If experiencing the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan is on your bucket list but you’re not thrilled by the idea of battling the crowds that inevitably arrive with the start of Hanami, a trip to Switzerland in the spring could be in order
The month of April has long been known in Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival, or Hanami, – when the trees of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka release their so-pink-they-look-fake flowers, and with it lure thousands of local and international visitors to gather beneath the cherry trees and welcome the start of spring.
But if you’re not too keen on having this picture-perfect experience somewhat tarnished by the swarms of other travellers who arrive to get the money shot, iPhone and SLR in hand, why not venture further afield, as far north as Switzerland, to be precise, where Cherry Blossom season is in full bloom right now, across a bunch of locations.
In Aargau Jura, the largest holiday destination located between Basel and Zurich, the white cherry blossom trees have just begun to blossom, sprinkling white confetti across the rolling green hills of the Aargau Jura. The Frick Valley or Fricktal, as it’s also known, is where to go if you’re the kind of traveller that looks to explore on foot, with a beautiful five-kilometre circuit ‘cherry trail’ on offer that nature lovers will adore. Start and end your leisurely, picturesque walk in Gipf-Oberfrick, which you can access by train or bus, and experience the Swiss countryside with the earth under your feet for two full hours. Hold off until the latter part of the season, during harvest, and you can even pick and eat the cherries directly from the trees marked in blue, and buy some straight from the producer to take home.
If scenic drives are more your thing, you can also do a 69 kilometre, 2.5-hour driving tour of the Basel countryside and witness the more than 10,000 cherry trees in full bloom, having their day in the golden, springtime sun.
The affluent and beautiful lakeside town of Zug is also known as ‘Switzerland’s cherry country’, and located a mere 30 minute drive from Zurich, even those on jam-packed, city-focused holidays could be transported to the floral-filled Swiss countryside with minimal effort and maximum reward. Zug Tourism offers multiple walking tours of the region, one along the pretty streets of Zug town itself, and another that takes you on a hike along the eastern shore of Lake Zug to Goldau. On this circuit, hikers are treated with panoramic views of the valleys of Central Switzerland – the area between Immensee and Küssnacht and the formidable Mount Rigi.
For an even more nature-heavy experience, the Zug to Menzingen Swiss Culture Trail is the way to go, following winding paths from the city to the hilly countryside of Menzingen.
If you can’t stray from the Swiss capital during your spring trip, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to miss out on the visual feast that is the country’s cherry blossom season. The city is home to the beautiful Rose Garden, with the Japanese cherry trees here lit up in pastel pink in April. One of Bern’s most beautiful parks, this spot has a breathtaking vista that encompasses Bern’s Old Town and the loop of the river, Aare, while its peaceful water lily pond, reading garden and restaurant make it a favourite for relaxing afternoons and family photo shoots. Here, you can take in Switzerland’s very own Hanami without ever leaving the city (or country).