With snow-sprinkled mountains, acres and acres of wildflower meadows and ice-glistening alpine lakes, Switzerland knows a thing or two about beauty. So when the nation voted to honour Morcote as its most beautiful village, the winner was always going to be a stunner.
Located in a bend on Lago di Lugano, near the most southern point of the country, the pretty village of just 769 people saw off some chiselled competition to win the Das Schönste Dorf der Schweiz (the Most Beautiful Village in Switzerland) award.
Joining the glitzy ranks of Soglio and Gruyères, who have both taken home the prize previously, this former fishing village, known locally as the Pearl of the Ceresio, sits under the gaze of Monte Abostora. A peaceful retreat of cobblestone streets, luscious botanical gardens and slowly lapping waters, Morcote exudes a Mediterranean charm, owing to its vicinity to the Italian border.
Villages with fewer than 3,000 residents were eligible to enter before judges whittled them down to just four, one representing each language region (German, French, Italian and Romansh). The runners up were:
With misty mountain valleys, ruined castles and chocolate-box chalets finished off with sgraffito, Ardez offers Roman traditionalism and off-the-trodden track tourism on a terrace in the Lower Engadine.
Located in the Lower Valais, the serene village of Binn is a forgotten world of wooden Walliser houses, cut only by the soft rush of the River Binna. With a 16th-century stone bridge and a bounty of bucolic pastures, Binn is Switzerland before the tourist boom.
The ‘Pearl of the Jura’ is a humble affair: a medieval village that sits like an aging angler on the banks of the River Doubs. It offers up stone bridges, burgher houses, and a 12th-century Gothic cathedral, all at a wonderfully dawdling pace.
The Das Schönste Dorf der Schweiz competition has been held since 2011, but was limited to western Switzerland until 2014.