Switzerland was supposed to be our once-in-a-lifetime sort of destination until we moved to Germany for a year. We planned our second trip to the country of pristine lakes and picturesque alps, and after spending about 10 days in Switzerland, we’ve put together our comprehensive guide on things to do and best places to visit in Switzerland.
This Switzerland travel guide is for all those who have been looking to plan their visit to the country for 3, 4, or 7 days. Wondering how to go about the planning process? Well, I’ve got you covered with these awesome recommendations on accommodation, activities, and day-by-day suggestions.
Switzerland Travel Guide: Important Tips
Nowhere in the whole wide world are the mountains more stunning than in Swiss. We fell in love with the Swiss alps on our first visit. The second felt more like a blessing. We could explore all the sites we didn’t the first time. We intermingled with the locals, were more relaxed, and explored a lot of amazing places to visit in Switzerland.
Swiss Travel Pass
Now having a Swiss travel pass is crucial if you want to experience the best of Switzerland. The heart-acing Alpine pursuits would have been impossible to venture on without the Swiss pass.
Important point to note is we drove from Germany to Switzerland but played smart by letting the car being parked back at our Airbnb every single day so we could enjoy the striking routes and invigorating Alpine routes in a laid-back way. Train travel is the best way to enjoy your visit to Switzerland. Primarily because the extensive train travel is thrilling plus it makes everything way more convenient. No heavy parking fees, no tiredness, more fun!
It will be your all-inclusive travel ticket which will permit you travel by road, rail, and waterways. You can get a 3, 4, 8 or 15 days travel pass. A 3 days 1st Class Swiss travel pass would cost you 358 CHF.
If this isn’t enough to excite you about a Swiss travel pass, you get discounts on cable cars and mountain peaks. You can travel to Mt. Rigi and Schilthorn peak for free. Plus, you get free public transportation in Swiss cities. It sure is a handsome deal that no one can refuse.
Expect to spend around 150-175 CHF every single day provided you’re staying at a nice Airbnb, eating out at a pretty restaurant, and cooking a few meals back at the Airbnb. The budget can easily go up if you prefer to drive around Swiss and eat at a fancy restaurant.
Driving in Switzerland
Driving in Switzerland is an expensive deal. We remember once renting a car from Zurich Airport for around 180 CHF for a day. Booking in advance can save you a lot though.
The road conditions in Switzerland are outstanding and the views are scenic. Having done both a car trip and train trip through the length and breadth of Switzerland, we have to say both the sorts have an edge. Whatever means you may choose , it’s going to be a memorable affair.
When Should You Visit Switzerland?
You can take a trip to Switzerland any time of the year. The country looks as charming in winter as in summer or even Autumn.
Summer High Season: July/August
Winter High Season: January/February
Best Hiking Time: September
Low Season: April /May/ October/ November/ December
Best places to visit in Switzerland in 3 days
3 days aren’t enough for exploring all of the Switzerland and its many attractions. But if you have nothing but 3 good days for seeing the best places to visit in Switzerland, include Zurich, Interlaken and Lucerne in your itinerary. For me, any Switzerland itinerary would be incomplete without the inclusion of Interlaken (well, I can be biased but it’s my favourite city). It will be a short 3 days trip but a great introduction to Switzerland.
Zurich a cosmopolitan Switzerland city which is worth basing yourself on your 3 days trip to the country. It has a bustling city life, fun nightlife and impressive street art.
Things to do in Zurich
Morning – Start your day by visiting the Lake Zurich. It is mandatory to take a dip in the lake so keep your swimmers with you. Then you can hike around or alternatively hire a bike to explore the city.
Our recommendation would be to visit the Cupcake Emporium in the old town and enjoy a hearty breakfast of cakes and iced latte.
Afternoon – Take a boat tour or you can hike the landmark mountain – Uetliberg. If you’ll choose to hike the mountain, you’ll get pretty impressive views of Lake Zurich and the alps from the top.
Our recommendation would be to visit the Hiltl Sihlpost for enjoying a cozy vegetarian or vegan lunch.
Evening – It’s time to indulge in shopping in Zurich. Or, you can alternatively take a train to the Lindt factory and that would be a perfect end to your day.
Our recommendation is to visit Vicafe for tasting the best coffee of your life. Or, you can sit at any waterfront restaurant or bar to watch the sun go down.
Day trips in and around Zurich
A half-day Rhine Falls tour from Zurich is most recommended for travellers who are planning to spend more days during their Switzerland tour. This is indeed one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. From Zurich, you can drive down to the Rhine Falls in 30 minutes or 1 hour by train.
As we were in Switzerland for almost 2 weeks, we took a day trip to Zug from Zurich. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Zug by car. It is a growing expat community and a burgeoning tourist destination.
Hotel recommendations in Zurich
We prefer staying at hotels in the city centre of European cities all the time. This time also we chose to seek accommodation in the hotel in Zurich’s city centre near Old Town. Hotel Old Town and Hotel Limmathof are two good hotels in Zurich where you can get accommodation for under €100.
Lucerne is beautiful. Really beautiful! In fact it is one of our favourite Switzerland cities especially because of its central location. Lying on the foothill of Mount Pilatus, there are a lot of things to do and places to visit in Lucerne. Impressive views of Lake Lucerne and striking mountain panoramas await for you. Get more details on Lucerne.
Things to do in Lucerne
Morning – If you arrive to Lucerne by train, you’ll get off very much in the middle of the city centre. The Old Town will immediately enchant you with its brimming energy, cobbled stone streets, and gorgeous architecture.
Our recommendation is spend the morning walking around the town close to the waterfront promenade. Make way to the famous Kapellbrücke Bridge – the chapel bridge that was built in the 12th century. It’ll be fun gawking at the stunning old buildings and the water fountains. Take a stop at the famous Lion Monument that is one of the oldest preserved Switzerland monuments.
Afternoon – You’d be hungry by now. Visit Bachmann right away! You get the best ice cream here, and the queue outside speaks for itself. Not overrated! Twice, we’ve been to Lucerne and this has been visited without fail. Get back to the cruise port that is right opposite train terminal to get set for a memorable trip to Mount Rigi.
Our recommendation is if this sounds too ambitious you can spend time simply cruising around Lake Lucerne before calling it the day. Otherwise, cruise through the Lucerne water and head to Vitznau. Take the cog wheel railway to reach the top of Rigi.
Evening – Spend your time at Mount Rigi before returning to Lucerne. Or, you can enjoy a dinner at Restaurant Alpina and stay back at Rigi.
Day trips in and around Lucerne
If you have more days to spend in Lucerne, one of the best day trips from Lucerne would be the summit of Mount Titlis. The total travel time from Lucerne to Titlis will be one and a half hours. All-in-all, it will be worth a visit to the snowy paradise.
Hotel recommendations in Lucerne
For a nice stay in Lucerne, you can plan on staying at Radisson Blu. A night stay here would cost you about €100-150. Altstadt Hotel is a good option for those who want an accommodation under €100.
Your 3-days Switzerland itinerary needs to feature the gorgeous Interlaken – a town sitting prettily between two lakes: Thun and Brienz. Adventure lovers can have a great time in the town that has grown to become a major tourist hub in the last few year. We suggest you to drive from Zurich to Interlaken to make the most of your time and soak in the beauty around.
1.1 things to do in Interlaken
Morning – Would you like to start your day by hiking the well-marked trails in the town? It would be fun finding out cows and sheep on the way and taking pictures of them.
Our recommendation is take the funicular from Brienzstrasse that is 5 minutes walking distance from Interlaken OST station. It takes you all the way up to Harder Kulm, 1322 m above sea level. The views would be impressive and you could even go further hiking up on different trails. One way for adults is 32 CHF.
Afternoon – Come back to the Interlaken town and do the mandatory touristy stuff. Well, that is equally important. Shop for Swiss knives, keepsakes and all kinds of Swiss chocolates.
Our recommendation is indulge in varied adventurous activities. Try paragliding or helicopter skydive. These activities would definitely give you the adrenaline rush.
Evening – Now if you still have time and energy left, walk along the shores of Lake Thun or better go for a boat ride. Make sure you check timings before going for boating as the last boat’s timing depends on the weather conditions. It would anyway be covered by your Swiss Travel Pass.
Day trips in and around Interlaken
A popular day trip from Interlaken is to Jungfraujoch – the top of Europe. The fun begins the minute you get seated on the cogwheel train that ascents to 3,000 m. There are so many activities you can enjoy at Jungfraujoch – tubing, skiing, snowboarding, etc.
Hotel recommendations in Interlaken
Hotel Interlaken and Hotel Alphorn are the two most popular hotels in the Interlaken region. You can enjoy pure swissness staying at one of these two hotels.
My Recommendation: Base yourself in Zurich and take day trips to Interlaken and Lucerne. This way you wouldn’t have to worry about moving from one hotel to another.
(An offbeat 3 days Switzerland Itinerary: Lucerne – Fiesch – Zermatt)
Best Places to visit in Switzerland in 5 days
Now my Switzerland itinerary is going to include some pretty offbeat destinations to explore. I am not going to include Bern or Geneva in this list. My suggestion is to visit the small and charming village of Switzerland – Lauterbrunnen. So after spending a good eventful day in Interlaken, make way to this Bernese Oberland village that is set between sturdy rocks and mountain peaks. It is surrounded by gorgeous waterfalls and is 20 minutes away from Interlaken train station.
Things to do in Lauterbrunnen
Morning– Begin your day by exploring the alpine village lined with chalet houses. The village is dotted with cafes, shops, and numerous hotels. A stroll breathing in the fresh crisp air will be a good start to the day.
Our recommendation is to get yourself a seat at a sunny outdoorsy cafe in Lauterbrunnen and enjoy looking at the gigantic mountain peaks.
Afternoon – It’s time to checkout the impressive Trummelbach Falls – ten glaciel waterfalls roaring in the interior of a mountain. These falls are 30 minutes walking distance away from the town. Entry fee is 11 CHF for adults. Check for the timing as it depends on the weather conditions.
Evening – How about paragliding over the Lauterbrunnen Valley before calling it the day?
Our recommendation is to hike from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg. The distance is around 6.5 km and it would take you around 1:30 to 2 hours to complete the hike. It would be well-worth soaking in all the beauty around.
Day trips in and around Lauterbrunnen
A good idea for day trip from Lauterbrunnen would be to Grindelwald. You can drive down to the village and it will take around 20 minutes. By train, it is going to take you 40 minutes.
Hotel recommendations in Lauterbrunnen
Hotel Stechelberg, Hotel Crystal, and Hotel Oberland are all great choices for your stay in Lauterbrunnen.
Get ready to spend a day in car-free alpine village today. Murren lies at the foothill of Schilthorn and offers stunning panoramic vistas of Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch. The mountain is perched at a 3000 foot cliff. And the one way to get there is via 30 minutes cable car ride from Stechelberg. Hikers particularly like spending 2-3 days in Murren.
Things to do in Murren
Morning – It’s time to visit the James Bond Mountain – Schilthorn. Take the cable car from Murren and start the Schilthorn summit. Enjoy the real wilderness and impressive views of Jungfrau region. On a good weather day, you’ll get to see Mont Blanc and even the Black Forest, Germany.
Our recommendation is to start early as it gets crowded by the afternoon time. Arrive early at Schilthorn and soak in the views from the terrace of Schilthorn.
Afternoon – Make way to the 400-seater revolving restaurant called Piz Gloria. This restaurant glides past over 200 peaks in about 40 minutes.
Our recommendation is that after a hearty meal, visit the Bond World 007 and have fun discovering film related details at the museum. Also, don’t forget to shop at the souvenir shop.
Evening – Come back at the mid station Birg via cable car ride for the skyline walk. You’d love the thrill walk. After spending a full-day taking in the beauty of Murren, come back to your hotel.
Our recommendation is to head to the Stübli Restaurant in Murren and end your day by tasting the famous Swiss fondue.
Day trips in and around Murren
I’d suggest visiting Bern for a half-day trip from Bernese Oberland. It will take around 1 hour to reach Bern and you can start your sightseeing excursion. Explore the Old Town of Bern, Einstein House, Prison Tower, and Historical Museum of Bern.
Hotel recommendations in Murren
We’d suggest you to get accommodation in Hotel Eiger for experiencing the best of Murren. You’ll love chilling in their pool. Other options for hotels in Murren would be Hotel Alpenruh Murren and Sportchalet Murren.
Best Places to visit in Switzerland in 7 days
This is not usually featured on Switzerland itineraries of most of the travellers. But we spent a lot of time in this little village last month and needless to say, it was one of the best places to visit in Switzerland for us. For those planning to spend a few days in Zermatt, this would be a good 1-2 days stopover. Fiesch has been designated the UNESCO Heritage status for offering stupendous vistas of Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area.
Things to do in Fiesch
Morning – The mandatory thing to do in Fiesch is visiting the Eggishorn. You need to take two cable cars to get there. The first takes you from Fiesch to Fiescheralp (2221 m) and then the next one transports you to Eiggshorn (2860m). Enjoy the inviting view of the Great Aletsch Glacier.
Our suggestion is to enjoy sunrise breakfast at the Eggishorn.
Afternoon – Sign up for a guided tour of Aletsch Glacier and have fun!
Evening – Get back to Fiesch and enjoy the natural beauty around. You can also head to the Hangebrucke Furgangen-Muhlebach. It is a cool bridge to walk on, and it connects Ernen and Bellwald Switzerland villages.
Day trips in and around Fiesch
An amazing day trip around Fiesch would be to the nearby places called Binntal and Goms. There is a beautiful park called Landschaftspark Binntal that is primarily known for its minerals. The well-maintained village has nice hiking trails and several chapels so you can easily spend a day walking around and enjoying the Swiss beauty.
Hotel Recommendations in Fiesch
There are a lot of family-friendly Swiss resorts in Fiesch. Hotel Fiescherhof and Hotel Des Alpes are quite popular in the Valais region.
Saved the most magical spot in Switzerland for the last. But trust me, no Switzerland itinerary would be complete without mentioning it’s most beautiful town – Zermatt. The mountain resort is most famous for the pyramid-shaped Matterhorn peak. But the real surprise package for us was Gornergrat. You must spend a day or two at this resort town and the car-free village in the upper Valais wouldn’t disappoint.
Things to do in Zermatt
Morning – It’s time to see the majestic Matterhorn. After you have got your peak pass for Matterhorn, get to the cable car stop. The first gondola will take you to Furi from where you change to go to Klien Matterhorn.
Our recommendation is to spend half a day at the top and take in the alpine pleasures. Visit the Matterhorn Glacier Palace, eat at the Restaurant Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, and get mesmerised by the beauty around.
Afternoon – Come back to Furi, switch cable car from there to Riffelberg, and head to Gornergrat onboard the cogwheel railway. It is going to be an experience of a lifetime. You can get pretty amazing views of Matterhorn and Monte Rosa Massif from Gornergrat.
Our recommendation is to make a stop at Rotenboden to catch reflection of Matterhorn in the Riffelsee Lake.
Evening – If you come back to Zermatt by 5 in the evening, you can check out the Matterhorn Museum as well. The museum will reveal the history of Zermatt Village and it will be a nice visit.
Our recommendation is to sample the selection of Swiss culinary experiences that await at the chic Zermatt restaurants. For vegetarians, China Garden, Gees, and Sparky’s Bar and Restaurant are really nice options.
Day trips in and around Zermatt
On a nice, sunny day, it will be worth doing the Rothorn Summit. The summit is also a starting point for various hikes during summers. But make sure you do it early morning.
Hotel recommendations in Zermatt
Hotel Alpenhof, Europe Hotel & Spa, and The Omnia are three nice hotels in Zermatt that you can consider during your visit.
This is our detailed Switzerland itinerary. Hope it can help you discover the best places in Switzerland at ease.
**We would like to thank Switzerland Tourism Board and Zermatt Tourism Board for supporting our trip. They made it possible to see the best of Switzerland at our own pace.**