Travel back in time with us as we discover Canton Aargau with it’s main attractions just 30 minutes outside of Zurich. The list of castles and fortresses is long, and well worth the visit.
We were invited by Aargau Tourismus to explore one of Switzerlands most densely populated cantons with a stable history dating back to 200 BC. This neighboring canton just west of Zurich was formed in 1803 where it’s capital city, Aarau, was named the first capital city in Switzerland and it’s fortress walls were eventually torn down in 1820.
While most visitors tend to either drive or train to Aargau and consider that a full day trip…we discovered the area with a private tour of the Old Town, Straw Museum, and of course, one of Aargau’s most popular castles and thermal baths over a two day period. In order to share all the delicious insider details we recommend you stay at least one night to soak in all this historical canton has to offer.
Where to Stay
Among the many small villages within the region, we were invited to unpack at the Hotel Krone Lenzburg, a lovely hotel in this quaint city that sits below it’s beautiful landmark, Lenzburg Castle. This newly renovated four star hotel offered us a room with a terrace and waterfall shower. We were pleasantly surprised with the friendly staff, and the continental breakfast was all inclusive with a wide selection of options. The Krone Restaurant has a varied traditional menu from cordon bleu to fish and chips. We had the opportunity to enjoy the filet perch with mushroom sauce complete with the coffee tart and ice-cream as dessert…highly recommended!
Zuri Girl Tip: The hotel is located only about 15 min on foot away from the castle. Head on up during sunset and watch as the sun dips below the ancient, Aargau, horizon.
The Straw Museum
The “Strohmuseum im Park” (Straw Museum) is one of the most visited museums in Aargau which lies in the old city of Wohlen. With a focus on the hat industry that started in Freiamt, the museum is quite special because of its unusual theme…straw. This humble material was at the foundation of a thriving industry that grew into an international business over the span of 200 years. While revered as one of the most delicate and expensive items in the area, the people of Wohlen believe that the use of straw around the world was first started in their small town and as you wander the city streets you may run into someone who played a hand in the straw-making business! The museum itself was formerly a family residence that has been renovated and includes a wide variety of children’s activities, as well as a quaint cafe. The beautiful location is also available for events such as birthdays and civil wedding ceremonies!
Zuri Girl Tip: The best way to visit this museum in English is to have a guided tour. We met with Ottilia Leemann and our tour lasted about 1.5 hours. Best part? Make sure to take a picture of yourself with one of their straw hats! The price to visit the museum is CHF 9 and children under 16 get in for free!
Visiting the Old City
The capital city of Aargau is Aarau, a thriving city filled with small shops, specialty stores, a variety of restaurants, and very rich history. We were invited on an additional guided tour with Aarau tourism, which we definitely recommend. The guided tour was about two hours long and showed the outline of the old city fortress and information about the city’s clock tower.
Highlights of Aarau:
- Stadt Museum -excellent stop for interactive activities and history of the city.
- Naturama -Nature museum perfect for kids and families.
- The Aare River -take a stroll along the river and check out the Schachen swimming pool.
- Aargauer Kunsthaus -Aarau’s art museum with fun expositions
- Wildpark Roggenhausen -fun for children to visit wild animals in an enclosed park.
Zuri Girl Tip: Park your car in Flösserplatz Parking which is located conveniently in the center. Also, take a short coffee break in either the Bibliothek cafe or Locken Topf for one of their high quality cappuccino complete with an amazing view of the city from the second floor.
Best Events in Aarau 2018:
Musig i de Altstadt “Music in the old town” concert festival (24 – 25 August)
Carrot Festival (Every first Wednesday of November)
Other events in Aarau
Started in 1651, Schinznach Bad is known to have the strongest sulphur content springs in all of Switzerland and has been welcoming people from all over the world whether it be in one of their two thermal baths, massages, or cosmetics. With over 300,000 visitors a year, Schinznach Bad is only 30 minutes by car from Zurich. Don’t have a car? No problem. There is a popular bus stop right in front of the entrance as well as the Schinznach train station near by. Take a journey back in time and enjoy a day in their baths or in their saunas, you’ll leave refreshened.
Zuri Girl Tip: If you are without the kids, relax in the 16+ side and enjoy one of their refreshing house-made iced teas.
Visit a Castle
With the numerous castles in canton of Aargau, you will find each displays a different role and era in history. We had the chance to visit Schloss Wildegg with it’s authentic experience and historical garden culture. Wildegg Castle was originally built by the Habsburgs but belonged to the Effinger family for eleven generations. The magical landscape is towered by the unique castle with a rose garden, aviary, vineyard, forest, manor and outbuildings with goats, sheeps, and ponies (that the kids will love!). The castle and its surrounding have been well-preserved and is considered one of the most unique castles in all of Switzerland.
Zuri Girl Tip: Plan your visit during one of their events. We were lucky enough to experience the event Entdeckungsreise im Grünen where we learned how to make jam!
Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Abbey Flury is a journalism enthusiast. After studying Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska, she moved to Switzerland to be with her then fiancé, now husband. With skills in German, French, and English, she quickly made Switzerland her new home. With a strong ability to write and conduct research, Abbey quickly became a big asset to the Girlfriend Guide team!