Best Places to Stay in Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne where to stay in Switzerland´s beautiful city

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE – BEST HOTELS FOR ALL BUDGETS

Are you planning your Lucerne trip and are wondering about the best places to stay in Lucerne?

Finding the best hotels in Lucerne can be a bit tricky – though it is s small city, there are many options. Today I am sharing my tips on the best areas and hotels for all accommodations for all budgets. I have visited Lucerne several times and stayed in all kinds of accommodation – from luxury hotels to budget-friendly places.

Lucerne is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland – and that is for a reason. The city itself is beautiful, and the scenery is some of the most stunning in the entire country, so it should be on any Switzerland itinerary.

TIPS FOR PICKING THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN LUCERNE

  • This area is extremely popular among tourists, so do not be surprised if you see visitors in large numbers, regardless of the year. It often feels like Lucerne only has tourists from around the world, which probably makes accommodations even more expensive.
  • Since accommodations in Switzerland, especially in Lucerne, are costly, you cannot expect super bargains. The budget-friendly places in Lucerne are only “quite” budget-friendly.
  • The wooden bridge (Chapel Bridge) is probably one of the most popular and famous tourist spots in Lucerne, but it also has a lovely old town, and the stunning Lake Lucerne. Accommodation near these places is much more expensive.
  • In the summer months and in December, accommodation prices go up. If you can travel in the shoulder-season, you can save a lot of money.
  • If you book your stay, you should know about the beautiful mountains, Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, which are also fantastic areas to stay in Lucerne.
  • If you book a night in one of the official accommodations, you will get a Lucerne Visitor Card. This Visitor Card allows you to use buses and trains within zone 10 of the city network for free. Plus, there is a range of discounts for cableways, mountain railways, museums, and excursions in the Lucerne-Lake Lucerne Region. 
  • A Swiss Travel Pass is a pass that is expensive but you can use public transportation for free. In Lucerne, you can also use the Mount Rigi cable car for free with a Swiss Travel Pass. Also, you can use most boats for free to cruise Lake Lucerne.

So, whether you road trip Switzerland or stay in Lucerne only – I hope you will find the best places to stay in Luzern with the tips.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

BEST HOTELS IN LUCERNE FOR ALL BUDGETS

From luxury hotels to hostels – here are some great places to stay in Lucerne.

Luxury Hotels in Lucerne

Let´s start with the best luxury hotels in Lucerne.

Schweizerhof Lucerne

This interesting, 5-star hotel is the perfect choice for all who enjoy a luxury hotel that is centrally located. While Schweizerhof Lucerne is one of the classiest hotels in Lucerne, the atmosphere is not stiff.

This is probably because it is also a festival hotel and they host smaller concerts and events.

Schweizerhof Lucerne - where to stay in Switzerland

You´ll notice many small artistic details – from a music quote on the wall to little music notes on the doors to the fact that every room has hosted one famous musician or another. More little details, like their own newspaper, make this place even more unique.

There is also a lovely restaurant that comes with a view (though directly located on the main street).

Within minutes you are at the Chapel Bridge, the train station in the old town, and the boat station, which are some of the most popular places in Lucerne.

Whether you book a double room or a suite, you cannot go wrong with booking a room at Schweizerhof Lucerne. 

The first time I stayed in Lucerne overnight was at Schweizerhof Luzern. I am not sure, but maybe that is why I have so many fond memories of the city.

Parkhotel Vitznau

Vitznau, located on the eastern shores of Lake Lucerne, is home to a luxury hotel par excellence: Parkhotel Vitznau. You can get to Vitznau easily by boat or by car. It takes about 35 minutes, and the drive is fun, and getting there via boat is scenic. By public transportation, it takes about 1 hour.

Most Expensive Hotel in the region Park Hotel Vitznau

The region of Vitznau is well-known for being all about relaxing – and this hotel is probably the most expensive one in the area.

The hotel looks quite impressive when approaching via boat. When you are standing in front of it, it seems a bit sterile at the entrance, but this place knows how to impress.

It does not matter which of the 47 suites you book – you can expect pure luxury. All are designed uniquely. You always have non-alcoholic drinks available at the pool, unlimited spa access, daily newspapers, and more services offered.

Mid-Range Hotels in Lucerne

Here are the best mid-range hotels in Lucerne. Prices might be a bit shocking if you have never been to Switzerland before, but the hotel prices are actually reasonable for Lucerne.

Chateau Gütsch

You can spot this beautiful hotel from Lucerne´s most famous tourist attraction. Standing on the Chapel Bridge, the hotel, Chateau Gütsch, is visible and can be seen standing proudly on the mountains. It has become an iconic place to stay in Lucerne.

Best places to stay in Lucerne Chateau Gütsch

This 4-star hotel offers one of the best views of Lake Lucerne. Whether you enjoy the views from one of the rooms or from the terrace, where you can also dine and drink; on a clear day, these views are priceless.

Each room has a unique design (hurry up with booking, this boutique hotel only has 27 rooms) and most come with a lake view. All suites come with a luxurious marble bathroom.

Ameron Hotel Flora

Another 4-star hotel with a great location is this property: Ameron Hotel Flora. It is centrally located, just a stone’s throw from the main train station and Chapel Bridge. Its wonderful location makes it easy to get around and discover a lot of Lucerne on foot.

The hotel also emphasizes its commitment to sustainability. So if you want to stay in a central location in Lucerne and help support different causes – like the Swiss Red Cross or by using light bulbs that help save energy – this hotel is the perfect green hotel.

The hotel does not have its own fitness facility but offers a discount for the wellness and fitness facilities close by.

Hotel des Alps

If you are looking for a hotel directly in the city center of Lucerne, this hotel might be a great choice. In January 2019, I stayed at the Hotel des Alpes – just next to the Chapel Bridge.

Best hotels in Lucerne - where to stay Hotel de Alps

The location is perfect, and if you choose a view of the river, you have a beautiful view of the Reuss River, stunning Mount Pilatus, and the Alps. The city views offer views of the old town.

However, it is not only about the views.

The hotel is a good 3-star hotel: modern, clean, and with a decent breakfast. The restaurant downstairs offers breakfast (with a view), and from there, you are ready to explore the city within minutes.

Have not found the perfect hotel in Lucerne for your stay yet? Okay, here are some more tips for the best Lucerne accommodations.

Best Budget Hotels in Lucerne

Here are some budget hotels in Lucerne. I know budget hotels in Lucerne are not exactly budget-friendly compared to the rest of the world. But they are considered budget-friendly for Lucerne, and they offer the best value for the money.

The Bed + Breakfast -Neustadt

This bed-and-breakfast offers single and double rooms (with an occupancy of 4 people maximum). Some rooms have a shared bathroom, and some have a private one.

The rooms at The Bed + Breakfast, are very basic, but the pricier ones actually have their own balcony and TV, and some have their own kitchen.

Bellpark Hostel

This hostel, Bellpark Hostel, is located close to Kriens, not too far from Lucerne’s old town, and perfect if you plan a trip to the fabulous Mount Pilatus cable car station. You´ll find some restaurants and cafes nearby, and you can catch a bus directly to the train station.

Though the prices are much lower than those in hotel rooms, you still get the ticket to use public transportation for free. As mentioned, rates are comparably low.

You have to pay around 30€ for a bed in a mixed 6-bed dormitory. Slightly more expensive is a bed in a 4-bed dormitory (females or males) or a 3-person dormitory/family room.

If you prefer an ensuite bathroom, you can book a 2-person double room, too.

Finding the best places to stay in Lucerne might not always be easy, but I hope this post has helped you find the perfect accommodation for you.

Have fun and stay safe!

READ MORE:

Safe Travels, Arzo

EPIC AND BEST DAY TRIPS FROM ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

PLANNING SOME AMAZING ZURICH DAY TRIPS

Are you wondering about the best day trips from Zurich? Then this post is for you as I am sharing my favorite Zurich day tours with you.

If you’re heading on a Switzerland vacation anytime soon, the financial capital is the ideal place to base yourself. The city may have a reputation for being luxurious and rich. But there is much more. The surrounding areas offer picturesque scenery and incredible adventures – which is why day trips from Zurich are so popular.

Many places near Zurich are within a quite short distance. And here I am – listing my favorite Zurich day tours for you. Here are amazing places close to Zurich you should not miss out on. 

Before you book or plan your day trips, here are a few things to know.

Where to Stay in Zurich For Easy Day Trips

Zurich is not a cheap destination, but it is a great base to explore the north of Switzerland.

  • Read my Zurich accommodation guide and find the perfect place to stay while you explore the surroundings.
  • I highly recommend staying close to the main train station if you use public transportation or staying in an area that allows you to be at the airport quickly. Most train connections for the day tours will start from Zurich train station in the city center.
  • Luxury Hotels in Zurich: Zurich has some great luxury hotels which are amazing to get spoiled and enjoy life. Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Zurich: Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget Hotels in Zurich: Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich. I stayed there on one of my recent trips without my dog, and I think it offers good value for money. 

How to Get Around For Zurich Day Tours 

  • It is easy to do your day trips by train and buses. Public transportation in Switzerland, in general, is just superb. It is reliable, safe, on time, and let’s not forget the window views you will often have.
  • Check out the Swiss Travel Pass if you plan to use public transportation. You can use buses and trains without any extra costs. It also includes almost all boat cruises in the country, and you will get a discount on cable cars/funiculars for mountain excursions.
  • Otherwise, rent a car and drive to the places mentioned below because driving in Switzerland is also fun. The places mentioned here can easily be traveled to by car. It gives you more flexibility. But parking can be tricky in some places if they are very popular. Also, you should be fine with driving in the mountains. Streets can be narrow, and there will be a lot of uphill and downhill driving.
  • Driving in Zurich can be more stressful than driving outside the city center – if you get around by car, choose a hotel outside the city center.
  • If you are more than 2 people traveling, it might be more budget-friendly to get around by car. But if the budget is not important or you travel solo, use public transportation.
  • There are also guided tours available for some of the Zurich day trips. This might be a good alternative for some of you.

P.s. In case you plan a road trip to Switzerland, check out my road trip itinerary.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU). MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

Best Zurich Day Trips

Ready to hear about my favorite day tours? Then here they are.

Rhine Falls and Schaffhausen / Stein am Rhein

  • By car: ± 30 – 40 minutes
  • By train: ±1 hour

RHINE FALLS

The Rhine Falls near the German border makes a great trip from Zurich. So far, I have visited these spectacular falls three or four times. And with every visit, I have enjoyed it more.

Best day trips from Zurich
Rhine Falls seen from the platform (Schloss Laufen)

After all, the falls are impressive – it is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Surprised to hear that? Yes, many people expect the biggest waterfalls to be in Iceland.

  • The Rhine Falls are not very high, with a height of 23 meters, but over a width of 150 meters, up to 700’000 liters of water fall over the rocks every second!
  • They are great to visit on both sunny and rainy days (the falls were crazy once when I visited a day after some really, really heavy rain). 

There are two main ways to see the waterfalls: From the Southern bank (Schloss Laufen) or from the Northern bank (Schlossli Wörth).

  • To visit the platform, you need to get to Schloss Laufen. There is no parking fee, but you’ll pay about five euros to get on the visitor’s platform and see the waterfalls from above.
  • To do a boat tour and maybe even get to the rock in front of the waterfalls, you need to get to it via Schlössli Wörth. There are different prices for different tours – starting at about five euros. 
  • My tips to see the Rhine Falls from both sides. If you travel by public transportation, it does not really matter with which one you start. If you travel by car, start at Schloss Laufen. You can park your car for free and get to the platform. Then walk to the other side to Schossli Wörth and enjoy the boat trip. The walk is about 30-45 minutes, but it is a beautiful walk. There you can relax, have a snack or drink at the restaurant.

There are some restaurants and cafes on both sides, so if you visit, plan in at least 2-4 hours for the Rhine Falls, so you are not stressed. 

Afterward, it’s time to visit either Schaffhausen or Stein am Rhine. Both are charming towns close by. You can take the train to get to either town. Stein am Rhein takes less than 1 hour by train, and Schaffhausen takes less than 15 minutes.

SCHAFFHAUSEN

Schaffhausen is an extremely colorful town in very close proximity to the Rhine Falls. 

best day trips from Zurich
Schaffhausen
  • I recommend visiting Munot, a hilltop fortress in Schaffhausen
  • Explore the colorful old town and the buildings with their very interesting facades.
  • Stroll the Rhine River and have dinner here at one of the restaurants or in the old town before heading back to Zurich.
  • Click here for tips on what to do in Schaffhausen.

STEIN AM RHEIN

Stein am Rhein impresses with the most stunning facades that I have probably ever seen. 

Places near Zurich Switzerland
Stein am Rhein – day trip from Zurich
  • Despite its small size, it is stuffed with gorgeous houses which have unbelievable architecture.
  • The facades are fascinating, and you do not have to search for long to find them.
  • However, even if you do take your time, the town will not take more than a few hours.
  • After strolling in the town center, you could spend some time walking along the Rhine River or even do a boat tour.
  • Or you can check out Hohenklingen Castle.
  • You can also visit one of the many vineyards in the area and try wine-tasting.
  • After dinner in the old town, you can head back to Zurich.

Bern

  • By car: ± 2 hours
  • By Train: ±1 hour

Switzerland’s capital, Bern (Zurich might be the financial capital, but it is not the official one), is a beautiful city southwest of Zurich.

Bern on a sunny day with an amazing view
Bern from the Rosengarten

I once read that Bern is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. I definitely agree that it is a gorgeous place to visit and it should be on every Switzerland itinerary.

  • The Old Town of Bern – all declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is quite big, so visit all the interesting buildings there.
  • For the best views in Bern, visit the Rosengarten.
  • Oh, and do not forget to say hi to the bears. Bears? Yes, a small bear family of three live in Bern next to the Aare river. Do not worry, the area is fenced off, so you stay at a safe distance.
  • And stroll along the Aare River – which is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful rivers here in Europe.
  • Click here to read more about my tips for Bern.

Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch

  • By car: ± 3 hours
  • By train: ± 4.5 hours

Getting up Jungfraujoch is probably the most recommended tour in Switzerland. What makes a trip to Jungfraujoch so special? The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting two major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It lies at an elevation of 3,463 meters above sea level and is directly overlooked by the rocky prominence of the Sphinx. Here you will also find the highest train station in Europe

top of europe Jungfraujoch - things to know.

A day trip to the one and only Jungfraujoch, the place where snow is guaranteed throughout the year, is one of the best trips from Zurich.

I did the trip while I stayed in the region of Interlaken for a couple of days, but it is not much more expensive if you do it as a day trip from Zurich.

It will definitely take a full day, and you’ll be sitting a lot on the train/trams. But, believe me, train riding in Switzerland is a highlight, and so you’ll have amazing views.

There are a few more things to see up Jungfraujoch.

  • These include an Alpine museum, an Ice Palace, and you can even do a few more winter sporty activities once up there. 
  • There are also tons of different restaurants to suit every taste (even Indian food is available)!
  • Also, the train stops several times along the way. Often the five-minute break gives you enough time to hop off and have a quick look around.
  • You might like to stay longer at the Kleine Scheidegg. It is a mountain pass at an elevation of 2,061 m, situated below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks. It is a popular stop for a break as it is really beautiful. Actually, many actually hike up here and then take the train up to Jungfraujoch. If you do a day trip from Zurich, then hiking here might take too much of your time. After a stop here, take the train up to Jungfraujoch.

Jungfraujoch Tour Packages: Here are different tour packages – click on the links to find out more about the prices.

Mount Pilatus and Lucerne

  • By car: ± 40 minutes (to Lucerne)
  • By train: ± 5 hours (to the mountain)

Though Lucerne is beautiful, please do not skip the mountains close by and visit at least one of them, e.g., Mount Pilatus.

MOUNT PILATUS

I was determined to write a bad review about my trip to Mount Pilatus, but now I recommend that you go and visit this gorgeous place.

Why did I want to write something negative? I visited, and at the ticket shop I found out that the waiting line was two hours (!) and there was no free Wi-Fi anywhere. So, that was quite boring and a disappointment.  

BUT I am happy that I still went up because my trip to Mount Pilatus was one of the highlights. I am sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did. I went on a very busy day, and I do not think the lines are always that long.

I would like to emphasize the beautiful surroundings and the option to have a snack in one of the several restaurants or just the option to chill at Lake Lucerne while waiting for the cogwheel.

  • Up on Mount Pilatus, the views from there of Lake Lucerne and the Alps were beyond amazing.
  • On a sunny day, you can spend all day there doing all kinds of things – including some great activities like paragliding, hiking, people watching, eating, and so on.

LUCERNE

Lucerne is a beautiful city and considered to be one of the most gorgeous places in Switzerland. Depending on how much time you spend on Mount Pilatus, you could do a short trip to Lucerne. It takes less than 30 minutes by train or (much longer by boat) to get from the valley station of Mount Pilatus to Lucerne.

Best tours on Switzerland
Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
  • Pass the famous wooden Chapel Bridge with amazing views of the area.
  • Stroll along Lake Lucerne (Lake Zurich is pretty, but Lake Lucerne is even more stunning).
  • Explore the old town of Lucerne and see all the beautiful, beautiful buildings.
  • You´ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants to dine in before you end your day trip and head back to Zurich! 

You can either get to Lucerne and book the Mount Pilatus ticket individually or buy packages from Zurich.

Lucerne and Mount Rigi

  • By car: ± 1 hour (to Lucerne)
  • By Train: ± 1 hour (to Lucerne)

Mount Pilatus is great, but alternatively, you can visit Mount Rigi and Lucerne as a day trip from Zurich. If you opt for these two places, I suggest starting in Lucerne. Why? You will find out later.

LUCERNE

As mentioned above, Lucerne is a stunning town. It is easily accessible from Zurich, and I cannot name another town nestled in more stunning scenery than Lucerne. 

Best things to do in Lucerne - Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
Picture taken from Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
  • See the famous wooden Chapel Bridge and enjoy the amazing views of the area.
  • Stroll along Lake Lucerne (if you think Lake Zurich is charming you will love Lake Lucerne is even more).
  • Visit the old town and see the beautiful buildings before you visit the Lion Monument.
  • More on all the attractions are in my Lucerne travel guide.
  • Have lunch at one of the cafes and restaurants lined up at Lake Lucerne before you continue your trip.
  • Hop on a boat and cruise Lake Lucerne. The Swiss Travel Pass covers your boat cruise. Get off at Vitznau boat station and get up Mount Rigi. If you do not enjoy boat cruises, take a train to Vitznau station.

MOUNT RIGI

At Vitznau station, you can get up via the cogwheel train to enjoy majestic views from Mount Rigi. The ride takes about 30 minutes and it could take even longer if you ask me. These window views are top-notch.

Places near Lucerne to visit
View from Mount Rigi

Mount Rigi is one of the best places to see near Zurich.

  • The view is great, the ride up is great, and it feels like everything is great.
  • There is not as much to do up Mount Rigi as on Mount Pilatus, but you can do a few longer or shorter hikes around the area.
  • There is also a restaurant and a spa area.
  • I hope, you bring some snacks with you because I suggest having dinner here at Mount Rigi. One of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen in Switzerland was from Mount Rigi.
  • It takes less time getting up compared to Mount Pilatus and given its beauty, it is an amazing day trip!
  • Good news: It is free to visit with a Swiss Travel Pass in 2021.
  • Click here to find out about prices for a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Click here to find out about prices for an 8-day Swiss Travel Pass.

Interlaken

  • By car: ± 1.5 hours 
  • By Train: ± 2 hours 

While I am writing this, my heart is shattering into a thousand pieces. I recommend visiting Interlaken for days, weeks, and months. I am obsessed! And now, all I do is a recommendation for a day trip from Zurich. 

Views from St Beatus Caves
Views from St Beatus Caves, 5-minute walk away

The region of Interlaken, located in the Bernese Oberland, is magnificent. I might even say that the Interlaken region is the most beautiful region in the world. Yes, it is if you take my personal opinion as fact. 

However, if your base is in Zurich and you cannot spend weeks here, you have to do at least a day trip to Interlaken. Doing a day trip to Jungfraujoch is one option (which takes a full day) but another option would be to visit many places within one day in Interlaken.

What to do in Interlaken? Here are some of my ideas:

  • Visit St. Beatus Caves and the Sirgriswil panorama bridge and do a Lake Thun boat cruise.
  • Do a mountain excursion to Brienzer Rothorn and do a boat cruise on Lake Brienz.
  • Get on Schynigge Platte – another phenomenal excursion.
  • Visit Lauterbrunnen and do something adventurous (Interlaken is the most popular place for adrenaline junkies).
  • Or explore the cute town of Thun with its gorgeous castles.
  • There are so many activities to do in and around Interlaken. In one day you cannot see that much, but better a little bit of Interlaken than nothing, right? Check out all my tips for Interlaken.

Flims

  • By car: ± 1.5 hours 
  • By Train: ± 2 hours

When I visited Flims for the first time, I was astonished… Flims is often overlooked, even though it makes a great day trip from Zurich.

What to see near Zurich Switzerland
Lake Cauma in Flims

I had heard about several of the lakes in Flims and their beauty! So, when I visited I I fell head over heels in love with the area.

However, it seems they are not that famous and so I did not see many foreigners, and I mostly stumbled upon Swiss people who were enjoying this beautiful place. 

  • The best thing about Flims is that there are three gorgeous sights that you can visit with only one easy hike. Yes, it’s true! So, for lazy people who like efficiency, this is a pretty important aspect and comes in quite handy. If you start from the mountain top, you will see Lake Cauma, then the Rhine Gorge, and then Lake Cresta. This hike takes about an hour or so. Plan some time for breaks and time on the lakes.
  • There is an entry fee to spend time at Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta (read more about it here). But it’s worth it if you like to spend time directly at the lakes or even swim in them.
Rhine Gorge from Above with a Train in the Background
Rhine Gorge
How to get to Crestasee
Lake Cauma with my dog, Puppygak

Appenzellerland (The Aescher Mountain Hut and Appenzell) 

  • By car: ± 1.5 hours 
  • By train: ± 2 hours (± 3 hours to Wasserauen Station)

EBENALP MOUNTAIN AND THE AESCHER

Appenzellerland is a beautiful canton in the German-speaking part of Switzerland and is, in my opinion, often overlooked even though the Aescher has become world-famous. From Zurich get to Wasserauen train station (there is also free parking) and from there, explore the mountain with its guest house.

unique things to do in Switzerland Aescher Guest House
The Aescher on Ebenalp Mountain

Stars like Ashton Kutscher (and bloggers like me, haha) have promoted this guest house on the Ebenalp mountain, and so the Aescher has made it on the bucket list of many

  • I recommend getting a single ticket for the cable car (about 15 euros one way) to get to the summit of Ebenalp Mountain.
  • Standing at the summit, you will also have great views of the beautiful Lake Seealpsee.
  • Then hike down and stop at the mountain restaurant Aescher. You can have a drink or lunch there and continue to hike down towards Seealpsee. It is a shortish hike (around one hour plus another hour to get back to the Wasserauen Station).
  • Stop by the beautiful Seealpsee and rest by the lake.
  • If you are sportier, you can hike up and down, which would make it a full-day trip and probably won’t leave much time for a short visit to Appenzell.
Best Things to Visit_Hike Down Seealpsee from the Aescher
Seealpsee in Appenzellerland

APPENZELL TOWN CENTER

Afterward, head to Appenzell to end your day. From Wasserauen Station take a train to Appenzell train station which takes about 45 minutes.

Appenzell town center

I definitely recommend a short stop at Appenzell, in the canton of Appenzellerland, and discover one of the cutest towns in Switzerland.

  • The town itself is really tiny (seriously, it is small), but there are nice colorful buildings.
  • Appenzell is a nice place for a short stroll and dinner before heading back to Zurich.

Basel

  • By car: ± 2 hours
  • By train: ± 1,5 -2 hours

Basel is located further north near the German/French border, and while it cannot amaze you with stunning mountain views (sorry), it is world-famous for many other reasons.

While the above-mentioned day trips are often, though not solely, a lot about spending time outdoors and be awestruck by nature, visiting Basel is more about culture, spending time indoors, and explore another side of the country.

Basel where to in Basel, Switzerland
Foundation Beyeler in Basel
  • Basel has a beautiful old town, a stunning town hall, and great views are guaranteed from the Cathedral tower.
  • However, it is extremely famous for being the art and museum capital in the country. There are so many museums that you will have to choose which ones to visit in one day.
  • The Foundation Beyeler is actually the most visited art museum in all of Switzerland. It is known to be one of the best in the world.
  • As an art enthusiast, you might be well aware of that, but there are so many more museums like the Kunstmuseum or the Papiermühle.
  • If you come here for the museums, check the opening hours as some museums might not be open every day. Check out my detailed Basel guide for more tips.

Final Thoughts On The Best Day Trips From Zurich

As you can now see, there are many things to do outside Zurich, including admiring incredible mountain-top scenery and exploring quaint villages and towns. 

You can reach many places from Zurich within an hour or so, but even if the car/train rides take longer, it is normally worth it as the journey itself often is the reward in pretty Switzerland.

I hope this post has helped you find out about the best day trips from Zurich and you are inspired to explore the country and see what is beyond Zurich!

Safe Travels, Arzo

WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI IN 2 DAYS

what to see and do in Dubai in 2 days, the best itinerary for Dubai

2 DAYS IN DUBAI ITINERARY – THINGS TO DO + TIPS

Are you planning to visit Dubai but are unsure what to do in Dubai in 2 days or how much to fit into your 2-day Dubai itinerary?

I recommend visiting Dubai for at least two days. 2 days is the minimum to get a good glimpse of the city and see the main tourist attractions. If you stay longer, check out my 7-day Dubai itinerary.

In this 2-day Dubai itinerary, you will find out where to go and what to see, plus many travel tips for a smooth 2-day trip.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I will earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my links (no extra cost to you). More about it here.

ARE 2 DAYS IN DUBAI ENOUGH?

2 days in Dubai is a good amount to get an idea of the city. You can visit some of the main sights and attractions but 2 days is not enough to see some hidden gems or really see all of the main sights. It is the minimum amount of days to explore Dubai.

DUBAI ITINERARY FOR 2 DAYS – THINGS TO DO AND SEE

Here are places I suggest visiting in Dubai in 2 days. I also give a time frame, but of course, it really is up to each person how much you can actually do and see.

HERE ARE THE PLACES TO VISIT IN DAY 1 IN DUBAI:

  • GOLD AND SPICE SOUK
  • LA MER OR JUMEIRAH BEACH
  • BURJ KHALIFA
  • DUBAI MALL
  • DUBAI WATER FOUNTAIN

HERE ARE THINGS TO DO IN DAY 2 IN DUBAI:

  • DUBAI MARINA
  • JBR WALK
  • DUBAI DESERT
  • IN SUMMER: MIRACLE GARDEN

DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN DUBAI ITINERARY

So, let´s start your 2-day trip by visiting the souks (markets).

Stop 1: Gold and Spice Souk in Deira

The Gold and Spice Souk is located in Deira, the old part of Dubai. Deira is located in the north of the city and quite close to the airport. Discover the hectic and crazy part of Dubai. Retailers can be quite persistent, which can be quite stressful. However, I truly enjoy strolling along this part, and it is one of the places you have to visit in Dubai in 2 days.

Many people say it is a very intense place, and some did not like it that much. I understand the criticism, but for first-time Dubai visitors, the souks are a must. 

  • Most stores open around 9 to 10 pm, and it gets busy quickly.
  • So I recommend a start early in the morning before all the other tourists come and it gets even more hectic.

  • You can buy souvenirs, clothes (including Arabian clothes), gold, spices, rugs and all kind of things.
  • The prices are much better than in the malls (especially for souvenirs) and if you are about to buy something, then do it here.
  • If you buy something, you must haggle. It is part of shopping in this area, and actually, it can be fun if you do it n a nice way.

TIP FOR SOLO FEMALE TRAVELERS: I love this area, but as a solo traveler, it is not easy. There are stares. There will be shop owners who approach you, and so on. It is safe, no need to worry, but it can be tiring. I recommend wearing less revealing clothes if you want to avoid them.

Stop 2: Abra Ride / Bur Dubai 

A must-do to include on your Dubai itinerary is a short abra ride. Abras are traditional water taxis that are popular and super cheap. Bra Ride in Dubai things to do in Dubai in 2 days

  • The most authentic abra ride is near the gold and spice souk.
  • You can walk towards the abra station of Deira Gold Souk and get to the other side (Bur Dubai) by taking an abra (water taxi).
  • It just costs a few cents and is a nice and cheapest way to get to the other side of the creek where you can continue your travel.
  • You can also have the whole abra to yourself for 5€. This allows great photo opportunities with no one else in the picture, but if you make it to the front of the abra, you can take good pictures even with other people on the boat.
  • In Bur Dubai are some museums and another souk where you find more spices, gold, and other things.
  • Of course, you can spend a whole day exploring this part of Dubai, but if you only have 2 days in Dubai, I recommend planning in 2-5 hours for seeing these two parts of Dubai.
  • If you want to budget your time more wisely, you can plan in one hour. 

Stop 3: La Mer

La Mer, a new beachfront area with tons of cool and hip restaurants and cafes, street arts and cool graffiti, and fun details, is a great place to chill. It can be quite busy (for Dubai standards when it comes to beaches), but it is a place you should not miss out on.  La Mer Beach Dubai

  • La Mer is a must-see in 2 days in Dubai.  
  • The beach at La Mer comes with a Burj Khalifa view.
  • Take a dip in the ocean, or do some water sports.
  • Have some lunch, enjoy the graffiti (there is quite a lot) and then head to the next place.
  • Check out my guide on La Mer.

Stop 3: OR Jumeirah Beach

Okay, honestly, you won’t probably be able to visit Jumeirah Beach and La Mer. This would be too busy. So you have to decide on one of the beaches.

La Mer comes with Burj Khalifa’s view, while Jumeirah Beach comes with Burj al-Arab’s view.Where to go in Dubai in 2 days

  • Jumeirah Beach is not too far from Dubai Deira and the souks. You can get there by bus or taxi.
  • The open Jumeirah Beach also offers nice views of the only 7* hotel in the world, Burj Al-Arab. Luckily, the Burj Al-Arab is huge, so the pictures do not really show Burj Al-Arab’s distance to Jumeirah Beach.
  • Here you can take a rest or take a dip.
  • Many beaches in Dubai are private and reserved for relevant hotel guests – Jumeirah Beach is open to the public and free of charge.
  • It can get busy, but it does not get as busy as we know from European beaches. From there, get a bus or taxi to Downtown Dubai.

PERSONAL OPINION: If I had time for one beach, I would choose La Mer.

Dubai Downtown

After some time at the beach, slowly head to Dubai Downtown. Dubai Downtown is stuffed with many interesting attractions. You will find, among others, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, and Burj Khalifa in this area.

  • There is no train connection (neither from Jumeirah Beach nor from La Mer), but you can get there by bus or taxi.

what to see in dubai in 2 days

Stop 4: Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa is the highest building in the world – standing at 828 meters. You can enjoy some amazing views “At the Top of Burj Khalifa.” The best of Dubai in 2 days

Stop 5: Dubai Mall

Dubai Mall is definitely worth a visit, even if you are not a big shopper. It is not only about shopping. You’ll also find the Dubai Aquarium and more attractions here. You could spend several days at the Dubai Mall, so it really depends on how much you are into malls and shopping.

What attractions in Dubai Mall

  • Dubai Mall is located right next to Burj Khalifa, so there is no travel time. You can start your window shopping straight away.
  • You can spend anything between 30 minutes to many, many hours here.
  • Considering you only have 2 days in Dubai, try to limit your time to 2 hours max. 
  • Dubai Mall also has a food court that offers affordable food from all around the world. Of course, there are also all kinds of restaurants in and near Dubai Mall, including many luxury hotels.

Stop 6: Dubai Fountain

Next to Dubai Mall is the Dubai Fountain. Here you can watch nice water fountain shows in the evening. 

Dubai 2 day itinerary - what to do in dubai for 2 days
Dancing Fountain Show @shutterstock

I suggest ending your first day in Dubai here.

  • Evening shows take place from 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM – every 30 minutes.
  • It is free to watch.
  • It gets busy, and to secure yourself a good spot to watch it, get there way before a show takes place.
  • Dubai is safe, and this area is safe at night. 
  • You can also sit there by yourself in the evening.
  • Sitting there and watching tourists while Burj Khalifa is beautifully illuminated at night is a fun day to crop off your day.

Where to Eat in Dubai – Day 1

Deira is great for cheaper food – you´ll find many different cuisines at the Gold and Spice Souks. I suggest having lunch there or at La Mer.

For dinner, I recommend having it in Downtown. Restaurants with a fountain view tend to be more expensive, but there are also good restaurants in the medium-price segment. For the cheapest dinner in Downtown, check out the Food Court of Dubai Mall. 

DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN DUBAI ITINERARY

Day 2 in Dubai starts in Dubai Marina.

Stop 1: Marina

Start with a nice stroll through Dubai Marina, which probably one of my most favorite parts in Dubai.

This man-made marina is one of the biggest in the world.

  • I really liked the Marina with the canal and all the yachts and could spend hours walking aimlessly around and having a drink once in a while. 
  • Besides skyscrapers, you will also find many bars and restaurants.
  • To see Marina from a different perspective, I recommend a Marina Cruise. There are several options, so look at which one is the perfect choice for you by clicking here.
  • Dubai Marina is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the day. It might be even more fun to visit in the evening when it gets busier, livelier, and prettier with all the lights.
  • However, for the evening, I recommend another place (more on that later). After lunch and 1-3 hours here in Marina, I suggest one or two more stops for the day.

Stop 2: JBR Walk

You can, alternatively or additionally, add JBR – The Walk to your 2-day Dubai itinerary.
Places to see in Dubai in 7 days

Since it is within walking distance (20-30 minutes) to Dubai Marina, you could also combine it with a trip to Dubai Marina.

  • If you prefer some beach time rather than strolling in Marina, I suggest visiting JBR-The Walk only.
  • There is no entrance fee for JBR – The Walk.
  • It is the perfect place to swim – there are many options to rent water sports equipment.
  • You can find some street art, so also get away from the beach and walk around.
  • Ride the “Flying Cup,” where you have a great bird’s-eye view of the beach and JBR Walk. You can buy tickets just at the Fyling Cup.
  • It is also great to have good food – there are so many restaurants and cafes that you will be happy to have a wonderful lunch in a lovely place.

Read more: Best places to visit in Dubai at night

Stop 3: Desert Safari

A desert safari tour incl. BBQ normally starts around 3 or 4 pm, so reserve half a day for a trip to the desert. 

what to do in dubai for 2 days

  • You can do the desert tours either in the morning or afternoon.
  • A morning desert safari is great as it often includes some sandboarding activities and other activities like dune bashing.
  • A morning desert is surely a great experience if you do not have so much time to do shorter tours. The Morning Dune Drive takes about 4 hours instead of 7-8 hours. But if you have two full days in Dubai, I suggest the Sundowner tour. Ending the day in the desert is a great experience.
  • Click here for a desert safari in the afternoon/evening.
  • Find out more about a morning desert safari here.
  • If you have a meal included and are vegetarian/vegan, you can request this in advance. I was so pleased to see the many vegetarian options.
  • Often, you will be picked up at your hotel.
  • If your start starts around 3, make sure to be back at the hotel in time. Plan in possible traffic on your way back from Dubai Marina or JBR – The Walk. It would be a pity if you missed out on the safari because of being late at the pick-up location.

Alternative: Miracle Garden 

If you visit in the winter months, you could also add Dubai Miracle Garden to your 2-day itinerary. Miracle Garden is a very Instafamous flower park, located a bit further from the other popular tourist attractions. 

Miracle Garden @shutterstock
@shutterstock

You will see flowers. You will see a lot of flowers. They are designed and decorated in a lot of interesting shapes. It is Dubai, so of course, it is the biggest flower park in the world.

  • The tickets are about 12€.
  • Seeing all pieces should take about two hours.
  • However, it is only open in the winter months (normally, it is open from November to May)
  • Check out their website for more info

Where to Eat in Dubai – Day 2

For lunch, I suggest having it at Dubai Marina or JBR – The Walk.

For dinner, lay back and do not worry. If you book a desert safari with a BBQ, you have to find a perfect dinner spot. 

TRAVEL TIPS FOR A 2-DAY DUBAI TRIP

Here you´ll find essential travel tips for your trip to Dubai.

Security Tips for (Solo Female) Travelers

Dubai is a super safe city to travel to, and I think it is even great to visit as a solo female traveler.

Here are some tips on the dress code for females – to avoid stares and show your respect to the local culture.

How to Get Around in 2 Days in Dubai

Dubai has good public transportation.

  • However, some stations are spread out, which means that some walking may be required.
  • The metro trains and trams are super clean, safe, reliable, and fast.

Using taxis is an easy and safe way to get around.

  • Make sure to use the official ones.
  • The black Lexus cabs are more expensive than the normal ones, which are super fine to use.
  • There is a meter which has to be on when you get onto the taxi. You normally do not have to worry about scams in Dubai. You pay what you see on the meter (and feel free to tip).

One of my favorite ways to get around in Dubai is by getting a hop-on and hop-off ticket.

Where to Stay in Dubai in 2 Days

Accommodation in Dubai is top – even a 3* hotel is often better than other 3* hotels worldwide. I stayed at all of the ones I mention below.

I recommend staying in a central area, so you don’t waste too much time driving around. With a weekend in Dubai only, you don’t want to be stuck in traffic from your hotel to the attraction.

  • Dubai Marina is the best place to stay if you prefer to be in a  lively part of Dubai. With the Marina close by, restaurants and cafes are numerous, but the hotels do not have direct beach access. However, you are quite close to several attractions. Check out this 5* Hotel: Grosvenor House in Dubai.
  • JBR Walk is a lovely area with many restaurants and shops. Most hotels have beach access. It is also close to Dubai Marina and Madinat Jumeirah. Check out this4* Resort: JA Ocean View Hotel Dubai.
  • Extra tip: 3* A decent budget hotel is Ibis Al Barsha. It is not perfectly located, but it offers good value for money and is still quite close to Dubai Marina.
  • My full Dubai accommodation guide is here – all the best areas and all the best hotels for all budgets.

You can also find budget hotels though you cannot expect super bargains. The best prices are often in Deira, and though I recommend visiting this fun area, it is not an area I recommend staying at – especially not as a female traveler. So make sure to book a room on the main street when choosing Deira.

Best Time to Visit Dubai

  • One of the most important travel tips I can give you for your 2-day Dubai is: choose the time of your visit wisely.
  • I do not recommend visiting during the summer (May – September). The average temperature ranges from 32.4 °C (90.2 °F) in May, 36.5 °C (98 °F) in August and 34 °C (93°F) in May.
  • Even October and April were too hot for me already. But it depends on what kind of weather you prefer.
  • Some activities are not possible in the summer months because of the heat.
  • The winter months from November to early March are the best times to visit in my opinion. 
  • The average temperature ranges from 19.5 °C (67.5 °F) in January. 
  • Hotel prices, however, go up during the winter months and it gets busier. Regardless, my tip is to visit in these months.
  • Check also for the fasting time (Ramadan) because life is different during that time. You cannot do many activities during that few weeks (also, alcohol is less available).
  • In 2022 Ramadan is from 3rd April to 2nd May.
  • In 2022 it is from 23rd March to 23rd April. 

More Things to Know About Dubai

Here are a few more posts for your Dubai trip.

PIN ME FOR LATER – 2-DAY DUBAI ITINERARY

Was this Dubai itinerary helpful? Then save it on Pinterest.

2 day itinerary Dubai, Arzo Travels

I hope you have found some inspiration. Honestly, this is a good itinerary for Dubai in 2 days – in my eyes, at least. You will see the main sights, which do not include any hidden gems but rather great places for a first-time visitor to Dubai.

There are many more things to do in Dubai, but this 2-day Dubai itinerary might allow you to see the most important attractions in Dubai if you have minimal time.

If you have decided to extend your stay – a good idea, by the way – check out my other itineraries.

Safe Travels, Arzo

HOW TO HAVE AN EPIC 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

3 days in Switzerland itinerary

6 AMAZING SAMPLES OF 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

3 days in Switzerland is surely not enough time to see all of the beautiful places in this gorgeous country. Actually, you can only see a small fraction of Switzerland in 3 days.

Before starting a long introduction praising the country, I‘ll keep it short: Switzerland is amazing, and it takes my breath away every time I visit. This is why I created the very best Switzerland itinerary for 3 days.

With a well-planned 3-day Switzerland itinerary, you will get a good glimpse of the country, and you will be infected with the Switzerland fever.

As I regularly visit Switzerland, I have many favorite places in Switzerland. This post has several 3-day Switzerland itineraries for you. I created a couple of itineraries and you can just see which one is the most appealing to you – or you create your own 3-day itinerary based on my tips. My itineraries are created to reduce the amount of traveling to a minimum. With 3 days in Switzerland, you will not have time to spend a lot of it in a car/train. Even though window views are amazing in Switzerland (in a car or train) let´s focus on how to discover the country efficiently.

You can stay for 2 or 3 nights in one place and do a few day trips this way without spending too much time on the train/car.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

Travel Tips for your 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary

In this post, you will find out:

  • Best time to visit Switzerland
  • How to get around in 3 days in Switzerland
  • Where to stay for 3 Days
  • How to get around Switzerland in 3 Days
  • More tips for 3 days in Switzerland
  • Places to visit & things to do in Switzerland in 3 days –> I have 6 different itineraries for you!

Best Time to Visit Switzerland For 3 Days

I have been lucky enough to visit Switzerland many times – at any time of the year. And I love summer as much as winter (and fall and spring are also amazing). There is no bad time to visit Switzerland. Okay, actually, I’m not fond of Switzerland much in the rain, but other than that, there is no bad time to visit.

You have a serious winter wonderland in the cold months and in the warm months, you will see 50 shades of green. 

My personal opinion after all:

  • Late spring (from May), summer, and early fall (until mid-October) are the best months to visit if you aren’t a big snow fan and if you want to hike and spend a lot of time outdoors. There might be rainy days – but there are also rainy days in summer and winter.
  • If you enjoy Christmas markets and some winter sports, then visit between December and February.

It is up to you and your taste which is the best itinerary for which season. In general, each 3-day itinerary works all year round.

Where to Stay in Switzerland Fo 3 Days

If you are staying in Switzerland for 3 days, I recommend having one base and do just a day trip or two for each of the different itineraries outlined in this post.

Tips for hotel recommendations are listed for each place, but I also have a full accommodation guide for Switzerland.

How to Get Around for 3 Days in Switzerland

Whatever means of transport you pick – you can’t go wrong.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION 

  • For this Switzerland itinerary, I strongly recommend using the Swiss Travel Pass and getting around via public transportation.
  • There are different Swiss Travel Passes available, including a three-day or four-day pass.
  • You do not have to worry about finding parking spaces and instead you use buses and trains. You can enjoy beautiful window views.
  • You will benefit from many perks of having a 3-day pass (as it not only includes public transportation use but also use boats/cable cars without any extra costs or get a discount on many activities).

CAR

  • Yes, getting around by car is another great way. The window views are scenic, and driving in Switzerland is quite easy (if you are okay with driving in the mountains).
  • Also, road-tripping in Switzerland gives you more flexibility.
  • I also have a detailed post about road tripping in Switzerland – which you can check out here.
  • However, you might end up paying more if you road trip- especially if you do mountain trips and boat tours, as they are included mostly in the Swiss Travel Pass.

UBER / TAXCS

  • Even though I have visited Switzerland so often, I cannot recall having ever used a taxi. First of all, it is costly, and second, punic transportation is pretty great and there is no real need to use a taxi. Since Switzerland is also pretty safe, I never minded walking – not even at nights if my hotels were not directly at the bus station.
  • Uber is only available in very few places.

GUIDED TOURS

  • You can also do some guided tours, e.g., a tour from Zurich to Mount Pilatus or Jungfraujoch. It is a great way to – easily – connect with other travelers and get more background information via your guide. Transportation is sometimes included. 

More Tips for 3 Days in Switzerland

  • The currency is Swiss Francs (CHF).
  • Most Swiss shops accept payment in euros and some also dollars. I would still change money and have some Swiss Francs with me as it gets more expensive if you pay in euros. 
  • Also, you can often pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores.
  • Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.
  • The best tip to save money is to bring a water bottle. You can refill it from fountains that you find everywhere in Switzerland or drink tap water. It is more than fine to do so.
  • Switzerland is – overall – a very safe country. There are no extra precautions I take. I exercise common sense, but in general, I feel pretty safe.
  • Switzerland is not part of the European Union. People from the European Union do not need a visa because Switzerland is part of the Schengen area. If you are coming from elsewhere, please do check visa regulations.
  • For more general Switzerland travel tips, please read my post and find out what to know before visiting Switzerland.

3-DAY ITINERARY SWITZERLAND: DIFFERENT SAMPLE FOR FUN 3 DAYS

Okay, let’s start with the first 3 days in Switzerland itinerary.

3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – ZURICH & SURROUNDINGS

Okay, this first Switzerland 3-day itinerary is great if you want to stay in and near Zurich.

Zurich

Zurich is a beautiful city, especially in the summer months or in December during the festive season. If you are in Switzerland for 3 days, you can spend one day in Zurich before exploring nearby areas. Where to go in Zurich Switzerland

THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH

  • Take a stroll from the train station and walk the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive shopping streets globally. It does not really look spectacular, but it will lead you to one of the best places in the city.
  • Explore the old town with its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and many shops and restaurants.
  • Enjoy the views from Lindenhof Hill which is also located in the old town of Zurich.  
  • Then, head to Lake Zurich, which is close by, and spend a day in, on, or around the lake.
  • Check out my detailed Zurich itinerary for more information about your day in Zurich.

Stein am Rhein (or Schaffhausen) and Rhine Falls

You can take the train and visit the Rhine Falls from Zurich and get to either Stein am Rhein or Schaffhausen. Rhine Falls where are theThe Rhine Falls is the biggest – in terms of power – waterfall in Europe. Yes, that is right.

TIPS FOR VISITING THE RHINE FALLS

  • You can visit the Rhine Falls from two sides – one is free to visit (but you would have to pay for parking).
  • You can also do a boat cruise and get very close to the waterfalls from that side.
  • The other side, where you go to the platform, has an entrance fee of about 5€ (but offers free parking).
  • My tip is to visit both sides to have a great view of the waterfall from both angles.
  • Check out my Rhine Falls travel guide.

Afterward, you can either head to Schaffhausen, or Stein am Rhein. Both are very cute and charming towns near the Rhine Falls. 

STEIN AM RHEIN

Stein am Rhine is probably one of my favorite towns in Switzerland. It has some of the most unique architecture. It is small. It is charming. It is perfect in combination with a trip to the Rhine Falls.

Places to visit in Switzerland

THINGS TO DO IN STEIN AM RHEIN

  • Focus on the town center and admire the stunning buildings (maybe have lunch in one of the restaurants here).
  • Visit the Rathausplatz – town hall square.
  • See the mediaval castle “Burg Hohenklingen”.
  • Stroll the lovely river outside the town center.
  • Find out more about Stein am Rhein here.

SCHAFFHAUSEN

Alternatively, you can visit Schaffhausen. Stein am Thein and Schaffhausen are very close to the Rhine Falls but I doubt, you could visit both plus the Rhine Falls, so you have to pick one

View over Schaffhausen
View over Schaffhausen

Schaffhausen is a colorful and charming town and a bit bigger than Stein am Rhein and there are surely more things to do here.

THINGS TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN

  • Explore the beautiful old town of Schaffhausen with its many interesting and colorful buildings.
  • Head to Munot Fortress and enjoy the view over Schaffhausen.
  • Visit Münster Allerheiligen – an interesting cathedral with a herb garden and more.
  • Check out my detailed post on Schaffhausen and its attractions.

So, regardless of which town you opt for – Schaffhausen or Stein am Rhein – each town makes a beautiful day trip in combination with visiting the Rhine Falls.

Flims or Appenzellerland/Aescher

For your last day in Switzerland, I have two ideas for you. I love both places and could not name which one I liked more, so I leave the decision to you. Whether you road trip or trail travel – you can visit them both quite easily. However, it takes about 1-2 hours to get there. So, if you are leaving home early this day, I suggest, visiting Flims or Appenzell on day 2 and explore Zurich on day 3 instead.

FLIMS

Flims is located in the Graubünden canton and can be easily reached from Zurich by train or car. 

Beautiful Caumasee in Graubünden
Lake Cauma in Flims

Flims is perfect if you enjoy easy hikes while seeing some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland – 3 attractions at once with little physical exercise. Lake Cresta, Lake Cauma, and the Rhine Gorge are the three main sights. 

TIPS FOR VISITING FLIMS

  • My tip is to start from the mountain top with Lake Cauma (where you can get to by car or bus) and then hike down. 
  • It is a very easy hike with incredible scenery.
  • You will also see the beautiful Rhine Gorge from above along the hike
  • Once you reach Lake Cresta, you can then hike up again or take a bus to get back to your car. 
  • This is perfect if you are looking for something more off-the-beaten-path in Switzerland.
  • In the warm months, there is normally an entrance fee for both lakes.
  • Check out my travel guide for this area.

APPENZELLERLAND

Instead of Flims, you can also visit Appenzell/Aescher in the canton of Appenzellerland. This is probably way more popular because of the famous Aescher Mountain Guesthouse. unique things to do in Switzerland Aescher Guest HouseYou can combine a trip to the Aescher with visiting the small yet charming and colorful village of Appenzell.

TIPS FOR VISITING APPENZELLERLAND

  • The good thing about a trip to the Aescher mountain restaurant is that you can either hike up and down (or hike one way) or take the cable car and then do some minor hiking. So, it is perfect for the active as well as the less-active people. 
  • Have a drink/lunch at the mountain guest house and then hike down to see a pretty lake.
  • Lake Seealpsee is a beautiful lake located in the area – make sure to also visit Seealpsee.
  • You can head to the small village of Appenzell afterward, with some of the most unique buildings in Switzerland.
  • Check out my detailed Appenzeller travel guide

WHERE TO STAY IN ZURICH

I suggest staying in Zurich for 3 days and explore do the 2 day trips from Zurich. 

  • Luxury Hotels in Zurich: Zurich has some great luxury hotels – Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget Hotels in Zurich This one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich that I tried out during my last trip to Zurich. It is a decent hostel with a perfect location right in the center of Zurich.
  • Check out my full accommodation guide for Zurich.

I also have written a comprehensive post about amazing day trips from Zurich, which you can read here.

Idea 2: How to Spend 3 Days in Switzerland

The second Switzerland 3-day itinerary I have for you focuses on Lucerne and its surroundings. 

LUCERNE & SURROUNDINGS – SWITZERLAND IN 3 DAYS

Lucerne is about an hour’s drive from Zurich, and you can easily get there by train or car. If you take the train, make sure to take the “express train” – that doesn’t mean they are fast. Actually,  they often take longer but are the most scenic rides.

Lucerne

Lucerne is often called the prettiest city in Switzerland – I am unsure whether I agree. I know for sure that the area is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Best tours on SwitzerlandIf you have three days in Switzerland, you could spend all 3 days here. Assuming that you arrive from Zurich airport, you probably don’t have a full day on the first day, so we don’t cram it with too many activities.

THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE

  • Visit the old town, it is home to some very stunning old buildings.
  • Head to the Lion´s Monument – which commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.
  • Stroll Lake Lucerne – it is a beautiful lake and one of the biggest in Switzerland
  • Walk the famous Chapel Bridge – this wooden bridge is the most famous bridge in Switzerland. It also contains several paintings on the roof that dates back to the 17th century.
  • End your day at Lake Lucerne – or one of the restaurants with a view of Lake Lucerne.

Mount Rigi & Lake Lucerne Boat Ride

Day 2 of your 3-day Switzerland itinerary is for a trip to Mount Rigi including doing a Lake Lucerne boat tour. Steam boat on Lake Lucerne

TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT RIGI AND A LKAE LUCERNE BOAT CRUISE

  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you don’t have to spend any money on these activities, because they are included. 
  • Take one of the Lake Lucerne boats and get to Vitznau. The lake is huge, so getting to Vitznau takes a bit, but the views are great, so all you need to do is sit back relax. Alternatively, can get there by bus or car.
  • Mount Rigi is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
  • To get up Mount Rigi get the funicular or hike up from Vitznau. 
  • Getting up takes about 30 minutes, and the ride there is already scenic. Up there, you can do (further) hiking or just enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps.
  • In winter, it is also a perfect place for winter sports

It is also one of the best spots to watch the sunset on a clear day. Getting on top of Mount Rigi takes less time and is perfect if you do not want to spend too many hours on a mountain peak.  Mount Rigi with the Swiss Travel Pass

Mount Pilatus or Mount Titlis

For the third day, you can decide whether you want to enjoy a fun day at Mount Pilatus or Engelsberg (Mount Titlis). 

Both mountain excursions are perfect for hikers but also for those who like to do full-day mountain trips without too much physical exercise, as you can also get up via funicular and cable car.

MOUNT PILATUS

Mount Pilatus is one of the most stunning mountain peaks and offers incredible views. Switzerland what to visit

TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT PILATUS

  • My tip for getting up Mount Pilatus is to do the Golden Round Trip. Start in Lucerne and hop on a boat and get to Alpnachstad. From there, take the steepest cogwheel railway to get to 2,132 meters above sea level. On your way back you use the cable car to get down to the bus stop which brings you back to Lucerne. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, the boat ride is included and you have to pay for the cogwheel/cable car ride (50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass).
  • You can also hike up and down.
  • Up there, you can eat your weight in Swiss food (not my favorite thing, though)
  • Soak in the views and of the Alps and stunning Lake Lucerne.
  • Book activities like hiking or paragliding – sports like these are really popular here.
  • For visiting Mount Rigi, you should plan in at least 6-8 hours.
  • My Lucerne guide has some more information on getting up Mount Pilatus

TITLIS MOUNTAIN

Titlis is in Engelberg, a bit further but also very easy to visit from Lucerne. Titlis in Switzerland in the winter

Mount Titlis is a very popular destination. It is one of the highest mountain peaks that you can easily visit (3,000+ meters). This is in particular interesting as there is always winter up there – even in the summer. This makes it more unique – especially if you like snow and visit in the summer months. There is no snow on the other two mountain peaks, Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, in summer.

TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT PILATUS

  • The train ride to Engelsberg is without extra costs if you own a Swiss Travel Pass.
  • The mountain excursion is not included in your Swiss Travel Pass but you will get a 50% discount.
  • Like on Mount Pilatus, the activities on top are numerous, so it takes at least 6-8 hours.

Where to Stay in Lucerne

For this 3-day Switzerland itinerary, I suggest booking accommodation in/near Lucerne and do day trips.

  • Luxury Hotels in Lucerne: Schweizerhof Luzern is a beautiful and fun 5* hotel located at Lake Lucerne’s shores and a few hundred meters from the old town and main tourist attractions (if you can, book a room with a lake view).
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Lucerne: If you are on a budget, you can check out prices close to Lucerne, but on my last trip, I stayed at Hotel des Alps which came with amazing room views. It is located close to the Chapel Bridge. Check out prices here.
  • Budget Hotels in Lucerne: This bed-and-breakfast offers single and double rooms (with an occupancy of 4 people maximum). Some rooms have a shared bathroom, and some have a private one. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at B&B.
  • If you are still unsure where to stay in Lucerne, you can check out my full accommodation guide on the best places to stay in Lucerne here.

HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – INTERLAKEN REGION

Here we come to another option to spend 3 days in Switzerland (probably one of my favorite itineraries for 3 days).

The region of Interlaken (or Bernese Overland, to be more precise) is one of the best places to visit in the WORLD. Interlaken is a small town. However, the name also encompasses the whole region of Interlaken and Jungfrau.

Getting there by train from Zurich takes about two hours (take the scenic Luzern – Interlaken Express train). You can find out what the fuss is about in three days, though you can easily spend weeks and weeks in the country.

Jungfraujoch

The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting two major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It lies at an elevation of 3,463 meters above sea level and is home to the highest train station in Europe. It is also one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland.

The Alps mountains Mt. Monch and Mt. Jungfrau from the view of Jungfraujoch station, Switzerland. @shutterstock
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR VISITING JUNGFRAUJOCH 

  • From Interlaken, the whole trip will take at least eight or nine hours, so plan enough time for a trip to Jungfraujoch.
  • Getting to the “Top of Europe” is quite touristy, and it is not cheap
  • There is a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. Click here to get the price if you have a Swiss Travel Pass – check out prices and tours here (without a Swiss Travel Pass).
  • There is a lot to do and see at the top – it is not only about the amazing views.
  • Altitude Sickness can be a problem, so drink enough water.
  • Personal Opinion: I enjoyed my trip up to Jungfraujoch HOWEVER, with only 3 days in Switzerland, I do not think it is a must-see place. There are other places equally beautiful and less expensive. Since it is so extremely popular I still added it on this 3-day Switzerland itinerary.

Brienzer Rothorn + Giessbach Waterfalls + Lake Brienz + Interlaken

Though the Jungfraujoch is the most popular mountain excursion, I have to say my favorite mountain trip was another: Brienzer Rothorn has been a highlight for me. The views on Lake Brienz are the best you can have, and getting up in a steam loc is one of the most unique means of transport. View from Brienzer Rothorn

Combine this mountain excursion with a Lake Brienz boat cruise and a short stop at Giessbach Waterfalls.

TIPS FOR BRIENZER ROTHORN + LAKE BRIENZ + GIESSBACH WATERFALLS

  • Start your Lake Brienz boat in Interlaken Ost and relax until you get to the Giessbach Waterfalls.
  • Get off the boat at Giessbach Waterfalls, and take a short, ten-minute hike to see the waterfalls up close. There is also a funicular that gets you up for a few CHF. Then another ten-minute hike will take you to the top. There is also the beautiful Grandhotel Giessbach with its terrace and incredible views. Unfortunately, it‘s closed in the winter months.
  • After this short stop, take the next boat (they run normally every 1 to 2 hours) and continue your journey to Brienz station.
  • There you either hike up or take the steam-loc to Brienzer Rothorn.
  • The boat cruise is free with the Swiss Travel Pass. You can also buy tickets for Lake Brienz boat cruises.
  • You can a 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass on the ride up Brienzer Rothorn.
  • Check out my one-day Interlaken itinerary to find out more about this amazing trip (which also includes visiting the Giessbach Waterfalls and more).
  • You can take a train back to Interlaken (which is much faster) or catch the boat back.
  • Interlaken is a great place to dine – end the day with a stroll around Höhenmatte in Interlaken. Check out my Interlaken guide for more tips.

Lake Thun & St. Beatus Caves & Thun

If mountain peaks don’t tickle your fancy, here is an alternative day.

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves
St. Beatus Caves – view from the panorama restaurant

Getting up early and taking a boat tour on Lake Thun is a great start to a day full of sightseeing. You will have three main stops/attractions on this day. This includes the lake cruise, St. Beatus Caves, and the town of ThunBest things to see at Lake Thun, boat tour Lake ThunLake Thun is a stunner – its watercolor might not be as impressive as Lake Brienz´s color but the scenery is probably more impressive. 

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves
View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

TIPS FOR LAKE THUN BOAT CRUISE & ST. BEATUS & THUN

  • Start your boat cruise at boat station Interlaken West and get out at St. Beatus Caves.
  • Spend some time in and around the caves. The St. Beatus Caves are quite impressive and are an especially cool place for the hot summer days as it cools you down and refreshes you. But to be honest, the most impressive view can be found just standing in front and looking at Lake Thun. If you find you can’t tear yourself away, you have the option to dine there as well.
  • Continue to Thun. It is one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland with stunning architecture, several castles, and plenty of options to dine. I definitely like Thun better than the town of Interlaken.
  • Check out my travel guide for Thun.
Market Square in Thun is one the most beautiful places
Thun market square

Lauterbrunnen

For the third day – and this is especially great if you don’t have a full day – head to Lauterbrunnen.

Green fields and famous touristic town with high waterfall in background,Lauterbrunnen,Bernese Oberland,Switzerland,Europe
@shutterstock

Known best among adrenaline junkies, it is also one of the best places to visit for any nature lover – especially if you love chasing waterfalls or prefer some easier hikes that offer fantastic views.

TIPS FOR VISITING LAUTERBRUNNEN

  • Visit the Staubbach Falls – it is a lot about waterfalls here in Interlaken. 
  • Get a ticket and visit Trümmelbach Waterfalls. You will not regret it. TIP: If you visit after a rainy day, bring your rain jacket as the waterfalls tend to be even heavier, and you will get wet.
  • Hike to Müren (or take the cable car) and then to you could get to Schilthorn (the famous James Bond mountain filming location)
  • Do some more hikes around Lauterbrunnen.
  • Enjoy the views of the Swiss Skyline. Looking – on a clear day – at the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau is mind-blowing.

OESCHINENSEE AND BLAUSEE

These two lakes are not situated in the region of Interlaken (or Jungfrau) but Kandersteg. However, they are close by and absolutely amazing! I personally would skip Jungrfaujoch (I know, it is so popular) and rather visit the lakes, especially Lake Oeschinen.

BLAUSEE

Blausee National Park is small but lovely. It has mostly become famous for its unique watercolor but honestly, there is not much more to do and see around the lake. If you have time – visit Lake Blausee. If you are short on time, skip it.BLausee in Bernese Oberland with Arzo Travels

TIPS FOR VISITING BLAUSEE

  • There is an entrance fee for the park – it depends on the season and arrival time.
  • You will not need a lot of time here – plan in between 30 – 60 minutes to walk around the lake and do a quick boat tour.
  • Check out my more detailed guide on visiting Lake Blausee.

OESCHINENSEE

Oeschinensee is a great place to add to your Switzerland 3-day itinerary. The weather tends to be bad in this area, but that should not stop you.Oeschinensee hike, Heuberg a top thing to do in Interlaken, Arzo Travels

 

TIPS FOR VISITING OESCHINENSEE

  • If you aren’t much into hiking, take a cable car up. From there, walk for 20 minutes or so, and you are at the lake (if even that sounds too tiring for you, you could take a shuttle bus for a couple of CHF to get dropped off at the foot of the lake).
  • The best, most amazing view over Lake Oeschinen requires some hiking, though. This hike takes about 3-6 hours, and the views are BREATHTAKING. Take the cable car and then start the hike around the lake. If you skip the cable car and also hike the lake, it will probably take around 6-10 hours.
  • Check out my full Lake Oeschinensee guide with all the info you will need for a trip to Lake Oeschinen.

WHERE TO STAY IN THE REGION OF INTERLAKEN

I suggest staying in Interlaken. From there, you can reach many places in the area quite easily as it is well connected with its 2 train stations and Lake Thun and Lake Brienz boat stations. 

  • Luxury: The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau, and since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place this is probably the best pick.
  • Mid-Range: I recently stayed at Hotel du Nord and I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.
  • Budget: If you are on a budget, I recommend staying outside of Interlaken, some cute towns close by that offer good value for money, or you book a bed in one of the numerous hostels in Interlaken like Balmers Backpackers Hostel.
  • Here is my full accommodation guide for Interlaken.

Tip: Check out my post with more day trip ideas from Interlaken.

PERSONAL OPINION: If I had to name my favorite 3-day Switzerland itinerary, this Interlaken itinerary would probably bring the cake home.

Switzerland in 3 Days – Lake Geneva

This is another itinerary for 3 days in Switzerland – if you want to visit some of the country’s French-speaking parts, visit Montreux, Geneva, and Lake Geneva.

Getting to the region from Zurich is time-consuming (but amazing if you choose the scenic train rides), and the area is charming and well worth spending 3 days. My tip is to make Montreux your base and then do trips from there.

Geneva

I suggest spending the first day in Geneva to get a first impression of Lake Geneva.

Geneva in summer, Switzerland
@shutterstock

Switzerland is full of beautiful lakes, but Lake Geneva still holds a special place in my heart and might also win you over in a short time (it is one of the biggest lakes in Europe, and yet the color is pretty amazing).

THINGS TO DO IN GENEVA

  • Spend time at Lake Geneva and see the JET D’EAU
  • Explore the old town of Geneva
  • Visit the United Nations Headquarters
  • Check out my Geneva itinerary for a day

Montreux

On the second day, explore the beautiful village of Montreux and spend a full day there. switzerland tourist attractionsAlthough Montreux itself is quite small, it has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland and is perfect for visiting at any time of the year.

THINGS TO DO IN MONTREUX

  • Walk along this promenade (the prettiest in all of Switzerland).
  • Visit Château de Chillon (free entry with the Swiss Travel Pass).
  • See the Freddie Mercury Statue and learn about his life in Montreux.
  • If you visit in the summer months, visit the vineyards in the Chexbres region afterward and go wine tasting.
  • If you love to be in the water, you can also take the time to swim in Montreux.
  • Check out my Montreux guide for more tips.

Lake Geneva Boat Cruise + Yvoire

For the third day, you can do a day trip to Yvoire (which is actually in France, on the other side of Lake Geneva, and can be reached via boat) or Vevey.

Yvoire at Lake Geneva is a must on a 3 days in Switzerland itinerary
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR A LAKE GENEVA BOAT CRUISE + YVOIRE

  • Lake Geneva is enormous, so plan in enough time for the boat trips as it is quite time-consuming.
  • You can cruise Lake Geneva without any extra costs if you have a Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Get out in Yvoire and explore the cute little village on the shores of Lake Geneva

3 Days Zermatt & Glacier Express

Another perfect way to spend 3 days in Switzerland could be by heading to Zermatt and spending a full day on a train (yes, voluntarily and yes, you will enjoy it).

Zermatt

This 3-day itinerary will take you to one of the most popular towns in the country: Zermatt. 

Matterhorn and Zermatt in the Swiss Alps best places to ski
@shutterstock

Zermatt is located in the canton of Valais and has become popular as a winter sports destination for the rich and “beautiful.” Still, it is also a perfect place to visit at any time of the year. Even if you are not rich or beautiful :).

TIPS VOR VISITING ZERMATT

  • Getting to Zermatt from any other main city in Switzerland (Zurich or Geneva, e.g.) is time-consuming but worth it. It is a car-free village, so you have to leave your car in Taesch and then take a train to Zermatt.
  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass you can get to Zermatt without any extra cost
  • On the way to Zermatt, you will already see the almighty Matterhorn mountain.
  • Zermatt itself is quite small, so for the town center itself, you will not need much time to explore.
  • But there are fantastic hiking trails (and in the winter, it offers amazing winter sports possibilities).
  • Klein Matterhorn is a popular mountan excursion.
  • Check out my Zermatt guide for more info on what to do and see.
  • If you visit in the winter months, check out my Zermatt winter post.

Glacier Express

The Glacier Express is actually not an express train. It is indeed very slow. But why is it then one of the most famous (and best) train rides in the world?

Glacier Express, Landwasserviadukt bei Filius, Graubünden / Picture Credit: Swiss Travel Pass AG
Glacier Express, Landwasserviadukt bei Filius, Graubünden / Picture Credit: Swiss Travel Pass AG

The Glacier Express connects the two highly popular mountain destinations of St.Moritz and Zermatt. While I am not a fan of St. Moritz itself, the scenery in the area is just breathtaking. And getting there from Zermatt is an experience by itself (or the other way around).

TIPS FOR USING THE GLACIER EXPRESS

  • You can use the Glacier Express with your Swiss Travel Pass – you have to pay for the seat reservation only.
  • Tip: If you do not want to make a reservation (or travel with a dog as I did), you can use the Rhaetische Bahn, which is actually the same route. They do not require any reservation (but do not have panorama windows), and you can open most windows for great pictures.
  • The train takes you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, three cantons, and two language regions, so you can imagine what the window views will be like.
  • The whole journey will take more than 8 hours (one way), so I do not necessarily recommend getting all the way to St. Moritz but do just a part of the trip. 

WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT

3 Days in Switzerland – Ticino

Switzerland´s Italian-speaking part should not be forgotten here. Ticino is stunning!  Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland and quite remote – so I would not try to squeeze it in with a 3-day trip with Zurich or Geneva. Dedicate at least 3 days for Ticino.

Locarno and Ascona

Beautiful Locarno and Ascona are located at the shores of Lago Maggiore. This is where you get some Italian feeling in Switzerland.

Best Places to See in Switzerland
Ascona near Locarno

TIPS FOR VISITING LOCARNO AND ASCONA

Both towns are loacted close to each other and you can explore them both in 2 days.

  • Explore the colorful old towns and beautiful promenades.
  • Do a Lago Maggiore boat cruise.
  • Get a cable car or hike up Cardada Mountain.
  • Check out my Locarno travel guide for more tips.

Valle Verzasca

Discover the beautiful valley of Valle Verzasca. It s located close to Locarno and so different to the rest of the country.

Where to go in Switzerland on holidays

TIPS FOR VISITING VALLE VERZASCA

  • Visit the “Ponte dei salti” in Lavertezzo.
  • Take a dip (if you are brave enough, the water is supposed to be very cold).
  • Go on some hikes in the area.
  • Looking for something more adventurous? In Vogorno you will find the setting of the James Bond movie GoldenEye – you can do a bungee jump here if you are brave enough.

WHERE TO STAY IN LOCARNO

For this itinerary, I suggest staying in Locarno.

  • Luxury Hotels in Locarno – I have stayed in a couple of very luxurious hotels, but this is probably my favorite – ever. Villa Orselina is a top luxurious small boutique hotel in Orselina, just a few minutes from Locarno – check out prices here)
  • Mid-Range in Locarno – Hotel Garni Muralto (I did not stay here, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range) – check out prices here.
  • In case your budget is tighter, I recommend checking out Airbnb apartments (first-time users save money with my link).

For general money-saving tips for Switzerland, check out my post with the best tips.

CONCLUSION: A PERFECT 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

As you can see, you could spend weeks in the country, and it still would not be enough, but given that many of us only have a few days or 3 days in Switzerland in this case, these are some of the best itineraries that allows you to see some of the quite a lot in a short time.

Just choose any of the 3-day Switzerland itineraries and enjoy!

Safe Travels, Arzo

How to Spend Epic 7 Days in Switzerland

Switzerland 7-day itinerary - the ultimate places to see and visit in seven days-2

CREATE A PERFECT ONE WEEK IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Are you planning your 7 days in Switzerland and wondering how to spend an amazing one week in Switzerland? Then read on because you will find out where to go and see many travel tips for Switzerland for 7 days in Switzerland.

As a regular Switzerland visitor who often stays in the country for weeks and even months at a time, I have a million favorite places. There are so many cute little villages and towns, breathtaking sceneries (including the most beautiful lakes and mountains), and fun cities that I could easily stay there for years without getting bored.

This Switzerland itinerary will help you to discover the most beautiful places in 7 days. This itinerary is busy, but I want you to see as much as possible of this gorgeous place. 

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 7 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

I have to say that creating this 7-day Switzerland itinerary was tough, but I am pretty sure that it turned out great (if I may say so myself). By using this carefully created 7-day itinerary, you can enjoy the best of Switzerland in one week. It contains a wonderful mix of mountains, waterfalls, lakes, cities, towns and more! 

If you stay less than seven days, you can read my 5-day itinerary (which, btw, is also super awesome).

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

In this 7-day Switzerland itinerary post, you will find out:

  • How to get around Switzerland in 7 days
  • Money tips for 7 days in Switzerland
  • Best time to visit
  • Where to stay in Switzerland for a week
  • More travel tips for a week in Switzerland
  • Places to visit and things to do in 7 days

How to Get to Switzerland

  • BY PLANE: For this 7 days in Switzerland itinerary, I suggest starting and ending your trip in Zurich, Switzerland´s biggest city (though it isn’t the capital). Many people pick a different airport – which could be Geneva – but I do not really think Geneva is a must-see place if you have 7 days in Switzerland. So, you can do a loop (whether you drive or travel by train) and start and end in Zurich. From the international airport in Zurich, you can easily get to the city center in Zurich (there are direct train connections and it takes only about 15 minutes) or get a rental car at the airport.
  • BY TRAIN: If you get to Switzerland, I suggest starting in Zurich. It has a good train station – and is quite well connected to other countries in Central Europe. From the train station, it is easy to get to the city center and many attractions mentioned here.

How to Get Around Switzerland in 7 days

Switzerland can be discovered by car or train – both options are fantastic choices. 

BY CAR: For the last six years, I have been road-tripping Switzerland and loving it. I came in my car and bought a toll sticker (around $45) to use all of the streets.

I usually stay for several weeks, and I think it is worth it. You could use only side streets to avoid buying such a sticker, but sometimes it will make distances even longer. So, if you bring your car, invest in a sticker and save time by using motorways. You can purchase toll stickers wherever you enter the country.

If you rent a car, a toll sticker is usually included in the rental price.

Driving in Switzerland is fun and safe. The streets are well paved, and usually, the traffic isn’t too bad – whether you use highways or country roads, they are not extremely busy. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to main city centers, which may be busier.

There are many gas stations along the way. Like everything else in Switzerland, gas is not a bargain, but Switzerland isn’t known for being a budget destination. Check out my Switzerland road trip post for more tips.

Parking in cities can be tricky and expensive, which brings me to another terrific means of transportation. Click here to get the best rates for renting a car.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: I love public transportation in Switzerland. It is super convenient, reliable, on time, clean, and safe… but expensive. I recommend this 8-day Swiss Travel Pass (only available to non-Swiss). It is perfect for getting around. You can use it for buses, trains, visiting certain museums, getting discounts on cable cars, etc.

And train travel in Switzerland is just fun – like really, really fun. Here, the journey is the reward. While train riding sounds like a punishment in Germany to me (at least sometimes), it is a treat for the eye in Switzerland.

Money / Currency in Switzerland

  • Switzerland is not part of the European Union and does not have the euro (€). They use Swiss Francs.
  • While euros are widely accepted, the exchange rate is terrible, so I recommend exchanging money at home or withdrawing cash from an ATM (if you don’t have to pay fees or withdraw money just once to avoid paying fees several times).
  • Credit cards are widely accepted (especially Visa and Mastercard). Still, I recommend always having cash on you for the smaller things you need to pay for (especially in smaller towns and shops).
  • As mentioned, the country is not known as a backpacker’s paradise, mainly because accommodations are costly. Also, food is not cheap (though the quality is often better than in other European countries). Ideally, you can save money by reducing your meat, alcohol, and cigarette consumption for those seven days – and find out more budget tips here.

Best Time to Visit Switzerland For 7 Days

Switzerland is great to visit at any time of the year. But here are my two cents on what time might be the best time to visit Switzerland for 7 days for you.

  • For winter sports lovers, the best time is obviously in winter. Any time from December to early March is probably a good time to visit if you want to hit the slopes. If you are not into winter sports but love Christmas Markets, visit in the first three weeks of December. The Christmas Markets in Switzerland are top-notch. From December to February, the range is -2 to 7 °C (28° – 45° F).
  • Summer in Switzerland can be amazing. I experienced some very rainy days (and weeks) in summer, but often, the weather tends to be nice. Days are long, and you can squeeze more activities into your activity. From July to August, the daytime temperature range is 18 to 28 °C (65° – 82° F) 
  • If you want to avoid the tourist crowds and save some money on hotels, then from late April to June and from September to early October would be the best time to visit Switzerland. In spring and autumn, the daytime temperature range is 8 to 15 °C (46° – 59° F). 
  • However, there can always be certain events and activities – also outside of the busy season – which makes a place more crowded, and hotel prices can thus increase.
  • MY OPINION: I loved Switzerland in winter, but if I had only one more chance to re-visit Switzerland, I would choose late spring, summer, or early fall.

However, there is never a guarantee on the weather in Central Europe.

Pin Me For Later – Switzerland in 7 Days

If you liked this itinerary, pin this for later.Epic 7 day Switzerland itinerary, Arzo Travels

THINGS TO DO IN ONE WEEK IN SWITZERLAND

Hopefully, the above-mentioned travel tips will help you plan your itinerary. Now it is time to talk about the best places to visit in 7 days in Switzerland.

DAY 1 OF 7 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

The first day of your 7-day trip could start in a not very well-known but charming little town in the northern part of Switzerland.

  • Stein am Rhein + Rhine Falls

Stein am Rhein

So, here is probably the most beautiful town in Switzerland: Stein am Rhine. The picture doesn’t do any justice, but I felt it was the place with the most distinctive architecture after visiting many places.
Places to visit in Switzerland

This little town in the northern part of Switzerland is like a fairy tale come true. 

THINGS TO DO IN STEIN AM RHEIN

  • Focus on the town center and admire the stunning buildings (maybe have lunch in one of the restaurants here)
  • Visit the Rathausplatz – town hall square
  • See the mediaval castle “Burg Hohenklingen”
  • Stroll the lovely river outside the town center
  • Find out more about Stein am Rhein here

After some time in the town, it is time for nature. So head to the impressive waterfalls.

Rhine Falls

The biggest waterfalls in Europe aren’t in Iceland. They are actually in Switzerland. Right next to the German border, to be precise. The astonishing waterfalls near the town of Schaffhausen know how to impress.  Rhine Falls where are the

THINGS TO DO AT RHINE FALLS

DAY 2 OF ONE WEEK IN SWITZERLAND

Time to talk about the second day in Switzerland!

  •  Zurich

Zurich

Zurich is my favorite city in Switzerland. It just has more to see than other Swiss cities, and it is laid back (by Swiss standards) and easy-going. Where to go in Zurich SwitzerlandTHINGS TO DO IN ZURICH 

  • I recommend strolling the old town and Bahnhofstrasse (which is the most expensive street in the world). Though it does not look spectacular, this street beats New York’s 5th Avenue when renting prices (have I mentioned that Switzerland is expensive?). 
  • Explore the beautiful old town with its many beautiful buildings (here are also great restaurants).
  • Do a boat cruise on Lake Zurich.
  •  I think that there is no better way to end a day in Zurich than at Lake ZurichThis is especially true on summer days when street musicians play music and people gather around the lake.
  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can use public transportation in Zurich without any extra charge. You can also use boats (you might have to pay a surcharge of CHF 5 for Lake Zurich, though).

WHERE TO STAY IN ZURICH

DAY 3 OF YOUR 7-DAY ITINERArY

Another day in Switzerland and several more gorgeous places to visit.

  • Lucerne & Surroundings

Arrive early in the morning in Lucerne and store your luggage at the hotel before exploring this lovely city – and its astonishing scenery.

I recommend heading to one of the mountains first. Lucerne has two impressive mountains, which are easily accessible via cable cars/cogwheel trains.

Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi

Both of the mountains are amazing places to visit.

MOUNT PILATUS

Mount Pilatus takes about a full day to get up, explore, and discover. You could do it in 5-6 hours, but it would be a waste of money (getting up there is not cheap)  as there is a lot to do. Things to do up Mount PilatusThe views from there are astonishing, so if you are willing to limit your time in Lucerne’s city center to 2 or 3 hours, it is the best day trip option.

Tip: With a Swiss Travel Pass, you have a 50% discount on the ride up (and can do a Lake Lucerne boat cruise for free).

MOUNT RIGI

Mount Rigi is a beautiful mountain that offers astonishing views over Lake Lucerne. Getting up Mount Rigi takes less time compared to Mount Pilatus and there is less to do. However, the views are one of a kind, and the views alone are absolutely worth the trip. Mount Rigi with the Swiss Travel Pass

TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT RIGI

  • With the Swiss Travel Pass, the Mount Rigi excursion is included in 2021, so there are no extra cost for you.
  • If you enjoy hiking (or want to save money because you do not have a Swiss Travel Pass), you can also hike one way. You could also just hike just some parts and take the funicular for the rest.
  • There is a restaurant at the top of the mountain.

PERSONAL OPINION: I loved both mountain excursions and have done each twice actually (in winter and summer). Both are amazing. But with only 7 days in Switzerland, I actually suggest visiting Mount Rigi because it takes less time. Also, Mount Rigi is included in the Swiss Travel Pass and it will save you money.

Lucerne

The city center of Lucerne is cute, but I highly suggest spending some time in nature (Mount Rigi, e.g.).

So, a few hours (or half a day) in the city is a good amount of time if you have a week in Switzerland.  Chapel Bridge 2016 in Lucerne - Can you spot me and Puppygak on th bridge?

THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE

  • Visit Chapel Bridge
  • Explore the Old Town
  • See the Lion Monument
  • Stroll Lake Lucerne Promenade
  • Do a Lake Lucerne boat cruise (only if you don’t do one mountain excursion)
  • Check out my Lucerne travel guide for more info 

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE

DAY 4 AND 5 IN A WEEK IN SWITZERLAND

Now, it is time for 2 days in the stunning region of Bernese Oberland. Bad news: Even if you stay 2 days in the region, it is impossible to do all suggestions I have for you. As everyone’s taste is different, pick the ones that are the most appealing to you.

  • Region of Interlaken

When I talk about Interlaken, I actually mean the Interlaken and Jungfrau region and not just the town of Interlaken. Either way, if you have ever read my Switzerland posts (and I have many posts on Switzerland), you know that this is probably my favorite area in Switzerland… or maybe even in the world! The scenery is beyond beautiful, and it takes my breath away every single time I visit. 

Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch is probably the most popular day trip activity in Switzerland. The highest train station in Europe attracts tons of visitors each day. top of europe Jungfraujoch - things to know.Jungfraujoch is great to visit at any time of the year. You will always find snow! The views are amazing (with an altitude of more than 3000 meters, this is no surprise).

THINGS TO DO AT JUNGFRAUJOCH

If you start your journey early (around 8 am), you could do something in the evening, like explore the gorgeous town of Thun, for example.

PERSONAL OPINION: A trip to Jungfraujoch is a unique experience BUT, given its price and the duration, I would not say it is a must-see place in 7 days. There are many other options as good as Jungfraujoch (check out my post on great mountain views).

Thun

Surprisingly, I often overlooked this town or just passed it whenever I was in the region, but when I finally visited, I totally loved it. Thun is such a beautiful town (as a town prettier than Interlaken) with the lovely Aare River flowing through, it has a special charm.  It is also bigger than Interlaken with many beautiful cafes and restaurants.

Thun, most beautiful town in Interlaken
View from Schloss Thun

THINGS TO DO IN THUN

  • Spend time at Lake Thun
  • Check out the cute streets of the old town
  • Exploring the castles – Thun Castle, Schloss Schadau, and more
  • With your Swiss Travel Pass, you get free access to all the castles. If you stay at an official accommodation in the region, you get a little discount.
  • Check out my Thun travel guide for more information

PERSONAL OPINION: If you want to take it more slowly, you could enjoy a full day here. There is enough to do in and around Thun. If you would like to explore more of the Interlaken region, I guess half a day is enough.

St. Beatus Caves, Sigriswill Suspension Bridge, and Grabenmühle

Here are three of my favorite places in the region. You can do the next three/four activities in one day.

ST. BEATUS CAVES

First, head to gorgeous St. Beatus Caves. Even if you don’t buy a ticket to enter the caves, the trip will be worth it. You can get there easily from Interlaken/Thun by car or public transportation, and after a few minutes’ hike, you will have one of the best views – ever, ever, ever.

Though the restaurant’s view is not the highest vantage point, it is one of a kind. View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

TIPS FOR VISITING ST. BEATUS CAVES

  • For this amazing view, a 10-minute uphill hike is required
  • Depending on if you do a guided tour inside the caves or not – plan between 1.5 and 4 hours for this activity.
  • Check out my detailed post for St. Beatus Caves.

SIGRISWIL SUSPENSION BRIDGE

From St. Beatus Caves, you can enjoy a lovely drive up (by bus or car) to Sigrswil Suspension Bridge and the hidden gem of Grabenmühle in Sigriswil. Sigriswil is something more unique for your 7-day Switzerland itinerary and a hidden gem. Interlaken best activitiesThese places are still not as well known, and so I love the serenity and tranquility there. Sigriswil suspension bridge offers great views of Lake Thun and the Alps. Grabenmühle best place to visitI cannot even classify what Grabenmühle is. It somehow is a little garden with a cafe and animals. And great views. Whatever it is, it is so worth the visit.

TIPS FOR VISITING SIGRISWIL SUSPENSION BRIDGE AND GRABENMÜHLE

  • For about 7€, you can pass the suspension bridge and enjoy this perfect view of Lake Thun.
  • Afterward, the ticket from the bridge is your entry ticket for Grabenmühle. 
  • Check out my guide on Grabenmühle and Sigriswil.
  • As always, it depends on how long you will spend at each place, but considering driving time, I estimate that all activities (including St. Beatus Caves) will take about 5-9 hours.
  • So, for the evening, you could head to one of the cute towns, Thun or Interlaken, to end your day.
  • If I had to pick one of my favorite places to stay – it would be around Lake Thun. It is not very budget-friendly. But worth the money. Especially the sunset around Lake Thun is spectacular. Click here to find the best accommodation around Lake Thun.
  • Here are more tips on things to do around Lake Thun.

Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is located in the Alps and is one of the most popular places for extreme outdoor sports lovers – extreme sports like base jumping, etc., are extremely popular here. Though I do not want to promote these kinds of sports (deaths reported regularly in Lauterbrunnen), Lauterbrunnen is a drop-dead gorgeous place you can add to your 7-day itinerary for Switzerland. Even if you are not into crazy outdoor sports.

Lauterbrunnen Staubbach waterfall a top activity in Interlaken with Arzo Travels

Lauterbrunnen is also known for being surrounded by thundering waterfalls – 72, to be precise.

THINGS TO DO IN LAUTERBRUNNEN

  • Visit the Staubbach Falls 
  • Get a ticket and visit Trümmelbach Waterfalls. You will not regret it. TIP: If you visit after a rainy day, bring your rain jacket as the waterfalls tend to be even heavier, and you will get wet.
  • Hike to Müren (or take the cable car) and then to you could get to Schilthorn (the famous James Bond mountain)
  • Do some more hikes around Lauterbrunnen

Brienzer Rothorn

One of my travel highlights was my ride up Brienzer Rothorn. I will never forget the day that I took the one-hour ride up in an old stream loc. The ride was the most impressive I have ever had – the scenery was the most diverse and impressive. 

View from Brienzer Rothorn

TIPS FOR GETTING UP BRIENZER ROTHORN

  • The best way to arrive at Brienzer Rothorn station is via boat (which means you will take a cruise on Lake Brienz, my favorite lake in the world).
  • Check out my Interlaken one-day itinerary for more on Brienzer Rothorn.
  • Boat tours on Lake Brienz are included in the Swiss Travel Pass, and there is a discount for the ride to Brienzer Rothorn with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Oeschinensee and Blausee

These two lakes are not situated in the region of Interlaken (or Jungfrau) but Kandersteg. However, they are close by and absolutely amazing! You could visit both in one day, either by car or public transportation.

BLAUSEE

Blausee National Park is small but lovely. It has mostly become famous for its unique watercolor. Bucket list places in Switzerland Blausee

TIPS FOR VISITING BLAUSEE

  • There is an entrance fee for the park – it depends on the season and arrival time.
  • You will not need a lot of time here – plan in between 30 – 60 minutes to walk around the lake and do a quick boat tour.
  • Check out my more detailed guide on visiting Lake Blausee.

PERSONAL OPINION: Blausee is hyped – it is lovely, but I do not consider it a must-see on a 1-week Switzerland itinerary. Also, it bothers me to pay an entrance fee – in a country with so many stunning lakes, you can see many lakes for free.

OESCHINENSEE

Oeschinensee is a great place to add to your Switzerland 7-day itinerary. The weather tends to be bad in this area, but that should not stop you.

There are different ways to see the Oeschinensee. Oeschinensee hike, Heuberg a top thing to do in Interlaken, Arzo Travels

TIPS FOR VISITING OESCHINENSEE

  • If you aren’t much into hiking, take a cable car up. From there, walk for 20 minutes or so, and you are at the lake (if even that sounds too tiring for you, you could take a shuttle bus for a couple of CHF to get dropped off at the foot of the lake).
  • The best, most amazing view over Lake Oeschinen requires some hiking, though. It takes about 3-5 hours, and the views are BREATHTAKING.
  • This trip takes something around 3-8 hours.
  • Check out my full Lake Oeschinensee guide with all the info you will need for a trip to Lake Oeschinen.

WHERE TO STAY IN THE REGION OF INTERLAKEN

I suggest staying in Interlaken. From there, you can reach many places in the area quite easily as it is well connected with its 2 train stations and Lake Thun and Lake Brienz boat station. Also, you can spend an evening in Interlaken without making it an extra point on your 7-day itinerary.

  • For your stay in Interlaken, I recommend this hotel which is centrally located and is quite nice. Check out rates for Hotel du Nord here.
  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau. Since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying in Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof next to the Höhenmatte. It is not the cheapest hostel but definitely worth the money and one of my all-time favorite hostels. Check out prices here.

DAY 6 AND 7 – LAST DAYS OF YOUR 7-DAY TRIP

Here is an idea on how to spend the last two days in the country.

  • Zermatt

Zermatt

Zermatt is a very well-known winter destination and popular for winter sports lovers, but it is actually lovely to visit year-round, and so you have to add it to your 7 days on Switzerland trip. Best cities to visit in SwitzerlandWhile the town is small and the fast travelers could probably explore it in one day (without doing any winter sports activities), it is a bit trickier to get there and time-consuming, so you should plan in about 1,5 or two days.

Most of the time, you will have views of the stunning Matterhorn. This mountain, with its unique shape, is probably one of the most iconic mountains in the world. I

THINGS TO DO IN ZERMATT

  • Explore the small old town of Zermatt
  • Stroll along the Vispa River
  • Go luxury watch shopping (Zermatt is known as a paradise for luxury watches)
  •  Visit Klein Matterhorn and enjoy the best views from there. But be aware that going up almost 4000 meters above sea level can cause headaches for those who aren’t used to the altitude.
  • Here is my Zermatt guide for the winter. 
  • You’ll find more information on my Zermatt guide.

WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT

  • Luxury hotels in Zermatt: Grand Hotel Zermatterhof & Hotel Mont Cervin Palace – these places define luxury. If you are looking for 5-star hotels, these might be perfect for you.
  • Mid-range hotels in Zermatt : Hotel Testa Grigia & Sunstar Style Hotel. I stayed at the latter one – Sunstar Style Hotel. The prices were very reasonable (summer prices are normally better than the prices in winter), and the location was great. I even had a great room view of Matterhorn – if you get the chance, I definitely recommend booking a hotel room with a view of Matterhorn as it is with some extra $.
  • Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.

DEPARTURE

From Zermatt, it is time to head to the airport of your departure.

Switzerland has an amazing public transportation system, and I have never had any issues with trains running late. HOWEVER, I highly suggest leaving early. You never know. There might be a day where trains run late – even in Switzerland. 

CONCLUSION: HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC 7-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Looking at this 7-day Switzerland itinerary, all stops are in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland. There are numerous gorgeous places in the French- and Italian-speaking parts (like Montreux and Valle Verzasca). It might get hectic trying to visit all of the areas in Switzerland in a week.

Though the country is geographically small, there are so many places worth visiting that it is hard to see everything. However, 7 days in Switzerland should be a minimum, and it will allow you to see quite some places – ideally, you will have 10 days in Switzerland.

Stay safe!Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MALCESINE, LAKE GARDA, ITALY

Things to do in Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy Arzo Travels

WHAT TO DO IN MALCESINE IN ONE DAY + AND TRAVEL TIPS

During my trip to Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, I spent one day discovering the top things to do in Malcesine: the picturesque medieval atmosphere of the old town, the pretty panorama of the lake and the mountains from the harbor, the most beautiful view of Lake Garda from Scaliger Castle, and much more.

This beautiful town, located on the northeastern shore of Lake Garda, is a great base to visit other highlights of Lake Garda, such as Limone sul Garda and Riva del Garda. 

In this post, you will learn some facts, why you should visit Malcesine, what to see in Malcesine, and more useful tips for your trip to Malcesine and Lake Garda.

  • Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

MALCESINE TRAVEL TIPS

Get ready for your trip to Malcesine with this useful information.

FACTS

  • The town of Malcesine (pronounced mal-che-see-nay, with the accent on “che”) is located in the northern part of Lake Garda, on the eastern shore, south of Riva del Garda and opposite Limone sul Garda. 
  • It forms part of the province of Verona, in the region of Veneto: Verona is approximately 40 km to the South-East, and Venice is approximately 120 km to the South-East. The city of Trento is also quite close, approximately 65 km to the North.
  • This small comune of approximately 3500 inhabitants is nestled between Lake Garda and the slopes of Mount Baldo: the iconic Scaliger Castle overlooks the lake from the top of a hill. 

HOW TO GET TO MALCESINE

  • Plane: The closest airport to Malcesine is in Verona; however, take a look also at Milano Bergamo Airport, Venice Airport and Treviso Airport, which are bases for low-cost airlines in Europe such as Ryanair and Wizzair. Slightly farther away are Milano Malpensa Airport and Bologna Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take public transportation.
  • Public transportation: Unfortunately there is no train station in Malcesine; the closest stations in large cities are Verona to the South and Rovereto to the North. Buses run along the coasts of Lake Garda; bus connections can take a while to travel in this area. During July and August there may be extra connections between Riva del Garda and Venice, or between Verona and the Lake towns to bring Opera-goers back to their accommodations. During the rest of the year, some connections may be cancelled. The main public transportation company is called ATV Verona.
  • Car: The scenery of Lake Garda and the surrounding hills and mountains is beautiful from the road to Malcesine. However, it is a local road which crosses many towns and holiday destinations, so there could be traffic. 
  • Boat: There are ferries connecting Malcesine to towns all around Lake Garda. The ferries leave from Peschiera or Desenzano to the South, or from Riva to the North. Many ferries are managed by this company..
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HOW TO GET AROUND MALCESINE

  • Malcesine is a very walkable town: wear comfortable shoes and enjoy the picturesque cobble-stoned streets. 
  • You can easily explore the whole city center. The Scaliger Castle is located on top of a hill, but it’s not hard to reach. 
  • You don’t need a car to get around Malcesine, plus there aren’t many parking lots. If you travel by car, or you want to use it for day trips, make sure you check with your accommodation if they have space for it. 
  • There is a tourist bus during the summer, but the schedule may change, so be sure to check it. 

BEST TIME TO VISIT MALCESINE

Lake Garda is a very popular summer destination. Even though Lake Garda might not be that popular with US-Americans, it is extremely popular with European – especially German – visitors. Malcesine and the nearby towns can get very, very crowded in July and August, which are also the hottest months. Prices for accommodations rise and it can become pretty expensive.

I recommend visiting Malcesine in April or May, or in late September and early October. In these periods the weather can be nice, destinations are less busy (but there is still a lot going on and it can be partly crowded), and accommodation prices are a little lower. It is much more pleasant to visit the best attractions of Malcesine in these conditions. 

During the rest of the year, many tourism establishments may be closed.

WHERE TO STAY IN MALCESINE

Even though I didn’t stay overnight in Malcesine, here are a few accommodation possibilities. Note that many hotels state an “adults only” policy which may come in handy for those looking for a children-free stay.

  • Luxury: Guesthouse Grand View is perfect if you are looking to enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Garda and the mountains while swimming in the outdoor pool. It is located on the slopes of Monte Baldo close to the center of Malcesine.
  • Mid-range: Enjoy the old town from Hotel Malcesine, located in the heart of the city center, close to the harbor. The terrace with sun chairs overlooking Lake Garda is a beautiful place to relax.
  • Budget-friendly: Guests at the apartments of Residence Le Palme can admire Lake Garda from the balcony, as well as rent the bikes available. 

If you plan to stay in another village around Lake Garda, check out my accommodation guide with tips on the best accommodation around Lake Garda.

MALCESINE – RANDOM INFORMATION

  • In Italian restaurants, leaving a tip is not required, but appreciated. 
  • At restaurants where you sit at a table, the bill will include a “coperto”. It is a fee between 1-3 EUR per person that covers the cost of the tablecloth, cutlery, bread, and sometimes a jar of tap water. 
  • Take good care of your feet by wearing comfortable shoes.
  • Be prepared for mosquitos in the summer months.
  • Cheaper supermarkets are located by the main road, Via Gardesana SR249.

Things to do in Malcesine

I really enjoyed my day-trip to Malcesine. As you know, Limone is my favourite town on Lake Garda, but Malcesine is also very pretty, and a bit larger. Plus, the view from the Scaliger Castle is stunning.

Here are the top things to do in Malcesine.

Explore the Old Town

The first thing to see in Malcesine is the medieval old town. Walking in the center of Malcesine, between the lake and the main road, is very pleasant and relaxing. 

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The narrow alleys have a very special atmosphere made of colorful buildings, cute shops, and cafés, with pretty squares suddenly opening up to the sun, some bordered by orange trees and palms. As Malcesine is between the lake and the slopes of Mount Baldo, most streets are uphill.

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Malcesine’s history dates back to Roman times. Afterwards, this area was dominated by Goths and Lombards, by the Scaligeri family of Verona, by Venetians and Austrians, before finally becoming part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. The old town retained its medieval structure around the fortress of Scaliger Castle. 

  • Italian tip: if you are looking to enjoy some local wine, look for the Italian words “osteria”, “vineria” or “enoteca”.

Walk by the Harbor

When considering what to do in Malcesine, the answer is as easy as walking along the harbor. 

The small harbor is another beautiful place in Malcesine, bustling with travelers and locals, ferries, and fishing boats. It is perfect to relax and do some people-watching.

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In the courtyard of Palazzo del Capitano, one of the top attractions of Malcesine, you can sit on a bench with a gelato while you enjoy the wonderful view of the Lake and the mountains. 

Visit Scaliger Castle

The Scaliger Castle is a must-visit in Malcesine: You will learn a bit about Malcesine´s history and it offers the best view at Lake Garda. The rooftops of red shingles below, the Lake in front of you, mountains all around: it was my favorite view!

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Also known as the Malcesine Castle (Castello di Malcesine in Italian), this medieval castle sits on a promontory overlooking Lake Garda. Even though the first castle here was built around the year 500, it takes the name of the family that ruled in Verona, Della Scala, who took over in 1277 and rebuilt it. It was declared National Monument in 1902.

If you have only one day in Malcesine, make sure you visit the castle to experience the view and learn about the local culture. 

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The Scaliger Castle houses the small Museum of Natural History about the flora and fauna of Lake Garda and Mount Baldo, as well as an exhibition of drawings made by Goethe; another museum of local history is being created.

From the various courtyards and balconies on different floors you can enjoy wonderful views. Make sure you climb the tower and admire the picturesque view 70 meters above Lake Garda. 

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The Scaliger Castle is also a very romantic venue: the Rivellino courtyard is used to celebrate weddings. 

  • Price: the ticket to Scaliger Castle in Malcesine costs 6 EUR.
  • Opening hours: Scaliger Castle is open every day, but hours change seasonally and on weekends, so make sure you check online. 
  • Top tip: enjoy a wonderful view of Scaliger Castle rising above Malcesine and Lake Garda from the ferry to/from Limone, the town on the other side of the lake.

Visit Captain’s Palace

You will certainly notice this beautiful palace near the harbour: it is one of the key historical attractions in Malcesine. 

This historic building was constructed by the Scaliger family over Roman and Romanesque ruins in the 1200s and 1300s; it was later remodeled in Venetian style in the following centuries, with sumptuous decorations worthy of the residence of the Captain of the Lake.

The most recent renovation started in 2007 and gave the palace back its original splendour.

You can walk through the main hall, admire the frescoes on the ceiling, and enjoy the wonderful view of the lake and the garden through the back gate. It is a very Instagrammable spot in Malcesine, especially when the flowers are blooming.

  • Price: admission is free. Only the ground floor and the garden are open to the public.
  • Events: the first floor is used for concerts, conferences or wedding ceremonies.

Admire the View From Mount Baldo

Monte Baldo is certainly a top destination around Lake Garda, especially for day trips. It is popular to visit Malcesine just to reach the top of Monte Baldo and admire the view. 

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I took the cable car to reach the top. The first station of “Funivia Malcesine-Monte Baldo” is close to the city center, approximately 10 minutes on foot from the harbor. In just a few minutes, it takes you up to 1800 meters of altitude.

After the mid-station, the rotating cabins make this experience even more unique! The view of Lake Garda and the surrounding mountains makes it worth traveling to Malcesine. I would say this is definitely a place to visit in Malcesine in one day.

Animal lovers should check out the cute “Elalpaca” alpaca farm on the top of Mount Baldo, near the cableway arrival.

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  • Price: A return ticket costs 25 EUR when purchased online. 
  • Opening hours: The cable car is open approximately from May to October, from 9 AM to 5 PM, depending on the year. Make sure you check it in advance
  • Practical tip: Get there in advance in high season, as the queue could be long. Getting there early as possible is the best option, as well as buying the ticket online.
  • Clothing tip: On top of Monte Baldo, it can feel significantly colder than in Malcesine, so consider bringing a light jacket. Of course, check the weather before you head there, as clouds could block the view.

It is also possible to hike from Malcesine to Monte Baldo. The trail is 11 km long but the altitude difference is 1815 meters! I can recommend this very steep trail only to trained hikers. Even hiking downhill can hurt your knees.

Paragliding at Mount Baldo

Those of you looking for a thrill should definitely consider paragliding from Mount Baldo to Malcesine! Thanks to the thermals rising from Lake Garda (the flows of air going upwards), after taking off from the top of Monte Baldo, you can reach up to 3000 meters! The landing is all the way down in Malcesine, close to the lake. It looks very exciting.

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Many companies offer a tandem paragliding flight in Malcesine, where you sit on the paraglider together with an instructor. You just have to wear comfortable clothing, and they take care of the rest. Many packages also include pictures and a video of this amazing experience.

  • Top tip: paragliding is a very popular activity, so make sure you book in advance.

HIKING IN MALCESINE

There are plenty of hiking trails in Malcesine that lead up the slopes of Monte Baldo. Some are easy and suitable also for families with children, such as the ring trail from Malcesine to San Michele (the mid-stop of the cablecar ride); others are quite challenging and more scenic, like the hike to the top of Mount Baldo and the treks on the peaks, where there are even WWI trenches.

Make sure you do your research, choose a trek suitable to your capabilities, and bring the necessary equipment.

WATERSPORTS IN MALCESINE

Another cool thing to do in Malcesine is spending time by the shore of Lake Garda! 

The water sports that you can do in Malcesine are windsurfing and kitesurfing. Winds blow on Lake Garda all day long: the strong Pelér wind blows in the morning, and the lighter Ora wind blows in the afternoon. 

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As long as you have basic swimming skills, you can book with the local providers and have some fun!

There are also options for sail boats and for SUP – stand up paddling. 

If you’d rather relax, make sure you check out the beach north of the city centre called Paina Beach, or the lovely Val di Sogno beach, approximately 30 minutes on foot south of Malcesine. Everywhere, the water is clear and very inviting for a swim.

It is also fun to rent a motorboat to enjoy the view of the mountains from the lake.

  • Price: Most are free, in some you can rent a sun chair.
  • What to expect: the beaches are made of pebbles!
  • Food: There are restaurants and kiosks around the beach areas.
  • Italian tip: The Italian words for “beach” are spiaggia and lido

DISCOVER THE MARKETS OF MALCESINE

A traditional market takes place in Malcesine every Saturday morning, from 8 AM to 2 PM. You can find fresh produce, local food, and traditional crafts. This area is famous especially for olive oil and wine. 

The atmosphere in the alleys and squares of the city centre is super Italian. It’s the perfect place to find cute souvenirs.

  • Practical tip: because of the market, on Saturdays it’s even harder to find place to park your car. 

OLIVE GROWERS CONSORTIUM OF MALCESINE

I have to admit that I hate olives. Here, I said it. I hate olives. Olive oil is okay if the scent is not very strong. So, I had to pass on this Malcesine attraction.

Foodies will enjoy visiting the Consortium of Olive Growers. Olives are a speciality in Malcesine: the shop of the Consortium is located in the centre of Malcesine, while the Olive Mill is 30 minutes away on foot on Via Panoramica.

Locals are proud of producing an excellent extra-virgin olive oil thanks to the mild climate of Lake Garda, which is ideal for growing olives. Olive trees are able to grow easily in this stony and exposed soil. It is quite amazing, since just south of Lake Garda is the foggy plain Pianura Padana, and just north are snowy mountains.

The Consortium was founded in 1946, but olive trees have grown in the area since Roman times.  Olive oil is so precious that it is called “yellow gold”. More than 500 small olive producers from Malcesine and the nearby towns are part of the Consortium, which ensures high-quality processing of the olives through strict policies. It is possible to buy Malcesine Olive Oil only in Malcesine! 

  • How to visit: You can visit the Consortium with a guided tour on Fridays, to learn about olive trees with a video and to taste wine and olive oil on bread. Make sure you book until one day before.

DAY TRIPS FROM MALCESINE

Malcesine is the perfect location to take day trips around Lake Garda and even beyond.

LIMONE SUL GARDA

My favorite day trip from Malcesine is Limone sul Garda, the town on the opposite shore of the lake. I loved the atmosphere in the cute alleys of Limone, the colorful flowers, the view of Lake Garda. Furthermore, from the ferry, you can enjoy an extra special view of Malcesine Castle. Check out my Limone post for more info on Lake Garda´s cutest village.

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Riva del Garda

It is also very easy to visit Riva del Garda from Malcesine. Riva del Garda is the town on the northern tip of Lake Garda. The beautiful city center features colorful houses, the impressive Torre Apponale stone tower, and an interesting Museum of Lake Garda concerning archaeology and history from Roman times until the WWII resistance. The mountains are very close, so the beach and the trails nearby are very scenic. 

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VERONA

The interesting cities nearby are Verona, with its pretty center, the Roman Arena, and the Romeo and Juliet balcony; Rovereto, home to the stunning Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art “MART”; and Trento, with a very authentic old town and the massive Buonconsiglio Castle. 

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If you want to have some fun, head to the amusement park Gardaland! Fresh water rides, exciting roller coasters, but also family-friendly rides and shows await you on the southern side of Lake Garda.

FINAL WORDS ON THE BEST ATTRACTIONS IN MALCESINE

Without a doubt, Malcesine is one of the prettiest villages around Lake Garda. It is worth going there on a day trip, but it is also a perfect base for multiple days. I hope with my post you will be able to enjoy the top things to do in Malcesine.

If you are planning a trip to Lake Garda, here is my 1-7 Lake Garda itinerary.

BEST TRAVEL TIPS FOR ITALY

What to know as American before traveling to Italy, travel tips for Italy

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING TO ITALY

So, most likely, you are planning your first trip to this gorgeous country and are now wondering about the best travel tips for Italy?! First of all, visiting Italy is always a great idea. Second, I hope this post answers all your questions about Italy travel tips.

There is a lot to love about Italy, and many reasons that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Understandably, it gets lots of visitors. This post will tell you what you need to know before going to Italy and important Italy travel tips if this is your first time.

Rome tourists points with Arzo Travels
Rome with a view of Vatican City and Rome, Italy

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

TRAVEL TIP FOR ITALY: LANGUAGE

The main language of Italy is, obviously, Italian. English is not spoken very well in many parts of the country, but the locals try their best to understand you when you use it. However, don’t worry, most of the hospitality and tourism staff speak English well.

Don’t be surprised if you hear many people speaking German in the northern part of the country or French in Valle d’Aosta region.

It’s best to try to master some basic Italian words to make your visit easier, such as

  • grazie (thank you)
  • ciao (informal hello)
  • buongiorno (good morning)
  • scusi (polite excuse me and sorry)
  • bello (beautiful)
  • buono (tasty)

TIP FOR VISITING ITALY: PEOPLE

Before starting your Italy trip, you should know that the people here are incredibly open and warm-hearted. Don’t be surprised if people come up to you to touch and compliment your children or pets (if you’re traveling with some). Italians are loud, passionate, and exuberant people, much more so than others (like German or French people). Personally, I love it, but some might have to get used to that.

As a woman, you are often approached by men – they just love and appreciate women. So, I don’t read too much into it and you should not do either but don’t be surprised if it happens.

TIPS FOR Best Time to Visit in Italy

If you’re traveling to Italy, you should know that summers can get really hot and crowded. I suggest not visiting in July or August. While Italy is busy all year round, those months are the absolute craziest.

In particular, beware of August 15th and the days around that date: it is a national holiday when most Italian companies close for one or two weeks. Thousands of Italians travel from the cities to the seaside, and even to the mountains and lakes, to escape the heat and enjoy their holidays. This means traffic, high prices, crowds. You may actually get to enjoy really hot, but relatively empty cities.

Fall and spring are a little less crowded, but the weather is also less predictable.Venice Itinerary 2 days

Personally, if you are totally flexible, I suggest visiting in April and May, or in September or early October. Of course, it depends where you want to visit and what you want to do, but this is generally a good rule.

If you enjoy winter sports, then you might want to consider December (it always gets busier around Christmas and New Years Eve), January, or even February. The skiing season usually ends around Easter, especially if it comes early in the year. Hotels, restaurants, and even shops in ski resorts may be closed during the spring and the fall.

TIPS ON WEATHER IN ITALY

If you are going to Italy in the winter, be aware that the temperatures can differ by as much as 20ºC (about 40ºF) from the north to the south. Furthermore, northern Italy is wetter than southern Italy; all the cities in the Pianura Padana plain, like Turin, Milan, Bologna, can have some snow and most definitely some fog. Venice in the winter feels really cold because of the humidity. In the south instead, like in Naples or in Sicily, the winter still feels somewhat like spring.

Milano Duomo, Lombardy itinerary
Milan in summer – hot, hot, hot and sticky

Summer is hot, but there is less weather variation, especially in the cities or on the coast. However, if you plan to travel to the mountains in the summer – for example, to the Dolomites or to Lake Garda – you will still need a jacket in the evenings.

Personally, I never enjoyed the summer times in Italy. July and August are really hot, sticky, and unpleasant – even in Northern Italy. I cannot even imagine how Southern Italy will be like at that time when the temperatures can stay above 30ºC (about 86ºF) even in the evenings!

For a beach vacation, June or September can still be fine. In June the seawater will still be somewhat chilly, while in September it will feel warmer after receiving months of the summer sun. Especially in southern Italy and in the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, it’s pleasant to swim even in early October.

TIPS FOR GETTING AROUND ITALY

Walking is big here, despite the cobblestone streets. After all, this is what you came here for! The medieval atmosphere in the small towns, the grand buildings in the large cities, the long promenades by the sea. The best way to enjoy Italy is by walking.

Limone sul Garda, ItalyWhile the Italians will still wear high heels while walking on these roads, I don’t recommend it. A lot of your Italy trip will require walking, especially in the city centers and old towns, so good shoes are necessary. My tip for your trip is to bring along stylish yet comfortable shoes that you can walk around in all day. You want to avoid thin soles (like ballerinas or sandals): you may feel like you’re in a movie, but your feet will make you regret that choice very quickly.

Tip: pack some plasters in your handbag, in case you get a blister.

TIPS FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN ITALY

One of the things you should know when visiting Italy is that public transportation is excellent. Okay, not everywhere in Italy but in many areas. It is reliable and a great way to get around – much better than in Germany.

The two main railway networks in Italy are Trenitalia and Italotreno; furthermore, there are small local companies that run on specific routes. If you want to travel by train on a longer route with the fast “Freccia” trains, consider booking in advance.

There are a lot of bus companies running up and down the country; in the highly touristic areas, extra lines are activated in the high season. A large and international bus company is FlixBus.

So, take advantage of the buses and trains to save money and the hassle of driving. Just make sure you get to the right station in the cities where there are multiple main stations (e.g. Venice Santa Lucia Train Station is really in Venice, while Venice Mestre Train Station is in the town of Mestre, the last city on the ground before the Venice lagoon).

Tip: If you buy a paper ticket, remember to validate your ticket BEFORE you get on a train, at the machines in the underground tunnels, or on the tracks. You must do this before riding, otherwise, the ticket inspector may fine you.

Driving in Italy

If you are visiting Italy and plan to drive, be aware that this can be a real challenge. You are often not allowed to drive in certain areas called ZTL (like city and town centers), even if your GPS sends you there. Unfortunately, the signs aren’t always super clear, or the areas are off-limits only on specific days or at specific times. If you do drive somewhere you shouldn’t, you will receive a fine at home. Not a nice souvenir of your trip to Italy.

Best places to visit in the Dolomites
Road mountains in the Dolomites

Driving can be fun in Italy, but it can also be a horrible experience. Parking is a pain. Gas is expensive. Traffic can slow you down significantly.

And just the act of driving in Italy can be frustrating and a little nerve-wracking. For instance, in the north, you have to contend with narrow mountain roads where people pass you at high speeds. Fender benders are not uncommon. In the summer, there are often road works, while in the winter the snow makes the roads even more narrow and dangerous.

Also, driving in Southern Italy can be challenging, as the locals seem to be following a different set of rules – I have only driven in Northern Italy, and believe me, that was time-wrecking at times.

Before you decide to road trip Italy, you should know that gas/petrol is costly, as well as parking. Also, there is a toll for many highways, which can get quite expensive. You pay around $8-10 for 100 km (prices vary a bit). You get a ticket when you access the highway (sometimes there are queues at the toll booths) and you pay your fee when you exit, by cash or card.

Of course, you can use toll-free roads, but those usually cross lots of towns, so it might take much longer to get to your destination.

These are all great reasons to use public transportation whenever you can. However, I will drive in Italy again because it is still worth it to me. I love the freedom that comes with driving, the possibility to stop when you want or need to (very useful when I travel with my dog), and the sceneries are just gorgeous.

Style/Fashion in Italy

Italians are the most beautiful people in the world… in my opinion.

They are incredibly fashionable, especially in northern and central Italy. Even if you think you are dressed up, you may still feel frumpy when standing next to an Italian. 

Before you pack for your trip to Italy, consider bringing some dressier clothes to fit in with the locals, especially if you plan dinners in nice restaurants or drinks in the evening. If you are looking to have a more casual holiday, this may not be the best location.

Skip the Lines in Italy

Italy is one of the busiest countries in the world when it comes to visitors and attractions – off-season or on. There are always lines and crowds, even under the sun or in the rain – as you can expect in such a beautiful and popular country. Because of this, skipping the line makes the most sense here.

Venice 2-day Itinerary , best places to see in a weekend
Lines in Venice

When I buy tickets in advance, I mostly use GetYourGuide. I love that I can cancel up to 24 hours without any costs if something else comes up. And if I want to avoid the lines… Just choose skip-the-line tickets for Venice, Rome, Florence. You will find most tours and tickets here.

With that said, Italians are not very reasonable or logical when it comes to queueing. They don’t really form a line when waiting for the train or the bus: they will all rush to the doors when they open. Be patient and try to follow the flow. Also, stay safe by keeping your valuables in closed pockets.

Electricity in Italy

Electricity in Italy is generally reliable throughout the country. In Italy, the standard voltage is 230 V – you can use your electric appliances if the standard voltage in your country is between 220 – 240 V, so you shouldn’t have any trouble plugging in your chargers and curling irons. 

Remember that if you are an American traveling to Italy, you will need to have an adapter since the voltage is different and could fry your electronics. Italy also has some two-pronged outlets (though they are mostly three-pronged these days), so to be on the safe side, buy the adapters with only two prongs.

In general, if you travel with lots of electronics that need charging every night, you may want to bring a multi-plug or power strip. Some hotels, especially old ones, may have just a couple of outlets in their rooms, and sometimes they are behind cabinets or far away from the bedside table.

Water in Italy

Water in Italy is free from the various drinking fountains found throughout the cities and towns.

This water is safe and delicious. To save money on your Italy trip, bring along a reusable water bottle to fill wherever you go.

In many restaurants, you can ask for a jar of tap water, which is usually free.

Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy

These two parts of Italy are significantly different, despite being part of the same country. But they are both charming in their own right.

Before you make your Italy itinerary, you should know that Italy’s northern part is renowned for its spectacular mountains and lakes. Southern Italy is famous for its luxurious beaches (and even better food). But each is stunning and worth visiting. Things to know before visiting ItalyFurthermore, art and history are present in all cities, from the Alps to the tip of Sicily. While you can certainly visit the most famous Italian cities like Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples, it is just as wonderful to choose a smaller area, in order to discover one major city and lots of hidden gems.

More contained areas are Florence and the medieval towns in Tuscany; Milan, Turin and the excellent vineyards; the marvelous coast from Naples to Capri; the clear sea waters in Puglia; or the Greek heritage sites in Sicily.

Here are my favorite places in Northern Italy – find out which places blew me away!

Siesta in Italy

If you’re planning your Italy vacation, make sure to account for the daily practice of siesta.

Italians take a siesta every day from 1 – 4 pm approximately. Many restaurants and shops, especially in small towns or in the south, may be closed during this time, so plan to either take a siesta yourself or pack a picnic to enjoy while you wait for things to open up again.

During the hot summer months, it’s very pleasant to relax at the hotel during these hours. It can be really exhausting to visit a city in such hot temperatures.

However, if you visit major cities like Milan, Florence, and Rome, most establishments are open all day long.

Public Restrooms in Italy

Another piece of important Italy travel info is to always have some change on you in Italy. The public restrooms here charge about 1 euro, so always have some cash on hand for when you need it.

Usually, you can access the restroom of a café or restaurant for free when you make a consumption. It is considered rude to walk in and make your way to the restroom without ordering anything.

Credit Cards / Cash in Italy

Speaking of money, an important thing to know when going to Italy is whether credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country, although American Express is less frequently taken than Visa and MasterCard. 

Now, cards in Italy are accepted often, but not always. Sometimes, shops or restaurants will refuse your card if you spend less than 5-10 euros; street food kiosks or establishments in remote places may not accept card payment altogether. For these reasons, I do suggest always having cash on you. It will save you a lot of trouble if you have cash on hand.

The currency in Italy is the euro. Before you travel, make sure you check the fees and commissions for withdrawing euros and for making purchases in euros with your card.

Religious Sites in Italy

Italians take religion very seriously (somehow). With the Vatican located within Rome, there is a heavy Catholic influence on the country and people. 
Churches to visit in Bergamo, ItalyWhen visiting religious sites and churches, make sure to show the proper respect by wearing appropriate clothing: cover your shoulders if you wear a tank top, and cover your legs if you wear shorts or a miniskirt. Keeping a scarf in your handbag may come in handy. Men should wear suitable clothing too.

Observe any rules and customs, and you will have a great time visiting these stunning cultural and historical sights.

Restaurants in Italy

Limone best activities
Limone sul Garda restaurant

Restaurants in Italy have many names. Of course, ristorante is a generic restaurant; a pizzeria is dedicated to pizza; an osteria and a trattoria are usually family-managed and offer traditional local food; a taverna will offer more wine than food.

When dining out at a restaurant in Italy, you will most likely encounter a fee called a “coperto”. This fee literally “covers” the cost of the tablecloth and napkins, plates and cutlery, and usually some bread.

It will depend on where you are dining, but usually, it is between 1 and 3 euros per person. If this is included on your bill, then you don’t need to leave a tip. Sometimes, a service fee is also charged.

The price of the “coperto” depends on where you are dining, but usually, it is between 1 and 3 euros per person. If this is included on your bill, then you don’t need to leave a tip – but the waiters will appreciate it if you leave a few coins or a small banknote on the table. Sometimes, a service fee is also charged.

When it comes to opening hours, restaurants in touristy areas will be open almost all day. The peak hour for Italians in the North is approximately 1 PM for lunch and 8 PM for dinner; in the South, it’s usually a bit later. Avoid the crowd by having lunch and dinner a little earlier than that.

If you behave particularly nicely, or if your total bill is particularly high, the waiters may decide to offer you some grappa or limoncello, the local liqueurs, as a goodbye drink.

Food in Italy

What more do you need to know about Italy? Well, about the food, of course! Vegetarian food in Italy-2There is a big difference between food in the north and the south of Italy.

The south has the healthier fare, which is more my kind of food. There is more emphasis on meats and cheeses in the north, so not vegetarian-friendly, let alone vegan-friendly. This is more of the stereotypical Italian food we see elsewhere. 

As for pizza, I have heard that it is best in Naples, located in Italy’s southern part. But I have had good pizza in the north, too. For your own safety, do not try to order pizza with pineapple!

Some people consider breakfast the most important meal of the day – but not in Italy. Breakfast is not a big deal here: Italians like their breakfast sweet, which usually means coffee and a croissant or a similar pastry. If you decide to have breakfast at the cute café around the corner from your flat, this is what you will find.

Even if you go to a restaurant (unless it is a big chain), you will only have a few small cakes and sweets for breakfast. Only hotels with international clients will offer something more, like eggs, ham, and vegetables. If this is very important for you, make sure you check before you book your accommodation.

Wine in Italy

Although I don’t drink, Italy is the perfect place to visit if you love wine. Wine tasting at Ruffinio Relais Tuscany estate

As the largest producer of wine globally, there are tons of vineyards for you to visit during your Italian holiday. Some of the best and oldest wines come out of Italy, especially reds. You are absolutely in wine heaven here.

Even without visiting vineyards, you can discover many unique wines during an aperitivo at a nice wine bar. After work and before dinner, from 6 or 7 pm, Italians like to enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with olives and snacks; in large towns, bars offer large buffets for aperitivo, at a fixed price. This is the perfect occasion to taste local wines and experience a very Italian tradition.

P.s. I recently stayed at a wine relais in Tuscanycheck out my review here.

Gelato in Italy

Bad gelato supposedly exists in Italy – but I have never had any. My Italy travel advice for you is to try this sweet and indulgent treat while you are exploring this fun and colorful country. 

A famous brand of gelato in Italy is Grom: they source very unique and local ingredients to make delicious gelato. Their gelateria, ice-cream parlors, are usually located in the centers of large towns.

Some traditional Italian gelato flavors that you should try are Sicily pistachio and Piedmont hazelnuts; each region boasts local ingredients and unusual combinations. 

If you are lactose-intolerant or vegan, you should still be able to taste fruit-based gelato, made with water instead of milk.

Coffee in Italy

Good news if you are a coffee drinker – Italians love coffee! It’s a ritual, just like aperitivo.

First of all, coffee is meant to be a quick stop. Many Italians take a short break from work, head to the closest café, order an espresso at the counter, drink it in 2 sips, and that’s it! An espresso is really small and energetic. Of course, you can also sit at a table and rest, but once during your trip to Italy, you should try this Italian coffee ritual.

Eat and drink your way through Italy

On the other hand, if you want to take a longer break, just order a longer coffee: a foamy cappuccino! Cappuccinos are rather cheap in Italy, about 1.50  to 2.50 euros. But it’s important to know that in Italy, they only drink it until 11 am. This is because it contains milk, and milk is considered a morning-only drink. They will look at you weird if you order a cappuccino after lunch.

So, my tip is to have a vegan cappuccino – have a plant-based drink alternative and you can still enjoy a great drink without being weirdly looked at.

Hotels and Accommodations in Italy

You should know before staying in Italy that many hotels charge a city tax. The fee is usually 1-3 euros for each room or a small percentage of the room price, on top of the hotel price. This city tax may not be included in the price of the room when you book, however. It is usually written in small letters, and it has to be paid at Reception instead of online.

Room at Ruffino Relais in Tuscany estate with Arzo Travels

Personally, I almost always book with Booking.com. I prefer them because they allow me to cancel last-minute, most of the time without penalty (yes, flexibility is crucial to me). Click here to check out prices via Booking here.

One very important thing to remember if you travel to Italy in the summer is to check if your accommodation has air conditioning. While it is very common right now to have air conditioning in hotel rooms, some historical buildings may not have it. If it’s very important to you, check in advance.

Another thing to coordinate if you plan to rent a car in Italy is to check the parking availability at your accommodation (and in the cities, you plan to visit). You don’t want to rent a giant SUV which won’t fit in the narrow alley leading to your cute hotel in a medieval town.

If you travel during the winter, 4×4 and snow tires are a must.

Hidden Gems in Italy

While Italy is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe (or probably worldwide), there are a few hidden gems that tourists do not overrun.

Where to go in Trento, Italy and what to do.
Beautiful Trento

One of them is Trento – another one is Bergamo, but no worries, there are many more places which are still underrated and less busy. Check out my favorite hidden gems here

Especially if you plan to visit very popular and crowded cities, consider taking a break with a day-trip or a night in a peaceful Italian town.

Traveling With a Dog in Italy

One of the best news for dog lovers is that Italy loves dogs, so my best Italy travel tips include this tip: Traveling with a dog in Italy is great – at least if you have a smaller dog.

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
Puppygal in Italy, Dolomites

First of all, Italians love dogs and show their affection. My dog is not always a fan of it (sometimes he is), but I am happy people react so friendly to my dog as a proud dog mommy.

Second, most hotels do not charge extra if you bring a dog. A big, big plus (unlike many other countries where you have to pay up to 20 or even 30€ A NIGHT for bringing your dog).

Third, you can bring your little dog even into some castles or museums – this might not always be the case, but at least quite many places allow it when you have your dog in a bag or if you carry him (this is not common in Switzerland or Germany, etc.). Also, most supermarkets and restaurants will allow small dogs in.

Usually, you can take your dog on boats and cable cars, but you need to bring a muzzle (even the smallest ones need a muzzle in closed places, but this is somehow understandable since the smallest are often the most dangerous).

Just like anywhere else, it is required to clean after your dog

Solo Female Travel in Italy

I have visited Italy many times – sometimes with friends but also with my parents. But I also often visit Italy solo (okay, my doggy is sometimes with me), and I love it. Yes, men are sometimes very flirty, but I never felt uncomfortable and harassed. 

Vineyeards from Ruffinio in Tuscany estate with Arzo Travels
Solo female travel in Italy


People are amiable (even the females, which is not the case in every country), and it is easy to have conversations with locals. There are a few aspects to keep in mind when traveling solo, but in general, I think Italy is a GOOD country for solo (female) travelers. 

READ MORE: 

Italy is an interesting and diverse country. There is so much to see, taste, and try here. Hopefully, this post has helped you learn what you’ll need to know before visiting Italy, offering valuable tourist tips and important information to make your trip the best it can be.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Things to Do in Kotor in One Day (or Longer)

Best things to do and see in Kotor, Montenegro. The best itinerary and the best places to visit

WHAT TO DO IN KOTOR – THINGS TO DO AND SEE

So, do you plan your Kotor trip and thus want to find out about the best things to do in Kotor in one day? Or do you plan on staying longer? Read on and find out how to spend one day in Kotor or even two days.

Situated in the southeastern part of the Bay of Kotor beneath Mount Lovcen, Kotor looks amazing!

Surrounded by limestone cliffs, it reminds me a bit of Norway – reason enough to fall in love. Then there are the impressive stone walls of this medieval fortress town that stretch high into the mountain itself, which you can hike and offer incredible views of the town and the surroundings.

It is no surprise that it is probably the most famous tourist destination in Montenegro. And since the town itself is small in size (with a population of only about 13,000 in total), it can get crowded in the busy months, especially from May to September.Church of Our Lady of Remedy with a dog

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR KOTOR ITINERARY

Before talking about the best things to do in Kotor, here are some quick travel tips for Kotor.

How to Get to Kotor

BY CAR: Kotor can easily be reached from within Montenegro, Dubrovnik, or Bosnia-Herzegovina by car. The scenic drive makes it actually fun to get to Kotor by car, and while streets in Montenegro are small and windy (the mountains are calling), the streets are still in good condition.

Some streets might be challenging for inexperienced mountain drivers, but you are okay to drive here in general.

The old town is car-free, but you can either park your car by the paid parking space in front of the city walls (where the cruise ships arrive/depart) for about 1€ an hour, or you can park farther away (about a 10-minute walk from the old town) for free.

BY PLANE: But you can also arrive by plane at Tivat, which is just a few kilometers away from Kotor. From there, you can take a bus to Kotor.

BY SHIP: Also, many people arrive at Kotor via cruise ship – the port is about 100m from the old town’s entrance gates. The visitors normally stay a few hours, and while it is enough for the main two of the best things to do in Kotor, I suggest staying a bit longer.Kotor view from above, one of the most beautiful places in Kotor

How to Get Around Kotor For One Day +

FOOT: The old town is car-free – and even if it were not, the old town is so small that you can easily walk from one end to the other within 10 minutes. So, within the old town, you will only walk. Also, getting up the city walls is only possible on foot (no cable car).

  • Tip: Even if it gets hot, wear comfortable shoes, especially if you hike up. But even in the old town, high heels are probably not a good choice.

CAR: Driving is actually the best way to get around outside the old town. But in Kotor itself, you will not need any car/taxi etc.

BY BOAT/PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION/TOURS: If you visit beautiful Perast, you can either take a bus, a boat, or drive to get there. More on that, later.Kotor old building is a must-see

1 Day in Kotor – Where to Stay 

While you can see the best of Kotor in one day, I actually suggest staying there for a night. I stayed in Kotor for three nights (because I wanted to make sure I had sunny weather so that I could enjoy it to the fullest).

For two nights, I stayed outside the city center and had a nice view of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea. One night, I stayed in the old town.

Both had advantages, but if you are in Kotor for only one night, pick a hotel in the old town. This way, you can explore the area when the day visitors have left (the cruise ships arrive around 7:15 am, so from 8 am on, it gets busy in the town). At night the fortress is lit up – so you can see the path in the dark, which makes Kotor at night looks very unique.

Here is one of the best-rated hotels in Kotor – check it out.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN KOTOR IN 1 DAY

Let´s start with the main attractions in Kotor.

Hike Up St. John´s Fortress / Castle of San Giovanni

Hiking up St. John´s Fortress is by far the best thing to do in Kotor. Whether you have a few hours, stay one day in Kotor, or longer, you should seriously consider hiking up to St. John´s Fortress. Kotor fortress from outside the old townLike other city walls, Kotor’s fortifications were built to protect the town from invaders, and in Kotor, the construction of the walls started in the 9th century. By the 14th century, a protective loop was completed.

Despite all the wars and natural disasters, the walls are well preserved, and it’s no surprise that they are one of Kotor’s highlights now. 

There are two ways to get up – none of them include a cable car or any convenient method, though, and both include uphill hiking

TRAIL 1: So, there is an official hiking trail that the tourism office recommends taking and promotes. Take the 1,300+ stairs to enjoy amazing views. 

  • When you can go up to the St. John´s Fortress, the official hours are from 8 am to 8 pm. If you start hiking between that time, you have to pay an entrance fee of 8€
  • If you start hiking up before 8 am, you do not have to pay the entrance fee.
  • The entrance is in the old town (there are entry points near the River Gate and behind Trg od Salate).
  • Hiking to the very top should take about 45 minutes – make sure to wear comfortable and solid footwear (no flip flops for this part of the day).
  • As this activity is the most popular, it can get busy after 10 am, so I really recommend getting up earlier to beat the crowds.
  • The route is very easy to follow and you will not get lost – even with bad orientation.

St. Johns Fortress in Kotor. Traveling in Kotor with a dog

TRAIL 2: There is another way to get up – known as the hiking trail of the Ladder of Kotor. You will have a different hiking path at the beginning but can later get to the main path. This path will take longer, but it includes fewer stairs – and there is no entrance fee at all. It is not illegal to use this way – but it isn’t the official hiking trail either.

  • This is the path I chose – traveling with a little dog did not leave me any other option (as dogs are not supposed to climb many stairs, which means I would have to carry him most of the time, so I figured the alternative route was the better option).
  • The second path starts outside of the old town and offers different views of the Bay of Kotor.
  • It is less busy, but solid footwear might be even more important here.
  • After 30-40 minutes of uphill hiking, you will see a big window (hole) that you have to climb through.
  • I was a bit scared, and I saw a middle-aged couple decide not to climb through the window, but it looked scarier than it was (however, I would feel uncomfortable doing it with little kids).
  • Once you climb through that window, you are on the official hiking path with all the other people.
  • There were comments that the window might be closed at times, but it was open at the time of my visit, so check before deciding on one route.
  • If you want to do more hiking, you could hike farther up and get back to the window later in the day. 
  • From there, you have amazing views of the Bay of Kotor (much better than those from the unofficial hiking trail). For the best view, however, keep climbing up for another 10-20 minutes until you reach the St. John´s Fortress.

Hiking path, Ladder of Kotor_

Kotor Bay hiking St. John´s Fortress is one of the main activities in Kotor

Once you are at the official trail, just keep going up for the best views. It just looks incredible on a clear day. The fortress itself is not well-maintained, but at least you can walk around freely there.

Some people sell drinks; however, I suggest bringing your own snacks and drinks and taking enough breaks to soak in the views and beauty!

So, when it is time to head back down, stop at the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which you can also visit.Kotor hike is one of the top things to do_

City walls in Kotor, Montenegro

This hike will probably take around 2-4 hours to climb the walls and get up to the fortress with breaks. 

P.S. If that sounds too strenuous: you do not have to climb up all the way for nice views. Even if you get up only halfway, you will have some amazing views!

Walk the City Walls

The city walls surround Kotor’s old town, and you can walk some of the walls for free. You hardly have to climb any stairs for those views. Kotor city wallsSo, if after coming back from St. John´s Fortress, look out for the rest of the city walk and go up there to have a closer look from above at many of the sights.

Then it is time to explore the old town.

Wander the streets of the Old Town

Kotor has a lovely old town, which is also one of the best-preserved medieval old towns in the Balkans. However, I am a bit spoiled when it comes to well-preserved old towns, and I was not blown away. I just liked Dubrovnik, Piran, or Mostar a bit better.Kotor city walls

Kotor old town, strolling the old town is the answer to what to do in KotorHowever, the town is small and cute, and strolling the streets is something you should not miss out on – even if you have only one day in Kotor.

For small towns, I do not have a strict itinerary but take the words “get lost” literally and wander around – sitting down here and there to have a coffee or lunch (and there are many restaurants and cafes in the old town of Kotor) and photographing the pretty houses and cute corners.Kotor church in MontenegroThere are some churches and other buildings that are worth a visit in the old town of Kotor: 

Places to visit within the old town of Kotor

  • Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral (Kotor Cathedral)
  • Saint Nicholas’ Church
  • Saint Luke’s Church
  • the Maritime Museum
  • and the Cat Museum

Do a Kotor Old Town Free City Tour

I did not do a (free) city tour in Kotor, which I kind of regret, as I love walking tours. And in Kotor, you have (almost free), daily walking tours (tip-based) offered by the Montenegro Hostel.The church in Kotor is one of the main landmarks

Church in Kotor. Old town is one of the best places to visit in one day

Building in the old town of Kotor

Local guides will tell you more about the history of Kotor and give you insights that you probably would not get via guidebooks (well, you might, but honestly, which of us is reading everything in our textbooks? I admit, I mostly get overviews and then learn about a place once I am there). The tours take about an hour, but you need a make a reservation a few hours before. Check out dates here – in the shoulder season one tour is offered, in the busy months around 2 or 3 tours a day.

Shop in Kotor

Being spoiled by the pretty shops in Mostar and Sarajevo, the shopping opportunities in Kotor seemed few. But some shops sell souvenirs and more things that might be interesting to many visitors. I tend to have a more minimalist lifestyle now and hardly shop – but I love to stroll around.

Shop in Kotor, Montenegro,

So, whether you window-shop or actually shop – Kotor is a good place for buying gifts and bits and bobs.

Visit Perast

Perast is a beautiful little coastal town and makes a wonderful (half) day trip from Kotor. You can get there via boat, bus (tickets are about 1.20€ one-way), or drive there yourself.Perast Montenegro is a good day trip from Kotor

Perast near KotorI must say, I liked Perast much more than Kotor itself. While you cannot really compare the two places because they are completely different, I still compare them.

Sitting down and having lunch in one of the restaurants at the bay – including some amazing views – was another highlight.

Perast is much smaller than Kotor, and you cannot do much – but it is so quaint and calm, yet still full of beauty, that you should come here – and not just to beat the crowds. Since there are no cruise ships, it is much quieter (and cheaper), even though quite a few people come from Kotor for a few hours.

To be honest, I would try to fit in Perast even with only 1 day in Kotor. However, if you do a cruise and have only a few hours in Kotor, it might be difficult to visit. Even with the visitors around, it had a different vibe than Kotor, and so I say that one of the best things to do in Kotor (in one day or so) is a trip to Perast.

Go on a Boat Trip to Our Lady of the Rocks

You can do this trip either from Kotor directly or from Perast. Our Lady of the Rocks s a cute, man-made little island in the Bay of Kotor. It is situated just in front of the village of Perast.

There is another island next to Our Lady of the Rocks – which is a natural island and the site of the Saint George Benedictine Monastery. Perast, Our Lady of the RocksThe best way to visit the island is by boat from Perast, which costs around 5€ round trip. The boats are just at the harbor of Perast and you can just book the ticket on the spot.

MORE THINGS TO DO IN KOTOR (2 DAYS)

If you stay in 2 days in Kotor, you should add the following beautiful places to your Kotor itinerary.

Drive Around the Bay of Kotor

If you have some more time and have your own car, I highly recommend driving around the Bay of Kotor. Sometimes, I hate nothing more than driving. Sometimes, I love nothing more than driving.Kotor Montenegro drive

Views from driving in Kotor, Montenegro

And driving around the Bay of Kotor is an amazing experience and actually one of the best things to do in Kotor.

Since I road-tripped Montenegro, I got around quite a lot. One of the most impressive drives was from Kotor (take P22 and then head to P1 towards Njegusi, and then to Cetinje – you can combine it with a trip to either Cetinje or the Lovcen National Park).

The streets are narrow, but overall, in excellent condition. Just drive slowly and plan in enough time for breaks (no tolls included here).

Stroll the Port

Back in Kotor, the port is quite cute. The Port of Kotor is tiny, and if you look at Kotor from above, you will notice it if you see the huge cruise ships that – so it seems – block the entire port because it is so small. Kotor Port with Arzo TravelsFrom May onwards, there is often at least one cruise ship stopping here – sometimes, it is even more than one ship. The port itself is cute for a nice walk. In the evening, when the Kotor walls are lit up, it is extremely charming to walk along the port and look at it from a distance.

CONCLUSION: BEST THINGS TO DO IN KOTOR IN ONE DAY

Kotor is a beautiful small town – it has not been my favorite place in Montenegro. However, it is still amazing after all, and with Kotor in one day should be planned in on every Montenegro itinerary.

I hope the pictures have convinced you to visit for more than just a few hours. While you could stay for much longer – and do many day trips – one day in Kotor will allow you to see the main sights and enjoy the stunning scenery.

With only one day in Kotor. I would make sure to visit Perast and hike up St. John´s Fortress and if then you have more time, then do a few of the other activities mentioned here.

Heading to Budva in Montenegro? Then check out my quick Budva guide, and if you plan to visit more places in Montenegro, you can check out my Montenegro guide.Safe Travels, Arzo

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