So Neal and I are planning an epic trip to Switzerland for two weeks this summer. We’ve been planning like crazy and have come up with some awesome ideas. Below is what we’ve got so far.
Have you been to Switzerland? What should we add? What should we drop? Help us plan!
Basic Itinerary – Home Bases
We wanted to limit our home bases as much as possible because we think you lose a lot of time packing and unpacking and we like to get to know an area. So here is a basic itinerary with planned home bases:
Days 1-3: Lucerne
Days 3-8: Lauterbrunnen
Days 8-9: Montreux
Days 9-12: Zermatt
Days 12-13: Chur
Days 13-16: St. Gallen
Montreux and Chur get a special one day stop because we think we’ll need to rest up in Montreux (staying at a fancy spa hotel), and Chur is supposedly the oldest town in Switzerland and a natural stop after a 4hr train ride from Zermatt.
Lucerne – 2 nights
Lucerne looks to be a very sweet town. We’ll definitely explore old town and find the lion monument and the chapel bridge. What we’re most excited to do, though, is the Golden Round Trip (including the boat ride) and Mt. Titlis. We want to take the Frakigaudi Toboggan on the way down from Mt. Pilatus and hike to Tomilshorn. We’d probably do the Titlis cliff walk on Mt. Titlis.
Hopefully the weather holds out for both, but we’d be happy if we even only got to do one (prefer Pilatus I think). There are a lot of mountain tops in Switzerland!
Lauterbrunnen – 5 nights
The next leg of our trip is in the Bernese Oberland region. There are a lot of choices on where to stay including Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Wegen, Murren, etc. We decided we’re going to stay in Lauterbrunnen because it seems like the most convenient without as many people. From here, we’ll explore the region.
Here are several things we could do, though you never know once you get there!
- Rent a bike and bike around Lake Thun. We want to hit up Oberhofen Castle, Thun, Spiez, see the suspension bridges, etc. This could be a whole day excursion or we could shorten it and not explore too many of the side towns.
- Schlithorn – to go to the top of Schlithorn is now 100% covered by the Swiss pass, so we’ll definitely be going up here. We would probably do the thrill walk and explore murren and gimmelwald on the way back.
- Grindelwald First – Switzerland seems like a giant playground and all the stuff on First really exemplifies that. We are not interested in going to the top of Jungfraujoch (too much time, too expensive and too many people), so instead we’ll try to do Grindelwald First. Here, we can do the First Cliff Walk, the First Flyer and the First Mountain Cart. It looks super fun! We’ll also explore Lake Balchalpsee if we make it up there.
- Lake Brienz sunset cruise
- Hang glide or paraglide. We’ve heard Airtime is a good company to use for paragliding and maybe Hang Glide Interlaken for hang gliding. We would only do one of these and I’m leaning toward paragliding, but tough decision!
- Visit Bern – this would at least be a rainy day plan, but also might be worthwhile at any point.
- Visit/hike Oeschinensee Lake and visit Brig (including Brig Castle). I definitely want to visit the Lake, the hike around it is supposed to be spectacular. I’m not as convinced that visiting Brig is worth the train trip.
- Hikes: I haven’t identified as many hikes as I’d like in this area. Here are some: Schnige Platte/panoramaweg – Gorsse Scheidegg; Stechelberg – Sefinental – Chilchbalm; Stechelberg – Holdrifall – Schmadribachfall – Stechelberg; Gastlosen (don’t know if we can get to this one)
Montreux – 1 night
We are planning on taking the Golden Pass to Montreux from Interlaken Ost. This train ride is supposed to be spectacular, and it’s largely covered by the Swiss Pass. I think we would just have to pay for a reservation or if we want first class. We want to stay in a fancy spa hotel while in Montreux and just relax. We’ll check out the Chillon Castle, of course, but otherwise, we’ll be in our fancy hotel, thank you very much. Oh except it’s also going to be Jazz Fest while we’re there (making hotel prices more expensive), so we will probably check that out.
Zermatt – 3 nights
Zermatt is a carless city, which is fun. On the train ride there, we might hop off and explore Sion because Neal loves castles and they have four there.
Zermatt appears to have better hiking than Interlaken. There’s about a million around the Matterhorn. Some that we will likely do are the 5 lakes trail, the Larch trail, Kristallweg, Naturweg, and the Panorama Trail. We may try to find Grachen’s hidden Alpine Lake as well. Some of the other possibilities are:
- The Hornlihutte hike
- the Path to Freedom hike
- Marmot Trail
As for other things to do in Zermatt, we’re thinking of the Gorge Adventure, a helicopter ride, seeing the sunrise over the Matterhorn from Gornegrat, the Matternhorn Glacier ride, and Glacier Paradise. We’ll also explore Zermatt of course.
Chur – 1 night
We will take the Glacier Express to Chur. We will likely take time to rest and relax in Chur. We’re not taking the Bernina Express, so we don’t have to think about that. Werkstatt Chur looks interesting, as does Tom’s Beer Box. Maybe we’ll check out a museum, but I’m thinking more of walking around old town and relaxing.
St. Gallen – 3 nights
Finally reaching the east side of Switzerland when we head to St. Gallen! There seems to be a whole world of things to do and see from St. Gallen (after we explore there of course!). We would like to go to Appenzel, do the 5 Lakes of Pizol trail, the Wildhaus to Santis hike, explore Vaduz, take the train to Stein am Rhine and maybe check out Rhine Falls. We’re even considering a quick trip to Neuschwanstein Castle! We did a puzzle of the castle a few years ago and it just looks gorgeous. We fly out of Zurich in the early evening, so we’ll head there by train on the last day rather than spending the night in Zurich.
If you know anything about Switzerland, you know it has a great train system. There is no need to rent a car, and, in fact, there are lots of car-free villages. There are a number of different options for the most cost-efficient train travel through Switzerland:
These probably aren’t even all the different types of passes available. I think what makes the most sense for us will be the Swiss Pass. We plan on taking lots of trains and cogwheels and boats and buses, so I think it makes sense. But these passes ain’t cheap! It may make more sense to get the half card + Bernese pass. We’re still figuring/pricing it out…
So there you have it. So much to see and do! Of course, the best laid plans…. But we are not concerned with having some of what we want to do fall through. That always happens! We are also not deterred by a little rain, so that won’t stop us from doing certain things. As for food, we’ll probably cook and then check out some of the restaurants, though I’ve heard they’re expensive. We’re so excited for this trip!
If you have recommendations, please comment!