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Five beautiful Swiss villages located less than an hour from Basel

Live in or around Basel 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 Saint-Saint-Ursanne (JU). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”
The Swiss village Saint-Saint-Ursanne (JU). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Just a few kilometres from the cultural capital of Switzerland, there are little gems to be discovered any time of year. 

These five villages have been selected by “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse” (The most beautiful Villages in Switzerland), an organisation which aims to protect and promote those villages and small towns that have a distinct architectural, landscape and historical beauty.

Whether you seek to discover them in just one day or combine them together, a pleasant journey awaits you!

Don’t live near Basel? Check out the following links for more beautiful Swiss villages. 

Five beautiful Swiss villages located less than an hour from Zurich

Six beautiful Swiss villages located near the Austrian border

Aarburg (AG)

On the banks of the river Aare, in the midlands, majestic Aarburg Castle can be seen perched on a rocky spur. This old medieval town lies at an important Swiss crossroads.

On either side of the castle are two historic quarters with different atmospheres and designs. On one side, in the shape of a triangle, the narrow old town with its colourful houses forms a picturesque ensemble around the elegant fountain. Next to the town hall, a local history museum tells of the exciting history of this incredible town and Its famous visitors.

Must see: the banks of the river Aare and the majestic castle.

The Swiss village Aarburg. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Aarburg. Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Büren an der Aare (BE)

The former trading town on the river Aare is a little-known gem with a magnificent old bridge and one of the most beautiful mills in Switzerland. Büren delights visitors who stroll along the banks and explore the old town, which consists of typical Bernese houses from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The small, characterful town with its compact, triangular centre is on the list of national heritage sites and offers a variety of attractions. The first of these is the Hauptgasse with its arcades, fountains and the town hall with its beautiful Gothic façade. The many historic buildings stand out for their variety of colours and ornate signs. 

Must see: The banks of the river Aare showcase the typical Bernese houses.

The Swiss village Büren an der Aare (BE). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

The Swiss village Büren an der Aare (BE). Photo: Association “Les plus beaux Villages de Suisse”

Porrentruy (JU)

The fairytale castle dominates every corner of the town, which is the cultural centre par excellence of the canton of Jura. The stained glass windows of its churches are among the most impressive in Europe.

With its elliptical shape, the historic core of Porrentruy has been wonderfully preserved and forms a quite exceptional unified architectural heritage.

The Grand-Rue is made up of bourgeois, Gothic, Baroque and neoclassical houses; not to mention the countless monumental fountains, famous residences and free-standing buildings. 

Must see: The fairytale castle and the Grand-Rue.

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

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

Saint-Ursanne (JU)

The best-preserved medieval village in Switzerland invites you to discover its ancient monuments: the collegiate church with its cloister, the Hermitage of Saint-Ursanne and the bridge over the Doubs River.

The centre of the village is reached through three fortified gates. Its treasures are therefore well guarded: a collegiate church with a magnificent cloister and small houses with colourful shutters huddled together.

But also charming fountains, a medieval garden, four small rustic and friendly hotels and completely repaved alleys that immerse the visitor in another time.

Must see: The beautiful ancient bridge, the lovely cloister (see featured image above).

Luthern (LU)

In one of the greenest valleys in the canton of Lucerne, far away from traffic and noise, this rural village exudes serenity. Luthern invites you to experience the surroundings on foot or by bike.

The attractive village is a model of pastoral harmony and poetry. Located in the midst of a spiritual landscape in central Switzerland, it has also been a place of pilgrimage since a miraculous spring was discovered in the nearby hamlet of Luthern Bad.

This village is the starting point for many walks through the pastures where the dairy cows produce the famous Emmental cheese.

Must see: The old wooden houses and the many beautiful small chapels.

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

The Swiss village Luthern (LU). 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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DISCOVER SWITZERLAND

Unplugged: Five of the best digital detox breaks in Switzerland

Do you find yourself itching to check your emails, scroll through Instagram, or reply to yet another text? Then perhaps you are ready to digitally detox. Here are the five best tech-free stays in Switzerland.

Unplugged: Five of the best digital detox breaks in Switzerland

Since the concept was first introduced by former tech geeks Levi Felix and Brooke Dean in 2012, thousands of tech-addled people worldwide have been inspired to connect by disconnecting from technology.

Here are five of the best tech-free stays in Switzerland:

Hotel Rosenlaui

If you’ve always fancied a trip back in time, then the highly popular Hotel Rosenlaui may be the right fit for you. After all, the hotel counts many famous writers, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Johann Goethe, Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, and Friedrich Nietzsche, among its visitors.

Located in the middle of nowhere – as a former guest described it rather aptly – this charming hotel has upheld its traditions since it was built in 1771. While Rosenlaui maintains a strict no smartphone, laptop or photo policy in its public areas, its limited mobile phone reception will make even the most tech-obsessed guests give up the plight to connect to the outer world and propel them to soak in the magnificent views of the Bernese Alps.

Indoors, the hotel’s atmospheric salons offer a variety of books and board games while encouraging conversations between guests. Perfect for rainy days!

www.rosenlaui.ch

Somarelli

In the mood for a vacation with animals at heart? Ticino’s Valle di Blenio offers tourists a different relaxation method: hiking with goats and donkeys.

In 2014, Susanne Bigler Gloor, a former board member of a major bank, combined her passion for people with her love for animals and specialised in human-animal interactions. Hence, Somarelli was born.

Free from push notifications and pop-up messages, Somarelli allows travellers to switch off from everyday life and find solace in this oasis of calm in the midst of different kinds of animals. Trekkers can hop on the back of a mule or walk beside an alpaca at a leisurely pace, adapting to the rhythm of their four-legged companion and becoming one with nature.

www.somarelli.ch

 
 
 
 
 
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Benediktinerkloster Disentis

This 8th-century Benedictine monastery is the ideal getaway for those on the lookout for something a little more unconventional. The abbey is presumed to have been founded in 614, only to be destroyed by the Pannonian Avars in 670 and then rebuilt and dedicated to Saint Martin in 711.

Refurbished in the Baroque style around the end of the 17th century, the monastery is host to the Klosterkirche St. Martin and the Marienkirche, where visitors are welcome to participate in daily public prayers alongside the monks to get connected to peace and solitude.

Throughout the rest of the day, vacationers can meet up at the Stiva Sogn Placi for a meal and some casual exchange, visit the monastery’s very own museum (a real treasure trove!), or browse its vast library packed with travel books urging holidaymakers to explore the surrounding Surselva valley.

Whether it’s a short- or long-term trip, staying in a monastery is surely an experience for mind, body, and soul.

https://www.kloster-disentis.ch

Hotel Simmenfälle

If you long for peace, tranquillity, and a completely Wi-Fi-free break, you’re at the right address. The Hotel Simmenfälle is located at the back of the Lenk in the Simmental – the valley of the Simme river – and not only is the nearest mobile phone mast four kilometres away, but the hotel also has electromagnetically shielded rooms for guests who suffer from the health consequences of excessive mobile phone use.

Electronic devices, such as smartphones, iPads, laptops, smartwatches and even baby monitors, are not permitted on its premises. Guests (and staff!) are strongly encouraged to relax (or work) in flight mode. Instead, visitors can take a dip in a romantic wood-fired hot tub overlooking the Simmerfall or enjoy a quirky dinner inside a caravan.

www.simmenfaelle.ch

Valbella Resort

We’re all too aware that raising a child, rewarding as it may be, is not the easiest task on hand and in today’s rapidly evolving technology landscape, even children aren’t exempt from falling victim to tech overuse.

Luckily, the Valbella Resort in Graubünden has a range of activities for young minds to remedy just that. While parents enjoy their well-deserved breaks away from the digital demands of the modern world, their children can attend the hotel’s Waldkindergarten – sans electronic toys and smartphones – where they learn to read animal tracks, find secret paths, and recite stories around the campfire.

Outside of summer, kids can solve riddles as part of an adventure game, build a LEGO fortress at the Kid’s Inn, play pool, or take part in numerous outdoor activities.

Adults are also encouraged to be one with nature and have a go at Nordic walking, take a bike tour, try ChiYoga, or – for the seriously tech-exhausted – attend a stress reduction course on site.

www.valbellaresort.ch

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