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Six beautiful Swiss villages located near the Austrian border

For anyone wanting to travel closer to home this year, a few kilometers from the Austrian border there are small gems to discover in every season.

Six beautiful Swiss villages located near the Austrian border
The Swiss village of Madulain. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Here’s a list of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland located less than an hour from Austria, which are well worth a visit when you get the chance.

These six villages are members of the association Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse” (The most beautiful Villages in Switzerland), which aims to protect and promote those villages that have a distinct architectural, landscape and historical beauty.

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

A pleasant journey through these small villages to discover or rediscover in just one day or combining them together.

Have you already heard of them? 

Trogen (AR)

Trogen is a beautiful village nestled in the rolling hills of the Appenzell Ausserrhoden and has been the capital of the semi-canton since the division of the national territory in 1597.

Trogen. Photo: Municipality of Trogen

In the beautiful main square stand out majestic stone buildings and rustic wooden houses. In the 1940s Trogen gained fame thanks to the Pestalozzi Village: this children’s village was intended to welcome and train orphans from war-affected countries.

Must see: 

Zellweger stone palaces: buildings from the 18th and 19th century, especially on the main square, of the rich family of textile merchants Zellweger.

20 Km from the Austrian border

Schwellbrunn (AR)

Also in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden is the village of Schwellbrunn, located at 972m above sea level, which is the highest village in the canton.

Schwellbrunn. Photo: Municipality of Schwellbrunn

From here you have a magnificent view of Lake Constance and the beautiful Säntis mountain. In summer there is a dense hiking network with many attractive panoramic viewpoints, while in winter there are family-friendly ski lifts, cross-country ski runs and tobogganing possibilities. 

Must see:

The beautiful Reformed church, built in 1648 when the municipality separated from Herisau

40 Km from the Austrian border

Lichtensteig (SG)

Lichtensteig is a wonderful little town in the heart of the Tonnenburg region in the canton of St. Gallen. The old town of Lichtensteig is unique in its kind, the old town in fact tightens in a semicircle around the mountain and was originally defended by ditches and boundary walls.

For those who are also looking for a quiet place in nature, the magnificent Äulischlucht gorge with a beautiful waterfall and thick forests is also worth mentioning. 

Lichtensteig. Photo: Municipality of Lichtensteig

Must see:

The historical centre of the village with the church of St. Gallen.

50 Km from the Austrian border

Tschlin (GR)

The small village of Tschlin is hidden in the beautiful region of the Lower Engadin in Canton Graubünden.

Unknown to most people, this little gem seduces with its authenticity and the wonderful panorama towards the gentle Austrian Alps.

Tschlin. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Between one barn and another there are elegant little squares and stone fountains.

Must see:

The beautiful fountains placed in the small squares like the fountain Donna Lupa.

15 Km from the Austrian border

Madulain (GR)

Not far from the chaotic Sankt Moritz is the best-preserved village in the Upper Engadin: Madulain. In this small village there are beautiful houses decorated with flowers as well as small squares.

The river Inn flows right nearby and offers stunning picture-postcard views.

Madulain. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The village is also an important cultural centre: several temporary art exhibitions take place in the old barn “Stalla Madulain” dated 1488.

Must see:

On a steep rocky spur overlooking the village lies the ruin of the Guardaval fortified complex, built in 1251, the fortress was never inhabited and was abandoned as early as the 15th century.

70 Km from the Austrian border

Triesenberg (FL)

High above the Rhine Valley, like an eagle’s nest, lies the Walser municipality of Triesenberg. The sunny terrace of Liechtenstein is the highest and largest municipality in the Principality in terms of surface area.

Triesenberg. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

In the centre of the village stands the Rathaus, the unique “onion church” and two old wooden houses. Since 2019 the village has been integrated into the Swiss network of the most beautiful villages.

Must see:

At the Walser Museum in the centre of the village you can learn more about the origins of Triesenberg and this interesting culture.

20 Km from the Austrian border

All of these villages and many more feature in the Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse free app available in English for iOS and Android. 

By the way, Austria also has many beautiful villages, if someone would be interested in setting up a similar network in Austria feel free to contact us! [email protected]

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it also has a great location right in the centre of Europe, making it an ideal starting point for train travel. Here are five destinations you can reach in less than five hours from Zurich.

Five European cities you can reach from Zurich in less than five hours by train

As summer is still in full swing and there are many vacation days (or free weekends) to enjoy the sunny weather, it’s not the wrong time to do some travelling. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but it’s also centrally located in Europe. This means that many major European cities are reachable in just a few hours.

If you are located in Zurich, for example, then you are very near Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein and Austria. In less than five hours, visiting beautiful cities in these five countries is possible by taking a comfortable train ride.

So, select your final destination, get your ticket, and enjoy the ride.

READ ALSO: Switzerland’s ten most beautiful villages you have to visit

From Zurich to Strasbourg

It will take you just about 2 hours and 30 minutes (including time to stop and change trains in Basel) to get from Zurich’s mains station to the beautiful and historical city of Strasbourg, in northeast France.

Prices vary depending on several factors, but we found one-way tickets for just around CHF 23 on a Friday.

From Zurich to Munich

The capital of Bavaria can be reached from Zurich’s central station on a direct train in just 3 hours 30 minutes, allowing for short stays.

Munich may seem quite far away on a map, but the fast trains without stopovers actually make the journey quick and pleasant. We found one-way tickets for around CHF 70 on a Friday trip.

From Zurich to Vaduz

The capital of Liechtenstein is easy to reach in less than 2 hours from the Zurich central station. In fact, some journeys will take just about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The lovely town bordering Switzerland has many tourist attractions, from its pedestrian historical centre to castles and parks. Train ticket prices always vary, but we found tickets for a one-way journey on a Friday costing CHF 20.

READ ALSO: Travel: What are the best night train routes to and from Switzerland?

From Zurich to Milan

Depending on the train you take, you can get from Zurich to Italy’s fashion capital in three to four hours with a direct train.

Before 2016, when the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened to rail traffic, a trip from Zurich to Milan took an hour longer. It’s possible to find tickets for about CHF 70 for a one-way trip on a Friday.

From Zurich to Innsbruck

From Zurich, it is possible to hop on a direct train and, in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes, arrive in the beautiful town of Innsbruck, in the mountains of Tyrol.

Ticket costs vary, but we found tickets for a relatively short-notice one-way trip on a Friday (without discounts) for CHF 84.

READ ALSO: Five beautiful Swiss villages located near Alpine lakes

Cost:

Fares depend on several factors, such as time of the day and day of the week when you travel.

While a rock-bottom cheap fare may be available one day in the morning, it won’t necessarily be offered the next day (or week) in the afternoon, or vice-versa.

Prices also depend on whether you are entitled to any discounts and which wagon you choose.

If you are interested in travelling farther afield, including with night trains, or if you are in other Swiss cities, these articles provide more information:

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