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Best Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland

WHAT TO DO IN ZERMATT – PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO IN 2022

Are you headed to Zermatt and wondering about the best things to do in Zermatt? Then this post is for you as it will help you plan your Zermatt itinerary.

Zermatt is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Switzerland, and while it is a perfect place to visit in winter in Switzerland, it is actually a great idea at any time of the year.

I have been to Zermatt a few times so far. However, I am neither a skiing person nor overly sporty, yet I enjoy time outdoors and being active – and as such a person I totally adore Zermatt.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This 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.

Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland, Arzo Travels

Best Places to Visit in Zermatt

Ready to find out about the best things to do in Zermatt in summer and the top places to visit? Here are my top recommendations.

Admire the Matterhorn

To say that Matterhorn Mountain plays an important role in/for Zermatt would be a slight understatement. I actually go as far as to say that Zermatt is all (or almost all) about the Matterhorn.

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

The majestic Matterhorn straddles the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy. With 4,478 meters high is it one of the tallest mountains in Switzerland and it is mostly admired for its unique shape. 

And whether you visit a restaurant, a mountain peak, a hike, or a hotel – it all comes back to the Matterhorn. Rooms with a Matterhorn view are more expensive, bars and restaurants with a Matterhorn view are more crowded! Hikes and mountain peaks with fantastic views of the Matterhorn are the most popular ones.

But no worries, the Matterhorn is so omnipresent you can see it from many places in Zermatt. Among all the mountains in Switzerland, this is truly a very unique one!

Switzerland 10 day itinerary

MATTERHORN FUN FACTS

  • Matterhorn is the German name – in Italian it is Cervino and in French, it is known as the Mont Cervin.
  • Annually, 3000 people climb the Matterhorn successfully.
  • In 1892 the Swiss Federal Assembly approved a proposal for cable car access – but after more than 68,000 people signed a petition against a cable car, the construction was prevented.
  • Want to hike the Matterhorn yourself? Then you should be experienced in rock climbing and alpine hikes – let´s put it like that: most of us are probably not going to climb/hike the Matterhorn! But there are some fantastic hikes that offer great views of the Matterhorn.
  • Check out my dedicated post on the Matterhorn.

Stroll Zermatt Town

If you use this post as a Zermatt itinerary, I suggest starting with the town center which starts just left from the train station. Zermatt old town with Arzo TravelsOne of the first things I noticed in Zermatt: many tourists, many flower pots, and many ads and shops for luxury watches. Flower pots, flower pots, and flower pots make Zermatt pretty pretty pretty. Strolling the town center is one of the top things to do in Zermatt. The houses are so charming and the scenery makes everything more beautiful.

As in all parts of Switzerland, water fountains provide fresh drinking water. So bring your bottle and refill it with try fresh water. 

Walk Along the Matter Vispa River

From the old town, it is not very far from the lovely Matter Vispa River. The Vispa is a river in the canton of Valais with a length of 84 kilometers (52 miles). Best cities to visit in SwitzerlandI really liked the Vispa River with its quite strong current and unusual gray/white color (glacier water). You cannot miss it, and though this is not one of the typical Zermatt tourist attractions, I still enjoyed my walk along the river. There are many cafes and restaurants along the river where you can sit down and relax – or you bring your own snacks and sit on a bench and enjoy these impressive Matterhorn views.

Head to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – Klein Matterhorn

Let´s visit a mountain peak (of course, with great views of the Matterhorn). Since visiting Matterhorn itself is almost impossible for most of us, here is a great alternative: Klein Matterhorn also known as the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

While Zermatt is about 1,600 meters above sea level, Klein Matterhorn is almost about 4,000 meters high and has the highest cable car station in Europe.

Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock
Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock

It comes with amazing 360° views of other peaks & glaciers! HOWEVER, I was warned before that the altitude might cause some problems but I did not take it seriously. You have to change cable cars/gondolas a couple of times, and it takes about 30 minutes to the top. It might sound long, but it is actually very fast to get up so high. I recommend getting out at one of those stops and taking a break for half an hour or so, so you are not up that fast – and drink a lot of plain water. Then it should be even more fun because you are less likely to feel sick.

You could start by visiting the highest viewing platforms in the Alps. The panorama view allows you to take in all the 38 mountain peaks towering over 4,000 meters. If you are lucky and the view is very clear, you can even see the Mont Blanc (I was not so lucky).

At the top is a restaurant and shop as well as a little cinema loungeshows videos about the Matterhorn and the Alps – quite interesting to learn more about it! The Glacier Palace, which is close to the restaurant, is another main attraction. It is a kind of museum, inside of a glacier, with ice crystals and ice sculptures.

Glacier Palace Matterhorn @shutterstock
Glacier Palace Matterhorn @shutterstock

There is also a snow sports area (open all year). If you have a ticket, the snow tubing is free of charge. I would have loved to do that but I was there with my little puppy and didn’t know where to “park“ him.

Though I didn’t feel 100% well, it was definitely worth getting up the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. Even if you are used to beautiful mountain views, I am sure this trip will amaze you.

  • TIP: Check out the opening hours, because certain activities/places close quite early, e.g. Glacier Palace.

HOW TO GET TO KLEIN MATTERHORN:

  • There are no hiking trails, so you can only get there via cable cars.
  • The cable car station in Zermatt is easy to find – head towards Furi cable car station and start your first part of the trip there. Then you have to change cable cars a few times but it is quite straightforward.
  • It takes about 30-40 minutes to get to the top (without stops).

Get up Gornergrat

Gornergrat is another beautiful mountain standing at about 3135 meters above sea level (almost 900 meters lower than Klein Matterhorn) with no less stunning views. The “opening hours” are longer than on Klein Matterhorn, so if you start your day later or very early, this might be an alternative.

Places to visit in Zermatt - points of interest in Zermatt Gornergrat
Getting up Gornergrat Mountain in Zermatt @shutterstuck

I got up the Gornergrat by the cogwheel (it just takes 30 minutes) and then hiked down all the way to Zermatt. Up Gornergrat the views of the surrounding mountains and a glacier were breathtaking. Luckily, the sky was clear (unlike when I visited Klein Matterhorn) which allowed me to enjoy this day trip even more. You can see the highest mountain in Switzerland – Mount Rosa (also known as the Dufourspitze) which stands at 4634 meters above sea level.View from Gornergrat with Monte Rosa in Zermatt
Grand Tour Gornergrat in ZermattTIP: No worries, I could not name all the mountains myself. There are telescopes (free to use) that also give you all the names of the mountains you can see.

Just in June 2021, a new attraction opened at Gornergrat – Zooom the Matterhorn. It is an interactive museum with virtual activities like paragliding. Virtual paragliding in Zermatt was really, really great. It is just a short experience (3 minutes) but good enough for me.

  • All tickets in 2022 which have the Gornergrat as their start or end station include admission to the Zooom exhibition.
  • If you want to visit Zooom the Matterhorn with a dog, you will need to put him/her in a bag.

HIKING AT GORNERGRAT

Even if you are not into hiking, I highly recommend the short hiking loop at the top of Gornergrat. It takes about 20-30 minutes and you have superb views already. Additionally, you can also hike down. It takes several hours and it is a quite steep hike – but it is worth it. 

I hiked down – all the way to Zermatt. Amongst others, you will pass Lake Riffelsee. It is a small, yet beautiful lake that – on clear days without wind – has the reflection of the Matterhorn.

Riffelsee in Zermatt with MatterhornMy initial plan was to hike to the Gorner Gorge (which “lies” on the way to Zermatt) but it was closed already. Either way, hiking in and around Gornergrat is a good way to see more of the stunning nature in Zermatt.

It was a steep downhill hike and not knee-friendly. I still recommend it, if you are a fit person. It took me about 5-6 hours, but apparently, it will only take 3-4 hours for some more sporty people.

Visit Gorner Gorge

Another place to visit in Zermatt is Gorner Gorge. The rock – greenish serpentinite – is an astonishing 220 million years old . You do not actually have to visit the gorge and pay the entrance fee – you will see quite a bit already by just hiking down from Gornergrat. And it looks stunning!

Gorner Gorge a must see place in summer in Zermatt

If you hike down from Gornergrat, then you can add it to your itinerary, as it is “on your way” to Zermatt town. Some parts are open 24/7 and then you can also go inside the gorge.

  • Gorner Gorge is closed during winter times, making it the perfect Zermatt summer activity.
  • Entry is only about CHF 5 (bring cash).

You can do the above-mentioned activities in 2 days in Zermatt. However, of course, there is much more to do in Zermatt. If you stay longer than 2 days in Zermatt, especially in the summer months, you can spend weeks outdoors exploring the area without getting bored.

Shred the Slopes with Summer Skiing

Okay, you may think of winter in Zermatt as the only time you can ski. But opportunities for skiing in the Alps are year-round.

Zermatt is one best ski resorts in Switzerland
@shutterstock

Zermatt has the largest ski area you can find in the world – it’s also the highest altitude, so fresh snowfall is common, even in the summer months.

You can summer ski at Klein Matterhorn – here you can enjoy snow sports along 21 km of pistes. Go skiing in the early morning, when conditions are at their best. You can then spend the rest of the day indulging in some summer sun and enjoying a few of the other summer activities on this list.

Summer skiing here is closed at noon so that the snow stays fresh during the hottest part of the day. It’ll be ready for you again in the morning.

Go Hiking Along the Mountain Trails – 5-Lake Walk

Hiking is certainly one of the best things to do in Zermatt. The town is surrounded by incredible mountains, including the – here we go again – iconic Matterhorn. There are over 400 km of hiking trails to explore so you can spend days or even weeks doing just that. 

You can easily embark on a hiking trip on your own or hire a guide for a more informative and directional hiking tour. There’s hiking for all ages and fitness levels, and you’ll always have majestic views and lush surroundings.  You may even spot some of the local wildlife.

The most popular hike is probably the 5-lake hike. As the name suggests, you will see 5 lakes during the hike and it is pretty nice.

I have done two hikes in Zermatt – hiking down from Gornergrat to Zermatt and the 5-lake walk. Both hikes are labeled as “intermediate” – they include a lot of steep downhill or uphill hiking. I got up both times via cable car/cogwheel and then headed down. If you do it the other way around, it includes a lot of uphill hiking.

5-LAKE WALK

The lakes you see during this popular hike are Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Leisee, and Moosjisee- more on the first one later. You can swim in a couple of lakes, which makes the hike a popular activity for families (even though it is not the easiest hike out there).

I suggest getting up with a cable car/funicular to Sunnegga first, and then changing the cable car to Blauherd mountain peak and starting your hike there.

It is a steep hike but doable – not all lakes were stunning. It was a bit too cold to swim when I visited but on a hot day swimming in the lakes could be a fantastic activity.

5 Lake Hike in Zermatt with Arzo Travels
Moosjisee – Puppygak

My two favorite lakes were Stellisee and Moosjisee. The first lake is impressive because you can see the reflection of the Matterhorn (on clear and windless days) and the last – artificial – lake has just an incredible watercolor and you have the Matterhorn in the background.

Head Out on a Mountain Biking Adventure

If you prefer mountain biking, no worries. Zermatt offers plenty of that, too, with over 220 km of signposted trails specifically geared towards cyclists. Zermatt has something for everyone, with a diverse collection of tracks and trails. 

Whether you’re an advanced cyclist looking for challenging technical trails, or just interested in exploring the mountainous area at a comfortable pace – Zermatt is the perfect place to enjoy a mountain biking adventure. Mountain Biking in Zermatt

Getting up by cable cars means that even short rides can start high in the mountains, surrounded by exquisite views. You can also explore further on a multi-day trip, going deep into the mountains. I am no expert, so I leave it here.

TIP: If you do not have your own bike with you, do not worry. There are a couple of bike rentals in Zermatt. Rent a bicycle and head out on a ride.

Try Rock Climbing in the Alpen Mountains

As mentioned, I am not to sportiest person out there, and climbing sounds like a lot of effort. However, Zermatt really is the perfect place for adventure sports and one of the best things to do during the summer months is rock climbing.

If you know what you’re doing, you can spend days on multi-pitch climbs with phenomenal views and nearly untouched locations. There’s also sport climbing available for the uninitiated to the highly skilled. It all depends on the kind of challenge you’re looking for.

Keep in mind: You need to be relatively fit. And you shouldn’t try if you have a serious fear of heights. Because you certainly will be high up.

TIP: You can also get some practice in at the indoor climbing wall before setting off for the mountains.

Have a Barbeque / Picnic at a Park

Zermatt has some truly lovely parks, which come to life in summer. The Attermenzen campsite and Schweigmatten are both fantastic places to set up a wood fire. 

Surrounded by Zermatt’s iconic wilderness, with the river running alongside, barbequing at the Attermenzen campsite is a wonderful way to spend a summer’s day. You can get all your favorite foods on the fire and relax with a good book – or with family and friends.

With all the adventure and activity of your summer vacation in Zermatt, a little chill time is always welcome. Of course, a picnic in the park is also a great option, particularly if you have less time to spare. You’ll find tables and benches at the parks, as well as wood for burning if you want it.

Go Flying Through the Trees at Forest Fun Park

Another fun attraction is the Forest Fun Park. It’s perfect for families with kids, but solo travelers will also find it a great deal of fun.  There are five different rope courses for beginners to experienced visitors. All of them take you through the trees, testing your balance and whizzing you along zip lines. It’s a very unusual experience and one that really gets the blood pumping. 

Expect to spend about three hours in the treetops. You can really challenge yourself with one of the harder courses, or take it easy with the green course. 

Relax at Schalisee Lake

I talked about the lake before when I described the 5-lake hike. The Schalisee is an idyllic lake lying in Nikolai Valley, surrounded by mountain peaks. Its waters are the perfect place to swim for the brave. Even in summer, swimming in Alpine lakes will leave you with a chill till you thaw in the sun. Lake with Matterhorn in background arzo TravelsHave a picnic along the lake’s edge, and catch a tan. You can leave it at this, enjoying some laid-back summer fun.

See the Matterhorn From a Sightseeing Flight

The Matterhorn is one of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world, covered in snow and surrounded but the majestic Alps. If ever you’re going to explore somewhere by flight, this is it. At least, it is on my own Zermatt Bucket List.

A helicopter flight is definitely pricey – but if you do have the spare cash to splurge on your Zermatt trip, you’ll certainly land with no regrets. You can see it all in just a 20-minute flight, but they range from 20 to 60 minutes, depending on just how much you want to see.

Travel Information for Your Zermatt Itinerary

Here are some important travel tips for your trip.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you use public transportation in Switzerland, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass.

  • It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
  • You can also do boat cruises without additional costs. There are no lakes in Zermatt to cruise but if you create a Switzerland itinerary, and visit more places, then you might enjoy those boat cruises.
  • It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price). You can use it for all the mountain rides mentioned here in Zermatt. 
  • Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

The prices are quite high. But I have bought them myself, and it pays off if you get around via public transportation and are active. If you just plan to visit other places and stay in Switzerland for more than 3-4 days it most likely will make sense financially. 

So, check out prices for train rides and mountain excursions and then calculate if it is a good option for you. For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/ mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). 

How to Get to Zermatt

  • If you plan a Switzerland road trip, you should know that Zermatt is a car-free town.
  • So you have to leave your car in Taesch, a little village close to Zermatt. There is a big covered big car park, which charges about 13€ for 24 hours of parking.
  • From there you have to take a train that brings you up to Zermatt. With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can get up for free. Without a Swiss Travel Pass, you pay around 15€ for a return ticket.
  • You could also hike up or cycle – the distance is about 7 km, and it is not flat but probably great if you want to start with some hike.

How to Get Around Zermatt

Since Zermatt is a car-free town, there are not many choices for the means of transportation. However, there are cars in Zermatt – but they are electric. Actually, it is full of taxis, shuttle buses, and regular buses. So, do not be surprised to see it full of little cars.

  • Regular buses – there are several stops through the town. Just hop on any bus at one of the few stations. I had a Swiss Travel Pass, so I could use them for free (I only used them once after the hike). Apparently, you can use them for free if you have other cards as well, but please double-check before.
  • There are also taxis – they are also electric and quite small.
  • As Zermatt is geographically not so big, you can easily walk to many places or use a bike. If you are not an experienced hiker, check out my guide with hiking tips in Switzerland.

Where to Stay in Zermatt

Zermatt is known for being an extremely luxurious destination (even by Switzerland standards). There are no real budget hotels (if you like to find out about my best tips on saving money in Switzerland, click here).

  • Luxury: This luxury hotel in Zermatt knows how to spoil its guests, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof
  • Mid-rangeHere is an idea for mid-range hotels in Zermatt: Sunstar Style Hotel. I stayed at this one. 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 the Matterhorn. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend booking a hotel room with a view of the Matterhorn even though it might be more expensive.
  • Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

  • Tips for (solo) female travelers: Zermatt felt so extremely safe and I cannot recommend it enough to travel alone. The altitude caused more problems than being a solo traveler. 
  • Exercise common sense and keep your belongings to yourself.
  • Do not drink too much – even though Switzerland is a safe country, it is always safer to not drink (much) when you travel solo.

What to Pack for Zermatt

If you visit Zermatt, check out my packing guide, where you will find out what to pack for your Switzerland trip

And if you visit in the winter, the winter packing guide might be super helpful for you.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN ZERMATT

Zermatt is a must-see place that should be on any Switzerland itinerary. I loved every second of my trip, and even though I haven’t managed to do all the above-mentioned activities myself (especially the helicopter ride is a big dream of mine), I believe these are the best things to do in Zermatt.

If you have only 2 days in Zermatt, you clearly cannot do all, but still, you can fit in a lot.

I hope you have gotten some travel inspiration and added some of these attractions to your Zermatt itinerary.

Here are more travel tips for Switzerland:

Safe Travels, Arzo

HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC 10-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Switzerland 10 day itinerary

WHAT TO DO IN SWITZERLAND IN 10 DAYS (OR UP TO 21 DAYS)

Are you looking for an exciting 10-day Switzerland itinerary? Then read on because you will find many travel tips on how to spend 10 days in Switzerland (and up to 14 and 21 days).

While some people might believe that ten days in Switzerland is probably too much time, I think 10 days is the minimum amount of time to spend in this small yet amazingly beautiful country. There is so much to do and see that I leave heartbroken every single time, even though I road- and train-trip Switzerland for a whole six weeks each year. 

Here is what to see in Switzerland in 10 days plus find out how to get around, where to stay, and more important information that you will need to have a wonderful time. It feels like the days are over in a heartbeat, so it is important to make the best of your trip and see as much as possible.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This 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.

10 days in Switzerland itinerary, Arzo Travels

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 10-DAY ITINERARY

In this 10-day Switzerland itinerary, you will find out:

  • Where to stay in Switzerland for 10 days
  • How to get to Switzerland
  • How to get around Switzerland in ten days
  • More travel tips for your trip to Switzerland
  • Places to visit and things to do in 10 days (or up to 14 or 21 days)

Where to Stay in Switzerland For 10 Days

If you stay in Switzerland for 10 days, I suggest changing hotels about 3-4 times so you can stay in one place for 1-3 nights and do day trips from there before continuing your trip. If you choose only a base for 10 days, it will mean that you have long travel times because the places mentioned here are quite spread out.  Since I mention many destinations on this itinerary (that you will probably not be able to do all), you can choose the places you want to visit and book your hotel there. You will find hotel recommendations further below.

How to Get to Switzerland

You can arrive in Switzerland via plane, car, and train.

PLANE

  • Switzerland has several international airports. If you arrive via plane, you will most likely arrive in Zurich, so I only focus on that airport. If you arrive in Zurich, you can easily take a train and get to Zurich city center by train. Trains run frequently, and there is no need to book train tickets in advance. You will not need an expensive shuttle or taxi.

TRAIN

  • If you come from neighboring countries like Austria, Germany, Italy, or France, you might arrive via train. Switzerland is “train heaven,” and there are many great train stations all around Switzerland. The train centers are normally in city centers, so it is quite convenient to get to Switzerland via train. 

CAR

  • If you arrive in Switzerland in your own car, it normally goes smoothly. It probably depends on the country you are traveling from, but I – with a German license plate – have never been really checked and was just waved through border control.  
  • I suggest buying a toll sticker before border control. This will last for 1 year and costs around 40€. There are petrol stations at the border where you can buy one.

10 Days in Switzerland – How to Get Around

There are several amazing ways to get around in Switzerland, and here is what I recommend for 10 days in Switzerland.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Public transportation in Switzerland is convenient, reliable, on time, clean, and safe. It is only available to non-Swiss – but for most visitors from abroad, it is perfect for getting around. Trail travel in Switzerland is just fun – like really, really fun. Here, the journey is the reward. I highly recommend a Swiss Travel Pass if you plan to use public transportation.

Review Swiss Travel Pass

  • A Swiss Travel Pass is not cheap.
  • However, it allows you to use buses and trains without any extra costs.
  • Also, you can do boat cruises on all the lakes mentioned here for free.
  • There are also a few mountain excursions (cogwheel/cable car) included in the Swiss Travel Pass, e.g. Mount Rigi.
  • Also, you get up to a 50% discount on many mountain trips (some are even free with this pass).
  • You also have free access to many museums.

I buy my Swiss Travel Passes via GetYourGuide because of the much better cancellation policy. 

  • There are several Swiss Travel Passes available. You can choose between passes for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days. An 8-day pass – flexible – might be the best option. The flexible pass allows you to use the pass for 8 days within 30 days. So, for the days, where you will use little public transportation, you could get single tickets if you have to use public transportation. If you plan to use public transportation/boats/visit museums etc. on all 10 days, then you can also get a 15-day pass. Check out the Swiss Travel Pass – for consecutive days – prices here.

DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND

  • Driving in Switzerland is fun and safe. It is quite challenging driving in the Swiss mountains, though.  While I totally enjoy driving there, I hate not admiring the scenery as much as I would love to.
  • Just stick to the speed limit (they take it very seriously there).
  • Have change for parking (which can be extremely pricey, and finding good spots in the city centers is a challenge).
  • Follow these tips, and you will have the most beautiful road trip in Europe. Find out about road tripping in Switzerland.

Apart from driving or trail riding, there are more ways to get around though you probably will not be able to avoid driving/public transportation completely.

WALKING/HIKING

  • Switzerland is made for nice strolls and amazing hikes. Find my post with hiking tips here.
  • Bring comfortable shoes – the city centers often have cobbled-stone streets.
  • And for hiking, bring proper hiking boots.

BOATS

  • I am slightly obsessed with boat cruises in Switzerland – and you should do at least one boat cruise with 10 days in Switzerland.
  • However, they are not the perfect way to get around because they are lake boat cruises.
  • So, there are only stops along the lake shores, and you will not get very far via boat.
  • Most boat cruises are included in the Swiss Travel Pass.

CABLE CARS / FUNICULARS

  • If you want to get on mountain peaks, cable cars and funiculars are a good way.
  • Switzerland caters to non-hikers as well as hikers. You can get on most mountain peaks without much effort.
  • However, the tickets for cable cars/funiculars are quite expensive. A Swiss Travel Pass will often save you 50% on the ticket prices, though some mountain peaks are completely free with a pass.

Visa Regulations for Switzerland

Switzerland is not part of the European Union, but people from the European Union do not need a visa as it is part of the Schengen Agreement. If you are coming from elsewhere, please check visa regulations.

Money / Credit Cards

  • The currency is the Swiss Franc. Most Swiss shops accept payment in euros (and some also in dollars). I would still change money and have some Swiss francs with me as it gets more expensive if you pay euros. 
  • Also, you can often pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores. I have come across smaller shops – especially in lesser-busy areas or restaurants – where only cash payment is accepted.
  • Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.

Languages in Switzerland

There are four official languages in Switzerland: German, French, Italian, and Roman (a minor language). German is spoken by most people (more than 60 %). Most of the places mentioned here are also located within the German-speaking part but it will also take you to the French and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland.

EPIC THINGS TO DO IN 10 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

This 10-day Switzerland itinerary is different from most others. Here you will find many different activities and a timeframe. So, there are activities for 14-21 days, and you just pick those places that are the most appealing to you. This way, you can create your own 10 days in Switzerland itinerary.

Rhine Falls – 0,5 Days

If you fly into Zurich (or arrive in Zurich via train/bus), head to the Rhine Falls first.

The biggest waterfall in Europe is about an hour’s drive (or train ride) from Zurich near the German border. It is a great experience to get so close to this powerful waterfall.  

Rhine Falls Switzerland Best places to see in SwitzerlandTHINGS TO DO AT RHINE FALLS:

  • Do a boat tour and get close to the waterfalls
  • See the waterfalls from the platform
  • See the castle at Rhine Falls
  • Walk/hike around the waterfalls

Whether you get to the platform or do a boat ride, the waterfall is one of the best places to see if you have 10 -14 days in Switzerland. Here is a more detailed Rhine Falls guide with info on prices, opening hours, and more.

Stein am Rhine – 0,5 Day

Stein am Rhine is one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland. It is located very close to the Rhine Falls and thus could be easily combined. Places to visit in Switzerland

The facades are some of the most stunning you will see. It looks like an unreal place, and it is hard to believe the houses are several centuries old. Stein am Rhein is really small and so a few hours here should be fine.

THINGS TO DO IN STEIN AM RHEIN

  • Admire the stunning buildings – there are not many but the ones you will find are unique. Especially around Town Hall square.
  • Stroll the Rhine River and if you have time, book yourself a Rhine River cruise
  • Enjoy the views from Hohenklingen Castle (promise, they are amazing) – either hike up (40 minutes) or get up via car. 
  • Find out more about Stein am Rhein here.

Zurich – 1 Day

After visiting Rhine Falls and Stein am Rhein (which probably takes 6-10 hours total), head back to Zurich. It is the biggest city in the country and a fun place to visit. 
Things to see in Zurich Switzerland - visit cafes

THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH

  • Explore the Bahnhofstrasse (the most expensive street in the world). Though it does not look spectacular, this street beats 5th Avenue when it comes to rental prices. And since its convenient location is close to Lake Zurich and the Old Town, you should not skip it when visiting Switzerland.
  • Stroll the old town with the narrow streets and old and colorful buildings.
  • You can also visit the Uetliberg and enjoy some more nice views from there. In Switzerland, most towns/cities have their own house mountain and this one is Zurich´s house mountain
  • If you want to be more active, rent a bike for free and explore Zurich by bike.
  • Relax at Lake Zurich and take it easy for the last few hours. There are many fine-dining restaurants around the lake and supermarkets if you prefer getting food/snacks for a picnic at the lake.
  • As a boat tour lover, I, of course, recommend a boat tour on Lake Zurich. 
  • Personally, I think that there is no better way to end a day in Zurich than at Lake Zurich. Especially on a summer day, when the street musicians are playing lovely music, and people just gather around the lake – Zurich gives you the best summer feeling! The atmosphere is way more relaxed than in other parts of Switzerland, it feels like people are open-minded here, and you´ll see locals and tourists alike enjoying the natural beauty that surrounds Zurich.
  • I could name many more things to do in Zurich (click here for more top things to do in Zurich), but I will leave it here.

With 10 days in Switzerland, you should be able to spend 1 full day in Zurich before continuing your trip.

WHERE TO STAY 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.
  • This 4-star hotel is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. I once stayed at this hostel in the heart of Zurich, and it is a good choice if you are on a budget or want to meet other travelers. 

Ebenalp Mountain and Appenzell – 1 Day

If you are interested in seeing the world-famous cliff mountain guest house, “The Ascher,” plan a trip to Appenzellerland. It is quite easily reachable by car or train from Zurich (about 1,5/2 hours by car or train). Head to the “Wasserauen” Station and from there either hike up or take a cable car. unique things to do in Switzerland Aescher Guest House

THINGS TO DO IN EBENALP MOUNTAIN

  • Hike up to the Aescher (or take the cable car) and have a drink or lunch at the mountain guesthouse
  • See the Wildkirchli Caves and learn about the history
  • Hike down to the pretty Lake Seealpsee

Depending on whether you hike or take the cable car, it takes something like 2-6 hours. Check out my detailed guide on how to see the Aescher with more tips for Appenzellerland.

Once back in the valley, you can head back to the hotel or explore the cute and colorful town of Appenzell, which is just a few minutes´ drive away. Best Switzerland destinationsAppenzell is quite small, so you do not need much time to explore it. You can end your day in this colorful village and stay in one of the town center hotels before continuing your journey. 

W HERE TO STAY IN APPENZELL

Valle Verzasca – 1 Day

After Appenzell, it is time to explore some of Switzerland’s Italian-speaking parts – more precisely Locarno. If you are on the hunt for more natural wonders, it is time to visit this unique place…Valle Verzasca. This place is an absolute dream and one of the best places to visit in 10 days in Switzerland. Where to go in Switzerland on holidays

The water is so green, clear, and inviting that it makes you want to jump in. Or probably not, because the water is really cold. 

  • Whether you hop in or not (I have never done it), you will be in awe. Mother Nature knows how to create true beauty!
  • The Lavertezzo Bridge makes this place even more unique.
  • If you have time, go up all the way – by car or bus – to Sonogno which lies at the end of the valley and is an incredibly cute town with a nice waterfall.
  • There are some beautiful places to hike around.

Getting there from Appenzell is rather time-consuming. But, believe me, it is worth it. It is completely different than any other place in Switzerland. 

WHERE TO STAY IN LOCARNO

For a trip to Valle Verzasca, I recommend staying in/near 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.
  • I did not stay at Hotel Garni Muralto, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range. Check out prices here.

Zermatt or Montreux – 1,5 Days

Okay, this is hard! While I recommend visiting both places, Zermatt and Montreux, it takes some time to get from Valle Verzasca to Montreux and also to get from Valle Verzasca to Zermatt.

While the distance is not that far, driving in this area is tricky (with loads of mountain tunnels and traffic). Ideally, you would visit both places. But realistically, you may only be able to visit one place. So, if you opt for one place, you should plan in about 1,5 to 2 days (including travel time).

Zermatt (1,5 Days)

Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful towns, With its world-famous house mountain, the uniquely-shaped Matterhorn, it is a great place to visit throughout the year. 

Riffelsee in Zermatt with Matterhorn
Since Zermatt is car-free, you have to leave your car in Taesch and take the train up. In Zermatt itself, you´ll find some electric cars (as well as taxis and buses), but it is so tiny that you can easily make your way around on foot.

THINGS TO DO IN ZERMATT:

  • If you decide to visit Zermatt, make sure to get on Matterhorn Glacier for the amazing views. Just be aware that you might suffer from altitude sickness, as getting up to more than 3000 meters can be a shock to the system.
  • Or get up Gornergrat summit and then hike down and see some of the lakes – with a reflection of the Matterhorn – getting back to Zermatt.
  • End your day with a stroll along the beautiful Vista River and a stop in one of the numerous cafes or restaurants. 
  • Here is my post on more fun things to do in Zermatt.

The only downside to Zermatt is that it is quite remote. Getting there is time-consuming (though the train ride is an experience for itself), which makes me hesitant to recommend it with 10 days in Switzerland if you want to visit as many places as possible.

WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT:

Montreux

Lake Geneva is a magnificent giant lake in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Montreux is a tiny town located on the shores of this special lake. A boat tour on Lake Geneva - Things to do in Montreal - a boat tour on Lake GenevaWhile Geneva is probably the first city that comes to your mind when visiting this area, I actually recommend skipping Geneva if you stay in Switzerland for 10 days only. Geneva is great, do not get me wrong, but it is located in the southwestern part of Switzerland. Getting there takes time! So unless you really want to visit Geneva, I recommend visiting Montreux because it is located on the northern shores of Lake Geneva and thus much closer to other places mentioned here.

Montreux is beautiful! It seriously is! It is small, so walking around does not take much time. But with the most beautiful promenade in Switzerland and Chateau de Chillon, Montreux does not have to shy away from any comparison. 

THINGS TO DO IN MONTREUX:

  • Visit Chateau de Chillon
  • Spend time in/on/at Lake Geneva
  • See the Freddie Mercury Statue 
  • Stroll the beautiful Montreux promenade
  • Check out my more detailed guide on Montreux

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREUX:

If you are happy enough to stay in Switzerland for two weeks, I surely suggest visiting both towns – Zermatt and Montreux. If both towns are appealing to you, then you might have to skip a few other places mentioned here.

  • TIP: If you travel by train, always ask for the most scenic routes — train riding in Switzerland is an experience by itself.

INTERLAKEN AND JUNGFRAU REGION

The Jungfrau/Interlaken regions are like heaven on Earth, and you would miss out if you did not visit here!  There is so much to do, so make sure to book at least two nights in this region if you stay 10 days in Switzerland. Located in the Bernese Oberland canton, it is also home to Bern but for now, let´s focus on Interlaken and the Jungfrau region.

Jungfraujoch and Kleine Scheidegg – 1 Day

A trip to Jungfraujoch is probably the most famous day trip. The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting the two 4000ers of the Alps: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It lies at an elevation of 3,463 meters above sea level and has the highest train station in Europe. top of europe Jungfraujoch - things to know.

Getting to the “Top of Europe” feels unreal. It is a little village by itself with quite a lot of attractions to visit.

You can explore the Ice Palace or Alpine Sensation. And you will get to see snow and can do some winter sports, too – regardless of when you visit! There is snow every day of the year. 

On your way to Jungfraujoch, you might want 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, and a popular stop for a break. Actually, you could hike up to Kleine Scheidegg and then take the train up to Jungfraujoch. 

  • Is Jungfraujoch a must-visit in 10 days in Switzerland? Well, I enjoyed my trips (3 so far) but…This trip is not cheap. If you are on a budget, there are also many other mountain excursions in the region.
  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a discount on this quite expensive day trip. Click here to find out more about it. 
  • You might have some time after your trip to Jungfraujoch. If so, I suggest spending the rest of the time in the very charming town of Grindelwald and having dinner there.

Lake Brienz + Brienzer Rothorn + Giessbach Waterfalls – 1 Day

Now, it is time to visit more great places in the region. If you want to start the day in a relaxed frame of mind, go to Lake Brienz and start with a boat tour.

Lake Brienz is actually my favorite lake, as the water has the most beautiful color and shimmers a lovely turquoise. 

View from Brienzer Rothorn
Lake Brienz from Brienzer Rothorn

One of my all-time favorite mountain excursions was my trip to Brienzer Rothorn. Thus I have been there twice. And was in awe both times. The Brienzer Rothorn is a mountain with an elevation of 2,350 meters above sea level and the train ride itself is impressive but so is the panorama.

  • Arrive at Brienz station by boat (and have the first glimpses of beautiful Lake Brienz) or by train.
  • Then take the old steam locomotive to get up the Brienzer Rothorn and hike back down.
  • Afterward, take the boat again (check the timetable to make sure you do not miss the last boat) to Giessbach Waterfalls.
  • There is a boat stop named the same. Get out there and take a short hike up (or take the hotel funicular) to the Grandhotel Giessbach. You have some amazing views from there of Lake Brienz and the waterfall.
  • In winter, Grandhotel Giessbach is closed. This hotel has also become one of my favorite hotels in the world, with amazing views and interesting decor. The prices are quite high to stay overnight at Grand Giessbach Hotel, so if you are on a budget, make sure to enjoy at least a drink (or a fantastic dinner) at the hotel. This could also be your dinner spot.
  • This trip will probably take a full day. 

Another tip: If you skip any of these activities for any reason, I have other top tips for the region.

Lauterbrunnen & Schilthorn – 1 Day

If you want to visit one of the most popular places in the region, head to beautiful Lauterbrunnen.

Lauterbrunnen is notorious for adrenaline rushes and adventurous activities – skydiving, bungee jumping, base jumpers, etc. BUT there are also some hiking trails – after all, it is Switzerland, and it is a lot about hiking.

Church with waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen

  • Lauterbrunnen is also known for the 72 waterfalls (the most famous of which are the Staubbach Waterfalls and Trümmelfach Falls).
  • It is known for being an extremely beautiful little village.
  • It is also known for being home to the Schilthorn mountain where portions of the James Bond movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” were filmed.
  • The trip to Lauterbrunnen, including a hike and some other activities, will take up to a day, so you will probably not have much time to do anything else.
  • Consider having your dinner in the heart of Lauterbrunnen village before going back to your hotel.

St. Beatus Caves & Lake Thun & Thun – 1 Day

Another very dreamy place to visit in 10 days is the St. Beatus Caves. It is located between Interlaken and Thun on the shores of Lake Thun. Ten days in Switzerland ItineraryGet to St. Beatus Caves by bus or car and then take a 10-minute “hike” up to enjoy one of the best views in Interlaken. It is not the height that impresses, but the setting – the beautiful caves, the restaurant with a Lake Thun view, etc. You can have lunch at the panorama restaurant.

After visiting the caves, hike down the other side for another beautiful view. It is just a few minute’s walk and you will find out why road tripping in Switzerland is such an amazing way to discover the country. These roads are just made for exploring! 

Views from St Beatus Caves

  • Check out my more detailed guide on the St. Beatus Caves.
  • This trip will probably not last one full day, so you can then head to Sigriswil to cross the panorama bridge in Sigriswil or have coffee in a wonderfully weird place called “Grabenmühle.”
  • You can get there either by car or bus.

If you want to experience some “city life,” head to the beautiful town of Thun, which is quite close to the St. Beatus Caves.

Thun market square and Thun Castle

You can visit castles there, spend time at the park and end your day at one of the numerous cafes in town. Here is my more detailed Thun city guide.

Blausee & Oeschinensee – 1 Day

My tip is to explore a few (more) of the amazing lakes that are located in the Bernese Oberland. In Kandersteg, you´ll find two of the most beautiful lakes in all of Europe, and with 10 days in Switzerland, you have enough time to see these lakes.

Blausee, a tiny lake of astonishing color, is located in a nature park where you can stroll along the lake (but not swim in it) and take it easy. If you want to get active, you can paddle a boat – or just dine in the restaurant that comes with a lake view. Find out more about Blausee. It is not a must-see (in my honest opinion) but a great place if you are totally into lakes.

Blausee lake in Kandersteg with Arzo Travels

Make sure to add Lake Oeschinen to your Switzerland itinerary. It is another gorgeous lake that is mind-blowing. Stunning Lake Oeschinensee with Arzo TravelsTo get there, you need to get to Kandersteg Station (parking is available) by train or car and then either hike up or take a gondola up. Then, either walk directly to the lake (about 20 minutes easy downhill walk) or do some hiking (several hours) for phenomenal views. The best panorama comes only after some hiking, so I highly recommend the hike if you are moderately fit.

At the lake, you can swim or have a picnic (or have lunch in the restaurant next to the lake). Check out my Lake Oeschinen guide. The cable car does not run all year – so check out times here.

To end your day, you can head to the towns of Thun or Interlaken.  

WHERE TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN:

If you explore the above-mentioned places, I recommend staying in/near the town of Interlaken.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not stayed there myself, I can only repeat what I heard: This hotel is amazing. If you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • 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.
  • 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 is one of my all-time favorite hostels. Check out prices here.

Lucerne & Mount Rigi & Mount Pilatus – 1,5 Days

Lucerne is one the most beautiful city in Europe and I still think you should spend 1,5-2 days in Lucerne, and this is for several reasons.  

Chapel Bridge in Lucerne
Chapel Bridge

After a busy few days, you need some time to recharge and rest because it is one of the best places to chill. Lucerne has some breathtaking places close by that you should also check out! Also, Lucerne itself is, above all, wonderful. You have a stunning old town with beautiful historic attractions and one of the biggest lakes in the country.

If you are short on time, a few hours in Lucerne itself is probably enough! Sitting in one of the cafes outside will be a fantastic way to top off your day.

On a sunny day, make sure to head to Weggis, which is located on Lake Lucerne’s shores and is the perfect place to rest after all the busy sightseeing in Switzerland.Weggis - Relax at Lake Lucerne without the crowd

THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE

  • Visit Chapel Bridge
  • Explore the old town and admire the beautiful old buildings
  • Take a Lake Lucerne boat cruise
  • Rest at Weggis – a “hidden place” to swim. There is also a lido (a beach area watched by staff), but this hidden gem is even better. Bring your blanket, some snacks and drinks – and your bathing suit.
  • Check out my travel guide for Lucerne

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE

Mount Rigi

If you cannot get enough of mountain views, head to Mount Rigi for the sunset. 

Views of Lake Zug from Mount Rigi, Switzerland, Arzo Travels
Mount Rigi is not very far from Weggis, so you can easily combine the trip. Riding up the mountain (funicular) is a feast for the eyes. Getting up while looking at the Alps, Lake Lucerne, and many lush meadows is a fantastic way to end your day. On sunny days, the sunset from Mount Rigi is often amazing. Of course, you can also hike up.

Mount Pilatus

Alternatively, you can visit Mount Pilatus. Whether you get (or better arrive at) to Mount Pilatus by boat, car, or public transportation, the next few hours will be wonderful once you are there. Mount Pilatus with the Swiss Travel PassTo get up there, you have to either hike for a couple of hours or take a funicular/cable car. Getting up is great, walking on the mountain top is great, and even getting down is great!

Since there are many possible activities that you can do up there (including paragliding, hiking, and more), it would be easy to spend a full day on Mount Pilatus.

PLACES TO VISIT IN 2 WEEKS IN SWITZERLAND

Because the country is such a beauty, I highly suggest staying longer than 10 days in Switzerland. And if you stay for 14 days or so, here is one more suggestion.

Bern – 1 Day

If I asked, “What is the capital of Switzerland,” would you know off the top of your head? Actually, most guess that it is Zurich, but the truth is that Bern is the lovely capital. It is also the capital of the canton Bernese Oberland. While smaller and less well-known, this city is a beauty! What to do in 10 days in Switzerland

THINGS TO DO IN BERN

  • Visit the bears (yes, you read that right, some bears live in the city center of Bern, just next to the Aare river). But no worries, there is a fence that keeps the bears from getting to you and eating you alive.
  • Enjoy the best view from the Rosengarten.
  • Stroll along the old town of Bern (btw, the whole city center of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site.)
  • Check out my Bern travel guide for more places to visit and things to do.

PLACES TO STAY IN BERN

The old town is also my tip for staying in Bern (though parking might be tricky if you have a car).

  • If you are looking for a 5-star luxury place to stay, Bellevue Palace is probably the best place to stay for your Bern trip. It is centrally located and is great for those who like to indulge in luxury. To check out rates, click here.
  • I stayed at the 3-star hotel Goldener Schlüssel for 1 night, located in the city center/old town. Though my hotel room was pretty small and the breakfast simple, the location was perfect and made up for it. Check out rates here.
  • BernYouth Hostel is a good choice if you have to watch your budget more closely but still want to be centrally located. Check out rates here.

Flims – 1 Day

You can discover one of the hidden gems of Switzerland – Flims! This gorgeous and natural area, which is part of the state of Graubünden (Grison), is about a two-hour train or car ride from Zurich. Switzerland tourist attractionsYou will see one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland – Lake Cauma. Lake Cauma is a mountain lake, at about 1000 meters in elevation. But no worries. You do not have to hike up all the way up. You can also drive up almost all the way and then hike down. If you do this, you will get to see more natural wonders. One of them is Lake Cresta and the Rhine Gorge. All of these beautiful places will cross your path if you hike down for just an hour (or a bit longer).

THINGS TO DO IN FLIMS:

  • Chill at Lake Cauma
  • Hike from Lake Cauma to Rhine Gorge
  • From Rhine Gorge, continue your hike to Lake Cresta
  • Rest at Lake Cresta 
  • There can be an entrance fee for both lakes – depending on the time of your visit.
  • Check out my detailed post for more information.
  • Do not forget to bring your water bottle, as there are water fountains with fresh water.
  • There is a restaurant at Lake Cresta, where you can have lunch or take your own food and enjoy a picnic with a view.
  • You could also hike up again or just take the Yellow Postauto (which are regular buses for mountainous areas) to get you to your hotel or back up to your car.

WHERE TO STAY IN FLIMS

Valposchiavo – 2 Days

In 2018 I visited Valposchiavo. I cannot believe it is still a hidden gem because it is one of the most beautiful places ON EARTH! Seriously, this region blew my mind. And I actually would add it on a 5-day Switzerland itinerary, but I am aware that many people want to see the main attractions first. Valposchiavo where to stayHowever, if you plan a two-week Switzerland itinerary, enjoy trail riding, or want to experience quieter places, then Valposchiavo will amaze you.

Take the famous and amazing Bernina Express. This is one of the most beautiful and scenic train routes in the world. I am serious. I have never been o serious before. Okay, I might have been serious on other occasions before, but seriously…

Anyhow, I have a very detailed itinerary for Valposchiavo here. It includes a video of Valposchiavo – but to Valposchiavo´s defense – my video doesn’t do it justice.

Check out prices for accommodation in Poschiavo, the capital of Valposchiavo.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON 10-14 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND 

If you stay 14 or 21 days in Switzerland, you can visit all the above-mentioned places, but with only 10 days in Switzerland, you might have to tweak this Switzerland itinerary as it fits the best for you.

Since we do have not all the same tastes and preferences (except that we all want to experience Switzerland´s amazing beauty), you can adjust your itinerary with the suggestions mentioned.

I know Switzerland is extremely expensive and, thus, many people skip it. But as you can see, this small country has so much to offer. The scenery is – in my opinion – the most beautiful one I can imagine. It is my favorite country in the world. There is so much to discover that I highly recommend staying 10 days in Switzerland. 

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST TIPS FOR DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND

Driving in Switzerland

DRIVING TIPS FOR SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is one of the best places to road trip. Between the incredible lakes, stunning mountain peaks, beautiful towns and villages, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and greenery along the way, there is always something stunning to see out your window.

Driving through Switzerland is fun as the altitude changes as you crest and descend hills and mountains – so small yet so many beautiful places. The roads and highways are incredibly safe and fantastic. It’s the best place I can imagine road tripping.

There’s only one downside – as the driver, you miss a lot of the beauty because you have to look at the road. If you can only road trip to one country in Europe, then make it Switzerland. Even though public transportation is amazing in this country, it is worth taking a road trip and exploring lovely Switzerland by car.

READ MORE: 7-Day Itinerary for Switzerland

Driving in Switzerland, Jungfrau region

REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND

There are some requirements you need to be aware of.

  • You must be 18 years or older to drive in Switzerland.
  • Your driver’s license must be in either English, German, Italian, or French. Otherwise, it will need to be transferred.
  • If you stay for more than 12 months, you can use your own foreign driver’s license. Your license needs to be with you at all times, and you need to be insured.

Lake Thun, hike the lakeSWITZERLAND – RULES FOR DRIVING

  • The speed limit for motorways/freeways is 120 kph, and highways are 100 kph.
  • In the cities, the speed limit is 50 kph, in residential areas 30 kph, and in rural areas 80 kph.
  • Some signs advise when to adjust your speed, and make sure that you heed them as there are speed cams everywhere and the tickets are expensive. 
  • You will be driving on the right side of the street in Switzerland.
  • Always yield right of way to public transportation and emergency vehicles.
  • Be aware of pedestrians and cyclists, as they have the right of way and sometimes step out into traffic unexpectedly. 
  • Tip: If two vehicles meet on a narrow road going in opposite directions, the ascending vehicle has the right way.

Should I buy the Swiss Travel Pass

  • If you are traveling with children younger than 18 months, they should be in a child safety seat.
  • Everyone else needs to use a seatbelt. You are required to drive with your lights on, even in the daytime.
  • Don’t drink and drive. In Switzerland, the maximum blood alcohol content while driving is 0.05%, which is lower than in many other European countries. If you are caught driving under the influence, you will be fined, and your license will be revoked.

Grand Tour travel tips_

RENTING A CAR IN SWITZERLAND

Renting a car in Switzerland is quite easy and straightforward. However, make sure to rent a car that is fully covered. Everything in Switzerland is expensive – if you are responsible for damage to your rental car, it could be expensive. To avoid any negative surprises, I suggest paying a little more for the full insurance.

I always road trip Switzerland in my own car/van and cannot talk about first-hand experiences when renting a car, but I have heard quite good things about this rental company.

TOLLS IN SWITZERLAND

In Switzerland, you will need a toll sticker for the motorways. Though the most scenic roads in Switzerland are actually off the motorways, you usually land up driving on them at some point. I suggest getting a sticker, especially if you road Toll sticker in Switzerland

  • It costs about 40 Swiss francs and lasts from December to 31. January the following year (good for 14 months). If you rent a car, it will most likely already have a sticker. You can buy one for your car at gas stations, online, or the border.
  • You should get a parking disc as you may need it. You can get parking discs at police stations, banks, or tourist offices.
  • Depending on the color of the parking zone, you can park for a certain amount of time at no charge. More on that later in this post.

GAS / PETROL STATIONS AND PRICES IN SWITZERLAND

Gas stations are everywhere, but you’ll find that they are all self-service.

You can pay with your card and then pump your own gas. Sometimes there is no staff and you have to pay at the machine – pay the amount you want and then you can refill.

Other gas stations have staff – there you refill and then pay at the staff (cash or card). Those gas stations tend to be minimally more expensive.

Oh, petrol in Switzerland is quite expensive, and prices vary greatly. The rates are some of the highest in Europe, though. Surprisingly, diesel is more expensive than petrol here, unlike in Germany. 

Things to know before driving in mountains in Switzerland

PARKING IN SWITZERLAND

Parking in Switzerland can be a little tricky.

Always look for signs to tell you if you can or cannot park in a certain area, but as a rule of thumb, follow these color codes.

  • Yellow Zones: These are private or reserved for companies and may only be used by them or their clients and guests. 
  • White zones: These are chargeable and often numbered. There are parking meters sometimes, so check the number on the white line where you parked and input it into the meter to pay for the spot.
  • Areas with blue lines mean that parking from Monday until Saturday from 8 am until 6 pm is free of charge for an hour with the blue parking disc (including EU parking disc). On Sundays and public holidays, parking is free for the day. 
  • Parking on main roads outside of towns is prohibited.

Best road trip in Switzerland

DRIVING IN THE SWISS MOUNTAINS / SWISS ALPS

Switzerland is known for its mountains and mountain passes, so you will come across many of them while road tripping here.

Driving in the mountains is not always easy, especially not in the Italian-speaking part of Ticino.

The people there drive faster, and the streets are narrower. Just remember that you need to drive on the right side of the road and yield right of way to all public transportation and emergency vehicles. And sometimes you have to stop and enjoy drastic skies like this one…

Sustenpass in Siwtzerland-2

  • Tip: Don’t underestimate the distance from one place to another. It can take much longer to get to places on the narrow mountain roads than you would expect. Plan in enough time for travel.
  • Extra Tip: Some mountain passes are closed in the winter because of snow, including my favorite – Susten Pass, which is only open from June to October.

Most mountain passes are attractions in themselves. You will find lakes, rivers & streams, hiking trails, restaurants, and more along many mountain roads. So, it is fun but can be tedious, too.

DRIVING THROUGH TUNNELS AND OVERLOOKS IN SWITZERLAND

There are a lot of tunnels in Switzerland as well. Long, short, narrow, wide – all kinds of tunnels. Some are boring, some are stunning (like in this picture).

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest at 16.9 km (10.5 miles) and worth a visit. You’ll also come to a lot of scenic overlooks, so you can stop and enjoy the scenery (perfect when you’re the driver).

DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND WINTER

Driving in Switzerland in summer is amazing and easy. And it is easy most of the time. However, keep in mind that snow is widespread, and driving might become a bit more challenging.

I have never driven myself in the winter but have experienced closed mountain passes in October – many mountain passes are closed in the winter. Actually, they are even closed in the fall and some until June. So, keep in mind when planning your trip (as it will take even more time to drive in the winter). 

Driving travel tips in Switzerland

FINAL THOUGHTS ON HOW TO DRIVE IN SWITZERLAND

I hope these tips will make your trip – and especially driving in Switzerland – easier and more enjoyable. Once you know how to travel by car in Switzerland, you can focus on the lovely scenery, charming towns and cities, and breathtaking lakes and mountains that the country is known for. 

And as someone who regularly drives in other countries, I can only say: Switzerland is a good an amazing place for road tripping, and the overall street conditions make it a pleasure to drive.

Check out my Switzerland road trip post to find out about the best stops.

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 the surrounding areas offer picturesque scenery and incredible adventures – which is why Zurich day trips are so popular. Many stunning places are within a quite short distance from Zurich. And here I am – listing my favorite Zurich excursions for you. 

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. Most train connections for the day tours will start from the Zurich train station in the city center.
  • Luxury: 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: Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget: 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 bus. 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 DAY TRIPS FROM ZURICH

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 make a great trip from Zurich. So far, I have visited these spectacular falls four or five 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 tip is to see the Rhine Falls from both sides. If you travel by public transportation, it does not really matter 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 of 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. Click here to read more about the Rhine Falls – how to get there, how much to pay etc.

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. You can combine a city trip (or better town trip) with the Rhine Falls. 

Schaffhausen attractions church

  • 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

View from Hohenklingen Castle

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 – the views are amazing (as you can see in the picture above),
  • You can also visit one of the many vineyards in the area and do some wine tasting.
  • After dinner in the old town, you can head back to Zurich.
  • Check out my quick Stein am Rhine guide for more information.

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

View from Eismeer Station on the way to Jungfraujoch

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. So far, I have been up to the Jungfraujoch three times. Yep. 

Each time, I did the trips while I stayed in the region of Interlaken, but it is also doable also as a day trip from Zurich. It will definitely take a full day, and you’ll be sitting a lot on the train/trams/gondolas. But, believe me, train riding in Switzerland is a highlight, and so you’ll have amazing views.

Ice sculpure at Ice Palace at Jungfraujoch

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 (!). So, that was quite 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. It was so great, I visited again in the winter months – luckily, the lines are not 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 is 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.

Views of Lake Zug from Mount Rigi, Switzerland, Arzo Travels

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, a 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 fell head over heels in love with the area. I have revisited it in the winter and it seems, the lake has become much more popular these days with foreign visitors.

  • 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 short-ish 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 discovering 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 being awestruck by nature, visiting Basel is more about culture, spending time indoors, and exploring 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

Best Things to do in Montreux, Switzerland

2 Days in Montreal and Vevey

WHAT TO DO IN MONTREUX – PLACES TO VISIT AND THINGS TO DO

If you are planning your Montreux itinerary, you are probably wondering about the best things to do in Montreux. If so, then this post is for you. Here is where to go, what to see, and many more travel tips (incl. where to stay, how to get around, and more) for your Montreux trip.

MONTREUX TRAVEL TIPS

Montreux is so extremely pretty that you should add it to your Switzerland itinerary. Montreux probably has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland, and there are many great things to do in Montreux! Located on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva, with the stunning Alps in the background, Montreux is one of Switzerland’s most charming places I have visited so far. And I have been to Switzerland regularly in the last 12 years, which is why you can find many more posts on Switzerland here.

If you have been to Montreux, then you probably agree with me. I am sure that the charm of this cute town (it actually is quite small) will make you fall head over heels in love. At least, I was smitten within the first two minutes.

I was close to skipping Montreux because I thought the accommodation prices were out of line. Luckily, I did not, and I ended up staying not one but two nights in the gorgeous region of Montreux-Vevey. I revisited Montreux again for a day in August 2021. And it was as pretty as I remembered.

Montreal Promenade What to see in Montreux in a weekend

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

Location

Montreux Riviera stretches over 25km along the shores of Lake Geneva from Lutry to Villeneuve. Montreux itself is a town on the northeastern shores of Lake Geneva – close to Villeneuve.

Distances:

How to Get to Montreux

  • Arriving in Montreux by train: I arrived by train and took the famous panorama train, “Golden Pass Line,“ from Lucerne via Interlaken, Zweisimmen to Montreux. This is probably one of the nicest ways to arrive, as you pass rolling hills, pristine lakes, and cute little Swiss towns before you come upon the vineyards of the region.
  • Arrive in Montreux by boat: Another beautiful way to arrive in Montreux would be by boat, either via Lausanne or Vevey. It is no less spectacular, and you´ll see that boat cruising is on the itinerary as well.
  • Arrive at Montreux by car: Montreux is not a car-free town, so driving there in your own car, or with a rented one, is also a good way to arrive. However, parking is always the trickiest part of driving in Switzerland. If your hotel does not have parking spaces and is located in the “town center,“ you might have to pay a little fortune for parking.

How to Get Around Montreux

Montreux itself is pretty small, so it is easy to get around by walking. Also, Montreux – as it is in most parts of Switzerland – has superb public transportation, which makes it easy to get from one place to another.

This includes trains, buses, and boats. You can easily get to places like Geneva, Lausanne, or Vevey by boat. It might take a while (Lake Geneva is one of the biggest lakes in Europe), but it is also a great way to see places from another angle.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if it’s a road trip. It is only for non-Swiss residents though.

  • It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
  • You can also do boat cruises on Lake Geneva and many other lakes in Switzerland without additional costs.
  • It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price, and if you follow my tips, you will need it twice).
  • Also, you can visit Chateau de Chillon without any extra costs.

The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high – but it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. 

For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often (even if I road trip Switzerland). 

I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

Where to Stay in Montreux

Unfortunately, as mentioned in the beginning, you cannot expect to get a bargain sleeping in Montreux. I paid about 200€ for 4-star accommodation even though the Montreux Jazz Festival was over.

For jazz fans, the first two weeks of July might be the best time to visit; for anybody else, I would advise skipping these weeks. In 2023, the dates will be most likely (not confirmed yet). Friday, June 30 to Saturday, July 15, 2023

Here are a few well-rated hotels in Montreux:

  • Luxury: For one of the most luxurious experiences in Montreux, check out Fairmont Le Montreux Palace. This 5-star hotel has a great location and is best known amongst those who like to indulge. From romantic hotels to design hotels, here are the most luxurious places.
  • Mid-Range: As mentioned above, I stayed at the lovely 4-star hotel Eurotel which you can check out here – I was more than happy with my choice.
  • Budget: Okay, there are not really budget-friendly hotels in Montreux. Accommodation around Lake Geneva is just pretty expensive. Find out about the best budget hotels in Montreux.

Whichever hotel you opt for, I would strongly suggest a hotel close to the promenade. Ideally, get a room with a lake view (admittedly, it is more expensive). You can find cheaper hotels close to Montreux.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN MONTREUX AND THE BEST PLACES TO VISIT

Okay, let’s get started with the best activities in Montreux.

Montreux Promenade

I estimate that Montreux consists of 50% flowers and 40% promenade (I have neglected Lake Geneva in this calculation), and the rest of Montreux makes about 10%. Though this is probably exaggerated, it is not exaggerated to say that the Montreux promenade is full of flowers at a certain time of the year.

What to do in Montreux - things to do in Montreux Switzerland Strolling the promenade

Flowers, flowers, and more flowers are lined up along the promenade in all different shapes and colors. The clear water of Lake Geneva and the picturesque mountains make Montreux pretty perfect to me! Since the promenade is so gorgeous, I recommend starting the day with a stroll along the promenade (though it is even more charming in the evening). Parks along the promenade in Montreux - Montreux things to do

  • Free to visit 
  • Open 24/7, all year round

Lake Geneva

The region of Montreux makes it pretty easy for people to swim in Lake Geneva. There are so many spots that allow you to jump into the lake. Sometimes there are even some loungers provided to the people for free. Plan for some time to rest, swim, and enjoy this lovely atmosphere.

Enough places to swim and rest - Switzerland Montreux attractions

  • Free to visit 
  • Open 24/7, all year round

Freddie Mercury Statue

Walking along the promenade will also lead you to some of Montreux´s points of interest. You´ll stumble upon the famous Freddie Mercury statue, which is located right next to the water.Montreux Switzerland things to do

Freddie Mercury was a British singer of the rock band Queen. He settled in Montreux because of its serenity and he acquired a recording studio, where he recorded six albums including his last album with Queen: “Made in Heaven”. 

Once a year, there is even a free event that takes place in Montreux around September 5th (the birthday of Freddie Mercury) celebrating the singer during the Freddie Celebration Day.

After all these years, he still seems to have loyal fans, as I saw fresh flowers by the statue that is standing there since 1996 (he died in 1991).  There are even Freddie Mercury walking tours that allow you to follow in his footsteps. Prices start from around 29 CHF – you can find out more here.

Strolling along the promenade, you’ll find more interesting statues, so look at both sides of the promenade.

  • Free to visit 
  • Open 24/7, all year round

Chateau de Chillon

Once you have strolled and rested at the promenade, you can visit the lovely Chateau de Chillon. It is one of the most popular sights in Montreux (or actually very close to Montreux). - what to see in Montreux Chateau de Chilon what to see in Montreux Points of Interest

Chateau de Chillon is visible from the Montreux promenade, and there are plenty of signs to direct you.

You can walk or take the boat from the boat station (right next to the tourism office of Montreux). I seriously recommend walking, though. There are enough seating options and reasons to take photos along the way, so even though it is only about 3km, it took me more than an hour to get there.

The chateau was quite busy when I visited, which did not come as a surprise given its fame and the very good weather. Dogs are not allowed inside, so my dog and I just stayed outside. If you plan to visit the castle, you might plan for about an hour to see it.

Right next to the castle is a pier from where boats bring you back to Montreux. But there are also buses and trains going back, or you can just walk back.Chateaux de Chilean on the shore of Lake Geneva - Montreux what to do

A castle with a view and a great Instagram spot in Montreux - things to see in Montreux Switzerland

  • Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Prices: Ticket prices are 13.50 CHF, free with a Swiss Travel PassAudio Guide 6 CHF

Lake Geneva Boat Tour

Switzerland has so many gorgeous lakes, and without a doubt, Lake Geneva is the queen (to me). Not only, mist mostly because of its size. After all, it is one of the largest lakes in Europe, and its color never ceases to amaze me. A boat tour on Lake Geneva - Things to do in Montreuxl - a boat tour on Lake Geneva

So the fun part of getting to Vevey (which I will talk about in a minute) is to hop on a boat very “early” in the morning and, from there, see the vineyards and Vevey. Boats start operation around 9, or 10 am.

Vineyards – Lavaux UNESCO

Between Lausanne and Chateau de Chillon are several routes overlooking Lake Geneva and the vineyards at the same time. Lavaux – the land stretching from Lutry to Vevey – has been listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage site since 2007. This vineyard boasts 10,000 terraces, dotted with wine-producing villages and stunning views all along the way.

Vineyards in the Chexbres region - best places to visit in Montreux

I had only a few hours for the vineyards, so here is what I did: I arrived in Vevey by boat (but it is also easy to get there by train or bus). From Vevey boat station, I walked a few hundred meters to the train station and took a train to Chexbres, where I got out. It depends on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put into it, but I highly recommend a visit.

I did not have too much time, so I decided to walk to the first viewing point, Dezaley. There are some signs along the way, though they are a bit irregular, so I was not the only one feeling a bit lost. From the Chexbres train station, it takes about 20-30 minutes, and the views are amazing. 

There are enough seating options to enjoy the views (and free fountains with fresh drinking water). You could also go for a wine tasting. For that, ask at the tourism office in Montreux or Vevey (the tourist office in Chexbres was closed when I arrived in the afternoon).Vineyards of Montreux - what to do in montreux in 2 days

  • Free to visit 
  • Open 24/7, all year round but the vineyards 

Vevey

From the vineyards in Chexbres, head back to Vevey by train. You could also walk down from Chexbres, which should take about 1.5 hours.

Vevey is a small village by Lake Geneva, and it offers some beautiful spots to rest, chill, or swim. So after visiting the vineyards, it is the perfect place to continue your Montreux sightseeing tour.Fevey Places to visit n 2 days - Vevey or Montreux ?

You´ll find enough restaurants/cafes to have lunch in Vevey. Vevey is a tiny town that can be discovered on foot in a short amount of time. It is worth spending about 1/2 day in Vevey (including some chilling time).

If you are with kids and it is warm, you will love the free pools for kids. Where else will you find free pools for kids right next to a lake that is so clear that you could swim there, too? Vevey also has a beautiful, old town, which is worth checking out, and some other attractions as well.

I try to avoid Nestle products for several reasons, but Nestle has their main office here, which you could visit. However, though it is a kind of magnet for visitors, let´s focus on the positive sides of Switzerland. The famous fork – Fork of Vevey – is also located in Vevey. What to do at Lake Geneva - Places to Visit in Montreux and Best Things to do in Montreux - Arzo Travels

  • Plan for at least half a day to see this cute town.

I took a boat back to Montreux (about 20 minutes) and recommend having dinner there because evenings in Montreux are just lovely. Or you also add a trip to the museum of Charlie Chaplin which is also in Vevey.

Charlie Chaplin Museum – Chaplin’s World by Grévin

Freddie Mercury was not the only prominent person in love with Montreux – Charlie Chaplin was another superstar who lived in Montreux/Vevey. If you are a Charlie Chaplin fan, you are probably interested in visiting Chaplin´s World, which you can check out here. Find out about his life in Montreux – he spent more than 25 years of his life here. 

Chaplin’s World by Grévin opened in 2016 at the former Chaplin family home, the Manoir de Ban, in Corsier-sur-Vevey. You can discover his personal belongings, learn about his childhood, and enjoy the park of his ten-acre estate.

  • Opening hours: Open every day, April to October from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm, November until 24th December from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (different opening hours between Christmas and New Year´s Eve).
  • Prices are around 25 CHF for adults

Montreux Biennale

Every two years, Montreux is home to a special art festival – the Biennale. In 2008, it took place for the first time and since then, it takes place every second year.

Montreux Biennale 2021

I actually stumbled upon it by accident when I visited Montreux for the second time and LOVED it. I am – normally – not much into art but this is a special art exhibition that even I enjoyed! You will find many art pieces along the shores of Lake Geneva – which is absolutely lovely!

Art pieces in Montreux

Since it is an open-air museum that lasts for 3 whole months, the pieces must be made of materials withstanding the sun, rain, and wind.

  • It is free to visit. 
  • Open 24/7 for three months every second year – the next should be in late summer/early fall 2023.

Rochers de Naye

If you have some more time, you could visit the famous Rochers de Naye – another popular Montreux tourist attraction in the region. It is a mountain overlooking Lake Geneva near Montreux and Villeneuve and stands at 2,042 meters above sea level.

Roche de Naye train ride

Scenic train rides in Switzerland, Roche de Nayers

On my last day in the region, the weather was lovely, but I could see the clouds up in the air. So I decided not to go up, though I am a fan of getting up the mountains.

The best part is that, for the lazier ones, Switzerland has ways to get up the mountain without hiking (a.k.a. there is a cogwheel that gets you up).

  • It takes about one hour via cogwheel to get to the summit of Rochers de Naye

Montreux Jazz Festival

Okay, this is an extra. Montreux is extremely famous for its Jazz festival. It is held annually in early July in Montreux on the Lake Geneva shoreline. It is actually the second-largest annual jazz festival in the world (just after Canada’s Montreal International Jazz Festival).

During that time, it gets jam-packed (and, of course, even more expensive), and it is probably the best thing to do in Montreux in summer. However, if you aren’t into jazz (like me), then you probably had never heard of it before.

Just keep that in mind when planning your Montreux trip!

  • In 2023 the dates are from June 30 to July 15, 2023 (not confirmed yet)
  • The average ticket price is around $1000

Christmas Market in Montreux

If you visit Montreux in December, you will get to experience the magical Christmas Market in Montreux. You have many stalls on the promenade, the Loggers’ Village, the Gourmet Space, the light show, Medieval Magic at Chillon Castle and Santa’s House at Les Rochers-de-Naye, and more – the Christmas Markets in Montreux are known as one of the best in Switzerland.

  • It takes place from 19 November to 24 December 2021

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST MONTREUX ACTIVITIES

Though Montreux is not the first destination that comes to people’s minds when thinking about Switzerland, it is an absolutely amazing place. I hope you have gotten some travel inspiration for Montreux.

Whether you visit in summer, fall, or winter – Montreux is always a good idea and hopefully, this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Montreux.

VISIT PANORAMA BRIDGE SIGRISWIL & GRABENMÜHLE

Sigriswil Suspensionbridge in Switzerland

PANORAMA BRIDGE SIGRISWIL & MORE TIPS FOR YOUR SIGRISWIL TRIP

The panorama bridge Sigriswill – or Sigriswil in general – is not the first place to come to people´s minds when thinking about Switzerland. It might not be as famous as Interlaken or Lucerne, but it is a beautiful place – and there are a few a couple of attractions that make a Sigriswil worth visiting.

I think my obsession with the region of Interlaken has become pretty clear, and I have enjoyed all my activities there (read about my other activities in Switzerland) – including the Sigriswil panorama bridge. Interlaken best activities

SIGRISWIL LOCATION

  • Sigriswil is a municipality in the canton of Bern in Switzerland and is located on Lake Thun’s shores – one of the stunning lakes in the Bernese Oberland.
  • It sits at about 810 meters above sea level and is between the towns of Interlaken and Thun, and you can easily reach Sigriswil via car or public transportation.
  • Popular attractions like St. Beatus Caves or Castle Oberhofen are close by. So, you can easily combine it with a trip to one of the other places.

HOW TO GET TO SIGRISWIL

CAR

  • I got to Sigriswill by car (Interlaken – Sigriswil) several times.
  • You should be fine driving in the mountains. There are not extremely narrow streets, nor is it an extreme drive. But after all, due to its elevated location, the roads are windy, and it is not for everyone.
  • Driving up there was already a beautiful experience because I had the lake’s views and passed many small villages with lovely houses and stunning scenery.
  • If you have some spare time, allow yourself to take more breaks and enjoy the fantastic views.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • There are also buses going up.
  • From Thun, you can get the bus line nr. 22 and will need about 20 minutes to get there.
  • From the bus stop, it is just a stone´s throw to the suspension bridge.

bus stop in Sigriswil, SwitzerlandHIKING

  • Hiking is another option.
  • The bridge is one of three suspension bridges on the Lake Thun Panoramic Circular Trail, a 56 km long circular hike connecting various mountain and shoreline paths around the lake.

BEST TIME TO VISIT SIGRISWIL

Sigriswil is excellent to visit all year round. However, I suggest visiting in the warm months (I know we can never rely on seasons here in Switzerland – except for winter). So, come here in May, June or September. Early October should be fine, too.

But since Sigriswil is not as crowded and busy as Interlaken, you could also come here in July or August. If you visit in winter, please double-check if the bridge is open.

WHERE TO EAT IN SIGRISWIL

After taking tons of pictures, I also had the chance to eat at the 4* Hotel zum Bären. The hotel has a nice patio where I enjoyed my lunch. It is located just 2 minutes from the panorama bridge and close to the bus station and I assume in the “village center” and great if you want to have a good meal or just a coffee. Sigrisiwl where to sleep Lunch at Hotel zum Bären, SigrisiwlThen, for a dessert or snack, I headed to Grabenmühle and sat in the cafe there (more on that later).

WHERE TO STAY

Hotel zum Bären would probably be a great place to stay, but here are more tips for your accommodation in Interlaken.

PIN ME FOR LATER – SIGRISWIL SWITZERLAND

BEST THINGS TO DO IN SIGRISWIL

Though the suspension bridge is the most famous attraction, there are many more things to do.

SIGRISWIL SUSPENSION BRIGDE

The Sigriswil panorama bridge, over the Gummischlucht gorge, is probably the most famous attraction in the village.

The bridge connects two villages – Aeschlen and Sigriswil. It offers stunning views of Lake Thun and the famous mountains of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau (Swiss Panorama). With a length of 340 meters (and 180 meters above the ground), the footbridge allows beautiful panorama views. 

As the bridge is also used by locals (and school kids), you might encounter some kids there before or after school.

Sigriswil suspension bridge view

Sigriswil suspension bridge panorama viw

The views are very nice, and it is so peaceful up there. The area around the bridge is charming, and in case you do not hike, I would recommend spending some time exploring the peaceful region.  I wish I had not been in a rush so that I would have walked around and stayed on the other side of the bridge as well.Sigriswil suspension bridge with Arzo Traves

Sigriswil suspension 1

Sigriswil Suspension Bridge with a view of Lake Thun in Interlaken, Switzerland

Sigriswil Suspension and Panorama Bridge

  • COSTS: To cross the bridge, you have to pay around 8€ (you also get a voucher for a drink at Hotel zum Bären which is close by), and you can buy on the spot.
  • These days you can also pay via credit card.

GRABENMÜHLE

Grabenmühle is another hidden place in Switzerland. And it is the weirdest yet cutest place I have visited. I am not sure what Grabenmühle is, but it is close to the Sigriswil Suspension bridge, and that is why I highly recommend walking/driving there and seeing what this place is about.Grabenmühle best place to visit
What to do in SigriswilWhether you are with kids or without – you will surely be surprised by what you will find there. Flower posts and unique designs and playgrounds, options to search (and find) gold (well, kind of), and many more weirdish things are at Grabenmühle.

There is an entrance fee, but you can combine it with a ticket for the suspension bridge or buy a snack at Grabenmühle, and then there will be no entrance fee.

More Information:

More about travel tips for Switzerland here.

Bärenplatz in Sigriswil

Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Things to Do in Locarno, Ticino

Brissago Islands, Ticino

WHAT TO DO IN LOCARNO, SWITZERLAND

So, are you ready to find out about the best things to do in Locarno, Ticino? Then this post is for you. Here you will find your answer to the question “what to do in Locarno,” and you´ll also find important travel tips for your trip.

Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. While everyone knows Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, or Geneva, not everyone knows the smaller, but no less gorgeous, places – places like Locarno.

Locarno is located in the canton of Ticino, which is in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. This canton amazes with stunning sceneries, colorful villages & towns, breathtaking valleys, and gorgeous lakes.

With 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, Locarno is also the town with the warmest climate in Switzerland. So, while it can get hot in the summer, it is one one the best places to visit in Switzerland and one more reason to visit in spring, fall, and winter.

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

TRAVEL TIPS FOR LOCARNO (ASCONA)

I visited Locarno on my first trip to Switzerland 11 or 12 years ago. Back then it was just a day trip, but it was clear to me that I needed to come back. And so I have revisited it a few more times. Based on that, I have listed my favorite activities for you. But first: here are some travel tips for your trip.

Where to Stay in Locarno/Ascona

  • Luxury Hotels- I have stayed at 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 Hotels – Hotel Garni Muralto. I did not stay here, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range. Find out prices here. It is not directly in Locarno, but Muralto just borders Locarno and you can get there within minutes.
  • Budget Hotels – Do not expect bargains when traveling in Switzerland, so there are no real budget hotels. But here are some general money-saving tips, check out my post with the best advice.

How to Get to Locarno

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Locarno has a train station which makes it easily accessible from any part of Switzerland. It can be quite time-consuming to get to Locarno from Zurich or Zermatt, however, thanks to public transportation it is all possible to do day trips. The train station is Locarno / Muralto. Muralto is a small town just bordering Locarno, but they are blending into the other.

  • From Zurich to Locarno, it just takes two hours by train.
  • From Lugano to Locarno, it takes about 20 minutes by train.

CAR

You can also get to Locarno by car, though you most likely have to drive some mountain passes (depending on where you start exactly). Locarno itself is quite busy (though it is a small city) and parking – especially on a warm and sunny day – can be stressful.

I would suggest getting to Locarno by train, but if you get there by car, this is about how long it can take.

  • From Zurich to Locarno, it just takes 2,5 hours by car.
  • From Lugano to Locarno, it takes about 50 minutes by train.

How to Get Around Locarno 

Wear comfy shoes because you might have to do some down/uphill walking, plus there are some cobbled-stoned streets. It is always worth walking as much as possible, as this is the best opportunity to stumble upon a hidden gem. 

  • Many activities mentioned here can be visited on foot. You can walk to most attractions if you are semi-fit.
  • For this Locarno itinerary, you could get around by car. However, I do not necessarily recommend it. The only exception might be Verzasca Valley. I went there by car both times and it was probably more convenient than getting there by bus because I stopped quite a number of times along the way because of the beautiful views. However, public transportation will also get you there. 
  • In general, the best way to travel in Locarno/Ascona is by public transportation. Public transportation in Switzerland is reliable, on time, and gets you everywhere. And Locarno is no exception. You´ll get to all the recommended places by public transportation.
  • Also, there are funiculars/cable cars that you can use (I will talk about that later).
  • My favorite mode of transportation is – and probably will always be – boats. I used boats several times (sometimes just for fun) and had scenic rides. Lake Maggiore is a beauty, and boat cruises are a great way to get around.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if I road trip Switzerland. The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high. But it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. 

  • It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
  • You can also do boat cruises without additional costs – and you can cruise Lake Maggiore with the regular boats to get around (in the Swiss part of the lake).
  • It also gives you a discount on most mountain rides.
  • You can visit more than 500 museums without any additional costs.
  • Find out more about a Swiss Travel Pass here.

For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often.  I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

I visited Locarno once with a female friend and several times by myself. I felt safe! I think Ticino is a great place for solo female traveling. The crime rate is low, and if you exercise common sense and watch your bag and valuables, you should be fine.

BEST THINGS TO DO IN LOCARNO / ASCONA

Here are my favorite places to visit in Locarno as well as in Ascona.

Locarno Promenade

  • Free to visit
  • Open 24/7

Locarno is beautiful – and has a charming promenade with lovely views of the Alps and Lake Maggiore. What a nice way to chill and relax! The town is located on Lake Maggiore’s northern shore, and you can easily spend a full day here just relaxing, strolling, and enjoying the Italian way of life.

I recommend starting with walking the promenade of Lake Maggiore. You can start in Muralto and walk all the way to Camellia Park.

points of interest Locarno

Lake Maggiore Boat Tour

  • Free with your Swiss Travel Pass

A boat tour on Lake Maggiore is also a great thing to do. However, I have to admit that Lake Maggiore did not make it in my unofficial “top 5 of Switzerland´s most beautiful lakes”.Lago Maggiore in LocarnoThe lake is blue, which is a good thing, but Switzerland spoils its visitors with numerous green and turquoise lakes, so I have become very picky. Lago Maggiore rather felt like an Italian lake and reminded me a bit of Lake Como. Either way, it is nice and I highly recommend a boat tour.

Old Town of Locarno

  • Free to visit
  • Open 24/7

However, it is not only about the stunning lake and its promenade – Locarno has more to offer. Locarno old town in Ticino with Arzo TravelsLocarno also has a cute old town that is worth discovering, with many colorful buildings and lively squares. For example, the lovely Piazza Grande, which is one of the biggest squares in all of Switzerland. Locarno old townThe colorful and lovely square is always worth a visit. If you need a particular reason to visit, check out the weekly market on Thursdays, the Moon & Stars concerts in July, or the evening film projections during the Film Festival in August.

Sightseeing Train Tours

  • Tickets for adults are around 7€.
  •  I did not have to pay for my dog.

A small sightseeing train is a good way to get around and see the most important places in the old town of Locarno – especially if you are short on time or do not/cannot walk anymore. It takes about 30 minutes and the Locarno sightseeing train gives you a good overview of the town.

Sightseeing trains in Locarno

Locarno Lido

  • Lido Locarno is open throughout the year.
  • There are different tickets available – to use all pools and slides the ticket prices are around 17€ for adults

Lido Locarno is a popular place amongst those who want to spend time in the water. Whether you want to be indoors or outdoors, here you have the option to choose from several pools – or you can swim at Lake Maggiore which is also accessible from the lido. Lido in Locarno with Arzo TravelsHere you have slides, thermal or play pools, and more. I have not visited it myself but it is known as one of the best bathing facilities in Ticino if not all of Switzerland.

Camellia Park / Parco delle Camelie

  • Free to visit

If you walk all the way along the promenade (away from the train station) you will eventually get to Camellia Park, which is one of the top Locarno activities. You will find more than 850 different camellia varieties, with a flowering period of nine months.

Camellia Park - Parco delle Camelie in Locarno

But it is not only about camellias. You will also be able to find some tranquility in this park.

Orselina / Madonna del Sasso

Before getting up to Cardada Mountain, you can stop in Orselina (which is a municipality in the district of Locarno situated on a hill) and at Madonna del Sasso. 

  • You can get there with a regular bus (included in the Swiss Travel Pass), or by funicular from Locarno to Orselina (return ticket is about 7€ – a discount is available with a Swiss Travel Pass)
  • Opening hours daily: 07:00 am to 6:30 pm (no entrance fee)

Madonna del Sasso in Orselina, SwitzerlandThe founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea experienced in the 15th century. It is one of the most famous pilgrimage churches in Switzerland and sits at about 370 meters above sea level. Thus, you get an interesting attraction plus great views.

The church itself is quite big and really stunning. It is also free to visit – what else can you ask for? 

Madonna del Sasso in Locarno is one of the main sights

Madonna del Sasso church

Cardada

You can get easily from Orselina to Cardada by funicular. From there you have a great panorama of Locarno, Bellinzona, and Lake Maggiore. 

  • Ticket prices for the funicular from Orselina to Cardada are about 25€. Discount with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Cardada is one of the top tourist attractions in Locarno in summer and winter. In winter, Cardada is a popular place to ski and for nice snowshoe hikes, and in summer it is a great place to hike – or to enjoy these amazing views!

I visited on a pretty hot day, and walking around did cost too much energy. So I just enjoyed the scenery while not moving too much. These views…were absolutely stunning.

You have free drinking water right when you get off the funicular station, by the way. There is at least one restaurant but I would bring some snacks, drinks, and a blanket – this is the perfect spot for a nice picnic in Locarno.

Ascona

Ascona should also be on your Ticino itinerary, and it is a great (half) day trip from Locarno. You could actually walk to Ascona from Locarno – it is easier to hop on a bus that brings you there in just a few minutes. A more scenic way to arrive in Ascona is via boat from Locarno. What to see in Locarno

I heart Ascona sign at Lake Maggioare

Beautiful and colorful – the promenade of Ascona is one of Switzerland’s favorites because I am totally into colorful houses and buildings. It looks as pretty as on postcards, and I am happy I managed to see it this time. The old town is particularly charming – I probably liked it even more than Locarno´s old town. So, get lost in this cute old town.

Ascona is quite small and since it does not take long to get there from Locarno, you will just need 4-5 hours for this whole trip. 

Then it is time to leave Ascona and see more of the places in/near Locarno.

Brissago Islands

Another beautiful place in Locarno (or the region of Locarno) is the Brissago Islands. 

  • There is an entrance fee of about 5€ to get to the Brissago Islands
  • The boat cruise is free with a Swiss Travel Pass

Places to visit in Locarno

From Ascona, hop on a boat to the Brissago Islands the boat gets there also from Locarno. The beautiful main island of the Brissago Islands is gorgeous. It is known for its botanical garden. It was very hot the day I visited, and my dog and I missed some parts of the island (free maps available) because the weather killed us. I still enjoyed my time on the island.Fun things to do in Locarno

Verzasca Valley

Now it is time to talk about the stunning Verzasca Valley. It is a 25-kilometers long valley in the district of Locarno and comprises several municipalities of including Lavertezzo.

  • I got there by car, which takes about 40 minutes. It is a scenic yet sometimes challenging drive, and I passed the famous bridge in Lavertezzo (finding parking spots on sunny days might be tricky though).
  • There is also public transportation, so you can get there by bus (the yellow Postautos).

Before arriving at the Ponte de Salti in Lavertezzo (the famous stone bridge), I passed cute little villages and places and stopped here and there. The valley is about cute villages but also about that water… That water! The watercolor is just amazing!

Best places to visit in Locarno Ticino is Valle

This is one of the most beautiful places in Ticino – probably even the most beautiful. 

When I visited in 2016 for the first time, it was almost empty. In 2018, it was already much busier and more crowded, when I visited in 2022 it was jam-packed. This is definitely not a hidden gem anymore. People come here from all over the world to see the bridge and the river.

So, on Sundays, it gets busier and so it does after 11 am or so. So, try to come early and avoid Sundays and bank holidays.

Centovalli Railway

A wonderful way to see some lesser-known parts of Ticino is by doing a train ride known as Centovalli (Railway). This is a scenic train ride from Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in Italy which runs through the Centovalli (meaning “100 valleys” in Italian).

  • Free with a Swiss Travel Pass

Window views in Centovalli Railway

The window views include rocky gorges, quaint stone villages, and many waterfalls. You can get out at any stop and take the next train if you want to continue your journey.

If you plan to get out several times, you need to plan one full day for this train ride.

TIP: Next to the train station in Locarno, you will find an underground station where the Centovalli railway departs. Please keep in mind, that trains do not depart hourly. Some trains do not stop at every stop and some do not run all the way to Domodossola. So, you need to plan in advance to make sure you see everything you would like to see + get back in time to Locarno.

Maggia Valley

Another must-see in Locarno is The Vallemaggia (Maggia Valley). It is lesser-known than Valle Verzasca and yet absolutely stunning – with its idyllic Ticino villages, the crystalline river, the lush vegetation, and its wild nature.

Valle Maggia in Locarno

See the Foroglio Waterfall, the Maggia Gorge, or one of the many other beautiful spots – Valle Maggia is a perfect place for any outdoor lover. It has villages, waterfalls, a river, beautiful hiking options, and everything you will need to spend a day or two.

Valle Maggia in fall

Valle Maggia is easily accessible via car or bus. The local bus number 315 leaves regularly from Locarno. You can get out at any stop and explore an area/sight and then get on the next bus 30 or 60 minutes later. 

Make sure to plan enough time for Valle Maggio – to see the main attraction in this valley, you will need about one day.

Bungee Jumping

Are you up for a thrilling activity in Ticino? Then you might enjoy a bungee jump. On your way to Valle Verzasca, you will pass the Contra Dam (Verzasca Dam). If you want to do it like it was done in the James Bond movie (GoldenEye) you can jump… of course, not just jump but do a bungee jump from the bridge with professional people. I would never do it in my life – like never, but you might be braver than me!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN LOCARNO

Locarno / Ascona is surely one of the most beautiful regions in Switzerland. It is a perfect mix of Italy and…the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Actually, it feels a lot like Italy. And Italy is never a bad idea, right?

Though Locarno isn’t as famous as other areas, I hope you will enjoy the area and the tips with the best things to do in Locarno/Ascona in a few days. Enjoy and stay safe!

Safe Travels, Arzo

BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRIENZ, SWITZERLAND

Things to do in Brienz, Switzerland, Arzo Travels

BRIENZ TRAVEL GUIDE – WHAT TO DO AND SEE + TRAVEL TIPS

Nestled amongst the Swiss Alps, on the shores of gorgeous Lake Brienz, Brienz is a wonderful little village to visit. Traditional, cute wooden houses, water sports activities, mountain excursions, and more – there is a lot to do and see in and near Brienz, Switzerland.

And here I share my tips for the best things to do in Brienz, Switzerland. Find out about the best activities along with many travel tips for your visit to this cute village in the region of Interlaken.

Brienz tourim

BRIENZ TRAVEL TIPS 

Before we talk about the best Brienz activities, here are some quick travel tips.

LOCATION:

Brienz (at 566 meters above sea level) is located in the canton (state) of Bern in the Bernese Oberland. It is about 18km northeast of Interlaken, one of the best-known regions for adventures and outdoor activities, and flanks the gorgeous Lake Brienz on the northern end.

HOW TO GET TO BRIENZ:

  • From Brienz to Lucerne: about 60 minutes by car, 90 minutes by train
  • From Brienz to Zurich: about two hours by car, 2.5 hours by train 
  • From Brienz to Interlaken Ost: about 20 minutes by car or train 
  • From Brienz to Thun: about 50 minutes by car or 1 hour by train (90 minutes by train and bus).

HOW TO GET AROUND: 

Brienz is quite small, so you can walk to the sights – however, some of the places are outside of Brienz. For these places, I recommend getting around via public transportation, though a car might also be a good option.

  • BY CAR: Though I normally love road tripping in Switzerland, I should add that parking in Brienz is difficult; parking is, in general, tricky in the region. 
  • BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation in the region of Interlaken and Brienz is great and it gives you the chance to get around easily. If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get a guest card, that is, if you stay overnight in an official hotel/guest house, you are given a guest card that you can use for some buses and that also gives you a small discount on activities in the region (often around 10%). But for many of the places/activities mentioned here, it might not be very useful.
  • SWISS TRAVEL PASS: I have had a Swiss Travel Pass several times, and I think it is super useful. You can use almost all the buses and trains without any extra charge, the boat tour mentioned on this Brienz itinerary is included, and you get a 50% discount for most mountain excursions (some mountain excursions, like Mount Rigi near Lucerne, are included in the pass). It is not cheap, but it might pay off (for me at least, it does). If you buy it via GetYourGuide, you usually have a free cancellation option in case you have to cancel (we never know what might happen). Check out prices here.

MORE TIPS:

Currency/Money: The currency is Swiss Francs. Euros are widely accepted, but the exchange rate is often terrible. Credit cards are often, but not always, accepted. In particular, smaller restaurants in Brienz did not accept my card. So, make sure to have at least some Francs with you. 

BEST THINGS TO DO IN BRIENZ

So, without further ado, find out what to do in Brienz.

Lake Brienz Boat Cruise

One of the most stunning lakes in Switzerland – and in the world – is Lake Brienz. The village of Brienz is located on the northeastern shores of the lake. As an unofficial lake expert, I can confirm that the lake is just beyond stunning – the turquoise watercolor is striking and the lake is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Brienz in the first place.

Arrive by boat at Grandhotel Giessbach or just do a boat tour on Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz is primarily fed by the Aare River, the Lütschine River, and the Giessbach Waterfalls. The water is so low in nutrition that there isn’t much sea life. 

Until the 10th century, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz were one lake. After the separation, each became its own beauty with Interlaken in between them.

It wears its best color when the sun shines – its turquoise color knows then to impress the best. And a cruise on Lake Brienz is one of the best Brienz activities. From April to the end of October, you can hop on a boat – the boat station is located near the train and main bus station – and admire the stunning scenery. The whole cruise – until Interlaken – takes about 90 minutes and you can get out at several stops (more on that later).

Swimming at Lake Brienz

Stunning Lake Brienz has one little flaw… it is freezingly cold. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but the water is actually quite chilly even in the summer (it is a glacier lake after all).  

Lake Breinz promenade at Brienz

Most people prefer swimming in Lake Thun instead, which is a bit warmer, however, on a really warm and sunny day (and we had a lot of them in recent years), you will love the cold of the water.

And whether you get to the lido close to the train station or just walk along the lake and find a good spot, there are plenty of options to swim in this lovely lake that comes with great views.

Also, the lake is so clean that you will not find fish in it. As someone with a fish phobia (it is a serious thing, I am not kidding), this makes Lake Brienz even more appealing to me.

Get Up Brienzer Rothorn

Brienzer Rothorn is a mountain in the Emmental Alps at 2,350 meters of elevation, which makes it the highest summit of the range. There are different ways to reach the top: 1) hike up (either just some parts or all the way up to the summit), or 2) take a ride and enjoy a one-hour journey with a steam locomotive (almost 8km) that offers spectacular views.

Brienzer Rothorn with view on Lake Brienz

View from Brienzer Rothorn

Getting up Brienzer Rothorn via a very old steam locomotive – with great views of Lake Brienz – is an amazing experience. It might be quite busy on sunny days (as are most mountain peaks), but it is worth the time, money, and everything else that comes with it.

You can buy a return ticket or a single ticket and then hike up or down. Of course, you can also just hike. But I recommend getting up via the steam locomotive at least – for the experience. Here is more about the trip to Brienzer Rothorn.

Stroll Brienz Village

Brienz is a small village that stretches along the shores of Lake Brienz. The most beautiful wooden chalets are in the Brunngasse, which was awarded “most beautiful street in Europe.” Most of the houses in this street date back to the 18th century and are decorated with wood carvings.

Brunnengasse in Brienz is a must see

Most beautiful street in Europe, Brunnengasse in Brienz

Brienz village center

However, while the houses there are stunning, it is just a few and you will not need a lot of time to stroll the village center, including the Brunngasse.

Walk the Sculpture Trail/Skulpturenweg

Brienz, also known as the “village of carvings,” has a long tradition of wood processing – they even have a sculpture trail along the shores of Lake Brienz. The sculptures were created during the “International Woodcarving Symposium Brienz,” which was inaugurated in 2016.

To this day, it has a school for carving and violin making. Following the statues, seeing many of them along the shores of the lake is indeed a unique experience, is also fun for younger kids. 

Do Some Water Sports

Lake Brienz is heaven for water sports lovers. If you bring your own equipment, you can do almost any kind of water sport. But even if you do not bring your equipment, there are many water sport rental options at Brienz.

Water sports activities in Brienz

You can do wakeboarding, wake surfing, wake skating, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, or new stuff like surf ski paddling (do not ask me!).  There are even jet boats for rent – Brienz is good for those seeking some adventures, too!

Visit Ballenberg Museum

At the Ballenberg Open-air Museum – the biggest open-air museum in Switzerland– you will find traditional buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. There are more than 100 century-old buildings from all over Switzerland, 250 farmyard animals, traditional, old-time gardens, and more. Also, there are workshops, events, shops, restaurants, and more for a great day.  

Open air museum in Ballenberg near Brienz top thing to do

Ballenberg Museum in Interlaken

It takes several hours to see all the buildings and stroll the whole museum. It is so big, it even has two main entrances. 

From Brienz, it is just a shortish – and extremely scenic – bus/car ride away. 

See the Giessbach Waterfalls

There are many waterfalls in Switzerland, but the Giessbach Waterfalls is one of the most unique in the country. The towering waterfall is cascading over stepped rocks, with viewing points spanning a forested ravine. The water from the Giessbach stream plunges down a total of 14 steps into the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz. 

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls

Interlaken where to stay

There are several ways to get to the waterfalls – by car, bus, or boat. The most scenic is via boat – what a sight! If you get out of the boat station (Giessbach), you can either go up to Grand Hotel Giessbach via the funicular or hike for 10 minutes. From there, you have great views of the waterfalls. Keep hiking so you can even walk behind the waterfalls. 

Explore Interlaken

Not far from Brienz is this world-famous Swiss destination: Interlaken. The town is located between the two lakes, Brienz and Thun, and has the reputation of being the capital of adventure in Europe. 

Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte

So, whether you want to go up Harder  Kulm Mountain, do some paragliding, or experience one of the many other adventures the region is famous for, many tours start from here.

The train ride from Brienz to Interlaken Ost is also one of the most scenic train rides. It is just a 20-minute ride, but the great views of Lake Brienz with the Alps are worth the trip to Interlaken alone. Here are 50 things to do in Interlaken.

Fall in Love With Iseltwald

Another gorgeous little village along the shores of Lake Brienz – but on the southern side – is Iseltwald. It has many traditional Swiss wooden houses with charming decorations and makes a great walk from Giessbach Waterfalls or even Interlaken.

Iseltwald in Switzerland near Interlaken Arzo Travels

You can also do some water sports or take pictures from the quite famous little pier (which has been in a famous Korean movie) that you will find here. Though it is small, Iseltwald is one of the cutest places to visit in Interlaken. Check out my Iseltwald post for more tips. 

Enjoy a Day at Jungfraujoch

If in Brienz and in the region of Interlaken, make sure to add the Jungfraujoch to your Swiss itinerary. Jungfraujoch is one of the most popular tourist spots in the region. It is a saddle that connects the two impressive mountains, Jungfrau and Mönch.  

View of the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch, one of the highest observatories in the world located at the Jungfrau railway station, Bernese Overland, Switzerland. @shutterstock
@shutterstock

View from Eismeer Station on the way to Jungfraujoch

Ice sculpure at Ice Palace at Jungfraujoch

Getting up Jungfraujoch is a bucket list item for many, understandably because there is snow throughout the year. And it holds the record for being the highest train station in Europe – standing at almost 3,500 meters above sea level. You can do winter sports (we are talking about winter sports in the summer!), see the Ice Palace, or visit the Lindt Museum.

It is a rather expensive activity, and if you are on a budget, you can skip it and enjoy some other wonderful experiences. However, if you have the money, I suggest going up to Jungfraujoch. Find out more about my trips to Jungfraujoch.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST BRIENZ ACTIVITIES

Brienz is a gorgeous village along the shores of Lake Brienz – it is the perfect place to explore the stunning surroundings. But it is also very cute and pretty, so you will enjoy ending your days either along the shores of the lake or in the small village center.  

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