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Ten spectacular spring getaways in Switzerland

After a long, cold winter, Switzerland is starting to wake up from its winter sleep. Here are some ideas for trips to welcome in the warmer months.

Ten spectacular spring getaways in Switzerland
Habsburg Castle in the canton of Thurgau. Photo: Swiss Tourism

For wine lovers

Photo: Swiss Tourism

The northern flanks of Lake Geneva offer one of the most stunning landscapes in Switzerland, with vineyards rising steeply from the water. The Lavaux vineyard terraces are Unesco-world heritage and the 10-kilometre hike between the picturesque villages of St Saphorin and Lutry is a perfect introduction to the area. The fact that there are plenty of wines to try along the way doesn’t hurt either.

For history buffs

Photo: Swiss Tourism

Few names dominate European history in the last millennium like that of the Hapsburgs. The dynasty held sway over much of the continent and occupied the throne of the Holy Roman Empire for 300 years. Few people know, however, that the Hapsburgs had their beginnings in Switzerland, in the canton of Aargau. The 1,000-year-old Habsburg castle in Habsburg can be visited, and there’s even a restaurant.

For party lovers

Photo: Caprices

Ski by day, dance by night: the Caprices festival in the Valais ski area of Crans-Montana attracts around 28,000 clubbers to see over 30 artists and DJs across four days, with gigs staged in various locations around the slopes. This year’s festival runs from April 12th to April 15th.

For tropical dreamers

Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Any time of year is a good time to visit Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. But for people hoping to get a jump on summer and imagine themselves on a tropical island somewhere, the Brissago Islands in Lago Maggiore are the place to go. The smaller of the two islets is a botanical garden filled with subtropical vegetation from all over the world.

For the drama of it

The Rhine Falls on the Swiss–German border are Europe’s biggest waterfall and are at their most impressive in spring as snowmelt fills the Rhine with huge volumes of water. Near the Swiss city of Schaffhausen, this natural spectacle is something not to be missed.

For flower lovers

Photo: Swiss tourism

While Morges on Lake Geneva has its own tulip festival in spring, perhaps the most beautiful part of Switzerland blossoms-wise is the canton of Thurgau with its thousands of apricot, cherry, pear and apple trees. With its rolling landscape and views over Lake Constance, this often-overlooked canton comes into its own in the spring months. Cherry trees are set to come out around mid-April while for apple trees blossom time is around the start of May. But as with all things natural, there is no fixed calendar. Click here for information on the current situation.

For culture lovers

Among the stranger festivals in Switzerland is Zurich’s Sechseläuten spring festival which sees the city farewell the spring by the burning of a 3.4-metre high snowman-like figure known as the Böögg. This year, the special moment comes at 6pm on Monday April 16th.

For the faithful

Photo: Ticino Tourism

The Easter processions in Mendrisio, Ticino, are perhaps the best-known in Switzerland. There are two processions on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (March 29th and 30th). Both involves hundreds of participants who re-enact the passion and crucifixion of Christ as they walk through streets decorated with traditional paper lanterns. The costumes date from 1898 and are so valuable that if it rains, the whole thingis called off.

For scenery lovers

Diminutive Madulain in Switzerland’s stunning (and often sun-soaked) Engadine valley was recently added to the official list of the 33 most beautiful villages in Switzerland. Madulain, which is home to just 220 people, was given the nod because of its intact village centre. Combined with the scenery of the Engadine, it’s a recipe for pleasure.

For life in the slow lane

Photo: Switzerland Tourism

The small canton of Jura on the French border is horse country and one of the best ways to see it (especially with children) is on a horse and cart ride. See here for more information about rides in the Ajoie district.

For members

TRAVEL

What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?

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