The Most Charming Villages in Switzerland

Lake Thun, Bern, with great views of Spiez church and castle
Lake Thun, Bern, with great views of Spiez church and castle | © kavalenkava volha / Alamy
Photo of Chloe Hay
19 May 2021

Switzerland’s cities may be beautiful but its alpine and lakeside villages are even more so. So leave the guidebook at home and skip over Zurich, Geneva and Basel on your next visit to explore one of these magical villages instead.


Architectural Landmark
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PEXD7G Grindelwald, Switzerland - August 21, 2016 : First cable car ropeway station
© Sanga Park / Alamy | © sanga park / Alamy

Also known as the Glacier Village, Grindelwald is a popular holiday spot for hikers and keen adventurers. One of the best ways to appreciate the sheer beauty that makes up Grindelwald is to take a ride on the First Flyer, a zip-wire ride that allows four people to fly side by side.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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TTYH36 round away guarda switzerland
© Jareck / Alamy

During the summer months, visitors can embark on a fairly easy hike to Piz Buin, the mountain made famous by the suncream brand. In winter, Guarda comes alive with toboggan runs, ice rinks and cross-country ski routes to keep its visitors entertained. The sheer beauty of this picture-perfect place is not to be underestimated; it was awarded the Wakker Prize for the preservation of its architectural heritage in 1975.


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Stunning view of the Morcote traditional village by lake Lugano in Canton Ticino in Switzerland 2F60JCT
© AsiaDreamPhoto / Alamy
A picturesque lakeside village in the Lugano region, Morcote is home to several architectural wonders listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance. Among these are the ornate Church of Sant’Antonio Abate, an Egyptian temple, and an abundance of Greek sculptures.


Historical Landmark
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© imageBROKER / Alamy | © imageBROKER / Alamy

Gimmelwald lies halfway up a mountain in the Bernese Oberland. One of the last car-free villages in Switzerland, Gimmelwald is an idyllic retreat from urban life. Take the cable car from Stechelberg and enjoy the spectacular views of mountains and waterfalls as you make the ascent to Gimmelwald.


Architectural Landmark
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Market in the Market Square of the old town of Unterseen, Interlaken, Switzerland KD6CEX
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy

Surrounded by mountains, Interlaken is a popular paragliding spot. Those taking a stroll should look up to the sky, as they meander through the Japanese gardens, to witness the rare sight of dozens of bird-sized humans flying above them. Interlaken is also the gateway to exploring the Jungfrau region and visitors can take a train from the highest railway station in Europe, or a cable car, and enjoy views of Jungfrau and Mönch peaks, glaciers, valleys and, on a clear day, all the way to the Black Forest in Germany.


Architectural Landmark
Map View
Devil's Bridge, the old and new bridge, Andermatt, Uri, Switzerland 2F6JJMA
© André Gilden / Alamy

Situated in the heart of Alpine Switzerland, there is an abundance of activities and attractions to keep visitors returning to Andermatt. A typical summer tourist itinerary includes hiking, mountain biking, climbing and fishing, while photographers and appreciators of stunningly peaceful panoramas will love a ride on the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express, which will take you all the way to Zermatt.


Architectural Landmark
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Spiez Castle in Spiez (Switzerland) in front of Lake Thun 2E0HAX3
© Silvan Bachmann / Alamy

Dominated by a handsome castle, Spiez is a peaceful village situated on the edge of Lake Thun. Highlights from this little village include a 14-mile circular hike promising fine views of the mountainous terrain and bright-blue lake waters, where you can enjoy a boat trip, and a visit to the 1,000-year-old church within Spiez Castle.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
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W40B97 Picturesque Alpine village Wengen in Switzerland in summer season. Mountain chalets, hikers and green hilly landscape. Swiss Alps. Switzerland in summer. Alpine landscape.
© Petr Pohudka / Alamy

Not far from the quaint capital city of Bern, Wengen lies at the foot of the imposing Eiger-Mönch-Jungfrau mountain range. The views alone are enough of a reason to take a trip to Wengen but those in search of a little more adventure certainly won’t be disappointed either, especially if you like mountain skiing or swimming in an outdoor pool nestled in the valley.


Natural Feature
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The Traditional Swiss Village of Painted Houses Appenzell. Appenzell Innerrhoden is located in northeastern Switzerland_2D9AH6N
© Michal Sikorski / Alamy
The traditional architecture and colourful façades of Appenzell’s main square draws visitors to its centre year after year. Home to an impressive castle, Catholic church and mural-covered town hall, a guided tour around the best of the village’s architectural delights is always a treat. And why not test your vocal cords by taking some yodelling classes while you’re there.


Architectural Landmark
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Autumn colours frame the village of Zernez surrounded by woods and snowy peaks Engadine Canton of Graubünden Switzerland Europe
© Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld / Getty | © Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld / Getty

Acting as the gateway to the Swiss National Park, Zernez is easily accessible from Switzerland’s neighbouring countries of Italy and Austria. Keen hikers and mountain bikers will fall in love with Zernez instantaneously as it offers a network of trails unrivalled by many other villages in the country.

These recommendations were updated on May 19, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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