Everyone has heard of Switzerland, the picture perfect Alpine paradise situated in the heart of Europe. However, few people know that the tiny country is actually divided into 26 'cantons', which are member states of the Swiss Confederation. Each 'canton' has its own history, landscapes and culture. With this in mind we have compiled a photo guide to Switzerland's cantons to help you get a better understanding of this gorgeous country and perhaps even give you a few ideas for your next holiday.
Sharing a border with Germany, Aargau, also known as Argovia, is one of Switzerland's most densely populated regions as well as one of its most northerly cantons. The capital city of the German speaking canton is Aarau, an often overlooked medieval gem, with more history than you can imagine. No visit to Aarau would be complete without walking through its charming old town and stopping by its impressive art gallery.
The historic canton of Appenzell was divided at the end of the 16th century, as a result of the Swiss reformation. Appenzell Ausserrhoden (or outer Rhodes) is mostly German speaking and one of the most typically Swiss of all cantons, looking as though it has bee plucked out of a children's book. It offers a large variety of tours to taste and experience the cheese production of the region, as well as goat's whey cure resorts and many picturesque towns and landscapes.
The other half of the Appenzell region, Appenzell Innehoden has made an even greater effort to maintain its cultural heritage, and still today resembles a perfect picture of Switzerland in times long gone. It is also a hiker's paradise, whether in boots in the summer or snow shoes in the winter, it offers hiking paths of varying difficulty, as well as lodges and spas to wind down after a long day's hike. Nestled in one of its valleys, set against a backdrop of rolling hills that rise to rugged mountains, Appenzell's Altstadt is Grimm fairy-tale stuff, and will delight any traveler in search of the ideal authentic Swiss town.
The region of Basel, in the Northwest of Switzerland, borders Germany and France and is well known for the nearby Jura landscape with its pristine wilderness. The Basel region with its gently rolling, forested hills, is especially cherished by bikers and hikers. In Arlesheim, not far from the city of Basel, one can view Switzerland's only cathedral. Numerous fortresses and castles line over 1000 kilometres of hiking trails in the region. The picturesque old town of Liestal, the main town in the Basel region, is also worth visiting.
Basel Stadt, or Basel city is located at the border of France, Germany and Switzerland, and historically its position astride the Rhine has contributed to its growth as a key trade and transport hub. But that's of little interest to the many thousands of art and architecture lovers who visit each year for the world-famous ART Basel. The city is also known for its many internationally renowned museums and galleries, ranging from the Kunstmuseum, the first collection of art accessible to the public in Europe, and the largest museum of art in the whole of Switzerland to the many independent galleries in the Art Basel network.