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DISCOVER SWITZERLAND

The five most beautiful Swiss villages to discover by boat

Switzerland has beautiful villages and lakes which makes it a perfect country to discover and admire by boat. Here are five towns worth exploring from the water fronts.

The five most beautiful Swiss villages to discover by boat
Gersau is a beautiful city with great boat tours (Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Switzerland has 6 percent of Europe’s freshwater reserves, and to confirm this you only have to look at the huge number of lakes dotting the Confederation.

Each of these lakes possesses a unique flair, and to discover them to the fullest we recommend a boat tour, starting from these 5 beautiful villages, all members of the “The Most Beautiful Villages in Switzerland” network.

1. Gersau – Lake Lucerne (SZ)

In the heart of Switzerland we find Lake Vierwaldstättersee, commonly called Lake Lucerne. Here, in a gentle green patch of land, lies the hamlet of Gersau. In ancient times this municipality was a tiny independent state, remaining the world’s smallest republic until 1817, when it was annexed to Canton Schwyz. This region enjoys a Mediterranean micro climate, so it is not surprising to find a rich vegetation of exotic flowers and plants.

Gersau swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

From Gersau it is possible to take an unforgettable boat tour on Lake Lucerne to other neighboring villages such as Beckenried and Kehrsiten or directly to the city of Lucerne.

Gersau swiss village

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

2. Saint Saphorin – Lake Geneva (VD)

In the Lavaux region, one of Switzerland’s UNESCO sites, the charming old village of Saint-Saphorin can be found among the vineyards. A few houses gather compactly around the church of Saint Symphorien, which gave its name to the village, which was once called Glerula. The square in the old town invites tourists for a stop, perhaps to enjoy an excellent fish dish and sip a glass of local wine.

saint saphorin lake Geneva Swiss villages
(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Saint-Saphorin overlooks Lake Geneva, the largest lake in all of Europe that bathes the Swiss and French coasts. From here it is possible to reach the cities of Vevey and Cully by boat and even go as far as Lausanne.

saint saphorin lake Geneva Swiss villages
(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

3. Ascona – Lake Maggiore (TI)

Ascona is one of the most popular and well-known destinations in Switzerland, thanks to its mild climate and Mediterranean atmosphere. The lakefront is full of restaurants and bars where to enjoy an aperitif, while in the old town center we find many boutiques, stores but also museums and exhibition centers of some importance.

Going up the hill we then reach Monte Verità: a fascinating place that once served as a meeting place for those who followed an alternative life away from the hectic daily routine.

ascona lake maggiore Swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

From Ascona it is possible to take beautiful boat tours on Lake Maggiore to nearby destinations such as S. Nazzaro in the Gambarogno or to the Brissago Islands, which are home to the only island botanical garden in all of Switzerland.

ascona lake maggiore swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

4. Erlach – Lake Biel (BE)

Erlach is a unique village overlooking Lake Biel. In the upper part of the town we find the old castle, which now houses a museum and school, and beautiful houses that gradually descend to the shores of the lake, creating a picture-postcard view. All around, the vineyard takes center stage, and there is no shortage of several wine cellars where wine tasting can take place.

Erlach lake Biel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Lake Biel possesses a strip of land that stretches from Erlach for several kilometers to the island of St. Peter (now in fact turned into a peninsula), which was home for some time to the well-known philosopher Rousseau. From Erlach it is possible to reach by boat the beautiful villages of Le Landeron and La Neuveville, both members of the same network of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Switzerland”.

erlach lake Biel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

5. Grandson – Lake Neuchâtel (VD)

On the romantic Lake Neuchâtel, it is impossible not to notice from afar the small town of Grandson. Of great note are its colorful houses and the old St. Baptist Church, a national historic monument. Walking through the narrow lanes we will find ourselves in many small squares and nooks that are decorated and well-kept and all with jaw-dropping views of the lake. Grandson’s star is its immense 11th-century castle, which houses an outstanding collection of arms and armor.

grandson lake Neuchatel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

Lake Neuchâtel is an ideal summer destination for cooling off in its clear waters. In Grandson, for example, there is certainly no shortage of lidos and green areas to relax. On board the boat you can take part in tours and discover the secrets of the lake’s preserved shores.

grandson lake neuchatel swiss villages

(Photo by Christian Guerra / @swissvillages)

You can find out more about these 5 villages and many others by downloading the official “Beaux Villages” app for iOS and Android.

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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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