Best Small Towns to Visit in Switzerland

  • 23 February 2023
  • 15 replies
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Userlevel 1

Hello! We will be traveling in Switzerland for 6 days in late May 2023. We have identified several small quaint towns to potentially visit while there. My concern is the lists came from large national publications with millions of subscribers. The towns may no longer be small or quaint when we visit!

Can you recommend some small, charming towns/villages for us to consider?

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Jim Waters    


15 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

Hi Jim,

if you write down the list here that you found, then might be more efficient to give you advices on towns ;-) Otherwise might be different views on what’s “small” or not ;-)

Userlevel 1

Following up on my question “Best Small Towns to Visit in Switzerland”, here are the small towns that were suggested in the articles I have read: 

Gimmelwald

Grimentz

Stein Am Rhein

Andermatt

Gstaad

Champex-Lac

Giswil

Adelboden

Gruyères

Saint-Ursanne

Flims

Albeuve

Mürren

Auvernier

Bosco Gurin

Ascona

We are looking for towns of 10,000 or fewer inhabitants, charming, welcoming, with good views, attractive architecture, and off the beaten path but accessible by bus or train.  

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

Hi Jim,

sorry, been on an Interrail trip on the weekend and forgot to answer.
The list is already pretty good, but you have to differ: some of the places on the list are really off the beaten path (Bosco Gurin e.g.), while other are mostly full of tourists (Ascona, Mürren, ...).

I’d add the following places:

  • Susch because of Muzeum Susch
  • Scuol-Tarasp: nice hiking opportunities and the beautiful castle Tarasp
  • Heiden: nice railway line up there (during summer season with open carriages!) and some nice restaurants as well as nice views over Lake of Constance
  • Pontresina
  • Rasa: take the cablecar from the Verdasio railway station to this beautiful little village. Also possible to hike up to Pizzo Leone from there.
  • Indemini: best combined with a hike from Alpe di Neggia over Monte Gambarogno. Also nice bus route up there.
  • Schaffhausen together with Rhinefall (ok, that’s not off the beaten path, but still worth a visit)
  • Binn in the Binntal valley. Hike up to Binntal hut from there and then hike over to Italian side next morning. From Alpe Devero you can get with buses back to Domodossola. From there get back to Switzerland. (also can be done in the reverse direction as I did it).
  • ...
Userlevel 1

Hi Martin,

First, THANK YOU for taking your valuable time and making the effort to respond. Since you are a member of this community I greatly value your suggestions and opinion. I will definitely check out the places you mentioned, and I bet we will visit some of them. 

You mention above certain locations may be “full of tourists.” and I have that concern. You mention Ascona, Murren, and I will mention Interlaken, Luzern and Zermatt.  We will be traveling in Switzerland from May 26th through June 3rd (9 days). Do you think these types of locations may be crowded during that time frame? Examples of crowded are having to wait in line to see a point of interest, people interference while visiting a museum or castle, and dodging people while walking down a main street.

COMMENTS FROM OTHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS IS WELCOMED AND ENCOURAGED!

Thank you. 

  

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

If you like Swiss cheese, then Gruyere is a good stop. If you are in for cookies, the Kambly factory in Trubschachen with unlimited free tasting is a must. And don't eat lunch before going there.  The train station is next to the factory. 

Userlevel 1

Thank you Anna for your suggestions. My wife loves cheese, and I’m into cookies so we may just have to visit both towns! Thanks again. 

Hi Jim,

The small towns in Switzerland are beautiful. 

I really enjoyed visiting Thun and Brienz (interlaken). St. Gallen, St. Margrethen and Chur are worth a visit too. Chur is the oldest town of Switzerland - very quaint and lovely. Gruyères for cheese is a must visit place that I managed to miss and hopefully you and your wife won’t :) Montreux has the most stunning sunset by the water. 

Of these Brienz is the smallest (roughly 3000 people) and was by far the most enjoyable for me. The woodcarving museum had a section where I could paint my own Swiss cow. It was the most memorable token of my visit in Switzerland.

Userlevel 1

Hi Eyeshabee,

Thank you for sharing your ideas. We had not considered most of the places you mentioned. We will be staying in the Interlaken area so we will now most likely check out Brienz (the photos are stunning), and we were not planning on stopping in Montreux, but maybe now we will.

Thanks again and happy travels! 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Between Interlaken and Montreux I'd recommend taking the Golden Pass line, either the daily direct train or with easy changes in Spiez and Zweisimmen.

If you'd like to avoid people Montreux and especially Interlaken aren't necessarily the best choices. They can be busy towns, although nothing to compare with big cities... It will be less crowded in May of course anyway.

Let me know where you plan to start and end your journey and I could make you a sort of "tour". I've taken almost all Swiss railways. :-)

 

You'll have lots of fun in the country I'm sure ! I love the railway network and it's easy to use.

Userlevel 3
Badge +1

Neuchatel, Murten, Aarau, Baden (oldest railwaystation 1847 still in use), Stein am Rhein. 

Userlevel 1

Below is the roughed-out journey we have planned around Switzerland, all by train, and over 9 days. Any suggestions, especially regarding the trains, would be greatly appreciated. 

Geneva - Montreux - Interlaken - Spiez - Zermatt - Andermatt - Luzern - Zurich

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Okay it looks great !

What my itinerary would look like.

DAY 1 Geneva - Lausanne (Olympic Museum by the lake or city centre), Lausanne - Vevey (nice town), night in Montreux

DAY 2 Montreux - Montbovon - Gruyères (castle and old town) and/or Broc-Fabrique (chocolate factory)

Broc-Fabrique/Gruyères - Montbovon - Zweisimmen - Spiez - Interlaken (easy journey)

DAY 3 Interlaken area, be aware that the railway to Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald only offers a 25% discount. Boat trip around Lake Brienz (included), Brienz is a nice town (look up Ballenberg museum, maybe it is of interest to you)

DAY 4 Interlaken - Spiez - Visp - Zermatt (Base Lötschberg Tunnel - 35 km) OR Interlaken - Spiez - Brig - Visp - Zermatt (older panoramic line but 1h longer)

Up to the Gornergrat in the afternoon : 110 CHF return, up to you if it is worth it

DAY 5 Zermatt - Visp - Domodossola - Locarno (Simplon Tunnel and Centovalli Line through Italy, Eurail Pass Switzerland is valid as is the Global Pass ofc)

Night in Ascona, Locarno or Lugano

DAY 6 Locarno/Lugano - Bellinzona - Göschenen - Andermatt

DAY 7 Andermatt - Göschenen - Arth-Goldau - Rigi Kulm - Vitznau - Lucerne (last leg on a boat, 50% discount)

DAY 8 Lucerne - Trubschachen (Kambly Factory) - Bern - Lucerne (return journey on the fast IR15, 1h)

DAY 9 Lucerne - Zurich direct or Lucerne - Pfäffikon SZ - Zurich (more panoramic, although longer)

 

Let me know if you've got any questions.

There are other itineraries of course, for example direct between Brig and Andermatt with the nice Binntal valley (but you'll need to pay the Postbus)

Below is the roughed-out journey we have planned around Switzerland, all by train, and over 9 days. Any suggestions, especially regarding the trains, would be greatly appreciated. 

Geneva - Montreux - Interlaken - Spiez - Zermatt - Andermatt - Luzern - Zurich

Hello Jim,

The itinerary sounds great! See if you can manage The Glacier Express from Zermatt to Andermatt. The full journey (8 hours) is Zermatt to St. Moritz and the reverse. It was one of the most breathtaking train journey’s I’ve ever experienced. The 1st class coach was incredible with it’s panoramic windows and table service with cloth napkins (Food is extra). The fare is included in the global pass but a seat reservation fee (49 CHF) is mandatory. You can check the availability here - https://www.glacierexpress.ch/en/ Tickets can be purchased roughly two months in advance. 

In Zermatt you must go to Club Mamacita at night (around 10 pm). I was there on a Wednesday and Thursday, and there was a Live band both nights and they were amazing. It was one of the best places I went to. 

In Montreux the restaurant La Rouvenaz has a lovely deck from where you can see the most spectacular sunset. They serve excellent cocktails there and its a great place to unwind after walking around Château de Chillon (if you plan to do that). 

Have a great trip!

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

Just a tip for the Glacier Express, the extra reservation is not worth it in my opinion + it sells out way in advance.

The hourly regular trains are way better and they allow you to discover a village if wanted. :)

Andermatt is about exactly half-way between St. Moritz and Zermatt

Userlevel 1

Hi Eyeshabee and Thibcabe,

Thank you for your suggestions. We’re going to incorporate your ideas into our itinerary.
Thanks again,

Jim Waters

 

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