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What it’s like inside Switzerland’s German and Italian enclaves

Switzerland's Enclave at Lake Lugano

Switzerland is a land-locked country. But who said you need access to the sea when you have over 1000 wondrous lakes?

Despite the small size of the country, two foreign territories are actually locked inside of Switzerland: One is the German enclave of Büsingen, the other is the Italian lakeside town of Campione d'Italia. I had the opportunity of visiting both of them while exploring Switzerland for Newly Swissed. So today, I am taking you abroad!

In the north, there is Germany's Büsingen-am-Hochrhein.

Located between Schaffhausen and Stein am Rhein, there is a small enclave called Büsingen-am-Hochrhein. In its entirety, the enclave is bigger than the town itself. The 7.6 sq km area is mostly made up of fields, and you need to be careful not to miss the signage for the town while driving.


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If you are having trouble envisioning an enclave, here is a map of Büsingen's location inside Switzerland:

Büsingen Map(Illustration credits Wikipedia)

It's a quiet little town at the crossroads of two countries and cultures. Inside, you can use Swiss francs or euros, buy German or Swiss newspapers, and most houses have two landline phone numbers.

Büsingen Phone Booths(Photography credits

On a sunny day, the Strandbad is a nice, quiet place by the river to relax. If you fancy a bite to eat or a place to stay, there is nothing more traditional and romantic than the Alte Rheinmühle with its views over the Rhine river.

Alte Rheinmühle Büsingen(Photography credits Alte Rheinmühle Büsingen)

Every year, the slowUp event crosses through Büsingen.

It was a bit tricky to access Büsingen on the day I visited: The entire main road was closed for slowUp, a day when cars are banned from the streets.

slowUp Schaffhausen(Photography credits Verein slowUp Schaffhausen-Hegnau)

This is a very fun event where all participants either walk, hike, run, roller skate or cycle across roads that have been shut for traffic. If crossing from Switzerland into Germany using your own muscles sounds like fun to you, mark May 21, 2017, in your calendar: This is when next year's slowUp event will take place.

In the south, you could sail to Campione d’Italia.

Let's face it: Ticino already has this nice Mediterranean twist which makes it the perfect blend between Switzerland and Italy. But if you genuinely want to travel on Italian soil, then there is no better way to do this than taking the boat to Campione d'Italia.

Campione d'Italia Casino(Photography credits Wikipedia)

Just like Büsingen, the town is completely surrounded by Swiss territory. Along one side, there is Lake Lugano, and on the town's back is a mountain range. The town is a lovely concentration of what Italy is all about, in the oh-so-Ticino Riviera flair. Although the town has its great set of restaurants and cafés, its main attraction is the casino.

When you walk around this Italian town, pay attention to the 17 border markers. For instance, here is marker #15:

Campione d'Italia - Border Marker(Photography credits

Go ahead and discover those two mini countries within Switzerland - you won't regret the experience. Add Büsingen to your itinerary while touring Thurgau, and why not hop into Campione during a Lugano weekend?

Jordan Girardin

Jordan grew up in the French region of Franche-Comté along the border with the Canton of Jura. He is passionate about train travel and tourism, and he looks at Switzerland as a humongous playground and a fascinating set of regions to (re)discover.

Jordan Girardin

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