Neuchatel, a Vibrant Town Nestled in the Jura Mountains
Nestled in the Jura Mountains, Neuchatel brims with opportunities to fascinate the adventurous traveler. Less well known than many Alpine locales, Neuchatel offers cozy charm and a relaxed atmosphere to those who visit. The town is located in northwest Switzerland on the shore of Lake Neuchatel, the largest Swiss lake and surrounded by the foothills of the Jura.
Neuchatel has long been known as the center of the watch-making world, and has been producing fine timepieces since the 1600s. Because of the relative isolation of Neuchatel, particularly before rail and auto travel, the bustling town was forced to manufacture its own products including watches. Today, tourists can take watch-making tours to learn the rich history behind this craft or they can stroll the streets window shopping for some of the finest watches on earth.
Diving even farther back into history, the Collegiale Church, built in 1276, stands proudly in the old town square atop a hill that overlooks the more modern metropolitan area. Enjoy the intricate stained glass windows and the fifteen giant statues of knights inside the old cathedral. Next to this gothic cathedral sits the Chateau, an imposing stone building over a millennium old, constructed in its first iteration during Roman times. While the entire hilltop gives a magnificent view of the surrounding area, a climb to the top of the adjacent prison tower provides a truly breathtaking panorama of the city.
For those fond of the outdoors, the pristine landscape surround Neuchatel boasts a plethora of hiking trails to the active visitor. For a leisurely walk during summer, enjoy the Lake Path along Lake Neuchatel and enjoy easy access to beaches and cafes. Just outside of the city, more opportunities to interact with some of Switzerland’s most beautiful vistas await.
Farther outside of the city, is the Areuse Gorge. Follow the path as it descends into the gorge, and peer over footbridges as you cross beautiful turquoise pools, bubbling brooks and clear waterfalls. For the daring, Neuchatel is a nearby stop for those hiking the Jura Peak Trail and for those who only want a taste of the mountains, take a day trip through a portion of this ridgeway.
To recover from any strenuous activities you may have undertaken, Neuchatel is home to many gastronomical treats. Though famous for the eponymous cheese, the town also has plenty to offer in the way of artisan wine, chocolate, local sausage and bewitching absinthe. After a full dead, head to one of a few lakefront hotels to enjoy a peaceful evening and a stunning view of Lake Neuchatel.
Neuchatel offers visitors rich history, vibrant culture and spectacular landscapes while it avoids feeling crowded and overrun by tourists, making it a perfect spot for those seeking a quiet place for a holiday.