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Aarau in Central Switzerland is worth a visit!

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Pauly
Pauly
12 posts
new member
Mar 28, 2020 - 3:30 PM

Often only the larger cities in Switzerland are mentioned on the forum – and also in the “Where to go – cities” page on this website. I would like to suggest: visit the charming town of Aarau in Central Switzerland! The town is on the railway line between Basel and Zurich and the Intercity train has a stop here). From the railway station (with a clock face that is one of the largest (railway) clock faces in Europe: 9 metres!) it only takes a few minutes to walk to the old town centre. There you can stroll through the wide streets with the beautiful old houses with their impressive “Dachhimmel”, the richly decorated jettying roofs, and also have a panoramic view on the eastern part of the Jura mountain range from the old city wall near the Stadtkirche church. Last September I have spent several nice hours there on my way to Zurich (you can read my blog about it: paulinehikes.com/aarau-a-stop-over-in-a-beautiful-old-town).

Best regards!

Rail Europe
Anna
Anna
941 posts
top member &
moderator
Mar 28, 2020 - 4:12 PM in reply to Pauly

Hi Pauly,

Thanks for sharing!

Aarau indeed has a very charming old town. It is the capital of the Canton of Aargau in the northwestern part of Switzerland. I live just 20 mins from Aarau.

I agree, there are many scenic and picturesque towns and villages in Switzerland that are seldom mentioned and featured on travel websites and adverts.

Be sure to read this: www.myswissalps.com/wheretogo/towns

Regards,

Anna

Last modified on Mar 28, 2020 - 5:50 PM by Anna
CabinJon
CabinJon
158 posts
active member
Mar 28, 2020 - 7:09 PM in reply to Pauly

Thanks Pauline! I added Aarau to my list of "places we could go" for our next trip. Despite having been to Switerland twice, we've seldom managed to get anywhere northwest of the Zurich/Lucerne/Interlaken rail lines. We mean to change that next time, and posts like this certainly help. Great pictures on your blog too.

Last modified on Mar 29, 2020 - 8:02 AM by Suzanne
1960man
1960man
2739 posts
top member
Mar 29, 2020 - 12:47 AM in reply to CabinJon

Regular members will know that I often, too, attempt to draw visitors to this forum away from the 'clichéd' Swiss 'tourist traps' . It is amazing how much of 'the rest' gets missed by tourists visiting from outside Switzerland.

May I humbly suggest that next time you visit completely avoid the Zurich - Luzern - Interlaken axis. There is of course the still mountainous but still very touristy south east (Graubünden) .

Northwest is lower altitude but full of 'Swissness' (bucolic farmland and villages) and with very historic (eg Roman and Mediaeval) sites.

Just look on a map and then do an internet search for any placename.

A few places completely off the top of my head:

Swiss Jura

Neuchatel

Olten

Burgdorf

Payerne

Estavayer

Grandson

Ligerz / Twann

Lenzburg

Balsthal

Last modified on Mar 29, 2020 - 8:04 AM by Suzanne
Suzanne
Suzanne
344 posts
top member
Mar 29, 2020 - 8:00 AM

Hello Pauly,

Thanks for your suggestion about Aarau! I certainly agree that it's a jewel of a city.

I enjoyed reading your website and looking at the wonderful photos! Please also post a travel report on the MySwissAlps forum, I am sure our members would appreciate that.

1960man also has great suggestions on non-tourist cities/villages to visit. My personal favorite is Ligerz/Twann for their cobblestone pathways, beautiful views of lake Biel and their annual wine festival that usually takes place in September. Thanks 1960man!

In the meanwhile, please look at these thread boxes, perhaps you will get further ideas for your next trip to Switzerland:

Thanks again for your post.

Take care,

Suzanne

Last modified on Mar 29, 2020 - 8:05 AM by Suzanne
Mark
Mark
572 posts
top member
Mar 29, 2020 - 3:47 PM

Hi Pauly and 1960 man

I would agree 100% that visiting smaller, less traveled, and less touristy areas has much to offer. The overall cultural and visual experience in those places is undoubtedly enhanced by not having to “ share” it with a hoard of fellow tourist. My experience in the US mirrors this too. Zion and Bryce national parks are beautiful but often crowded. I especially enjoyed hiking in nearby Escalante and Canyonlands where you might see no one else the whole day.

Having said this I would add 2 comments for consideration. Some sites are so spectacular that there is no comparable sites. After all there is a reason they are so popular. In the US the Grand Canyon is crowded but there is nothing quite as “grand” elsewhere. Perhaps the view of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau from KS or the view of the Matterhorn from Gornergrat fall into this category. While I enjoyed the seclusion of Escalante, I don’t regret visiting the Grand Canyon.

Last I would say even in in touristy areas you can find uncrowded experiences. I have hiked much of the Jungfrau area but never been to Jungfraujoch. Yes, Mannlichen to KS and First to Bachalpsee will be crowded but the hike to Waldspitz or the Eiger trail are usually not crowded. I live 30 minutes from the most visited national park in the US, The Great Smokey Mountains. This past Sunday there were cars everywhere but we only saw 5 other people on the 9 mile hike we took.

Personally my advice to those first time Switzerland visitors would be to carefully research your trip and prioritize what is most desirable that you want to experience. I would think you could not beat a mixture of both the iconic sites as well as the small less frequently visited ones 1960man recommends.

Mark

Last modified on Mar 29, 2020 - 4:11 PM by Suzanne
Peterli
Peterli
1192 posts
top member
Mar 30, 2020 - 5:37 AM in reply to 1960man

A few others from the top of my head:

Morat (Murten)

Avenches

Le Landeron

Lac de Joux

St.-Cergue

Mont Vully (Sugiez)

Le Chasseral

I could go on and on, but that's it for now.

Pauly
Pauly
12 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2020 - 11:42 AM

Hello to all of you!

Thank you so much for your kind reactions on my post and the website! Suzanne: I will write a travel report about Aarau. I agree with you, Mark in your reaction on 1960man, that a first time visitor should go to all the “highlights” to get in the mood – the next time there will be more room for “finetuning”! Let’s promote the hidden gems…

Stay safe and healthy – so stay inside!

Best regards!

Peterli
Peterli
1192 posts
top member
Apr 2, 2020 - 8:38 AM in reply to Pauly

Hello,

I notice that 1960man was suggesting to CabinJon that << next time >> he skip going to the << clichéed Swiss tourist traps >> . Since CabinJon states that he has already visited Switzerland twice, I must say that I agree 100% with 1960man. As I see it, Mark's advice, which was not directed to CabinJon, was for first time visitors to Switzerland. In such cases, if time permits, I would like visitors to try to balance between the places everybody seems to feel they just have to go to, and those dozens of other wonderful places that are scattered all over the country. In the past, I have even tried (with limited success) to encourage people to divide their time between the Swiss-German, French, and Italian linguistic areas. They are all quite different physiographically and, just as important in my mind, culturally. Switzerland is kind of like three (or four if you include Romansch) quite different countries packed into a relatively small space. As the we say in French, "Vive la différence !". This is the only way to truly know Switzerland and the Swiss people.

CabinJon
CabinJon
158 posts
active member
Apr 2, 2020 - 1:39 PM in reply to Peterli

Visiting different parts of Switzerland was indeed our intention last year. While we loved Luzern and used that as our primary base, we also had plans to visit Montreux in the west and Lugano/Locarno to the south. Unfortunately, we both got sick for 3-4 days at exactly the time we had planned to visit those areas. We were indeed disappointed, but they have remained on list for our next visit.

We have plenty of time to plan our next trip and fill up the list of places we want to go or could go. But to balance that planning in advance approach, I am thinking about reserving a few days for just going to the train station, getting on the very next train leaving, and see where we end up, whether that is determined by the train's termination point or by our impulse when arriving at a town along the way that catches our immediate interest.

Peterli
Peterli
1192 posts
top member
Apr 2, 2020 - 11:26 PM in reply to CabinJon

Darn. Just lost another post, so I'll try to recreate it. Sometimes I save in Notepad before pressing "Post this reply" but this time I forgot. So here goes:

<< I am thinking about reserving a few days for just going to the train station, getting on the very next train leaving, and see where we end up, whether that is determined by the train's termination point or by our impulse when arriving at a town along the way that catches our immediate interest. >>

That sounds like a cool idea, providing you have the luxury of plenty of time. It reminds me of a story I once heard of a man who would book flights to a destination, not tell his wife where it was, took her to the airport, found ways to conceal their destination from her (not easy in 2020) and she'd only know where they were going when she stepped out of the plane. Sounds almost impossible, but it would have been fun for both of them, and it makes a good story.

If you are in a large train station, like Zurich or Berne or Lucerne (and also many others to a varying extent) there will be many platforms and frequent departures in many directions (as you already know). For the smallest of the stations, the choice will be to continue in the direction you were headed the day before, or to go back from whence you came. Unless, of course, you are making round trips each day. In such cases, try to find a different route to return, rather than back-tracking.

It is too bad you missed out on your planned travel to the Ticino and Montreux. Those places will still be there next time and are both worth the visit.

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