3 days in Switzerland - 5 itineraries from Geneva

If you want to spend three days in Switzerland and are looking for the perfect itinerary, this selection of 5 routes will help you plan your trip. It shows you different options that are all doable in three days from Geneva.

Switzerland may be small. But don’t let that fool you. There’s more than enough to see and do for several weeks. Of course, not everyone has this amount of time available to just travel around.

If you’re visiting Switzerland for three days, the following itineraries will help you plan your trip. They are all doable within three days and have their starting point in Geneva. However, if you’d like to start in a different place, you can easily adapt your trip accordingly. Geneva is very well connected by train from other cities in western Switzerland.

You will notice that we only talk about travelling by public transport and not by car. Most itineraries are also possible by car, in case you decide to get a rental during your stay in Switzerland. But with our very dense network of trains and buses, there’s no real need to travel by car.

Of course, the choice is all yours.

Also, if you have more than three days available and see an itinerary you like, you can easily stretch it out by spending an extra night at some of the places.

Happy planning!

1. Culinary itinerary through the French part of Switzerland with chocolate and wine tastings

Itinerary 1: Geneva - Lausanne - MontreuxItinerary 1: Geneva - Lausanne - Montreux

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Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Visit the wonderful Lavaux vineyard terraces (UNESCO)
  • Taste some delicious Swiss cheese and chocolate at the Gruyère and Cailler factories
  • Travel parts of the scenic Golden Pass Line
  • Check out the Chillon Castle by Lake Geneva

Day 1: Geneva - Lausanne

In the morning, explore Geneva on your own, borrow a free bike with «Genève Roule» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, buy some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Lausanne.

Lausanne’s picturesque old town is built on three hills and surrounded by numerous vineyards. It’s home to the International Olympic Committee, as well as Switzerland’s only metro.

To hear something interesting, head to the Cathedral between 10 pm and 2 am and observe the tower. Night guards have been shouting out the current time in the middle of the night from up there since 1405.

Only a short train ride east of Lausanne, you’ll find the famous Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site. To fully experience the gorgeous views, get off in Cully or Epesses and follow the signposted footpath through the vineyards.

Lausanne (Photo: Régis Colombo)Lausanne (Photo: Régis Colombo)
Vineyards in Lavaux (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Vineyards in Lavaux (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Lausanne - Gruyères / Broc - Montreux

Catch the train from Lausanne to Montreux first thing in the morning and leave your bags either at your accommodation or at the train station. This will make your onward journey to Gruyères a lot easier and you’ll feel more free to explore the area.

Since Gruyères is highly popular with tourists, it can get a bit busy. But like with every popular place, there’s a reason. And in this case, the reason is a mediaeval village and cheese.

Lots of cheese.

The Gruyère cheese factory is right behind the train station. For a small entrance fee, you can watch how the iconic Gruyère cheese is being made. Samples and tasting opportunities are included.

Once you’re done snacking, either catch the bus uphill or follow the path until you reach the village centre of Gruyères. This walk should take you around 20 minutes.

The main attraction in Gruyères is probably the castle, which is open to the public and costs 12 CHF to enter. But the hidden cobblestone alleys and the countless souvenir shops also tend to have people stick around longer than they expected.

After exploring Gruyères, and maybe grabbing a souvenir or two, you have the option to head to Broc and visit La Maison Cailler. Their visitor centre teaches you everything you need to know about Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand. At the end of the tour, you’ll get to taste a lot of free samples.

More than you thought you could handle.

On your train ride back to Montreux, try to digest your cheese and chocolate overdose and get ready to spend the night by Lake Geneva.

Now, you do have the option to trade in the chocolate and cheese frenzy for some glacier action. Instead of heading to Gruyères, catch the train to Col-du-Pillon and visit Glacier 3000.

The 360-degree views are astonishing and if you’re brave enough, the Peak Walk across the suspension bridge is an experience you’ll likely never forget.

The center of Gruyères (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)The center of Gruyères (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Maison Cailler (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Maison Cailler (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Montreux - Geneva

Today, you’ve got some more time to explore the area around Lake Geneva. Head to the Promenade of Montreux and check out the Freddie Mercury statue just outside the market hall.

In case you’re interested in castles, don’t miss out on visiting the famous Chillon Castle. To get there, either follow the Promenade by foot, catch a bus or take one of the regularly departing passenger ships.

Even if you’re not keen on going into the castle, I still recommend heading out there and spending some time by the lake. It’s a great place to hang out and take a bunch of jealousy-inducing pictures.

Alternatively, head in the opposite direction toward Lavaux to explore the vineyards in case you didn’t get the chance to see them on day one. Once you’re ready to move on, head back to Geneva and spend whatever you have left of the day enjoying Switzerland’s second largest city.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 1

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lausanne and Montreux, you’ll receive a Transport Card that allows you to use local transport for free in both cities.
  • When travelling from Montreux to Gruyères, you’ll need to transfer in Montbovon. The ride between Montreux and Montbovon is served by regular regional trains as well as the scenic Golden Pass Line. Since this section is often booked out, Golden Pass customer service recommends reserving a seat for this segment. However, if you catch the regional train, you don’t need to worry about that.
  • You can also book the chocolate train, which will take you straight from Montreux to the Cailler chocolate factory in Broc. This is also served by the Golden Pass Line.
  • If you have enough time and love being on the lake, you can catch the passenger ship from Lausanne to Geneva. This will take almost four hours but you can get off along the way and transfer to the train anytime.

2. Itinerary for culture geeks with five city trips to mediaeval and idyllic cities

Itinerary 2: Geneva - Fribourg - Bern - LausanneItinerary 2: Geneva - Fribourg - Bern - Lausanne

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Climb the tower of the Cathedral in mediaeval Fribourg
  • Visit the idyllic three-lakes region around Morat
  • Get lost in the old town of Bern (UNESCO)
  • Take a stroll through the wonderful Lavaux vineyard terraces (UNESCO)

Day 1: Geneva - Fribourg - Bern

In the morning, explore Geneva on your own, borrow a free bike with «Genève Roule» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, buy some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Fribourg.

In Fribourg, follow the city-walk signs leading you through this mighty old town. The signs will lead you up and down some very steep alleyways, across ancient wooden bridges, down to the River Saane and past the city’s very own funicular.

For an even better view of your surroundings, tackle the 365 steps to the tower of the Cathedral.

The River Saane at the bottom of the city is a great spot to stretch your legs and treat yourself to a snack. Once you’ve seen enough of this mediaeval town, catch the train to Bern, the capital of Switzerland.

Getting to Bern from Fribourg takes less than half an hour. Spend the rest of the evening strolling through the UNESCO listed old town of Bern. For an impressive night view over Bern, I recommend heading up to Rosengarten.

Fribourg (Photo: Fribourg Tourism)Fribourg (Photo: Fribourg Tourism)
View over Fribourg (Photo: Fribroug Tourism)View over Fribourg (Photo: Fribroug Tourism)

Day 2: Bern - Morat - Lausanne

Today, you’ve got plenty of activities to choose from. Join a guided city tour or explore Bern on your own. Take a stroll through the old town, head to the bear park, check out the Bundeshaus (House of Parliament) and walk back up to Rosengarten for more views.

You can also visit Gurten – Bern’s backyard mountain – see some animals at Dählhölzli wildlife park or visit the botanical garden. Alternatively, catch the elevator at the train station to hang out at Grosse Schanze or go for a swim either in the River Aare or at Weyermannshaus.

Oh the agony of choice...

To leave enough time for your onward journey to Morat and Lausanne, try to leave Bern after lunch. The train ride to Morat takes just over half an hour.

Morat itself is tiny and won’t take you long to figure out. Spend a while strolling through its historic centre and stretch your legs by the lake before moving on to Lausanne.

Lausanne’s old town is built on three hills and surrounded by numerous vineyards. It’s home to the International Olympic Committee, as well as Switzerland’s only metro.

To hear something interesting, head to the Cathedral between 10 pm and 2 am and observe the tower. Night guards have been shouting out the current time in the middle of the night from up there since 1405.

View over Bern (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Markus Buehler)View over Bern (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Markus Buehler)
Ring wall in Murten (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Ring wall in Murten (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Lausanne - Geneva

Depending on what time you arrived in Lausanne last night, you probably didn’t get to do and see much. So spend today exploring this hilly city.

By the way, Lausanne is very close to one of my favourite places in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Only a short train ride east of Lausanne, you’ll find the famous Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you’re up for a stroll through the vineyards, catch the train to Cully or Epesses and follow the signposted footpath. The lake views are beyond impressive and should keep you mesmerised for a while.

Oh, and it’s always wine-o’clock in the Lavaux vineyards. Cheers to that.

After this tipsy excursion, head back to Geneva and spend whatever you have left of the day exploring Switzerland’s second largest city.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 2

  • Access to the Cathedral tower in Fribourg is possible between May and October.
  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Bern and Lausanne, you’ll receive a Transport Card that allows you to use local transport for free in both cities.
  • If time allows and you love being on the lake, you can catch the passenger ship from Lausanne to Geneva. This will take almost four hours but you can get off along the way and transfer to the train anytime.

16. Itinerary for nature lovers with various highlights around Lake Geneva

Itinerary 3: Geneva - Lausanne - Vallée de JouxItinerary 3: Geneva - Lausanne - Vallée de Joux

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Walk through the picturesque vineyards of Nyon
  • Explore the mediaeval city of Lausanne
  • Hike to Dent de Vaulion for some impressive Jura-views
  • Have a glass of wine in the Lavaux vineyard terraces (UNESCO)

Day 1: Geneva - Nyon - Lausanne

In the morning, explore Geneva on your own, borrow a free bike with «Genève Roule» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, buy some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Nyon.

This mediaeval town by the shore of Lake Geneva is surrounded by a couple of charming vineyards. Follow the path through the vineyards to Nyon Castle to take in the view. After your lunch break, catch the train to Lausanne. Check in to your accommodation and make the most of your free Lausanne Transport Card.

Lausanne’s picturesque old town is built on three hills and surrounded by numerous vineyards. It’s home to the International Olympic Committee, as well as Switzerland’s only metro.

To hear something interesting, head to the Cathedral between 10 pm and 2 am and observe the tower. Night guards have been shouting out the current time in the middle of the night from up there since 1405.

Lake Geneva with vineyards (Photo: MySwitzerland)Lake Geneva with vineyards (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Lausanne on Lake Geneva (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Lausanne on Lake Geneva (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Lausanne - Vallée de Joux - Lausanne

After breakfast, buy enough food for the day and head straight to Le Pont, a village in the Valleé de Joux. The train ride from Lausanne to the valley takes roughly an hour.

Vallée de Joux is part of the Jura mountains and offers countless hiking options. In the centre of the valley, you’ll find a peaceful lake called Lac de Joux.

By far the most popular spot in the area is the distinctive mountain of Dent de Vaulion. Hiking the circular path from Le Pont takes around three hours. The views from Dent de Vaulion across the Vallée de Joux, all the way to Lake Geneva and way into France, make this place extra special.

Since you’ve got all day up here, spend as much time in the area as you like. Hang out by Lac de Joux, walk the path around the lake or do whatever else your heart desires.

Whenever you feel like it, catch the train back to Lausanne and spend the rest of the day exploring the city.

Lac de Joux (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Roland Gerth)Lac de Joux (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Roland Gerth)
Dent de Vaulion (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Max Schmid)Dent de Vaulion (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Max Schmid)

Day 3: Lausanne - Geneva

Depending on how much time you’ve had in Lausanne so far, you might like to spend a few more hours in the city or by the lake today.

By the way, Lausanne is very close to one of my favourite places in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Only a short train ride east of Lausanne, you’ll find the famous Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you’re up for a stroll through the vineyards, catch the train to Cully or Epesses and follow the signposted footpath. The lake views are beyond impressive and should keep you mesmerised for a while.

Oh, and it’s always wine-o’clock in the Lavaux vineyards. Cheers to that.

After your excursion through the vineyards, head back to Geneva and spend whatever you have left of the day exploring Switzerland’s second largest city.

 Lake Geneva with steamboat (Photo: Seraina Zellweger) Lake Geneva with steamboat (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Lavaux vineyards on Lake Geneva (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Lavaux vineyards on Lake Geneva (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 3

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lausanne, you’ll receive a Transport Card that allows you to use local transport for free in both cities.
  • Spending a day in the Jura mountains is a perfect alternative for people that aren’t too experienced when it comes to hiking. It’s not as steep as the Alps but you’ll still get some great views.

4. Itinerary for outdoor lovers to Switzerland's highest mountains in the Valais Alps

Itinerary 4: Geneva - Saas FeeItinerary 4: Geneva - Saas Fee

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Walk past the mighty jet d’eau and sit on the world’s longest bench in Geneva
  • Spend a few hours exploring Lausanne by Lake Geneva
  • Hike or ski until your feet fall off in Saas Fee
  • Find yourself surrounded by Switzerland’s tallest mountains

Day 1: Geneva - Lausanne - Saas Fee

In the morning, explore Geneva on your own, borrow a free bike with «Genève Roule» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, buy some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Lausanne.

This picturesque old town was built on three hills and is surrounded by countless vineyards. It’s home to the International Olympic Committee, as well as Switzerland’s only metro. The upcoming train ride into the mountains takes around two and a half hours, so don’t spend too much time exploring Lausanne.

Saas Fee, also known as the pearl of the Alps, is surrounded by Switzerland’s tallest mountains. As you arrive in this miraculous alpine village, you’ll find yourself in the midst of 13 mountains that are all over 4000 metres (13.120 feet) above sea level.

This can only mean one thing. You have to love the outdoors to come up here…

Cable car in Saas Fee (Photo: ©SaastalTourismusAG-SaastalBergbahnenAG)Cable car in Saas Fee (Photo: ©SaastalTourismusAG-SaastalBergbahnenAG)
Winter in Saas Fee (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Winter in Saas Fee (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Free day in Saas-Fee

Get ready to inhale nothing but fresh mountain air today. Chances are you’ll be spending a fair amount of time outside before the day is over. If you’re visiting during summer, your hiking options are nearly endless. Over 350 kilometres (217 miles) of hiking trails take you places you never even knew existed.

And while we’re at it, don’t forget to look out for marmots during your hike. Your chances of spotting a couple of those cute, chubby alpine inhabitants aren’t too slim up here.

But Saas Fee isn’t only interesting during hiking season. If you’re here in winter, you can absolutely ski or snowboard yourself silly. And with Saas-Fee being at such high altitude, you’ll partially be skiing on top of a glacier. Not something you get to do every day.

Over 150 kilometres (93 miles) of prepared slopes will keep you busy for as long as you please. And while other ski resorts have been struggling with a lack of snow these past few years – with global warming and all – you’re almost certain to find enough snow in Saas Fee due to its high altitude.

Knock yourself out enjoying the mountain views, the snow, the hikes, the marmots and the fresh air.

Kreuzbodensee (Photo: ©Saastal Tourismus AG Stefan Kuerzi)Kreuzbodensee (Photo: ©Saastal Tourismus AG Stefan Kuerzi)
Hiking in Saas Fee (Photo: ©Saastal Tourismus AG Patitucci Photo)Hiking in Saas Fee (Photo: ©Saastal Tourismus AG Patitucci Photo)

Day 3: Saas-Fee - Geneva

It’s really up to you how you plan out your day today. One option is to stay in Saas-Fee for a little while longer and keep hiking, looking for marmots, skiing, snowshoeing, ziplining across glaciers or whatever else it was you set your mind to.

Alternatively, if you’ve had enough of the thin air and are ready to head back down, stop over somewhere along the way back to Geneva.

The choice is yours.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 4

  • If you’re itching to get into the mountains and don’t care much for Lausanne, forget about that stopover and head straight to Saas-Fee. This will give you more time to explore everything the Swiss outdoors have to offer.

5. Itinerary with a rewarding hike and a visit of at least one chocolate factory

Itinerary 5: Geneva - Gruyères - BernItinerary 5: Geneva - Gruyères - Bern

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Walk past the mighty jet d’eau and sit on the world’s longest bench in Geneva
  • Enjoy spectacular lake and city views from Chaumont in Neuchâtel
  • Go for a hike in the Parc de Chasseral
  • Visit the spectacular Creux du Van
  • Eat lots of Ragusa and Torino at the chocolate factory in Courtelary

Day 1: Geneva - Gruyères - Bern

In the morning, explore Geneva on your own, borrow a free bike with «Genève Roule» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, buy some take-away lunch and have it on the train to the very touristy village of Gruyères.

Since Gruyères is highly popular with tourists, it can sometimes get a bit crowded. But like with every busy place, there’s a reason. And in this case, the reason is a mediaeval village and cheese.

Lots of cheese!

The Gruyère cheese factory is right behind the train station and for a small entrance fee, you get to watch how the iconic Gruyère cheese is being made. Samples and tasting opportunities are included.

Once you’re done snacking, either catch the bus uphill or follow the path until you reach the village centre of Gruyères. This walk should take you around 20 minutes. After exploring the hidden cobblestone alleys, checking out the castle and maybe grabbing a souvenir or two, you have the option to head to Broc and visit La Maison Cailler.

Their visitor centre teaches you everything you need to know about Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand and at the end of the tour, you’ll get to taste a lot of free samples.

More than you thought you could handle.

Your onward journey to Bern is the perfect opportunity to digest your chocolate overdose.

Gruyères Castle (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Gruyères Castle (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Gruyères (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Gruyères (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Bern - Creux du Van - Bern

To burn off all the sweet and savoury delights from yesterday, you’ll be hiking and spending time in the Jura mountains today. After breakfast, grab enough food for the day and head straight to the village of Noiraigue, the starting point of the Creux du Van hike.

Creux du Van is a natural, 1200-metres wide amphitheatre that got its shape from constant erosion by water and ice. Marmots, mountain goats, deer and various birds inhabit this area.

Hiking to Creux du Van is pretty tough and will take up to five hours. Spend as much time as you like at the amphitheatre before heading back to Noiraigue and Bern.

Of course, Switzerland gets its fair share of bad weather and I don’t suggest you do this hike if it’s raining. The rocks can get slippery and dangerous when they’re wet and I don’t want you to get hurt!

In case of bad weather, and if you can manage more sweets after yesterday’s feast, catch the train to Courtelary and visit another chocolate factory. At the Camille Bloch visitor centre, you’ll learn how the delicious Ragusa and Torino chocolates are made. With unlimited free samples, of course.

Whichever trip you end up taking during the day, you’ll have parts of the afternoon and the whole evening in Bern to explore Switzerland’s capital.

Creux du Van (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Matthias Taugwalder)Creux du Van (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Matthias Taugwalder)
View over Bern from the Rosengarten (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)View over Bern from the Rosengarten (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Bern - Geneva

Today, you’ve got plenty of activities to choose from. Join a guided city tour or explore Bern on your own. Take a stroll through the old town, head to the bear park, check out the Bundeshaus (House of Parliament) and walk back up to Rosengarten for more views.

You can also visit Gurten – Bern’s backyard mountain – see some animals at Dählhölzli wildlife park or visit the botanical garden. Alternatively, catch the elevator at the train station to hang out at Grosse Schanze or go for a swim either in the River Aare or at Weyermannshaus.

Oh the agony of choice...

Toward the end of the day, catch the train back to Geneva and spend the rest of the day exploring Switzerland’s largest city.

The old town of Bern (Photo: chweiz Tourismus Giglio Pasqua)The old town of Bern (Photo: chweiz Tourismus Giglio Pasqua)
Bern with the Alps in the background (Photo: Switzerland Tourism)Bern with the Alps in the background (Photo: Switzerland Tourism)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 5

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Bern, you’ll receive a Transport Card that lets you use local transport for free.
  • If you travel with a Swiss Travel Pass, access to Maison Cailler is free.

And this concludes our collection of three-day itineraries for Switzerland starting in Geneva. We hope you’ve been able to find something to your taste. Have fun planning your trip.

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