The Ultimate Switzerland Guide – 10 Day Itinerary

There’s a reason Switzerland is at the top of so many people’s bucket list. It was on mine for years so I finally decided it was time to plan the adventure. From jaw dropping mountain ranges to historic city centers to charming towns that looked like they popped right out of a storybook, there is something for everyone in this magical country. Here is how I organized our 10 days in Switzerland.

*note: we flew into Zurich and out of Geneva. This itinerary was built to move towards Geneva for our flight out so you could always take the train back to Zurich or reverse the itinerary depending on your flights.

Day 1: Zurich

After your arrival into Zurich, hop on a train or taxi to the City Center and explore Zurich for the day. We used this day to explore leisurely and didn’t have too strict of an itinerary because it was more of a “rest up and get adjusted to the time zone” day. Here are some fun things to do:

Explore Altstadt (Old Town)

Check out Fraumunster

See Grossmunster Chapel

View from Lindenhof Hill

Did you know??

  • Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and in 2018 was ranked the 4th most expensive city in the world to live in
  • Zurich is one of the world’s largest financial centers
  • The Limmat River flows through the city center directly into Lake Zurich

We stayed at Hotel Adler because it was RIGHT next to the river and Old Town and a bus stop making it very convenient to walk everywhere.

Day 2: Luzern – Lauterbrunnen

Wake up and hop on the train to Luzern. It’s a quick 45 minute ride to the city center.

Pro Tip: travel with backpacks! If you can travel light, you’ll be thankful because you’ll be able to see and do more. Most of the roads are cobblestone so dragging suitcases along it just isn’t fun or easy. Most train stations have lockers you can rent to store your things so you can explore during the day without your load.

Luzern is the most charming city that personally made me feel like I was transported back to Medieval Times. As you step outside the train station and walk a few hundred feet you’ll see the historic Chapel Bridge.

The Chapel Bridge is the oldest wooden, covered bridge in Europe and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge. It was built in the 13th century!

As you explore through the quaint cobblestone streets you’ll stumble upon the Lion Monument.¬†This rock relief was carved in 1820 to commemorate the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.

Make your way back to town and walk along the old city wall: Musegg. There are 9 towers you can climb along this wall for breathtaking views of the city.

Depending on the time of year you visit, make sure to head back to the train station about 2 hours before sunset because you’ll be hopping on the Golden Pass Railway to Interlaken. I say this because the Golden Pass train is notoriously known as the most beautiful train ride in Europe and at golden hour it is like nothing else. You definitely don’t want to ride this train in the dark!

I recommend booking your tickets in advance for this train as it can fill up. I don’t think it’s worth paying extra for first class – it’s not that different than second class and you’ll still get great views. Have your camera ready!

Once you arrive in Interlaken, switch trains for your last leg to Lauterbrunnen. You can stay in Interlaken and go in the morning if you want but it’s only a quick 20 minute train ride and you’ll be in Lauterbrunnen for the next few nights so it’s worth it to get there in one day if you can!

Day 3: Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen looks like an actual storybook. The town is situated at the base of Lauterbrunnen Valley, also known as “Valley of 72 Waterfalls” and of all the incredible places I’ve been in the world, I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

This town is a great place to pack a picnic and enjoy lunch on one of the lush hillsides or go paragliding if you’re feeling adventurous!

We stayed at Hotel Schutzen and enjoyed a classic Swiss fondue dinner at the restaurant downstairs.

One thing I can’t recommend enough is a trip to Shilthorn.

The most popular attraction in the Jungfrau region is Jungfraujoch or “The Top of Europe” but after extensive research, I decided to visit Shilthorn instead because you get the same views, there are less people and the tickets are less expensive. win win win in my book!

You’ll take the bus to the Shilthornbahn and then take a series of gondolas and cable cars to reach the top. At the top you’ll see the stunning views of Lauterbrunnen valley and you may recognize the Piz Gloria as the filming location for the iconic James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.

Day 4-5: Lauterbrunnen – Interlaken

Before you leave Lauterbrunnen make sure you stroll down main street, take lots of photos of the waterfall and visit the cemetery.

If you want to see the valley from a different perspective, take the train up to Wengen and explore the cute little town just above the hill.

When you’re ready take the train back into Interlaken where you’ll stay for the next 2 days. Interlaken means “between 2 lakes” and is a stunning town situated between Lake Thunersee and Lake Brienzersee. It’s an ideal location to make your base for day trips into the incredible neighboring towns.

While you’re here take the cog train up to Harder Kulm for breathtaking views of the mountains and city. From here you can see both lakes and enjoy a nice traditional swiss dinner with some unforgettable views. This experience is a MUST.

Feel free to use this extra day in Interlaken to rest, recharge and explore at your leisure. We stayed at Hotel Du Nord because it was within walking distance to the train station.

Day 6: Day trip to Grindelwald

Just a quick train ride from Interlaken, Grindelwald is absolute must do day trip on your vacation to Switzerland. This small town has BIG views that will make your jaw drop.

If you’re up for an adventure this is the PERFECT place to go paragliding. I would say this is on my top 5 list of coolest things I’ve ever done and I wasn’t scared AT ALL. There is no dropping so it feels like you’re flying!

Not into flying? I highly recommend buying a pass at Grindelwald First so you can take advantage of all the other activities. The gondola takes you up the mountain and from there you can zip line, trottibike or my favorite, ride the mountain scooters down.

While at the top definitely do the First Cliff Walk.

Day 7-8: Zermatt

From Interlaken take the train to Zermatt, home of the famous Matterhorn. This train ride is about 2 hours so I recommend waking up early and getting on one of the first trains so you can make the most of your time in Zermatt.

There is so much to do in Zermatt, you could honestly spend your whole trip here. There are 2 main attractions: the Gornergrat train and Glacier Paradise. If you can, I would do both.

Gornergrat Train: this quick 30 minute scenic train ride takes you to a stunning panoramic view of the Matterhorn. Have your cameras ready!!

At the top you will find the Kulm Hotel which includes an observatory, 2 restaurants and a shopping mall. From here you can hike down, walk around, take pictures or enjoy lunch on the patio as you soak in the incredible views.

Restaurant Recommendation: Madre Nostra – This was our night to splurge and Madre Nostra was the right place to do it. Impeccable, mouth watering food with a picture perfect view of the Matterhorn. What more could you want?

Glacier Paradise: After a series of gondolas you’ll reach Glacier Paradise which houses the highest viewing platform in all of Europe. Zermatt sits on the border of Switzerland and Italy so from here you can peek down over the border and say hi to all the Italians.

Enjoy lunch in their restaurant and before you go, make sure to check out Glacier Palace, a beautiful series of ice tunnels with various ice sculptures along the way. Bring a jacket though because it is COLD in there!

For the hiker: 5 lakes hike is a great hike stopping along all 5 lakes that offer a stunning view of the Matterhorn!

Day 9-10: Montreux – Geneva

Your trip is sadly coming to an end, but not before you pay a visit to the beautiful Montreux. A quick train ride from Zermatt, Montreux sits on the east side of Lake Geneva hugging the border of France.

The crystal clear waters and French influence make it a luxurious place to enjoy one last day of your vacation.

Be sure to check out the Freddy Mercury statue and Schloss Chillon!

On your last day, take your final train ride to Geneva airport to board your flight home. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to account for train delays and the extra time that comes along with international travel.

I hope this itinerary helped guide and inspire your trip to Switzerland! Although it is the most expensive country in Europe, it is 100% worth every penny and should be somewhere you visit in your lifetime. Let me know if you go and ENJOY!

xx Nicole

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