze Age finds anc artifacts from the Roman period, as well as testimonies to more recent history.
Chur is a commercial center and capital of a large region, as evidenced by a variety of stores, museums, the theater and the PostBus station, a hub of Graubünden’s mountain world. Trains of the Rhaetian Railway run hourly to world-famous resorts. Chur is the ideal spot from which to set off on walks and visits to vineyards in the ‘Bündner Herrschaft’ winemaking region. Chur is the gateway to the Grisons mountains: 26 holiday and spa resorts can be reached in less than an hour from Chur.
Arosa is both a summer and a winter tourist resort. The tradition-rich Grisons holiday resort of Arosa is located at the end of the romantic Schanfigg Valley at an altitude of about 1800 metres above sea level. With its impressive range of mountain peaks all around, Arosa Lenzerheide is just as attractive for extended hiking tours in summer as it is in winter, offering a great variety of snow sport activities. The Arosa All-inclusive Card includes the usage of the aerial tramways to Hörnli and Weisshorn, access to the rope park, entrance to the local history museum, pedalo rentals and much more.
Arosa has been a famous Alpine health resort since 1877, because of its location at the bottom of a wide valley, Arosa is very sunny and the air is particularly pure. Arosa alone boasts more than 200 km of different hiking and walking trails. A hiking tour to be especially recommended is the 10 lakes hike, a tour of 15 km leading from one crystal-clear mountain lake to the next. Then there’s the Schanfigg circuit from Chur to Arosa and back with its many traditional cozy mountain cabins, nicely cultivated stretches of land and alpine pastures.
Arosa also offer 225 km of slopes with guaranteed snow in the winter sport region of Arosa Lenzerheide, making it the largest interconnected skiing region of Graubünden. At the end of 2013 the Arosa ski resort was linked with Lenzerheide by cable-car, creating the new ski resort of Arosa Lenzerheide; Arosa is accessible by Rhaetian Railways from Chur or by car across over 365 serpentines and through several tunnels, past the smaller holiday resort of Langwies.
Davos is an Alpine resort town, best known today for hosting the World Economic Forum. This holiday destination with international ambience is the largest resort in the Alps for mountain holidays, sport and conferences. In the centre of Davos, visitors will find a wide range of accommodation and excellent shopping, with numerous boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
For a quieter time, Hiking up the romantic side valleys of Sertig, Dischma or Flüela. Take a ride by horse-drawn sledge into the snowy side valleys, or experience the Davos mountains with 150 km of beautifully prepared winter footpaths and snow-shoe trails. The Davos Lake with its swimming area and a sailing and surfing centre. In addition, there are opportunities for hang-gliding and paragliding and mountain bike and inline skating routes.
With a long history of winter sport, Davos has one of Switzerland’s largest ski resorts, and the highest town in the Alps and a high-altitude health resort with a long tradition. At altitudes between 1124 and 2844 m, guests will find 58 ski lifts, 300 km of slopes, 100 km of cross-country ski tracks, over 150km snowshoe and winter hiking trails, two artificial ice rinks with ice hockey, ice skating and curling fields are available. The mecca is Parsenn area which connects up Davos with the neighbouring resort of Klosters. The Jakobshorn is the in place for freestylers and party guests with half-pipes and cosy après-ski huts.
Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland. The canton of Ticino, which has become one of the major tourist destinations of Switzerland, distinguishes itself from the rest of the country by its warm climate, and its meridional culture and gastronomy. Ticino is a rich blend of past and future, north and south, mountains and plains, nature and culture, city and country.
The Italian flair of Switzerland. The Mediterranean region seems to begin on the southern side of the Alps. There is a feel of Italy, with palm trees at clean beaches and lanes and alleyways leading to piazzas and churches. Ticino offers Mountain tours that start in snow, ice and rock, end in balmy chestnut forests, and also the numerous sub-tropical parks and gardens. Cultural are available at every turn; romantic landscapes have always attracted poets and artists and inspired architect.
Located on the shore of Lake Maggiore, Ascona is Switzerland’s lowest lying town. The entire town of Ascona is listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. Ascona is famous for its mild climate, its Old Town and a lake promenade which is dotted with street cafés and boasts a Latin ambience. The town is a popular tourist destination and holds the yearly Ascona Jazz Festival.
There are eleven Swiss heritage site of national significance in Ascona. There are three churches on the list: the church of S. Maria della Misericordia with the Collegio Papio, the Church of S. Michele with the ruins of a medieval castle, and the Parish Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo. The church of San Pietro e Paolo, which is located in Ascona’s old center of town, Borgo, is well worth a visit. The church is a basilica dating back to the 16th century. The interior of the basilica is defined by columns. Its high bell tower is the landmark of the vacation destination of Ascona.
The branching lanes of the Old Town lead to the car-free zone of the Lake Promenade with its charming street cafés. The resort of Ascona, which is very close to Locarno, boasts a beautiful 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, elegant boutiques for shopping excursions, a large open-air swimming pool, smart hotels and many excellent restaurants, lovely walks in parkland, surfing, sailing and other water sports, not to mention boat trips on Lake Maggiore.
There are many opportunities for excursions, hiking and biking in the beautifully wild scenery of the nearby side valleys of the Tessin such as the Maggiatal and Centovalli. The Monte Verità, the Mountain of Truth, lies above Ascona. People who subscribed to philosophies off the beaten track established a colony here at the beginning of the 20th century. The colony attracted celebrities from all over the world. Today the mountain is a place where the universities of Lucerne and Zurich hold seminars, and a museum showcases the history of the alternative colony and its founders.
Located on the northern shore of Lago Maggiore, Locarno with the warmest climate in Switzerland. With 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, southern plants such as palm trees or lemon trees flourish in Locarno and give the city its special charm. The town is known for hosting the Locarno International Film Festival which takes place every year in August and involves open-air screenings at the main square, the Piazza Grande. It is also known for the Locarno Treaties, a series of European territorial agreements negotiated here in October 1925. Locarno has a number of interesting sights that draw tourists year-round.
The heart of the city is the Piazza Grande, well-known for its annual film festival. The narrow lanes of the Old Town all lead to the Piazza. Castello Visconteo, a castle dating back to the 12th century, lies at the edge of the Old Town. About a fifth of the castle has been preserved in its original state. Splendid upper-town palazzi house fine art collections and the lake promenade offers relaxed strolling. The pilgrimage church of Madonna del Sasso is located above Locarno, in Orselina. The church is said to have been established as a result of an appearance of the Virgin Mary. It is the most notable sight in Locarno, and boasts an extraordinary view of the city, the lake and the mountains.
Bellinzona is the southernmost capital of Switzerland. The town lies east of the river Ticino, at the foot of the Alps. The town acts as a gateway to Italy for those travelling from the North, and the keyhole to the Alps for those coming from the South. The skyline of the capital of Ticino is defined by the powerful fortifications, comprising three of the best-preserved medieval castles in Switzerland, which are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bellinzona is home to twelve buildings or areas that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. Additionally, it is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Three Castles of Bellinzona. The merger on 2 April 2017 added seven additional buildings or sites. The entire old town of Bellinzona, along with the villages of Moleno and Preonzo, is listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
The picturesque corners and squares, the courtyards and the neo-Classical, Italian-style theatre, and the sympathetically restored old houses tell visitors the history of what is culturally a Lombardy town. In its alleyways are richly decorated patrician houses and beautiful churches. Yet behind the austere charm of the medieval town is all the dynamic life of a modern meeting-place. Numerous boutiques, cafés and specialist shops offering culinary delicacies invite you to linger and window-shop. Each Saturday there is a big weekly market in the historical city center.
The fortifications of Bellinzona are among the most important examples of medieval defensive architecture in the Alps, and have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 2000. From the Castelgrande, Bellinzona’s oldest and mightiest castle, there is a beautiful view over the Old Town and the surrounding area. A little museum in the Castelgrande documents the history of Bellinzona’s castles and town centre. There are also museums in the other two castles.
The “Tre Castelli” are the symbol of Ticino’s capital, and form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Castelgrande and Montebello house museums relate the town’s rich history. Furthermore, in Castelgrande and Sasso Corbaro you can find some temporary exhibitions. From the three castles it is possible to admire a splendid panorama of the city, as well as the surrounding mountains up to Lake Maggiore.
Lugano is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. The city is home to a number of historic buildings and museums, whilst the surrounding area has many natural sights. Lugano lies in a bay on the northern side of Lake Lugano, surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. The traffic-free historic town centre, the numerous buildings in Italianate Lombardy style, the exclusive museums, the mountains, lake and a packed calendar of events all invite visitors to see the sights, soak up the atmosphere. With Mediterranean flair, Lugano offers all the advantages of a world-class city, combined with the cachet of a small town.
The town centre with its Mediterranean-style squares and arcades, and numerous parks with sub-tropical plants such as the Parco Civico on the shores of the lake invite you to laze around, enjoying the atmosphere. By the lakeside promenade are the Belvedere Gardens, where the parkland boasts not only camellias and magnolias but also countless sub-tropical plants and modern works of art. Thanks to its mild climate, Lugano is a popular tourist destination in the spring when the camellias are in bloom.
There are 17 sites in Lugano that are part of the Swiss heritage site of national significance. The city of Lugano, the districts of Barbengo, Brè, Gandria and Biogno, and the sites of Cantine di Gandria and Castagnola are all part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. The heritage sites of national significance include two libraries, the Biblioteca Cantonale and the Biblioteca Salita dei Frati as well as the Swiss National Recording Archives (Fonoteca nazionale svizzera). There were three churches; Cathedral of San Lorenzo, Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli and the Church of San Rocco.
The two closest mountains to Lugano, Monte San Salvatore and Monte Brè, give you an outstanding panorama of the town, Lake Lugano and the alpine scenery. From Monte Brè there is a walk down to the village of Brè, which has preserved its typical Ticino village centre, and enhanced it with works of art. From the San Salvatore another popular walk leads down through the beautifully situated Carona to Lake Lugano at Morcote. Taking a boat trip back to Lugano is a splendid way to round off the day. Other excursions are to the fishing village of Gandria, up the Monte San Giorgio or the Monte Generoso or to the Lilliput world of Switzerland in Miniature at Melide.
Lake Lucerne Region
The wonderful Alpine landscapes of Central Switzerland form the scenic backdrop to Lake Lucerne. Such world famous peaks as Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus and the Stanserhorn frame the water and add scenic grandeur. Gently gliding over the water is one of the most relaxing and tranquil ways to experience the heart of the Swiss Alps. Aside from its unique shape, with countless different bays and side arms, Lake Lucerne is also noteworthy for the variety of scenery.
Historic sites and enchanting countryside abound, from the monument to William Tell to commanding mountain peaks, from cities to remote Alpine valleys, from baroque monasteries to deserted canyons. Surfers brave wind and waves, lake steamers leave majestic wakes, colourful paragliders dot the sky. Mountain trains and suspended cable cars mount the peaks. The lake route is still plied today by the “Gotthard Panorama Express”: the trip begins in Lucerne with a cruise to Flüelen, and then continues in first-class panorama carriages across the famous Gotthard railway line through to Ticino.
A steamer cruise across the convolute lake of Lucerne on a sun-filled summer’s day is without doubt a wonderful experience. But a trip on a late scheduled sailing through a mild summer’s evening or, shortly before Christmas, toward the sea of lights that is the town of Lucerne must at least be just as unforgettable. As is the mystical mood on the lake during the autumn mist period, and when the steamer cuts steadily through the waves on Lake Uri whipped up by the föhn wind. Trips in the cosy warmth of the saloon motor vessels, whilst the snow-covered winter landscape passes by outside as complete relaxation.
In the area surrounding the lake and on terraces at medium height (for example Morschach and Seelisberg) there are numerous places for tourists. The Rigi, Pilatus, the Bürgenstock, the Stanserhorn, the Buochserhorn, and the two legends, the Urirotstock and the Fronalpstock are attractive panoramic mountains near Lake Lucerne. Most of them can be reached by mountain railways, some of which have their valley station near boat stations on the lake.
A boat trip can be ideally combined with a walk, such as the “Weg der Schweiz” or Swiss Path, a themed trail on the history of Switzerland. Several cycling and skating paths as well as numerous bathing and rest areas are provided along the lake shores. An excursion to the popular sightseeing and shopping town of Lucerne, to include a trip to the Swiss Museum of Transport with its IMAX cinema, the Glacier Garden or a leisurely shopping expedition through the old town. There are numerous locations on the lake that are important in Swiss cultural and tourism history: Rütli, Tellsplatte, Tell Chapel, Carving Tower of Stansstad, Neu-Habsburg, Schillerstein, Treib, Astrid Chapel (Küssnacht) and Meggenhorn Castle.
Engelberg is a major mountain resort in Central Switzerland. Engelberg-Titlis is the largest winter and summer holiday destination in central Switzerland. The attractive village with the famous monastery offers a wide variety of holiday activities for families, newcomers and those in the know. The many exciting options will make your stay an unforgettable mountain experience.
In the village itself the main sights are the Benedictine monastery Engelberg Abbey which incorporates a cheese factory and demonstration shop, the Talmuseum showing the history of the area and Swiss rural life, and a number of old chapels. The Titlis in the south of Engelberg at 3,238 metres (10,623 ft) above sea level is the highest summit of the range north of the Susten Pass, between the Bernese Oberland and Central Switzerland. The Titlis mountain massif is accessible by cable cars of the Titlis Bergbahnen.
Hiking with views far and wide, breathing in fresh mountain air and the scent of flowers make you feel as good as new and let your senses come alive: 500 km of hiking trails offer everything from leisurely to strenuous routes. There are pleasant places to stop and rest, countless grilling spots and mountain restaurants where you might like to linger. Engelberg is a winter resort, the largest and the most beautiful ski area in central Switzerland. The 35 km of cross-country ski trails meandering through the lovely Engelberg area. Spread over an altitude of 2000 meters, there is room for snowboarding, skiing and sledding, a varied winter program to make your holiday exciting.
Andermatt’s mountains are popular for their off-piste, deep snow characteristics. Andermatt (1444 m) lies at the heart of Switzerland’s Alpine passes, and is the largest of the three villages in the valley; it’s at the crossroads of the mountain passes from north to south and from east to west.The variety of tour options with the eight surrounding Alpine passes is unique worldwide. A stunning nature with countless mountain lakes, small glaciers, impressive side valleys and very different mountain passes wait to be discovered here.
Switzerland is considered the water tower of Europe, in the holiday region of Andermatt, an attractive and varied hike in five stages, connects the sources. Thrilling moments around Andermatt: the Furka, Gotthard, Oberalp, Susten, Klausen, Lukmanier, Nufenen and Grimsel passes. A trip packed with experiences: traverse the passes by PostBus, car, motorbike, racing bike, mountain bike or rent a classic car, board the Glacier Express or a historic post coach, take the Furka steam railway or the Oberalp Openair Express.
The Gotthard region is furthermore characterized by its cultural diversity and its well-documented history. Traces of this turbulent history can be found in the architecture, in the valley museum or in the legendary Schöllenen Gorge with the notorious Devil’s Bridge, once established by the people as gateway from north to south over the mighty Gotthard. From Göschenen station on the Gotthard line, the rack-and-pinion Schöllenenbahn climbs steeply up to Andermatt, where it meets the east-west route across the Alps of the Matterhorn-Gotthard line (with the Glacier Express), going towards either Valais or Grisons. Alternatively you can travel from Realp on the nostalgic “Dampfbahn Furka Bergstrecke”.
The Andermatt holiday region is one of the most snow-sure ski resorts in Switzerland. Andermatt has two main ski areas in the winter. Nätschen is a mountain located on the north-east side of Andermatt. Gemsstock is a mountain located on the southern side of Andermatt. Here, the diverse skiing areas of the Skiarena Andermatt-Sedrun offer a healthy mix with varying degrees of altitude and levels of difficulty. Both areas are accessible by ski lifts running up from the village.
The Rigi, also known as the Queen of Mountains, the highest point on the Rigi-Kulm at 1,797m asl is where visitors can admire a magnificent panorama over Lake Lucerne and the nearby Alps, and to the Swiss Plateau looking north. With a panoramic view of the highest Alpine peaks and a varied range of leisure activities, the Rigi is a mountain where you can hike, relax and swim, as well as sledge and ski in winter. Exercise and fresh air are enough to make anyone hungry: barbecue spots and restaurants are open all year round. The ride and views of Lake Lucerne are stunning.
The Rigi Kulm and other areas, such as the resort of Rigi Kaltbad, are served by Europe’s oldest mountain railways, the Rigi Railways. The whole area offers many activities such as skiing or sledging in the winter, and hiking in the summer. The local recreational area has a well signposted network of footpaths and offers activities for all ages. Various playgrounds and a rope park are on hand, as are a mini-golf course and an Alpine dairy, where you can watch the cheesemaker at work.
The Rigi is known as a true paradise for hikers, with over 100km of hiking paths and 15km of Nordic walking trails. On the routes between Rigi-Kulm, Staffelhöhe, Kaltbad, Scheidegg and Klösterli, hikers are sure to enjoy spectacular views over the lakes and the Swiss Plateau. The major differences in altitude can easily be conquered by cable car or mountain railway. Young and old alike love to flock to Rigiland in Kaltbad, where they will find a large children’s playground, the Wildmannlipfad trail, a mini-golf course, picnic areas and a natural pond complete with Kneipp path. The Rigi steam railway journey can be combined with a steamer voyage on Lake Lucerne for a truly wonderful experience.
In autumn, as the days start to get shorter and the fog cover begins to cloud the mood, it is well worth heading up the Rigi. That liberating feeling when the Rigi Railway rises up through the fog is indescribable. On its sunny terraces, the warm temperatures can be enjoyed alongside glorious views of the blanket of fog below and the surrounding mountains.
In winter, the Rigi is a sunlit isle floating above the sea of mist. Escape the low-lying cloud in winter and hit the slopes for some skiing or sledging. Or enjoy the views while snowshoeing on waymarked trails and stop off somewhere for a winter barbecue. At these lofty heights, visitors can choose from a wide range of winter sports: five ski lifts with 15km of ski and snowboard pistes, an airboard piste, 7km of tobogganing runs, a 14km panoramic ski run as well as 35km of groomed winter hiking, snowshoe and Nordic walking trails.
The village of Stoos is set in a delightful alpine landscape at the foot of the Fronalpstock mountain, on a sunny alpine plateau of the same name at about 1300 m. Fronalpstock (1,922 meters) is the local mountain that can be reached on foot or with one of the cable cars. From this imposing viewpoint (where there is overnight accommodation), there is an impressive panoramic view of ten lakes, down to Brunnen and over to the Rütli, Pilatus, Rigi, Säntis, the high Alps and the central lowlands as far as the Jura.
A first-class holiday idyll awaits you high above Lake Lucerne: the Fronalpstock offers stunning views of ten lakes and the mountains of Central Switzerland. Pleasures of the palate await at an altitude of 1,922 metres. The highest restaurant in the canton of Schwyz offers regional specialities on its large panoramic terrace or in the rustic dining room. There are countless mountain peaks to admire from the Fronalpstock, not forgetting the Rütli Meadow, the birthplace of Switzerland, which can be seen from across the lake.
The area offers a varied range of mountain sports complete with hiking and thematic trails, plus fun things to do at Stoos’ little lake. In winter, the Fronalpstock and Klingenstock offer 35 km of slopes, groomed winter walking and cross-country skiing trails, a freestyle park and runs devoted to sledging and airboarding. The Stoos ridge hike from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock offers spectacular views of more than ten Swiss lakes and countless Alpine peaks in Central Switzerland. Alongside the fascinating panorama, you can see a large number of exquisite Alpine flowers by the wayside.
Summer visitors will find attractive routes for hiking, strolling and climbing among varied alpine flora and fauna. The marshland at 1,300 meters above sea level is an ideal excursion destination where visitors can find plenty of excitement and expand their knowledge of moors. On the way you can enjoy tasty specialities from local alpine cheese-makers at the two inns in Laui and Tröligen. There are three marked Nordic Walking Trails of varying degrees of difficulty to encourage followers of this fashionable sport.
Zermatt is a world-renowned tourist resort and the starting (terminal) station of Switzerland’s famous scenic train, the Glacier Express,. the air here is fresh and pure. The mountain village is surrounded by towering mountains and magnificent glaciers. Skiing can be done all year round. Here you can admire 38 majestic peaks over 4,000 meters above sea level. Tourists can easily reach the scenic spot above 3,000 meters by cable car and climbing train, enjoying the continuous snow-capped mountain scenery and the beautiful figure of the Matterhorn.
Zermatt is a starting point for hikes into the mountains, including the Haute Route that leads to Chamonix in France and the Patrouille des Glaciers. Cable cars and chair lifts carry skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer; the highest of them leads to the Klein Matterhorn at 3,883 m (12,740 ft), a peak on the ridge between Breithorn and Matterhorn that offers extensive views in all directions. It is possible to cross into Italy via the Cervinia cable car station. A rack railway line (the Gornergratbahn, the highest open-air railway in Europe) runs up to the summit of the Gornergrat at 3,089 m (10,135 ft).
There are also many shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and hotels in the mountain village, mainly concentrated on Bahnhofstrasse (Bahnhofstrasse) in front of the train station, where you can enjoy food and shopping on foot. The local economy is based on tourism, with about half of the jobs in town in hotels or restaurants and just under half of all apartments are vacation apartments.
The world of Zermatt’s hotels is among the best anywhere. Zermatt’s accommodation are legendary. Hotels with chic and charm, tradition and hospitality. And chalets and holiday flats, spacious rooms, dream-world spas and world-class gastronomy. And the hospitality of the Zermatt hosts leaves nothing to be desired. Whether you want a luxurious 5-star hotel, a snug 4-star house, a cosy family hotel or a spacious apartment, there is a wide choice of accommodation in Zermatt, with something for all holidaymakers.
Zermatt is also just a great place to shop. Watches and jewellery sparkle in the shop windows, enticing fragrances waft from the bakeries. Zermatt offers a top-class shopping experience. A stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse reveals an amazing variety. The best possible equipment is available including knowledgeable tips from local experts, also souvenir from Zermatt.
The Valais is a land of contrasts: In the mountains majestic four-thousand-meter-high peaks and fascinating glaciers in the valley along the Rhone – along with sprawling vineyards and unspoilt side valleys. Valais is essentially renowned for its tourism industry and its numerous Alpine resort towns. The majestic 4000 meter-high peaks and an overall length of around 2400 kilometers of slopes. shape panoramas here and at the same time provide a unique setting for winter sports.
The sun’s rays bathe the wonderful unspoilt countryside with its mountains, meadows, vineyards and trees in a glorious light, Valais offers more leisurely manner, with idyllic hikes through snowy forests or a snowshoe trek through the alpine landscape to rest the soul and mind. More than 8,000 kilometers of marked hiking trails lead past bubbling mountain streams, historic irrigation channels and mystical Alpine lakes; spectacular mountain bike trails meander over mountain slopes and through dense forests and soothing thermal baths provide purest relaxation.
At the peak of Valais you can still ski high up in the glacial world above. And whether in a mountain restaurant, après-ski gathering or one of the summit guesthouses, guests delight in delicious regional specialties and excellent wines from the Valais. The sun makes unique tasting wines along with other amazing natural products such as sweet and tasty fruit and savory spices.
Sion is the capital of the Canton of Valais, is known as the most sun-blessed town of Switzerland. Thanks to its central location, the small town abounding with culture is also an ideal starting point for exploring the summer and winter holiday resorts in the Valais side valleys. With boasts a 7,000-year history, Past and future blend in one of Switzerland’s oldest cities. The many charming historical monuments in the Old Town, mixing the shopping area, and the new modern and convenient municipal facilities.
There are 14 buildings or sites in Sion that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. A characteristic of Sion is its medieval townscape, dominated by the hills Valère with the Basilique de Valère, and Tourbillon with the ruins of the Tourbillon Castle. The Valère Basilica is the church on top of the southern of the two mottes, at the east end of the old town. It houses the oldest playable organ in the world, which was built in the 1430s.
Today Sion is the economic center of Valais and an important traffic junction with its own international airport. Thanks to Switzerland’s biggest bus station offering countless connections it takes no time to get to the charming side valleys of the Valais. Consequenlty Sion is an ideal starting point for exploring the Valais’ summer and winter holiday resorts and the nearby thermal spa resorts. In winter Sion offers fast access to the nearby ski resorts of Anzère, Crans-Montana, 4 Vallées or Val d’Hérens.
Lake Geneva Region
The Lake Geneva region encompassing the cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais, extends from the peaceful Jura Mountains up to the fascinating Vaudoise Alps and along crystal–clear and majestic lakes that blend into the authentic charm of the landscape. more than 200 different modes of transport and special highlights such as igloo adventures and hot-air balloon rides. Few regions offer as wide a variety of holiday pursuits as does the area surrounding Lake Geneva.
Gently sloping vineyards border the shores of the lake, with the capital city of Lausanne across from the highest Alpine peaks. Lively towns and small wine-growing villages appear scattered at random. The inhabitants of the medieval towns and the original inhabitants of the castles have always had both feet planted firmly on the ground. In the quiet Vallé de Joux, nature remains unspoiled. The Jura mountains lie to the north and the Vaud Alps to the east, with lush pastures, chalet villages, mountain peaks and glaciers, as well as sunny ledges ready-made for a relaxed vacation and sporting adventures.
Extensive woods and plateaux entice you to explore the Vallée de Joux, St-Cergue or Ste-Croix/Les Rasses. An active cultural life and outstanding shopping characterise the cities of Lausanne, Vevey-Montreux, Nyon, Rolle, Morges and Yverdon-les-Bains. Hospitable mountain villages present a wide range of winter sports. Downhill skiing on the Alpine glaciers, cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing across the Jura range, city life and sophisticated dining.
Located in the centre of a region named Riviera, Montreux has been an important tourist destination since the 19th century due to its mild climate. The region includes numerous Belle Époque palaces and hotels near the shores of Lake Geneva. From the lake to the mountains and vineyards, Montreux Riviera offers a postcard landscape. Montreux Riviera is especially rich in cultural events, including the unmissable Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Audiorama, the Swiss National Audiovisual Museum, Crêtes Castle, Châtelard Castle, the Train Station, the Hôtel Montreux Palace, the Caux Palace Hotel, the Ile and Villa Salagnon, the Marché couvert, the Palace-Hôtel, the Grand Hôtel de Territet which was formerly the Grand-Hôtel/the Hôtel des Alpes, served as the recording studio for Deep Purple’s record Machine Head, and the Villa Karma are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire urban village of Territet / Veytaux as well as the Caux, Montreux and Villas Dubochet areas are all part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
From Villeneuve to Lutry, along the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux Riviera enjoys a microclimate that gives it a Mediterranean flair. The atmosphere is perfect for relaxing, going on walks, discovering new areas, and the climate is ideal for a rich terroir, cultivated expertly by restaurateurs and winegrowers. A few minutes from the shore up on the hills, forests interspersed with meadows invite walkers to roam the hiking trails, observe blossoming wild narcissus and admire a panorama that transforms with each season.
Montreux is an authentic little piece of paradise that has attracted many artists, writers and travellers in search of beauty, tranquillity and inspiration. Charlie Chaplin chose to spend his last 25 years on the hills of Vevey, that Freddie Mercury use Lake Geneva with the peaks of Le Grammont on the cover of the album “Made in Heaven”, that Igor Stravinski composed “The Rite of Spring” in Montreux, known as “Prince”, declared his love for Lavaux in a song named after the famous terraced vineyard, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The spick-and-span little town of Nyon is situated on Lake Geneva, half way between Geneva and Lausanne, amid the vineyards of La Côte. Nyon Castle and the Museum of the History of Porcelain, the Roman Colonia Iulia Equestris, the Swiss Reformed Church of Notre-Dame, the Manoir at Rue Maupertuis 2 & 4, the Roman Museum and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire old city of Nyon is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
Many excavations and sights from the times of the Celtic Helvetians and the Romans, and from the Middle Ages, bear witness to its eventful history. From the 13th century, the Counts of Savoy began building a mighty castle on top of Roman ruins, dominated by five huge towers. Nowadays this castle, towering over the Old Town, houses the Museum of History and Porcelain, containing valuable items from the former porcelain manufacturing industry in Nyon.
Three Corinthian columns on a little hill in the parkland by the lake recall the Roman era. The Museum of Lake Geneva in the district by the lakeside tells you all about Western Europe’s largest lake. There are aquariums, large and small models of boats and a restored steamer to tell the story of the natural history and shipping of the lake. Higher than this district, a promenade offers fine views of the lake, the Mont-Salève and Mont Blanc.
The town of Morges is situated on Lake Geneva, opposite the majestic Mont Blanc and not far from Lausanne. Located between Lake Geneva, sights in the region rich in diversity, the mountains and the view of the majestic Mont Blanc, the lush vineyards of the La Côte wine region and finally the verdant countryside at the foot of the Jura mountains.
There are cultural riches a-plenty here. The region is home to many museums, theatres and splendid places where heritage still takes centre stage. The pedestrianised Grand-Rue, in the heart of the old town and overlooked by the temple, plays host to a market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Morges is not only characterised by its impressive castle – which is home to multiple museums – but also by its pretty streets and alleyways as well as its flower displays, including the Tulip Festival in April and May.
Morges is home to the Les Roseaux and Stations de Morges prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements that are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps UNESCO World Heritage Site. The De La Croix Blanche Inn, the buildings at Grand-Rue 54 and Grand-Rue 94, Morges Castle along with the Military Museum of Vaud, the City Hall, the Bronze Age shore front settlement Les Roseaux/La Grande Cité and the Temple are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire old city of Morges is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
The Morges region offers a wide range of landscapes and environments to choose from. The district is also full of little gems of nature: panoramas that will take your breath away, and marked hiking routes to follow on foot, by bike or on snowshoes. This vast region is packed full of multiple different activities, be they cultural, gastronomic, sporty, surrounded by nature.
Travelling through the region also offers the opportunity to discover pretty little villages, together with their history, their old towns and their magnificent castles. Morges is actually the first destination in Switzerland to be listed as a slow destination, a new trend in response to the acceleration of modern life. This refers to a way of travelling peacefully, meeting local people while adopting eco-responsible behaviour.
The little town of Avenches is set on the wide Broye Plain in the canton of Vaud, near its border with Fribourg. Avenches, formerly Aventicum, the capital of Roman Helvetia, boasts a unique heritage from Roman times. There is a tour starting from the amphitheatre and including the main Roman sites and excavations. The Roman museum houses a precious Gallo-Roman collection, including a valuable copy of the famous gold bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Avenches exudes unmistakeable Swiss-French charm. In the centre of the little town, with its arcades and many striking facades in Gothic and Renaissance style invite you to pause for a while. The Roman ruins of Aventicum, Avenches Castle, the Cure at Rue du Jura 2, the Swiss Reformed Church, the Temple à Donatyre and the Tour de l’évêque (Bishops tower) with amphitheater and Roman Museum are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire town of Avenches and the Haras fédéral area are part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
The gentle rolling hills between the Lakes of Murten and Neuchâtel, the vineyards and the nature reserves are ideal for walking and cycling. The region by the little River Broye, with its many nature reserves and terraced vineyards, offers many opportunities for walking, cycling and water sports. On the way, it is worth sampling some wine from one of the region’s growers of the sparkling white wine from Mont Vully.
Le Sentier is a village in the Vallée de Joux in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Surrounded by the Vaudois mountains, rivers, lakes and forests, Le Sentier is the most populous village in the Vallée de Joux with 3,000 inhabitants. The village and the surrounding area have been an important showcase for the watchmaking industry since the 18th century. Numerous Swiss watchmakers are based in Le Sentier: Jaeger-LeCoultre, Gérald Genta, Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, Romain Gauthier.
Summertime in and around Le Sentier is a true natural spectacle. Aside from the various beautiful hiking trails, the surrounding area is also known for its many cycling routes. The magnificent Lac de Joux at 1,000 metres above sea level, the lake even attracts windsurfers, yachtsmen and water skiers. The Vallée de Joux attracts snow sports enthusiasts with its ski area and 220 kilometres of cross-country trails.
Yverdon-les-Bains is located in the heart of a natural setting formed by the Jura mountains, the plains of the Orbe, the hills of the Broye and Lake Neuchâtel. It is the second most important town in the Canton of Vaud. It is known for its thermal springs and is an important regional centre for commerce and tourism. It was awarded the Wakker Prize in 2009 for the way the city handled and developed the public areas and connected the old city with Lake Neuchâtel.
There are nine sites that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance in Yverdon. The public buildings are; the Public Library of Yverdon-Les-Bains, Yverdon Castle and museum, the City Hall, the L’ancien hôtel de l’Aigle, the Thorens House (formerly Steiner House) and the Villa d’Entremont. It includes one religious building, the Temple. The last two sites are Clendy, a littoral settlement and prehistoric megalithic site and Eburodunum, a Celtic oppidum, a Roman vicus and a medieval and modern village.
The cultural town of Yverdon-les-Bains offers a few unusual museums: with the «House from Elsewhere» Yverdon boasts the first science fiction museum in Europe. At the Savoy Castle, which dates from the 13th century and dominates the old town, an exhibition documents the history of the town and region. The same building also houses the Swiss Fashion Museum. At the castle and later also at the town hall, the famous Swiss pedagogue Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi – influenced early on by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideas on education – from 1805 to 1825 ran an education institute for poor children which became world-famous.
The town of Yverdon-les-Bains is the most important spa resort in western Switzerland. The thermal spa of Yverdon-les-Bains combines the beneficial characteristics of the sulphur water and modern, in recent years completely renovated spa facilities with an attached 4-star hotel. Thanks to its sulphur- and magnesium-rich sources Yverdon-les-Bains has a long tradition as a thermal health spa and centre for healing, as the ruins of the Roman spa testify. Primeval menhirs and medieval castles bear further testimony to 6000 years of history.
The hills of the Broye and Lake Neuenburg In summer the town and the area surrounding it are a water sports and natural paradise. The Grande Cariçaie nature preserve extends alongside the sparsely populated and developed southern border of the lake. The area is home to 1000 plant and 10 000 animal species. From May to October visitors have the opportunity to explore the natural wealth of the marshy lakeside at the Champ-Pittet nature preserve centre in the immediate vicinity of Yverdon-les-Bains. Trails across the marsh, forest and prairie landscape as well as a bird-watching centre allow visitors to have an intensive nature experience.
Villars-sur-Ollon is a village situated at 1300 m, on a sunny south-facing terrace high above the Rhone valley, the holiday resort of Villars-sur-Ollon in the heart of the Vaud Alps enjoys breathtaking views of the Dents-du-Midi and the Mont Blanc massif and as far as Lake Geneva. The skiing area of Villars incorporates the two smaller areas of Villars/Bretaye and Gryon and is also linked via the route over Le Meilleret with the Les Diablerets skiing area, including a glacier skiing area at 3000 m. In addition there are three snowparks, a snow kindergarten, 44 km of cross-country skiing trails, sledging runs and numerous winter walking routes.
For excursions, the attractive lakeside towns of Montreux, Évian, and Vevey are all close by and boat trips around Lac Leman are easily available. The imposing Aigle Castle built in the 12th century now houses the local Wine Museum. Chillon Castle, built in the 13th century on the banks of Lake Geneva, used to serve as a residence for the noble counts during the middle ages. The Gruyère-Pays d’Enhaut National park is also nearby. You reach these resorts by driving from Ollon or Bex in the Rhone valley. In summer, it is possible to drive to Les Diablerets over the Col de la Croix. From Bex there is also a narrow-gauge railway which winds its way in tight curves through Gryon and up to the sunshine terrace of Villars and on to Bretaye, the starting point for numerous sporting and leisure activities.
Château-d’Œx is a municipality present a diverse range of holiday experiences and sporting activities. Wonderful mountainscapes and old decorated chalets are typical for the villages of the Pays-d’Enhaut. Les Ciernes-Picat, a mesolithic shelter, is listed as a Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire village of L’Étivaz is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. Thanks to its favourable micro-climate, Château-d’Oex has developed into a hot-air ballooning metropolis. A museum dedicated to Montgolfier type balloons is located in the centre of the town. The world-famous “Balloon Week” has been held each year since 1979 in the last week of January. Up to 100 balloonists gather for the festival each year.
South of Château-d’Oex lies a beautiful pre-Alpine walking area: La Pierreuse, the largest nature conservation area in western Switzerland contains rock areas, forests, abundant flora and flat moors. For both leading bikers and amateurs, the Pays-d’Enhaut offers a large network of marked mountain biking trails along the tracks of the 1997 world championships. You can indulge in white-water sports on the fast-flowing river Saane: canyoning, hydrospeed, canoeing /kayaking and river rafting. One of Switzerland’s most beautiful river rafting routes lies between the wild Vanel and Gérignoz gorges.
Located in the Vaud Alps, Leysin is a sunny alpine resort village at the eastern end of Lake Geneva in proximity to Montreux, Lausanne, and Geneva. In earlier years, Leysin was known for its TB sanatorias; today it is most famous for spectacular Alpine views across the Rhône Valley towards the Dents du Midi and year-round mountain sports and recreational facilities. The village of Leysin and hamlet of Veyges are a designated part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
In addition to affording fantastic views of the Rhone Plain, Mont Blanc, Dents du Midi and Diablerets is an attractive family holiday world. The village in the Vaud Alps which is at the same altitude as Villars is accessible from Aigle by rack-railway (35-minute journey) or by car via Le Sepey. The excursion possibilities to the Lower Valais and Lake Geneva are varied: Aigle with its medieval castle and Wine and Vine Museum, the salt mines of Bex, a cruise on Lake Geneva, in Le Bouveret the Swiss Vapeur Parc for young railway enthusiasts and the Aquaparc.
The beautiful ski region with 17 lifts and a snowpark with a halfpipe, and ski tours and snow-shoe treks offer skiers and snowboarders ideal opportunities for enjoyment. And there is also a snow sport school, a lit cross-country skiing trail and toboggan run. Additional challenges for skiers and snowboarders are available in the “Glacier 3000” ski area at the Col du Pillon and Les Diablerets. In the small holiday resort of Les Mosses/La Lécherette a family-friendly ski region with lots of space for cross-country skiers.
Eastern Switzerland stretches from the shimmering waters of Lake Constance across the hilly Appenzellerland to the Alpine landscapes of Toggenburg, the Heidiland holiday region and the Glarnerland. Far off in the Rhine Valley is Vaduz with its princes’ castle. Eastern Switzerland with fabulous descents and wonderful views over the lakes and the mountains, and the skiing areas of Eastern Switzerland are perfect for all skiing, snowboarding and carving fans.
Appenzell is a historic canton in the northeast of Switzerland, the villages here are situated in a singularly beautiful landscape of rolling hills. The region is known for rural customs and traditions such as the ceremonial descent of the cattle in autumn and cultural events such as folk music and rustic dances. Appenzell is a car-free village beckons with pretty lanes and a myriad of small stores and boutiques that are ideal for shopping and browsing. The facades of the buildings are decorated with frescoes. Appenzell Museum, which is in the town hall, shows a cross section of Appenzell’s history and culture.
The transformation from the hilly landscapes of the Swiss mittelland to the rock-dominated Alpine world so full of surprise, mighty rock formations tower loftily to over 2500 metres in height. Appenzell benefits from a particularly dense network of rambling trails, including ‘experience trails’ such as the barefoot trail near Gonten, a trail which enables you to experience nature, and the circular chapel trails. In winter, the hilly pre-Alpine landscape and the mighty Alpstein take on the appearance of a snowy-white winter fairytale. Winter walking and cross-country skiing are very widespread in the hilly Appenzell landscapes. A wide network of around 200 km of cross-country ski trails extends through Appenzell. Kronberg, Hoher Kasten and Ebenalp-Schwende are popular ski areas with families in winter.
Schaffhausen is a town with historic roots, in the northernmost corner of Switzerland, in the “knee” of the Rhine in Eastern Switzerland on the border with Germany. The traffic-free Old Town of Schaffhausen is considered one of the prettiest in Switzerland, on account of its many oriel windows and lavishly painted facades. Many of the fine guildhouses and merchant’s houses date from Gothic and Baroque times. The old town has many fine Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescos and sculpture, as well as the old Munot fortress.
The houses of the Old Town are richly decorated with oriel windows and lavishly painted facades. The town, located on the High Rhine between the Black Forest and Lake Constance, and surrounded by vineyards, is a popular destination for holidays and day-trips. Schaffhausen is also a railway junction of Swiss and German rail networks. One of the lines connects the town with the nearby Rhine Falls in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Europe’s largest waterfall, a tourist attraction.
Over the mediaeval Old Town of Schaffhausen looms the imposing Munot fortress, can be seen for miles. The ring-shaped stronghold was built between 1564 and 1589 to a design by Albrecht Dürer. You can see far and wide from the battlements. Every evening at 9 p.m., the Munot guard who lives in the tower rings the Munot bell, which used to be a sign that the town gates and inns should close.
In the area to the north of Schaffhausen, in the hilly region of the Randen. The riverside landscape along the Rhine is a lovely area for cycling, walking and boating. The popular Untersee Lake-Rhine boat trip from Schaffhausen to Kreuzlingen is nearly 50 km long. The section of river between Schaffhausen and the well-preserved little mediaeval town of Stein am Rhein, with its frescos and painted houses, is particularly charming. The Benedictine monastery of St. Georgen now houses the monastery museum. Over the town towers the castle of Hohenklingen.
Frauenfeld is the capital of the canton of Thurgau. Frauenfeld is a lively small town, the striking eye-catcher is the castle in the charming old town. Founded by the counts of Kyburg, to this day, Castle Frauenfeld, with its tower from 1227, as well as the rectangular layout of the old town is witness to that history. The wonderful surroundings are ideal for excursions, hiking and bicycle tours. Worthwhile destinations such as the Seebach Valley, numerous castles and fantastic panoramic vistas reward active visitors for their efforts. A few kilometers away you will find Kartause Ittingen, a former monastery that is a national treasure.
There are ten buildings that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance in Frauenfeld. There are four archives and a library on the list; archive of the Amtes für Denkmalpflege, the archive of the Department of Archeology, the Citizen’s Archive of Frauenfeld, the State Archives of the Canton and Cantonal Library. The Catholic City Church and the Simultaneum Church of St Laurenzen with St Anna Chapel and Messmerhaus are the two religious buildings on the list. Two museums, the Museum of Archeology and Natural History of the Canton of Thurgau and Frauenfeld Castle which contains the Historical Museum, are on the list. The last building on the list is the Rathaus or town council house. The entire old city of Frauenfeld is included in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
St.Gallen is a university town with a focus on the economic sciences. The compact metropolis of eastern Switzerland between Lake Constance and Appenzellerland has a charming, traffic-free old town. Colourfully-painted oriel windows are a town feature. The Abbey precinct with the cathedral and Abbey Library has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage listing. The home town of the renowned “Mummenschanz” theatre group offers a varied cultural offering with theatres and museums. In summer, the romantic art-nouveau Dreilinden-Weiher open-air pool with its splendid views over the town attracts visitors to swim.
There are 28 sites in St. Gallen that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance, including four religious buildings; the Abbey of St. Gallen, the former Dominican Abbey of St. Katharina, the Reformed Church of St. Laurenzenkirche and the Roman Catholic parish church of St. Maria Neudorf. St.Gallen’s most famous landmark is its Baroque cathedral with the Abbey Library, which houses some 170,000 documents – in part hand-written and over a thousand years old. The library probably also has Switzerland’s most beautiful Rococo hall. The entire Abbey precinct was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
Basel’s location in the Dreiländereck (border triangle) does not only make this a cosmopolitan and welcoming destination, but also allows you to enjoy a variety of activities in the tri-national hinterland. The endless forests of the Black Forest will inspire you to go out hiking or playing golf as well as to take part in water sports in the summer and skiing in the winter. There is guaranteed fun at Europa Park with breathtaking roller coasters and spooky ghost trains.
The undulating green hills of the Jura, the broad plateaux with their magnificent views, and also the Laufental valley to the south of Basel, are delightful walking areas far away from any hustle and bustle. First-class wine and regional culinary delights await you right on the border in Alsace, including in beautiful Colmar or in Eguisheim. Explore the “Route des Vins” wine route and enjoy the culinary delights of our neighbouring countries.Here you can enjoy the rural idyll on well-signposted paths.
Rheinfelden is a municipality in the canton of Aargau. The name means the fields of the Rhine, as the town is located on the High Rhine. It is home to Feldschlösschen, the most popular beer in Switzerland. The historic town centre with its typical wide market street and delightful side lanes is an inviting area in which to wander, explore and do some shopping. The Roman town and museum Augusta Raurica in Augst, the oldest romain colony at the Rhine and the salt-works Riburg in Möhlin are further attractive places worth visiting near Rheinfelden.
The entire old town of Rheinfelden is designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. There are seven sites in Rheinfelden that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. Two religious buildings are on the list, the Christian Catholic collegiate church of St. Martin and the Johanniter Chapel at Johannitergasse 70. Three fortifications are on the list; the Heimenholz and the Pferrichgraben which were both part of the old Roman era Rhine fortications and the entire medieval city wall. The last two buildings on the list are the Feldschlösschen brewery at Feldschlösschenstrasse 34 and the former Gasthof (combination hotel and restaurant) zum goldenen Adler at Obertorplatz 4.
Aargau – Solothurn region
Aargau-Solothurn is a region of great diversity, constant surprises and endless beauty. From national cultural events and wellness oases that are second to none to internationally-renowned baroque, Idyllic, untouched landscapes, small towns with urban attractions and sports facilities, this region has it all. A region that preserves its exclusive culture with care. Discover the most beautiful Baroque town in Switzerland, as well to the pretty old town of Olten, one of no fewer than 13 old towns in Aargau that are worth seeing, such as Aarau, Baden, Lenzburg or Rheinfelden. You’ll find palaces and castles,mention the multiple, diverse museums and major cultural events and mysterious stories around almost every corner.
Aarau, the capital of the Canton of Aargau in the Swiss Mittelland, is located on the River Aare. Aarau is located by the southern foot of the Jura foothills in the centre of the big city triangle of Zurich, Basel and Lucerne. The charming old town boasts the most beautiful eaves, the so-called “Dachhimmel”, in Switzerland. The Bally Shoe company has a unique shoe museum in the city. There is also the Trade Museum which contain stained glass windows from Muri Convent and paintings. Each May, Aarau plays host to the annual Jazzaar Festival attracting the world’s top Jazz musicians.
Aarau is home to a number of sites that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. The list includes three churches; the Christian Catholic parish house, the Catholic parish house, and the Reformed City Church. There are five government buildings on the list; the Cantonal Library, which contains many pieces important to the nation’s history, and Art Gallery, the old Cantonal School, the Legislature, the Cantonal Administration building, and the archives. Three gardens or parks are on the list; Garten Schmidlin, Naturama Aargau and the Schlossgarten. The remaining four buildings on the list are; the former Rickenbach Factory, the Crematorium, the Haus zum Erker at Rathausgasse 10 and the Restaurant Zunftstube at Pelzgasse.
The many painted eaves, the so-called “Dachhimmel” which predominantly date from the 16th century when the town underwent considerable extension, are a special feature of the old town of Aarau. It’s for this reason that Aarau is regarded as the town of beautiful gables. And Aarau continues to display an appreciation of art: the Aargau Art Museum featuring an extension designed by the famous architects Herzog & de Meuron offers architecture and art exhibitions setting high standards.
The Canton of Aargau boasts a great many castles, including some of Switzerland’s most impressive such as the Lenzburg, the Hallwyl Water Castle and the Habsburg Castle – main residence of the famous dynasty from the the 10th century onwards. And Brugg, Baden and Zurich are a very short journey away. The Vindonissa Museum offers an opportunity to discover traces of the Romans and Windish is home to the biggest and best-preserved amphitheatre in Switzerland. And there are also a lot of historic towns, such as Bremgarten, Zofingen and others, to visit in the Canton of Aargau.
Solothurn is regarded as the finest Baroque town in Switzerland, where Italian grandeur is combined with French charm and German practicality. The town got its name from Salodurum, a Roman-era settlement. The old town, shows an impressive array of Baroque architecture, combining Italian Grandezza, French style, and Swiss ideas, was built between 1530 and 1792. So-called “ambassador’s town”, it was then the seat of the French ambassador to Switzerland.
Solothurn is home to 18 structures that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. The religious buildings on the list are; the Visitation Convent, the Jesuit Church with Kollegium (Lapidarium), the Swiss Reformed Church on Westringstrasse and the St. Ursen Cathedral. There are four civic buildings on the list; the old Armory which is now the Cantonal Museum, the Rathaus (town council house), the State Archives at Bielstrasse 41 and the nearby Central Library at Bielstrasse 39.
Two other museums are on the list, the Art Museum and the Naturmuseum. There are two houses and two public objects on the list; the Haller-Haus (former Bishops Palace) at Baselstrasse 61, the Sommerhaus Vigier at Untere Steingrubenstrasse 21, the Mauritius Fountain and the town clock tower. Two castles are listed; the former Blumenstein Castle and Steinbrugg Castle. Finally, the list includes the old town of Salodurum which was a Roman era Vicus and the medieval and early modern city as well as the city walls. The entire old city of Solothurn is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the Catholic town of Solothurn was the residence of the French king’s ambassador. Fine Baroque and Renaissance buildings, such as the noble Palais Besenval, and magnificent religious buildings meet the visitor at every end and turn – the Old Town has eleven churches and chapels and the same number of fountains and towers. Truly magnificent is the St.Urs Cathedral, with an Italian-style staircase in front. Inside are wonderful Baroque stuccos. The town walls, which are still intact in some places, were built according to the principles of the French military engineer Vauban.
Between the beautiful historic monuments, the patrician buildings and the sturdy fortifications, the traffic-free Old Town is a pleasant place to wander, with lots of small shops and inns. On warm summer evenings, it is very pleasant to sit in the garden restaurants and bars by the Aare. The town has a range of cultural attractions going far beyond the regional, including the Solothurn Film and Literature Days. The museums range from the History Museum to the internationally acclaimed Natural History Museum, a Museum of Stones, the ENTER PC Museum and Schloss Waldegg. Finally, in the «Old Arsenal» is one of the largest weapons collections in Europe.
Olten is a town in the canton of Solothurn, lies between Solothurn and Aarau at the southern foot of the Jura on the river Aare. Olten’s railway station is within 30 minutes of Zürich, Basel, Bern, and Lucerne by train, and is a rail hub of Switzerland. Thanks to its central location in the Swiss Mittelland, the town is a popular venue for conventions and meetings.
The Old City of Olten, which includes a Roman era vicus as well as medieval and early modern developments, Train Station, the prehistoric and Roman era hilltop settlement of Dickenbännli, the covered wooden bridge over the Aare river and the Naturmuseum are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. The entire town of Olten is part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.
When undertaking a tour through the old town, a visit to Olten’s museums, the nature museum, art museum, historical museum and home of the cantonal archaeological museum and «Wertpapierwelt», the historical museum of shares and bonds, is well worthwhile. Those with a yearning for the exotic will find Switzerland’s largest Thai temple in nearby Gretzenbach. Finally, on travelling around Olten, visitors will encounter a multitude of interesting fortresses, ruins, castles, churches and chapels.
The unspoiled nature of the nearby Jura heights also makes the area an attractive leisure region. Numerous excursions, walking trails and bicycle tours in a surprisingly untouched natural environment with light broadleaf forests lead towards the Jura and along the course of the river Aare. Following a climb through the famous “Tüfelsschlucht” on to the “Allerheiligenberg” and then making your way on to Belchen, you’re then rewarded with a delightful panoramic view across the Swiss Mittelland. The numerous steep Jura faces, climbing walls and quarries attract ambitious climbers to the region as well.
Lenzburg is located in Central Switzerland. The undisputed landmark of the city is the Lenzburg castle, built in the 11th century and since enlarged on several occasions. Lenzburg ranks among the oldest and most important high-castles in Switzerland. The castle is located on a hill and towers about 100 meters above the city level. The old part of the town at the foot of the hill is U-shaped and in very good condition, consisting of a main road with two parallel alleys and another lane. Only parts of the city wall have been preserved and are now under monument protection.
There are nine sites in Lenzburg that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. Above the city is the Burghalde at Schlossgasse 21 and Lenzburg castle (which is over a prehistoric settlement and contains the Cantonal Museum). Two other ancient sites, Goffersberg (a neolithic graveyard) and Lindfeld (a Roman Vicus, theatre and burial ground), are included in the list. The other sites in the town include; Müllerhaus at Bleicherain 7, the Town Council Hall (German: Rathaus) at Rathausgasse 16, Sonnenberg at Schlossgasse 50, the prison at Ziegeleiweg 13 and Villa Malaga at Schützenmattstrasse 7.
The Pays de Fribourg with cold, limestone summits are found in the south and mild, even Mediterranean-like lakesides in the north, mixing the Pre-Alps, the city of Fribourg and the Three-Lakes Region. Fribourg is known for its cultural plurality, university and gastronomy, a cultural treasure trove that goes back to the Middle Ages. Discover many medieval cities with their rich cultural heritage. For example the unique St. Nicholas celebrations with their traditional parade in Fribourg, the path of nativity sets in Estavayer-le-Lac, the Christmas market in Morat.
The Pre-Alps region offers a superb infrastructure for winter-sport activities, as way over 100 km of marked and easily accessible routes attract all age groups, to the enchanted snow-covered countryside. Savour the culinary delights of the Pays de Fribourg at a host of Alpine huts. Refuel with a fondue, a soupe du chalet, a potato rösti or a fine dessert, and enjoy the cordiality and romance of dining at a hut.
In less than an hour’s drive from the Pre-Alps you’ll come across the Mediterranean mildness of the medieval cities of Murten and Estavayer-le-Lac. Even at the time of the Celts and Romans, the Three-Lakes Region was a favourite place to holiday. The Papiliorama in Kerzers and the wildlife sanctuary “Grande Cariçaie” are truly worth your while.
Fribourg is one of the largest medieval towns in Switzerland. Fribourg has preserved its medieval center as a whole that is now one of the largest in Europe. It is located on a spectacular peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Saane/La Sarine. The architecture of the Old City date primarily from the Gothic period; it was built predominately before the 16th century. Most houses are built of the local molasse stone. Consisting of the neighborhoods Bourg, Auge and Neuveville, its old town is rich in fountains and churches dating from the 12th century until the 17th century. Its cathedral, reaching 76 metres (249 ft) in height, was built between 1283 and 1490. The fortifications of Fribourg form the most important medieval military architecture of Switzerland: 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) of ramparts, 14 towers and one big bulwark. The protections are especially well preserved east and south of the city.
Over 200 unique Gothic facades from the 15th century impart incomparable medieval charm to the Old Town. These include the historic Old City with its Gothic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas renowned for its stained glass windows designed by Józef Mehoffer, and the museums. The Natural History Museum was founded in 1873, and is now located in the natural sciences building at the university. The Museum of Art and History, located in the Ratzéhof since 1920, has exhibits on ancient and early history, sculpture and paintings, traditional tin figures, arts and crafts, as well as money and graphic collections. In the cathedral, a treasure chamber has been on display since 1992. Other museums include the Swiss Museum of Marionnettes, the Swiss Sewing Machine Museum, the Gutenberg Museum, the Bible and Orient Museum and a beer museum.
The little mediaeval town of Murten, located on a small hillside overlooking Lake Murten. On the south-eastern shore of the lake of the same name has preserved its original appearance, with the picturesque lanes and alleys of the Old Town and the pleasant shady arcades. The town bordering German and French-speaking Switzerland also boasts a lovely lakeside promenade with a wide range of water sports and plenty of culture to discover, excursions and outings.
The farm house at Erli 2, Murten’s city walls, the Grosshaus at Hauptgasse 43, the Rathaus or town council house, Löwenberg Castle and the Old School House in Valvenach are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. The entire old city of Murten’s and the village of Lurtigen are part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. An area of the prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlement at Segelboothafen is part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lake Murten is popular for swimming, boasting warm water temperatures from the early summer months. In the summer months, the lake is also very well suited to sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, wakeboarding, surf biking, rowing, pedalo rides, canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and sport fishing. The possibilities here are virtually endless. The Mont Vully hills provide amazing panoramic views of Jura and the Alps. The slopes of the Vully are home to refreshing wines, which pair beautifully with fish from the lake.