Switzerland is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. And with good reason. I’ve asked Switzerland expert and resident Anna Timbrook to tell us some of the reasons that make Switzerland so popular. Her description of seven fairytale Switzerland villages will make you want to pack your bags and go.
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on her travel blog with her husband.
7 Switzerland Villages You Will Love
Switzerland is full of contrasts – from the high mountain peaks and the low green valleys to the ostentatious big city streets and quaint little villages. Here, we will focus on that last thing, the charming villages that you absolutely have to see whenever you’re in the country.
From riverside towns to those high up in the mountains – there’s definitely a village perfectly suited for that relaxing holiday you’re dreaming of. Whether that includes seven-hour long baths in mineral water or racing down the slopes of the Matterhorn, your perfect holiday awaits in one of these 8 villages in Switzerland that you’ll absolutely love!
The Bernese Alps are where you will find Grindelwald – frequently dubbed one of the most beautiful villages in entire Europe. In the winter, the village is a popular skiing spot. And in the summer, it is very hard to resist the challenging hiking trails, which offer picturesque views of glaciers and untouched nature.
The Eiger mountain is probably the most popular destination near the village, for experienced mountain climbers. It’s something you don’t want to miss if you enjoy risking your life, but you can also experience it more safely via the Eiger Trail hike.
But there is also another side to this charming village, and that is the wild nightlife. Being so popular with both the locals and the tourists, Grindelwald is a village that comes alive when the sun goes down. With an abundance of pubs and clubs hidden away in the cellars of hotels, you’ll easily be entranced by the loud music. And if dancing the night away is what you like to do, be sure to visit the village in the winter.
That’s when most of the clubs are working full hours, as the village is swarming with tourists and skiers from all over the world.“No one really likes Switzerland, except those who prefer cleanliness to life.” ― Trevanian, The Eiger Sanction Click To Tweet
If I had to describe Zermatt in one sentence I would call it the Park Avenue of ski resorts. And even though villages and luxury don’t frequently go hand in hand, Zermatt appeals the most to those living the high life.
It is easy to see why – the village lies in the foot of the Matterhorn mountain, and its postcard beauty is undeniable. The iconic pyramid-shaped peaks are mesmerizing to observe, a luxury in and of itself. So, it makes perfect sense that waking up to such an enchanting view would be reserved for those with deep pockets.
The village is a popular skiing spot in the winter, to no one’s surprise. But there are lots of other ways to enjoy it, even if you’re not one for strapping plastic boards on your feet and racing down steep mountains. With charming lakes, a glacier paradise and picturesque cable car rides, you can easily spend a week here enjoying the unspoiled nature. And if you crave to do some shopping, you will find lots of luxurious boutiques on the main street – Bahnhofstrasse.
If you’re not one to spend your time in the mountains, Vevey is the perfect spot for you. Tucked away on the shore of Lake Geneva, this little town is dubbed as the Pearl of the Swiss Riviera.
The mild climate appeals to those who are not fond of the cold (myself included), but who still want to enjoy the stunning views of the Alps. And they are certainly breathtaking, but certainly not the most interesting part of the village. That would actually be the gigantic fork protruding from the lake, which marks the location of Alimentarium – the nutrition museum with culinary workshops.
Vevey is also an important wine region in the country, and it’s perfect for those who enjoy wine tastings and wandering through vineyards. And if you’re not particularly up for that, perhaps a visit to the Aile castle is better suited for you. The 19th-century chateau is a seamless blend of neoclassical and neo-gothic architecture, which holds quite a lot of national significance.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
In the far east of the country, right at the Italian border, lies the village of Scuol. The village is surrounded by untouched nature, and it is one of the sunniest regions in the country – perfect for a family holiday.” Wedged neatly between Germany, Austria, France, and Italy, Switzerland melds the best of all worlds — and adds a healthy dose of chocolate, cowbells, and cable cars.” -Rick Steves Click To Tweet
In the summer, the spa resorts are the most popular destinations here. People have a chance to bathe in the mineral waters, in the first Roman-Irish baths of Switzerland. The experience is practically cathartic – the seven-hour-long ritual leaves you feeling incredibly relaxed and like you’re floating on a cloud.
But that’s certainly not the only reason to visit Scoul. The Swiss National Park is very close to the village, and it’s definitely worth visiting. The Tarasp Castle is also nearby and very appealing to the tourists. And in the winter, Scoul is as good a skiing destination as any other village in Switzerland that is encircled by mountain peaks.
Gruyères is perhaps best known for the cheese of the same name. The medieval town is one of the largest cheese producers in the country, so cheese shops and wine tastings are definitely on the menu here. You can find a cheese shop on nearly every corner, and you can also taste the best local cheese in the different inns and restaurants throughout the village.
And after you’ve stuffed yourself with the different cheeses, you will want to burn off some of those calories. Luckily, there’s plenty of interesting sights in this middle-aged pedestrian town. Strolling through the cobblestone alleys and taking in the picturesque views alone is enough to enchant you.
But you also want to visit the 13th-century castle, which truly dominates the village. And with panoramic views of mountains in the background, it’s truly a sight you won’t forget for a while.
Oh, and one last thing. This town is also famous for the Giger Museum, which houses some wacky artworks from the man made famous by his creation of the alien in “The Alien” movie. He also has a bar, right opposite, which is also full of his wonderful creations!
Sils Maria/Segl Maria
Situated in the upper Engadine region, Sils-Segl Maria is a quaint village best known for the Nietzsche house. The German philosopher lived here in the summers of late nineteenth century, when he wrote some of his most important works ever.
It’s easy to see how one might be inspired by the gorgeous surroundings of Sils Maria. The beautiful nature is awe-inspiring, and feels remarkably peaceful. Especially if you make it to Lake Sils, whose turquoise waters lie between Maloja Pass and Lake Silvaplana.
The Sils im Engadin area is actually very popular for its lakes. Lej da la Tscheppa is another lake above Sils Maria, which you can get to via a challenging hiking trail. It’s worth it to go there if you’re up for the adventure, because the lake is very beautiful, with views of the mountains behind it. And if you’re there in the summer, you can also jump in for a refreshing swim.My rank is the highest known in Switzerland: I'm a free citizen. George Bernard Shaw Click To Tweet
Stein Am Rhein
In northeastern Switzerland, west of Lake Constance, lies Stein Am Rhein. The small town is best known for its preserved medieval houses and the charming monastery on an island.
There is a group of islands in Lake Constance, known as the Werd islands. On one of those islands, you will find a Franciscan Convent – a spiritual place that is incredibly peaceful. The town is also popular for the Hohenklingen Castle. The 13th-century castle is a national heritage site, but one which also features a restaurant that offers scenic views of the Rhein river.
Other than that, the village is also popular for its old town museums and ancient landmarks. Stein am Rhein actually stretches across both sides of the river, and it’s very difficult to say which side is more beautiful – the charming houses across the bridge or the cobblestone streets of the old town.
Want to know more about Switzerland, where to go, where to sample the tastiest delicacies, where to buy the best chocolates? Check out these reference books.
Which of these 7 Switzerland villages is your favorite?
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