Posts Tagged ‘Solothurn’

The Top 8 Undiscovered Swiss Towns

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

By Chantal Panozzo

Ah, the perfect Swiss town. Cute chalets. Sparkling lakes. Photogenic mountains. And people speaking Japanese and English? Unfortunately, certain areas of Switzerland—especially in the summers—are overrun with large tour buses and masses of humanity being herded by an umbrella-waving guide. To help you avoid the crowds, here are eight undiscovered Swiss towns (as part of a two-part series) that all offer something unique—from a spa with the most mineral-rich water in Switzerland to three grand Roman castles you can call your own.

Stein am Rhein

Stein am Rhein, Photo by Brian Opyd

Stein am Rhein

There’s no leaf or flower out of place in this storybook town on the Rhine. It’s almost too perfect, but that’s why it’s interesting. The old town is full of brightly colored frescoed buildings so painstakingly preserved that they sparkle in the sun.  Next to the river, the Benedictine monastery is well worth the $5 admission for its 16th century atmosphere of austerity—especially since you’ll be thanking God for having it all to yourself.

Solothurn

All of Switzerland is renowned for its timekeeping abilities, but Solothurn features a 12th century clock tower that does more than tell the time—it entertains. Show up on the hour and you’ll be treated to a show of dancing mechanical figures as fine as Bern’s famous clock, but without the crowds. Then climb the tower of Solothurn’s Neo-Classical cathedral to revel in the timelessness of this Baroque city.

Schaffhausen

Yes, it’s an unforgettable town on the Rhine. Yes, it’s got one of the largest old towns with plenty of shopping. But insiders head straight to Abaco, a family-run chocolate store famous for its champagne chocolate balls. After dipping fruit in its chocolate fountain or enjoying a coffee with a complimentary truffle, you just might be up for facing the crowds at Europe’s largest waterfall, the Rhinefalls—about a half-hour hike away.

Bellinzona

Be king or queen for the day as you explore grassy castle pathways and eat risotto while admiring your city’s vineyards. Bellinzona’s three expansive castles, built by the dukes of Milan, are the grandest in Switzerland. Even though they have now been labeled a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s still possible to feel like you own the place—especially on a weekday, when your claim to the crown will probably go uncontested.

For the rest of the Top 8 spots, click here to visit One Big Yodel. But in the meantime, what do you think? What are your favorite Swiss spots?

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