“Switzerland would be a mighty big place if it were ironed flat.” ~ Mark Twain.

Wondering where to go in Switzerland for first time visitors? With its jagged mountains dusted in snow as a picture-perfect backdrop almost everywhere, my 7 days in Switzerland itinerary will help you discover the best of the best this country has to offer.

In my opinion the best way to see Switzerland is by rail, so why rush and only visit Zürich and Lucerne when there is SO MUCH more to see in these breathtaking lands? I’ll show you how with my Switzerland travel blog!

Take the extra time to fully appreciate the incredible natural scenery, enjoy efficient transport with a 50% discount and devour delicious food (yes, I’m talking about cheese and chocolate) by spending one week in Switzerland.

7 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Complete Guide for First-Timers | The Invisible Tourist

With her modern history dating back over 800 years, a fleeting visit isn’t going to do this gorgeous nation any justice! I’ll help you make the most of your trip by detailing more about stunning Switzerland attractions as well.

My personal tried-and-tested best Switzerland itinerary starts in Geneva and ends in Zürich, but can be done in reverse. Covering the best things to do, where to eat, where to stay, costs and exclusive practical tips combined from my separate visits to the country, read on for more!

This post contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Switzerland Itinerary 7 Days Map | The Invisible Tourist

 Days in Switzerland Itinerary Overview

7 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: Complete Guide for First-Timers | The Invisible Tourist
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Why visit Switzerland in 7 days?

Perhaps you’ve read my reasons to visit Switzerland (especially for non-skiers) and are keen to make the trip?

As some of the world leaders in transportation technology, the Swiss make it super easy to hop from city to city with high-speed trains seamlessly connecting one side of the country to the other.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit this central European nation in spring, summer and winter – let me tell you, it’s hard to choose when is the best time to visit Switzerland because it is just so beautiful at any time of year! Summer brings more outdoor adventures like hiking and boating while winter and spring beauty is truly stunning, with fewer tourists to boot. Perfect for non-skiers!

Did you know? Switzerland is home to four official languages spoken in different regions, or cantons. More about this and how I learn language for travel fast can be found at the conclusion of this itinerary for Switzerland.

Complete 7 Days in Switzerland Travel Itinerary 

Before we get started

As a quick note about accommodation, I used Bern and Lucerne as bases for day trips throughout this itinerary so I am able to recommend hotels in these cities. However, if you prefer to spend the night in a particular city I’ve provided more information on where you can find alternate accommodation under each corresponding city below.

TIP: Staying in two hotels over the trip instead of six is the most time and cost efficient way to see the Swiss cities in this itinerary.

Using two hotel bases throughout the trip also eliminates the inefficiency of taking a day trip from one side of the country to the other if based only in one city. Although small and connected by high-speed rail, Switzerland is mountainous after all so some journeys can be deceiving!

The costs for transportation I’ve provided in this itinerary are after a 50% discount has been applied with this Swiss Half Fare Card. I tend to shy away from purchasing passes during my travels because they usually don’t cover the things I want them to (which is why I prefer not to use the JR Pass when visiting Japan).

Surprisingly, you can save some serious coin by using this little golden ticket when booking your rail journeys across Switzerland! I highly recommend the Swiss Half Fare Card as it saved me over AUD 400 over the duration of this trip. Read on to find out more about this pass and where to buy it at the conclusion of this itinerary.

TIP: Alternatively, the Swiss Travel Pass will also cover transportation in this itinerary. It covers unlimited train, bus, cable car, boat trips across the country and may better suit your needs if you would prefer to not have to purchase individual transport tickets during your trip. It also means you receive free entry to 500+ museums and galleries, so in that case the Swiss Travel Pass may be for you!

Augustinergasse, Zurich

You ready? Let’s rock this one week Switzerland itinerary by breaking everything down into easy yet detailed day-by-day chunks:


Home to international headquarters and straddling the border with France, Geneva (French: Genève) is one of the more well-known Swiss cities and is well worth a visit. Located south of Lac Leman, the Old Town of Geneva dates back to the Roman Empire. With one of of Switzerland’s major airports, it’s likely you’ll be arriving here.

Switzerland is known for being the “neutral” nation as it has rarely taken sides in regional or world wars since its founding in 1291. This is why Geneva is home to many political and global organisations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organisation and World Health Organisation to name a few.

Bienvenue, you’re in a French-speaking region of Switzerland now!


Geneva Old Town

Getting from Geneva airport to the city

Geneva Airport is only 4 kilometres from the city, making transit a breeze. The airport is located within Zone 10 of Geneva’s public transport network and adult tickets cost CHF 3.00 one way (valid for one hour). There aren’t any ticket machines on buses or trams so you’ll need to purchase your ticket at a dedicated machine before you get on board.

NOTE: No change is given at the ticket machines so hold onto your receipt to be reimbursed at a TPG agency.

  • By train: 6 minutes to Gare Cornavin station in the city centre via SBB Rail
  • By bus: 20 minutes to downtown, covered by the Swiss Travel Pass.

Where to stay in Geneva

I personally headed straight to Bern from the airport and visited Geneva as a day trip as my flight arrived early morning. But if you arrive a bit later in the day and prefer to take your time on your arrival to Switzerland, I’d recommend spending the night in Geneva.

Staying north of Pont du Mont Blanc bridge is where the action is. Keep in mind, the closer the hotel is to Lake Geneva, the pricer it is!

However, if I were to stay tomorrow: Based on reviews, location, proximity to transport and within a mid-range budget I would recommend Hotel des Alpes. Click here to check your dates and book.


Jet d'Eau

Things to do in Geneva

NOTE: This summary of things to do is part of my in-depth one day in Geneva itinerary!

  • Admire the Water Jet (Jet d’Eau), the large water fountain on Lake Geneva. This 140 metre-high water jet is iconic to the city. It’s hard to miss from the waterfront or walking along Pont du Mont Blanc bridge.
  • Appreciate the Flower Clock (l’horloge fleurie), located along the western side of English Garden (Jardain Anglais). Made with over 6,000 flowers and small plants, this working clock is symbolic to the watch-making country.
  • Head to Place du Bourg-de-Four to marvel at St Piere Cathedral. It’s been standing in prominent location since the 10th century!
  • Take a stroll along the Reformation Wall. These figures carved into Geneva’s old city walls depict important people from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Today, this wall is located inside the University of Geneva.
  • Play an oversized game of chess in green Bastions Park (along Promenade des Bastions) and leisurely walk around its botanical garden.
  • Step back in time to the Renaissance era when visiting Hôtel de Ville, Geneva’s government headquarters. Here it’s said that nobles were once able to ride up to the highest floor on horseback.
  • Not far from Hotel de Ville, find the Old Arsenal (Ancien Arsenel) located in the maze of cobbled streets in Geneva’s Old Town. Originally a market during Roman times, the area was converted to a military store in the 18th century to defend Geneva from neighbouring enemies. Don’t forget to take in the beauty of the detailed frescos painted beneath the archways – they’re absolutely stunning and depict Geneva’s history.
  • Shop up a storm on Rue du Marche in the Old Town (or simply window shop, the displays are lovely).

Cobbled streets in Geneva's Old Town

Have some extra time in Geneva?

  • Trek to the United Nations headquarters located in the city’s north.
  • Reflect at the famous Broken Chair sculpture. Created by local artist Daniel Berset, this three-legged chair was made to protest against the global use of land mines It also pays tribute to handicapped landmine victims.


In my opinion, Bern (French: Berne) is one of Europe’s most underrated capital cities. Can you believe much of the city has remained unchanged since its founding in 1191? It’s almost as though time has stood still here!

The beautifully preserved architecture is one of the reasons why the entire Old Town was dedicated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. It really is a must-see to add to your itinerary of Switzerland.

Bern’s compact size makes it ideal for covering all the main attractions on foot and allows you to explore at an easy, enjoyable pace.

This region of Switzerland is German-speaking (willkommen!), although written French is common and it’s likely you’ll find people who speak English. Be sure to use your German first when asking a local if you need assistance.

View from Kirchenfeld Bridge, Bern

Arcades beneath the buildings in Bern
Arcades beneath the buildings in Bern

Getting from Geneva to Bern

Where to stay in Bern

I’ve stayed in Bern twice now as I discovered it makes a wonderful base for many day trips. If you also decide to use Bern as your base, I can highly recommend the following hotels I’ve personally enjoyed:

  • NH Bern The Bristol Hotel, in great spot just a moments’ walk from the station in the Old Town. Plenty of restaurants, shops and Zytglogge in walking distance. The room and bathroom were very spacious and had lovely views overlooking Bern’s terracotta rooftops. 
  • Best Western Hotel Bern is in a fantastic location, and also recently renovated. Multilingual staff were very helpful. Continental breakfast was decent. A very convenient base in the city, less than 10 minutes walk to Hauptbahnhof Bern station with lots of restaurants, shops and top attractions nearby.
  • For more hotels in Bern, click here.
Just take a look at the lovely view I woke to from my window one morning from the Best Western:

View from Hotel Bern

Where to eat in Bern

  • Restaurant Anker – Great for delicious Swiss cuisine.
  • Spaghetti Factory – One of my old favourites serving up authentic, quality spaghetti. 
  • Piazza Italia – Delicious Italian food, pizzas were great. 
  • Confiserie Eichenberger – Hand-select some authentic and delectable Swiss chocolates.
  • Coop – Local supermarket great for snacks and breakfast pastries.
  • Einsteinhaus & Café – Albert Einstein’s old residence.
Confiserie Eichenberger
Spoil yourself at Confiserie Eichenberger

Things to do in Bern

NOTE: This summary of things to do is part of my in-depth one day in Bern itinerary!

  • Explore the gorgeous Old Town (Aldstat). Head across Nydeggbrucke in the east and Kornhausbruke in the north outskirts for incredible views over Bernese rooftops by the Aare River!
  • Stare in awe at the beautiful detail of Zytglogge. This 15th century astronomical clock tower rising high above the cobbled streets below has even served as a guard tower and prison throughout the centuries. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a spectacular icon of the city.
  • Walk beneath the winding medieval arcades and maybe do a spot of shopping. Bern is the place to shop after all, with over six kilometres of arcades to shield you from the wind and snow!
  • Admire the grandeur of the ritzy Bellevue Palace Hotel and Parliament (Bundenhaus) buildings. The best view of their exteriors can be seen from Kirchenfeld Bridge (Kirchenfeldbrücke) in the city’s south.
  • If you’re feeling lucky and pop in for a game or two and the Grand Casino Bern, the ornate establishment boasts a deck with amazing views of the city below. (Cost: Entry CHF 10 ea for over 18’s and includes a welcome drink).
  • Pay a visit to the city’s living emblems at Bear Park (Barenpark). Situated beside Nydeggbrucke, the views over Bern’s rooftops are hard to beat from here. As the city’s symbol, bears have been residing in Bern’s city centre since 1513! Today, the three bears who call this park home have been there since 2009. It’s possible to enter the park and take a guided tour, although I was lucky enough to see the bears from the bridge and viewing platform. Cost: Free
  • Go on a 16th century fountain hunt. Did you know Bern is also known as the city of fountains? See if you can find 11 interesting characters towering above the fountains dotted throughout the old town. There’s even an ogre munching on a small child! These fascinating figures depict characters in Swiss folklore.
  • Find the 4 bronze Albert Einstein statues dotted throughout Bern. He lived here in the early 20th century.
  • Visiting during spring? Don’t miss Rosengarten for 100 Japanese cherry blossoms trees on a steep hillside overlooking the Old Town.
  • Finally, stop by Confiserie Eichenberger to hand-select some authentic and delectable Swiss chocolates. You’ve deserved it after all that walking!

Zytglogge, Bern

Einstein Statue in Barenpark, Bern

Views over Bern from Nydeggbrücke

Don't miss the cherry blossoms at Rosengarten during your one day in Bern in spring


Day 3 of this Switzerland itinerary will have you exploring the stunning region of Zermatt. The area is surrounded by 38 mountain peaks, all of which are over 4,000 metres high!

This unique environment has meant Zermatt has inherited the nickname of the “Sunniest Corner of Switzerland” as few clouds tend to form here.

For you, this means the likelihood of seeing the Matterhorn is more than 62% according to MeteoSchweiz. Those odds sounds pretty good to me!

Getting from Bern to Zermatt

  • SBB Rail: Bern Hauptbahnhof to Zermatt, 2h 14mins (direction: Brig, 1 change at Visp)
  • Cost: Adult 2nd class, CHF 75.00 return with Swiss Half Fare Card or free with the Swiss Travel Pass.

Where to stay in Zermatt

As I visited Zermatt as a day trip from Bern, I didn’t spend the night. If you’re planning on staying, make sure you read some reviews, compare pricing and availability.


Matterhorn from Matterhorn Express Cable Car, Zermatt

Things to do in Zermatt

NOTE: The two main Zermatt attractions are the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Gornergrat Observatory. My in-depth day trip to Zermatt itinerary covers how to get around to see them both with scenic transport options in between, including with and without using the Peak2Peak Pass.

There are loads of amazing sights to see in this winter wonderland, especially the Matterhorn. The thickness of snow coating the rooftops was so smooth it reminded me of cake icing!

Marvel at the Matterhorn by taking the Gornergrat Bahn up to the spectacular Gornergrat Observatory. The entire train journey is absolutely stunning with the Matterhorn popping in and out of view along the way.

You’re bound to recognise this beloved Swiss icon as it’s used in logos of global companies such as Toblerone and Paramount Pictures. A word of caution: Prepare to have your breath taken away when the Matterhorn welcomes you!

Gornergrat Bahn: Zermatt to Gornergrat Lookout, 33 mins (trains running approx. every half hour)
Cost: Adult CHF 63.00 return with either the Swiss Half Fare Card or Swiss Travel Pass. Alternatively you can book your Gornergrat Cogwheel tickets in advance here.

Matterhorn from the Gornergrat lookout


  • After returning to Zermatt from the Gornergrat, take a wander around the snowy paths and check out the ski resorts. See if you can find the unusual way many of the buildings are elevated off the ground!
  • If time permits, check out the Matterhorn Museum. Its turquoise-pyramid roof is easy to spot in Kirchplatz. Artefacts include a Neolithic Age (c. 3000 BC) stone axe and a snapped rope from the very first ascent in 1865. Opening times from 3pm – 6pm daily. Cost: Adult CHF 10.00 or free with the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Pick up some hand-made souvenirs from Matterland Souvenirs, Zermatter Souvenirs for Swiss Army knives, and Swiss Shop Schweizerhof for textiles, crafts, jewellery and decor.
  • Stroll along picturesque Hofmattstrasse. Be sure to take some postcard-worthy shots of the traditional wooden chalets complete with a stunning mountain range backdrop.

Zermatt skiers

Where to eat in Zermatt

At the Gornergrat Lookout, obviously food choices are limited (you’re at the summit of a mountain after all). Regardless, it’s the perfect place to enjoy lunch with a view!

Self Panorama offer a hot buffet-style lunch and and cozy blankets are provided if you choose to dine outside with sweeping views of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. It’s absolutely beautiful and you’ll wonder why blackbirds are even up here until you see them eyeing off your hot chips.

If you feel like treating yourself to an a la carte menu , Vis-à-vis inside the 3100 Kulm Hotel is for you (and the desserts sound incredible!).

Blackbirds at the Gornergrat Lookout


Jungfraujoch is the jewel in the Bernese Oberlands’ crown and boasts the highest railway station in all of Europe, hence its nickname “Top of Europe”.

As an added bonus you’ll come face-to-face with the Eiger, Europe’s most notorious mountain when you arrive at Kleine Scheidegg. In the afternoon, stop by beautiful Interlaken on your way back to Bern.

Jungfraujoch Highlights
JUNGFRAUJOCH HIGHLIGHTS: 1) Ice Sculptures ~ 2) Ice Tunnel ~ 3) Mini Museum ~ 4 & 5) View from Sphinx Observatory ~ 6) Weather during my visit

Getting from Bern to Jungfraujoch (Top of Europe)

  • SBB Rail: Bern Hauptbahnhof to Jungfraujoch, 3h 7 mins (3 changes: Interlaken Ost, Lauterbrunnen, Kleine Scheidegg)
  • NOTE: From Kleine Scheidegg board the Jungfraubahn to complete the journey to Jungfraujoch
  • Cost: Adult 2nd class, CHF 142.00 return when using the Swiss Half Fare Card or reduced fare with the Swiss Travel Pass (this includes a CHF 10 fee for reserved seating). Alternatively you can book your Interlaken to Jungfraujoch tickets in advance here.

This is the longest day trip in this itinerary, but oh-so-worth-it! The entire journey is picturesque, with the trains cutting through mountains and countrysides until you reach your destination on the Top of Europe – 3,466 metres up!

It’s amazing to think the Jungfraubahn railway was completed in 1912, and was first thought of as early as 1860. It was a huge achievement in engineering for its time.

Thankfully the Jungfraubahn stops for a few moments at Eismeer station before reaching Jungfraujoch. This station is built into the mountainside so only a glass window separates you from the incredible the sea of ice outside!

View out the window from Eismeer Station, Jungfraubahn
View out the window from Eismeer Station, Jungfraubahn

Things to do in Jungfraujoch

  • Admire Alpine Sensation, a giant snow globe with little moving figures depicting workers who helped build the Jungfraubahn. The globe dedicated to the miners who lost their lives to make it happen.
  • Head to the Sphinx Observation Deck to have your breath taken away by the enormity of the Aletsch glacier. The lift up climbs 108 metres in only 25 seconds! There’s nothing like that crisp mountain air hitting your face.
  • Stroll around the Ice Palace, complete with ice sculptures and an entire tunnel made from ice.
  • Be awe-struck by the digital Jungfrau Panorama. These 360-degree screens projecting imagery from Jungfraujoch allow you to see what it’s really like at this natural wonder if the clouds interfere with your visit.
  • Sample some delicious Lindt chocolates at the Swiss Chocolate Heaven store.
  • Souvenir shop at the Top of Europe stores.
  • Try your hand at snowy activities such as snowtubing, sledging, skiing and more at Snow Fun Park.
  • Remember to stop off at Interlaken on your way back to Bern in the late afternoon. There’s a casino, boutiques (especially for Swiss watches) and beautiful grand hotels to admire against a jagged mountain backdrop. Horse-drawn carriage rides are also available. If time permits, head up the funicular to Harder Kulm lookout, Interlaken’s own peak for amazing views down over the town below. You can even go tandem paragliding – read an Interlaken paragliding review here!

Where to stay in Interlaken

It’s not possible to stay on Jungfraujoch, but Interlaken is a lovely place to stay close by. As I visited Interlaken as a day trip from Bern, I didn’t spend the night.


Horse-drawn carriage, Interlaken



Lucerne (German: Luzern) is the destination you see on picture-perfect postcards, it’s just so darn gorgeous. Situated beside her namesake lake, Lucerne has been a huge drawcard for tourists visiting the region and it’s easy to see why. No trip is complete without adding this bucket list city to your summer or winter Switzerland itinerary!

Lucerne is a must for any Switzerland itinerary

Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge), Lucerne

Getting from Bern to Lucerne

Where to stay in Lucerne

I’ve stayed in Lucerne 3 times now, during winter, spring and summer visits. I can highly recommend my chosen hotels:

  • Hotel Pilatus Kulm: During my summer trip to Lucerne, I felt so lucky to have woken up to the sounds of distant cowbells and fresh mountain air on Mt Pilatus’ summit at 2,132 metres above sea level – yes, really!
  • Hotel des Balances: Prefer to stay centrally in the Old Town along the Reuss River? You can’t go wrong with the absolutely stunning Hotel Des Balances . Its façade is decorated with beautifully preserved medieval paintings you’ll also find scattered throughout the area. When the weather was clear, my river view room had an incredible 180-degree view of the riverside buildings and Mt Pilatus.
  • Ibis Styles Luzern: For a more budget option, Ibis Styles is in the perfect spot. Just a few steps to the bus stop, a 10mins walk to the Old Town and views over Luzern rooftops. My room also had a balcony, which was so nice!
Hotel des Balances - Lucerne, Switzerland
View from my balcony at the stunning Hotel des Balances, Lucerne

During my winter visit I was able to snap up an amazing deal that meant I could stay in a room overlooking the Reuss River for the same price as my usual accommodation budget, so keep your eyes peeled for discounts during the winter months.

Waking up to Mt Pilatus peeking out from behind the clouds just outside my window was something I’ll never forget. The location cannot be beaten as it’s just steps away from restaurants, shops, Lucerne railway station and the main sights. I also adored that the façade above the hotel entrance was decorated in beautiful medieval paintings.


Things to do in Lucerne

NOTE: This summary of things to do is part of my in-depth 2 days in Lucerne itinerary!

  • Explore the Old Town (Altstadt) and hunt down the intricately painted buildings. Some of Lucerne’s façades have been preserved this way since the Middle Ages! You’ll be able to find most of them north of the Reuss River, around Hirschenplatz, Sternenplatz, Weinmarkt and Metzgerrainle.
  • Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrückeis said to be the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe, dating back to 1333! Although, a large portion was destroyed by fire in 1993 and has since been restored. The paintings decorating the roof’s interior date back to the 17th century.
  • The Church of St. Leodegar (Hofkirche Luzern) was commissioned in 1666 by Jesuits and its twin spires are iconic to Lucerne’s skyline.
  • Don’t miss the Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal), an emotional tribute to the Swiss Guards killed by revolutionaries at Tuileries Palace, France in 1792. With pain etched onto his stone face, this lion lays fatally wounded carved into the cliffside. He’s one of Switzerland’s most famous monuments.
  • Take a close look at Jesuitenkirche, the interesting church in baroque architecture style. It’s onion-shaped toppers are an icon of the city.
  • Admire the Town Hall Clock on Kornmarkt and be amazed to know it’s been standing there since the 1606!
  • Take a stroll along the Museggmauer (Old Town Walls) and admire incredible views over the city at Panorama Terrace.
  • Have a drink in an old chateau at Château Gütsch Hotel. The views down over Lucerne are absolutely breathtaking.
  • Spoil yourself with a traditional Swiss meal at the Old Swiss House. This fine-dining restaurant has won various awards and is an experience in itself as waitresses make your schnitzel right in front of you! This striking red and white cottage is almost 150 years old and houses antiques throughout the building’s history. It’s definitely one of the unique things to do in Switzerland!
  • NOTE: If visiting Lucerne in January, don’t miss the beautiful light illuminations and quirky installations throughout town for the Lilu Light Festival (Licht Festival Luzern).

Old Swiss House

Painted façades in Lucerne's Old Town
Painted façades in Lucerne’s Old Town

Where to eat in Lucerne

  • Old Swiss House as mentioned above, make sure to reserve in advance.
  • Heini for coffee, cake and breakfast pastries.
  • Restaurant Caravelle, delicious Italian cuisine. 
  • Any pub along Unter der Egg and Rathausquai (fab nightlife).
  • Enjoy fresh produce from Luzerner Wochenmarkt.
  • Head to Coop or Aldi for cheap pastries for breakfast and different snacks.

READ MORE: How to Skip the Line at these 10 Europe Attractions


You can’t make the effort to visit Lucerne and not bother making a trip up to her iconic mountain’s summit! No matter the time of year, you’ll want to add Mt Pilatus to your summer or winter Switzerland itinerary.

During the Middle Ages, it was thought that dragons with healing powers lived inside the mountain. This is why you’ll see the symbol for Mt Pilatus today is Pilu, the red dragon.

Taking a gondola ride up to Mt Pilatus
Taking a gondola ride up to Mt Pilatus

Getting from Lucerne to Kriens

  • Catch a Bus no. 1 to Kriens Zentrum Pilatus (15mins from Lucerne) to the base of the gondola. Purchase your ticket and take the gondola up to Mt Pilatus. Dining options are available at the summit as well as a gift shop and views to stay with you forever!
  • Bus Cost: Free for overnight guests in Lucerne with the free Visitor Card Lucerne issued by your hotel. 
  • Gondola Cost: Adult CHF 36.00 return with the Swiss Half Fare Card or free with the Swiss Travel Pass, alternatively you can book your gondola tickets in advance here.

Mt Pilatus summit in winter | The Invisible Tourist

Activities on Mt Pilatus to add to your Switzerland itinerary

NOTE: More info on Mt Pilatus in my Lucerne itinerary!

Winter activities

  • Enjoy a delicious Sunday brunch at Pilatus Kulm
  • Get involved in various Christmas and New Year’s Eve activities (including a Christmas Market)
  • Dine with a view over snowcapped mountains at Pilatus Kulm restaurant
  • Admire ice sculptures
  • Indulge in Fondue Fun
  • Stare in awe at icicles suspended from the roof outside that easily extend over 6 foot in length!

Summer activities

  • Relax at Pilatus Kulm for drinks on the deck chairs overlooking Lucerne and the Alps below
  • Hike the Dragon’s Trail
  • Go paragliding
  • Ride the world’s steepest cog railway
  • Visit Mt Pilatus Rope Park
  • Ride Switzerland’s longest toboggan run, Fräkigaudi a whopping 1.3 kilometres long (my personal favourite!) Cost: CHF 9.00 per ride.

More things to do in Lucerne

Here’s a few more ideas for things to see and do in and around Lucerne:

READ MORE: 4 Days in Prague Itinerary: Complete Guide for First-Timers


Switzerland’s financial capital is often mistaken as the country’s capital! Zurich has been mentioned in many lists as one of the most expensive cities in the world.

From a tourist’s perspective, I only found things such as food and clothing to be slighter higher than other areas of Switzerland in this itinerary. The lovely Bahnhofstrasse is said to be Europe’s most expensive shopping street! The Old Town of Zurich is a must-see for your Switzerland itinerary.

Getting from Lucerne to Zurich

St Peter's Clock Tower, Zurich

Gorgeous view over Zürich from Lindenhof
Gorgeous view over Zürich from Lindenhof

Where to stay in Zurich

My first visit to Zurich I did as a day trip from Lucerne. For my second visit I stayed at the Hotel California, purely for its central location and proximity to the train stop to the airport. It was also a more budget-friendly option (Zurich is one of the pricier cities in Switzerland to spend the night). 

If you need some further information, refer to this detailed guide to where to stay in Zurich broken down by neighbourhood to make things easy.

Colourful buildings along Augustinergasse, Zürich. A must for any Switzerland itinerary
Colourful buildings along Augustinergasse, Zürich

Things to do in Zurich

NOTE: This summary of things to do is part of my in-depth one day in Zurich itinerary!

  • From Zurich Hauptbahnhof, stroll along Bahnhopfstrasse which is considered the most expensive shopping street in Europe! Depending on how you feel you may be happy just window shopping instead.
  • Explore the narrow backstreets in the Schipfe district, one of Zurich’s oldest neighbourhoods. Would you believe there have been traces found here of pre-Roman settlements in the first century BC?
  • For the best view in Zurich, head to Lindenhof for sweeping panoramic views over the city and Limmat River. Perched high on this hill was once a Roman castle dating back to the 4th century. Today you can try your hand at a life-sized game of chess incorporated into the grounds here.
  • Make your way to St Peter Kirche with its iconic 15th century clock tower. Did you know it’s also the largest church clock in all of Europe? Surprisingly, the diameter of each clock face measures a huge 8.64 metres, the minute hand 5.73 metres and the hour hand 5.07 metres. Woah! No wonder it was the keeper of Zurich’s official local time for centuries!
  • Prepare your eyes to absorb the rainbow of buildings that is Augustinergasse. This was my favourite street in all of Zurich! In the 17th century store owners competed with each other for the best façade, which resulted in the vivid colours and intricate wood carvings that adorn the buildings to this day.
  • Take in the intricate details on Fraumünster’s tower, an icon of Zurich as it pierces high above the city’s skyline. Dating back to the Middle Ages, this gorgeous church is adorned with stained-glass windows by Chagall and Giacometti!
  • Seek out the Grossmünster, one of the most recognised structures in Zurich with its two domed towers along the Limmat River. It’s said the current structure dates waaaay back to the 13th century.
  • Finally, find the city’s Town Hall (Rathaus Zurich), which remains largely in its original condition. It’s home to the city’s parliament and legislative chambers.
  • If you have extra time, head to the city’s south to explore the newly-opened Lindt Home of Chocolate factory. Stock up on chocolate treats in the world’s largest Lindt chocolate shop, see one of the world’s largest chocolate fountains, enjoy a guided tour and even make your own souvenir chocolates! Buy advance entry tickets here.

The Lindt Home of Chocolate Museum is a must for a sweet tooth's Zurich itinerary

Where to eat in Zurich

If you were a fan of Spaghetti Factory in Bern, you’ll be pleased to know there’s one right here in Zurich, too! Just like a home-cooked meal your grandmother prepared for you.

Add the Spaghetti Factory Zurich to your Switzerland itinerary


Planning a Switzerland itinerary: Things to know before you go

Information about Swiss Travel Passes

It can be a bit overwhelming when deciding to purchase a transport pass for Switzerland as there are quite a few to choose from, each with different benefits. Luckily, I’ve done the hard work for you!

As mentioned earlier, if you prefer not to have the hassle of purchasing transport tickets as you go and would like to use the benefit of free entry into 500+ museums, the Swiss Travel Pass may be the best option for you when using this Switzerland itinerary.

After calculating the costs of transport in Switzerland without using a pass versus buying a pass, this Switzerland itinerary undoubtedly benefits from the Swiss Half Fare card! You can save serious coin by using this card when booking your rail journeys across Switzerland if you decide to follow this itinerary. For my trip, I saved over AUD 400 on transportation by purchasing this pass before my trip, so the outlay of CHF 120.00 made it very worthwhile.

As mentioned earlier, I usually don’t buy passes during my travels. Before my trip I prefer to consider whether outlaying the cost for a pass will be worthwhile for the places I actually plan on visiting in the time I have. In most cases it works out cheaper to pay as I go for what I want. You could say I was very pleasantly surprised with this result (approx, depends on exchange rate):

Without using Swiss Half Fare Card

All transport journeys mentioned
= CHF 784.80

Using Swiss Half Fare Card

All transport journeys mentioned
CHF 392.40 + Card Purchase CHF 120.00
= CHF 512.40 (CHF 272.40 SAVING!)

Click here to purchase the Swiss Half Fare Card to ensure you receive your 50% discount on trains, boats and buses in Switzerland!

Don’t take my word for it though, you can check SBB’s website to add up the individual journeys before the Swiss Half Fare Card’s discount is applied, and see for yourself.

Currency in Switzerland

Swiss Francs are the official currency used in Switzerland, not the Euro. The CHF or Confederation Helvetia Franc is a usually stable currency so if you’re booking your trip well in advance, you probably won’t have to worry much about currency fluctuation.

It’s possible to purchase items with Euros in some places in Switzerland, although expect your change to be given back to you in the Swiss Francs equivalent.

Language in Switzerland

Be prepared to wear your French hat one day and German the next! As mentioned earlier, there are four official languages in Switzerland (aren’t they a clever bunch?).

Languages in Switzerland | The Invisible Tourist

French is spoken in the west, especially in Geneva and along the French border; Italian in the south in the Ticino region bordering Italy; Romansh in the country’s south-east and German in the majority. The above diagram will give you a clearer idea of where to speak what. Be sure to have a read of the recommended resources I use to learn language for travel – and fast!

Common questions about Switzerland

If you’ve made it this far and are keen to plan a trip to Switzerland, let’s go over some of the most common questions asked about this landlocked nation:

Is Switzerland expensive?

Let’s talk about the big ol’ elephant in the room here: If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Switzerland has a rather unfortunate reputation for being quite expensive. While “expensive” has a different definition depending on the type of traveller you are and what you value, from my personal experience I didn’t think it was too bad (and that’s coming from an Aussie where our exchange rate is usually rubbish).

The Swiss Franc is quite a stable currency and has increased in strength slightly since it was unpegged from the Euro. I highly suggest finding out what your main costs are beforehand so you aren’t left with any nasty surprises once you arrive in Switzerland:

Kornhausbruke, Bern

Transport costs for this Switzerland travel itinerary

If you highly value your time when travelling like I do, you may prefer to spend more on the fastest transport options, like high-speed rail in order to have more time to exploring at your destination. Personally I just factor in the higher costs of transport as a necessary expense of the trip. This is where purchasing the Swiss Half Fare Card or a Swiss Travel Pass will come in handy as I’ve discussed earlier.

Eating out costs in Switzerland

When eating out, I found the cost of food to be roughly the same (maybe only a little more) than what I would spend back home if I were to go out in the Sydney CBD. Again, I just factored this into the cost of visiting Switzerland.

The only downside is the strength of Swiss Franc to the Australian Dollar for me. It’s a little less so if you’re converting from USD.

For instance, a glass of wine was around CHF 6 (USD 6.05) and a main meal at a nice restaurant was about CHF 25 (around USD 30). As I mentioned, this may seem expensive for some but hey – you’re on holiday!

While some prices are on the higher side in Switzerland you can expect the quality to match, which is a relief.

What is Switzerland famous for?

The Swiss Alps are some of the highest mountain ranges in Europe, their irregular shapes becoming icons for many Swiss brands. Expect to see loads of mountains, admire glistening lakes, eat tonnes of chocolate and breathe in crisp alpine air during your stay.

Fondue is a popular cheesy treat for tourists, although I personally prefer the chocolate and fruit version!

The Swiss Army is also known as one of the best in the world, despite Switzerland remaining a neutral country in conflicts.

Sailing with acMt Pilatus view, Lucerne

What are the best souvenirs to buy in Switzerland?

If you’re a lover of shopping like me, the best souvenirs from Switzerland to bring home are:

  • Swiss Army Knives: As the name suggests, these made popular by the Swiss Army and are handy to have with you for life’s little emergencies. Victorinox is a popular, quality brand. Remember to put these in a checked bag on your flight!
  • Stunning Swiss watches: A little pricey for some, but the craftsmanship is world-class and they will last a lifetime
  • Mondaine Railway Clocks: Replica clocks of the all important ones found at Swiss railway stations
  • Small trinkets like Trychel cowbells: They come in varying sizes ranging from keyrings to full-sized
  • Swiss cheese: Hard yellow cheeses like Gruyère (named after the town of Gruyères), semi-hard cheeses like Appenzeller (from north-east Switzerland) and semi-soft spreadable cheeses such as Gala.
  • Swiss chocolates: My personal favourites that I feel are the best in the world like Lindt, Toblerone and Milka, of course!

You’l find dedicated souvenir stores in towns across Switzerland such as Eidelweiss, and the edible items can be purchased from local supermarkets such as Coop or Aldi.

TIP: Just be sure to check with your federal customs and quarantine agencies that the edible food items can be brought back with you. It would be such a shame to have your Swiss goodies confiscated by quarantine on your return home!

Concluding my 1 week in Switzerland by rail itinerary

So, now you know how to spend a week in Switzerland with my free and easy Switzerland trip itinerary. I absolutely LOVED my two visits to this gorgeous alpine nation and I hope you do, too.

There really is so much to experience in this compact country and the high-speed trains make to so simple to travel around. The more I cross off my Switzerland bucket list, the more I seem to add to it!

You could really spend so much more time in the country but I feel as though my one week Switzerland travel itinerary is a great introduction for your first visit. What do you think of this itinerary? Does it cover what you’re after for your first time visit? Let me know in the comments below!


If you found my Switzerland travel guide helpful or are planning to use it on your trip, I would LOVE if you could please share it with your friends! You can also come and join me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or TikTok for more Europe travel inspiration!

Until next time,
The Invisible Tourist

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  1. Hi there!
    I noticed in your itinerary that you go to a different places in a day to day basis. Did you stay only in one hotel during the 7 days itinerary like you just go back and forth? OR every day you hop on to a different hotels? I was thinking of starting and ending our trip in Zurich for our 7 days vacation. Pls help! thanks

    1. Hi Marie,
      I did mention in “Before we get started” section at the start of the itinerary that I used Bern and Lucerne as a bases to explore. This saved time having to check in and out of a different hotel every night 😊
      I have shared my hotel recommendation for each as well.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Hello! Love your itinerary as we intend to start in Geneva and end in zurich as well.
    Is there a way to replace any of the days with a scenic train ride?
    Prioritising in this manner: Bernina > Glacier > Goldenpass

    1. Sure! You could probably take out Jungfraujoch and replace with either the Bernina or Glacier Express scenic rain rides 🙂

  3. Hi, was wondering why you would not consider buying the swiss travel pass since the cost for a 6 day pass is 379chf which would probably be cheaper than getting the half fare card after including the costs of mountain rides? I have done my sums and am planning to get a swiss travel pass so was wondering if there might be any other reasons why I shouldn’t get it? 🙂

    1. Hi Jacqueline, great question!
      The Swiss Travel Pass includes entry to 500 museums which I did not cover in this itinerary. It also doesn’t cover the mountain excursions such as Jungfraujoch (only a 25% discount instead of 50%), Matterhorn Glacier Paradise or Mt Pilatus, whereas the Half Fare Card allows for a discount on them. That was the main difference for me 🙂
      If the convenience of the Swiss Travel Pass works out best for you then by all means go for it 🙌 Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a wonderful time exploring Switzerland!

  4. We are planning to visit Switzerland in the middle of June and would more or less follow the itinerary suggested by you in reverse. A few questions.
    1. How far in advance do we need to buy Swiss travel passes for trains? Do prices vary with time ?
    2. Do we need to book seats on particular trains for day travel within Switzerland ?
    3. Are there any attractions etc for which we need to do an advance booking now ?
    4. What kind of clothes do we need to carry for mid/late June – half sleevs t-shirts/shorts, full sleve t-shirts/jeans, light woolens ? for plains as well as for mountains ?
    Thank you so much. Appreciate all your help.

    1. Hi Ullas, thansk for reading! Here are my answers:
      1. The prices are fixed and don’t change or get cheaper in time. The only thing that may affect the price is the exchange rate, which depends on your home currency. You can book a few days in advance in person or buy online, there is a mobile QR code version now too so that is instant 🙂
      2. No need to book seats, they aren’t allocated so you can sit where you like.
      3. Unlike Japan where things need to be booked months in advance, Switzerland isn’t as crazy busy so you don’t really need to book things in advance. The only thing I would check is the Lindt chocolate factory in Zurich, as that has a quota for timed entry. You may need to book a week in advance for that (longer if visiting around Easter).
      4. Switzerland in late spring/early summer can be tricky – days can be warm in the sun but the weather can change quickly and you may need to rug up. Everyone’s tolerance of heat/cold is different, but for me personally at that time of year I’d pack layers: Some short-sleeve T-shirts, light cardigan/lightweight jacket, some long-sleeve tees, jeans (and shorts! Sometimes it can feel warmer outside than you’re expecting). As a female I sometimes wear shorts with tan stockings, so I can remove the stockings if too hot or put them back on if it gets cooler. If you’re planning on doing the Zermatt day trip and Jungfraujoch, you’ll definitely need a puffer coat for those days (but you can get away with not wearing thermals underneath if not planning to hike).
      I hope that helps and thanks so much for following along!

  5. Hi Alyse
    Thanks for a lovely guide. Looking at the map provided by you, it appears that if we stay in Interlaken instead of Bern and then Lucerne, it would save us time as Interlaken is more centrally located as making it as one of the bases instead of Bern will help save travel time. Please let me know what do you think. We plan to fly into Geneva from Paris and fly out of Zurich.

    1. Hi Ullas, thanks for reading!
      Yes, you absolutely could stay in Interlaken instead of Bern. I used Bern as my base as it was only an extra hour to Jungfraujoch than Interlaken so wasn’t worth a hotel change for me.
      By using Interlaken as your base for this itinerary, by train it will add an extra half hour to Geneva, extra half hour to Lucerne and extra hour to Zurich. Which is why I ultimately chose Bern as my base (and there seemed more to see and do).
      But it’s completely personal preference 🙂 Whichever you choose to stay, I’m sure you will love it.
      I hope you have a wonderful time exploring Switzerland!

      1. Thank you so much Alyse. I have one more question. Is Mount Titlis worth the visit ? Can it be added in this itinerary by dropping some attractions ? Thanks once again.

        1. My pleasure!
          I haven’t visited Mt Titlis just yet so don’t have any personal experiences to share, sorry about that.
          However it seems by looking at paid day tours, some are only half a day while others take the full day.
          Maybe check if this half day Mt Titlis tour suits you leaving from Lucerne. It seems the full days tours mostly leave from Zurich.
          From what I can see, if you are doing the Jungfraujoch Top of Europe plus the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise and Mt Pilatus’ summit in this itinerary, Mt Titlis offers a similar experience to these. But if you prefer to switch out one of the other experiences for Titlis, their rotating cabe car looks really fun!

  6. Hi there, I love this…..
    Can i do it in reverse so I end in Geneva so I can get the train to Paris from there instead.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Yes, you can absolutely do this trip in reverse with no issues 😃
      I hope you have a fantastic time in Switzerland!

  7. Your information has been incredibly helpful to me, and I am so grateful for the time and effort you put into gathering and presenting it. Your expertise and knowledge on Switzerland are truly impressive, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from you. Thank you so much for your generosity sharing this itinerary.

  8. Hello Alyse! Thanks so much for this wonderful first-time visiting Switzerland itinerary. We’re flying into Zurich mid December and plan to fly out of Geneva. Do you think it’sa good idea to follow same itinerary but backward? Using Zurich as base for day trips? Which next city can we use as second base half way to Geneva? Thank you beautiful you!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Loretta!
      Very exciting about your upcoming trip, too 😊
      Yes, you could absolutely so this trip in the reverse order and fly out of Geneva, no worries.
      If you’re looking for an extra base between Zurich and Geneva, I suggest Bern as it is very well connected and a lovely city in itself 😃
      I hope that helps and you have a wonderful time in Switzerland!

  9. Hello Alyse,
    Thank you for all the detailed information. I am planning to visit in September (10 days) and have been gathering details from various sources, however, your blog has provided a wonderful itinerary for a first time visitor to Switzerland. I am interested in staying a few days in Interlaken as there is lots to do there. I wanted to know if this Interlaken is suitable for other day trips in terms of travel time. Thank you!

    1. Hi Nora,
      Thanks so much for your kind words!
      Sure, Interlaken wuld make a great base for visiting other cities in Switzerland by rail, for example:

      1 hour to Bern
      2 hours to Lucerne, Zurich or Basel
      2 hour 20 mins to Zermatt
      3 hours to Geneva

      I hope you have a fantastic time and enjoy Switzerland as much as I do!

    1. Hi Lia, yes it’s absolutely doable with a 5 year old!
      They will really enjoy the train rides, cable cars, and of course the Lindt Home of Chocolate Museum 🍫
      Switzerland is very clean and safe, so you don’t need to be on your guard too much.
      Just allow for a few cafe breaks or plays at local parks in each city to keep them engaged and happy 😊
      As an added bonus, if purchasing the Swiss Half Fare Card for transport, children under 16 can accompany an adult on public transport for free.
      I hope you have a wonderful Switzerland trip!

  10. If I were to get the Swiss Half Fare card,
    1) Do I have to purchase the tickets at the station whenever I use the train/boat/bus/tram etc?
    2) Can tickets be purchased on the SBB app?
    3) How do I buy the tickets if I use the bus?
    4) And how do I get the half fare for the tickets? Please guide me on this part. Thanks Alyse

    1. Hi Jane, great questions!

      1) Yes. When you purchase the Swiss Half fare Card online, you’ll receive a PDF file that has a code for transport staff to scan on your phone. Use this to purchase the individual transport tickets with the discount.
      2) Yes, you can use the SBB app. You’ll need to buy your discounted tickets before each trip, either in the SBB app, at ticket machines or from rail station ticket windows (they are touchscreen). Show the Swiss Half Fare Card (PDF code you received on your phone) to receive the discounted tickets. If purchasing from the touchscreen machines, you can select the Half Fare option. Drivers and train staff will check your Swiss Half Fare Card as well as the tickets.
      3) You can buy bus tickets from from bus ticket machines at bus stops (touchscreens) or ticket offices at bus stations. I believe some of the buses have an on-board ticket machine, which in that case I guess you may need to show the driver your Swiss Half Fare Pass in that case.
      4) To receive the half fare, show your Swiss Half Fare PDF code at the time of purchase, whether this is to staff at train station ticket windows, or selecting this options on the ticket machine touchscreens.

      I hope that helps!

    2. Jane we are an elderly couple from Australia hoping to use the Swiss rail pass for 7 days in Switzerland. Love the options from bases in both Bern and Lausanne. However we would like to leave fir Italy via Bernina express. Could you help with suggestions.

  11. Hi.
    Nice blog.
    Can you prefer Bern as a base for entire 7 days itinerary?
    We would like to explore Switzerland 🇨🇭 by 1 night at Geneva 6 night Bern and 1 last night at Zurich.
    Our Switzerland 🇨🇭 entry will be from Paris and exist from Zurich.
    We would like to explore Golden pass line ✨️ Montreux…Matterhorn , BO area Thun ..spiez….Interlaken..Lucerne…Pilatus..
    We would like to prefer STP rather than half fare card .
    Please guide me.

    1. Thanks, Taraksinh!
      You could base most of the itinerary in Bern, yes. I personally prefer to not have to do much travelling back and forth where possible, so decided to split this itinerary between Bern and Lucerne as bases.
      I LOVE Lucerne and wanted to spend some extra nights there.
      The Swiss Travel Pass should cover most of your train, bus, boat and panoramic rail journeys and can be used on the Golden Pass Line, too.
      I hope that helps and you have a wonderful time exploring Switzerland!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing a great itinerary in Switzerland. I found details information here about what I was looking for.

    Regards, Santosh.

  13. Hi Alyse!

    Thank you for your wonderful blog! It is packed with necessary info for first time visitor to Switzerland.

    I intend to visit Switzerland in December and very keen to go on Glacier Express. Even though you haven’t been on it (my assumption as it was not mentioned in the blog), would you recommend it? I have this love for train rides :p

    1. Thank you for such kind words, Tarepanda!
      You’re correct, I haven’t been on the Glacier Express just yet – but it’s on my long list of things do do in Switzerland for when I return!
      If you love train rides, from my understanding it is one of the most picturesque in the country so I’d say to go for it 😃
      I hope you have a wonderful time in Switzerland 🇨🇭

  14. Hi Alyse, interesting to read about your Switzerland itinerary. Noticed that you left Switzerland from Lucerne to Milan. Can you share more the details on this trip? As I probably will have the same journey as well. Other than Trenitalia, is there any other options? And do you have any interchange along the way?

    1. Hi Cornelius, thanks for reading!

      Lucerne to Milan by train is a very beautiful, scenic journey with mountain and lake views for much of the trip.
      Book a few days in advance at the Lucerne Hbf ticket office, as there are only a few departures each day so you won’t want to miss out if it’s busy.
      The journey took me around 3.5 hours with Trenitalia, with switching at Arth Goldau before arriving at Milano Centrale station.
      I believe once a day there is a direct train on Trenitalia that takes around 3 hours. You can find more info, tickets and timetables here https://italiatren.com/en/trains
      There are more options here https://www.raileurope.com/en/destinations/lucerne-milan-train, but cannot speak for them as I have not personally used those services 🙂
      I hope that helps and you have a wonderful time in Switzerland & Milan!

  15. Hi Alyse, great info! I’m planning a trip this July with my family from US. It’s 5 of us. Did you fly in Geneva and fly out of Zurich? You don’t think we’ll need a car at all? Your thoughts are appreciated : )

    1. Hi Page!
      I flew in to Geneva and got the train out of Lucerne down to Milan to extend my trip, but you could definitely just fly out of Zurich 😊
      If you’re following this itinerary you won’t need a car at all, Switzerland’s public transport system is very well connected!
      For my summer and winter visits I never needed a car and got to see so much.
      I hope that helps and you and your family have a wonderful time in Switzerland this summer!

  16. Thanks for this. Really useful. I am planning a trip to Switzerland in Dec with 3 teens and 2 old folks. My boys are keen to ski. Where do you suggest I stop by? Zermatt?

    1. Thanks, KT!
      I think it would be difficult to beat the views of Zermatt, but from what I have heard Wengen is also amazing 🙂
      Verbier and St Moritz may also be options for you.
      I hope you have a wonderful time in Switzerland!

  17. Hi
    thanks your writing very helpfull ..

    I wanna ask if you have some suggestions , I will be arrived in zurich and we will stay for 6 nights , what city should be my base ? for easy trave around , should I stay in lucerne or any other city ?

    Flight home from zurich will be morning flight , is it better to stay in zurich at the end of my travel ?

    1. Hi Sentosa,
      As mentioned towards the beginning of my itinerary, I used Bern and Lucerne as bases for my week in Switzerland.
      Both these destinations are in great locations for day trips to other areas of the country.
      I agree that if your flight home is from Zurich in the morning, it would be ideal to stay your final night in Zurich to make things easier.
      I hope you have a great time!

  18. Hi Alyse,

    Great article! I am going to use your itinerary as my base for my first ever trip to Switzerland and also Europe this December. Thank you.

    However, please correct me if I’m wrong or miss out something, but by looking at your travel cost, would that be cheaper to get a travel pass instead as it costs CHF 418?

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Isdi! So happy this itinerary helps you with your future trip!

      For the CHF 418, I think you are referring to the 8 day Swiss Travel Pass rather than the Swiss Half Fare Card?
      The Swiss Travel Pass does not cover a few of the journeys in this itinerary (such as Jungfraujoch) and if it does, the discount is only 25% rather than the 50% the Half Fare Card allows.
      At the time I took my trip, it worked out cheaper to use the Half Fare Card for all my journeys as the discount on big ticket items like Jungfraujoch ended up being more than if I used the Swiss Travel Pass.
      You’ll have to check the prices of exact journeys you wish to take and add them up to figure out which card is going to work best for you 🙂
      I hope that helps and thanks again for your comment!

  19. OMG, the detailed itinerary is of so much help when planning for a big adventure. Absolutely love your post and you might have saved all our time in planning it ourselves. One shop stop for Switzerland and thank you for sharing this lovely post with all of us.

  20. Hey Alyse,
    Very nice article as always! Love it so much! For me as a Swiss I can say, you picked very beautiful destinations! Of course one day at such great places is mostly not enough, but it’s everywhere like this 🙂
    For people who prefer nature instead of cities I highly recommend to do a tour from Geneva to Les Lavaux. It’s the most beautiful vineyard in Switzerland with a view on Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). Moreover, it belongs to the Unesco World Heritage.
    Keep it up dear and best regards,
    Marc from Switzerland by Locals

    1. I completely agree that one day is never enough to visit anywhere, but it’s a good start to get a taste of a city so you can revist longer on a separate trip 😊
      Thanks for your recommendation and for your kind words!

  21. Hi Alyse, nice share. This guide is a complete solution for first time visitors in Switzerland. Many people say that Switzerland is a small country and you can look around the places at a decent time.

    Do you feel the same?

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I’m really glad you think so 😃 For its compact size, I say there is so much to see in Switzerland. The longer one can stay the better! There are still so many places I would love to (re)visit someday 🇨🇭

  22. Wow, this is what I call a very well written itinerary. It really motivates to discover Switzerland. It has so much to offer… and, of course, the mountains and nature everywhere. I imagine staying at a spa-hotel in the mountains and relaxing in an outdoor pool with a mountain view after a long day of hiking or skiing.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Sorry to say this itinerary isn’t a tour package – it’s an itinerary I personally created myself and undertook in Switzerland. Here on my travel blog I encourage independent travel so you’re free to follow this itinerary or tweak it to your liking!

  23. Hi Alyse!

    Would like just to ask on your itinerary above, what was the estimate budget that you had for this?

    Thanks for your detailed post and love to see more of your itineraries!
    A fan from Malaysia

    1. Hi Justin, great question!
      As mentioned towards the end of the itinerary, the Swiss Half Fare card costs 120 CHF. The total cost of all the high speed train journeys (and cable cars) is approx 392 CHF. So 120 + 392 = 512 CHF (give or take a few francs).

      The cost for hotels will depend on exactly when you stay and the exchange rate. I know Hotel des Balances in Lucerne has different deals from time to time depending on the season. But to answer your question for hotels, I’ve taken a quick look at my recommended hotels in this itinerary to give you a rough estimate:
      • 4 nights Kreuz Bern Modern City Hotel = approx 720 CHF
      • 3 nights Hotel des Balances Luzern = approx 470 CHF (with 20% off promotion they are currently running).

      All up you’d be looking at roughly 1700 CHF for hotels and transport for the 7 nights (plus spending money). I would say this is a best case as costs for hotels would increase during peak seasons, but I hope that gives you a rough idea!

      Thanks for following along and for your comment, I appreciate it 🙂

  24. Hi Alyse,
    I plan 4 days/3 nights stay in my upcoming trip to Swizerland in early March.
    Would you suggest most ideal base to stay for day trip : Zurich or Lucern? I wanna to see as many places of interest
    as possible within this short period.
    After above schedule, I move on to Milan.

    best regards,

    1. Hi CS, this is a good question! I’d definitely choose Lucerne as a base as it’s in more of a centralised location than Zurich. I personally went on to Milan from Lucerne directly via TrenItalia as it was so convenient! Hope that answers your question and thanks for reading 🙂

  25. Hi, as a local guy from Switzerland I can tell you, to better stay lucerne and interlaken, and NOT bern. Bern is a citiy, it can be everywhere in europe..but specialy lucerne you can have everything: Lake, mountains, snow, nice clean city, all sports and lots more. So better stay more than one or two nights and have fun. Regards, Chris from Interlaken Switzerland.

    1. Thanks for your input, Chris! I personally adored Bern and couldn’t wait to spend a few days there. Being from Sydney, Australia we don’t have architecture that is centuries old. So it’s always interesting for me to stay in these kinds of cities and explore the history and culture, each is different and unlike anything I have at home! I agree with you about Lucerne, it’s a showstopper – for sure!

  26. I also spent a really good time there during my last winter holidays and we came back with a lot of pleasant memories.

  27. Thanks Alyse, for sharing such detailed info!
    We are planning a Swiss-trip between May 28-Jun 4, 2020. We’ll enter from Rome and our port of exit would be from Milan. So, would request your advice on designing our trip in such way so we could cover best scenic parts of Switzerland in cheapest (🤣) way possible. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Roy, thanks for your comment! Unfortunately I’m unavailable to tailor customised itineraries as the ones I’ve shared are able to be followed exactly or used as a starting point. My itinerary here is designed to finish in Lucerne as is was the most convenient place to travel onwards to Milan (which is what I personally did as the train connections were good). In terms of the cheapest way, I’ve provided options for the Swiss Half Fare Card and Swiss Travel Pass to help save some money so you need to evaluate if they will be worth it for you 🙂 I hope that helps and you have a wonderful time in Switzerland!

  28. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so helpful as I am planning a family trip this year. My husband, step daughter (10yrs old) and myself are going Dec 28 – Jan 6. We are from Houston and don’t see snow so we decided to visit Switzerland for the first time!

    1. Good on you, Aida! You will get to see plenty of snow in Switzerland for sure! Happy (invisible) travels and have a wonderful trip 😃 Thanks for your comment!

      1. The trip to Jungfrau is not free with Swiss pass or with Swiss half fare card .The discount works out only 25 percent.

  29. Thank you so much I really enjoyed reading it . I am planning to travel from december 28t to January 2nd , I don’t have enough days to visit . Which one are the best to visit that it can fit my 5 nights / days trip .

    Thank you

    1. Hi Luisa, this is a great question! If you only have 5 days, I’d recommend skipping Jungfraujoch as it is a great time investment to get there (3+ hours to get there from Bern). The weather really needs to be on your side in order to see the glaciers from the lookout. I’d also probably recommend skipping the Geneva day trip in my itinerary as it’s a little out of the way compared to other day trips. While it’s a lovely city for sightseeing, in my opinion Lucerne, Bern and Zurich have more things to see and do 😊 I hope that helps and you have a wonderful trip!

  30. Well written article with beautiful pictures. Great work. Thank you for taking us on a virtual Switzerland trip. Being a Swiss I can relate to this article because I have visited all the places!

    1. Of course, I don’t see why you couldn’t! I only ended my trip in Lucerne as I went onwards to Milan from there and it was easier. Otherwise I’d say by all means go for it 🙂 Happy travels!

  31. Thanks Alyse,
    It’s a set of some very practical information., while planning a trip to Switzerland. Loved it. The best part is the transportation tips!
    Keep on roaming and enlightening other travelers!!

  32. Thanks Alyse for the very valuable info.. i will consider the info when planning my itinerary to swiss end of this year

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, yusof! I hope you love Switzerland as much as I did. Have a wonderful trip 🙂

  33. This was so helpful ! I will be travelling to Switzerland this coming February with my boyfriend from Singapore. We’ve never been there before & i found it very confusing and hard to plan this trip on my own. So thank you so much for posting this !

    1. I am SO glad to hear that, Stephanie! I agree, sometimes planning can be a little confusing especially when you have to find little bits of information from many different sources. That’s exactly why I wanted to share my itinerary to help others so everything was in one place 🙂 I hope you and your boyfriend have a wonderful time in Switzerland! February will be a great time to visit as well!

  34. Really detailed information for travelling to Switzerland in winter for first timers like myself. Appreciate the breakdown of getting there, where to stay and things to do for each area on your itinerary – you’ve done all the hard work, making it easy for me when planning my trip!

    1. Thanks so much, Marie! That was the idea, I love creating and sharing itineraries. Sometimes they can take a little while to put together but then it’s done and easy for my readers to know everything before their trip 🙂

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