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5 ways to make the most of spring in Switzerland

With less crowds and more moderate temperatures than the winter or summer months, spring is a great time to explore all that Switzerland has to offer. Here are five ways to make the most of your springtime stay.  

Rheinschlucht, Versam, Schweiz.
Rheinschlucht, Versam, Schweiz. Photo by Peter Wormstetter on Unsplash

Discover the flowers

Spring time means spring blossoms, and Switzerland has plenty to offer in that department.  

If you want to catch Switzerland’s famous narcissus flowers (wild daffodils), try the Seewis Narcissus Trail near Zürich in the east, or the Les Pléiades and Haut de Caux hikes near Montreux in the west.

If you’re eager to spot the beautiful crocus flower, which comes in purple, white, and yellow, you can travel to Rämisgummen in central Switzerland, or to Les Prés-d’Orvin in the northwest, where you can also catch some more daffodils.

Crocuses are a regular fixture of the Swiss Alps at this time of year. Photo: Pixabay

And although it’s technically not in Switzerland, Mainau Island at Lake Constance is worth a visit. This large garden island is home to over one million flowers, and is most famed for the thousands of colourful tulips that fill its fields in the spring.

READ ALSO: What is the best season to visit Switzerland?

Walk along the rivers and lakes

Spring is also the perfect season for a relaxing low-altitude walk along Switzerland’s rivers and lakes, of which there are many. Here’s just a sampling:

The Rheinschlucht, also known as the Swiss Grand Canyon, is a picturesque gorge with trails that follow the Rhine River as it cuts through the limestone cliffs that rise up on either side. The path starts near Chur, about 90 minutes south of Zürich. If you go on the weekend, you can even take a ride to the trailhead in a vintage open-air train.

Another great river hike lies further south in the Verzasca Valley. The trail traces the Verzasca River which flows through Switzerland’s Ticino region. The famous double-arched bridge that marks the end of the hike spans a great swimming area, which will certainly make the full 3.5 hour effort worth it.  

For a breathtaking lakeside adventure, check out the Five Lakes Walk in Zermatt, just north of the Italian border. As the name suggests, the trail will take you by five lakes (Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee), each of which has its own unique beauty. You can even catch a glimpse of the famous Matterhorn reflected on their surfaces. 

You could also opt for the Oeschinen Circular near Kandersteg, Bern, where you can walk along the crystal blue water that fills the beautiful Oeschinensee, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chase the waterfalls

With the snowmelt coming down from the mountain caps, Switzerland’s many waterfalls are approaching full flow in the spring. At 150 meters wide and 23 meters tall, the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen (a short trip from Zurich) are nothing short of spectacular.

Another option not far from Zürich (two hours by train) are the Batöni Falls. In one three-hour hike, you’ll catch five waterfalls pour over steep cliffs into the narrow river valley.

Switzerland has no shortage of beautiful waterfalls you can find on its plentiful hiking trails.
Image by Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

Further south near Interlaken lie the Giessbach Falls, which you can reach through a relaxing ferry ride across the beautiful Brienzersee, followed by a funicular trip up to the Grand Hotel Giessbach. From there, you can see the falls up close, and even walk underneath them.

Explore the villages

With less tourists in the area, spring is also a great time to experience some of Switzerland’s most popular small towns. Grindelwald comes top of mind. Tucked under the Eiger Mountain in the Bernese Alps, you can experience the scenic landscape through the many hiking trails, or by taking a ride on the First Flieger, a 800 meter long zipline that whizzes above the village.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

The nearby Ballenberg is another cool village to check out: it features an open-air museum where you can explore old farmhouses and barns from across Switzerland and observe demonstrations of how traditional Swiss handicrafts are made.

Finally, just on the edge of Lake Lugano lies the charming town of Morcote. The village is home to many architectural wonders, including the distinctive arcades that line the lakefront houses and shops and the Santa Maria del Sasso pilgrimage church.

Although perhaps less famous than their French or German counterparts, Switzerland has many vineyards rivaling them for a view. Photo: Pixabay

Enjoy the wineries

Between the months of May and June, Swiss wineries across the country open their doors to visitors.  If you pay a visit to one of the many vineyards that dot the country (the most popular of which lie in the Valais and Lauvaux regions) you can observe how the wine is made and taste it for yourself, all while enjoying a traditional Swiss raclette. 

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For members


What makes Switzerland’s Alpine pasture season worthy of global recognition?

Switzerland's Alpine pasture season has been included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. But what makes it so special?

What makes Switzerland’s Alpine pasture season worthy of global recognition?

Why are Swiss Alpine pastures in the news?

On Wednesday, UNESCO announced it had inscribed 45 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity during its annual session held in Kasane (Republic of Botswana).

The list comprises cultural “practices and expressions [that] help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.” 

Among this year’s new elements were two Swiss entries, one of which is the country’s popular Alpine pasture season.

What is Switzerland’s Alpine pasture season?

As an exemplary tradition of the Swiss mountain areas, the Alpine pasture season combines traditional skills, customs and rituals related to Alpine farming in Switzerland.

The Alpine pasture season takes place from around May to October in Switzerland when various cattle, sheep and goats are relocated to high-altitude pastures (between 600 metres and 2900 metres) to graze on fresh forage and herbs that thrive in the summer months.

The Alpine farmers, or Alpacists, then look after the livestock and their surroundings, produce different dairy products, and even invite visitors to observe the animals and farming practices.

“The practice contributes to the preservation of natural landscapes and creates economic and social ties between the local populations and the Alpine farmers. It has given rise to the knowledge and skills needed to maintain the sites, as well as to a variety of social and religious practices such as rituals, prayers and blessings, traditional clothing, livestock competitions and local festivities,” UNESCO writes.

Some of these practices also include “traditional clothing, livestock competitions and local festivals” like the Alpine cattle ascent (inalpe) and the Alpine cattle descent (désalpe) where – depending on the region – the most beautiful cow of the herd is crowned.

Festivals to celebrate the herd animals heading to their summer pastures play a vital role for farmers and locals as they highlight craft practices that are otherwise rarely observed in Switzerland.

“The knowledge, skills, and customs of the Alpine pasture season, including farming and cheesemaking, are often transmitted informally, within families and their seasonal employees or among members of Alpine societies and cooperatives. They are also transmitted through regional training centres, cultural events and tourism,” UNESCO says.

READ MORE: Why are cows so important in Switzerland?

UNESCO also recognises Swiss irrigation technology

Switzerland’s cattle weren’t the only ones to join UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity this year.

Its centuries-old irrigation technology from Bern and Lucerne also made the cut.

The multinational agricultural technology was proposed for inclusion on the UNESCO list by Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and Germany, zentralplus reported.

According to UNESCO, traditional irrigation involves temporarily digging small ditches and channels to distribute water from as springs, rivers, streams, and glaciers to meadows.

This sustainable form of water supply, which serves to cultivate dry areas, also has a positive effect on biodiversity.

In Switzerland, this technology is celebrated with various social gatherings and other festivities to mark the start and ending of the water season.

UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity also includes six other Swiss entries.

These include the Craftsmanship of mechanical watchmaking and art mechanics (2020), the Holy Week processions in Mendrisio (2019), Alpinism (2019), the Avalanche risk management (2018), Art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques (2018), the Basel Carnival (2017), and the Winegrowers’ Festival in Vevey (2016).

Since 2020, the craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten, in Europe, know-how, transmission, development of knowledge and innovation – which include Switzerland – also joined UNESCO’s Register of Good Safeguarding Practices and falls within the agency’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

READ MORE: The 13 world heritage sites in Switzerland you need to see