178 beautiful destinations in the canton of Aargau are waiting for you in this article. From castles to hidden lakes and natural paradises, are awaiting you many unknown surprises.
Text and pictures Marc Gottwald
Aargau is full of surprises. I’ll tell you my favorite places with the most beautiful lakes, natural paradises and imposing castles and palaces, which can inspire you for the next excursions or weekend trips. Many of the ideas are insider tips and exclusively for you as a Switzerlandbylocals reader.
1). Aarburg – the imposing castle with an exciting history
It stands mightily on a rocky outcrop. A dreamlike view over the Aare and the Mittelland is certain. The place seems to have been chosen very well and intentionally. It is a special place, the fortress of Aarburg.
But you can only enter under one condition. Perhaps you might guess this one, even though it’s really not easy. The solution to this later.
However, there is nothing wrong that you can‘t go inside when you are allowed to enjoy this magical view of the fortress, while the Aare flows peacefully by.
The castle was built in the High Middle Ages around 1100 AD by a count or bailiff. Who exactly it was, do not even the scientists know. What is known, however, are the reasons why the Aarburg was built: to get the transit duty. They wanted duties for the traffic of the Aare, i.e. the river (hence the name Aar-Burg) and through the emerging Gotthard traffic. Wow, that was a lucrative business.
Soon, however, the castle was taken over by the Habsburgs (Austrians), until years later it was reconquered by the Bernese and developed as a fortress.
Gone are the warlike times! Everything seems peaceful today – but appearances are deceptive.
Today, no king lives in the Aarburg. No princess either! And neither does the bailiff anymore.
No! In 1891, the Aarburg was converted into a penal institution for juvenile criminals with around 70 cells living there.
Nevertheless, this is now not meant to be a motivation to commit a crime if you ever want to live in a castle 😉But give an inspiration that here is an ideal place to relax and enjoy. Especially in the sunshine, the view of the Aarburg is a pure pleasure.
Where do you have the best view for your photo subject?
By the country house road. There are seatings in addition to the beautiful view. Are you a photographer? Then you have with the ships even the perfect template for a brilliant picture.
How to get there: 10 minutes from Olten by public transport (bus), 7 minutes by car (parking available for a fee at Landhausstrasse).
2). Ägelsee near Bergdietikon – probably the most idyllic lake in the canton of Aargau.
The Ägelsee is a hidden jewel in the forest of Bergdietikon. I am not lying when I say that this lake is one of the most idyllic lakes in the canton of Aargau.
The Swiss lake is surrounded by a nature reserve, a large part of which consists of a marshland and the Ägelsee. Although barbecue sites invite you to grill and you can officially swim in the lake, you should keep quiet to respect nature, stay on the paths and do not pick plants. Because it is an area of national importance, which must be taken special care of. Over 230 species of plants have been identified by biologists! Some of them are very rare. You will also see old wood is lying around. It is the so-called “dead wood”, which creates new habitat for animals and insects and thus promotes biodiversity. The whole nature reserve is enclosed by a forest.
The Ägelsee can be reached by foot in about 50 minutes from Bergdietikon, where there is free parking. No entrance fee is charged at the Ägelsee either.
Even in winter, the lake is a popular destination in Aargau. It is special that the water of the Swiss lake is often frozen until spring, although the lake is actually not on a really high water level with about 700 meters altitude.
Arrival: Take public transportation to Bergdietikon. There is also limited parking space for cars available. The hike to Ägelsee takes about 50 minutes from Bergdietikon.
3). Orchid nature trail Erlinsbach – Wild orchids in Aargau
Chirping birds, thousands of bees and insects and colorful blooming wild orchids. When we talk about orchids, we don’t mean the big artificial flowers you get in the stores. Here we are talking about rare species that occur in Switzerland. Welcome to the orchid nature trail in Erlinsbach. For me one of the greatest natural paradises in the canton of Aargau and a top destination for an excursion.
The site of the orchid nature trail in Erlinsbach offers the perfect conditions for these plants to grow in the wild. There are sparse mixed deciduous and pine forests, which grow on a calcareous-toned soil. These are ideal conditions for orchids and other plants. Within 10m*10m more than 60 plant species could be counted.
Since the orchids basically bloom mainly in the spring, it is recommended to visit the field between May and June. After that, the area is still beautiful, but the orchids are faded. I do not recommend passing by during the winter months, as the ground is very slippery. Again, do not pick any plants and do not leave the paths. Orchids are strictly protected and many are on the red list.
Arrival: By bus to Erlinsbach, followed by a 40-minute walk to the meadow.
4). Fahr Monastery – an exclave of Aargau near Zurich
Fahr Monastery is an exclave near Schlieren, which, however, belongs to the Canton of Aargau. The monastery is therefore surrounded by the canton of Zurich and is the perfect place for those seeking peace and quiet. Fahr Monastery is an almost 1000 year old monastery, which belonged to the Einsiedeln Monastery at the beginning of its time. For me, the beautiful monastery garden, which blooms in all its glory from June, is particularly fascinating. When entering, there is a sweet scent wafting towards you that is almost impossible to describe. In addition to the various plants, the many insects quickly catch your eye. Because the flowers, vegetables and medicinal herbs in the garden promote biodiversity.
By the way, right next to the monastery there is also a restaurant, which is very well visited. Picnic benches are also available to enjoy delicacies that you have brought with you. By the way, if you are looking for a great gift, you can find inspiration in the monastery store.
5). Seengen: The versatile pearl on Lake Hallwil
Lake Hallwil is a classic among the excursion destinations in Aargau. Nevertheless, I would like to mention one beautiful place in particular, namely Seengen.
Because here the possibilities are almost limitless. On the one hand, you can start great hikes such as to the Seerose or even the lake circuit. On the other hand, Seengen offers with the castle Hallwyl probably the most beautiful castle in the canton of Aargau. In the castle itself there is not only a museum, which is open from April 1 to the end of October. In summer, operas or open-air cinemas also take place here.
Seengen is also a dream place for cooling off. Various bathing places, can be visited at Hallwyl Castle or at the men’s and women’s swimming pools in Seengen, attract people on hot summer days.
By the way, boat tours on Lake Hallwil also start from Seengen and take about 1.5 hours. It’s also a great excursion idea to create a wonderful day for yourself.
6). Augusta Raurica near Kaiseraugst
It is hard to imagine that here was once one of the largest cities in Switzerland in the 15th century with around 15,000 inhabitants. And yet, various relics still remind us of Augusta Raurica in Aargau. One of the most impressive buildings was the Roman theater, which in my opinion still has a huge charisma today due to the renovation.
If you want to enjoy the place especially, you should come in the morning. Then you have the arena to yourself and can catch the first rays of sun. Likewise, Augusta Raurica is a great destination for families. Because here you can not only visit the Roman museum, there are also animals to see, such as goats, which once lived in the place.
Arrival: By train to Kaiseraugst or by car to the Museum Augusta Raurica, where parking is available.
7). Nature Paradise Chly Rhy Aue Riethelm near Bad Zurzach
The Chly Rhy floodplain in Riethelm is the largest floodplain on the Rhine in the canton of Aargau. The Rhine was straightened in the 19th century, like practically all other Swiss rivers, in order to gain land on the one hand and to minimize flooding on the other. But this also meant that valuable habitats for many plants were lost. Not without reason, a lot of plants are on the red list today or are already extincted.
Therefore, the people of the canton of Aargau have decided that 1% of the entire cantonal area must be renaturalized. The project Chly Rhy Aue is such a renaturation project, which should restore the habitats.
Renaturalized ponds as well as river arms enable new habitats. At the lookout tower you can observe rare birds and animals. In addition, a walk in the Chly Rhy floodplain is possible. There are even barbecue areas and benches with a view over the Rhine.
Arrival: By public transport to Riethelm, where the Chly Rhy Aue is reached in about a 20-minute walk. On the other hand, it is also possible to drive directly to Chly Rhy Aue by car, where parking is available for a fee.
8). Schenkenberg castle ruin – the largest ruin in Aargau
The castle ruin Schenkenberg above Thalheim is the largest ruin in the canton of Aargau. The ruin can be visited from Thalheim in a round hike of about 2.5 hours. Of course, as usual for a castle, there are also barbecue areas to enjoy something fine with the best view.
The castle dates back to the 13th century and, like most castles in Aargau, was built by the Habsburgs. However, it was conquered by the Bernese some time later, where it marked the border with Austria.
The largest walls still visible today occupy the residential tower. Arrival: From Thalheim well accessible with a hike.