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Have You Been to the Secret Town of Binn?

Switzerland is the place to be avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, may it be for its winter wonderland or its shining summer. The country has numerous hiking trails fitted for everyone, but located in the Upper Valais in southwest Switzerland, lies the beautiful yet little known Binntal or Binn Valley.

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Binn Valley is adorned by stunning natural beauty, amazing panoramas and ancient wooden villages filled with history and curious traditions. Before having a tunnel built in 1965, the valley and its villages were cut off from the rest of the world when winters arrives, having a unique feel of history and tradition that still sticks to today.

Many would consider Binn Valley to be too far and/or remote, but it is actually extremely easy and is a reasonable distance from the city. Binntal is only two hours away from the capital of Bern and can be accessed by most vehicles. If you still feel as though it might not be worth the travel, remember, you will be rewarded with some of the most jaw-dropping sceneries.

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Hidden behind towering walls of rock and a beautiful church, Binn seems like a secret. Guarded by the Binna river, the village is admired by its architecture, the picturesque stone bridge that dates back to 1564 and carved wooden masks that sport fierce expressions. The masks are hung up as a tradition of the Valais to ward off spirits. Binn Valley is also widely known for its mineral deposits, it is proclaimed to be one of the ten largest in the world.

Before the two-kilometer tunnel through the mountain was opened in 1965, Binn and Fäld was only accessible via a narrow road that faces along the Twingi gorge, which was extremely unsafe during the winter. This effectively closed off the villages from the outside world during winter, only having supplies be brought in by helicopter. But now with the tunnel providing a safer route for visitors, the old road is now used as a viewing platform for epic views that can be accessed by foot or bicycle.

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Ancient trade routes are are visible throughout the valley, such as the old Roman road. From the Binn village centre, there is a trail that is one the right side of the church that will lead you down through farmland and then to a small lake. The trail skirts the the lake which then turns into a 30-minutes flat walk along the gorge.

The hike gets a bit more challenging as there is a descent on a rugged trail. There is a part of a trail that is an old pilgrimage route to a church in Heiligkreuz, it is a 6.2km loop that takes about two to three hours. Binntal has a variety of hiking trails, like the trail to Imfeld (Fäld) that is deeply tucked into the valley and various alternative trails you can take to go back and forth the Binn valley.

You Can Now Enjoy the Alps’ Autumn Foliage Onboard a Train

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It’s Autumn again and you’ll be thrilled to know that spectacular foliage views can be expected everywhere in the Northern hemisphere. Enjoy some amazing views in Europe onboard a train ride and witness the colourful change of leaves come October.

The Vigezzina-Centovalli railway is a historical track in the Piedmontese Alps of Italy and brings you across to Switzerland. A Foliage Train has been organised, looking to provide guests with an opportunity to admire the beauty of the fall foliage via a slow-paced train ride from Italy’s Domodossola in the Alps to the Swiss city of Locarno on Lake Maggiore.

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This Foliage Train will bring you across 52 kilometres of journeys crossing 82 bridges along the way from Italy to Switzerland and back again. Passenger can choose to hop on at either side and also choose take a stop during the ride either in the Italian Vigezzo Valley or Centovalli in Switzerland.

Stops are made in historical villages such as Santa Maria Maggiore and Malesco, Villette, Re and Intragna just to name a few. Each of the historical villages house their own museums, sanctuaries and not forgetting a gourmet selection of fine food to accompany you while you enjoy the fall foliage of the Alps.

The trains will be running from 13th October all the way till 4th November. It is recommended that you book your tickets in advance as well as your intended stops. This is because buying a ticket might grant you some discounts and free gifts in each of the towns mapped on the Foliage Train’s route.

You can visit the railway’s official website for more information.

5 Things to Do in Switzerland

As one of the most developed countries in the world, Switzerland takes the top few ranks in terms of quality of life, economic competitiveness and human development. That aside, this amazing country is also home to ravishing landscapes — perfect for once-in-a-lifetime trips be it Alpine skiing, hiking or mountain biking around glacier-encrusted mountain areas.

Find yourselves scaling down world famous peaks and getting lost in contemporary culture as you embark on your Switzerland adventure. Check out 5 of our favourites to get started:

1. Admire the Majestic Matterhorn

Matterhorn

What’s Switzerland without skiing? Visit the skit resort in Zermatt, and you will find yourselves gliding down top-class slopes that are complemented with majestic views of the iconic, tooth-shaped Matterhorn.

If you’re not so much of an adrenaline junkie, there are other ways for you to admire the Matterhorn. You can make your way to the summit of the Rothorn via a short half hour cable car journey away from Zermatt. Be sure to enjoy the spectacular panoramic vista of the surrounding mountains along the way.

2. Cruise Along the GoldenPass Line

GoldenPass Line
Image credit: Kabelleger

The GoldenPass Line is known to be a scenic route through Switzerland offering the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some of the country’s best scenery. You’ll be travelling from Lucerne to Montreux (or vice versa) over a five and a half hours long journey. During the ride, you’ll be passing through six Swiss cantons via three mountain passes. Enjoy the view of mesmerising landscapes along the way and feast your eyes on lakes, waterfalls and valleys that are complete with Swiss chalets.

As the GoldenPass is not a direct line, do take note that you have to switch trains in Interlaken and Zweisimmen. Here’s a tip — pack extra batteries for the road as you wouldn’t want to miss any photograph opportunities along the way.

3. Explore Swiss National Park

Swiss National Park
Image credit: Hansueli Krapf

The Swiss National Park happens to be the Alps’ oldest park. Founded in 1914, it is located in the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland. The park covers over 170 square kilometres, with 80 kilometres of it dedicated to hiking trails that bring you closer to nature.

While you’re on the trails, keep a lookout for the park’s residents  — the ibexes, chamois, marmots, golden eagles and bearded cultures.

As part of conservation efforts, visitors are forbidden to leave the trails so as to preserve the natural state of the national park as much as possible.

4. Hike in the Alps

Swiss Alps

Hiking in Switzerland is without a doubt an unforgettable experience. Decked out with impressive trails, dramatic mountain peaks and quiet, off the beaten path valleys to explore, Switzerland is packed with surprises.You’ll be able to hike relatively easily thanks to clearly signposted pathways. Plus, there are numerous lifts and buses in the ski resort areas which helps you to navigate the area.

To better acquaint yourselves with the hiking trails, you can equip your smartphones with an app that consists of routes for the 32 hikes around Switzerland.

5. Learn About Cheese-Making in Gruyères

 Gruyères
Image credit: PerSona77

Who doesn’t love cheese? Be it melted cheese in a fondue, raclette cheese or raw cheese, Switzerland promises to never disappoint. Le Gruyère can be said to be the most popular and most famous of all Swiss cheeses. When you visit the medieval town of Gruyères, you can discover the art of cheese-making in La Maison du Gruyère. Plus, you can even try some of the cheese for yourselves.

Apart from the sensational cheeses, the town’s cobbled streets are beautiful to explore. Take some time to check out the traditional meringue and rich Gruyère cream, which is also a speciality of the region.

Matterhorn, a Swiss icon

Situated at the southern end of the Matter Valley, deep in the mountains of Canton Valais near the Italian border, lies the iconic Matterhorn – possibly the world’s most recognisable summit that’s synonymous with mountaineering and skiing since the 1860s. Photos by Mattias Nutt.

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Cycling through three countries: Germany, Austria and Switzerland

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by Renate Habernass

Friedrichshafen is a small town in the southeast corner of Germany, and the starting point for an easy cycle tour that takes you halfway around the Lake of Constance from Germany to Austria, and finally to Switzerland. These three countries share their borders around this wonderful lake, with the Alps jutting out on the Swiss side.

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Nature’s Bounty in Appenzell

Appenzell's natural surroundings

Appenzell’s natural surroundings

The Appenzell region of Switzerland seems to have it all: gorgeous snowcapped mountains, shimmering lakes, and plenty of rolling farmland. From this fertile land, it produces some of the most iconic Swiss foods, including cheeses and sausages.

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Hiking Lugano’s Peninsula

View of the lake from Morcote

View of the lake from Morcote

Over the years, the warm and sunny climate in Lugano has attracted a growing number of celebrities, giving it the nickname as the ‘Monte Carlo of Switzerland’. Nestled along Lake Lugano with a view of looming mountains, the area has lots to offer beyond the city.

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Descending Les Diablerets: Mud Bikes

Easy tarmac trails

Easy tarmac trails

What do you get when you cross a kick scooter with a mountain bike? Something called the ‘Arapaho’ mud bike. Equipped with suspensions and motocross tyres, you stand on these contraptions and hurl yourself downhill through grassy fields and dirt tracks.

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Paragliding Above Montreux

The take-off point

The take-off point

You’re strapped into a seat-like appendage, and your instructor – attired similarly – is strapped in right behind you. Laid out on the ground behind, like a hundred crumpled bedsheets, is a large parachute. The slope ahead is gentle, but beyond that it’s a freefall.

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Slippin’ and Slidin’: Canyoning Ticino

Abseiling alongside a waterfall

Abseiling alongside a waterfall

At first glance, it may seem like the area around the Boggera Canyon in the Valle di Cresciano is manmade – there are perfectly-formed water chutes, crystal clear rock pools and waterfalls that decorate the setting, all carved out of smooth rock. However, as we all know, nature is an amazing designer.

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