3 days in Switzerland - 13 itineraries from Zurich

If you’re planning on spending three days in Switzerland and are looking for your perfect itinerary, this selection of 13 itineraries will help you plan your trip. It shows you different options that are all doable in three days from Zurich.

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 Zurich. However, if you’d like to start in a different place, you can easily adapt your trip accordingly. Zurich is very well connected and can be reached from every other city in 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. Itinerary with three city trips, 360° panoramic views in the Alps and a trip to the Kambly biscuit factory

Itinerary 1: Zurich - Lucerne - BerneItinerary 1: Zurich - Lucerne - Berne

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Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Walk across the Kapellbrücke in Lucerne
  • Take in the fascinating landscape of Mount Rigi and Lake Lucerne
  • Embark on a scenic train ride through the Entlebuch (UNESCO)
  • Fill up on free Kambly biscuits in Trubschachen
  • Visit the old town of Zurich

Day 1: Zurich - Mount Rigi - Vitznau - Lucerne

Leave Zurich first thing in the morning and catch the train to Lucerne. Store your luggage either at the train station or at your accommodation and take the next train to Arth Goldau. From here, the Rigibahn – a cog railway that’s been around for over 150 years – takes you on a 45-minute ride to the top station Rigi Kulm.

Provided Mount Rigi isn’t veiled in clouds, you’ll be presented with spectacular views over the Alps, Lake Lucerne and other surrounding lakes. Just follow the signs to the viewing point after getting off at Rigi Kulm.

Once you’ve snapped enough photos, either take a break at the restaurant, catch the train down to Vitznau or go for a hike. With over 120 kilometres (75 miles) of hiking trails at your feet, you’re spoiled for choice here.

Upon arrival in Vitznau, the passenger ship to Lucerne will be waiting for you. Keep your camera within reach because this scenic and peaceful ride offers some more stunning views.

Back in Lucerne, spend the rest of the evening exploring the city or find a cosy spot by the lake to relax.

Ride on the Rigi Railway (Photo: Rigi Bahnen Gaudenz Danuser)Ride on the Rigi Railway (Photo: Rigi Bahnen Gaudenz Danuser)
Kapellbrücke in Lucerne (Photo:Lucerne Tourism)Kapellbrücke in Lucerne (Photo:Lucerne Tourism)

Day 2: Lucerne - Kambly factory - Bern

In the morning, join a guided tour in Lucerne or discover the city on your own. Walk across the Kapellbrücke, take a stroll through the old town, hang out by the lake, check out the Swiss Museum of Transport or visit the Glacier Garden with its famous Lion Monument.

Once you’re ready to move on, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Trubschachen. But watch out. This train gets split up along the way and only the front part travels through the picturesque Entlebuch region to Trubschachen. When you’re at the platform in Lucerne, please check the display to make sure you get on the right half of the train.

The Kambly factory store right next to Trubschachen station is free to visit. In here, you can spend as much time as you like tasting up to 100 types of delicious biscuits. Unfortunately, you can’t visit the factory and watch the production of this iconic Swiss biscuit. However, they do have a cinema at the shop where they give you some more insight into this traditional family business.

After reaching the point of explosion, or maybe two biscuits before, move on to Bern. To digest your Kambly overdose, go for a walk in Switzerland’s capital city. For an impressive night view over Bern, I recommend heading up to Rosengarten.

Kambly factory store (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Kambly factory store (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
View from the Rose Garden in Bern (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)View from the Rose Garden in Bern (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Bern - Zurich

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 to Rosengarten for the 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 Zurich and spend the rest of the day exploring Switzerland’s largest city.

Bundesplatz in Bern (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Gian Marco Castelberg & Maurice Haas)Bundesplatz in Bern (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Gian Marco Castelberg & Maurice Haas)
Lindenhof in Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Lindenhof in Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 1

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lucerne and Bern, you’ll receive a Transport Card that lets you use local transport for free.
  • On your way down from Mount Rigi to Vitznau, try to sit on the right side of the train for better views of Lake Lucerne.
  • If you travel with a Swiss Travel Pass or the National Day Pass, all rides are fully covered.
  • If you travel with an Interrail or Eurail Pass, you’ll receive a 50% discount on the Rigibahn as well as the passenger ship from Vitznau to Lucerne.

2. Itinerary for culture geeks with UNESCO World Heritage, hiking in the Alps and Europe’s largest waterfall

Itinerary 2: Zurich - St. Gallen - SchaffhausenItinerary 2: Zurich - St. Gallen - Schaffhausen

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Discover the main sights of Zurich
  • Admire the Abbey District in St. Gallen (UNESCO)
  • Enjoy the stunning Alpstein mountain range
  • Visit the Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfalls
  • Stroll through the picturesque old town of Schaffhausen

Day 1: Zurich - St. Gallen

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to St. Gallen.

Spend the afternoon exploring the old town of St. Gallen. With the UNESCO listed Abbey District, its towering Cathedral and the impressive Abbey Library, this city has quite a few things to offer.

While you’re here, make sure you don’t miss a trip to the recreational are of Drei Weieren. To get there, either catch the Mühleggbahn or take the stairs. Alternatively, visit the wildlife park Peter & Paul or still your cultural thirst at one of the many museums.

By far the best place to relax is at Drei Weieren. Go for a refreshing swim to recover from the many steps you took up here or go for a stroll in the forest. You also get a fantastic view over the whole city, Lake Constance and all the way to Germany.

Abbey district in St. Gallen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Abbey district in St. Gallen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Drei Weieren in St. Gallen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Drei Weieren in St. Gallen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: St. Gallen - Alpstein - St. Gallen

Today, you’re in for some serious hiking and a ton of impressive mountain views. In the morning, catch the train to Wasserauen and hike up to Seealpsee, one of the three lakes in the Alpstein mountain range. Spend some time in this peaceful spot before moving on to Ebenalp.

On your way to Ebenalp, you’ll pass by a place you might have seen before. The famous Äscher restaurant. Ever since it was featured on National Geographic and on Ashton Kutcher’s Instagram, it‘s been completely overrun by its success. This sadly caused it to lose some of its former charm. However, it’s still a worthwhile place to snap a few photos and take a break.

At Ebenalp, you can choose between hiking back to Wasserauen or catching the cable car. If you still have it in you after this long day, you might like a quick stopover in Appenzell on your way to St. Gallen.

In case you hop off in Appenzell and are feeling brave, visit the little cheese store at Hauptgasse 13. But be warned, those smelly cheese fumes will knock your socks off the second you enter the store. There’s no way your feet will be able to compete with that odour. Not even after a full day of being trapped inside your trekking boots... 🙂

Oh, and don’t miss out on a piece of Appenzeller Biber, an iconic local sweet treat made of gingerbread and a honey almond filling. And before you ask: Nope. This Biber doesn’t have any famous Canadian relatives...

Also, if you’re a beer-lover, make sure to stop by the Locher brewery. They brew the popular Quöllfrisch beer that is consumed all across Switzerland.

In the evening, head back to St. Gallen and enjoy sleeping like a baby tonight. Fresh mountain air has a tendency to leave you peacefully exhausted.

As an alternative to hiking and crawling around in the Alpstein, you can head to Lake Constance instead and enjoy some downtime by the lake.

Restaurant Äscher in the Alpstein (Photo: MySwitzerland)Restaurant Äscher in the Alpstein (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Seealpsee (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Seealpsee (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: St. Gallen - Rhine Falls - Zurich

After a decent sleep-in, which you will probably enjoy after yesterday’s mountain action, head to Neuhausen and visit Europe’s largest waterfalls. The mighty Rhine Falls attract visitors from all over the world and are one impressive force of nature.

Access to the falls is free from the northern shore, while seeing them from Laufen Castle in the south costs 5 CHF. Spend however long you like getting soaked in the mist of the Rhine Falls before moving on to Schaffhausen.

Schaffhausen has a charming old town with an impressive total of 171 bay windows, which is more than any other Swiss city can account for. Once you’re done chasing them all down and exploring the rest of Schaffhausen, head up to Munot and enjoy the view over the city. As soon as you’re ready, head back to Zurich.

Rhine Falls in Neuhausen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Rhine Falls in Neuhausen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
View over Schaffhausen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)View over Schaffhausen (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 2

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in St. Gallen, you’ll receive a Transport Card that lets you use local transport for free. This even includes transport all the way to Lake Constance.
  • There’s a ton of hiking trails in the Alpstein so please feel free to go on a different hike than the one I suggested.
  • Technically, you could spend the first night in St. Gallen and stay in the Alpstein for your second night. You’ll find accommodation ranging from comfortable private rooms with hot showers to rustic mountain huts where you’ll be sleeping country-style in a stable above the cows.
  • Please wear good, sturdy shoes for your hike to Seealpsee and watch your steps on the trails. This is not just a stroll in the park. It’s a hike in the mountains and injuries can happen.

3. Itinerary with three city trips, 360° panoramas in the Alps and a short trip to Germany or France

Itinerary 3: Zurich - Lucerne - BaselItinerary 3: Zurich - Lucerne - Basel

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Walk across the Kapellbrücke in Lucerne
  • Take in the amazing landscape of Mount Rigi and Lake Lucerne
  • Explore the vibrant city of Basel
  • Hop across the border to France or Germany
  • Discover the highlights of Zurich

Day 1: Zurich - Mount Rigi - Vitznau - Lucerne

Leave Zurich first thing in the morning and catch the train to Lucerne. Store your luggage either at the train station or at your accommodation and take the next train to Arth Goldau.

From there, the Rigibahn – a cog railway that’s been around for over 150 years – takes you on a 45-minute ride to the top station Rigi Kulm.

Provided Mount Rigi isn’t veiled in clouds, you’ll be presented with spectacular views over the Alps, Lake Lucerne and other surrounding lakes. Just follow the signs to the viewing point after getting off at Rigi Kulm.

Once you’ve snapped enough photos, either take a break at the restaurant, catch the train down to Vitznau or go for a hike. With over 120 kilometres (75 miles) of hiking trails at your feet, you’re spoiled for choice here.

Upon arrival in Vitznau, the passenger ship to Lucerne will be waiting for you. Keep your camera within reach because this scenic and peaceful ride offers some more stunning views.

Back in Lucerne, spend the rest of the evening exploring the city or find a cosy spot by the lake to relax.

Trip to the Rigi (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Beat Brechbuehl)Trip to the Rigi (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Beat Brechbuehl)
Musegg Wall in Lucerne (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Beat Brechbuehl)Musegg Wall in Lucerne (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Beat Brechbuehl)

Day 2: Lucerne - Basel

In the morning, join a free walking tour in Lucerne or discover the city on your own. Walk across the Kapellbrücke, take a stroll through the old town, hang out by the lake, check out the Swiss Museum of Transport or visit the Glacier Garden with its famous Lion Monument.

Once you’re ready to move on, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Basel.

Basel is a vibrant city right on the German and French border. It offers several walking tours at various times throughout the week. Pick a tour or just head out into the city on your own.

Stop by the Pfalz – the perfect viewing platform to snap some postcard-quality photos – walk along the River Rhine to watch the big cargo ships enter and leave the harbour, pass by the Cathedral or geek out in one of the many museums.

During the warmer summer months, an activity you might enjoy is joining the locals for a swim in the River Rhine. Before hopping into the water and letting the current take them downstream, they usually pack their clothes into a so-called Wickelfisch. This dry-bag comes in the shape of a fish and is iconic to Basel.

Day 3: Basel - Zurich

If there’s something you didn’t get to do in Basel yesterday, today’s your day. But in case you’ve seen enough of the city already, you can always hop across the border and visit Weil am Rhein in Germany or St. Louis in France.

Technically, you could even visit three countries in one day. Switzerland, Germany and France. That’s completely doable in Basel and might be something you don’t get to experience every day. Especially if you’re from a country that requires you to get on a plane to cross the nearest border within a reasonable amount of time.

Whenever you’re ready to leave Basel, head back to Zurich and spend the rest of the day exploring Switzerland’s largest city.

Basel (Photo: Basel Tourismus)Basel (Photo: Basel Tourismus)
Zurich on the Limmat (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Zurich on the Limmat (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 3

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lucerne and Basel, you’ll receive a Transport Card that lets you use local transport for free.
  • On your way down from Mount Rigi to Vitznau, try to sit on the right side of the train for better views of Lake Lucerne.
  • If you travel with a Swiss Travel Pass or the National Day Pass, all rides are fully covered.
  • If you travel with an Interrail or Eurail Pass, you’ll receive a 50% discount on the Rigibahn as well as the passenger ship from Vitznau to Lucerne.
  • In case you decide to take a trip across to Germany or France, don’t forget to exchange some Euros. And make sure to bring your passport, too. Since Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union, you have to show your passport when leaving the country.

4. Itinerary for explorers with two hidden gems, a castle and a famous abbey

Itinerary 4: Zurich - Rapperswil - ZugItinerary 4: Zurich - Rapperswil - Zug

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Embark on a scenic cruise on Lake Zurich
  • Stroll through the picturesque old town of Rapperswil
  • Walk parts of the Camino de Santiago trail
  • Visit the impressive Abbey in Einsiedeln
  • Hang out by Lake Zug

Day 1: Zurich - Rapperswil

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and hop on the passenger ship to Rapperswil.

Spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through Rapperswil, a real hidden gem of a city. Head up to the castle, spend some time with the deer in the castle’s garden, go for a swim in Lake Zurich and walk along the idyllic esplanade.

An excellent spot to relax is the lawn behind OST, the technical college of Rapperswil. You can’t miss it when you head toward the lake after leaving the train station.

If you’re looking for an easy afternoon walk, follow the wooden footbridge and the connecting walkway across the lake to Pfäffikon. In doing so, you’ll be completing three kilometres (1.8 miles) of the Camino de Santiago trail, a pilgrim route leading from different places across Europe to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Once you start feeling hungry, treat yourself to some pizza or ice cream at Pizzeria Dieci in Rapperswil.

Rapperswil on Lake Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Rapperswil on Lake Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Rose garden in Rapperswil (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Rose garden in Rapperswil (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Rapperswil - Einsiedeln - Zug

Leave Rapperswil in the morning and head to Einsiedeln. This town is mainly famous for its impressive Abbey and marks another important landmark on the Camino de Santiago trail. Every year, it is visited by nearly one million pilgrims on their way to other pilgrimage destinations across Europe.

But there’s more to Einsiedeln than just the Abbey. Apart from strolling through Einsiedeln, you can also drop by at the cheese dairy and watch the cheesemakers do what they do best. And eat some delicious Swiss cheese in the process, of course.

In case you’re looking for an alternative to visiting the Abbey or the cheese dairy in Einsiedeln, head to Glarus instead. This town is surrounded by mountains and therefore packed with hiking opportunities.

Another alternative to Einsiedeln is the Walensee region. Lake Walensee is a stunning lake and, depending on the weather and the light reflection, it can remind you of a Scottish loch.

Once you’re ready, move on to Zug. This is the second hidden gem on this itinerary. You’ll need to change trains twice to get there, but the whole journey only takes around an hour and the changing process is very straight-forward.

Zug is a neat little town on the shores of Lake Zug. It comes with enough cafés, lake views and alleyways to keep you busy for an afternoon.

Einsiedeln Monastery (Photo: MySwitzerland)Einsiedeln Monastery (Photo: MySwitzerland)
View over the city of Zug (Photo: Switzerland Tourism André Meier)View over the city of Zug (Photo: Switzerland Tourism André Meier)

Day 3: Zug - Zurich

Before heading back to Zurich, you’ve got plenty of activities to choose from. Zug is a convenient starting point to a variety of day trips. If the weather permits, I suggest spending the day either in the mountains or by one of the nearby lakes.

Mount Rigi is not far from Zug and makes for a fantastic day trip. Alternatively, you can go on a walk at Sattel-Hochstuckli and enjoy great alpine views. And let’s not forget Mount Zugerberg, the local mountain of the city.

As for the lakes, you also have several candidates to choose from. Lake Ägeri, Lake Zug, Lake Lucerne and Lake Zurich are all within easy reach.

If the weather keeps you from spending the day outside, head to Lucerne or visit the Äschbach chocolate factory in Root. Both destinations are only a 20-30 minute train ride from Zug.

Another bad-weather option is the Museum of Transport in Lucerne. As the name suggests, this museum covers every means of transport throughout history. From bicycles to astronautics, they’ve got it all.

In Hergiswil, not far from Lucerne, you’ll find what the Swiss affectionately call the Glasi. Hergiswil Glassworks runs you through the process of glass-making, lets you watch the pros in action and even offers the opportunity to give glassblowing a shot. When’s the last time you made your own glass?

Toward the end of the day, catch the train back to Zurich.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 4

  • Trains for Rapperswil leave Zurich several times an hour. If the weather is bad or you’d like to skip the passenger ship ride across the lake, simply catch the train instead.

5. Itinerary for nature lovers to the sunny south of Switzerland with a taste of Italy

Itinerary 5: Zurich - Bellinzona - LocarnoItinerary 5: Zurich - Bellinzona - Locarno

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Ride through Gotthard-Basistunnel, the world’s longest train tunnel
  • Walk the mighty walls of Castello di Montebello in Bellinzona (UNESCO)
  • Enjoy a few scoops of delicious ice cream in Locarno or Ascona
  • Visit one of the popular river valleys Maggia or Verzasca

Day 1: Zurich - Bellinzona - Locarno

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Bellinzona.

Thanks to the 57 kilometres (35 miles) long Gotthard-Basistunnel, it now takes you less than two hours to bolt through the Alps and reach Switzerland’s warm south. Stop over in Bellinzona and visit the Castello di Montebello, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before travelling on to Locarno.

Spend the rest of the evening taking in the Italian atmosphere in Locarno. Hang out at Piazza Grande, stroll along Lago Maggiore or just enjoy a few scoops of ice cream by the lake.

And just in case you’re wondering: Yes, you’re still in Switzerland. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. This is as Italian as our country gets...

Since you’re staying in the Canton of Ticino for the next two nights, you’re entitled to a Ticino Ticket. You’ll receive it when you check in to your accommodation. This fantastic travel pass lets you use public transport for free all across the Canton of Ticino. It also gives you numerous discounts on other local attractions and activities.

Castello Montebello (Photo: Bellinzona e Alto Ticino Turismo Silvano Crivelli)Castello Montebello (Photo: Bellinzona e Alto Ticino Turismo Silvano Crivelli)
Locarno (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)Locarno (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)

Day 2: Free day in the Canton of Ticino

Get ready to explore the Italian part of Switzerland in all its glory. With the abundance of activities to choose from, you won’t get bored today. First up, I recommend you head to one of the two river valleys: Maggia or Verzasca. Both are fantastic for hiking, spending some time by the river or going for a refreshing swim.

Also, don’t forget to bring your picnic on this journey. You’ll find countless opportunities to take a break in both valleys. My favourite place is right below the famous stone bridge in Lavertezzo.

If you prefer calmer waters over cold mountain streams, head to Lago Maggiore or Lago di Lugano. Both lakes are stunning and provide you with more photo opportunities than you can imagine.

Other popular destinations in Ticino are the inspiring little artsy town of Ascona next to Locarno and the city of Lugano further south.

To brush up on your Swiss geography knowledge, visit Swissminiatur in Melide just outside Lugano. It’s a miniature version of Switzerland and displays incredible attention to detail.

In case you’re one of those adrenaline junkies, there’s always the 007 bungy at the end of Verzasca valley. You might have seen this 220 metre (720 feet) dive in the James Bond movie Golden Eye. If you decide to throw yourself off that wall, please don’t forget to share your picture with us. We’d love to see that...🙂

As you might have gathered by now, this day is by no means long enough to do everything on the list.

Good thing there’s always tomorrow.

Stone bridge in Lavertezzo (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)Stone bridge in Lavertezzo (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)
Lake Maggiore (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)Lake Maggiore (Photo: Locarno Tourism Alessio Pizzicannella)

Day 3: Locarno - Zurich

Today is all about ticking off any remaining activities you didn’t get to do yesterday. Max out that Ticino Ticket and enjoy the Italian part of Switzerland. The train ride from Locarno to Zurich takes roughly two and a half hours, so spend as much time as you need before heading back up north.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 5

  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Locarno, you’ll receive a Ticino Ticket. This beauty lets you use public transport in the whole Canton of Ticino for free for the duration of your stay.
  • Ticino is a highly popular holiday destination for the Swiss. If you travel during school vacations of public holidays , please make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
  • The peace and quiet in the Verzasca and Maggia valleys can be deceiving. As soon as it starts raining further up in the mountains, those streams become a dangerous force of nature. Please check the weather forecast before you head out. In case it does rain further up, keep a safe distance from the water and don’t take a nap on one of the cosy

boulders inside the river. People have been surprised by the enormous mass of water and died. I don’t want you to be one of them.

  • The pizza and ice cream in Locarno and Ascona (and anywhere else in Ticino, really) are to die for. Don’t miss out...

6. Itinerary with a scenic train ride to sunny Ticino with Italian vibes and plenty of day trip opportunities

Itinerary 6: Zurich - Lucerne - LuganoItinerary 6: Zurich - Lucerne - Lugano

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Enjoy an unforgettable trip on a steamboat across Lake Lucerne
  • Ride the popular and scenic Gotthard Panorama Express
  • Take a day trip across the border to Como in Italy
  • Explore the Canton of Ticino, Switzerland’s sunny south

Day 1: Zurich - Lucerne - Lugano

Leave Zurich first thing in the morning and head to Lucerne. From there, an old steamboat will take you across Lake Lucerne to Flüelen in just under three hours. On this scenic ride, you’ll pass by several places of importance in Swiss history.

You’ll see the Rütliwiese, Switzerland’s birth place, and get a glimpse of the Tell’s Chapel. According to legend, our national hero, William Tell, escaped the fangs of his enemy in this place by jumping off his boat.

Once you get off in Flüelen, the Gotthard Panorama Express train will be waiting for you. This train takes you on a spectacular journey through the old Gotthard tunnel to the sunny south of Switzerland, the Ticino.

The Gotthard Panorama Express only leaves once a day and your journey ends in Lugano around 5 pm. Spend the rest of the evening taking in the Italian atmosphere and treat yourself to a few scoops of ice cream by the lake.

Ship and train on Lake Lucerne (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Ship and train on Lake Lucerne (Photo: Swiss Travel System)
Gotthard Panorama Express (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Gotthard Panorama Express (Photo: Swiss Travel System)

Day 2: Free day in the Canton of Ticino

Since you’re staying in the Canton of Ticino, you’ll receive a Ticino Ticket when you check in to your accommodation. This travel pass lets you use public transport for free all across Ticino and gives you discounts on other local attractions and activities.

For some ideas of things to do around here, move back to the previous itinerary No. 5 on day 2, where I listed about three days worth of activities. Those should keep you busy for a while.

Alternatively, leave Switzerland and hop across the border to Italy.

Not far from Lugano lies the idyllic Como region, the place where George Clooney and other celebrities got married. If you’re curious to find out what Mr. Nespresso saw in this part of the world, today’s your chance.

The two main places I recommend visiting in the area are the city of Como and the village of Menaggio. Both are situated by the shores of Lake Como and will automatically make you take a step back and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.

At the end of the day, head back to Switzerland and spend whatever time you have left in Lugano.

Tramonto su Lugano (Photo: Enrico Boggia)Tramonto su Lugano (Photo: Enrico Boggia)
Lugano Foce del Cassarate (Photo: Ticino Turismo Loreta Daulte)Lugano Foce del Cassarate (Photo: Ticino Turismo Loreta Daulte)

Day 3: Lugano - Zurich

Today’s programme is entirely up to your preferences. If you’d like to spend some more time in Ticino, stick around for the day.

Otherwise, catch the train back to Zurich right away and spend the rest of the day in Zurich. Either borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt», join a guided city tour or explore Switzerland’s largest city on your own.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 6

  • The Gotthard Panorama Express only runs from April through October, Tuesday through Sunday. If you travel outside of these months or on a Monday, catch the regular train from Zurich to Lugano instead.
  • For the train ride from Flüelen to Lugano, you’ll need to make a reservation.
  • If you travel with an Interrail or Eurail Pass, only the train ride from Flüelen to Lugano is fully covered. The steamboat ride costs extra.
  • Ticino is a highly popular holiday destination for the Swiss. If you travel during school vacations or public holidays, please make sure you book your accommodation in advance.
  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lugano, you’ll receive a Ticino Ticket. This beauty lets you use public transport in the whole Canton of Ticino for free for the duration of your stay.
  • The pizza and ice cream in Ticino are to die for. Don’t miss out...

7. Itinerary to sunny Ticino and to the world-famous Matterhorn

Itinerary 7: Zurich - Locarno - ZermattItinerary 7: Zurich - Locarno - Zermatt

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Ride through Gotthard-Basistunnel, the world’s longest train tunnel
  • Enjoy a few scoops of delicious ice cream in Locarno or Ascona
  • Embark on a windy train ride from Locarno to Domodossola in Italy
  • Hike in front of the mighty Matterhorn in Zermatt

Day 1: Zurich - Bellinzona - Locarno

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Bellinzona.

Thanks to the 57 kilometres (35 miles) long Gotthard-Basistunnel, it now takes you less than two hours to bolt through the Alps and reach Switzerland’s warm south. Stop over in Bellinzona and visit the Castello di Montebello, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before travelling on to Locarno.

The rest of the evening is all about taking in the Italian atmosphere in Locarno or Ascona. Hang out at Piazza Grande, stroll along Lago Maggiore or treat yourself to a few scoops of ice cream by the lake.

Day 2: Locarno – Domodossola – Zermatt

You’re probably going to laugh now. But the station your train to Domodossola leaves from is called Locarno FART. Unfortunate name, I know. It’s short for Ferrovie Autolinee Regionali Ticinesi and translates to “regional railway of Ticino”.

The ride to Domodossola lasts just under two hours. It might be the slowest train you’ve ever been on but chances are you won’t even notice time passing by.

The landscape is beyond stunning from start to finish. As you travel through the impressive Centovalli region – which stands for one hundred valleys – you’ll pass several charming villages with old stone houses, ride across tall viaducts and even catch a glimpse of a waterfall or two.

Enjoy the views because from Domodossola to Brig, you’ll be spending most of the time in a tunnel. That’s ok though because the ride from Brig to Zermatt is part of the Glacier Express – another scenic train ride.

Once you arrive in Zermatt, spend the rest of the day strolling through this little town and enjoy the sight of the mighty Matterhorn. Provided it’s not veiled in clouds.

Centovalli Railway (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Christof Sonderegger)Centovalli Railway (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Christof Sonderegger)
Zermatt (Photo: Pascal Gertschen)Zermatt (Photo: Pascal Gertschen)

Day 3: Zermatt - Zurich

Zermatt is all about mountains and the outdoors. If you’ve come to Switzerland for our spectacular mountain views, you’re going to love it here.

Several hikes and walks of all difficulty levels take you places you didn’t even know existed. Like for instance the popular Zermatt five-lakes trail, which takes 2.5 hours to complete. It leads past five crystal clear mountain lakes with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

Another impressive, yet head spinning adventure, is walking across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Randa. It stretches 494 metres (1620 feet) across the valley.

Hello vertigo!

The circular track starts and finishes in Randa, 15 minutes by train from Zermatt.

In case you’d rather skip the hiking altogether and see some mountains the easy way instead, I recommend heading up to Gornergrat. After a ridiculously steep train ride, you’ll find yourself at an altitude of 3089 metres (10.135 feet) above sea level. Right in front of the Gorner Glacier and the Matterhorn.

Don’t be surprised if climbing those steps to the viewpoint leaves you completely out of breath. It’s not you, it’s the thin air.

Once you’ve taken enough photos of the Matterhorn, catch the train back to Zurich.

Charles Kuonen Bridge (Photo: Valentin Flauraud)Charles Kuonen Bridge (Photo: Valentin Flauraud)
Hiking in Zermatt (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Hiking in Zermatt (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 7

  • The part between Brig and Zermatt is served by the Glacier Express trains. Those leave Zermatt and St. Moritz three times daily and are only for people with a reservation. But there are regular trains commuting between Brig and Zermatt that don’t require a reservation. The best part? The views are exactly the same as with the Glacier Express. Minus the large panoramic windows.
  • Since you’ll be travelling through Italy from Locarno to Domodossola, you’ll need to have your passport handy for inspection.

8. Itinerary to the alpine mountain valley Engadine with luxury, shopping and nature in St. Moritz

Itinerary 8: Zurich - St. Moritz - Lugano - LucerneItinerary 8: Zurich - St. Moritz - Lugano - Lucerne

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Stop over in Chur, the capital of the Canton of Grisons
  • Visit St. Moritz, the place where the rich and famous hang out
  • Walk along the shores of Lake St. Moritz or Lake Silvaplana
  • Marvel at the golden autumn trees in the Engadin region

Day 1: Zurich - Chur - St. Moritz

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Chur.

For better views of Lake Zurich and Lake Walensee on your way to Chur, I recommend grabbing a seat on the left when you get on the train. Spend an hour or two strolling through Chur – the capital of the Grisons – and get ready for the clean alpine air awaiting you in St. Moritz.

To get to St. Moritz, catch the train in Chur. Make sure you have your camera ready because you’ll be spoiled with panoramic views from start to finish. The Landwasser Viaduct and the curvy Albula Line are two highlights on this leg.

Spend the rest of the day hanging out in St. Moritz. If you find yourself feeling unusually sleepy tonight, thank the high altitude of 1822 metres (5977 feet) above sea level for that. It usually takes people a day or two to get accustomed to the thin air.

Day 2: Free day in St. Moritz

St. Moritz is all about the outdoors. Summer and winter. Whether you’re into biking, hiking, stand up paddling, swimming, windsurfing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or just going for a walk, you’ll find your fix.

Only a short ride from St. Moritz lies Lake Silvaplana, a stunning place to cover some of those activities.

Another place worth visiting, since you have a full day in St. Moritz, is Ospizio Bernina. With 2253 metres (7397 feet) above sea level, this little railway station is the highest spot of the Bernina Express Line. Trains from St. Moritz leave every hour and lead you past several good-looking spots with lakes, glaciers and towering mountains.

On the culinary side, I recommend two things in the Grisons. Firstly, don’t miss out on a bowl of Bündner Gerstensuppe. This barley soup with vegetables and meat is iconic to the Grisons and one of my favourite soups. It warms you up like nothing else on a chilly day.

Secondly, treat yourself to a slice of Engadiner Nusstorte. This heavy, delicious pastry puts the calories right back where you’ve been trying to lose them. But it’s so worth it.

Back in St. Moritz, spend the rest of the day strolling through the town. It’s not as charming and mystical as other villages in the area like Samedan or La Punt. But it’s great for window shopping and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll even spot a celebrity or two.

Hiking on Corvatsch (Photo: ngadin St. Moritz Tourism Christof Sonderegger)Hiking on Corvatsch (Photo: ngadin St. Moritz Tourism Christof Sonderegger)
Ospizio Bernina (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Ospizio Bernina (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: St. Moritz - Zurich

If there’s anything you didn’t get to do yesterday, today’s your chance. The train ride back to Zurich takes just over three hours so there’s no rush to leave just yet.

However, if you’ve seen it all and you’re ready to move on, you’re welcome to hop on the train and spend some time anywhere along the way between St. Moritz and Zurich.

One place you might like is the dreamy village of Bergün with its impressive stone buildings that are iconic to this area.

You’ll arrive in Bergün right after navigating the confusing Albula Line, the part where the train overcomes the altitude by taking a few loops and tunnels through the mountains. As you look out the window, you’ll notice the train crosses sides of the valley while spiralling down the mountains.

Another place you might enjoy between St. Moritz and Zurich is Walenstadt. Or more precisely, Lake Walensee. This beautiful lake is the perfect stopover. It’s a stunning and mystical lake and, depending on the weather and the light reflection, it sometimes reminds you of a Scottish loch.

Spend the rest of the evening in Zurich and snack on some more Engadiner Nusstorte by the lakeshore or at Lindenhof.

Landwasser Viaduct (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Landwasser Viaduct (Photo: Swiss Travel System)
Lake Walen (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Roland Gerth)Lake Walen (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Roland Gerth)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 8

  • For better views of Lake Zurich and Lake Walensee, grab a seat on the left on your train journey to Chur. Or on the right on your way back to Zurich.
  • The Engadin region, the eastern part of the Grisons, is especially impressive during autumn, the season of the Golden Forests.
  • If you’re planning on getting off in Walenstadt, make sure you don’t hop on the express train between Chur and Zurich. This one doesn’t stop in Walenstadt.

9. Itinerary for train-lovers with two scenic train rides and ever changing landscapes

Itinerary 9: Zurich - Chur - St. MoritzItinerary 9: Zurich - Chur - St. Moritz

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Visit St. Moritz, the place where the rich and famous hang out
  • Travel across the Alps to Lugano on the Bernina Express
  • Spend an idyllic evening with pizza and ice cream in Lugano
  • Cross the Alps again on the Gotthard Panorama Express

Day 1: Zurich - Chur - St. Moritz

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Chur.

For better views of Lake Zurich and Lake Walensee on your way to Chur, I recommend grabbing a seat on the left when you get on the train. Spend an hour or two strolling through Chur – the capital of the Grisons – and get ready for the clean alpine air awaiting you in St. Moritz.

To get to St. Moritz, catch the train in Chur. Make sure you have your camera ready because you’ll be spoiled with panoramic views from start to finish. The Landwasser Viaduct and the curvy Albula Line are two highlights on this leg.

Spend the rest of the day hanging out in St. Moritz. If you find yourself feeling unusually sleepy tonight, thank the high altitude of 1822 metres (5977 feet) above sea level for that. It usually takes people a day or two to get accustomed to the thin air.

View over Chur (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Markus Buehler-Rasom)View over Chur (Photo: Switzerland Tourism Markus Buehler-Rasom)
Landwasser Viaduct (Photo: MySwitzerland)Landwasser Viaduct (Photo: MySwitzerland)

Day 2: St. Moritz - Tirano - Lugano

Today, you’ll be spending quite a few hours travelling across the Alps from St. Moritz all the way to Lugano. Your journey will take you up to the highest point of the Bernina Express Line, past glistening glaciers and crystal clear mountain lakes, down to the southern part of Switzerland and across a spectacular viaduct before crossing into Italy.

And eventually back to Switzerland...

The first leg of this scenic train ride takes you to Ospizio Bernina, the highest point of today’s journey. This little railway station isn’t far from St. Moritz and lies 2253 metres (7391 feet) above sea level. It’s all downhill from here. Figuratively speaking, of course. As you make your way down toward Italy, you cross the circular viaduct in Brusio. Here, the train takes a full 360-degree turn to overcome the altitude.

At this point, you’ll have lost quite some altitude and the outside temperature will be a lot warmer than it was just a couple of hours ago. The last leg of the journey starts in Tirano, right next to the Swiss-Italian border. From Tirano, the Bernina Express Bus takes you through the impressive Valtellina wine region.

Before crossing back into Switzerland, you’ll drive past Lake Como, the place where George Clooney and many other celebrities got married.

After this long day, you might like to stretch your legs at the promenade of Lake Lugano. Enjoy the view, grab a few scoops of ice cream and take a stroll through Lugano.

You’ve earned it.

Bernina Express at Lago di Poschiavo (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Bernina Express at Lago di Poschiavo (Photo: Swiss Travel System)
Bernina Express with the Morteratsch (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Bernina Express with the Morteratsch (Photo: Swiss Travel System)

Day 3: Lugano - Lucerne - Zurich

If you’re visiting Switzerland between April and October, you’re in luck. Unless you’re leaving Ticino on a Monday, you have the opportunity to travel back across the Alps on the Gotthard Panorama Express.

On the first leg of this journey, a panoramic train will take you through the old Gotthard tunnel to Flüelen. Before Gotthard-Basistunnel opened in 2016, this was the only way to reach Ticino by rail. Nowadays, since the opening of the world’s longest tunnel, the old one is only used for tourist purposes.

From Flüelen, a steamboat will take you on a three-hour ride across Lake Lucerne. You’ll arrive in Lucerne around 3 pm, right next to the train station. This will leave you with enough time to either explore Lucerne or head straight back to Zurich.

Gotthard Panorama Express (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Gotthard Panorama Express (Photo: Swiss Travel System)
Lucerne (Photo: Best of Switzerland Tours)Lucerne (Photo: Best of Switzerland Tours)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 9

  • The Bernina Express schedule changes throughout the year. To find your connection and make a reservation, consult the RhB website. The Bernina Express Bus between Tirano and Lugano runs May through November.
  • The Gotthard Panorama Express runs from April through October, Tuesday through Sunday. If you travel outside of these months or on a Monday, catch the regular train from Lugano to Zurich instead. You will need a reservation for the train ride between Lugano and Flüelen.
  • If you travel with an Interrail or Eurail Pass, only the train ride from Lugano to Flüelen is fully covered on the Gotthard Panorama Express. The steamboat costs extra.
  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Lugano, you’ll receive a Ticino Ticket. This beauty lets you use public transport in the whole Canton of Ticino for free for the duration of your stay. So technically, you could skip the trip on the Gotthard Panorama Express and enjoy the day exploring the Canton of Ticino instead.
  • The Canton of Ticino is a highly popular holiday destination for the Swiss. If you travel during school holidays or on a public holiday, please make sure you book your accommodation in advance.

10. Itinerary for the ambitious on a scenic train via Interlaken to the French part of Switzerland

Itinerary 10: Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken - MontreuxItinerary 10: Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken - Montreux

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Travel the scenic Golden Pass Line
  • Walk across the Kapellbrücke in Lucerne
  • Explore the popular town of Interlaken
  • Pose next to the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux
  • Discover the highlights of Zurich

Day 1: Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken

Leave Zurich first thing in the morning, head to Lucerne and spend a few hours exploring the city. Walk across the Kapellbrücke, take a stroll through the old town, hang out by the lake or visit the Glacier Garden. Leave for Interlaken around lunchtime.

The Golden Pass Line is a popular scenic train route from Lucerne to Montreux and is served by several train companies. It connects the centre of Switzerland with the shores of Lake Geneva.

This panoramic journey leads past eight lakes, rides through six different cantons (the Swiss version of states), crosses three mountain passes and connects two language regions. Today’s leg between Lucerne and Interlaken is run by Zentralbahn and takes just under two hours.

Once you arrive in Interlaken, spend the evening in this popular yet very touristy town. Activities here are endless and if you want to enjoy this region to its fullest, one night won’t be enough. However, there should be enough time for a stroll along the River Aare or a short trip up to Harder Kulm.

Golden Pass Line (Photo: Zentralbahn)Golden Pass Line (Photo: Zentralbahn)
On the Aare in Interlaken (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)On the Aare in Interlaken (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Interlaken - Zweisimmen - Montreux

You’re in for plenty more scenic treats today. Once you leave Interlaken and head toward Zweisimmen, you’ll have Lake Thun to your right. For the best lake views, I therefore recommend grabbing a seat on the right when you get on the train.

If time allows and you don’t mind breaking up your trip, you might enjoy a quick stopover in Spiez. With its castle, a handful of charming vineyards and its direct access to Lake Thun, Spiez is well worth a visit.

Once you continue your journey, you’ll need to transfer to a different train in Zweisimmen. That’s where the climb through the Bernese Oberland towards Gstaad begins. This region is an absolute dream for mountain-lovers and pretty much sums up what Switzerland is about. Lakes, mountains, lush meadows with grazing cows, glaciers, tons of hiking trails, wonderful landscapes and cute little villages are abundant in this area.

Even if you don’t have enough time to get off along the way, the ride through this picturesque area is something you probably won’t forget anytime soon.

After leaving the Bernese Oberland and coming down the hills, you’ll arrive in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Spend whatever you have left of the day exploring Montreux and its surroundings.

Bienvenue...

Golden Pass Line (Photo: Swiss Travel System)Golden Pass Line (Photo: Swiss Travel System)
View over Montreux (Photo: Montreux-Vevey Tourism Maude Rion)View over Montreux (Photo: Montreux-Vevey Tourism Maude Rion)

Day 3: Montreux - Zurich or Geneva

After breakfast in Montreux, head to the Promenade and check out the Freddie Mercury statue just outside the market hall. If you’re keen on visiting the famous Chillon Castle, follow the Promenade to the castle or catch a bus. Passenger ships also take you there on a regular basis.

Alternatively, head in the opposite direction toward Lavaux. Only a short train ride west of Montreux, 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.

Once you’re ready to move on, either head back to Zurich or hop on the train to Geneva. Whichever city it is you’re leaving Switzerland from.

Chillon Castle (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Chillon Castle (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Vineyards in Lavaux (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Vineyards in Lavaux (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 10

  • You can complete the Golden Pass journey without making a reservation. However, the Golden Pass customer service recommends booking a seat for the segment between Zweisimmen and Montreux, as it can get pretty busy during high season.
  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Montreux, you’ll receive a Montreux Riviera Card, which allows you to use local transport for free and gives you 50% off certain museums and attractions.
  • Access to Chillon Castle is free if you have a Swiss Travel Pass. And even if you’re not keen on going into the castle, seeing it from the outside is still worth the trip.

11. Itinerary to the highlights of Switzerland to Interlaken and the Jungfraujoch

Itinerary 11: Zurich - Lucerne - InterlakenItinerary 11: Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Ride parts of the Golden Pass Line between Lucerne and Interlaken
  • Discover everything Switzerland stands for. Lakes, mountains, rivers, chocolate and ravishing landscapes.
  • Go for a hike in the Jungfrau region
  • Visit the impressive Aare Gorge near Brienz

Day 1: Zurich - Lucerne - Interlaken

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Lucerne.

Spend a few hours exploring the city. Join another sightseeing tour or discover the city on your own. Walk across the Kapellbrücke, take a stroll through the old town, hang out by the lake or visit the Glacier Garden.

Leave for Interlaken on the Golden Pass train after lunchtime. The Golden Pass Line is a popular scenic train route from Lucerne to Montreux and is served by several train companies. It connects the centre of Switzerland with the shores of Lake Geneva. This panoramic journey leads past eight lakes, rides through six different cantons (the Swiss version of states), crosses three mountain passes and connects two language regions.

Today’s leg between Lucerne and Interlaken is run by Zentralbahn and takes just under two hours.

Once you arrive in Interlaken, enjoy the evening in this popular yet very touristy town. Activities here are endless and it’s a good thing you’ve got all day tomorrow to enjoy this region to its fullest.

Lucerne with the Kapellbrücke (Photo: Lucerne Tourism)Lucerne with the Kapellbrücke (Photo: Lucerne Tourism)
Interlaken (Photo: Mathias Graf)Interlaken (Photo: Mathias Graf)

Day 2: Free day in Interlaken

You’ve got more activities to choose from today than you can wrap your head around. It all depends on your budget, but in an adrenaline-packed place like Interlaken, the sky’s the limit.

If even that...

Skydiving, paragliding, canyoning and jet boating are all popular activities that will get your adrenaline flowing.

Another option is to embark on a passenger ship cruise on either Lake Thun or Lake Brienz. Both rides come with incredible views that will make you wish you’d never have to leave.

If you’re looking for a stopover on one of the cruises, get off at either Giessbach (Lake Brienz), the Saint Beatus Caves or Spiez (Lake Thun).

The Jungfrau region around Interlaken is also an excellent playground for hikers. The amount of trails is nearly endless and whatever your fitness level and ambitions, you’ll find something to your taste.

Of course, the No. 1 destination everybody wants to see out here is the famous Jungfraujoch – aka Top of Europe. If you’re after a slightly more budget-friendly experience, I suggest looking into visiting Mount Schilthorn, Schynige Platte, Grindelwald First or Männlichen instead. The rides up to these mountains and the views from the top won’t disappoint you.

Other places of interest in and around Interlaken are: the open-air museum Ballenberg, the chocolate workshops at Funky Chocolate Club, the two mountain lakes Blausee or Oeschinensee or the Aare Gorge.

And let’s not forget those charming towns and villages like Brienz, Spiez, Thun, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald.

I could go on forever here but I guess this would only make you hate that you don’t have all week here.

Jungfraujoch (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Jungfraujoch (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Hiking in the Jungfrau region (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Hiking in the Jungfrau region (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Interlaken - Zurich

I’m assuming you didn’t get to do everything you set your mind to yesterday. This is why you have another day to knock yourself out in and around Interlaken today.

Do what you need to do before heading back to Zurich in the late afternoon or evening. The train ride from Interlaken to Zurich takes just under two hours and unless you have a plane to catch, there’s no rush to get back.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 11

  • If you’re itching to get to Interlaken as quickly as possible, skip Lucerne and head to Interlaken directly.
  • Even though the Golden Pass Line between Lucerne and Interlaken is a scenic train and popular with tourists, you don’t need to make a reservation. If you’re nervous about finding a seat, there’s the option to reserve a seat. But it’s not mandatory.
  • Upon check-in at your accommodation in Interlaken, you’ll receive an Interlaken Visitor Card that allows you to use local transport for free and gives you additional discounts on attractions and activities.

12. Itinerary for outdoor lovers to the Alps and the world famous Matterhorn in Zermatt

Itinerary 12: Zurich - ZermattItinerary 12: Zurich - Zermatt

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Hike at the base of the famous Matterhorn
  • Check out the Gorner Glacier at Gornergrat
  • Ride parts of the scenic Glacier Express Line
  • Walk across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge
  • Discover the highlights of Zurich

Day 1: Zurich - Zermatt

In the morning, explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. After the tour, grab some take-away lunch and have it on the train to Zermatt.

If you’re not in a rush to get to Zermatt, take a quick break in Bern, Spiez or Thun. Those cities are all along the way from Zurich to Zermatt and offer plenty of sights and things to do.

Between Visp and Zermatt, you’ll be completing the final leg of the Glacier Express journey. This ride is exceptionally scenic so make sure you have your camera within reach. Once you arrive in Zermatt, spend the rest of the day strolling through this little mountain town and enjoy the sight of the mighty Matterhorn.

Provided it’s not veiled in clouds.

Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Zermatt (Photo: Zermatt Tourism Pascal Gertschen)Zermatt (Photo: Zermatt Tourism Pascal Gertschen)

Day 2: Free day in Zermatt

Zermatt is all about mountains and the outdoors. If you’ve come to Switzerland for our spectacular mountain views, you’re going to love it here.

Several hikes and walks of all difficulty levels take you places you didn’t even know existed. Like for instance the popular Zermatt five-lakes trail, which takes 2.5 hours to complete. It leads past five crystal clear mountain lakes with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

Another impressive, yet head spinning adventure, is walking across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Randa. It stretches 494 metres (1.620 feet) across the valley.

Hello vertigo!

The circular track starts and finishes in Randa, 15 minutes by train from Zermatt.

In case you’d rather skip the hiking altogether and see some mountains the easy way, I recommend heading up to Gornergrat. After a ridiculously steep train ride, you’ll find yourself at an altitude of 3089 metres (10.135 feet) above sea level. Right in front of the Gorner Glacier and the Matterhorn.

Don’t be surprised if climbing those steps to the viewpoint leaves you completely breathless. It’s not you, it’s the thin air.

Hiking in front of the Matterhorn (Photo: Zermatt Tourism Pascal Gertschen)Hiking in front of the Matterhorn (Photo: Zermatt Tourism Pascal Gertschen)
Gornergrat (Photo: Gornergrat Bahn)Gornergrat (Photo: Gornergrat Bahn)

Day 3: Zermatt - Zurich or Geneva

There’s certainly more than one day’s worth of things to do and see in Zermatt. Which means today is the perfect time to tick off anything you didn’t get round to yesterday.

Once you’re ready to leave the alpine air, catch the train back to Zurich. Or, if you’re flying out of Geneva or planning on visiting Switzerland’s second largest city, you can head in that direction instead.

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 12

  • The part between Brig and Zermatt is served by the Glacier Express trains. Those leave St. Moritz and Zermatt three times daily and are only for people with a reservation. But there are regular trains commuting between Brig and Zermatt that don’t require a reservation. The best part? The views are exactly the same as with the Glacier Express. Minus the large panoramic windows.
  • During winter, Zermatt is a highly popular but also pricey skiing destination. Make sure you book your accommodation ahead during the high season.

13. Itinerary for explorers to the most beautiful baroque city and the largest stork colony in Switzerland

Itinerary 13: Zurich - SolothurnItinerary 13: Zurich - Solothurn

Highlights on this itinerary:

  • Discover Solothurn, Switzerland’s most beautiful baroque city
  • Cruise along the River Aare on a passenger ship
  • Visit Switzerland’s largest stork station in Altreu
  • Go for a hike in the Jura mountains
  • Eat freshly produced chocolate near Zurich

Day 1: Zurich - Solothurn

Leave Zurich first thing in the morning and head to Solothurn, commonly known as Switzerland’s most beautiful baroque city. With its impressive baroque cathedral and the many hidden and pretty alleyways, the city has earned this title with no doubt.

After a few hours of exploring Solothurn, hop on the passenger ship to Biel. How long you stay on it really depends on your preferences. You can go all the way to Biel – which takes around three hours – or get off anywhere along the way and catch the train back to Solothurn.

One of the highlights on this tour will be Switzerland’s largest stork station in Altreu, which you’ll pass about 45 minutes into the journey. In 1950, when storks were nearly extinct in Switzerland, Max Bloesch started his reintroduction project to save our storks. Thanks to him, around 40 breeding pairs can be seen soaring through the air, strutting across the fields and clattering on the rooftops around Altreu these days.

Only in spring and summer, though. They travel to warmer territories in autumn until winter is over.

If you continue your journey onward to Biel, the views of the Jura mountains and the Swiss Central Plateau will accompany you all the way. After passing through a watergate, you’ll arrive at the port in Biel, which is only a short walk from the train station.

From there, heading back to Solothurn will take 15 minutes by train.

The Aare near Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)The Aare near Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 2: Free day in Solothurn

Although Solothurn is by no means a big city, there’s still plenty to see and do in the area. One activity I particularly recommend is going on a hike in the Jura mountains. This high plateau is a wonderful area to visit all year round.

One option to reach the top with its countless walking trails is by cable car from Oberdorf to Weissenstein. Feel free to walk as long and as far as you like before hiking back down or catching the cable car to Oberdorf.

A very popular hike is the round trip from Solothurn via Balmberg and Weissenstein. Catch the Postauto in Solothurn, get off at Balmberg, walk along the crest to Weissenstein and head back down to Oberdorf by cable car. From Oberdorf, the train will take you back to Solothurn.

This is an easy walk and takes you into the Jura without too much effort. During your hike, you’ll also enjoy the view over the Alps, including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Another place you can visit is Verena Gorge. You can walk along the creek through the forest in the gorge until you reach the little hermitage at the end. The walk takes roughly 45 minutes return and is super peaceful.

In the evening, treat yourself to a few scoops of ice cream at Vitaminstation – one of the ice cream places ever – and have it while sitting on the stone wall along the River Aare.

You’ll fit right in with the locals in doing so.

Seraina’s Tip: My two absolute favourite places for food in Solothurn are Pittaria and Vitaminstation. Anyone that likes a good falafel or hummus is going to love Pittaria. And Vitaminstation makes some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted in Switzerland.

Verena Gorge (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Verena Gorge (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Ice cream sundae at the Vitaminsation in Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Ice cream sundae at the Vitaminsation in Solothurn (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Day 3: Solothurn - Zurich

It’s time to explore Switzerland’s largest city, so leave Solothurn whenever you’re ready and travel back to your starting point.

Explore Zurich on your own, borrow a free bike with «Züri rollt» or join a guided city tour. Whenever you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat and take a break on the shores of Lake Zurich or up at Lindenhof.

But don’t make it too big of a lunch, because you’ve got a trip to the Lindt visitors’ centre – Home of Chocolate – ahead of you. If you’ve never tried a roasted cocoa bean before, eaten as many Lindor balls as you can or enjoyed some quality time with the world’s tallest chocolate fountain, this is your chance.

Lindt Home of Chocolate (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Lindt Home of Chocolate (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)
Sechseläutenplatz in Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)Sechseläutenplatz in Zurich (Photo: Seraina Zellweger)

Additional tips and informations for itinerary 13

  • The passenger ship between Solothurn and Biel runs three times daily from May through October. Please check the timetable to find your connection.
  • If you travel with a Swiss Travel Pass, all rides are fully covered. If you travel with an Interrail or Eurail Pass, you’ll receive a 50% discount on the passenger ship ride from Solothurn to Biel.
  • When you’re in Altreu, watch out for pooping storks. They usually don’t hold back and you wouldn’t be the first person to get sprayed with, well... you know what while getting off the boat.

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

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