Discover the 10 most beautiful old towns in Switzerland

I recently asked my Facebook followers which Swiss town they thought had the most beautiful historic center. I deliberately wrote “town” because everyone knows the centers of big cities like Bern, Zurich or Lucerne. But I was interested in secret tips. I already had some of my favorites, of course, but I was wondering what my followers had to say. I’m glad our mutual tastes “met,” I also got a few more exciting tips. So, let’s look at the 10 Swiss towns with the most beautiful historic centers you can discover too!

These are 10 tips for the most beautiful old towns in Switzerland

1. Murten

The historic center of Murten is made up of three cobbled streets lined with arcades (Rathausgasse, Hauptgasse, and Deutsche Kirchgasse), which mainly house restaurants and various shops. A highlight of a visit to the historic part of town is the castle and the free-accessible 15th-century city fortifications, with their beautiful views over the rooftops of the old town and beyond. In January, the famous Murten Lichtfestival is held here.

2. Solothurn

Solothurn is known as “the most beautiful baroque town in Switzerland”. This was certainly helped by the fact that Solothurn was the seat of the French ambassadors in Switzerland for over 250 years. However, its history dates back to the Roman Empire. On Marktplatz, you will find the Zytglogge, the oldest building in the city. The lower part dates back to the 12th century, and the astronomical clock (still mechanically operated) was added in 1545. The magnificent Baroque St. Ursen’s Church dominates the Hauptgasse, and its dome is a town’s landmark.

3. La Neuveville

La Neuveville lies on the shores of Lake Biel and is located just on the border between the cantons of Bern and Neuchâtel but still belongs to the canton of Bern. The historic Tour de Rive gate used to be one of the two main gates to the town in the Middle Ages, and mainly the gate leading to the port. The other main gate of La Neuveville, which was founded in 1312 by Bishop Gérard de Vuippens, is the Tour Rouge. You will find it at the end of the main street, Rue du Marché.

4. Gruyères

Location, location, and more location! This is what makes the well-preserved medieval town of Gruyères absolutely exceptional. Gruyères rises impressively on a hill and is surrounded by massive walls like a fortress. Plus, no cars are allowed here, which is a big plus. If you walk across the entire main street, Rue du Château, you will reach the local landmark, the Château de Gruyères. At the bottom of the hill, in the Pringy area, you can visit the Maison de Gruyère cheese factory to see how this famous cheese is made.

5. Ascona

On the shores of Lago Maggiore in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino is the tourist attraction of Ascona. The tourist center of Ascona is Piazza Motta, a 500-meter-long lakeside promenade with beautiful colorful houses. This is, in my opinion, the best place to sit down, do nothing at all, enjoy the warm sunshine with a gelato or a glass of Aperol Spritz in hand, and watch the beauty around you.

6. Aarau

Aarau, the capital of the canton of Aargau, enjoys an exceptional geographical position, being centrally located between Basel, Zurich and Lucerne.

It’s worth raising your head to the sky as you stroll through the historic center of this town. Here, you will see beautiful painted roof ceilings dating back to the 16th century. Aarau is, therefore, also known as the “town of beautiful gables“.

7. Zug

On the shores of Lake Zug, about 25 kilometers from Zurich, is one of Switzerland’s most important economic centers (yes, that’s where they have the lowest taxes and where many companies are officially based). The town is decorated with the Zytturm tower from 1574 with its blue and white striped roof, colorfully painted houses, a late Gothic town hall, and churches. The streets and passages of the old town lead to Lake Zug with views of the famous peaks of Rigi and Pilatus.

8. Brig

The town of Brig in the canton of Wallis, situated almost on the border with Italy, has been an important crossroads of trade routes since Roman times. Perhaps the town’s most famous landmark is the Stockalperschloss, a baroque palace named after Konrad Stockalper, a prominent local businessman who controlled the silk trade routes through the Simpon Pass. The local thermal spa Brigerbad is also well known.

9. Morcote

Morcote is a former fishing village at the tip of the Ceresio peninsula. Morcote was voted the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016. On the waterfront, you’ll find pleasant restaurants and shops selling local produce; you can wander the narrow cobbled streets for a while and discover hidden corners or climb up to the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Sasso with its 16th-century frescoes (and spectacular views of Lake Lugano).

10. Stein am Rhein

If you make a trip to the Rhine Falls, be sure to visit the town of Stein am Rhein, less than twenty kilometres away. It is known for its well-preserved old centre with painted facades and half-timbered houses.

Photo credit: Michal Konštacký

So, did you like this list? If you have another tip for a Swiss town with a lovely historic centre, be sure to send it to me (preferably with a photo) and I’ll be happy to add it to the article.

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