6 AMAZING SAMPLES OF 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
- 1 6 AMAZING SAMPLES OF 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
- 2 Travel Tips for your 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary
- 3 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – ZURICH & SURROUNDINGS
- 4 LUCERNE & SURROUNDINGS – SWITZERLAND IN 3 DAYS
- 5 HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – INTERLAKEN REGION
- 6 Switzerland in 3 Days – Lake Geneva
- 7 3 Days Zermatt & Glacier Express
- 8 3 Days in Switzerland – Ticino
- 9 CONCLUSION: A PERFECT 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
If you can visit Switzerland for several weeks, you are a lucky person! This country is beyond amazing. If you have less time, let´s say 3 days in Switzerland, make sure to use your time wisely and discover some of the best places in a short amount of time.
Before starting a long introduction praising the country, I‘ll keep it short: Switzerland is gorgeous. It takes my breath away every time I visit. And I visit often. And I stay for several weeks. But I will never tire of this beauty! This is why I created the very best Switzerland itinerary for 3 days.
With a well-planned 3-day Switzerland itinerary, you will get a good glimpse of the country, and you will be infected with the Switzerland fever.
I have many favorite places in Switzerland. but of course, it is impossible to see them all in a few days.
This post has several 3-day Switzerland itineraries for you, and you can just see which one is the most appealing to you – or you create your own 3-day itinerary based on my tips.
My itineraries are created to reduce the amount of traveling to a minimum. With 3 days in Switzerland, you will not have time to spend a lot of it in a car/train. Even though window views are amazing in Switzerland (in a car or train) let´s focus on how to discover the country efficiently.
You can stay for 2 or 3 nights in one place and do a few day trips this way without spending too much time on the train/car.
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.
Travel Tips for your 3-Day Switzerland Itinerary
In this post, you will find out:
- Best time to visit Switzerland
- How to get around in 3 days in Switzerland
- Where to stay for 3 Days
- How to get around Switzerland in 3 Days
- More tips for 3 days in Switzerland
- Places to visit & things to do in Switzerland in 3 days –> I have 6 different itineraries for you!
Best Time to Visit Switzerland For 3 Days
I have been lucky enough to visit Switzerland at any time of the year. And I love summer as much as winter- fall and spring are also amazing. There is no bad time to visit Switzerland. Okay, actually, I’m not fond of Switzerland much in the rain, but other than that, there is no bad time to visit.
You have a serious winter wonderland in the cold months and in the warm months, you will see 50 shades of green. However, Switzerland in fall is beyond gorgeous with fall foliage all around.
My personal opinion after all:
- Late spring (from May), summer, and early fall (until the end of October) are the best months to visit if you aren’t a big snow fan and if you want to hike and spend a lot of time outdoors. There might be rainy days – but there are also rainy days in summer and winter.
- If you enjoy Christmas markets and some winter sports, then visit between December and February.
It is up to you and your taste which is the best itinerary for which season. In general, each 3-day itinerary works all year round.
Where to Stay in Switzerland Fo 3 Days
If you are staying in Switzerland for 3 days, I recommend having one base and doing just a day trip or two for each of the different itineraries outlined in this post.
Tips for hotel recommendations are listed for each place, but I also have a full accommodation guide for Switzerland.
How to Get Around for 3 Days in Switzerland
Whatever means of transport you pick – you can’t go wrong.
- For this Switzerland itinerary, I strongly recommend using the Swiss Travel Pass and getting around via public transportation.
- There are different Swiss Travel Passes available, including a three-day or four-day pass.
- Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass is quite expensive but it will pay off.
- You can use buses and trains without any extra costs.
- Also, boat cruises are included – yes, free boat cruises on Lake Zurich, Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva, and more lakes.
- The Swiss Travel Pass also covers most museums and entrances to castles.
- It also has some mountain excursions included – the mountain rides (via funicular/cable cars are not cheap, so it can add up). For most mountain excursions there is a 50% discount.
- Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here. P.S. I use GetYourGuide for activities and tickets whenever possible because they are awesome and have a generous cancellation policy.
- Yes, getting around by car is another great way. The window views are scenic, and driving in Switzerland is quite easy (if you are okay with driving in the mountains).
- Also, road-tripping in Switzerland gives you more flexibility.
- I also have a detailed post about road tripping in Switzerland – which you can check out here.
- However, you might end up paying more if you road trip- especially if you do mountain trips and boat tours, as they are included mostly in the Swiss Travel Pass.
UBER / TAXCS
- Even though I have visited Switzerland so often, I cannot recall having ever used a taxi. First of all, it is costly, and second, punic transportation is pretty great and there is no real need to use a taxi. Since Switzerland is also pretty safe, I never minded walking – not even at night if my hotels were not directly at the bus station.
- Uber is only available in very few places.
- You can also do some guided tours, e.g., a tour from Zurich to Mount Pilatus or Jungfraujoch. It is a great way to – easily – connect with other travelers and get more background information via your guide. Transportation is sometimes included.
More Tips for 3 Days in Switzerland
- The currency is Swiss Francs (CHF).
- Most Swiss shops accept payment in euros and some also dollars. I would still change money and have some Swiss 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.
- The best tip to save money is to bring a water bottle. You can refill it from fountains that you find everywhere in Switzerland or drink tap water. It is more than fine to do so.
- Switzerland is – overall – a very safe country. There are no extra precautions I take. I exercise common sense, but in general, I feel pretty safe.
- Switzerland is not part of the European Union. People from the European Union do not need a visa because Switzerland is part of the Schengen area. If you are coming from elsewhere, please do check visa regulations.
- For more general Switzerland travel tips, please read my post and find out what to know before visiting Switzerland.
3-DAY ITINERARY SWITZERLAND: DIFFERENT SAMPLE FOR FUN 3 DAYS
Okay, let’s start with the first 3 days in Switzerland itinerary.
3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – ZURICH & SURROUNDINGS
Okay, this first Switzerland 3-day itinerary is great if you want to stay in and near Zurich.
Zurich is a beautiful city, especially in the summer months or in December during the festive season. If you are in Switzerland for 3 days, you can spend one day in Zurich before exploring nearby areas.
THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH
- Take a stroll from the train station and walk the Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive shopping streets globally. It does not really look spectacular, but it will lead you to one of the best places in the city.
- Explore the old town with its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and many shops and restaurants.
- Enjoy the views from Lindenhof Hill which is also located in the old town of Zurich.
- Then, head to Lake Zurich, which is close by, and spend a day in, on, or around the lake.
- Check out my detailed Zurich itinerary for more information about your day in Zurich.
Stein am Rhein (or Schaffhausen) and Rhine Falls
You can take the train and visit the Rhine Falls from Zurich and get to either Stein am Rhein or Schaffhausen.The Rhine Falls is the biggest – in terms of power – waterfall in Europe. Yes, that is right.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE RHINE FALLS
- You can visit the Rhine Falls from two sides – one is free to visit (but you would have to pay for parking).
- You can also do a boat cruise and get very close to the waterfalls from that side.
- The other side, where you go to the platform, has an entrance fee of about 5€ (but offers free parking).
- My tip is to visit both sides to have a great view of the waterfall from both angles.
- Check out my Rhine Falls travel guide.
Afterward, you can either head to Schaffhausen, or Stein am Rhein. Both are very cute and charming towns near the Rhine Falls.
STEIN AM RHEIN
Stein am Rhine is probably one of my favorite towns in Switzerland. It has some of the most unique architecture. It is small. It is charming. It is perfect in combination with a trip to the Rhine Falls.
THINGS TO DO IN STEIN AM RHEIN
- Focus on the town center and admire the stunning buildings (maybe have lunch in one of the restaurants here).
- Visit the Rathausplatz – town hall square.
- See the medieval castle “Burg Hohenklingen” and enjoy the fantastic views from there.
- Stroll the lovely river outside the town center.
- Find out more about Stein am Rhein here.
Alternatively, you can visit Schaffhausen. Stein am Thein and Schaffhausen are very close to the Rhine Falls but I doubt, you could visit both plus the Rhine Falls, so you have to pick one.
Schaffhausen is a colorful and charming town and a bit bigger than Stein am Rhein and there are surely more things to do here.
THINGS TO DO IN SCHAFFHAUSEN
- Explore the beautiful old town of Schaffhausen with its many interesting and colorful buildings.
- Head to Munot Fortress and enjoy the view over Schaffhausen.
- Visit Münster Allerheiligen – an interesting cathedral with a herb garden and more.
- Check out my detailed post on Schaffhausen and its attractions.
So, regardless of which town you opt for – Schaffhausen or Stein am Rhein – each town makes a beautiful day trip in combination with visiting the Rhine Falls.
Flims or Appenzellerland/Aescher
For your last day in Switzerland, I have two ideas for you. I love both places and could not name which one I liked more, so I leave the decision to you.
Whether you road trip or trail travel – you can visit them both quite easily. However, it takes about 1-2 hours to get there. So, if you are leaving home early this day, I suggest, visiting Flims or Appenzell on day 2 and exploring Zurich on day 3 instead.
Flims is located in the Graubünden canton and can be easily reached from Zurich by train or car.
Flims is perfect if you enjoy easy hikes while seeing some of the most beautiful places in Switzerland – 3 attractions at once with little physical exercise. Lake Cresta, Lake Cauma, and the Rhine Gorge are the three main sights.
TIPS FOR VISITING FLIMS
- My tip is to start from the mountain top with Lake Cauma (where you can get to by car or bus) and then hike down.
- It is a very easy hike with incredible scenery.
- You will also see the beautiful Rhine Gorge from above along the hike
- Once you reach Lake Cresta, you can then hike up again or take a bus to get back to your car.
- This is perfect if you are looking for something more off-the-beaten-path in Switzerland.
- In the warm months, there is normally an entrance fee for both lakes.
- Check out my travel guide for this area.
Instead of Flims, you can also visit Appenzell/Aescher in the canton of Appenzellerland. This is probably way more popular because of the famous Aescher Mountain Guesthouse.You can combine a trip to the Aescher with visiting the small yet charming and colorful village of Appenzell.
TIPS FOR VISITING APPENZELLERLAND
- The good thing about a trip to the Aescher mountain restaurant is that you can either hike up and down (or hike one way) or take the cable car and then do some minor hiking. So, it is perfect for the active as well as the less-active people.
- Have a drink/lunch at the mountain guest house and then hike down to see a pretty lake.
- Lake Seealpsee is a beautiful lake located in the area – make sure to also visit Seealpsee.
- You can head to the small village of Appenzell afterward, with some of the most unique buildings in Switzerland.
- Check out my detailed Appenzeller travel guide
WHERE TO STAY IN ZURICH
I suggest staying in Zurich for 3 days and do the day trips from Zurich.
- Luxury Hotels in Zurich: Zurich has some great luxury hotels – Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
- Budget Hotels in Zurich This one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich that I tried out during my last trip to Zurich. It is a decent hostel with a perfect location right in the center of Zurich.
- Check out my full accommodation guide for Zurich.
I also have written a comprehensive post about amazing day trips from Zurich, which you can read here.
Idea 2: How to Spend 3 Days in Switzerland
The second Switzerland 3-day itinerary I have for you focuses on Lucerne and its surroundings.
LUCERNE & SURROUNDINGS – SWITZERLAND IN 3 DAYS
Lucerne is about an hour’s drive from Zurich, and you can easily get there by train or car. The train ride from Zurich (if you arrive there by train) is scenic.
Lucerne is often called the prettiest city in Switzerland. I know for sure that the area is one of the most beautiful places in the country.If you have three days in Switzerland, you could spend all 3 days here. Assuming that you arrive from Zurich airport, you probably don’t have a full day on the first day, so we don’t cram it with too many activities.
THINGS TO DO IN LUCERNE
- Visit the old town, it is home to some very stunning old buildings.
- Head to the Lion´s Monument – which commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution.
- Stroll Lake Lucerne – it is a beaubtiful lake and one of the biggest in Switzerland
- Walk the famous Chapel Bridge – this wooden bridge is the most famous bridge in Switzerland. It also contains several paintings on the roof that dates back to the 17th century.
- End your day at Lake Lucerne – or one of the restaurants with a view of Lake Lucerne.
Mount Rigi & Lake Lucerne Boat Ride
Day 2 of your 3-day Switzerland itinerary is reserved for a trip to Mount Rigi including doing a Lake Lucerne boat tour.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT RIGI AND A LKAE LUCERNE BOAT CRUISE
- If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you don’t have to spend any money on these activities, because they are included.
- Take one of the Lake Lucerne boats and get to Vitznau. The lake is huge, so getting to Vitznau takes a bit (about 1 hour), but the views are great, so all you need to do is sit back relax. Alternatively, can get there by bus or car.
- Mount Rigi is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
- To get up Mount Rigi get the funicular or hike up from Vitznau.
- Getting up takes about 30 minutes, and the ride there is already scenic. Up there, you can do (further) hiking or just enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps.
- In winter, it is also a perfect place for winter sports.
It is also one of the best spots to watch the sunset on a clear day. Getting on top of Mount Rigi takes less time and is perfect if you do not want to spend too many hours on a mountain peak.
Mount Pilatus or Mount Titlis
For the third day, you can decide whether you want to enjoy a fun day at Mount Pilatus or Engelsberg (Mount Titlis).
Both mountain excursions are perfect for hikers but also for those who like to do full-day mountain trips without too much physical exercise, as you can also get up via funicular and cable car.
Mount Pilatus is one of the most stunning mountain peaks and offers incredible views.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT PILATUS
- My tip for getting up Mount Pilatus is to do the Golden Round Trip. Start in Lucerne and hop on a boat and get to Alpnachstad. From there, take the steepest cogwheel railway to get to 2,132 meters above sea level. On your way back you use the cable car to get down to the bus stop which brings you back to Lucerne. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, the boat ride is included and you have to pay for the cogwheel/cable car ride (50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass).
- You can also hike up and down.
- Up there, you can eat your weight in Swiss food (not my favorite thing, though)
- Soak in the views and of the Alps and stunning Lake Lucerne.
- Book activities like hiking or paragliding – sports like these are really popular here.
- For visiting Mount Rigi, you should plan in at least 6-8 hours.
- My Lucerne guide has some more information on getting up Mount Pilatus
Titlis is in Engelberg, a bit further but also very easy to visit from Lucerne.
Mount Titlis is a very popular destination. It is one of the highest mountain peaks that you can easily visit (3,000+ meters above sea level). This is in particular interesting as there is always winter up there – even in the summer.
This makes it more unique – especially if you like snow and visit in the summer months. There is no snow on the other two mountain peaks, Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, in summer.
TIPS FOR VISITING MOUNT PILATUS
- The train ride to Engelsberg is without extra costs if you own a Swiss Travel Pass.
- The mountain excursion is not included in your Swiss Travel Pass but you will get a 50% discount.
- Like on Mount Pilatus, the activities on top are numerous, so it takes at least 6-8 hours.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
For this 3-day Switzerland itinerary, I suggest booking accommodation in/near Lucerne and doing day trips.
- Luxury Hotels in Lucerne: Schweizerhof Luzern is a beautiful and fun 5* hotel located at Lake Lucerne’s shores and a few hundred meters from the old town and main tourist attractions (if you can, book a room with a lake view).
- Mid-Range Hotels in Lucerne: 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 which came with amazing room views. It is located close to the Chapel Bridge. Check out prices here.
- Budget Hotels in Lucerne: 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. Click here to find the best rates for your stay at B&B.
- If you are still unsure where to stay in Lucerne, you can check out my full accommodation guide on the best places to stay in Lucerne here.
HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND – INTERLAKEN REGION
Here we come to another option to spend 3 days in Switzerland (probably one of my favorite itineraries for 3 days).
The region of Interlaken (or Bernese Overland, to be more precise) is one of the best places to visit in the WORLD. Interlaken is a small town. However, the name also encompasses the whole region of Interlaken and Jungfrau. You can find out what the fuss is about in three days, though you can easily spend weeks and weeks in the country.
Getting there by train from Zurich takes about two hours. First, get to Lucerne and then take the scenic Luzern – Interlaken Express train. This already will be a highlight.
The Jungfraujoch is a saddle connecting two major 4000ers of the Bernese Alps: the Jungfrau and the Mönch. It lies at an elevation of 3,463 meters above sea level and is home to the highest train station in Europe. It is also one of the most popular day trips in Switzerland.
TIPS FOR VISITING JUNGFRAUJOCH
- From Interlaken, the whole trip will take at least eight or nine hours, so plan enough time for a trip to Jungfraujoch.
- Getting to the “Top of Europe” is quite touristy, and it is not cheap.
- There is a 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).
- There is a lot to do and see at the top – it is not only about the amazing views.
- Altitude Sickness can be a problem, so drink enough water.
- Personal Opinion: I enjoyed my trip up to Jungfraujoch HOWEVER, with only 3 days in Switzerland, I do not think it is a must-see place. There are other places equally beautiful and less expensive. Since it is so extremely popular I still added it to this 3-day Switzerland itinerary.
Brienzer Rothorn + Giessbach Waterfalls + Lake Brienz + Interlaken
Though the Jungfraujoch is the most popular mountain excursion, I have to say my favorite mountain trip was another: Brienzer Rothorn has been a highlight for me. The views on Lake Brienz are the best you can have, and getting up in a steam loc is one of the most unique means of transport.
Combine this mountain excursion with a Lake Brienz boat cruise and a short stop at Giessbach Waterfalls.
TIPS FOR BRIENZER ROTHORN + LAKE BRIENZ + GIESSBACH WATERFALLS
- Start your Lake Brienz boat in Interlaken Ost and relax until you get to the Giessbach Waterfalls.
- Get off the boat at Giessbach Waterfalls, and take a short, ten-minute hike to see the waterfalls up close. There is also a funicular that gets you up for a few CHF. Then another ten-minute hike will take you to the top. There is also the beautiful Grandhotel Giessbach with its terrace and incredible views. Unfortunately, it‘s closed in the winter months.
- After this short stop, take the next boat (they run normally every 1 to 2 hours) and continue your journey to Brienz station.
- There you either hike up or take the steam-loc to Brienzer Rothorn.
- The boat cruise is free with the Swiss Travel Pass. You can also buy tickets for Lake Brienz boat cruises.
- You can a 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass on the ride up Brienzer Rothorn.
- Check out my one-day Interlaken itinerary to find out more about this amazing trip (which also includes visiting the Giessbach Waterfalls and more).
- You can take a train back to Interlaken (which is much faster) or catch the boat back.
- Interlaken is a great place to dine – end the day with a stroll around Höhenmatte in Interlaken. Check out my Interlaken guide for more tips.
Lake Thun & St. Beatus Caves & Thun
If mountain peaks don’t tickle your fancy, here is an alternative day.
Getting up early and taking a boat tour on Lake Thun is a great start to a day full of sightseeing. You will have three main stops/attractions on this day. This includes the lake cruise, St. Beatus Caves, and the town of Thun.Lake Thun is a stunner – its watercolor might not be as impressive as Lake Brienz´s color but the scenery is probably more impressive.
TIPS FOR LAKE THUN BOAT CRUISE & ST. BEATUS & THUN
- Start your boat cruise at boat station Interlaken West and get out at St. Beatus Caves.
- Spend some time in and around the caves. The St. Beatus 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. If you find you can’t tear yourself away, you have the option to dine there as well.
- Continue to Thun. It is one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland with stunning architecture, several castles, and plenty of options to dine. I definitely like Thun better than the town of Interlaken.
- Check out my travel guide for Thun.
For the third day – and this is especially great if you don’t have a full day – head to Lauterbrunnen.
Known best among adrenaline junkies, it is also one of the best places to visit for any nature lover – especially if you love chasing waterfalls or prefer some easier hikes that offer fantastic views.
TIPS FOR VISITING LAUTERBRUNNEN
- Visit the Staubbach Falls – it is a lot about waterfalls here in Interlaken.
- Get a ticket and visit Trümmelbach Waterfalls. You will not regret it. TIP: If you visit after a rainy day, bring your rain jacket as the waterfalls tend to be even heavier, and you will get wet.
- Hike to Müren (or take the cable car) and then to you could get to Schilthorn (the famous James Bond mountain filming location)
- Do some more hikes around Lauterbrunnen.
- Enjoy the views of the Swiss Skyline. Looking – on a clear day – at the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau is mind-blowing.
OESCHINENSEE AND BLAUSEE
These two lakes are not situated in the region of Interlaken (or Jungfrau) but Kandersteg. However, they are close by and absolutely amazing! I personally would skip Jungrfaujoch (I know, it is so popular) and rather visit the lakes, especially Lake Oeschinen.
Blausee National Park is small but lovely. It has mostly become famous for its unique watercolor but honestly, there is not much more to do and see around the lake. If you have time – visit Lake Blausee. If you are short on time, skip it.
TIPS FOR VISITING BLAUSEE
- There is an entrance fee for the park – it depends on the season and arrival time.
- You will not need a lot of time here – plan in between 30 – 60 minutes to walk around the lake and do a quick boat tour.
- Check out my more detailed guide on visiting Lake Blausee.
Oeschinensee is a great place to add to your Switzerland 3-day itinerary. The weather tends to be bad in this area, but that should not stop you.
- If you aren’t much into hiking, take a cable car up. From there, walk for 20 minutes or so, and you are at the lake (if even that sounds too tiring for you, you could take a shuttle bus for a couple of CHF to get dropped off at the foot of the lake).
- The best, most amazing view over Lake Oeschinen requires some hiking, though. This hike takes about 3-6 hours, and the views are BREATHTAKING. Take the cable car and then start the hike around the lake. If you skip the cable car and also hike the lake, it will probably take around 6-10 hours.
- Check out my full Lake Oeschinensee guide with all the info you will need for a trip to Lake Oeschinen.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE REGION OF INTERLAKEN
I suggest staying in Interlaken. From there, you can reach many places in the area quite easily as it is well connected with its 2 train stations and Lake Thun and Lake Brienz boat stations.
- Luxury: The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau, and since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place this is probably the best pick.
- Mid-Range: I recently stayed at Hotel du Nord and I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.
- Budget: If you are on a budget, I recommend staying outside of Interlaken, some cute towns close by that offer good value for money, or you book a bed in one of the numerous hostels in Interlaken like Balmers Backpackers Hostel.
- Here is my full accommodation guide for Interlaken.
Tip: Check out my post with more day trip ideas from Interlaken.
PERSONAL OPINION: If I had to name my favorite 3-day Switzerland itinerary, this Interlaken itinerary would probably bring the cake home.
Switzerland in 3 Days – Lake Geneva
This is another itinerary for 3 days in Switzerland. If you want to visit some of the country’s French-speaking parts, visit Montreux, Geneva, and Lake Geneva.
Getting to the region from Zurich is time-consuming (but amazing if you choose the scenic train rides), and the area is charming and well worth spending 3 days. My tip is to make Montreux your base and then do trips from there.
I suggest spending the first day in Geneva to get a first impression of Lake Geneva.
Switzerland is full of beautiful lakes, but Lake Geneva still holds a special place in my heart and might also win you over in a short time (it is one of the biggest lakes in Europe, and yet the color is pretty amazing).
THINGS TO DO IN GENEVA
- Spend time at Lake Geneva and see the JET D’EAU
- Explore the old town of Geneva
- Visit the United Nations Headquarters
- Check out my Geneva itinerary for a day
On the second day, explore the beautiful village of Montreux and spend a full day there.Although Montreux itself is quite small, it has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland and is perfect for visiting at any time of the year.
THINGS TO DO IN MONTREUX
- Walk along this promenade (the prettiest in all of Switzerland).
- Visit Château de Chillon (free entry with the Swiss Travel Pass).
- See the Freddie Mercury Statue and learn about his life in Montreux.
- If you visit in the summer months, visit the vineyards in the Chexbres region afterward and go wine tasting.
- If you love to be in the water, you can also take the time to swim in Montreux.
- Enjoy a boat cruise on Lake Geneva (free with your Swiss Travel Pass).
- Check out my Montreux guide for more tips.
Lake Geneva Boat Cruise + Yvoire
For the third day, you can do a day trip to Yvoire (which is actually in France, on the other side of Lake Geneva, and can be reached via boat) or Vevey.
TIPS FOR A LAKE GENEVA BOAT CRUISE + YVOIRE
- Lake Geneva is enormous, so plan in enough time for the boat trips as it is quite time-consuming.
- You can cruise Lake Geneva without any extra costs if you have a Swiss Travel Pass.
- Get out in Yvoire and explore the cute little village on the shores of Lake Geneva
3 Days Zermatt & Glacier Express
Another perfect way to spend 3 days in Switzerland could be by heading to Zermatt and spending a full day on a train. Yes, voluntarily and yes, you will enjoy it.
This 3-day itinerary will take you to one of the most popular towns in the country: Zermatt.
Zermatt is located in the canton of Valais and has become popular as a winter sports destination for the rich and “beautiful.” Still, it is also a perfect place to visit at any time of the year. Even if you are not rich or beautiful :).
TIPS VOR VISITING ZERMATT
- Getting to Zermatt from any other main city in Switzerland (Zurich or Geneva, e.g.) is time-consuming but worth it. It is a car-free village, so you have to leave your car in Taesch and then take a train to Zermatt.
- If you have a Swiss Travel Pass you can get to Zermatt without any extra cost
- On the way to Zermatt, you will already see the almighty Matterhorn mountain.
- Zermatt itself is quite small, so for the town center itself, you will not need much time to explore.
- But there are fantastic hiking trails (and in the winter, it offers amazing winter sports possibilities).
- Klein Matterhorn is a popular mountain excursion. Other fantastic mountain trips include: Gornergrat or Blauherd mountain.
- Check out my Zermatt guide for more info on what to do and see.
- If you visit in the winter months, check out my Zermatt winter post.
The Glacier Express is actually not an express train. It is indeed very slow. But why is it then one of the most famous (and best) train rides in the world?
The Glacier Express connects the two highly popular mountain destinations of St.Moritz and Zermatt. The scenery you will see during this train ride is just breathtaking.
The train takes you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, three cantons, and two language regions, so you can imagine what the window views will be like.
TIPS FOR USING THE GLACIER EXPRESS
- The whole journey will take more than 8 hours (one way), so I do not necessarily recommend getting all the way to St. Moritz but do just a part of the trip.
- You can use the Glacier Express with your Swiss Travel Pass – you have to pay for the seat reservation only.
- Tip: If you do not want to make a reservation (or travel with a dog as I did), you can use the Rhaetische Bahn, which is actually the same route. They do not require any reservation (but do not have panorama windows), and you can open most windows for great pictures. However, you have to change trains a couple of times which makes this trip longer. You might want to do a part of this train ride only.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT
- Luxury hotels in Zermatt: Here are the best-rated luxury hotels in Zermatt: Grand Hotel Zermatterhof & Hotel Mont Cervin Palace
- Mid-range hotels in Zermatt: Here are some ideas for mid-range hotels that were well-rated in Zermatt: Hotel Testa Grigia & Sunstar Style Hotel.
3 Days in Switzerland – Ticino
Switzerland´s Italian-speaking part should not be forgotten here. Ticino is stunning! Ticino is the southernmost canton of Switzerland and quite remote – so I would not try to squeeze it in with a 3-day trip with Zurich or Geneva. Dedicate at least 3 days for Ticino.
Locarno and Ascona
Beautiful Locarno and Ascona are located at the shores of Lago Maggiore. This is where you get some Italian feeling in Switzerland.
TIPS FOR VISITING LOCARNO AND ASCONA
Both towns are loacted close to each other and you can explore them both in 2 days.
- Explore the colorful old towns and beautiful promenades.
- Do a Lago Maggiore boat cruise.
- Get a cable car or hike up Cardada Mountain.
- Check out my Locarno travel guide for more tips.
Discover the beautiful valley of Valle Verzasca. It s located close to Locarno and so different to the rest of the country.
TIPS FOR VISITING VALLE VERZASCA
- Visit the “Ponte dei salti” in Lavertezzo.
- Take a dip (if you are brave enough, the water is supposed to be very cold).
- Go on some hikes in the area.
- Looking for something more adventurous? In Vogorno you will find the setting of the James Bond movie GoldenEye – you can do a bungee jump here if you are brave enough.
Morcote & Lugano
Another day trip to take from Locarno is the pretty city of Lugano as well as the absolutely stunning village of Morcote. Both places are located on the shores of Lake Lugano.
If you do not have a full day, get to Lugano and from there get straight to San Salvatore mountain peak via cable car (50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass) – then hike down to Morcote. It is a strenuous hike but Morcote…Morcote is worth all the troubles in the world. Take the boat from there and get back to Lugano.
TIPS FOR VISITING LUGANO AND MORCOTE
Lugano is a quite big city and you could spend a couple here and explore its surroundings but with a limited time, you can choose from these options.
- Get up San Salvatore and enjoy some fantastic views from there.
- Walk the Olive Grove Trail.
- Cruise Lake Lugano (free with a Swiss Travel Pass).
- Explore Parco Ciani.
- Get up Monte Bre for more stunning panoramas.
- Visit Morcote – the prettiest of all Swiss villages – yes, I say so :). Check out my Morcote guide for more info.
- Here are my tips for visiting Lugano.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOCARNO
For this itinerary, I suggest staying in Locarno.
- Luxury Hotels in Locarno – I have stayed in a couple of very luxurious hotels, but this is probably my favorite. Villa Orselina is a top luxurious small boutique hotel in Orselina, just a few minutes from Locarno – check out prices here)
- Mid-Range in Locarno – Hotel Garni Muralto (I did not stay here, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range) – check out prices here.
For general money-saving tips for Switzerland, check out my post with the best tips.
CONCLUSION: A PERFECT 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND ITINERARY
As you can see, you could spend weeks in the country, and it still would not be enough. Given that many of us only have a few days or 3 days in Switzerland in this case, these are some of the best itineraries that allow you to see quite a lot in a short time.
Just choose any of the 3-day Switzerland itineraries and enjoy!