Last week 12 villages across Switzerland were shortlisted in the country’s annual ‘prettiest village’ competition.
Organized by several Swiss magazines and public broadcasters, the competition has been running since 2011 and last year proclaimed Morcote in the canton of Ticino as the winner.
In this year’s competition the public has until August 24th to select their winner from the 12 finalists – three from each of Switzerland’s four language regions.
To help voters decide, we take a closer look at what these lovely little places have going for them.
This village is in the Blenio valley north of Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino. A wild and scenic place with a Mediterranean air, the valley is known for wine-growing, farming and its beautifully preserved old stone houses.
It may be named after the devil (le diable in French) but this beautiful spot in the Vaud Alps is actually heavenly. Set in a valley at 1,200m surrounded by imposing mountains, the village is composed of traditional wooden alpine chalets, giving it an authentic Swiss charm, while its lovely ski area links to Villars and Glacier 3,000.
Photo: Christof Sonderegger/Swiss Tourism
In the Romansh-speaking Surselva region of Graubünden, Falera is linked to the more famous Flims and Laax via the ski area but is the least touristy of the three villages. Its emblem is the 500-year-old St Remigius church, considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the area.
Visiting Grimentz in the Val d’Anniviers is like stepping back in time. Its narrow streets are lined with old wooden chalets and mazots (grain stores), blackened in the mountain sun. A couple of years ago its ski area was linked via a new cable car to Zinal, another gem of a village further up the valley.
On the shore of Lake Brienz in the Bernese Oberland, the village of Iseltwald only has 440 inhabitants but its many visitors enjoy swimming in the lake, taking boats trips or kicking back on a restaurant terrace enjoying the reflection of the surrounding mountains on the lake’s calm surface.
Photo: Patrick Nouhailler/Flickr
This beautiful area in the Trient valley, canton Valais, offers family-friendly skiing, a natural open-air swimming pool (pictured), a small zoo with alpine animals and many hiking routes. To get there, take the very scenic mountain train from Martigny.
In canton Lucerne, this village sits at just over 1,000m and in autumn and winter it often overlooks a sea of cloud below. Special seats are erected in various places for you to admire the view. The area is also known for its many cycling routes.
In the Centovalli area of Ticino, this small car-free village is only accessible on foot or via a cable car from Verdasio. Inhabited since 1700, it now has a population of just 28 people, making it one of the smallest villages in the country. Its relative isolation has kept it a place of tranquillity and relaxation.
Photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism
Dating from the 13th century, Schwellbrunn sits at just under 1,000m making it the highest village in canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Set amid beautiful countryside, it’s a great starting point for hikes.
Photo: Hans Nater/Flickr
At the end of the unspoilt Verzasca valley in the canton of Ticino, this beautiful village is characterized by old stone buildings that are typical of the area. Visitors can have lunch al fresco in a traditional 'grotto' restaurant and visit the beautiful Froda waterfalls.
Photo: Caroline Bishop
In the Romansh-speaking Lower Engadine, Tschlin dates from the 14th century. These days it's best known for its brewery. The Biera Engiadinaisa is brewed using spring water and locally-grown malting barley, which has given farmers a new source of income.
Another Romansh-speaking Graubünden village, Vrin is a historic place that has worked hard to preserve its beautiful old wooden houses. Its church is recognized as a monument of Swiss national importance.
Photo: Ralph Feiner/Graubuenden Tourism