Switzerland is a country of deep history and huge natural diversity. Within its borders, the country keeps a Europe-wide record of 48 mountain tops above 4000 meters of altitude.
Most of them are found in the Valais Alps and produce a local weather phenomenon. Because the clouds rain out on the Italian side due to the high altitude, Valais is the driest canton in Switzerland. Today, Switzerland has a total of 26 cantons, which are comparable to states. How diverse the country in such a small area is, is not only shown by its geography.
Rather, a total of four official national languages are spoken, in a country 245 times smaller than the USA: German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch. For example, students from the German-speaking part of Switzerland learn French as their first foreign language, not English. With so many different cultures, there are naturally also big differences in local cuisine. So if you like great diversity and new impressions and don’t want to travel long distances in the country itself, you should definitely visit Switzerland. In this guest post, I present 5 of my favorite places that have enchanted me. If you want to know more places, check out switzerlandbylocals.com to download the free e-Book with the 111 best places to visit in Switzerland.
On the one hand, Appenzell is the smallest canton in Switzerland. And for me, one of the most beautiful. Because almost nowhere else are traditions and origins maintained as they are in Appenzell. Everywhere you look with your eyes, green meadows are present. Or the imposing mountain massif of the Alpstein. In the summer months, the farmers make hay to be sure that their cattle have enough to eat. During this time, by the way, the animals are in the mountains. Because from June till September, almost 60% of the sheep, cows, and goats in Switzerland are in the Swiss Alps. The farmers get subsidies from the state. In return, they ensure that the meadows do not become overgrown with forest and that biodiversity is maintained.
Because due to climate change and the warmth, the tree line in Switzerland is rising higher and higher. Meadows in the Alps would become forests if farmers did not tend them. And thus biodiversity would decrease.
One of the most idyllic Swiss lakes and only about an hour away from Zurich is the Klöntalersee. With the imposing mountains surrounding the lake, it is often seen as the fjord of Switzerland. Today’s reservoir was once created naturally by a rockfall. In summer, the lake can be reached by public transport. Switzerland has one of the best transport networks in the world. The most remote places are still accessible by bus or train.
Whether camping, hiking or just relaxing. The Klöntalersee is a magical place of power in the Glarus Alps and draws me back again and again. I am particularly fascinated by the green meadows and the color of the mountain lake. From the early morning, until around 10 am, breathtaking reflections of the mountains can be seen in the Swiss lake.
Berglistüber Waterfall, Glarus
The Berglistüber waterfall is also situated in the canton of Glarus, but about 40 minutes away from Lake Klöntal by car. For me, it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Switzerland. And that’s why it’s no coincidence that it’s in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sardona. With the sunny morning light, the sun reflects in the crystal-clear water, creating a rainbow. As if this were not attractive enough, you can walk behind the waterfall at your own risk and discover a geological phenomenon. The Alps were formed when the African and continental plates pushed together. Older rock is usually at the bottom, younger rock higher up. In the case of the Berglistüber, this is reversed. The younger rock is below the older. This has to do with a rare overthrust, which is why the area is a geological phenomenon.
Bürglen is historically one of the most important places in Switzerland because the Swiss national hero Willhelm Tell was born here. According to legend, he saved the Swiss from the evil Habsburgs. That is why there is a Willhelm Tell Museum, which can be highly interesting for history buffs. But Bürglen is not only historically important, it is also aesthetically beautiful.
The old wooden houses, the church, and the winding road make it for a typical Swiss picture-book subject. If you like, you can link Bürglen to the dream location of Äsch, which is becoming increasingly popular on Instagram.
Grindelwald First, Bern
The Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau magically blush in the morning hours. The white of the glaciers seems to start burning. A phenomenon that can be observed in perfect weather conditions from Grindelwald First. It is a view that cannot be described but must be seen and experienced.
Although Grindelwald is very well developed for tourism compared to the four places described before, I still like to come back again and again. The Jungfrau region with First has so much beauty to offer in a small space and every season looks different that it is really worth it.
The marketing of Jungfrau Railways, which also owns the “Grindelwald First Railway”, is also fantastic. They call First the “Top of Adventure” and offer activities like a Cliff Walk, Flying Kites, and much more.
Those who prefer less adventure can tackle the hike to Bachalpsee and enjoy the great Alpine panorama. By the way, on the way to the mountain lake, you will find mountain flowers in a wide variety of colors. Some of them are strictly protected like Orchids, so you should not pick the flowers.
Switzerland offers wonderful places and a lot of diversity in a very small area. Therefore, a visit to the Alpine country is very worthwhile. In addition to tourist hotspots such as Grindelwald with the Jungfrau region, Zermatt, Gstaad, and Montreux, Switzerland offers so many hidden gems, where sometimes almost no people are to be found. Everyone gets their money’s worth here and will really enjoy their stay.
About the Author:
Marc Gottwald is an environmental and Switzerland expert (MSc Sustainability Management) and is guiding tours to hidden gems in Switzerland. In his free time, he is almost non-stop in the Swiss Alps and collects impressions to share on Instagram (@switzerland_by_marc) or his homepage switzerlandbylocals.com