It is in those smaller towns where Swiss identity is kept alive.
But apart from flagship Swiss destinations such as Geneva, Montreux or Zürich with their own "must-see" highlights, most smaller Swiss towns do not have a particular USP of their own. For me, the main reason to visit places like Guarda or Vevey is to veer off the beaten track. With the camera in hand, I enjoy being the only Instagramer around for once...
Grab a pen and note these Swiss towns to see in your lifetime!
9 beautiful Swiss towns to see in your lifetime has already been shared thousands of times on social media. This has prompted me to go out there and find even more beautiful Swiss towns.
The Lower Engadine valley is home to many charming towns. Located at the foot of an ancient ruin, Ardez caught our attention when we drove past the narrow cobblestone street on the way to Hotel Paradies. We got out of the car and could not believe the beauty in front of us. Each house is a piece of art in itself, from the architecture to the paintings and the neatly fitted flower pots.
Why you should visit: Ardez and the next town on this list, Guarda, are neighbors. Both are equally charming, but Ardez has some truly unique wall murals and centuries’ old wooden doors.
Most Swiss know the story of Schellen-Ursli, the boy who needs to find a big bell in order to lead the way during the spring processions. But many are unaware that the illustrator, Alois Carigiet, has used the town of Guarda as a source of inspiration.
Why you should visit: Guarda is as cute as can be and will delight even those who have never heard of Schellen-Ursli. Everyone else, especially families, will be happy to know that there is a museum and a marked trail dedicated to the storybook.
Just a brief train ride from Zürich, Greifensee offers some vacation feelings. The lake is where all the fun begins: you could rent a rowing boat or SUP, or you could hop onto a scheduled ship. With the sun setting at the end of the lake, summer evenings can make you forget where you are.
The old town of Greifensee deserves a mention, too. Among the cobblestone streets is a castle, two gift boutiques and a bistro. Look out for the house with the largest flower garden next to the church - it’s the civic hall!
Why you should visit: Greifensee is a soothing escape from the city. Try circling it by bicycle or with rollerblades. Or check the boat schedule for DS Greif, a steamboat dating back to 1895. In spring, Greifensee hosts a popular Easter market. And on a weekend in December, stalls with Christmas merchandise will take over the old town.
Wall murals, an oversized bench and a yacht harbor with an artsy personality are the more obvious reasons to visit Neuchâtel. On the other hand, here is a town with a French flair that is often ignored by tourists. It has retained its history and celebrates the lakeside location, making a weekend in Neuchâtel an authentic experience that feels like a mini vacation.
Why you should visit: Neuchâtel may be histric by definition but it has very much of a young pulse. Bring a blanket and stroll along the lake until you find the perfect spot for a nap. Then, grab a bite to eat at the waterski club or enjoy a sundowner of Absinthe Larusée on the rooftop bar of Hotel Beaulac.
Not far from Zürich and the airport is the medieval town of Regensberg. High above a vineyard with views to spare, the history of this hamlet dates back to the 13th century. The cobblestone interior is surrounded by quaint houses showcasing their wooden beams. The 57-meter draw well and a lookout tower are other remnants of the past.
Why you should visit: Due to its elevated location, Regensberg is often sunny when the flatlands are covered by fog. Have a drink in the sunshine on the terrace of Krone Regensberg.
A gateway to the Bernese Alps, the town of Thun has even more to offer than a crystal clear lake and a medieval castle. We recommend exploring it by foot as there are lake trails, cobblestone alleys and wooden bridges across the river Aare.
A scenic spots to soak in the views of Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau and Mt. Niesen is Schadau Park. Here, you could enjoy what the park has to offer, take a dip in the lake or retreat to the castle with its restaurant.
Why you should visit: on nice days, surfing the strong currents of the river Aare is a favorite past time of the locals. It is fun to watch them rip the waves. Thun is quite a hidden gem for foodies. Head to Mühleplatz and pick one of the many restaurants for a local experience.
While smaller than nearby Montreux, the town of Vevey has its very own USPs. For one, there are several noteworthy museums: a food museum (look for the fork in the lake), a photography museum and Chaplin's World. The latter is on the site of Charlie Chaplin’s former residence and is one of my favorite museums in Switzerland.
Why you should visit: For the most part, Vevey stands for a laid back atmosphere. But every three years, the town goes through a metamorphosis when the Festival Images takes place. Outdoor and indoor spaces are converted into galleries for art and photography, as they will in 2020.
I could not name a favorite season to visit Zermatt. In this alpine resort town, any season is fine with me: winter and spring for some of the best skiing in Europe, summer and fall for scenic mountain hikes. The tourism magnet it is, Zermatt offers accommodations for all budgets. But in my humble opinion, it always pays to have a room with a view...
Adding to the tranquility at the base of the mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt is entirely car free and relies on electric vehicles.