Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in Switzerland We Love

Geneva, Gstaad, Zurich, Bern? Too obvious. While Switzerland's big hitters have their charms, we're dodging tourist haunts and heading for these lesser-known destinations once lockdown is over. Smother yourself in suncream, brandish those hiking poles and slap on your face mask: try these off-the-radar cities, towns and villages for a spot of lockdown relief.

Five of our favourite lesser-known Swiss destinations

Adelboden

Switzerland

Why we can't wait to visit again: There are lots of destinations similar to this in Switzerland - villages tucked among crinkly mountains which throb with polypropylene-wrapped skiers in winter and clear out in summer - but this cluster of chalets in the Bernese Oberland takes the biscuit. While some might say it's all about the hiking routes (which measure 300km in total - hats off to Adelboden for its wheelchair-passable circular trail), we're more interested in stopping for slices of zwetschgenkuchen (plum cake) and slurping milky iced coffee along the way. We would insert "it's about the journey, not the destination" here, but the bright lights of Bern are just 45 minutes away by car and, unless you're a sucker for hairpin bends, that old adage certainly doesn't ring true.

Where we're staying: The Cambrian

Before you go: Follow Niels Oberson on Instagram for a daily dose of sublime mountainscapes from the Bernese Oberland and beyond.

Minusio

Switzerland

Why we can't wait to visit again: We love a border destination. This village sits just next door to Locarno (itself worth a visit for 20th-century history nuts) and along the manicured edge of Lake Maggiore which shares its waters with Italy. It's perhaps churlish of us to pit lakes against each other, but we think Maggiore's really got it going on. Hop on a bike to see for yourself. Restaurants, private galleries and boutique shops with screensaver-style vistas speckle the lakeside. If you go far enough, you'll reach the municipality of Gambarogno which is threaded with canals and day-trip-sized settlements. Pedal a little farther and you'll be in the market for a cracking pizza and authentic gelato.

Where we're staying: Giardino Lago

Before you go: Take a virtual tour of the at Fondazione Ghisla Art Collection in nearby Locarno.

Zug

Switzerland

Why we can't wait to visit again: The name alone is satisfying in its brevity. This city is somewhat of a paradox: crumbly and endearing, yet home to many global business HQs. You'll find us scrambling over the Höllgrotten Caves and splashing about on the lake or in one of the city's tiled lidos, before nesting up on Guggi Hill with a picnic to watch the sunset over the water. It's tucked neatly between Zurich and Lucerne - both of which are within easy reach if you exhaust Zug.

Where we're staying: Gubelhof Suites

Before you go: Check out the work of Tadashi Kawamata, a Japanese artist commissioned by Kunsthaus Zug to create a series of wooden installations in the city, including a scenic walkway, a shockingly modern amphitheatre and a series of lakeside bathing huts.

Rougemont

Switzerland

Why we can't wait to visit again: We'll preface this with some modern history. The late Lady Diana, also known as The People's Princess (and, unofficially, the ultimate 80's style icon), was sent to finishing school here as a teen. It's tucked just around the corner from the glitzy resort of Gstaad, but there'll be no flashy displays of wealth here: Rougemont smothers you with old-school charm. Window boxes thick with blooms spill out of gable-roof chalets, signed and stamped with their makers' seals. There's an 11th-century church and castle to pootle about, but afterwards, we're catching the Glacier 3000 cable car and hiking deep into the mountains.

Where we're staying: Hotel de Rougemont & Spa

Before you go: Kit yourself out with some hiking gear. We're shopping at Patagonia; specifically from their 'worn wear' collection of secondhand outdoors gear.

Aarau

Switzerland

Why we can't wait to visit again: Lots of people come for its gorgeous gabled roofs - the eaves specifically are said to be some of the most beautiful in Switzerland - but there's plenty of stuff going on besides. This is a town studded with castles and museums such as the Aargauer Kunsthaus, the avant-garde museum of Swiss art. Our hotel is booked for late summer, just in time to tow a fishing rod and join in with the Bachfischet, a zany local festival which accompanies the dredging of the city stream and dates back to the early 19th century. No, we're not completely sure we're pronouncing Aarau correctly, either.

Where we're staying: Hotel Kettenbrücke

Before you go: Watch Welcome to Switzerland, a thought-provoking arthouse film based in the canton of Aargau. It tells the nation's story during the so-called refugee crisis a few years ago.

The Lowdown

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