Best 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
Switzerland might be small but there is definitely a lot to see – if you are looking for the best things to do in 5 days in Switzerland, or the perfect 5-day Switzerland itinerary, this post if for you.
While Switzerland is geographically quite small and people might think they can do a lot in five days, 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 this itinerary can also be adjusted to 4 days in Switzerland.
If you are heading there for five days then be prepared to sacrifice those extra hours in bed in order 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 points of interest in five days in Switzerland.
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 are staying in Switzerland for five days I would recommend not having a base to travel back to in order to save time. Instead, I would recommend booking your hotel depending on what you want to do and where you want to stay and for each place, I mention I will tell you about a couple of hotels which are close by that I liked.
How to Get Around
For this Switzerland itinerary, I strongly recommend that you use the Swiss Travel Pass. There are different passes available including a five-day pass, and the great thing about it is that you never have to worry about finding parking spaces and instead you use buses and trains.
Some activities are included on this pass too such as museums and the Château de Chillon in Montreux as well as some boat tours and access to some mountain peaks which I will tell you about later.
For many other activities, you will often get a 50% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass so it is well worth getting!
Okay, I 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.
Traveling by Car
Switzerland is also great to drive around. I loved my road trip there. Though if I only had five days I would probably leave my car and instead take the train because it is often easier and it gives you more time to enjoy the scenery. Check out my Switzerland road trip itinerary or my post on driving tips for Switzerland.
Switzerland is not part of the European Union though people from the European Union do not need a visa. If you are coming from elsewhere please do check visa regulations.
Most Swiss shops accept payment in dollars or euros. I would still change money and have some Swizz francs with me as it gets more expensive if you pay in euros.
Also, you can often pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores.
Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.
Best Switzerland Itinerary – How to Spend 5 Days in Switzerland
So, let´s get started with the places to visit in 5 days in Switzerland.
Day 1 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.
Zurich and Rhine Falls
If you start in Zurich, I would recommend planning in half a day to visit the Rhine Falls which from Zurich is about an hour drive or train ride away.
Switzerland Day 1 – Morning
The Rhine Falls are the biggest waterfalls in Europe and they are, indeed, very impressive, especially after rainy days which means that even more water is cascading down. If you prefer, you could take much longer and visit the town center of Schaffhausen as well but if you have only five days I would recommend heading back to Zurich in the afternoon.
Switzerland Day 1 – Afternoon
Zurich is my favorite city in Switzerland, purely for the reason that there is so much to do and see. It has a city feeling 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.
In Switzerland I definitely recommend that you take a stroll from the train station. Walking all the way to Lake Zurich passing on your way, the Bahnhofstrasse which is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.
There are also cafés and restaurants here. However, if you have a lot of time, personally I would recommend sitting in a café close to the lake which is of course beautiful, as are most things in Switzerland! You can also do a boat trip on a pedalo or just take some time in your busy itinerary to relax.
The water is so clean here you can swim in the lake. This is also a great way to end your day. Especially in the summertime when there are a lots of street artists by the lake, often playing beautiful music so it’s great to just sit there and chill.
Where to Stay in Zurich:
While you could spend the night in Zurich I would recommend, if it suits your budget, to find somewhere else close by to stay that is less expensive.
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 one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich.
Day 2 in Switzerland
After a busy but I guess great day, it is time to head to th next beautiful destination in Switzerland.
Lucerne / Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus
This is a must-see in five days.
Switzerland Day 2 – Morning
From Zurich head to Lucerne and do some activities near Lucerne.
The next must do for your five-day Switzerland itinerary should be spending half a day (at least) to see one of the mountains. This could either be Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus.
Mount Rigi takes less time and perfect if you do not want to spend too many hours on the mountain perk. Alternatively, I would recommend visiting Mount Pilatus which is one of my favorite mountain views, but it does take up more time.
Switzerland Day 2 – Afternoon
From Zurich, I would recommend visiting Lucerne. Lucerne is also about an hour drive or train ride.
So on day two, I would spend a few hours here. The town itself is quite cute though if you are short on time you can reduce your activities in the town itself and rather, walk along Lake Lucerne and past its wooden bridge, Chapel Bridge.
This is the most famous bridge in Switzerland. As well as being very picturesque it contains a number of paintings in the roof that dates back to the 17th century. Lucerne is perfect to end the day – though accommodation is probably one the most expensive in all of Switzerland.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
If you want to book a luxury hotel in Lucerne I recommend this beautiful 5* hotel.
If you are on a budget you can check out prices close to Lucerne but on my last trip I stayed at Hotel des Alps. The room view was amazing (and included views of teh Chapel Bridge and Mount Pilatus). Check out prices here.
If you want to stay in a hotel, check out the bed-and-breakfast. Some rooms have a shared bathroom, and some have a private one. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at B&B
Day 3 in Switzerland
From Lucerne, I recommend visiting Interlaken. Getting there by train takes about one hour from Lucerne (take the scenic Luzern – Interlaken Express train). Personally, I think, visiting this region is a must for any 5-day Switzerland itinerary.
Jungfraujoch OR Lake Brienz / St. Beatus Caves / Thun
Interlaken is a small town. However, the name also encompasses the whole region of Interlaken and Jungfrau. There is a lot to see and do here. So, if you only have one day and you would like to see the most popular spot in the region you should head to the Jungfraujoch (‘the top of Europe’) which has the highest train station in Europe on it.
Switzerland Day 3 – Visit the Jungfraujoch (Full Day Trip)
The train journey up and discovering the summit once you are there will take quite a while. So from Interlaken you will need at least eight or nine hours but it is one of the most popular things to do. There is so much to do and see up there (snow guarenteed throughout the year) – but be warned it is quite touristy.
25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass – click here to get the price if you have a Swiss Travel Pass – check out prices and tours here. (without a Swiss Travel Pass)..
Switzerland Day 3 – Morning
If this doesn’t take your fancy, here is an alternative day three itinerary.
Getting up early and taking a boat tour on Lake Brienz is a great start to a day full of sightseeing. If you get off the boat at Giessbach Waterfalls you can take just a short, ten minute hike to see the waterfalls up close and then another ten-minute hike will take you to the top.
There is a beautiful hotel and restaurant open in summer here, too. Enjoy the views from there (I really recommend this gorgeous hotel, though it is closed in winter) before heading to your next destination.
Switzerland Day 3 – Midday
After this, you can then catch the boat again to head back to Interlaken where you can take a bus and head to the St. Beatus Caves.
The caves are quite impressive and are an especially cool place for the hot summer days as it cools you down and refreshes you, but to be honest the most impressive view can be found just standing in front and looking at Lake Thun which is an extremely pretty greenish color.
If you find you can’t tear yourself away from there right away, you have the option to dine there as well.
If you have your Swiss Travel Pass and you want to take full advantage of your pass, you can get up with a funicular to Schynigge Platte – great views included.
Switzerland Day 3 – Evening
If you prefer, you can also finish your day by going to another town close by, for example, Thun, where you will have plenty of options to dine. I surely like Thun better than the town of Interlaken.
Not only this, but Thun also has an extremely beautiful town center. Either way, both of the places would be a great way to finish day number three.
Where to Stay in Interlaken:
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.
There are more gorgeous places to visit but with only three days, you have covered some of the main tourist attractions. If you have 3,5 days only it might be time to head back to Zurich (if Zurich is your base). Or if you are still eager to visit another gorgeous place then for the 4-day Switzerland itinerary I suggest visiting pretty Montreux.
Day 4 in Switzerland
Lets continue your 5-day Switzerland itinerary and from Interlaken you have several options. As the above-mentioned places are all in the German part of Switzerland I would also recommend visiting either the Italian part of Switzerland or the French-speaking part of Switzerland. However, if you do like avoid more travel time (which in Switzerland is fun – whether by car or train) then you can stay in Interlaken and visit a stunnling place there.
Montreux or Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen is indeed a stunning place and out of the world. There is no lake in immediate sight but there is water – be it a river or the waterfalls. So, getting to Lauterbrunnen is an experience in itself. It is easily reachable from Interlaken and you have one of the most beautiful mountain ranges here. Looking at the famous Eiger, Möch, and Jungfrau is mind-blwoing (on a clear day).
And then you have the gorgeous, gorgeous waterfalls like the Staubbachwaterfall. You can also visit the Trümmelbachfälle for an entrance fee (when visiting the glacier falls within the mountain pack some waterproof clothes – especially after a rainy day).
And if you ar einto 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 is fun and you can do some hiking which is perfect if you are not an experienced hiker- promise, it is worth it).
Montreux is a great choice.
Switzerland Day 4 – Morning
Given the short amount of time, I would recommend traveling to the small town of Montreux by train.
Getting there from Interlaken: you can take the Golden Pass Line which is the most scenic way to arrive in Montreux and passes along the shores of Lake Geneva and many beautiful vineyards.
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).
I had a great stay at a beautiful 4* hotel which you can find here.
Switzerland Day 4 – Midday
This together with the train ride from Interlaken will probably take four hours if you don’t go inside the castle to do some sightseeing.
From there I would recommend journeying by train to the Chexbres vineyards or you could, if you travel with a Swiss Travel Pass, hop on a boat to get to Vevey and from there head to the vineyards.
Switzerland Day 4 – Evening
Vevey itself is also a beautiful place where you can swim at Lake Geneva or just explore the town center and I recommend ending the day in Montreux – at the promenade are some great restaurants with a great view!
This is a very busy itinerary for day four in Switzerland but it is definitely doable.
Okay, this is how you could spend 4 days in Switzerland and you will surely be amazed – do you have one more day? 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 two suggestions. From Montreux you could then either head to the Italian speaking part where I would recommend Locarno or Ascona or, if you are running out of time, there is another great place closer by which is Zermatt.
Zermatt OR Locarno
Switzerland Day 5 – Morning
Getting from Montreux to Zermatt takes about three hours, so you have to get up early to have a great last day full of fun activities in Switzerland.
Zermatt is a little town which is very famous as a ski destination but it is also a great place to visit in summer.
You probably know that Zermatt is home to the Matterhorn mountain, the most famous mountain in Switzerland and one of the most famous mountains in the world.
If you want to, you could get up (via cable cars etc.) the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise 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.
So, if you decide to do it and it’s not your day job to get up high mountain peaks I would actually recommend just admiring the Matterhorn from below rather than hopping on to a cable car.
You can have a really wonderful time just exploring the cute little town and taking trillions of the pictures of the amazing Matterhorn.
From there heading back to Zurich by car takes about four hours.
Though it’s just a distance of around 220 kilometers, it is a mountain so it might be difficult to drive there. Your other option is to get there by public transport which will take just over three hours so it is most likely that you will arrive in Zurich at night.
Switzerland Day 5 – Evening
Head back to Zurich.
I admit that it is a very busy and ambitious itinerary but it is definitely doable and if you visit Switzerland you won’t 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 either skip Montreux or Zermatt and spend one more day in Zurich, Interlaken, or Lucerne instead.
CONCLUSION: 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
I am one of the biggest Switzerland fans out there and this is for many reasons. I am always overwhelmed by its beauty and 5 days is a minimum to spend in the country. I hope, this 5-day Switzerland itinerary is helpful and you know know how to spend 5 days in Switzerland. If you want to stay longer and are looking for more tips please check my other Switzerland posts which you can find here.