The Best Switzerland Itinerary – 7 Days in Switzerland
- 1 The Best Switzerland Itinerary – 7 Days in Switzerland
- 2 Places to See in 7 Days
As a regular Switzerland visitor who often stays in the country for weeks and even months at a time, I have a million favorite places. There are so many cute little villages and towns, breathtaking sceneries (including the most beautiful lakes and mountains), and fun cities that I could easily stay there for years without getting bored.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to do so. Maybe you don’t want to stay that long. If you are in Switzerland for 7 days, this one-week Switzerland itinerary will help you to discover the most beautiful places in a short amount of time (though Switzerland is small, there is a lot to see).
The itinerary is busy. But I want you to see as much as possible, but I tried to don’t pack it too full so you are not totally stressing out.
This Switzerland 7-day itinerary will help you discover some of the most beautiful places and famous tourist spots in the country, as well as some of the hidden gems. You will see some gorgeous cities and towns, but you will also travel to some of the most beautiful landscapes that Switzerland has to offer.
I have to say that creating this 7-day itinerary was tough, but I am pretty sure that it turned out great (if I do say so myself), and by using this carefully created list, you can enjoy the best of Switzerland in one week.
Though I cannot say that I have seen every place in Switzerland, I luckily have gotten to see a lot… so, here is my Switzerland guide with important travel information, plus a perfect itinerary for Switzerland.
Before jumping to the itinerary, here are some things I’d like to mention first.
The itinerary is created for seven full days. If you stay fewer than that and just have five full day in Switzerland, you can read my 5-day itinerary (which, btw, is also super awesome).
It also depends on where you fly into. For this itinerary, I would suggest starting and ending your trip in Zurich, Switzerland´s biggest city (though it isn’t the capital).
Travel Tips for Planning a 7 Day Trip to Switzerland
How to Get Around
For the last three years, I have been road tripping Switzerland and loving it. I came by my own car and bought a toll sticker (around $50) so that I could use all of the streets. I stayed for several weeks and it was worth every penny. You could use only highways to avoid buying such a sticker, but the most beautiful spots in Switzerland are often found on the side of the country roads. So, if you bring your own car, invest in a sticker (you can buy toll stickers wherever you enter the country).
If you rent a car, a toll sticker is normally included in the rental price.
Driving in Switzerland is fun and safe. The streets are well paved, and normally the traffic isn’t too bad – whether you use highways or country roads, they are not extremely busy. Of course, this doesn’t pertain to main city centers, which may be busier.
There are many gas stations along the way. Gas is, like everything else in Switzerland, not a bargain, but Switzerland isn’t really known for being a budget destination.
Parking in cities can be tough and expensive, which brings me to another awesome means of transportation.
I love the public transportation in Switzerland. It is super convenient, reliable, on time, clean, and safe… but expensive. That’s Switzerland for you.
For seven full days in Switzerland, I recommend this great 8-day Swiss Travel Pass (only available to non-Swiss inhabitants). It is perfect for getting around – you can use it for buses, trains, visiting certain museums, and getting discounts on cable cars, etc.
And train travel in Switzerland is just fun – really, really fun. Here, the journey is the reward.
While you could book a fully guided tour, it lacks flexibility. So, I only see one option as the real way to get around when visiting Switzerland for a week.
Money / Currency
Switzerland is not part of the European Union and does not have the euro (€). They use Swiss Francs. While euros are widely accepted, the exchange rate is terrible, so I recommend exchanging money at home or withdrawing money from an ATM (if you don’t have to pay fees, or withdraw money just once to avoid paying fees several times).
Credit cards are widely accepted (especially Visa and Mastercard), but I recommend always having cash on you for the smaller things you need to pay for (and especially in smaller towns and shops).
As mentioned, the country is not known as a backpacker’s paradise, mostly because accommodations are extremely expensive. Also, food is not cheap (though, here the quality is often better than in other European countries). Ideally, you can save money by reducing your meat, alcohol, and cigarette consumption for those seven days.
Best Time to Visit Switzerland
Switzerland is great to visit at any time of the year. For winter sports lovers, the best time is obviously in winter; for others, any time is good. Prices for accommodations really depend on the season though. So, if you want to avoid the tourist crowds and save some money on hotels, then from March to June and September to October would be the best time to visit. Since there is never a guarantee on the weather, I would suggest trying those months.
Places to See in 7 Days
Day 1 in Switzerland
Stein am Rhine
As promised, this Switzerland itinerary has it all – mountains, waterfalls, lakes, cities, towns, and villages.
So, here is probably the most beautiful town in Switzerland: Stein am Rhine. This little town in the northern part of Switzerland is like a fairy tale come true. The most distinctive facades and buildings are surrounded by more picture-perfect buildings. If you stroll outside the town center, you will also find a lovely river to walk along, though I probably would focus on the town center as you only have a few hours (maybe have lunch in one of the restaurants here).
Then, head to the impressive waterfalls.
The biggest waterfalls in Europe aren’t in Iceland, they are actually in Switzerland. Right next to the German border, to be precise. The astonishing waterfalls near the town of Schaffhausen know how to impress. Whether you get to the platform or take a boat ride, the waterfalls are one of the best places to see if you have a week in Switzerland.
This is an especially great place to start if you come from Zurich (by train) or if you come by car from countries like Germany or France, or probably even Austria.
Day 2 in Switzerland
Zurich is my favorite city in Switzerland. It just has more to see and do than other cities, and it is laid back (by Swiss standards) and easy-going.
If you only have one day in Zurich, I recommend strolling the old town and Bahnhofstrasse (which is the most expensive street in the world).
Though it does not look spectacular, this street beats New York’s 5th Avenue when it comes to rent prices (have I mentioned that Switzerland is expensive?). It is conveniently located by Lake Zurich and the Old Town, so you should not skip it when visiting Switzerland.
The shopping street and strolling (and maybe lunch in the old town) takes about half a day, max.
Personally, I think that there is no better way to end a day in Zurich than at Lake Zurich.
This is especially true on summer days, when the street musicians are playing lovely music and people just gather around the lake. It feels cosmopolitan, friendly, and laid back.
Day 3 in Switzerland
Arrive early in the morning in Lucerne and store your luggage at the hotel before exploring this lovely city – and its astonishing scenery.
I recommend heading to one of the mountains first. Lucerne has two impressive mountains, which are easily accessible via cable cars/cogwheel trains.
Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi
Both of the mountains are amazing places to visit. Mount Pilatus takes about a full day to get up, explore, and discover. You could do it in 5-6 hours, but it would be a waste of money (eating up there is not cheap) if you don’t have much time, as there is a lot to do.
The views from there are astonishing, so if you are willing to limit your time in the city center of Lucerne to 2 or 3 hours, it is the best day trip option.
Mount Rigi is a beautiful mountain that offers drop-dead gorgeous views over Lake Lucerne, but I spent much less time up there. Getting up takes less time, and there is less to do. However, the views are one of a kind and they are absolutely worth it.
You could also hike some stations, but if you take the cable car, it takes about 3-4 hours in total.
Lucerne City Center
The city center is cute, but I recommend exploring the scenery of the canton (state) rather than the city center, as there are more beautiful, unique cities and town centers in Switzerland (e.g. Stein am Rhine). I actually advice planning in a few hours to see the Chapel Bridge and stroll the lake.
If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount on the mountain activities, and boat cruises are included! How awesome is that? I know, it is one of the best features of the Swiss Travel Pass. So, if you don’t want to go up one of the mountains, you could do a boat cruise (btw, both mountains are also best reached via boat, but of course, you can also get there by public transportation or car).
Day 4 and 5
Region of Interlaken
When I talk about Interlaken, I actually mean the region of Interlaken and Jungfrau, and not just the town of Interlaken.
Either way, if you have ever read my Switzerland posts (and I have a lot of posts on Switzerland), you know that this is probably my favorite area in Switzerland… or maybe even in the world!
The scenery is beyond beautiful and it takes my breath away every single time I visit. You will find a few activities that you can do in two days – actually, there are more than a few, but see which ones you’d like to visit during your 2-day stay.
This is probably the most popular day trip activity in Switzerland – a trip to Jungfraujoch. The highest train station in Europe attracts tons of visitors each day.
It is great to visit at any time of the year – you will always find snow! Snow tubing, a bit of skiing, or playing in the snow is possible throughout the year. But there is more to see and do. The views are amazing (with an altitude of more than 3000 meters, this is no surprise).
If you start your journey early (before 8 am), you could do something in the evening, like explore the gorgeous town of Thun, for example).
Surprisingly, I often overlooked this town or just passed it whenever I was in the region, but when I finally visited, I totally loved it.
Thun is such a beautiful town (probably even prettier than Interlaken) with the lovely Aare River flowing through it (the Aare River is probably the most beautiful river, in my opinion, and strolling along it is just a lovely, laid back activity). Spending time at Lake Thun, checking out the cute streets of the town, and exploring the castles (there are several really, really charming ones to marvel at) were just a few of the things to do.
If you want to take it more slowly, you could enjoy a full day here. If you would like to explore more of this gorgeous piece of Earth called Interlaken, I figure that half a day is enough.
St. Beatus Caves, Sigriswill Suspension Bridge, and Grabenmühle
Here are three of my most favorite places in the region, which you can do all at once – well, not really, but almost.
St. Beatus Caves
First, head to gorgeous St. Beatus Caves. Even if you don’t buy a ticket to enter the caves, the trip will be worth it. You can get there by car or public transportation, and after a few minutes’ hike, you will have one of the best views – ever, ever, ever. Though, the view from the restaurant is not the highest vantage point, it is one of a kind.
From there, you could keep hiking to the other side and have another amazing view of Lake Thun.
I would, depending on if you do a guided tour inside the caves or not, plan between 1.5 and 4 hours for this activity.
Sigriswill Suspension Bridge and Grabenmühle
From St. Beatus Caves, you can enjoy a lovely drive up (by bus or car) to Sigrswil Suspension Bridge and the hidden gem of Grabenmühle in Sigriswil.
These places are still not as well known, and so I love the serenity and tranquility there. For about 5€, you can pass the bridge and enjoy this perfect view of Lake Thun. Afterwards, the ticket from the bridge is your entry ticket for Grabenmühle.
Grabenmühle was recommended to me by a local, and this really weird, but incredibly beautiful, place won my heart within minutes.
I cannot even classify what this place is. It is a little garden with a cafe and animals. And great views. Whatever it is, it is so worth the visit.
Time: As always, it depends on how long you will spend on each place, but taking driving time into consideration, I estimate that all activities (including St. Beatus Caves) will take about 5-9 hours.
So, for the evening, you could head to one of the cute towns or villages to end your day.
Lauterbrunnen is located in the Alps and is one of the most popular places for extreme outdoor sport lovers – extreme sports like base jumping, etc. are extremely popular here. Though I do not want to promote these kinds of sports (there are deaths reported regularly in Lauterbrunnen), the place is great to visit even if you aren’t into them.
The village is also known for being surrounded by thundering waterfalls – 72, to be precise. The Staubbach Falls are one of them, but for more impressive falls, 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 get wet).
One of my travel highlights was my ride up Brienzer Rothorn. I will never forget the day that I took the one-hour ride up in an old stream loc. The ride was the most impressive I have ever had in Switzerland because the scenery was the most diverse and impressive.
The best way to arrive at Brienzer Rothorn station is via boat (which means you will take a cruise on Lake Brienz, my favorite lake in the world). Boat tours on Lake Brienz are included in the Swiss Travel Pass, and there is a discount for the ride to Brienzer Rothorn with a STP.
Oeschinensee and Blausee
Both of these lakes are not situated in the region of Interlaken (or Jungfrau), but in Kandersteg; however, they are close by and absolutely amazing!
You could visit both in one day, either by car or public transportation.
There is an entrance fee for the Blausee National Park which is a few €. The park is small but lovely.
For Oeschinensee, you can go up and spend a full day hiking. The weather tends to be bad in this area, but that should not stop you.
If you aren’t much into hiking (welcome to my world), you can take a cable car up. From there, you can hike for 20 minutes or so and have the best, most amazing view over Lake Oeschinen and discover the area by yourself (for the very lazy, you can take a bus shuttle that even drives you to the lake for an extra payment of 5€, if I remember correctly).
With the Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount on the cable car ride.
This lovely village is a popular place for outdoorsy people who enjoy winter sports. With the many skiing options in winter, it attracts a large number of winter sports fans, but there are also many activities to do at other times.
The 300-kilometer walking trains in summer and the unique walk of Grindelwald First are popular day trip activities.
Okay, for day 6 and 7, I have two itineraries and you can see which one suits your interests best.
Day 6 and 7 in Switzerland
Zermatt is a very well-known winter destination and popular for winter sports lovers, but it is actually lovely to visit year round.
While the town is small and the fast travelers could probably be done exploring in one day (without doing any winter sports activities), it is a bit trickier to get there, and also time consuming, so you should plan in about two days.
The town itself is perfect for nice strolls along the Vispa River, luxury watch shopping, and enjoying the car-free town (only electric cars and buses are allowed) – always with the Matterhorn Mountain in front of you!
The mountain is probably one of the most iconic mountains in the world. Its weird and unique shape make it a destination for any bucket list.
You can visit the Klein Matterhorn and enjoy the best views from there. But be aware that going up almost 4000 meters above sea level can cause headaches for those who aren’t used to the altitude (of course, for most of us, it is only possible via cable car).
Getting to Zermatt
As mentioned, Zermatt is car-free and, thus, a bit time-consuming to get to. From Interlaken, it takes about 2.5-3 hours. With your Swiss Travel Pass, you will have to change buses/trains a few times. If you get there by car, you need to leave your car in a parking garage in Taesch (which comes with parking fees of about 13€ for 24 hours) and take a train to Zermatt.
From Zermatt, it is time to head to the airport of your departure.
Day 6 and 7 in Switzerland (Alternative Itinerary)
Here are three day trip ideas from Zurich for the last two days of your one-week stay in Switzerland. I have several options for you (it is just so hard to name one, so I want to give you some ideas of my favorite places in the country).
From Interlaken, Bern is not far away and would make a perfect sixth day in Switzerland.
Bern is the beautiful capital of Switzerland, one that is not only full of history and politics, but also lovely gardens (Rosen Garten), bears (yes, there are some bears in the city center… ok, there is a fence and they have privacy, but Bern also has bears), and great views. It is all about strolling the most beautiful river in the world (as mentioned earlier, the most stunning one is the Aare River), discovering the old town of Bern, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and more.
This capital is worth a trip!
This gorgeous little gem is located about two hours from Zurich (by car and also by public transportation), and here you see nature at its best! It’s not overrun by foreign tourists (or any for that matter), there are no big or busy cities… it’s just tranquility and breathtaking scenery.
See the Rhine Gorge, the Crestasee, and Lake Cauma in just a few hours. It is also great for a few hours of hiking.
I only visited once before falling head over heels in love!
You could also book accommodations close by, as it is probably cheaper than in Zurich, and you would have more time there. In summer, you should pack your bathing suit to hop into the water (more on opening hours and prices, etc. here).
Ebenalp Mountain and Appenzell
Start the morning with an amazing hike. Get to Wasserausen Station in Appenzellerland and hike the Ebenalp Mountain (about 1,600 meters), or buy a ticket for the cable car (50% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass) and go up. If you use the cable car, I definitely recommend hiking down. You will not regret it, I promise (well, you might the next day when your legs hurt, but you will not that day).
If you hike down, you will see the amazing Aescher Guest House (they don’t accept any overnight guests anymore), but it is a great stop for lunch (they even have vegetarian options, though not any vegan or healthy stuff as far as I can remember) and a place to soak in the views. Ebenalp Mountain is also popular for paragliding – so, why not try it out here?
Hiking down is a bit tricky, as it is very steep, but hike towards the Seealpsee, which is another amazing lake of amazing color. Before heading to Appenzell, you can take one last rest here.
Appenzell is cute and colorful! This little village has some beautiful and unique houses that look more like drawings than real-life houses. The village is small, but so pretty – perfect for a short walk (and dinner probably) before heading back to your accommodations.
P.S. If you don’t want to book your accommodations here, you can save money as this region is definitely more affordable than most of the other German-speaking parts of Switzerland. Looking at this itinerary, all stops are in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland, and while there are some extremely gorgeous places in the French- and Italian-speaking parts (like Montreux and Valle Verzasc), it might get very busy trying to visit all of the areas in just one week.
Though Switzerland is geographically small, there are so many places worth visiting that it is hard to see everything in one week. For that, you should plan in at least 7 days, or ideally, even more time!