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Where else to go in Switzerland besides the BO

I have no interest in big cities but have great interest in nature, beauty, hiking, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, castles and good food.
I've been to the BO several times and it is spectacular but I wish to experience more in Switzerland. Any suggestions.
Small towns I am interested in are Gstadd, Sion, Verbier, Arosa, Andermatt, Appenzel, Chamonix. Have any of you been to these locations? and if so what is your opinion. Any must see places you have experienced? Strong recommendations of where to stay (hotels) Memorable side trips that stand out in you memory? Hikes that are memorable.
We are interested in possibly going into Austria to see a castle or two...any recommendations.
Thank you for sharing with me your favorite sites and memories....they are valuable.

Posted by
31435 posts

Jay,

Just to clarify, Chamonix is in France but that would also be a place to consider.

I have been to Appenzell and would certainly recommend a visit there, as it's not only a beautiful area but also quite unique in some ways. I really enjoyed my stay at Hotel Café Adler, which also has a bakery on the main floor.

Posted by
3336 posts

We spent a month of the summer of 2013 in Valais in a small ski town called La Tzoumaz. It shares a lift system with Verbier on the other side of the hill as well as the 4 Vallees ski area. We got to know the whole area quite well so here are some things I would recommend.
The whole region of Valais is ringed by vineyards that wrap the slopes of the valley - they are gorgeous and go on for miles and miles. Tasting of wine is by appt. only!
The whole valley is dotted by castles and fortresses that are in various states of ruin and use...when visiting most of them you have them virtually to yourself. Some of them have vineyards planted within their crumbling walls - great photo ops!
Sion - GREAT town that is grossly overlooked in my opinion! The Castle and ancient church that top the two hills in the center of town are WELL worth a visit and the old town is charming.
Martigny - nice little town to have lunch. There is a small Roman amphitheater along the river that is beautiful.
Mont Fort - out of Sion up the hill to Haute Nendaz and then over to Gentianes to catch the gondola. It's the highest peak in the region and the gondola ride all the way to the top is simply spectacular, as are the views on a clear day. The highest bar in Europe is up there to have a drink and toast the views! Scramble to the top of the rocks to feel on top of the world.
Alpenhorn Festival - in Haute Nendaz as well. Alpenhornists from all over the region and the world gather on a high alp for a yearly competition. The final day is the one to attend as they all stand in a giant semi-circle on the grassy mountain slope and play - one of the more amazing things I've experienced in my travels. Great food and handmade crafts for sale. Get there early for the start when the farmers march with their cowbells in unison and stay till the finish for the grand finale. Much pageantry and beauty. Very unique. Unbelievably, not touristy! Most of the people are locals or visitors who have come along with their alpenhornist friends.
Sanetsch Glacier - one of the most memorable hikes I've taken in the Alps. Out of Sion to the north on the Route du Sanetsch. Tiny road that turns to dirt at one point and goes through a hand-hewn rock tunnel, winds up through high alpine meadows and ends at a windswept pass. The hike to the glacier is quite level but you can also "offroad" over interesting rock formations. The massive scree area where the glacier has receded is interesting - the glacier is at the head of the scree with water pouring out from under it. Very remote and beautiful.
Bisses - surrounding the whole valley are ancient hand dug waterways that date back hundreds of years and were built to supply water to the vineyards and orchards in the valley. Many of the bisses have trails that follow them, some are pastoral and lovely, others follow crazy waterways that hang off the sides of cliffs! The views from most are breathtaking!
St. Bernard Pass - the dogs are still bred at the monastery there and you can visit the kennels and the museum. Where Hannibal crossed the alps and the Romans came over from Italy. Great artifacts in the museum. From Martigny it's about a 30 minute drive up to the pass.
Verbier - a very swanky ski village but worth a visit. The best part is to go up to the Croix de Couer restaurant at the top of the ski slope. You can drive up to it or take the gondola up and hike for about 30 minutes along a flat path to get to it. Great views of the Swiss, Italian, and French Alps surrounding you.
Chamonix - a nice 45 - 60 minute drive or train ride south of Martigny. Take a gondola up and hike to Lac Blanc for one of the best views of the high alps in Europe. The gondola to the top of the Aguille du Midi to see Mont Blanc is pricey but worth it!
This whole area is so overlooked, so I hope this helps you plan your trip!

Posted by
27425 posts

The waterfront in Zug with the (free) aviary right on waterfront.... and the fabulous free arboretum across the lake at Cham.

And the incredible gardens at Mainau Island, technically in Germany but right on the border, and an easy train or car from many parts of Switzerland.

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you to all who replied to my thread......sounds like beautiful suggestions.

Would any of you recommend traveling into Austria and if so where would you go?

Any Castles in Switzerland or Austria that I shouldn't miss.

We will have our 14 year old daughter and would like to show her some history

First off the place in Berner Oberland is called Gstaad, not Gstadd!! It is indeed beautiful, but quite upmarket and hotels are really expensive. Small towns for example with great views and many hotels is Interlaken. I highly recommend the hotel Chalet Swiss, only 3 star and affordable, but the staff are perfect and absolutely helpful. The famous hotel Victoria Jungfrau is also here and is fantastically located with glorious views up to the Jungfrau massiv. A trip up there by train reaching over 3400m is a must. En route is also Grindelwald, visit the hotel Aspen right on the ski trails. This is a wonderful chalet style hotel, basically 5 star! Also consider the village up at 1100m called Beatenberg, the longest village in Europe at 7kms and seemingly no centre! The village is perched high up above the lake of Thun, another town to see and enjoy. This whole area is famous for the hiking, para gliding, canyoning, skiing of course either up in Kleine Scheidegg or Männlichen, First...the choice is endless.

In Kanton St. Gallen..the town itself by the same name has a beautiful Church worth a visit. Rapperswil on the banks of the Lake of Zürich equally lovely, it is a great idea to travel by boat from here on the lake to Zürich, 33 kms food and drinks available on board. By the way I have lived here a brit expat for over 40 years and know the country probably better than most Swiss!! Cheers, Richard

Posted by
12040 posts

The low-key but beautiful little resort town that I love is Flumserberg in St. Gallen canton. Like Mürren and Wengen, it sits at a high altitude on the side of a mountain, but unlike the other two, you can reach it by car. Flumserberg isn't really a distinct town or village, but rather a series of interlinked hamlets. It has enouch restaurants and hotels to cater to the modest visitor traffic it receives, but it isn't overwhelmed by them. The mountains aren't as high as elsewhere in Switzerland, but still pretty impressive. One of the biggest advantages, though, is that for people in less than ideal physical condition, the summit of the mountain has several kilometers of nearly flat trails.

There's a castle ruin in the valley below, but nothing too special.

Posted by
177 posts

The Lötschental. The area has remained cut off from the outside world then by-passed by the Lötschberg tunnel in 1913 so it is pretty unique. Some interesting local ancestral customs have been kept.
Another interesting area is the Anniviers valley and the village of Grimentz in particular. Some people still speak Arpitan (Franco-Provencal language). The inhabitants of Anniviers claim to be descendants of Huns.