6 DIFFERENT ITINERARIES FOR YOUR 3-DAY SWITZERLAND TRIP
If you can visit Switzerland for several weeks, you are a lucky person! This country is beyond amazing.
But what if you have less time? If you think a 3-day trip can’t deliver the goods, I’m here to tell you that 3 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND are enough time for some serious sightseeing and swooning! Don’t believe me? Let’s see what this little gem has in store with my incredibly well-crafted itinerary specifically tailored for your quick visit – trust me, it won’t take long before you have Switzerland fever too!
This dazzling country offers an incredible array of sites and experiences – so much so it’s hard to fit into a 3-day itinerary. But don’t worry – with this perfect itinerary, I’ll make sure you have all the tools needed to take full advantage of every moment in beautiful Switzerland without missing a beat.
I have many favorite places in Switzerland, but of course, it is impossible to see them all in a few days. Thus, I have created a couple of 3-day itineraries – and pick one that’s perfect for you. Or, mix up the tips I provide and make your own adventure!
Don’t waste precious vacation time commuting long distances! With just 2 or 3 days in Switzerland, you’ll want to make the most of it. To get your sights covered without sacrificing too much sightseeing, stay put and go on day trips instead – that way you still reap all those gorgeous Swiss window views without missing out on what makes this country so special. The below itineraries will help you do so.
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6 AMAZING SAMPLES – ITINERARY FOR SWITZERLAND IN 3 DAYS
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
If you’re wondering when the perfect time to visit Switzerland is, here’s your answer: ANYTIME! Whether it’s a snowy winter in full-on wintry wonderland mode or soaking up the sunshine during summertime green vibes, this place has something for everyone.
Though, Switzerland on a rainy and grey day is less ideal but even then you can see some of its beauty!
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.
- Check out my guide on the best time to visit Switzerland.
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
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.
🚊 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
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.
So, my tip is: Either stick to public transportation or car.
✔️ 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
ℹ️ The currency is the Swiss Francs (CHF).
ℹ️ Most Swiss shops accept payment in euros and some also in dollars. I would still change money and have some Swiss Francs with me as it gets more expensive if you pay in euros.
ℹ️ Also, you can often- but not always – pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores.
ℹ️ Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.
ℹ️ 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.
ℹ️ The country is – overall – a very safe country. There are no extra precautions I take. I exercise common sense, but in general, I feel pretty safe.
ℹ️ 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 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.
If you’ve only got three days in Switzerland, make sure to spend one of them discovering Zurich – its beauty is especially amazing during the summer and peak festive season! When you’re done visiting this magical city, why not explore some nearby places for a full Swiss experience?
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).
✔️ 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. This is perfect if you are looking for something more off-the-beaten path in Switzerland.
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.
ℹ️ In the warm months, there is normally an entrance fee for both lakes.
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
Budget: Oldtown Hostel Otter 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.
Check out my guide on the best places to stay in 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 and hop on a boat to enjoy a boat cruise on Vierwaldstättersee (or Lake Lucerne) – a beautiful lake and one of the biggest in Switzerland. Boat cruises are free with a Swiss Travel Pass,
✔️ 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
ℹ️ If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you don’t have to spend any money on these activities, because they are included.
ℹ️ 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 and relax. Alternatively, can get there by bus or car.
ℹ️ Mount Rigi is the perfect place to spend a few hours.
ℹ️ To get up Mount Rigi get the funicular or hike up from Vitznau.
ℹ️ 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.
ℹ️ In winter, Mount Rigi 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 a 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.
✔️ 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 of the Alps and stunning Lake Lucerne.
✔️ Book activities like hiking or paragliding – sports like these are really popular here.
ℹ️ For visiting Mount Rigi, you should plan in at least 6-8 hours.
ℹ️ 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).
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
ℹ️ The train ride to Engelsberg is free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
ℹ️ The mountain excursion is not included in your Swiss Travel Pass but you will get a 50% discount. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.
ℹ️ Like on Mount Pilatus, the activities on top are numerous, so it takes at least 6-8 hours.
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).
Click here to read my full post on the best hotels in Lucerne.
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
ℹ️ From Interlaken, the whole trip will take at least eight or nine hours, so plan enough time for a trip to Jungfraujoch.
ℹ️ 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).
ℹ️ Altitude Sickness can be a problem, so drink enough water.
THINGS TO DO AT JUNGFRAUJOCH
✔️Enjoy the views from Sphynix Observatory and enjoy the views of the Aletsch Glacier
✔️ Stroll the Ice Palace – the ice tunnel is a highlight for young and old (literally, my little nephews and my parents told me they loved the Ice Palace the most).
✔️ Learn more about the (tragic) history of teh Jungfraujoch – a project which costs many people´s live
✔️ Enjoy a virtual show of the Alps
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.
✔️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.
ℹ️ The boat cruise is free with the Swiss Travel Pass. You can also buy tickets for Lake Brienz boat cruises.
ℹ️ 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).
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 the 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.
✔️ Do some more hikes around Lauterbrunnen. Check out my guide on Lauterbrunnen for more info.
✔️ 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
ℹ️ There is an entrance fee for the park – it depends on the season and arrival time.
ℹ️ You will not need a lot of time here – plan in between 30 – 90 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 from visiting.
ℹ️ 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).
ℹ️ 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 INTERLAKEN
For day 3 and 4 of your itinerary, I suggest staying in Interlaken because its central location allows to you get around easily.
LUXURY: VICTORIA JUNGFRAU GRAND HOTEL & SPA – 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 in Interlaken, this is probably the best pick.
MID-RANGE: HOTEL DU NORD – For your stay in Interlaken, I recommend this hotel – Hotel du Nord – which is centrally located and is quite nice. It is one of my favorite accommodations for your 5-day Swiss itinerary.
BUDGET: BACKPACKERS VILLA SONNENHOF – 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.
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.
3-Day Switzerland Itinerary – 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).
✔️ See the Freddie Mercury Statue and learn about his life in Montreux.
✔️ Visit the vineyards in the Chexbres region afterward and go wine tasting (in the summer season)
✔️ 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
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
🛏️ WHERE TO STAY IN GENEVA
My experiences with Genevan hotels were a bit of a wild ride; not only are they super pricey but the standards tend to leave something to be desired. So if you’re planning on venturing around Geneva make sure your hotel has stellar reviews so you don’t get taken for too much money – no one likes being overcharged!
There are some stunning hotels close to all the main attractions that won’t break the bank. My personal favorite is N’vY Manotel – a colorful hotel located close to the shores of Lake Geneva and the old town.
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.
✔️ 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
ℹ️ 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.
ℹ️ You can use the Glacier Express with your Swiss Travel Pass – you have to pay for the seat reservation only.
ℹ️ 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.
Check out my guide on the Glacier Express.
WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT
Luxury: Hotel Mont Cervin Palace– Here is a hotel that defines luxury: Hotel Mont Cervin Palace. If you are looking for a 5-star hotel in Zermatt, this might be perfect for you because it has everything you could be asking for from luxury accommodation.
Hotel Matterhorn Lodge Hotel & Appartments, which opened in December 2012, is located in the heart of Zermatt’s historic center. Decorated in a classic Alpine style, it boasts a wellness area with three different saunas. The hotel is conveniently situated just a two-minute walk from a ski bus stop.
Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.
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 on the shores of Lago Maggiore. This is where you get some Italian feeling in Switzerland.
TIPS FOR VISITING LOCARNO AND ASCONA
Both towns are located 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 – boat cruises on the Swiss side of the lake are free with a Swiss Travel Pass,
✔️Get a cable car or hike up Cardada Mountain and enjoy some of the best views from there.
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.
WHERE TO STAY IN LOCARNO
Lugano is an amazing place to stay – you can explore the beautiful city but can also do some fun day trips from Lugano. Yes, Lugano is expensive – like really expensive but it is still a good choice to stay overnight.
MID-RANGE: LUGANODANTE – We like you – This is a beautiful 4-star property in the city center of Lugano. This might be the perfect choice if you are looking for something more comfortable and luxurious. Check out prices here.
LUXURY: The View Lugano – One of the most famous 5-star hotels in Switzerland is this property. It is located close to the funicular station of San Salvatore and Lake Lugano. Find out more about this luxury property 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!