Did we ever have a better time to explore our beautiful country other than now? The good thing is that holidays in Switzerland are possible at any time. We're not talking about the touristic landmarks such as Jungfraujoch, Kapellbrücke, Rhine Falls, Rigi or Matterhorn, but the secret getaways! Join us to discover all the hidden gems within the Swiss territory.
Swiss Italian Getaway
Our getaway starts in Breno in Alto Malcantone, a dreamy mountain village of Ticino. Breno, located just one hour away by train from Lugano, is home to the imposing Chiesa di San Lorenzo, situated at the village's highest point. The church dates back to medieval times and features a baroque style architecture.
The area, besides its picturesque scenery, also offers numerous hikes and activities. From a short distance away from Breno, we find Miglieglia. This Swiss Italian village is the arrival/departure point of the cable railway to Monte Lema. Once on top, you have an unobstructed view of the lakes of Lugano and Locarno.
To make the most of your visit to the Italian part of Switzerland, why not take a detour to the endearing village of Morcote? Morcote is part of the Swiss Inventory of Heritage sites known as "The Pearl of Ceresio." It features a botanical atmosphere transporting you to a tropical location! You can enjoy delicious food directly at the shores of Lake Lugano from the various Trattorias and Osterias.
To finish your getaway, do not miss the opportunity to visit Parco Scherrer, the home now turned park of Herman Parco Scherrer. This magnificent garden, open to the public, features milestones from its owner travels around the world, from Asia to the Mediterranean Basin. Parco Scherrer Park is part of The Gardens of Switzerland, an initiative to promote Switzerland's most precious gardens.
Our next getaway focuses on the Graubünden Area, where we can find many small hidden gems worth seeing. Our first stop is Ftan, located in the municipality of Scuol. This tiny village's origins can be traced back as far as nine thousand years BC; it features several architectural styles due to the village's reconstructions after being hit by various fires. This small place is also known as one of the starting points towards the Engiadina Scuol peak, a renowned ski destination.
Our next stop is Guarda. While only having less than 200 residents, it still attracts many tourists every season by being one of the few remaining villages adhered to the Romansh culture and traditions. In the Lower Engadine area, this small village was even awarded the Wakker Prize by the Swiss Heritage society in the 70s.
A short distance away from Guarda, we find ourselves immersed in the beauty of Tarasp's Castle. The castle was built in the 11th century by the lords of Tarasp. It used to be the last standing Austrian enclave in Switzerland until the 19th century when it was given back to the Helvetic Republic. Today, the castle is part of the artist Not Vital's properties and was turned into a contemporary art museum. After paying a visit to the castle, you can walk to the mountain lake "Lai Nair." Situated above Tarasp, there are fireplaces for grilling, a picnic area, and an excellent opportunity to enjoy a refreshing swim at 1800 meters above sea level.
Our secret tip: stay until the sunset to enjoy a spectacle!
Within Graubünden's surroundings, you have a wide range of activities to choose from. You can be adventurous and practice rafting on the Inn river, enjoy a game of golf at 1270 meters above sea level in Vulpera or even discover more than 80 kilometers of open paths at the Swiss National Park. The latter passes all the way through the Engadine Valley until reaching the Italian border and is considered to be the oldest park in the Alps.
Alpine/Swiss German Getaway
Let's continue to go a bit further up north until we reach the canton of Aargau, located in the northern part of Switzerland. Aargau is one of the least mountainous Swiss cantons, situated in the plateau between the Alps and the Jura Mountains. This geographical location benefits the canton, which is renowned for its healthy agriculture.
We begin our Swiss German route in Baden, small but oh! Once Switzerland's capital, the city was known as a curative destination from Roman times. Baden features more than 18 sulfurous thermal springs, to enjoy and relax in. The canton consistently promotes wellness tourism.
Baden also offers more than 1,650 kilometers of signposted hiking and more than 1,000 kilometers of cycling routes. From the Schartenfels castle, you can begin the challenging and tricky ridge walk to Regensberg by witnessing Zurich and the Alps' fantastic views. If you feel like adventuring further into the Aarau activities, you can also try their "Aargau Outdoor" App, which brings restaurants, tours, and route suggestions right to your phone.
You can then finish your day by sipping a cocktail above the Limmat River at the Triebguet, an open-air bar. This restaurant invites young artists to perform for the customers during the summer. No reservation is required, but limited spaces are available.
Our secret tip: Try Triebdguet's Tutu's Ice pops!
Our getaway continues to the central area of Switzerland to the beautiful Oeschinen Lake. Framed by the peaks of Bluemlisalp and Doldenhorn, this lake is filled with exceptional clear turquoise water. Once on-site, you can rent rowing boats, or even wake your inner child by sliding down their 750 meter-long toboggan track. During summer, it is better to visit the lake early in the morning and spend the rest of the day exploring the surroundings.
We now move to a destination for wine lovers: Sion. Located in the french-speaking part of Switzerland it is the capital of the canton of Valais. They are known to be the most sunlit town in the country and a popular place to grow vines. Sion's old town is characterized by its two surrounding hills Valère and Tourbillon. They're both must-visit destinations, as the cathedral of Valère is home to the oldest organ (still playable) in the world, and the ruins of the Castle of Tourbillon are part of the Swiss heritage site national significance.
Another stop along the region is The Barrage d'Emosson, built between 1969 and 1975; it's the second-highest dam in Valais' canton. From the moment you arrive, you are immersed in the peaceful atmosphere of the area.
Last but not least, let's talk about the Vaud region. Did you know that UNESCO has protected the Lavaux hillside terraces since 2007? Spreading across 800 hectares between Lausanne and Montreux, they are a must-visit during summer.
Our secret tip: Stop at the Clos Des Moines, in domaine Dezaley.
The Lavaux promenade brings you by wine cellars that offer local wine tastings and makes you wander through small villages steeped in history. One of a kind, the Lavaux Vineyards are also known for their three sun's as they benefit from both direct and reflected sunlight from the terraced walls and the lake water.
Authors: Pierre Bolli, Valérie Greutert, Celine Klarer, Son-Trang Nguyen and Silvia-Cristina Vasquez.