Best Things to do in Lugano in 2 Days +

Things to do in Lugano, Switzerland Arzo Travels

WHAT TO DO IN LUGANO, TICINO

Lugano is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland – the beautiful, lively, and fun city is the perfect place to visit for a few days. Whether you are an outdoors lover, art enthusiast, or just enjoy the city life, Lugano has something for everyone.

LUGANO TRAVEL TIPS

And if you are now wondering about the best things to do in Lugano – its best attractions – and are looking for more travel tips, this Lugano itinerary is for you. I tried to create an itinerary and cluster the activities that you can combine easily. However, you do not have to follow/use it as a 2-day itinerary (or longer), and can just get some inspiration for what to do in Lugano.

Lugano Facts

Lugano is the biggest city in Ticino (with about 67,000 inhabitants) and Switzerland’s third largest financial center (which also means it is quite expensive).

However, Lugano actually feels rather small (not comparable to Zurich or Geneva). 

Visiting Lugano feels like you are visiting a beautiful town in Italy, with many buildings done in the Lombardy style. But no, I have to remind myself that I am in Switzerland – the abundance of Swiss flags everywhere definitely helps.

Lugano’s history dates back to the 10th century and was the object of ongoing ducal disputes (Como and Milan) until it became a Swiss dominion in 1513. It became part of the Swiss Confederation in the 18th century.

Lugano is located about 273 meters above sea level – Lake Lugano sits a few meters below it.

Parco Ciani in Lugano is a must-see

Best Time to Visit Lugano

Lugano, and Ticino in general, can be visited at any time of the year. Due to its southern location, you have milder temperatures in fall, winter, and spring compared to the rest of Switzerland. So, there is theoretically no bad time to visit. However, we can never 100% rely on the weather in Switzerland. Also, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip.

  • While it gets colder in the winter months, it usually does not snow at low altitudes, and you can explore Ticino off-season. However, it also means it might be too chilly to spend long hours at the promenade or spend a day at the beach (or the lake, in this case). In the winter months, hiking is also impossible if you are not equipped with special winter hiking gear.
  • I have one rule for Europe: Avoid the summer months of July and August.
  • If possible, visit in May/June or September and early October because it will be, as far as we can rely on the climate these days, still warm yet not hot, and hotel prices should drop in expensive Switzerland. Since I am a teacher and am stuck to my school holidays, I envy the people who can visit in the shoulder season and do not have to visit in the hot summer months.
  • Even though many Swiss visitors come in these off-season months, it is still less crowded than in the busy summer months, when it can also get quite hot.

Which Language is Spoken in Lugano

In Switzerland, there are four official languages.

  • German
  • French
  • Italian
  • Romansh (a minority language)

In Ticino – and thus Lugano – Italian is the main language. Many people also speak German, and in the tourism sector, basic English is widely spoken.

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano – a glacier lake – lies in southern Switzerland and Northern Italy. Most of the lake (63%) is located in Switzerland though. It lies about 271 meters above sea level. Locals often refer to the lakes as “Lake Ceresio.” 

Fun Fact: Once upon a time, it was connected to Lake Como. 

Views along Olive Grove Trail

And while Lake Lugano looks absolutely clean and clear, it was once one of the most polluted lakes in Switzerland. People were forbidden to swim in the lake in the 1960s and 1970s.

It has gotten much better now, but it remains unclear whether it will be totally healthy anytime soon.

In Lugano, there are several options for swimming – I will tell you more about it later, but bring your bathing suit if the weather allows it.

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 without additional costs – and you can cruise Lake Lugano with the regular boats to get around.
  • 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).

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.

How to Get to Lugano

Lugano is, unfortunately, a bit remote. However, it is still easy to get to Lugano thanks to an extensive rail network and great roads.

  • BY PLANE: Lugano does not have an airport. You could fly into Zurich or Geneva or Milan (Bergamo) and then get to Lugano by train.
  • BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Its remote location makes getting to Lugano a bit more time-consuming, but within 2-4 hours, you are normally in Lugano from most places in Switzerland.
  • BY CAR: Driving in Ticino is my least favorite part of driving in Switzerland. The drivers here drive like… Italians. Also, it can get busy during rush hour. However, there are paid parking spots and you can stay longer than a few hours but they are not in an abundance. 

How to Get Around Lugano 

  • Many activities mentioned here can be visited on foot. You can walk to most attractions if you are semi-fit.
  • For this Lugano itinerary, you could get around by car. However, I do not recommend it. I parked my car outside the city center (when I visited this summer, I left my van in a camping site and just got around via public transportation). The city center is quite busy and parking spots are rare. Also, parking in the small villages is not a fun task. Plus, you will be faster with public transportation most of the time. 
  • You can rely on good, extensive, and punctual buses and trains if you need public transportation. I used buses within Lugano several times, and I will let you know when I felt the need to hop on a bus for this itinerary.
  • Also, there is a funicular from the train station to the old town. It is just a short ride – it might be tempting to use to get back to the train station after a long day of walking and exploring.
  • My favorite mode of transportation is – and probably will always be – boats. I used boats several times (sometimes just for fun) and had the most scenic rides. Lake Lugano is a beauty, and boat cruises are a great way to get around.

How to Save Money on Your Lugano Trip

Besides the Swiss Travel Pass, you can save money by bringing a water bottle with you. There are some water fountains spread throughout Lugano where you can refill your bottle with fresh water. It is better for your wallet and better for the environment – and in Switzerland, you will be happy about every $ you can save (yes, Ticino, and especially Lugano, are very expensive).

More Travel Tips

If you are looking for more – general – tips for Switzerland, check out my posts.

Top Things to Do in Lugano

So, without further ado, here are my tips for the city of Lugano, as well as the stunning surroundings of Lake Lugano.

Chiesa di Santa Maria Immacolata

One of the first sights in Lugano awaits you right in front of the train station. The train station stands at 335 meters above sea level, and Lake Lugano is at 280 meters. This means that from the train station, you are already getting spoiled with some lovely views.

Lugano church one of the sights in Lugano

Once you step out of the train and the station or drive past the train station by car, you will have a lovely view of Lake Lugano, the city, and the scenery! And of the church Chiesa di Santa Maria Immacolata.

Walk down the steps and head to the church – it looks as beautiful from the inside as it does from the outside, though it is not as spectacular when compared with “other Italian churches.” But it is on your way to the old town, so it will not even take up much of your time.

  • You can visit it for free!

Old Town of Lugano

After visiting the church, head towards the old town. It is just a few meters below the church and an easy walk, even though it is on a slight downhill. You will pass some colorful buildings, and there you have the typical narrow streets that characterize many Swiss/Italian old towns.

Old town of Lugano

You will also find little shops selling souvenirs, food, and more, plus bars and restaurants.

I would be lying if I said that Lugano’s old town is stunning, but it is worth visiting, and strolling around should not take too much time.

  • One of the free things to do in Lugano

Piazza delle Riforma/Piazza Manzoni

The town center of Lugano is relatively small, so it won’t be long before you reach the two main squares. They are both located next to each other and just in front of the promenade.

Piazza della Riforma, also known as Riforma Square, is the main square of the city.

PIAZZA DELLE RIFORMA IN LUGANO

You will find beautiful buildings here, like the Town Hall (Palazzo Civico), which dates back to the 19th century. Look out for the five statues between the court and entrance.

Often you will find events, especially in the summer months. And on Saturdays from 8 am – 5 pm, there is a market of antiques and handicrafts in the Canova and Maghetti areas.

The big fountain at Monzani Square is pretty unique, and there are several fountains you can get water from.

PIAZZA MANZONI with water fountain and Lake Lugano

When you are at the water fountain, you are already at the stunning Lake Lugano!

  • These are free activities in Lugano

Lake Lugano Promenade

The promenade of Lugano is a loooong promenade, and you might not be able to stroll all the way. However, if you come from the old town, you are already at the boat station. 

There are several piers, and you could take a boat cruise (more on that below). Next to the boat station, you will also find the “I <3 Lugano” sign. 

With Lake Lugano in the background, this is a pretty Instagrammable place in Lugano.

This part of the promenade, around the boat station, is nice, but not the nicest part. Later, you will get to see more of it.

  • Another free thing to do in Lugano

Boat Tour Lake Lugano

Okay, there are different options on how to continue your day. One of my suggestions is to do a boat tour. I already talked a bit about Lake Lugano earlier, but as the official lake expert that I am, I can assure you that Lake Lugano is a gem.

Lake Lugano boat tour

Cruising Lake Lugano is scenic! The water color and the small villages on the shores of the lake make cruising a pretty pleasant experience.

If you want to take it more slowly and not do many sporty activities, I recommend getting from Lugano to Gandria. You normally have indoor and outdoor seats on the boats which makes boat cruising enjoyable regardless of the weather.

This boat ride takes – unfortunately – only about 30 minutes. However, here is some good news: there are more opportunities to do boat trips. 

  • With your Swiss Travel Pass, you can do the cruises on the Swiss side of the lake for free.

Gandria

Gandria is a small, cute former fishing village – perched at the bottom of Monte Bre – that is quite popular amongst visitors. Many people hike from Monte Bre to Gandria. However, you can also get to Gandria by boat if you are not up for the 2-3 hour downhill hike.

Boat tour on Lake Lugano-2

There are not many attractions in Gandria. What you can do is walk the narrow or enjoy a meal/drink at one of the grottos with terraces.

I recommend walking from Gandria to Castagnola – and walk the Olive Grove Trail.

Olive Grove Trail

One of the top things to do in/around Lugano is walking/hiking the Olive Grove Trail from Gandria to Castagnola. It is an easy walk/hike, about 3 kilometers long, through the countryside.

Olive Grove Train in Lugano

You can start in Gandria and just follow the signs – you will find many ancient olive trees where several olive groves have recently been planted. Along the way, you will also find a lot of information about olives and their production in Lugano. Parts of the hikes were along trees that spend shadow, but not all of the walk, so bring sunscreen. You will also find water fountains (1 or 2 if I remember correctly) and a toilet along the way.

The walk (I do not consider it a hike as it is mostly a flat path and does not include much downhill or uphill hiking) is beautiful. You have great views of Lake Lugano basically throughout the whole duration of the hike.

If you want, you can continue the walk back to Lugano – or take a bus from Castagnola and get out at Lido di Lugano. 

  • The Olive Grove Trail is free and open 24/7.

Lido di Lugano

You might want to spend some time in the water now – if you want, visit the lido in Lugano. It is an open-air pool complex with a sandy beach and green areas, popular in the summer months. There are several pools – perfect if you need to cool down.

  • There is an entrance fee for the lido, and if you plan a visit, do not forget your swimsuits and towels.

If you just want to rest, skip the lido and keep walking for another 2-3 minutes to get to this park.

Parco Ciani

If you get out at the bus stop at Lido di Lugano, you can either spend some time at the lido or rest at this beautiful park. It was probably one – if not THE – most favorite part in Lugano.

Parco Ciani is one of the most beautiful places in Lugano

Parco Ciani in Lugano

Parco Ciani is considered the green heart of Lugano, with a size of 63,000 square meters. It is one of the most beautiful parts of Lugano.

This part of the promenade is also really stunning! It is located right at the shores of Lake Lugano – thus, the park comes with great views! Also, this is the place to rest and chill – the meadow is really inviting! You have plenty of flowers and small art installations, which makes it fun to walk around.

  • There is no entrance fee, and it is open 24/7.

Monte Bre

So, if you are a hiker, I suggest heading to Monte Bre peak first. Then you can continue the itinerary by hiking down Gandria and walking the Olive Grove Trail.

Monte Bre, Switzerland Arzo Travels

However, if you do not want to do too much physical activity (there is a hike for day 2 in Lugano), then get up Monte Bre via funicular. Monte Bre is one of the most popular trips from Lugano. It sits at 933 meters above sea level and offers fantastic views of the Alps, Lake Lugano, and Lugano.

Up there, you can do (more) activities like cycling or hiking – or just enjoy the beautiful views!

  • Return tickets for Monte Bre funicular are around 25CHF (discount with a Swiss Travel Pass)

Bre

A few meters below Monte Bre, you will find a small village named Bre.

Explore this place that is scattered with art testimonials – Bre was home to several artists like Wilhelm Schmid. You will also find the Wilhelm Schmid Museum, which houses his art and his library.

  • Tip: If you are on a budget and do not want to spend money on the funicular to get up Monte Bre, you can also take the bus up to Bre. From there, you have to do a 15-20 minute hike up to get to the summit of Monte Bre.

Now, let’s talk about day 2 in Lugano. I suggest starting with a(nother) mountain trip. This time, it is about Monte San Salvatore, also known as the “Pan di Zucchero,” as it looks like the Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil.

Monte San Salvatore

If you plan to visit a mountain peak in Lugano, then it could (should) be Monte San Salvatore. Standing at 912 meters above sea level, it is easily accessible by funicular.

Monte San SalvatoreThe views from Monte San Salvatore are splendid – Lake Lugano is without a doubt a beauty, and here it presents itself from its best side! You will also find a church, a restaurant, and a small museum at the top.

You can then hike down to Morcote – I highly recommend doing the hike. It is a very steep downhill hike! It took me about 5 hours, with stops along the way. 

However, if you have problems with your knees, do not have proper hiking boots, or if it rains, I advise you to skip the hike.

How to get there: From Lugano, go to Paradise station by boat or bus. Then, take the funicular to go up. You could also hike up and then take the funicular to get down.

  • You might want to use a funicular to get up Monte San Salvatore which does cost about 20€ one way – 50% off with the Swiss Travel Pass

If you opt for the hike, you will see the following villages- mentioned below – along the way. If you decide not to hike, you can add these places to your itinerary and get there by bus!

Carona

Hiking down to Morcote will make you pass picturesque Carona – it is a small yet charming village with lots of sculptures and other art gems, like a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Carona when hiking down to Morcote

You can also visit Parco San Grato in Carona, where you will find – amongst others – camellias and rhododendrons.

Those who enjoy swings will be happy to hear that one of the “famous” swings is also at the park. However, you have to do more uphill walking (add another 20 minutes for the detour) to get to the swing, but it is probably well worth it.

Vico Morcote

Then continue your hike and have a last stop before you arrive in Morcote. Above Morcote, you will find Vico Morcote nestled amongst vineyards and woods. It is a very small area, yet very charming.

Vico Morcote in Ticino

The church in Vico Morcote looks beautiful from the outside, and walking the streets of Vico Morcote was also lovely! This is a small gem, and if you hike down Monte San Salvadore to Morcote, you will pass it along the way.

If you get to Morcote via boat/bus, and do not enjoy uphill walking, hen you can take a bus to get to Vico Morcote.

Morcote

When in Lugano… you have to visit Morcote! Morcote was named the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016 – and I can assure you, that title was well deserved.

What to do and see in Morcote, Ticino, travel guide

It is an extraordinarily pretty village on the shores of Lake Lugano.

There are several ways to arrive in Morcote, which is just 10 km south of Lugano. 

  • You can hike down from San Salvatore to Morcote – this hike is quite popular and it would be your last stop. And what a stop.
  • If you do not want to hike, you can get to Morcote by boat. Either way, do not skip this village.

Whether you enjoy the views of the famous church with Lake Lugano as a backdrop, try one of the “Swing the World“ swings, stroll the promenade and the old town, or visit Scherrer Garden, you will not regret visiting Morcote.

Then you could head back to Lugano by boat, or if it is still “early,“ you could get on a boat and then stop in Melide.

Swissminiatur

Between Lugano and Morcote, you will find Switzerland’s largest open-air museum – Swissminiatur – in the village of Melide.

There are128 mini-models of houses, castles, and monuments distributed throughout the 14,000 square meter park, including well-known sites such as the Heidi Village, the castles of Burgdorf and Chillon, and the Federal Parliament in Bern.

And there are 18 model trains traveling between the buildings on approximately 3.5 kilometers of tracks, as well as operating rack railways, cable cars, suspension railways, and ships.

  • Entrance fee for adults – around 19CHF 
  • 10% discount if you buy tickets online, 50% off with a Swiss Travel Pass

More Activities in Lugano

Here are a few more activities in Lugano you might be interested in.

Watersports

With a pretty lake like Lake Lugano, you can expect quite a few water sport activities. Swimming, kayaking, diving, SUP, windsurfing, sailing, boarding, and water-skiing – there are lots of options.

Mountain Biking

There are almost 400 km of trails for mountain bikers in the region of Lugano. I still cannot wrap my head around how people ride their bikes in these crazy mountains, but if you are a mountain biker, you might love riding these “streets.“

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A PERFECT LUGANO ITINERARY

Lugano is a beautiful city. I enjoy it every single time I visit and always find new places and attractions. It is lively and lovely, and the scenery and outdoor activities are impressive.

Then there are the pretty, pretty villages along the shores of the lake. There are many reasons to visit here, and hopefully, this post has helped you figure out what to do in Lugano for your own trip.

Safe Travels, Arzo

Amazing Things to Do in Schaffhausen, Switzerland

WHAT TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN IN ONE DAY + TRAVEL TIPS

Schaffhausen, in the northern part of Switzerland, is a great place to visit even though it is not very well-known. And if you are wondering about the best things to do in Schaffhausen in one day (or longer) then this post is for you!

Schaffhausen is often overlooked in favor of cities like Zurich, Lucerne, or Interlaken. However, this town is a good place to visit, and if you plan your Schaffhausen itinerary, this post will help you find out about the top places to visit, and more travel tips.

I have visited the famous Rhine Falls – which is just around the corner – a couple of times so far but it took me some time to finally visit Schaffhausen.

Must See Places in Schaffhausen in 24 Hours

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which 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.

SCHAFFHAUSEN TRAVEL TIPS

Schaffhausen is mostly known for the Rhine Falls, but it also attracts many tourists because of the medieval town center. Schaffhausen is a canton (state), and its capital is…Schaffhausen.

It was mentioned in the document for the first time in the 11th century, and today Schaffhausen is one of the best-preserved cities/towns dating back to the Middle Ages and one of the most charming towns in Switzerland.

LOCATION OF SCHAFFHAUSEN

Schaffhausen is located on the Upper Rhine between the Black Forest (Germany) and Lake Constance (which is located in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria) and is surrounded by vineyards. Though it might not be so famous amongst non-Swiss, it is a busy town – especially in the summer months.

BEST TIME TO VISIT SCHAFFHAUSEN

I normally suggest visiting during the off-peak season, but since Schaffhausen is not the main tourist destination in Switzerland, summer is a good time to visit.

Still, even the winter months seem great (with all the Christmas Markets around), and so are fall and spring.

HOW TO GET AROUND SCHAFFHAUSEN

  • Schaffhausen´s old town is car-free. However, you will not need a car in Schaffhausen.
  • Getting around Schaffhausen is quite easy.  You can walk to most of the attractions in Schaffhausen.
  • For my last recommendation, you will have to hop on a train or bus. But, of course, you could also drive yourself to the last stop.
  • If you road trip Switzerland, check out my guide on driving in Switzerland.

WHERE TO STAY IN SCHAFFHAUSEN

Accommodation prices in Schaffhausen are lower at the weekend – normally.

  • So, if you are on a budget, visit at the weekends instead of during the week.
  • There are no luxury hotels in Schaffhausen.
  • I recommend staying at Sorell Hotel Rüden. The location is central, and it is a more traditional Swiss hotel. I stayed here for a night (dogs allowed), and it had everything I needed for one night. You can find out more about rates and get more information here.
  • If you visit Schaffhausen as a day trips from Zurich, check out my guide on places to stay in Zurich.

THINGS TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN

Okay, let´s start with the top things to do in Schaffhausen (good news: most of them are free!).

SCHAFFHAUSEN OLD TOWN

  • Free Thing to do in Schaffhausen

The old town of Schaffhausen is home to beautiful old and colorful houses and is considered one of Switzerland’s best remaining medievals towns.

Schaffhausen is also called the city of Erker (oriel bay windows) as many old houses have these oriel bay windows. Make sure also to look up while strolling through the streets – you will find 171 of them.

Schaffhausen, Old Town

Schaffhausen, city of Erker (oriel bay windows)

The most famous and most unique building in the old town is probably Haus zum Ritter (House of the Knight)

Schaffhausen´s most stunning facade
Haus zum Ritter (House of the Knight)

The original exterior dates back to the Renaissance but they were removed in 1935 for preservation. The façade you see today is a recreation and the original is the All Saints Museum.

As usual, I do not give a certain itinerary for exploring a town and, say, get lost and stroll through the old town streets and find some nice places. Keep looking up so you do not miss the beautiful facades.

Many fine guild houses and merchant’s houses you will see during your stroll date from Gothic and Baroque times.

Schaffhausen´s City Center @shutterstock
Fronwagplatz @shutterstock

Also, visit the Fronwagplatz, a central square with cafes and shops around that are perfect to have a coffee and sit down. Then head to the High Gothic St. Johann church with its remarkable acoustics.

MUNOT FORTRESS

  • Free Activity in Schaffhausen

Munot – This impressive fortress, from the 16th century, offers the best views of the old town as it is built on a hill.

Things to do in Schaffhausen, Switzerland Arzo Travels

The ring-shaped stronghold was built between 1564 and 1589 to a design by Albrecht Dürer. Steps lead up through vineyards to this fortress. 

View from Munot over the Rhine river and parts of Schaffhausen

Things to do in Schaffhausen in one day, Arzo Travels

You will find a small vineyard and a moat surrounding the Munot. In the moat, you will find some deers (watch closely in the picture below).

Munot Fortress in Schaffhausen

Inside the Munot in Schaffhausen

Inside the Munot in Schaffhausen

You can walk inside the fortress and learn about the history, and the view is just a gorgeous extra. However, you cannot see much within the fortress, and there is not much on display, but it is still worth it.

Every evening at 9 pm, the Munot guard, who lives in the tower, rings the Munot bell. Back then, it was a sign that the town gates and inns close.

You will also find a little rose garden with approximately 170 species of roses surrounded by hedges and trees there.

  • It is free to visit the Munot and the garden!

MÜNSTER ALLERHEILIGEN

  • Another Free Thing to do in Schaffhausen

Münster Allerheiligen (Saints Abbey) should also be on your list. The cathedral also has a herb garden inside, which you should check out. Make sure to take your time as there are some lovely places hidden in that area.

Münster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen

Münster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen, the inside

Discovering Münster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen in Puppygak

Pretty pink doors and facades in Schaffhausen

In the backyard, you will also find the Schiller Bell (Schillerglocke) on display. The bell was used in Allerheiligen Cathedral until 1895 – it weighs 4.5 tons! 

Münster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen
Münster Allerheiligen in Schaffhausen

RHINE RIVER

  • Walking Along the River is Free 
  • Boat Cruise Tickets Can be Bought on Spot

Also, I recommend a nice walk along the Rhine River. There are some cafes or restaurants but not that many. However, you can just sit down on a bench and enjoy the views.

Schaffhausen Points of interest

The weather was not my best friend when I visited, but it was still fun to walk along the Rhine, which definitely looks much better in this part of the world than in other parts. For the best view of the Munot get to the other side of the Rhine and enjoy the views.

You can also do Rhine cruises – apparently, they are very scenic. I have not done any myself but that is something you may want to enjoy!

RHINE FALLS IN NEUHAUSEN

  • You Can See the Rhine Falls for Free
  • Getting on the Viewing Platform Cost About 5 CHF

And of course, you should visit the Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfalls in Europe. How to get there and what to expect is in this post here.

Schaffhausen, Neuhausen Rhine Falls A Must-See Place in Switzerland

Rhine Falls Switzerland Best places to see in Switzerland

FINAL THOUGHTS IN WHAT TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN

Schaffhausen is a beautiful town – it has everything a town needs. Interesting architecture, a lot of cultural sights, you can enjoy nice views and you also have some great outdoor places nearby.

Also, most main Schaffhausen activities are free – in an expensive country like Switzerland, this is great news, right!?

Schaffhausen is a gem that should be on your Switzerland itinerary because it is well worth to visit and if you do a Switzerland road trip, you should stop here for sure.

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

THINGS TO DO IN MORCOTE, SWITZERLAND

Morcote cover picture with Arzo Travels

WHAT TO DO IN MORCOTE, TICINO IN 1 DAY OR LONGER

In this post, you will find out about a beautiful village named Morcote. Wait, did I say A beautiful village? I actually meant THE most beautiful village in Switzerland. Here is more about the best things to do in Morcote, how to get there, and many more travel tips.

Morcote – a small village located in the canton of Ticino in southern Switzerland – was named the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2016. Each year, the Swiss public chooses the most beautiful village with less than 3000 inhabitants (Morcote has less than 1000 inhabitants actually), and Morcote beat more than 100 competitors.

But is it really that beautiful? Well, I chase gorgeous places in Switzerland – I am a huge fan of this small country and am always on the hunt for stunning locations. 

And I have found many pretty, charming, breathtaking spots like Interlaken, Valposchiavo, or Montreux. However,  I can say that Morcote is indeed the most beautiful village in Switzerland, I have visited so far.

Once you visit, you will quickly understand why. Morcote is just the perfect mix of Switzerland and Italy, and you just have to love it!

It is an exceptionally pretty place – Morcote, I have fallen in love with you!

Image

TRAVEL TIPS FOR MORCOTE

And if you plan to visit Morcote – and also fall in love – here, you will find my travel guide for Morcote. Find out what makes the place extraordinarily beautiful, where to go, and what to see, plus more travel tips.

Morcote is located in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino – at the southern shores of beautiful Lake Lugano. It is one of the most southern areas in all of Switzerland, but just 10 km south of Lugano.

Best Time to Visit Morcote 

Morcote, and Ticino (like Locarno) in general, can be visited at any time of the year. Thanks to its southern location and its climate, you have milder temperatures in fall, winter, and spring compared to the rest of the country.

  • While it gets colder in the winter months, it normally does not snow at low altitudes, and you can explore Ticino off-season. 
  • I normally suggest for Europe: Avoid the months of (late) June, July, and August. If possible, visit in May/June or September and early October because it will be – as far as we can rely on the climate these days – still warm yet not hot, and hotel prices should drop in expensive Switzerland.
  • Even though quite a lot of Swiss visitors come in these off-season months, it is still less crowded than in the busy summer months, when it can get also quite hot.

Language

In Switzerland, there are four official languages.

  • German
  • French
  • Italian
  • Romansh (a small minor language)

In Ticino, Italian is the main language, but many people also speak German and in the tourism sector, basic English is also widely spoken.

Lake Lugano

While Morcote is located at 272 meters above sea level, Lake Lugano is around the same. Keep that in mind, when you read about altitudes.

Lake Lugano from San Salvatore

Also, it is interesting to know that Lake Lugano – a glacier lake – lies in southern Switzerland and Northern Italy. Most of the lake (63%) is located in Switzerland though.

And while Lake Lugano looks absolutely clean and clear, it had actually been one of the most polluted lakes in Switzerland, and people were forbidden to swim in the lake in the 1960s and 1970s.

It has become much better now – but it remains unclear whether it will be totally healthy anytime soon.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you use public transportation, 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 – and cruise Lake Lugano with the regular boats to get around.
  • It also gives you a 50% discount on most mountain rides (you can get up via cable car/funicular for half of the price).

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 Morcote and stay there for a few days, it might not make sense financially. 

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.

How to Get to Morcote

Morcote is a bit remote, so getting there might be time-consuming. However, it can be quite a scenic way to arrive to Morcote – and it is worth it!

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  • BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: If you are in Lugano, you can take a public bus to get to Morcote. It takes about 30 minutes. Buses run quite frequently (but not very often), and if you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can use the bus for free.
  • BY BOAT: The most scenic way to get to Morcote is undoubtedly by boat. From Lugano – and other villages at the shores of Lake Lugano – you can hop on a boat and get an impressive first glimpse of Morcote from the water. Boats run frequently – check out the times here. The timetable might look a bit messy and confusing at first, but once you have figured out from which village/city you want to start, it is easy to navigate through. Also, pay attention on which days the cruises are.
  • HIKING TO MORCOTE: There are several hiking trails – you can just walk from Lugano to Morcote. However, the most scenic and popular way to hike to Morcote is from Monte San Salvatore to Morcote. The hike takes a couple of hours and includes some steep downhill hiking, but it is worth it. The views you get along the hike are top-notch.
  • BY CAR: You can also get to Morcote by car from Lugano or Italy. However, it is a small village, and parking might be difficult – especially during peak season.

Save Money in Morcote

Besides the Swiss Travel Pass, you can save money by bringing a water bottle with you. There are some water fountains spread throughout Morcote where you can refill your bottle with fresh water. It is better for your wallet and better for the environment – and in Switzerland, you will be happy about every $ you can save (yes, Ticino is also very expensive).

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THINGS TO DO IN MORCOTE

Okay, let´s talk about the places/things to do in Morcote. As mentioned, it is a tiny village so there might not be tons of activities, but these attractions are pretty great!

Visit the Church Santa Maria del Sasso

  • Free activity in Morcote
  • Address: Sentee da la Gesa, 6922 Morcote,

One of the most outstanding attractions in Morcote – if not in all of Ticino – is the Santa Maria del Sasso Church. It might look like any other church in Ticino, but its location makes it very special.

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If you hike down from San Salvatore, you will be pleased to hear that you do not have to climb the 404 steps to get to the church. You can just walk your way to the church on your hike down.

However, if you come from the promenade or the old town, you will have to do some serious stair climbing if you want to visit the church and get that epic view with the lake in the background. 

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Nonetheless, it is worth it! It was – is – one of the most charming and Italian-like places I have seen in Switzerland. Every single step was worth it.

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Also, you will find the Sant’Abate Church and a small square in front of it, where you can take a rest, and you can, of course, also visit the church. 

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Next to it is also the cemetery that might be worth checking out.

Swing the Swing

  • Free attraction in Morcote
  • Geo location:  45.92374, 8.91415

Okay, once you are at the church, you are almost at “the“ swing. Do not give up yet, but continue going up. You will find small signs pointing you to the direct location.

The Swing Sign in Ticino

After another 5 minutes or so you will see THE swing – it offers excellent views of the village and is fun. Especially after all the steps, swinging also gives you a fresh breeze.

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You are wondering which swing I am talking about? “Swing the World“ is a project by two young people from Ticino with a goal in mind: encouraging people to spend more time outdoors. The homemade swings are in unique spots around Ticino (and now also outside in the beautiful area of Valposchiavo).

You will find more swings, e.g., in Ascona and also when you hike down from Monte San Salvatore to Morcote.

Stroll the Promenade of Morcote

  • Another free activity
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Of course, you have views of the fantastic Lake Lugano when strolling the promenade. But you will also find historic buildings along the promenade from the 17th and 18th centuries. The buildings have been restored and belonged to royals – you might see coats of arms on the houses that tell you about the owners.

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Here, you will also find the boat station, restaurants, and small little shops selling unique products and souvenirs.

Discover the Town

  • Free thing to do in Morcote

The small medieval village center of Morcote has cute narrow streets with charming old buildings. Pay attention to the small details – like the facades. This is what makes the old town cute and special.

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You will also find the small San Rocco church which is dedicated to the patron saint of plague victims. It was built between 1548 and 1553 by Morcote’s villagers.

However, as cute as the old town is, it surely is not the highlight of Morcote. It is really small and I think, you will be “done” in less than 30 minutes. However, make sure to also road some other parts of Morcote without having a fixed route but just take your time to walk along.

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Scherrer Garden / Parco Scherrer

  • No entrance fee for the garden
  • Closed in the winter months
  • Opening hours: 15 March to 08 November from 10 am to 5 pm – in July and August from 10 am to 6 pm

The beautiful Scherrer Garden gives Italian vibes! Known as the “Garden of Wonders“, Anton Scherrer built the park.

He bought the land in 1930 and created this little place on Earth – a veritable Garden of Eden covering more than 15,000m².

The statues, the design, the architecture – here you will find Italy at its best. It seems that quite some people skip the park and just go for the Santa Maria del Sasso church and the views – this, my dear friends, would be a huge mistake. Scherrer Garden is pretty and does not have an entrance fee! I mean, enough reasons to visit, or?

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It is about 500 meters from the boat station, and there is some step climbing in the park, but nothing major. Also, this is another perfect place to rest.

Hiking to/from Morcote to Monte San Salvatore  

  • Free/cheapish thing to do 
  • You might want to use a funicular to get up Monte San Salvatore which does cost about 20€ one way – 50% off with the Swiss Travel Pass
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As mentioned before, hiking around Morcote is a wonderful way to explore this region. One of the most popular hikes is from Monte San Salvatore (912 meters above sea level) to Morcote at about 272 meters above sea level.

You can get to Paradiso station from Lugano and then take the funicular to get up beautiful San Salvatore.

From there, hike down to the cute village of Carona Vico Morcote and then continue your downhill hike to Morcote – you can also do it the other way around and hike from Morcote to San Salvatore.

If you plan to do this, schedule in about 3-6 hours at least.

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Lake Lugano Boat Trip

  • Free with a Swiss Travel Pass

One great way to see Morcote from a different angle – but also other beautiful villages at the shores of Lake Lugano – is by doing a boat cruise. 

I have visited Morcote twice. The second time I was in Lugano and had some spare time. And boat cruises on Lake Lugano are really scenic and fun. Also, some fresh breeze seemed to be a great idea on hot days.

Lake Lugano has a gorgeous water color, and cruising is so much fun! Also, you can reach places like Lugano quite easily by boat.

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The cruises on the Swiss part of the lake are covered with your Swiss Travel Pass. The boats do not run very often but several times a day, so check the times.

Swimming in/Around Morcote

  • Free activity in Morcote

Lake Lugano is one of my favorite lakes in the country – it has a stunning color that shimmers nicely on a sunny day.

And though I am not so much a (lake) swimmer, Lake Lugano is one of the best places to hop into the water. You are not allowed to just hop into the water at the boat station of Morcote.

If you want to dip your feet into the lake, you can do it near the boat station. However, If you plan to take a day off and swim in the lake, you can do so at several places in Morcote e.g., either near the Garavello multi-story car park (towards Figino) or at the lakeshore at San Bartholomee.

Visit Vico Morcote

  • Things to do Near Morcote for Free

Above Morcote sits the beautiful town/village of Vico Morcote, at 442 meters above sea level. The church looks pretty stunning, and when I hiked down from Monte San Salvatore, I got confused and thought it was the church in Morcote, but that is another one.

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However, the streets here look very Mediterranean and were beautiful with all the flowers. 

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If you do not plan to do any hiking, take the bus up there and just stroll the streets and enjoy the views.

Visit Lugano

Of course, Lugano is a must-see place if you are in Morcote. You might do a day trip from Lugano to Morcote – but if you make Morcote your base, make sure to add this beautiful and lively city to your Morcote itinerary.

It is much bigger than Morcote so it is great if you are looking to have more action, then head to Lugano for a day or a few hours.

Whether you get there by car, bus or train – Lugano is worth a visit. Check out my Lugano post for more information.

Morcote Castle

If you stay one full day – or longer – in Lugano, you can also visit Morcote Castle (Castello di Morcote), which sits at 475 meters above sea level. It was built on the ruins of a Lombard Tower around the year 1100.

It was gifted to the Paleari family in the 16th century, who had previously bravely refused to support the Dukes by sending troops – which ended in the victory of the Confederate forces. Two underground corridors connected the fortress with the village.

I did visit it myself – just saw it from a distance – but that is the info I got from a leaflet from the tourism office in Lugano. If you plan a visit, I recommend asking the tourism office for more details.

Swissminiatur

  • Entrance fee for adults – around 19CHF 
  • 10% discount if you buy tickets online, 50% off with a Swiss Travel Pass

Between Lugano and Mercote you will find a small village named Melide – here you will find Switzerland’s largest open-air museum- SwissMiniature.

There are 128 models of houses, castles, and monuments distributed throughout the 14,000 square meter park – including well-known sites such as the Heidi Village, the castles of Burgdorf and Chillon, or the Federal Parliament in Bern.

18 model trains travel between the buildings on approximately 3.5 kilometers of tracks. There are also operating rack-railways, cable cars, suspension railways, and ships.

This place is – like many places I have mentioned here in my Mercote travel guide – the perfect place for families and people of all ages.

You can get there from Morcote by boat, bus, or car.

CONCLUSION: BEST MORCOTE ACTIVITIES

Morcote was rightfully – if I may say so – named as the most beautiful village in Switzerland.

It ticks all the boxes of a charming and pretty village – it is medieval, colorful, lively & lovely, offers great views as well as many options to rest and relax. 

Morcote, I am sure I will be back, and in the meantime, enjoy your time in Morcote!

Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland

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

Are you heading 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 trip.

Are you looking for a perfect cute town to visit in Switzerland? I have an idea: Why not visit Zermatt? Many reasons second my suggestion – if I may so myself. 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 also one of the best places to visit in summer, fall, or spring.

Actually, Zermatt is 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.

In this post, I am not only talking about the top things in Zermatt, I will also provide you with some travel information for your Zermatt trip at the end of the post. 

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

Things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland, Arzo Travels

Here are the Best Places to Visit in Zermatt

Ready to find out about the best things to do in Zermatt in summer? Here are my top recommendations for what to do.

Admire the Matterhorn

To say the 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 (but not 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.

Switzerland 10 day itineraryBut 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!

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
  • The youngest person who climbed the Matterhorn was just 8 years old! The oldest climber who successfully got to the summit was 89 years old!
  • Even a Pope climbed the Matterhorn: Pope Pius XI in 1889
  • 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.

Stroll Zermatt Town

If you use this post as a Zermatt itinerary, I suggest starting with the town center. It starts just left from the train station. Zermatt old town with Arzo TravelsOne of the first things I noticed in Zermatt were: many tourists, many flower pots, and many ads for luxury watches (and shops) hanging everywhere (the tourists did not hang there, though).

Flower pots, flower pots, and flower pots make Zermatt pretty pretty pretty. If only more places looked like that… Strolling through Zermatt is such a lovely and nice way to spend time and one of the fun things to do in Zermatt. The houses are so charming and the scenery makes everything more beautiful. Zermatt is one of those peaceful and cute places you can stroll through for hours – though it is quite small. 

As in all parts of Switzerland, water fountains provide fresh drinking water – something my dog and I enjoyed, so bring your bottle and try fresh and yum water.

Walk Along the Matter Vispa River

From the old town, it is not very far from the lovely Matter Vispa River. 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 kind of let´s say, a challenging part, here is a great alternative.

Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock
Matterhorn Cable Car @shutterstock

I visited Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (also known as Klein Matterhorn), and I think it is a must-do activity in Zermatt. While Zermatt is about 1,600 above sea level, Klein Matterhorn is almost about 4,000 meters high and has the highest cable car station in Europe.

It comes with 360° views of other peaks & glaciers and visiting is one of the best things to do in Zermatt.

HOWEVER, I was warned before that the altitude might cause some problems but I did not take it seriously. So I went straight up in one of the cable cars and on the summit lifts. I had to change a couple of times, and it took about 30 minutes which might sound like long, but it is actually very fast to get up so high.

  • I recommend getting out of at one of those stops and taking a break for half an hour or so, so you are not up that fast.
  • And to drink a lot of plain water.

Then it should be even more fun because you are less likely will feel sick.

You could start with visiting the highest viewing platforms in the Alps. A 360 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).

A little cinema lounge shows videos about the Matterhorn and the Alps – quite interesting to learn more about it!

When I arrived at the restaurant and shop I actually didn’t feel good at all and felt dizzy. So I rushed to Glacier Palace, which is close to the restaurant. 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. For some reason, I missed out on that. However, even if I had known about it, I couldn’t have done it because 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 seeing 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 straight forward.
  • It takes about 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 1000 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.View from Gornergrat with Monte Rosa in ZermattUp 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 of Switzerland – Mount Rosa (also known as the Dufourspitze) which stands at 4634 meters above sea level.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 has 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 was good enough for me.

  • If you have a Gornergrat ticket (one-way or return), you can visit this museum for free in 2021 – from 2022 onwards, it costs around CHF 7.
  • If you travel 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. But you can also hike down. And this is what I did.

I hiked down – all the way to Zermatt. I passed the Riffelsee (a small and yet beautiful lake that – on clear days without wind – has the reflection of the Matterhorn) and more stunning places. 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.

The hike was quite steep downhill 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 to some more sporty people.

Visit Gorner Gorge

Another place to visit in Zermatt is Gorner Gorge. An astonishing 220 million years old is the rock, greenish serpentinite – but even if you do not actually visit the gorge, 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

I could not see it, but I think this is another tourist sight you should visit. The first time I visited in summer, I felt sick and the second time, it was closed at the time of my arrival.

  • My tip: If you hike down from Gornergrat, then you can add it to your itinerary, as it is “on your way” to Zermatt town.
  • Gorner Gorge is closed during winter times, making it the perfect Zermatt summer activity.
  • Entry is only about CHF 5. They only take cash (yes, even though it is 2021)!

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. 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.

You can summer ski at Klein Matterhorn – here you can enjoy snow sports along 21 km of pistes.

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-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).

For the 5-lake hike, I suggest getting up with a cable car/funicular to Sunnegga first, and then change the cable car to Blauherd mountain peak.

Get out there and start your hike. It is a steep walk 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 water color 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 38 mountain peaks and 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 ZermattIf 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.

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.

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 do 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.

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, 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, 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. 
  • 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 for 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 hotels in Zermatt: Here are the best-rated luxury hotels in Zermatt: Grand Hotel Zermatterhof & Hotel Mont Cervin Palace
  • Mid-range hotels in ZermattHere are some ideas for mid-range hotels that were well-rated in Zermatt: Hotel Testa Grigia & Sunstar Style Hotel. I stayed at the latter 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 Matterhorn. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend booking a hotel room with a view of 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 that 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

FINAL THOUGHTS ON 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 for Zermatt and added some of these attractions to your Zermatt itinerary – after all, these are the top places to visit in Zermatt.

Here are more travel tips for Switzerland:

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

WHAT TO DO IN 5 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

Points of interest Switzerland 5 days

MOST EPIC 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Switzerland might be small, but there is definitely a lot to see. So, if you are looking for the best things to do in 5 days in Switzerland or the perfect 5-day Switzerland itinerary, this post is for you.

While Switzerland is not a big country, the truth is that 5 days in Switzerland is the absolute minimum to visit Switzerland! However, I understand that some of you might only have three or four days in Switzerland, so you can adjust this itinerary to 4 days in Switzerland or also 6 days.

If you are heading there for five days, then be prepared to sacrifice those extra hours in bed to see the best of what Switzerland has to offer. But believe me when I say: it will be worth it!

While 5 days in Switzerland isn’t enough, it’s definitely possible to see some of its best places.

In this 5-day Switzerland itinerary post, you will find out:

  • How to get around in 5 days in Switzerland
  • Places to visit in 5 days in Switzerland 
  • Things to do in Switzerland in 5 days

Travel Tips for a 5-Day Switzerland Itinerary

Before telling you about the 5 days Switzerland itinerary, here are some important travel tips for Switzerland. If you want to find out about the 25 very best things to do in Switzerland, read my awesome post here.

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

Where to Stay in Switzerland for 5 Days

If you stay in Switzerland for five days, I recommend not having a base.

Instead, I suggest changing your hotels/locations a few times. This might be a bit more stressful than just doing a few day trips – from Zurich, e.g. – but this way, you do not spend too much of your precious time traveling back and forth.

How to Get Around Switzerland in 5 Days

I have been to Switzerland numerous times, and I have road-tripped and traveled by train. Both are amazing ways to discover Switzerland in 5 days.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION / SWISS TRAVEL PASS

For this Switzerland itinerary, I strongly recommend that you use the Swiss Travel Pass.

  • There are different passes available regarding flexibility and duration. Flexible passes allow you to use the pass a certain amount of days within one month or the regular, more affordable option, which means you have to use the pass on consecutive days of travel.
  • Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass is quite expensive but it will pay off.
  • You can use buses and trains without any extra costs.
  • Also, most boat cruises and some mountain excursions are included.
  • The Swiss Travel Pass also covers most museums and entrances to castles.
  • The great thing about it is that you never have to worry about finding parking spaces and instead use buses and trains. 

Review Swiss Travel Pass

Okay, I have some bad news to deliver:

  • The Swiss Travel Pass is valid for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days.
  • I still recommend getting one as you will save money.
  • So my tip is to get around the first day by buying single tickets and use the 4-day pass from day two onwards. Click here to find the rates for a Swiss Travel Pass.

ROAD TRIPPING SWITZERLAND FOR 5 DAYS

Switzerland is also great to road trip. I actually love driving there. However, if I only had five days, I would probably leave my car and instead take the train because it is often easier and gives you more time to enjoy the scenery. If you still want to drive, check out my Switzerland road trip itinerary or my post on driving tips for Switzerland.

Visa Regulations

  • Switzerland is not part of the European Union.
  • People from the European Union do not need a visa.
  • If you are coming from elsewhere, please do check visa regulations.

Language

Switzerland is small and has only a bit more than 8,5 million inhabitants. However, it has four official languages! Yep, 4 languages. 

  • Most of the country speak Swiss-German. The places I mention here are mostly located in the German-speaking part of the country (which is the north and east of Switzerland) as well as Central Switzerland. If you learn German at school etc. you will not understand that dialect, though. It is not the German that is spoken in the news, movies or so. But most Swiss people will try to speak High German, if they realize you do not speak the Swiss dialect.
  • Italian is spoken in some parts of South Switzerland – especially in the canton of Ticino.
  • French is another main language that people in the west and south speak. This includes Zermatt (where also German is spoken) but also places around Lake Geneva.
  • Romansh is a minor, yet still official, language spoken by very few (about 37,000 people) in the southeast.
  • English is not an official language but many people – especially in the tourism sector – speak at least some basic language. 

Money

  • The official currency in Switzerland is Swiss France (CHF).
  • Most Swiss shops accept payment in dollars or euros. I still recommend changing money and have some Swiss Francs with you, as it gets more expensive if you pay in euros or even in dollars.
  • Also, you can often pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores.
  • Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.

Best Switzerland Itinerary – How to Spend 5 Days in Switzerland

So, lets get started with the places to visit in 5 days in Switzerland.

Day 1 of 5 Days in Switzerland

Of course, this itinerary is not set in stone. It depends on whether you arrive in Zurich or begin your trip somewhere else in Switzerland. So, you can change the itinerary depending on where you are starting from.

Rhine Falls and Zurich

I suggest visiting the Rhine Falls and Zurich on your first day in Switzerland. From Zurich, head to the Rhine Falls for half a day.

  • Distance: Zurich – Rhine Falls: 45 minutes by car (45km) and less than one hour by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 1 – MORNING

The Rhine Falls are the biggest waterfalls in Europe. 

Five days in Switzerland itinerary

  • The Rhine Falls are located near the German border in the northern part of Switzerland.
  • The waterfalls are imposing, especially after rainy days, which means that even more water is cascading down.
  • If you prefer, you can stay longer and visit the town center of Schaffhausen as well but if you have only five days, I suggest heading back to Zurich in the afternoon.
  • Click here to read more about the Rhine Falls.

SWITZERLAND DAY 1 – AFTERNOON

Zurich is my favorite city in Switzerland, purely because there is so much to do and see. It has a city feel though it is not huge and won’t overwhelm and, as with any other city in Switzerland, there is a lot of natural beauty even in the city center.Places to see in Switzerland in 5 days

  • In Zurich, I definitely recommend taking a stroll from the train station to Lake Zurich. Walking all the way to Lake Zurich, you will pass the Bahnhofstrasse, which is one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets.
  • Explore the old town with the cute, colorful buildings.
  • There are also cafés and restaurants here.
  • Then head to Lake Zurich. Personally, I would recommend sitting in a café with a view of Lake Zurich.
  • You can also make a boat trip on a pedalo or take some time to relax at the lake.
  • The water is so clean that you can even swim in the lake.
  • This is also a great way to end your day. Especially in the summertime, there are many street artists by the lake, often playing beautiful music, so it’s great to sit there and chill.
  • Click here to find a more detailed post on things to do in Zurich.

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.
  • Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This is a good-rated hostel in Zurich – I stayed here once and for a hostel it actually was quite good.
  • Check out my guide on the best places to stay in Zurich.

Day 2 of Your 5-Day Switzerland Itinerary

After a busy but great first day, it is time to head to Switzerland’s next beautiful destination: Lucerne and the Alps.

Distance: Zurich – Lucerne: By car, it takes about one hour (52km), by train it also takes about one hour.

Lucerne / Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus

Lucerne and one mountain excursion are must-do activities in five days in Switzerland. As a mountain excursion, you could choose from several, but my top tips are either Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus.

SWITZERLAND DAY 2 – MORNING

Mount Rigi is a mountain offering fantastic views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne. It is quite easily accessible from Lucerne.

Where to go in Switzerland in 5 days
Mount Rigi
  • With the Swiss Travel Pass, the Mount Rigi excursion is included in 2021. Thus, there is no extra cost for you.
  • If you enjoy hiking (or want to save money because you do not have a Swiss Travel Pass), you can also hike one way or both. You could also just hike some parts and take the funicular for the rest.
  • There is a restaurant at the top of the mountain.

Mount Rigi takes less time than visiting Mount Pilatus and is perfect if you do not want to spend too many hours on the mountain peak.

MOUNT PILATUS

Alternatively, I recommend visiting Mount Pilatus, which offers incredible mountain views, but it does take more time to get up than Mount Rigi.

4 days in Switzerland
Getting up on Mount Pilatus
  • A mountain excursion to Mount Pilatus will probably take up to 8 hours. 
  • With a Swiss Travel Pass, you have a 50% discount on the ride up and can do a Lake Lucerne boat cruise for free.
  • There are many options for outdoor activities at Mount Pilatus, like paragliding or hiking.

So, I highly, highly suggest doing one of the mountain trips. With only 5 days in Switzerland, I would probably pick Mount Rigi because it is free with a Swiss Travel Pass in 2021, and it takes less time to visit. Then you still have a couple of hours for the town center of Lucerne. 

SWITZERLAND DAY 2 – AFTERNOON / EVENING

After your mountain excursion, I recommend exploring the charming town of Lucerne.

Chapel Bridge 2016 in Lucerne - Can you spot me and Puppygak on th bridge?

  • Lucerne itself is quite cute and small, so you can reduce your activities in the town itself.
  • Walk along stunning Lake Lucerne.
  • Cross the famous wooden bridge – the Chapel Bridge. It is very picturesque and contains several paintings on the roof dating back to the 17th century.
  • Choose one of the cafes/restaurants with a view of Lake Lucerne to end your day (there are many to choose from).
  • Read my detailed Lucerne guide with more info on Lucerne and the mountain excursion.
  • If you visit Switzerland and Lucerne in winter, check out my Lucerne in winter travel post.

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE

Day 3 of 5 Days in Switzerland

From Lucerne, I recommend visiting Interlaken. Personally, I think visiting this region is a must for any 5-day Switzerland itinerary.

Interlaken is a small town. It is located in between two stunning lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun which are some of the most stunning lakes in the country. However, the name also encompasses the whole region of Interlaken and for this itinerary, I also included the area of Jungfrau.

Distance: Lucerne to Interlaken about one hour by car (70km) or about 2 hours by train.

Take the scenic Luzern – Interlaken Express train if you use public transportation. This guarantees amazing window views!

Jungfraujoch OR

For the third day in Switzerland, I have a couple of suggestions. Choose the one that suits your taste and budget.

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – JUNGFRAUJOCH (FULL DAY)

The most popular day trip in Switzerland is a trip to Jungfraujoch. “The top of Europe” has the highest train station in Europe.

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
  • The train journey up Jungfraujoch + discovering the summit will take quite a while.
  • From Interlaken, you will need at least eight or nine hours for the whole trip.  
  • There is so much to do and see up there (snow guaranteed throughout the year).
  • Be warned, it is quite touristy and also quite expensive.
  • You get a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices and tours here (without or with a Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Here is my more detailed post on the Jungfraujoch.

Is it really a must-see in 5 days in Switzerland? To be honest, it is a great place. But is it a must-see with less than one week? I do not think so. The Interlaken region is so rich in breathtaking places that do not cost a fortune, so I have a few more suggestions for you.

Lake Brienz / St. Beatus Caves / Thun

If this doesn’t take your fancy, here is an alternative day three itinerary. Explore Lake Brienz and the Giessbach Waterfalls, then head to Lake Thun, see St. Beatus Caves, and spend your evening in Thun.

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – MORNING: LAKE BRIENZ & GIESSBACH WATERFALLS

Get to Interlaken Ost boat station, which is within a few minutes from the heart of Interlaken, to start your day 3 in Switzerland.

Take a boat tour on Lake Brienz, get off the boat at Giessbach Waterfalls to see the waterfalls up close.

View from the boat - get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat
View from the boat – get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat

Giessbach waterfall - with a view of Grandhotel Giessbach

  • Get out at the Giessbach Waterfall boat station and do a 20-minute hike up to walk behind the waterfall. It is worth it!
  • Enjoy the views of and from the waterfalls.
  • There is a beautiful hotel and restaurant open in summer here, too.
  • I really recommend having a drink at the terrace of this gorgeous hotel (it is closed in winter) before heading to your next destination. 

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – MIDDAY: ST. BEATUS CAVES

After this, you can then catch the boat again to head back to Interlaken. The boats run every 1-2 hours, so plan accordingly. As mentioned previously, 1-2 kilometers south of Interlaken is another fantastic lake: Lake Thun. 

In Interlaken, take a bus and head to the St. Beatus Caves. Alternatively, you can also do a boat cruise on Lake Thun to get to this amazing place.  

St. Beatus Höhle in Interlaken

  • The St. Beatus Caves are quite impressive – especially on a hot summer day it cools you down and refreshes you (yes, it is quite chilly inside).
  • But to be honest, the best view is from just standing in front and looking at Lake Thun, which is an extremely pretty greenish color. 
  • If you can’t tear yourself away from there right away, you have the option to dine at the panorama restaurant.
  • If you have your Swiss Travel Pass, you could also do a boat tour on Lake Thun – keep in mind that most boat tours in Switzerland are free with the pass. 
  • There is a sunset boat cruise on Lake Thun – it is absolutely stunning and is a great way to end your day.

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – EVENING: THUN

Alternatively (to a sunset boat cruise on Lake Thun) you can also finish your day by going to another town close by – the pretty town of Thun.

Surfing in Thun Arzo Travels

  • Thun is a perfect little town where you will have plenty of options to dine.
  • Not only this, but Thun also has a charming town center – perfect for nice strolls.
  • And there are a couple of castles to visit in Thun.
  • Check out my Thun travel guide for more info.
  • Either way, a Lake Thun sunset boat cruise as well as a dinner in Thun would be a great way to finish day three in Switzerland. 

Find my 50 recommendations for Interlaken activities here.

WHERE TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN:

For day 3 and 4 of your itinerary, I suggest staying in Interlaken.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. I have not stayed there myself, so 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 one of my all-time favorite hostels. Check out prices here.

There are more gorgeous places to visit in the area. I admit I am in love with Interlaken and Jungfraujoch. I could stay for months without getting bored. 

Day 4 of 5 Days in Switzerland

Let’s continue your 5-day Switzerland itinerary.

So, there are several options: Extend your stay in Interlaken and choose one of these day trips from Interlaken. A day trip to Lauterbrunnen, Lake Oeschinen (what a stunner!), or Lake Gelmersee (another stunner!) are great options. You then stay in the region of Interlaken for the rest of your trip.

If you are still eager to visit another gorgeous area of Switzerland – leaving the region of Interlaken – then I suggest visiting pretty Montreux on the 4th day of this Switzerland itinerary.

Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken

Distance: Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen about 20-minutes by car (15km) or about 20 minutes by public transportation.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – FULL-DAY TRIP: LAUTERBRUNNEN

Lauterbrunnen is indeed a stunning place and out of the world, and getting to this little village is an experience in itself.

While Lauterbrunnen is renowned for crazy outdoor sports like base-jumping, it is also an incredible place to visit for non-crazy outdoor enthusiasts like me (and probably you).

where to visit in Switzerland
@shutterstock
  • You have one of the most beautiful mountain ranges here. Looking at the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains is mind-blowing (on a clear day). They are also known as the Swiss Skyline.
  • There is water. Water in terms of waterfalls. Many, many waterfalls. 
  • Lauterbrunnen is the valley of 72 waterfalls.
  • And then you have gorgeous, gorgeous waterfalls like the Staubbachwaterfall.
  • You can also visit the Trümmelbachfälle for an entrance fee (when visiting the waterfalls within the mountain, pack some waterproof clothes – especially after a rainy day).
  • And if you are into James Bond, you might want to get up the “James Bond Mountain” – Schilthorn.
  • You can either hike up or take several cable cars to get up from Lauterbrunnen/Stechelberg. Both ways are fun. Even if you are not an experienced hiker you can do the hikes, because it is not a challenging. I promise it is worth it.
  • If you visit Lauterbrunnen, plan a full day and check out hiking options in and around Lauterbrunnen.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – EVENING: INTERLAKEN

For the evening, head back to Interlaken. Interlaken is a small town with absolutely amazing scenery.

Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte
Höhenmatte Park with a view of the Swiss Skyline

It just takes a few minutes to get here from Lauterbrunnen, and if you make Interlaken your base, you can explore it in the evenings rather than reserving a full day for it.

  • Buy some snacks from the supermarket at Höheweg street or a take-away meal from one of the numerous restaurants and then head to Höhenmatte park.
  • There are benches and a beautiful meadow – the perfect setting for a dinner picnic.
  • Do not be surprised to see many, many paragliders on a sunny day. This is what Interlaken is known for: Outdoors sports like para- and hang-gliding in the most impressive setting.

Montreux

Montreux is a great alternative to Lauterbrunnen, but it will include quite some of travel time.

Distance: Interlaken to Montreux is about 2 hours by car (150 km) or 2 or 3 hours by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – FULL DAY TRIP

I recommend taking the Golden Pass Line, which is the most scenic way to arrive in Montreux from Interlaken. It passes along Lake Geneva’s shores and many beautiful vineyards. This train ride takes longer but is worth it.

Chateau de Chillion_ What to do in Montreux
Chateau de Chillion
  • Although Montreux itself is quite small, it has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland.
  • You can walk along this promenade from the town center to the Château de Chillon (free entry with the Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Visit the Charlie Chaplin Museum.
  • See the Freddie Mercury Statue and learn about his life in Montreux.
  • Visit the famous vineyards, do some easy hikes there and go wine tasting.
  • Check out my Montreux travel tips for more information.

Montreux Switzerland - where to go in 5 days Switzerland

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREUX:

Okay, this is how you could spend 4 days in Switzerland, and you will surely be amazed. Do you have 5 days in Switzerland? Then it is time for one more train ride/drive to another great town.

Day 5 in Switzerland

If you stay 5 days in Switzerland, I have several suggestions. You could prepare for your departure and spend the rest of the day in Montreux or Interlaken and get ready to leave to the final destination. Or, if you have another full day (leaving late at night or on day 6), you could head to Zermatt

Zermatt

Distances: Montreux to Zermatt by car is about 2 hours plus 15 minutes by train. Zermatt is car-free, so you cannot get up to Zermatt with your car, and you will need public transportation for some parts. If you use only public transportation it takes about 2,5 hours by train.

Distances: Interlaken to Zermatt by car is about 2 hours plus 15 minutes by train. Zermatt is car-free, so you cannot get up to Zermatt with your car, and you will need public transportation for the rest of the journey. It takes about 2,5 hours if you travel by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 5 – ALL DAY

Zermatt is a little town famous as a ski destination in winter, but it is also a great place to visit in summer. Switzerland in 1 week

  • You probably know that Zermatt is home to the Matterhorn mountain – the most famous mountain in Switzerland.
  • If you want to, you could get up (via cable cars, etc.) to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at Klein Matterhorn, which is about 4000 meters high. But you should be aware that altitude sickness is a real problem, especially if you get up really quickly.
  • With 5 days in Switzerland, getting up Klein Matterhorn is not really a must-do activity. I actually recommend admiring the Matterhorn from below rather than hopping onto a cable car.
  • You can have a really wonderful time simply exploring the cute little town.
  • Take trillions of pictures of the amazing Matterhorn and do some hikes in this beautiful part of the world.
  • Here are more Zermatt tips.

SWITZERLAND DAY 5 – EVENING

It is time to plan your departure – I hope you had an amazing 5 days in Switzerland.

So, where do you need to go from there?

If you head back to Zurich, plan in 4 hours to get from Zermatt to Zurich. From Montreux to Zurich it takes about 2,5 hours and from Interlaken to Zurich it takes about 2 hours.

While trains in Switzerland are pretty amazing and reliable, leave early. Even in Switzerland, the trains might be late one day (though it most likely will not happen). And if you drive, it might always happen that there is traffic.

If you stay 5 nights in Switzerland, you might want to stay overnight in Zermatt.

WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT

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

CONCLUSION: 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

I admit that it is a jam-packed and ambitious Switzerland 5-day itinerary. Still, it is definitely doable, and if you visit Switzerland, you do not want to spend much time sleeping anyway as there is so much to see and do.

If you want to have it a bit more relaxed, I would skip either Montreux or Zermatt. Or skip both and spend one more day in Zurich, Interlaken, or Lucerne instead. My tip: Spend the last 3 days in Interlaken and visit Lake Oeschinensee.

I am one of the biggest Switzerland fans out there, and this is for many reasons. I am always overwhelmed by its beauty and think that 5 days is a minimum to spend in the country.

I hope this 5-day Switzerland itinerary is helpful, and that you know now how to spend 5 days in Switzerland. If you want to stay longer and are looking for more tips, check my other Switzerland posts, which you can find here.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

Where to Stay in Interlaken – Amazing Hotels For All Budgets 

Interlaken where to stay

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN

Are you planning to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world and are wondering about where to stay in Interlaken? Yes, the region of Interlaken is one of the most stunning places you can visit! However, choosing the perfect accommodation can be tricky – the area is huge, and the prices are high.

Here are my tips for the best places to stay in Interlaken

TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE PERFECT PLACE TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN

Whether you are on a budget or want to splurge – this post has tips for the best Interlaken accommodation for all budgets (if you can say so for expensive Switzerland). But before jumping to the best hotels, here are some tips you should consider when booking your accommodation.

Location of Interlaken

Interlaken is one of my most favorite places in the world! To say it is pretty would be an understatement.

  • Interlaken is located in the canton (state) of Bernese Oberland. Other places in this area include the capital of Switzerland, Bern, the region of Jungfrau, or Kandersteg (including stunning Lake Oeschinen).
  • However, when I talk about Interlaken, I do not necessarily mean just the town of Interlaken.
  • Interlaken itself is not the most beautiful town. HOWEVER, it is a great base for some amazing day trips. It´s very convenient to explore the region if you stay in Interlaken – it is effortless to get around thanks to two train stations in the town. But also driving in Switzerland and particularly in the area is just so much fun.
  • Interlaken is located between two GORGEOUS lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. You will find famous attractions – like the Swiss Skyline or Harder Kulm as well as places like Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, or Thun close by.
  • There are two train stations (and several bus stops) in Interlaken. Interlaken Ost (East) and Interlaken West station. Interlaken Ost is the bigger station and you might arrive here if you come from other parts of Switzerland. If you are traveling by train, you might want to stay close to one of the train stations.
  • Interlaken also has two boat stations. From Interlaken Ost (East) boat tours on Lake Brienz start. If you want to do a boat cruise on Lake Thun, you have to go to Interlaken West station. They are located about 2,5km from each other.

More Tips for Where to Stay in interlaken

  • I believe that Interlaken should be on any Switzerland itinerary – and if you road trip Switzerland and skip this area…you really miss out.
  • If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will receive a guest card that gives you a discount to some attraction. Also, you can use buses in Interlaken. The card will not get you far, but if you want to use it for several stops, it can come in handy.

After numerous trips in the last few years, I have compiled a list of the best hotels in Interlaken for all budgets.

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.

P.S. As a regular Interlaken visitor, who spends quite a lot of time here, I have listed the best things to do in Interlaken here.

Luxury Hotels in Interlaken

Let us start with some of the most luxurious hotels Interlaken has to offer.

Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is, without question, Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. 

  • It is located right in the heart of Interlaken, amid beautiful mountain views of the Bernese Highland. You have the beautiful park area of Höhematte in front of the hotel. The train stations are close by and much more.

This is the hotel to stay in if you are looking for the most luxurious place that the area has to offer. 

Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa leaves nothing to be desired, and whether you book a suite (the Tower Suite, with 215 square feet, is the biggest of all the suites and comes with its own terrace and fantastic views) or a superior room, luxury and elegance are guaranteed.

To be honest, it does not look spectacular from the outside, so do not be mislead by that.

The hotel is also very well known for its spa area (including two pools – one indoor and one outdoor pool) and formidable restaurants.

Grandhotel Giessbach

Though it is only a four-star hotel, Grandhotel Giessbach is one of my all-time favorites and a great luxury accommodation in the region of Interlaken. 

  • Grandhotel Giessbach is located at the foot of the beautiful Giessbach Waterfall on the southern shores of pretty Lake Brienz and not directly in the town of Interlaken.

Balcony - Waterfall view room

It is probably one of the most unique ones in all of Switzerland. You can get there by boat; cruising Lake Brienz is probably the best way to get there since they even have their own boat stop. Or you can get there by car or bus.

If you book a room with waterfall views, it might be louder, but it will also probably be the best way to enjoy the surrounding nature. But a room view of Lake Brienz (one of the prettiest in all of Europe, and probably the world) is not a bad idea, either!

The service is the only thing that shows that it is not a five-star hotel since no valet concierge service is helping you with your luggage. However, do not think less of this gorgeous property.

BUT – it is only open in the summer months and closes for about half a year.

Mid-Range Hotels in Interlaken

Are you looking for more budget-friendly places to stay in Interlaken? Here are some more affordable hotels.

Hotel Interlaken

If you are looking for a 4-star hotel in Interlaken, then head to Hotel Interlaken.

  • LOCATION: Hotel Interlaken is centrally located in Interlaken. Within a few minutes, you are at the town center, Höhematte, or the main shopping street. It is also perfect if you want to use public transportation (it is just a few minutes walk to the Interlaken Ost station) 

Lobby at Hotel InterlakenBut its garden makes it also a great place to relax in the hotel’s garden.

While it is quite simple for a hotel in this category, it is unique, as it has been hosting guests for more than 500 years!

You can even get a cheaper room if you book one on the 5th floor, as this floor is hostel-style /still no bargain, though).

You have free wifi and free parking – and the restaurant downstairs is a good choice for dining.

Hotel Solbad Sigriswil

This four-star property, Hotel Solbad, is located in Swigriswil, high above Lake Thun, in a beautiful area in the region of Interlaken.

Interlaken best activities

Close to the Sirgriswill suspension bridge (which offers great views of Lake Thun), you will find the weirdest but cutest place in Sigriswil, named Grabenmühle.

Whether you book a room with a single bed, a double room, or a suite, you always have access to the saltwater pool, whirlpool, and the other facilities, like the fitness room.

Looking for a perfect 5-day itinerary for Switzerland? I have it written down for you here.

Hotel Schönbrühl in Hilterfingen

This lovely three-star hotel, Hotel Schönbrühl, comes with a view of the Bernese Alps and Lake Thun.

  • LOCATION: Hotel Schönbrühl is located on the shores of Lake Thun – near beautiful attractions like Oberhofen Castle, Hunegg Castle, but also the town of Thun is just a few kilometers away.

It takes about 15 minutes to get to Interlaken (by car) and is a good choice for an Interlaken vacation.

The family-run hotel welcomes its guests in a friendly manner, and the highlight is the garden area that comes with a view.

Kids will love this area, but so will everyone else who does not need a fancy room and prefers nice, quiet surroundings!

Hotel du Nord in Interlaken

Hotel du Nord is another fantastic option if you want to stay in the heart of Interlaken.

  • LOCATION: It is located in the town of Interlaken – with the Höhematte park just in front of the hotel. You can reach Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West train stations within minutes!

View from Hotel Nord in Interlaken

The reviews were not great, so I did not expect much when I stayed there. BUT, those reviews are mostly quite old – since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay in Interlaken.

The location is superb, the staff is friendly, and it is quite modern – plus, the breakfast was also better compared to Hotel Interlaken. 

Budget Hotels in Interlaken

Okay, here is the bad news: It does not matter where you stay in Switzerland, it will never be a bargain, and Interlaken is one of Switzerland’s most expensive places. So, even budget accommodations are quite pricey. However, you can find some good deals – especially if you stay in a hostel in Interlaken. So, I tried to list the best places to stay in Interlaken on a budget.

Interlaken Youth Hostel

For backpackers, the Interlaken Youth Hostel might be ideal.

  • LOCATION: It is located right next to the Interlaken Ost Station and between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

Though the room prices are not necessarily backpacker-friendly (well, not nothing new about Switzerland), it is one of the most popular backpacker destinations in the region and great to meet other tourists and travelers from around the world.

You can rent bikes, play billiards, or join a game of ping pong – so, a fun place to end your day.

If you like more privacy, book a single room with a private bathroom or a family room. Book a dorm if you prefer to socialize and want to save more money.

Balmers Hostel

Balmers Hostel is a popular party hotel in Interlaken.

  • It is located in Interlaken but a bit further from the heart of the town and about 1,5 km from the Interlaken Ost station.

Here you have budget accommodation and can choose from dorms, tents, and you can even camp here.

If you are a party person and enjoy a fun and louder place to stay – then the Balmers Party Hotel is probably the best budget hotel for you. In the summer months, the hostel hosts parties – probably a good pick for the wild young visitors.

Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof

One of the best hostels I have stayed at is the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof

  • LOCATION: Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof is located in the heart of Interlaken. In front of the hotel, you will find Höhematte park and the Harder Kulm funicular station is within walking distance as are the Interlaken Ost and Interlaken West train and boat stations.

It is not the cheapest hostel but definitely worth the money. I stayed four nights and loved getting around easily. The rooms are modern, clean and the room views were quite beautiful. They even offered free parking (the main reason to book this hostel, to be honest), and breakfast is always included (a very simple yet decent breakfast).

I only missed bed curtains in front of the bunk beds to have more privacy, but towels will do as well, and so it is my top tip for a budget tip in Interlaken.

There are many more places to stay in Interlaken, but you have some good options for all budgets with the recommendations listed above. You should be good to go (p.s. if you visit in the summer months, hotels might be quickly booked, so booking in advance might be the best option for the busy months).

Hopefully, you have found out where to stay in Interlaken, and you will have an incredible experience.

Safe Travels, Arzo

How to Create the Best Switzerland and Austria Itinerary

10 days in Austria and Switzerland

7-10 DAYS IN AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND

Austria and Switzerland are two of the most beautiful countries in Europe. So, if you plan a trip to Europe and focus on Central Europe, I highly suggest visiting these two places, and here is the perfect Austria and Switzerland itinerary.

Switzerland is the country with the most beautiful scenery. Austria has the prettiest and most romantic cities and towns. So an Austria and Switzerland trip is the perfect combination of outdoor fun and romance. So I have created this Switzerland and Austria itinerary for you guys. 

So, in this 7-10 day itinerary, you will find out about what to do in Austria and Switzerland. You will find out about the most beautiful places to visit. You will find out how to get around. And you will find out more important travel tips for these two countries.

Salzburg. best places to see in Switzerland and Austria

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

TIPS FOR VISITING SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA

Before discussing your Austria and Switzerland itinerary, here are some tips.

Visa For Switzerland and Austria

If you are a citizen of the European Union, you will not need a visa. Not even for Switzerland. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU), but it is part of the Schengen Area.

If you have a Schengen visa, you can visit both countries. 

How to Get Into Switzerland/Austria

PLANE

  • For this itinerary, if you fly, I suggest flying into Zurich and leaving from Vienna – or the other way around.
  • Both cities have international airports that are well-connected to the city center.
  • From there, you can either pick up a rental car or use public transportation.

TRAIN

Again, I suggest starting in Zurich and leaving from Vienna (or the other way around).

  • Both cities are also easily reachable from many cities in Europe via train.
  • Arriving via train might be another good idea (buses are also available but trains are probably the better option) – because it means you are already in the city center.

How to Get Around Switzerland and Austria

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Both countries have a good public transportation system. I would go as far as to say Switzerland has the very best public transportation system in the whole wide world. 

  • However, public transportation is not cheap in these countries, and it limits your flexibility.
  • But still, it is a great way to get around. It can be less stressful, especially if you drive in town and the city center.

Then, public transportation becomes the hustle-free choice (in this case, pack light so that you don’t carry too much stuff around).

Lake Thun-Top Things to do in Interlaken, SwitzerlandI drive in Switzerland and Austria, but I also use public transportation and like it both. I always drive my own car, but if you rent one, I recommend checking prices here.

DRIVING

  • If you drive (in your own car), you need toll stickers for Switzerland and Austria. You can buy them at gas stations near the border or once you are in the country – but only use those roads once you have the sticker. If you have a rental car, they might (!) be already included. You can buy a 10-day toll sticker for around $10 (shortest period possible) for Austria. For Switzerland, you would need to pay an annual sticker (about $40 or avoid motorways). In Austria, there are a few private streets that charge extra. For this itinerary, however, you will not use them often.
  • While both countries are mountainous, they are quite easy to drive and a lot of fun. However, if you are not experienced in driving narrow mountain roads, this might not be the perfect choice for you.
  • Just watch the speed limit, only park when you are allowed to do so, and keep in mind that the streets can be narrow.
 

More Tips

  • Both countries are expensive – I mean like really expensive! However, Switzerland is way more expensive than Austria. Check out my detailed tips on how to save money in Switzerland.
  • You can save a bit of money by bringing a reusable water bottle and refilling it with fresh water from the water fountains (they are numerous in both countries and at all of the places I mention here).
  • Tips are not really expected in either country. You can, but there is no need. 
  • In Austria, people speak a German dialect, while in Switzerland, there are four official languages. But the places on this itinerary only include German-speaking areas.
  • Since all of these places are very popular amongst tourists from all over the world, most people speak basic English, and you should be fine even if you don’t speak German (learning a few words never hurt, though).
  • Life is uncertain. If you don’t have travel insurance yet, check out which travel insurance is perfect for you.
 

MAP FOR AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND IN 10 DAYS

Here are the places I mention in this itinerary:

  • Zurich + Lucerne in Switzerland
  • Salzburg + Hallstatt + Vienna in Austria

 

PLACES TO VISIT IN SWITZERLAND

Let´s start with the places to see. If you start in Switzerland, I suggest starting in Zurich – the unofficial capital of the country.

Zurich1,5 days

If you fly into Zurich (or get there by train), then your trip starts with a beautiful city in the northern part of Switzerland.

Where to go in Zurich Switzerland

My tip is to stay in Zurich for 1.5 – 2 days. So you can visit not only the main attractions in Zurich but also do a (half) day trip to the Rhine Falls.

While I list the best things to do in Zurich below, here is some info for your trip there:

Switzerland best areas to stay

Travel Tips Zurich

Zurich has amazing public transportation, so I recommend getting around by tram/bus. If you are driving, then you might have difficulties parking in the city center. So, even with a car, I would try to get around to as many places as possible on foot or using public transportation. 

One of the fun things to do in Zurich is rent a bike and explore this beautiful town on two wheels – for free!

Where to Stay in Zurich

I recommend staying close to the city center, but since public transport is pretty good, you can also book a hotel a bit further away, and you will still be mobile.

  • Luxury Hotels in Zurich: Dolder Grand & Baur au Lac are some of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Zurich: Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget Hotels in Zurich Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. I stayed only once in a hostel in Zurich, and this was my choice – and it was good considering it is a hostel – central location and the rooms were okay, too.
  • You will find my accommodation guide for Zurich here.

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Zurich 

From Zurich to Lucerne, it takes about an hour by car (or by train). Whichever means you opt for, it is easy and a nice ride/drive.

Lucerne: 2 days

Then it is time for another Swiss gem: Lucerne.Chapel Bridge 2016 in Lucerne - Can you spot me and Puppygak on th bridge?

Travel Tips Lucerne

Lucerne is often called the prettiest Swiss city. If you ask me, then I would say that it is the city in Europe with the most stunning scenery. You are so close to the Alps and yet have a lively little city to discover – it should be on any Switzerland itinerary.

Best places to stay in Lucerne Chateau Gütsch

Book an official accommodation in Lucerne, so you will get a card that allows you to use public transportation in the city of Lucerne for free. Lucerne, like Zurich, is freakingly expensive, and so is parking in the city center (if you find a city hotel with free parking, you have hit the jackpot).

Public transportation in Lucerne is fast, reliable, and on time. But keep in mind that the guest card only allows you to use public transportation in the city center itself (and not to other destinations, like Mount Rigi, for instance).

Driving around is also a good option because there are some scenic streets (e.g., Axenstrasse). Still, parking in the town center will make your travel costs explode (free parking is available outside the city center).

Where to Stay in Lucerne

Lucerne is quite pricey – especially in the town center. However, I recommend staying in the city center.

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Lucerne 

  • Chapel Bridge
  • Town
  • Lake Lucerne

Head to at least one mountain peak:

Switzerland what to visit

From Switzerland to Austria – or From Austria to Switzerland: 1 Day

From Lucerne, it is time to head to Austria. I understand if you feel the urge to stay longer in Switzerland. It is just sooo beautiful, and you have just seen the tip of the iceberg. I never tire of it, even though I visit Switzerland each year and often stay four, five, or even six weeks there.

But since you have planned to visit Austria, you need to be strong and plan another, longer trip to Switzerland in the future because it is time to visit the pretty towns in Austria (if not in all of Europe).

You could go back to Zurich and then fly from Zurich to Salzburg, then either get around by train or car there.

However, you would really miss out on the amazing scenery.

  • So, I would not fly.
  • I rather rent a car and drive to Hallstatt (with a rental car, check prices for dropping off in a different country, etc.).
  • Or I would take a train from Lucerne to Hallstatt (my tip if you don’t drive yourself).

Whether you drive or take public transportation, it will take about 6-10 hours to get from Lucerne to Salzburg, so I would plan one full day just for traveling.

If you drive, you can stop as many times as you like. With all the amazing and breathtaking scenery, you will want to stop many times and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature.

If you stayed in Zurich for 2 days and spent 2 days in Lucerne, then this will be Day 5 in Central Europe.

Check out more Switzerland travel tips.

PLACES TO SEE IN AUSTRIA

So, whether you use public transportation or road trip – here are places to visit in Austria.

Hallstatt1 Day

Hallstatt is Instafamous and has become one of the main tourist spots in Austria. Some people call it the most beautiful town in Europe, or even in the world. I don’t really agree, but it is stunning!

Most beautiful places in Hallstatt

Travel Tips Hallstatt

You will arrive in Hallstatt in the late evening or late at night. Hallstatt does not have many hotels, and this tiny village by the lake has become incredibly popular amongst visitors from all around the world, especially from China. 

What to do in Hallstatt Austria. Hike with views like this

The Chinese tourists normally come in big groups and stay for a few hours, so if you want to experience Hallstatt without the crowds, it makes sense to stay overnight. This way, you can start your day before the tourists come.

Hallstatt is very small, and you can walk to all the attractions I mention. One day should be enough for this little beauty.

Where to Stay in Hallstatt

Hallstatt has very few hotels, which are quickly booked out. If you plan to stay overnight, book early.

While I believe that ten hours in Hallstatt is definitely enough to see all the (special) places, I can understand if you would like to stay overnight because you have one big advantage and be in Hallstatt when the crowds are not there.

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Hallstatt

  • Lake Promenade
  • Skywalk
  • Market Square
  • Salzwelten Hallstatt
  • Walk the Upper Stairs
  • Go on the Lake
  • Here is a more detailed Hallstatt guide I have written for you – with more travel tips and info on Hallstatt.

From Hallstatt, you head to pretty Salzburg – a city I fell head over heels in love with, and I am sure you will, too.

The drive (train ride) from Hallstatt to Salzburg takes about 1.5 hours and is quite scenic. I stopped several times along the way, and if you drive, too, I suggest leaving Hallstatt when it is still light so that you can enjoy the landscape as well.

Salzburg: 2 days

Most Americans might know Salzburg because of the movie The Sound of Music, which has made the city famous outside of Europe. However, as a European, I had not even heard of the movie before my visit, nor had many other people in Austria.View from Museum der Moderne in Salzburg the best views

Salzburg is such a charming city that it deserves at least 1.5 days of your time. If you are traveling to the city with your significant other, you will adore it. But even as a solo traveler (as I am), it was one of my favorite travel destinations in Europe. Best places to visit in Salzburg in 2 days

It is super easy to see most of the attractions in one day – you can easily walk as they are located quite close to each other (if you are used to a bit of walking).

Travel Tips Salzburg

However, I loved public transportation and sometimes used buses to get around (public transportation is quite cheap and reliable).

Salzburg Card: I did not get one because I traveled with a dog and cannot access many museums, etc., but I carefully read about the free admissions and such, and think that it is totally worth it if you want to visit at least two museums.

You can also use public transportation for free with a card. You can click here to find out about the prices and buy one for your Salzburg trip.

Where to Stay in Salzburg: 

In general, accommodations in Salzburg are pretty expensive. Staying outside can help you save money (and thanks to the city’s great public transportation system, it is also easy to get around). I stayed outside the city center, but these are the best-rated hotels in Salzburg:

  • Luxury Hotels in Salzburg; Hotel Sacher in the Old Town  is one of the best places to stay if you are looking for luxury accommodation– Click here to find out more and get the best price
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Salzburg: Arthotel Blaue Gans is a well-rated mid-range hotel right in the Old Town – Find the best rates here
  • Budget Hotels in Salzburg: If you are looking for a more budget-friendly hotel, then you have to check Ibis Budget Salzburg Airport – it was a good value for money. It did not take long to get to the town center, and public transportation is cheap and good (though it takes more than ten minutes to the bus station. Click here for more info and the best rates.

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Salzburg:

  • Museum der Moderne
  • Hohensalzburg Fortress 
  • St. Erhard Kirche From Above
  • Shopping Streets and Squares in the Old Town
  • Mozart’s Family Home
  • Mirabell Palace and Garden
  • Find my detailed Salzburg travel guide here.

What to see in Austria and Switzerland

So, from Salzburg, it is time to head to your final destination: Vienna. It takes about 2.5 – 3 hours by train or car.

Vienna: 2 Days

Vienna is one of the most romantic cities in the world. It would be one of the first picks for a romantic trip with all of its impressive baroque buildings and castles.

Vienna where to stay in Austria
@shutterstock

Vienna Travel Tips

But again: even if you don’t visit Vienna with your loved one, you don’t have to feel bad – Vienna is a great destination for any traveler.

Vienna is also the city of museums, Vienna is the city of international organizations, Vienna is the city of gorgeous buildings, Vienna is the city of Mozart, and Vienna is the city of Sacher cake (not my favorite cake, to be honest, though).

St. Charles's Church Vienna where to stay
@shutterstock

Like in all of the places mentioned here, I recommend using public transportation rather than driving in the center. All the places have a fantastic public transportation system, and parking can be tricky.

Vienna is also a perfect city for nice strolls – you will not even need to use public transportation often. Many places are located next to each other.

Accommodations in Vienna are quite expensive, but I suggest staying in the city center (in the first district, as you can get to most main attractions in a heartbeat).

The Vienna Pass gives you free access to more than 60 attractions around Vienna. You can skip the line entry to popular Vienna attractions, and it includes the Vienna Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tours.

Tickets are a bit more expensive than for the Vienna City Card, giving you unlimited free public transport in downtown Vienna and good discounts in Vienna’s major attractions. However, if you want to visit some of the palaces, then the Vienna Pass might be more useful.

Check out prices for the Vienna Pass and The Vienna City Card, and you can see if you can save money with it and if one of the cards makes sense to you!

Where to Stay in Vienna

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Vienna

  • Stephansdom Cathedral
  • Hundertwasser Village
  • St. Charles’s Church
  • The Hofburg
  • Schönbrunn Palace
  • Schloss Belvedere
  • Viennese Prater (2. District)
  • Museum District
  • Here is my detailed Vienna guide. Find out more about each attraction and more important travel tips.

From Vienna, it is time to end your 10 days in Switzerland and Austria.

Vienna´s airport is easily reachable by a shuttle bus or car and after these 10 days, I am sure you will have as amazing memories as I have from the two countries.

CONCLUSION: AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Austria and Switzerland have both amazing places to mention. Since I focus a lot on Switzerland, I could create a 2-month Switzerland itinerary and would still have to leave some gorgeous countries out. But for first-time visitors to both countries, this Switzerland and Austria itinerary is probably the best as it allows you to see many stunning places in a short time.

And, as I do it… Always have a reason to come back to see more of these two beautiful countries, but for the first ten days (or even one week), or you are good to go with this Austria and Switzerland itinerary for 7-10 days.

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Austria and Switzerland itinerary, see the best of the country in 10 days- Pin me on Pinterest

 

Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Places to Stay in Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne where to stay in Switzerland´s beautiful city

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE – BEST HOTELS FOR ALL BUDGETS

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

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

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

TIPS FOR PICKING THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN LUCERNE

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

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

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

BEST HOTELS IN LUCERNE FOR ALL BUDGETS

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

Luxury Hotels in Lucerne

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

Schweizerhof Lucerne

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

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

Schweizerhof Lucerne - where to stay in Switzerland

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

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

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

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

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

Parkhotel Vitznau

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

Most Expensive Hotel in the region Park Hotel Vitznau

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

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

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

Mid-Range Hotels in Lucerne

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

Chateau Gütsch

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

Best places to stay in Lucerne Chateau Gütsch

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

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

Ameron Hotel Flora

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

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

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

Hotel des Alps

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

Best hotels in Lucerne - where to stay Hotel de Alps

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

However, it is not only about the views.

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

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

Best Budget Hotels in Lucerne

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

The Bed + Breakfast -Neustadt

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

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

Bellpark Hostel

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun and stay safe!

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Safe Travels, Arzo

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