Zermatt would be the most spectacular place in Switzerland, but as an expat in this country I have the duty to show you other places that are equally beautiful, but which, I don’t understand why, are not known among tourists. I could even say that all the places to write about next are hidden gems of Switzerland, well hidden places and extremely loved by the locals. So, without further ado and without forgetting Geneva, Montreux, Lucerne and Zürich, here are the 5 Hidden Gems in Switzerland that You Should Visit.
Vevey is by far the most surprising place on the Swiss Riviera. Vevey is part of the Swiss Riviera (along with Montreux) – Yes! We have our own riviera too, with palm trees and small lakeside beaches – and it’s known as the pearl of Lake Geneva. The town stretches along the lakeshore, and the promenade is the locals’ meeting place, the place where the Swiss choose to spend their Sundays with family and friends. On the lakeside, people drink their prosecco, socialise, barbecue, sunbathe or simply enjoy the view…which, between you and me, is sensational.
Of this list, Vevey is perhaps best known, its fame being due to Charlie Chaplin, who, after being exiled from the United States, chose to move to Vevey. So, to commemorate him, Vevey has both a museum – Charlie Chaplin World – and a statue. Admission to Charlie Chaplins World costs between 19 and 27 CHF for adults and between 16 and 18 CHF for children (more info.).
How to get to Vevey?
Vevey is just a stone’s throw from Montreux, 7.1 km to be precise, so the journey between Vevey and Montreux is also extremely easy to walk.
Activities and sights in Vevey
A walk on the promenade, a photo with the statue of Charlie Chaplin and another with the bust of the last great European romantic (you know who he is :D), a visit to Charlie Chaplin World, a boat ride on Lake Geneva and a visit to the Alimnetarium – the world’s first museum dedicated to food.
Somewhere in the heart of the country we find the most beautiful place in Switzerland (at least that we have visited so far), the kind of place we see in pictures and other illustrations, the kind of place that has it all: waterfalls, mountains that rise above 4000 and are always covered in snow, meadows and quiet paths, lots of greenery, turquoise lakes, picturesque villages and elegant, quiet towns typical of the land of the cantons.
The Berner Oberland is our favourite region in Switzerland, although there is a fierce battle between it and the Riviera. This region is home to Interlaken, the town between the two lakes, Thun and Brienz, Lauterbrunnen – one of Switzerland’s most beautiful and picturesque villages, the Jungfrau mountain region and the famous ski resort, Grindelwald. The Berner Oberland is the ideal place for those who want to enjoy the Swiss countryside and spend time in nature. There are numerous hiking routes in the area. There is also a steam train that goes up to
Brienzer Rothorn Panorma, from where you can admire Lake Brienz, and on a clear day you can see no less than 46 mountain peaks.
We have visited this region many times, and on our last visit we discovered the village of Iseltwald. Iseltwal is a strip of land on Lake Brienz, a small, almost car-free village (only locals are allowed in by car) full of wooden cottages and flowers, at the end of which is a castle. Walking through Iseltwald on a cool summer morning is like stepping into another world. It’s a story!
How do you get to Iseltwald?
The most pleasant way to get to that little piece of land is by boat, and you can even opt for a steam boat from Brienz. The second option would be by car, which you have to leave at a car park at the entrance to the village.
Saint Saphorin is a small village in the French part of Switzerland, tucked away in the Lavaux vineyards. Although the vineyards are extremely well known, being part of the UNESCO World Heritage, the small village with its narrow stone streets is a hidden gem among the grapes.
Chasselas grapes from which the “wines of Saint Saphorin” are made. And if the romantic, stone-paved streets of this little village don’t convince you that it’s worth a visit, then perhaps you’ll smile.
a stroll through the vineyards, accompanied by a wine tasting, both in the golden light of the setting sun over Lake Geneva.
How to get to Saint Saphorin
Saint Saphorin, along with the Lavaux vineyards, is ideal for a 3-4 hour walk, on a half-day trip from Laussane (Saint Saphorin to Laussane is 14.7 km), or from Vevey (7 km).
Switzerland is famous for its picturesque villages surrounded by mountains and pastures, and the village of Gruyeres is the best example of this. Gruyeres is a small village in the Le Gruyere region, about an hour’s drive from Montreux or Laussane. The road to Gruyeres is absolutely charming: a national road, surrounded by plains, mountains looming in the distance and lots of happy little cows. Gruyeres has become famous for its cheese.
What can you do in Gruyere?
Le Gruyère AOP, a type of cheese that is produced exculsively in the Le Gruyere region. So the village’s main attraction is the LA MAISON DU GRUYÈRE cheese factory, where for a cost of CHF 7 you can see one of Switzerland’s most delicious cheeses being made.
La Maison du Cailler presents the entire history of the Cailler brand, as well as how cocoa beans are transformed into the finest chocolate. In this sweet foray, the climax comes at the end, when visitors are invited for a tasting. The name “Cailler” probably won’t sound familiar, given that Cailler chocolate can only be found in Switzerland, but I promise that once you’ve tried Cailler milk chocolate, Toblerone will fall off its pedestal. I think I’ve convinced you to put Gruyeres on the list, right?
Admission to La Maison du Cailler costs 15 CHF for adults, children under 16 are free.
As for Gruyeres, I can say that it is one of the most beautiful Swiss villages and that it is a real pleasure to walk along the stone-paved streets, visit the castle or have a little chat with the little cows sitting quietly at the entrance of the village.
I’m sure you haven’t heard of this region and because of its position on the map of Switzerland, most travellers don’t make their way or itinerary through this canton. Also, Graubunden doesn’t enjoy much publicity nor too many foreign tourists – except for a few ski resorts – so, it’s a slightly more authentic place and different from anything you know, have seen or will see in Switzerland. It’s more of a place the locals know, a place where nature lovers – and the Swiss are crazy about hiking and biking – go for a short weekend getaway.
When it comes to towns, Graubünden has nothing to boast about – the only big town (when big means 30,000 inhabitants) is Chur, the cantonal capital, but also the oldest town in Switzerland, according to some research. But when it comes to natural landscapes and ski resorts, the canton of Graubünden, as it is still known, has little competition. In Graubünden you’ll find fantastic lakes, which in summer work like natural swimming pools, ski resorts and 4000 m high mountains, quiet villages and breathtaking scenery.
Very few people know that the famous Bernina Express train leaves from here, that all the pictures of those red trains and stone bridges are taken in the mountains of Graubünden, that three of the country’s four official languages are spoken in this canton – German and Rhaeto-Romanic, and Italian in places, and that it is the place where Heidi was ‘born’. Graubunden also boasts 1000 mountain peaks, 615 lakes, 150 valleys and over 40 ski resorts. And yet, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this place!
Some places to visit in Canton Graubünden
Lakes Cresta and Cauma, the ski resorts of Flims, Lenzerheide, Laax and Davos, the Swiss National Park, Sankt Moriz, the village of Guarda, the Rhine Gorge and Heididorf – the village of Heidi.
How to travel around Graubünden
Although public transport is very well set up, the best option would be by car. By car you can get to the most beautiful places in the region, drive on sensational mountain roads and enjoy truly spectacular views.