Summer travel idea: Off-the-beaten-track holidays in Switzerland

If you don't fancy the idea of crowded tourist spots this summer, this typically ‘active’ vacation deep in the Swiss countryside could be for you.

Summer travel idea: Off-the-beaten-track holidays in Switzerland
A different kind of Alpine holidays await you in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

Many Swiss residents are opting to stay in Switzerland this summer rather than risk international travel.

But if you're wondering what to do with your time off, we have a suggestion for a different type of break, that will also help out others.

Just imagine spending your summer holidays on an Alpine pasture, waking up each morning to the sound of cowbells coming from a nearby meadow.

The air is fresh and crisp, the grass is green, and the food is home-grown and wholesome.

If you are a citizen or legal resident of Switzerland from a EU / EFTA nation, this kind of holiday experience could be yours. But there’s a small catch: you should be ready to lend a hand to a needy mountain farmer.

Each summer, a social service organisation Caritas sends volunteers to help overworked Swiss farmers in mountainous rural regions perform various tasks.

READ MORE: Switzerland's ten most beautiful villages you have to visit 

In exchange, the family will provide you with room and board, but you must commit to stay with them for at least five days.

This YouTube video (in German, with French subtitles) explains how this works. 

On the Caritas site, you can see and choose the kind of tasks you want to perform – for instance, work in a barn or stable, out in the woods or pastures, or perhaps a bit of each.

Then you can select the canton and the linguistic region where you would like to go, as well as the farm itself.

Or, you can let the organisation send you where your help is most needed.




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Where do residents of Switzerland plan to spend their summer holidays?

Local tourism officials are recommending that Switzerland’s population stays in the country this year. But a new survey shows the majority prefer to venture abroad.

Where do residents of Switzerland plan to spend their summer holidays?
Residents of Switzerland like to spend their holidays on Mediterranean beaches. Photo by AFP

After three months of being stuck at home and living under various restrictions, staycations are the last thing that many of Switzerland’s residents want to do this summer.

“People often tell us that they don’t want to have the destination of their holidays imposed on them”, Stéphane Jayet, vice-president of the Swiss Travel Federation told RTS television

And Rafael Matos, a tourism teacher at HES-SO in Valais, added that “the Swiss are among the nationalities which travel the most. And we have the right to travel. It has almost become a human right “.

This year, Switzerland’s public dreams of relaxing by a warm sea, in the shade of palm trees.

A new survey shows that only 19 percent of residents will likely heed the call of tourism authorities and stay in Switzerland this summer. 

The other 80 percent said they would like to vacation in the Mediterranean countries, but mostly in those that are accessible by car or train, since flight schedules may be uncertain in the foreseeable future.

That means Italy and France, both of which can be reached by car or train within five or six hours from Switzerland. 

READ MORE: Where can you travel in Europe? EU launches new website to help tourists 

But unlike previous years, when most people used to book their holidays well ahead of time, this summer “a lot of people will opt for the ‘last-minute’ deals”, Jayet said.

Foreign vacations seemed impossible just weeks ago, when European countries closed their borders amid the spreading Covid-19 pandemic.

 In April, the majority of Switzerland’s public planned to stay in the country for their holidays.

In fact, tourism authorities are urging residents to spend their summer holidays in the country to help the sector rebound from the huge losses it suffered during the Covid-19 crisis — nearly 9 billion francs in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic in mid-March. 

Officials even launched two campaigns, ‘We need Switzerland’ and ‘Clean and Safe’ to entice people to stay.