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ZURICH

Five beautiful Swiss villages located less than an hour from Zurich

Live in Zurich and want to get away but don't have too much time? These five beautiful villages are less than an hour away, making them perfect for a day trip.

The Swiss village Grüningen (ZH). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”
The Swiss village Grüningen (ZH). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Just a few kilometres from the financial capital of Switzerland there are little gems to be discovered in every season.

These five 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.

A pleasant journey through these lovely villages, to discover in just one day or combining them together, awaits you!

Grüningen (ZH)

In the green meadows of the Zurich countryside lies this picturesque little town with its typical local architecture and a lovely castle.

There is also a botanical garden here that is unique in Switzerland. Today, this small town in the Zurich Oberland offers a variety of cultural attractions.

No fewer than three museums, including the castle museum.

A second exhibits over 10,000 pewter figures in miniature dioramas and the last, free museum is dedicated to the world of beekeeping.

There are also several traditional markets in the off- season and a famous Christmas market.

Must see: The beautiful castle and the unique botanical garden.

READ MORE: Six beautiful Swiss villages located near the Austrian border

Bremgarten (AG)

Old churches, medieval towers and an impressive wooden bridge make this little town, enclosed between two bends of the Reuss river, an unmissable destination.

Bremgarten captivates with its intimate and poetic atmosphere.

But this Aargauer town is also exuberant, especially at carnival time, when it is invaded by the Guggenmusik of brass bands, or at the Christmas market, one of the most famous in Switzerland.

The Easter and Whitsun markets are also very popular and remind us that Bremgarten has always been a place of festivities and conviviality.

Must see: The impressive wooden bridge and the busy Marktgasse.

The Swiss village Bremgarten (AG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Bremgarten (AG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Diessenhofen (TG)

Only an old covered wooden bridge lies between this ancient little town and Germany.

Let yourself be seduced by the beauty of this place and embark on a boat trip on the Rhine.

The river here flows in all its glory, forming here one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Europe.

The symbolic covered bridge majestically spans the river over a length of 85 metres with the German-Swiss border in the middle. Excursions from the Schifflände allow you to explore this unique region with its vineyards and medieval castles.

On your way back to the historic centre of Diessenhofen, don’t miss the beautiful Siegelturm.

Must see: The old covered bridge and the Siegelturm.

The Swiss village Diessenhofen (TG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Diessenhofen (TG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Gersau (SZ)

The former independent republic is known as the ‘Riviera of Central Switzerland’ thanks to its almost Mediterranean climate and the exotic plants that can be found here in abundance.

Today, Gersau is an idyllic village on the shores of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the ‘Queen of the Mountains’ the Rigi (1798 metres).

Chestnut, fig and palm trees thrive here to such an extent that the traditional village in the heart of the national territory has an enviable southern atmosphere.

Gersau is the starting point for excursions on the lake and panoramic hikes up the ridges of the Rigi.

Must see: The museum about its rich history and the beautiful garden by the lake.

The Swiss village Gersau (SZ). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Gersau (SZ). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Lichtensteig (SG)

The jewel of Toggenburg is a small town founded around 1200, which lies in its crescent shape on a rocky outcrop above the Thur.

A unique historical core is complemented by a dense network of hiking trails in the surrounding hills. The view is impressive from the station as you cross the railway bridge into the centre.

You may enter Lichtensteig via the central street, which is lined with half-timbered town houses and arcaded passageways that recall the town’s former vocation as a trading town that long dominated trade in eastern Switzerland.

Must see: The lovely arcades in the central street and the Toggenburg museum.

The Swiss village Lichtensteig (SG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Lichtensteig (SG). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

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. 

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SWISS CITIZENSHIP

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Zurich, Switzerland's most populous canton, is standardising its test for Swiss citizenship. Think you could pass it?

QUIZ: Would you pass Zurich’s Swiss citizenship test?

Voters in the Swiss canton of Zurich on May 15th approved a proposal to simplify naturalisation requirements for the canton’s 350,000 foreigners. 

Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, has 162 municipalities. While it might be a slight exaggeration to say there are 162 unique tests, the questions can vary greatly. 

Naturalisation: How well must I speak a Swiss language for citizenship?

The May 15th vote standardised the process by establishing a standardised knowledge test for the entire canton.

This means that the test will be drawn from the same questions regardless of whether you live in Adlikon bei Andelfingen or Zumikon. 

Whether you’ve just arrived in Zurich or you’re a long-time Swiss citizen, this set of cantonal naturalisation test questions gives you a chance to see how well you’d do. 

How does the naturalisation test work? 

The test includes 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich.

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass.

While the test will be standardised – as in, the 50 questions will be drawn from the same 350 across the canton – there will be questions directed at municipal, cantonal and federal issues. 

The test will be in German, although the canton promises that it will take place in ‘plain language’. 

More information about the new requirements is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich has simplified the Swiss citizenship process

Would you pass Zurich’s citizenship test?

With the decision to standardise the test only given public approval in May – and with things taking a little while in Switzerland generally – as at June 30th the canton-wide test has not yet been put in place. 

The Zurich government website indicates final work is being done to ensure the test is appropriate. 

READ MORE: The ten most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

A number of questions have however been released. The test is in multiple choice format, with applicants being given three or four options for most questions. 

The following are translated versions of some of the questions which are actually included on the test. 

As you can see, many relate to Switzerland federally and do not have specific relevance to Zurich. 

To take the test on the Zurich cantonal website – and for more information – click here. 

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