5 spectacular Swiss tourist sites hit by overcrowding

Here are five Swiss tourist sites you will need to plan your visit carefully to avoid the crowds.

Lucerne Lion Monument
Stone Lion Monument in Lucerne

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden‘s charming landscape, independent culture and welcoming locals have long made the Swiss region a preferred tourist destination, but while this has been beneficial for the canton’s economy – its tourism accounts for 12.8 per cent of its GP – it has also left its marks on residents.

Visitors from all over the globe, including Switzerland, flock to this predominantly Swiss canton laden with Instagram-worthy hotspots. The Alpstein – a hiker’s paradise – and Äscher Wildkirchli restaurant, which opened in 1846, have inspired many a pilgrimage. As one of Switzerland’s oldest mountain inns, the latter also graced the cover of the National Geographic in 2015 and played host to none other than actor Ashton Kutcher and Swiss tennis icon Roger Federer.

But hosting famous faces comes at a cost. In 2018, the tourist rush prompted the then-owners to clear the premises only for the inn to open again the following year under new ownership.

In 2022, a large proportion of the circa 1.8 million people who visited the canton were in the region for a day trip, rather than an overnight stay. Appenzell Innerrhoden’s government has now proposed a new tourism strategy aimed at limiting mass tourism and its negative implications, such as more traffic, waste, people, and complaints.

Instead, the canton wants to encourage more overnight guests by building three to five hotels in the next 15 years.

READ MORE: The parts of Switzerland foreigners don’t move to


Another Swiss tourism success story as a direct result of unprompted social media advertising is Lavertezzo, often referred to as the most beautiful village in Ticino. While select international tourists traverse the valley’s 17th century stone bridge, it is primarily visitors from German-speaking Switzerland and Italy that travel to Lavertezzo en masse – and all thanks to a YouTube video.

The one-minute clip, which is entitled The Maldives from Milan and praises Lavertezzo’s beauty, was posted on Facebook in 2017 and immediately led to a boost in tourism – and traffic chaos – in the region.

If the short (but effective) YouTube clip has inspired you to see Lavertezzo for yourself, it is advisable to do so in the late spring or early summer months, before the scorching heat (and mass tourism) kicks in as the valley is particular popular with visitors looking to take a dip in the crystal-clear river.

Though there is limited parking most visitors only stop by for a quick lunch and photo session before driving up to the Verzasca dam to marvel at bungee jumpers imitating James Bond’s famous GoldenEye scene.


If any tourist spot knows what mass tourism feels like first-hand, it’s likely to be Switzerland’s Rigi, frequently dubbed the Queen of the Mountains.

Set in the heart of central Switzerland, Rigi is easily accessible from every corner in the country. The mountain is located between three lakes, Lucerne, Zug and Lauerz, and offers visitors second-to-none views over the Alps from its highest point at 1,797 metres.

During 2022, some 808,000 visitors chugged up the mountain by train or cable car – a 33 percent increase since 2021. Though the Rigi is heavily visited by tourists from around the world – the number of visitors rose from 553,000 to 912,000 between 2009 and 2018 – organisers are still encouraging more uphill travel in hopes of besting pre-pandemic record-high visitor numbers.

That’s as good an invitation as any.


Walking along Lucerne’s Schwanenplatz you’re bound to see several packed coaches drive up to offload tourists in a matter of minutes. Following a quick briefing, they are off to explore the nearby area along the quay, walk the Chapel Bridge and, most famously, hit the city’s many watch shops – for a day.

Lucerne’s popularity with overseas (short-stay) tourists has led to a boom in Lucerne’s holiday apartments on offer, so much so that in March of this year disgruntled locals voted to limit the length of time an apartment can be rented out for short stays to 90 days per year. Moreover, some hotels have introduced a minimum stay requirement when booking one of their rooms.

In 2022, Lucerne also stopped advertising in long-distance markets where the majority of its tourists fly in from in a move that was not well-received by the hotel industry, Blick reported.

If you pack a healthy dose of patience and are still eager to explore Lucerne, note that the city is well worth a longer stay. From its Bruch quarter, Titlis and the Lion Monument, to the Musegg Wall and its nine towers – Lucerne is packed with interesting sights to keep you busy for a week.


Iseltwald is often referred to as the pearl of Lake Brienz, and rightfully so. The fishing village is located on the left bank of the river and is one of the smallest communities in the canton of Bern – and locals would like to keep it that way.

However, with its crystal-clear lake and breath-taking mountain backdrop, Iseltwald also caught the eye of Netflix whose hit series Crash Landing on You partly takes place in the quaint village.

Since its airing in 2019, the show has attracted thousands of overseas tourists to the quaint Swiss village, prompting the municipality to limit the number of visitors it allows with a new set of measures. These include stricter rules for coaches – such as prior booking and a parking time limit – as well as the introduction of a controversial selfie fee.

READ MORE: Swiss village forced to restrict visitor numbers after Netflix success

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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