HOW TO SPEND AN AMAZING 7-10 DAYS IN AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND
Ready to explore Central Europe in all its beauty? Make sure Austria and Switzerland are at the top of your list! These two countries offer everything from romantic getaways, stunning outdoor vistas, fascinating cityscapes and so much more.
Plus I’ve made it super easy for you with this killer itinerary—so why wait any longer? Get planning that Austria and Swiss itinerary now! 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 you kick off your Switzerland and Austria trip, here are some tips to maximize the awesome experiences!
Visa For Switzerland and Austria
If you’re an EU citizen, visiting Switzerland is as simple as a walk in the park! You don’t need any extra visa – just your Schengen visa and BOOM: vacation time.
So go explore new lands without worrying about unnecessary paperwork – with so many great places to see, there’s no excuse for staying put at home! If you are not an EU citizen but have a Schengen visa, you can also visit both countries without hassle.
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
If you’re looking for a great way to get around, Switzerland has got your back! Their public transportation system is a well-oiled machine that will make sure you always arrive where you need to be. It’s so efficient it might just be the best in all of creation! But I do not have major complaints about Austrian public transportation, either”
Not keen on stressfully navigating small streets and packed city centers? Take the smarter route with public transportation! Plus, it’s a cheaper option that doesn’t limit your flexibility. Just make sure you don’t pack too much stuff if you want to save yourself some effort!
TIP: SWISS TRAVEL PASS
The Swiss Travel Pass is a pass you can get in Switzerland that allows you to use buses, trains, and boats without extra costs. Even some mountain excursions are included (like Mount Rigi), and for most others, you get a 50% discount. The Swiss Travel Pass also covers most museums and entrances to castles.
Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass is quite expensive but it will pay off. There are passes for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 days available. I suggest, getting the 4-day pass for this itinerary, if you use public transportation. Click here to find the rates for a Swiss Travel Pass.
In Austria, public transportation is much cheaper than in Switzerland. What I normally do is buy single tickets. Especially day passes for Austrian cities are quite affordable.
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.
In case, you decide to rent a car, I suggest this site to find the best prices. I normally use my own car whenever I drive in Austria or Switzerland. I have used this site to find a rental car for other destinations, though (e.g. Albania).
If you want to use the car in both countries, make sure you are allowed to do so.
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).
ITINERARY AUSTRIA AND SWITZERLAND IN 10 DAYS
Here are the places I mention in this itinerary:
SWITZERLAND: Zurich + Lucerne
AUSTRIA: Salzburg + Hallstatt + Vienna
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: 2 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.
If you’re looking for a great place to visit in Switzerland, then Zurich is the way to go! This beautiful city serves as the unofficial capital of the country and will surely provide plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
Whether you want to explore the city’s main attractions or take a scenic jaunt outside the city and get up stunning Ebenalp Mountain, there are plenty of activities for all types. Make it an unforgettable trip by taking advantage of this great destination today!
My tip is to stay in Zurich for about 1- 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 FOR ZURICH
Visiting Zurich? Forget about the car – enjoy all this gorgeous city has to offer without it! Public transport is top-notch, and if you’re looking for a more leisurely pace then why not rent a bike (for free!) and hit the roads in style? You’ll get around much faster than driving anyway, so leave your ride at home and explore on foot or with public transportation instead.
One of the fun things to do in Zurich is rent a bike and explore this beautiful town on two wheels – for free!
THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH
I highly suggest only spending half a day in Zurich, and then doing a full day trip to Appenzell & Aescher, or the Rhine Falls. You can check out my guide on the best day trips from Zurich here.
I highly suggest only spending half a day in Zurich and then doing one full-day trip maybe to the Aescher and Ebenalp Mountain.
- 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)
- Appenzell & Ebenalp & Aescher (day trip)
- For a detailed 2-day Zurich itinerary (with more travel tips for the city), check out my itinerary here.
ACTIVITIES/TOURS IN ZURICH
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.
Budget: Oldtown Hostel Otter: 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 for a hostel – especially because of its great location.
You will find my accommodation guide for Zurich 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
Dreamy, picturesque Lucerne is a must-see destination for any Swiss getaway! Nestled in the heart of Europe and snuggling up to the stunning Alps, this beautiful city offers a unique combination of vibrant culture and breathtaking nature.
Lucerne should be on any Switzerland itinerary. Get ready – your camera finger will be working overtime here!
TRAVEL TIPS FOR LUCERNE
Lucerne and Zurich have one thing in common – they’ll make sure your wallet takes a big hit! But if you’re lucky enough to find accommodation with free parking, it’s like scoring the golden ticket.
Public transport within Lucerne is speedy, reliable and on time but keep in mind that guest cards only work for getting around inside the city center not outside (sorry Mount Rigi). If driving yourself tickles your fancy there are some lovely scenic roads such as Axenstrasse available – just try not to park too close to town or else spending money will become second nature!
THINGS TO DO 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) – the cogwheel ticket is also included in the Swiss Travel Pass
- 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)
ACTIVITIES/TOURS IN LUCERNE
WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE
Mid-Range: Hotel des Alpes: On my last Lucerne trip, I stayed at Hotel des Alpes. The room view was amazing (and included views of the Chapel Bridge and Mount Pilatus).
Check out my accommodation guide for Lucerne.
Find my detailed Lucerne travel guide here.
From Switzerland to Austria – or From Austria to Switzerland: 1 Day
Switzerland is stunning but so is Austria – the towns, classic architecture, and breathtaking views will have your head in a spin! Grab a train or car ride from Lucerne to Hallstatt – for max convenience with minimal stress. Trust me though – this scenery won’t disappoint 💯
- 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.
Are you ready for a scenic adventure? If so, getting from Lucerne to Hallstatt is definitely the road trip for you! It’ll take about 6-10 hours depending on how fast and often you want to stop. And trust me – with all that incredible scenery along the way, there will be an opportunity (or two!) worth pulling over for! So get your camera ready… this journey through Switzerland’s beauty might just leave lasting memories in its wake.
TIP: If you have a rental car, make sure you are allowed to cross borders!
If you stay in Zurich for 2 days and then 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 a small town in Austria that’s made it big on Instagram! People have deemed it the prettiest place in Europe, if not globally – and while I can’t definitively say they’re right..Well…it sure is gorgeous.
TRAVEL TIPS HALLSTATT
Get ready for a night in an enchanted mountain village! Hallstatt awaits you with its breathtaking lake views, unique charm, and popular appeal.
With visitors from all over the world (especially China!), this remote lakeside spot has become quite the hot commodity – but they don’t mess around when it comes to hotels; there’s not many of them here so book now or start saving your pennies if you want that perfect private getaway!
Planning to experience Hallstatt’s stunning beauty? Make it a point to stay the night and start your morning before the rest of the Chinese tourists arrive in full force. Trust us, you won’t regret this decision!
With just one glorious day ahead of you, it makes sense that all attractions are accessible on foot; so hurry up and take advantage while there is still time!
THINGS TO DO 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.
WHERE TO STAY IN HALLSTATT
Unfortunately, there are not many hotels in Hallstatt, and hotels can be booked quickly.
HERITAGE HOTEL HALLSTATT: A well-reviewed hotel just in the heart of Hallstatt is the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt. All rooms and suites offer views of the town and Lake Hallstatt. This 4-star property looks like a perfect choice for your overnight stay in Hallstatt.
HISTORIC LAKEVIEW APARTMENT: If you prefer an apartment, with a fully equipped kitchen, Historic Lakeview Apartment has a terrace, city views, a seating area, a flat-screen TV, and a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries.
P.S. if you book via Booking.com, you can often cancel up to 24 hours before your arrival without any costs. ➡️ Check out hotel rates in Hallstatt here.
Just 1.5 hours away from the picturesque countryside, you’ll arrive in one of my favorite cities: Salzburg!- and yes, I’m quite smitten. So ditch Hallstatt after lunchtime so that you can make some epic stops on your journey to this beautiful place – if romance isn’t already blooming then, by the time you reach there…it definitely will be!
Salzburg: 2 Days
Salzburg might not ring a bell for most Americans, but thanks to the movie The Sound of Music it has become an international star! Even if you don’t know much about Austria or Salzburg, there’s no doubt that this masterpiece from 1965 put them on everyone’s lips.
Europeans? Not so much – I never had heard of ‘The Hills Are Alive’ and its catchy tunes 😊 before I had visited Salzburg myself.
Salzburg is a stunning city and you won’t regret spending some quality time there. Whether it’s with your sweetheart or just by yourself, this gem of Europe will steal your heart away! Plus, at only 1.5 days long – Salzburg makes for the perfect quick getaway in an irresistibly charming atmosphere.
TRAVEL TIPS SALZBURG
The buses are way more fun than driving plus they won’t break the bank. So sit back and enjoy exploring every corner of this beautiful city without breaking a sweat or spending too much money!
Salzburg Card: This admission card is like having an extra superpower! You can travel around with ease knowing that two of your museum admissions are already taken care of. Plus, throw in complimentary public transportation – now we’re talking. You can click here to find out about the prices and buy one for your Salzburg trip.
THINGS TO DO 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.
TOURS/ACTIVITIES IN SALZBURG
WHERE TO STAY IN SALZBURG
HOTEL RADISSON BLU: If you want to stay in the old town – and prefer a luxury hotel – then the Radisson Blu most likely is the perfect choice for you.
STAR INN PREMIUM SALZBURG: If you are looking for a good but more affordable hotel in the city center, then the Star Inn Premium Salzburg would be a good pick.
IBIS BUDGET AIRPORT SALZBURG: I normally opt for hotels in the city center – however, since I was driving my own car, I decided to stay outside the main city center. So, I ended up at Ibis Salzburg Airport. There was enough free parking, and I had to walk for about 7 minutes to the bus stop, which was perfect for me.
It’s time for your last leg of adventure! Salzburg to Vienna is just a train ride (or car, if you prefer) away – get ready for 2.5-3 hours of amazing travel experiences and rich culture awaiting in beautiful Austria’s capital city.
Vienna: 2 Days
Looking for a romantic getaway with your special someone? Then Vienna is the perfect place! This charming city has all the swoon-worthy ingredients, like baroque buildings and castles fit for royalty. But don’t worry if you’ll be traveling solo – Vienna offers plenty of adventures to explore whether or not Cupid had anything to do with it.
Vienna is such an incredible city – it’s got a little something for everyone! International organizations, grandiose architecture, classical music from the likes of Mozart… and don’t forget about one other famous thing Vienna has to offer – that oh-so delicious Sacher cake. Even if it isn’t your favorite dessert (in all honestly, it is not mine!), you have to try it at least once in your life.
VIENNA TRAVEL TIPS
Vienna is a great place for tourists who don’t have cars – the public transportation system will get you to all the major attractions in no time. Plus, if exploring on foot’s your thing, many of Vienna’s sights are right next door!
If you’re looking for somewhere beautiful and luxurious to stay while visiting this city center should be top of mind; just bear in mind it won’t be cheap – but then again what kind of adventure ever was?
Get ready to enjoy Vienna in the most hassle-free way with The Vienna Pass! With free access to more than 60 top attractions and perks like skip-the-line entry, you’ll be able to explore at your own pace – plus take a Hop On Hop Off sightseeing tour for some truly spectacular views.
There is also the Vienna City Card, where you have discounts at major attractions – all thanks to your handy Vienna City Card.
Or if you’d rather make it like a royal (Vienna is home to some pretty swish palaces after all) then opt for the convenient Vienna Pass! Check out prices for the Vienna Pass and the Vienna City Card, and you can see which of the cards makes sense to you!
THINGS TO DO 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.
ACTIVITIES/TOURS IN VIENNA
WHERE TO STAY IN VIENNA
HOTEL SACHER: Find luxury at its best at Hotel Sacher near Hofburg. The hotel is rated the best in the city, and its central location is perfect if you want to limit driving around or using public transportation. Find out more about the rates for staying in this hotel here.
MERCURE VIENNA FIRST: One good medium-priced accommodation to stay in Vienna is Mercure Vienna First. It was the place I stayed at when I visited Vienna the last time. Find out more about that particular hotel by clicking here.
I also have a more detailed guide on the best accommodations in Vienna which you can check out.
Following this itinerary means, 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
Are you ready to explore two of the most stunning places in Europe? With this 7-day Austria and Switzerland itinerary, it’s time to dive into all that these gorgeous countries have to offer!
You’ll see some amazing architecture along with breathtaking views. And don’t worry if there are still many spots left unchecked; cause trust us – when it comes down to a trip like this one, once is never enough ;).
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