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

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



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
on Instagram for a daily dose of sublime mountainscapes
from the Bernese Oberland and beyond.



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



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.



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
collection of secondhand outdoors gear.



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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