7-10 DAYS IN AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
- 1 7-10 DAYS IN AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
- 2 TIPS FOR VISITING SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
- 3 PLACES TO VISIT IN SWITZERLAND
- 4 PLACES TO SEE IN AUSTRIA
- 5 PIN ME FOR LATER
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 if you plan your trip, you´ll find the perfect Austria and Switzerland itinerary here.
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. This is why I have created this Switzerland and Austria itinerary for you guys.
In this 7-10 day itinerary, you will find out what to do in Austria and Switzerland, the most beautiful places to visit, how to get around, and more important travel tips for these two countries.
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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
- 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.
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 a good idea. Because it means you are already in the city center. Buses are also available but trains are probably the better option.
How to Get Around Switzerland and Austria
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 towns and the city centers.
Then, public transportation becomes the hustle-free choice (in this case, pack light so that you don’t carry too much stuff around).
I drive in Switzerland and Austria, but I also use public transportation and like it both.
- 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 (the shortest period possible) for Austria. In Austria, there are a few private roads that charge extra. For this itinerary, however, you will not use them often.
- For Switzerland, you would need to pay an annual sticker (about $40 or avoid motorways).
- 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.
- 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.
ITINERARY 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.
Zurich: 1,5 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.
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.
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 in Zurich.
- 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
I highly suggest only spending one day in Zurich (or even half a day) and then doing one full-day trip (maybe to the Aescher and Ebenalp Mountain) and another half-day trip to the Rhine Falls (+Stein am Rhein).
- Lake Zurich
- Bahnhofstrasse (the main shopping street in Zurich)
- Lindenhof (offering nice views from a hill right in the heart of the city)
- Uetliberg (Zurich´s “house mountains” – a beautiful green place close to the hustle of bustle of Zurich)
- Rhine Falls & Stein am Rhine (day trip)
- Appenzell & Aescher (day trip)
- For a detailed 2-day Zurich itinerary (with more travel tips for the city), check out my itinerary here.
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 which 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.
Travel Tips for Lucerne
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 – if you stay in an official accommodation in Lucerne – only allows you to use public transportation in the city center itself (and not to other destinations, like Mount Rigi, for instance).
Driving yourself is also a good option because there are some scenic roads (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 so you have the main attractions close by.
- Luxury Hotels – Schweizerhof Lucerne: my favorite hotel, just near Lake Lucerne. It is a unique and special hotel that comes with great views (if you book a lake view). Click here to find the best rates for your stay.
- Mid-Range Hotels – Hotel des Alpes: When I visited Lucerne the last time, I stayed at this lovely 3-star hotel. The location is absolutely fantastic and it was probably one of the best 3-star hotels I stayed at. So, personally, I think, this is a great choice. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Hotel des Alpes.
- Check out my accommodation guide for Lucerne.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Lucerne
- Chapel Bridge (the historic wooden bridge that offers great views)
- Town Center (Lucerne has a beautiful old town which is home to some fantastic architecture)
- Lake Lucerne (one of the biggest lakes in Switzerland)
Head to at least one mountain peak – each has its own charm.
- Mount Rigi (its the best choice for a quick getaway)
- Mount Titlis (this is a full-day tour with tons of activities on Mount Titlis)
- Mount Pilatus (this is a great choice for some stunning views and to watch paragliders – or even try this activity out yourself)
- Find my detailed Lucerne travel guide here.
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 sooooo 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. 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.
- I´d rent a car and drive to Hallstatt (with a rental car, check prices for dropping off in a different country, etc.). You can check out rental cars here.
- Or I would take a train from Lucerne to Hallstatt.
Whether you drive or take public transportation, it will take about 6-10 hours to get from Lucerne to Salzburg, so 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 stay in Zurich for 2 days and spend 2 days in Lucerne, then this is Day 5 of your itinerary.
- 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.
Hallstatt: 1 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 I agree that it is stunning!
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.
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. If you arrive in the evening, you have a couple of hours to spend here. If you stay here overnight, you can also use the morning for some more exploring.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Hallstatt
- Stroll Lake Promenade (with the pretty lake, mountains, and buildings)
- Walk the Skywalk (a platform from where you have a great view)
- Chill at Market Square (surrounded by pretty buildings)
- Explore Salzwelten Hallstatt (which is the oldest salt mine in the world)
- Walk the Upper Stairs (for more great views)
- Go on the Lake (you can do boat tours, SUP, and more)
- 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 after lunchtime 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.
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.
Travel Tips Salzburg
I loved public transportation in Salzburg and sometimes used buses to get around because they are 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 this 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 – Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt 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 – Arthotel Blaue Gans is a well-rated mid-range hotel right in the Old Town – Find the best rates here
- Budget Hotels – If you are looking for a more budget-friendly hotel, then you have to check Ibis Budget Salzburg Airport – it was 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 get from the hotel to the bus stop). Click here for more info and the best rates.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Salzburg:
- Visit Museum der Moderne
- Explore Hohensalzburg Fortress
- See St. Erhard Kirche from above
- Go Shopping Streets and Squares in the Old Town
- See Mozart’s Family Home
- Stroll Mirabell Palace and Garden
- Find my detailed Salzburg travel guide here.
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. But 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).
Vienna Travel Tips
Like in all of the places mentioned here, I recommend using public transportation rather than driving in the center because Vienna has a fantastic public transportation system.
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. You also have the Vienna City Card, giving you unlimited free public transport in downtown Vienna and good discounts for 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 which of the cards makes sense to you!
Where to Stay in Vienna
- Luxury Hotels – Hotel Sacher: This hotel near Hofburg (which is also on this itinerary) is rated the best in the city – its central location makes it a perfect hotel for your Vienna trip. Find out more about the rates for staying in this hotel here.
- Mid-Range Hotels – Mercure Vienna First: One good medium-priced accommodation is Mercure Vienna First where I stayed on my last Vienna trip. Find out more about that particular hotel by clicking here.
- I also have a full accommodation guide on Vienna and the best areas to stay. Just click here to find your perfect hotel in Vienna.
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Vienna
- See Stephansdom Cathedral
- Discover Hundertwasser Village
- Stop at St. Charles’s Church
- Visit The Hofburg
- Admire Schönbrunn Palace
- Explore Schloss Belvedere
- Have fun at Viennese Prater (2. District)
- Explore 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. 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 you always have a reason to come back to see more of these two beautiful countries, but you are good to go with this Austria and Switzerland itinerary for 7-10 days.
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