For members


‘Secret’ places to visit in Switzerland you didn’t know existed (unless you live there)

Summer travel season is under way with even more visitors expected to ‘invade’ well known Swiss tourist spots throughout July and August. But what about the quieter, lesser-known locations?

'Secret' places to visit in Switzerland you didn’t know existed (unless you live there)
There are many off-the-beaten track places in Switzerland. Photo by Aswathy N on Unsplash

Yes, there are plenty of popular destinations in Switzerland that are mentioned in all the guidebooks and therefore attract hordes of tourists.

If you want to visit Zermatt and the Matterhorn, Lucerne, or Heidiland, then go ahead, but be prepared for crowds.

READ ALSO: 5 spectacular Swiss tourist sites hit by overcrowding

However, if you prefer the lesser known but nevertheless stunning places that even the Swiss may not know about, there are plenty of those across Switzerland as well:

Lake Saoseo, Graubünden

You’ve heard, of course, of Lake Geneva (or Lac Léman, as it is locally known), or Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstätter See ), but chances are you know nothing about Lake Saoseo in canton Graubünden.

Nestled at the foot of the mountain known as Scima da Saoseo, the lake is cobalt blue in colour. You can walk around it and even hike for about 30 minutes to see its neighbour, no less stunning Lago di Viola.

While this area is not exactly ‘hidden’ as you likely won’t be the only tourist, it is certainly not as ‘travelled’ as more famous Swiss regions.

The water in the two lakes is cool, which may provide some relief on a hot summer day.

But if you prefer to dip your toes into something warmer, head to…

Combioula hot springs, Valais

At the bottom of the Val d’Hérens, you will find the ancient (dating from the 15th century) mineral thermal springs emerging around the bed of the Borgne gorges — another very picturesque site.

The temperature there is about 26C, and it is known as a calm place to relax and meditate, away from the maddening crowds.
 Schrödinger’s Cat, Zurich
There may or may not be many off-the-beaten path places in Switzerland’s largest city, but there is at least one.

The Nobel Prize winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger lived in Zurich for six years during the 1920s, while he chaired the theoretical physics department at the University of Zurich.

Not surprisingly therefore, a life-size cat figure from Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment  stands in front of the house he lived in, at Huttenstrasse 9.

The cat is not in a box and is neither dead or alive – it just is.

A good place to see if you are a physics buff or simply a cat lover.

The Gorge of Verena, Solothurn
If you really want to see a secluded place, head to the Verena gorge just outside the city of Solothurn.

There, you will find a quaint house where a hermit lives…so at least you know it is not a crowded site.
The hermit, which is actually a paid municipal position, is kind of a caretaker: his job, which was first created in 1442, is to tend to the chapel and surrounding gardens, and, when needed, interact with visitors.

The chapel at the Verena Gorge Photo: The Local

Sigriswil, Bern

Bernese Oberland boasts many beautiful sites, most of which are popular tourist destinations, such as, for example, Interlaken.

However, just 19 km away, also on the shores of Lake Thun, lies Sigriswil, a laid-back town that offers not just great views over the lake, but also a 340-metre suspension footbridge over the (equally picturesque) Gummi Gorge.

Views over Lake Thun are spectacular. Image by ClaraMD from Pixabay

The Piumogna waterfall, Ticino

There are not too many places in the Italian-speaking canton where tourists don’t go, but you may find a bit of respite from the crowds at the
Cascata Piumogna, near the village of Faido, in the district of Leventina.

The 43-metre high waterfall  forms a natural pool which allows you to bathe.

And a suspension bridge over a creek gives a good view over the area.

Aarau, Aargau

We can almost hear you say what?

We get it, Aarau is not exactly a prime destination among Switzerland’s cities, but that is exactly why it is worth your while to visit.

Why should you go there?

The small northern town is very pretty, with many old buildings featuring painted gables and eaves, as well as three very cool castles.

Aarau is worth a visit Image by Ignacio Ruiz from Pixabay


This is not as gruesome as it sounds.

We merely mean to say that some celebrities died and were buried in various parts of Switzerland, and there is actually such a thing as ‘tomb tourism.’

For one, this allows you to pay homage to famous people you perhaps admired, away from the tourist spots, and for another, this is a good way to see off-the-beaten path places.

This link lists where the graves are located.

And just so you are on the right track…

READ ALSO: Learn Switzerland’s real place names (so you don’t get lost)

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
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