10 Beautiful Medieval Towns in Switzerland

Europe has so many beautiful medieval towns, such as Carcassonne in France and San Gimignano in Italy. Switzerland is no exception to this rule. There are many stunning sights in Switzerland besides the Swiss Alps. The alpine region also has its share of beautiful medieval towns. These fairytale places will transport you back to ancient times. 

Here we present 10 picturesque medieval towns in Switzerland. The following list is not exhaustive, but some of the most well-known or best preserved are included. From the list below, we hope you will find one that fits your itinerary and interests.

Let’s take a look at 10 of the most beautiful medieval towns in Switzerland:

Saillon

The picturesque medieval village of Saillon has a well-preserved past that makes for an enjoyable visit. It is a hilltop medieval town surrounded by vineyards and boasting fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. The climate in the area allows for the growth of grapes, almonds, and figs.

Saillon was first mentioned back in 1052 as Castellum Psallionis. Over two centuries, Saillon was ruled by the Savoys. During this period, the town became a Savoyard commercial and military center in Valais. The fortifications were built under Peter II of Savoy. 

Saillon is one of the most beautiful villages in the canton of Valais. Its landmark is the Bayart Tower, a 19-meter-high keep built by the count of Savoy overlooking the Rhone Valley.

Although you can enjoy the medieval town, Saillon has more to offer. This medieval town also has its own thermal baths nearby called Bains de Saillon (though they are not from the medieval period). 

Saillon is also famous for its notorious bandit Farinet. In fact, The Museum of Counterfeit Coins (Musée de la Fausse Monnaie) is dedicated to Farinet and his counterfeiting methods. It presents a comprehensive history of fake and real Swiss money. He produced false coins and distributed these to the people. 

Don’t Miss in Saillon
* Bayart Tower
* Bains de Saillon
* Musée de la Fausse Monnaie (Museum of Counterfeit Coins)

If you would like to learn more about Saillon, check out our article Saillon: A Beautiful Medieval Village in Valais, Switzerland.


Saint-Ursanne

Image by Susanne Stöckli from Pixabay

A picturesque medieval town nestled between Porrentruy and Delemont lies Saint-Ursanne, just by the Doubs river. The town of Saint-Ursanne lies in the canton of Jura, bordering France. With cobblestone streets and charming houses, you’ll be taken back in time as you explore this medieval little town. 

This historic old town can be reached via a beautiful bridge. St. Ursanne was named after Saint Ursicinus, an Irish monk who lived in the 7th century. 

There are many historic buildings in this little town with fewer than 1,000 residents. Apart from the medieval houses, Saint-Ursanne also contains a Romanesque Abbey Church, a Collegiate Church, and a Hermitage. 

A medieval festival is also held each summer in the town. 

Don’t Miss in Saint-Ursanne
* Cloître de St-Ursanne – Romanesque Abbey Church
* Collégiale catholique romaine Saint-Ursanne – Collegiate Church
* Pont St-Jean Bridge
* L’ermitage

Stein am Rhein

Image of Stein am Rhein by TouringSwitzerland.com

Stein am Rhein is a beautiful medieval town located where the Rhein River flows into Lake Constance. In this idyllic Upper Rhine town, many medieval buildings have painted facades. Half-timbered houses have also been shaped into attractive shapes. Windler Foundation, which serves as the town’s main financial supporter, has greatly contributed to the preservation of its beauty. 

It is worth visiting the Lindwurm Museum – Stein am Rhein’s only Empire House dating back to 1279. This lovingly reconstructed bourgeois house from the mid-19th century exemplifies the lifestyle of the upper class in small towns.

Also worth a visit is St. George’s Abbey – it is one of the best-preserved Medieval monastery complexes. In the area is a magnificent old castle called the Hohenklingen Castle which takes you back in time to the Middle Ages. The castle was constructed in the middle ages above the town.

Don’t Miss in Stein am Rhein
* Museum Lindwurm
* St. George’s Abbey
* Hohenklingen Castle

If you would like to read more about Stein am Rhein, check out our article The Pretty Town of Stein am Rhein, Switzerland.

Arbon

Image by Ronile from Flickr

Arbon is a town in Thurgau south of Lake Constance and the third-largest in the region. It has a well-preserved medieval old town. It would be a shame not to explore this charming port town.

The medieval castle in Arbon, known as Schloss Arbon (or Arbon Castle), is now a museum of regional history and culture. It also has a 33-meter-high tower. The castle exhibits items that date back to the Roman era when it was part of Rhaetia province.

They also have artifacts from the time of Gallus, the Irish monk who founded the monastery of St. Gallen. His memory is also honored by a chapel built in the 12th century, the Gallus Chapel.

Also one of the oldest Christian churches in Lake Constance is St. Martin’s Catholic Church.

Don’t Miss in Arbon
* Arbon Castle
* Arbor Felix
* Gallus Chapel
* Catholic Church of St. Martin
* Late Roman Fortress

La Neuveville

Founded in 1312, La Neuveville is home to approximately 3,500 people. Originally part of Napoleonic France, it is now a part of the French-speaking Jura Bernais (Bernese Jura).

In this beautiful medieval town, you can still see the city walls and defense towers. Tour Rouge, a 14th-century tower, is situated at the end of the main street Rue du Marché

Among La Neuveville’s highlights is the white church, or Blanche Église Réformée.  The church is decorated with Gothic frescoes and wooden ceilings. It was constructed in 1345. 

Other historic sites in La Neuveville include Cour Gléresse (also known as Hof Ligerz), Fontaines Des Bannerets, Maison de Berne, and Maison des Dragons.

At the Neuveville Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville) is the historical museum – the Musée d’Histoire La Neuveville.

Don’t Miss in La Neuveville
* Blanche Église Réformée – White Church
* Musée d’Histoire La Neuveville – Historical Museum of La Neuveville
* Cour Gléresse – Hof Ligerz Castle
* Fontaines Des Banneret – the fountain
* Maison de Berne and Maison des Dragons
* Tour Rouge

Avenches

Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

Avenches, in Canton Vaud, is a municipality that used to be a Roman Colony called Aventicum. In fact, it was the capital of the province. Avenches was the capital of both the Romans and their predecessors, the Helvetians.

From 15 to 13 BC, the Romans established Aventicum as their capital. 20,000 people lived there at its height. Today, this number is less than 500.

This is a charming medieval village that makes for an interesting and attractive destination for tourists today. Avenches is home to many Swiss Heritage Sites of National Significance such as the Avenches Castle and the Roman Ruins

Don’t Miss in Avenches
* The Roman Ruins of Aventicum
* Avenches Castle
* The Cure at Rue du Jura 2
* The Swiss Reformed Church
* The Temple à Donatyre
* The Tour de l’éveque (Bishop’s Tower) with Amphitheater
* The Roman Museum with Caesar Marc Aurel’s golden bust

If you would like to read more about Avenches, check out our article Avenches: A Fascinating, Ancient Roman Site in Switzerland.


Gruyères

Image by TouringSwitzerland.com

There is probably no more impressive old medieval town than Gruyères, one of the most popular attractions in the region of the same name. It is located about 6 kilometers southeast of Bulle. The settlement is situated on top of a small hill in the Moléson foothills.

Gruyères is a 28.4-square-kilometer rural area where just about 5% of the land is populated. Forests and agricultural fields cover the majority of the area. A mere 810 meters above sea level, it is not particularly high.

Along the main street are houses dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. They have not built extremely modern buildings, thus preserving the look of the medieval town. 

A Tibet Museum has opened inside the medieval town of Gruyères, run by the Alain Bordier Foundation. This exhibit features Buddhist art from the Himalayas, including sculptures, paintings, and ritual objects.  Additionally, Swiss artist HR Giger has his work displayed in the St-Germain castle. 

Don’t Miss in Gruyères
* The entire town center of Gruyères 
* The town fortifications
* The Gruyères Castle – currently houses a museum and is open to the public
* The Saint-Germain Castle – currently houses the HR Giger Museum
* The houses at Rue du Bourg 7, 39, and 47
* The Grange du Laviau – a barn

If you would like to learn more about the town of Gruyères, check out our article Gruyères, Switzerland: A Romantic Little Town.


Ascona

Ascona, near Locarno, is a charming and picturesque village. In addition to its waterfront promenade, it has a historic old town. Ascona is located in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. Ascona is not only popular with tourists from abroad. Even locals enjoy strolling along the promenade. 

The town of Ascona was originally a fishing village. Today, it is one of the most visited places in canton Ticino.

The entire town of Ascona is included in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites.  The old town is also largely car-free.

Don’t Miss in Ascona
* Chiesa dei SS. Pietro e Paolo – St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church 
* Casa Serodine
* Santa Maria della Misericordia Church

If you would like to learn more about the town of Ascona, check out our article Best Ascona Activities and Attractions.


Romont

Image of Romont from wikimedia

Romont is a hilltop medieval town with a great cultural heritage, just like Saillon. First mentioned in 1177 as Rotundo Monte, Romont is home to several historic sites. The town itself is also included in the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. This beautiful medieval town is located in Switzerland’s Canton Fribourg

In this area, you’ll find the Romont Castle, which was probably used by Peter II of Savoy during the 13th century. Within the castle grounds are the Stained Glass Museum of Switzerland and an elegant courtyard. Among the museum’s exhibits are Medieval glass paintings and reverse glass paintings. 

Romont houses the world’s largest collection of reverse glass paintings at Vitromusée RomontThrough its collections and ateliers, the Vitromusée Romont showcases the fascinating history of glass art. The museum’s new digital activities and the Artifact Vitromusée augmented reality app will make your visit a truly interactive journey through the centuries. During the Vitro Festival, numerous glass artists will also be on hand, along with a glass market with jewelry, decor objects, glass pearls, paintings, and more. Many glass artists originate from Switzerland and France. You can find a variety of activities, lectures, guides, and collections on the website https://vitrocentre.ch/en

Other historical sites include the town fortifications and the collegiate church.

Don’t Miss in Romont
* Abbaye de la Fille-Dieu – Cistercian Monastery
* Romont Castle
* Swiss Stained Glass Museum – in Romont Castle
* Collegiate Church of  Notre-Dame de l’Assomption
* Town fortifications

Valangin

Image of Valangin from wikipedia

The medieval town of Valangin in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, is also worth seeing. Valangin hosts two Swiss heritage sites of national significance: the Valangin Castle and the Collégiale (Collegiate Church)

Valangin castle was originally built as a defensive fortress. It is still possible to find ramparts on a medieval tower today. A variety of relics from the past are found here, such as art, weapons, tools, crockery, and other furniture. Within the castle, the knights’ hall, the 16th-century kitchen, the dungeon, and the hall are impressive.

Additionally, there is a Medieval-style garden with nine different themes like medicine, food, clothing, or objects. The garden contains more than 200 species of plants dating back to the Middle Ages. 

Don’t Miss in Valangin
* Valangin Castle
* Valangin Medieval Garden
* Collégiale – Collegiate Church

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