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The highest peak in the area is the beautiful Stanserhorn, rising to 1900m above the old village of STANS, capital of Nidwalden and on a direct train link with Luzern. The centre of the village lies behind the station. The hub, Dorfplatz, is overlooked by the large Pfarrkirche StPeter und Paul. From the Middle Ages onwards this was the sole house of worship in the canton, and so was expanded time and time again to accommodate the increasing population until it was completely renovated in 1647 – the early Baroque building remains crowned by a Romanesque bell tower. Outside the church is an 1865 fountain dedicated to Arnold von Winkelried, a native of the town, who is celebrated for diverting the attention of the Austrian army during the Battle of Sempach in 1386, thereby committing suicide but opening a gap for his Swiss comrades to win their famous victory. The alleys surrounding Dorfplatz are worth a wander; Schmiedgasse to the east is a quiet and atmospheric back alley, while to the west is Altes Postplatz and the Höfli, or Rosenburg House, a medieval turreted building with a rear courtyard overlooked by beautiful Italianate loggias.

A couple of minutes beyond the Höfli is the station for the old-time cog railway up to the summit of the green and pleasant Stanserhorn (mid-April to Nov; Swiss Pass gets 25 percent off; Eurail & InterRail go for half-price; www.stanserhorn.ch), with views on a clear day from the sun-terrace restaurant and the many trails on the summit taking in ten lakes as well as the close-at-hand high mountains around the Titlis. The zigzag walk back down to Stans takes about three and a half hours, or alternatively, you can head down the side of the mountain to Wirzweli (in two and a half hours), from where a cable-car deposits you at the small village of Dallenwil for the bus ride back to Stans.

The tourist office for Stans and the Vierwaldstättersee-Süd region (Mon–Fri 9–11.30am & 2.30–5.30pm; 041/610 88 33, www.vierwaldstaetterseesued.ch) is above the train station, where there are bikes for rent. There are two pleasant, comfortable old hotels on Dorfplatz: the Engel (041/619 10 10, fax 619 10 11; b) and the Linde (041/619 09 30, fax 619 09 48; b–c). Both have good, traditional-style restaurants, or you could plump for the Wilhelm Tell restaurant just off the square (menus Fr.15). Stans’s top eating choice is the fine restaurant within the Höfli (menus Fr.25; closed Mon & Tues).

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