Switzerland has captivated the hearts of travelers from all over the world, and for a good reason! This small, beautiful county is packed full of fun outdoor adventures, jaw-dropping scenery, endless alpine hikes, and historical sites dating back centuries.
But there is so much more to Switzerland than trains, gondolas, and mountain summits. We recently spent 7 days in Switzerland traveling all over the country in search of the best attractions, hidden gems, and photography spots that you don’t want to miss out on!
Before you pack your bags and set out on your adventure, here is our Switzerland 7-day itinerary to help you plan a trip of a lifetime!
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The Ultimate Switzerland 7-Day Itinerary:
Before we dive into the details of what you should see & do in Switzerland, here are some frequently asked questions to help you with trip planning:
Are 7 Days Enough For Visiting Switzerland?
Switzerland is a small country so if you’re planning your first trip, 7 days is enough to see many of the top sights and attractions (although there is plenty to see and do to stay for weeks!).
Plan to fly into Geneva airport or Zurich airport and then take trains or rent a car so you can reach all the major towns, attractions, and small villages in the mountains. Within 7 days you can easily visit Zermatt, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, and Bern.
Is It Better To Take Public Transportation Or Rent a Car?
Whether you choose to take public transportation or rent a car will highly depend on your budget and needs. On our Switzerland road trip, we decided to rent a car so we could get around easier and see attractions from early morning to late evening without worrying about train schedules and how we would get back to our hotel at the end of the day.
The roads in Switzerland are very easy to navigate, well-marked, paved, and wide.
If you’re set on renting a car, browse the best rental car deals here!
If you don’t feel comfortable driving a rental car in a new country and would rather take public transportation, we highly advise getting the Swiss All-in-One Pass to save on costs during your trip.
The Swiss All-in-One Pass offers unlimited travel by train, bus & boat in more than 90 urban areas along with a 50% discount at many of the top mountain destinations. This pass will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Get the Swiss All-in-One Pass here!
Is Switzerland Expensive To Visit?
Yes, Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to visit in all of Europe. The cost of living is very high in this country so everything from food to hotels and activities is very expensive.
We traveled to Switzerland in the fall (which is the shoulder season) so the hotels were a bit cheaper. We averaged $160/night which is more affordable compared to the busy summer season.
Here are some tips on how to lower costs in Switzerland:
- Accommodations – consider traveling with friends or family to split hotel rooms or vacation rentals. There are also lots of hostels in Switzerland that are great budget-friendly options if you don’t mind sharing a room.
- Food – food is very expensive in Switzerland. There are convenience stores that sell ready-made foods such as sandwiches and salads which are great alternatives to eating in pricey restaurants. Some accommodations come with kitchenettes so you can make your own meals instead of eating out.
- Activities – we spent around $700 on activities during our Switzerland trip between both of us. Gornergrat Railway in Zermatt alone cost us $240 for two people! Trains, gondolas, and cable cars are by far the most costly options for getting to destinations. As an alternative, you can often find hiking routes that lead to the same attractions and are free (just might take some time to complete).
Do People Speak English In Switzerland?
Yes, just about everyone in Switzerland speaks English, especially at tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants.
Switzerland is home to a mix of cultures and nationalities so you will hear many different languages during your visit. Some of the main languages spoken in Switzerland are German, French, and Italian.
What To Pack For a Switzerland Trip
We visited Switzerland in September so we packed for both cold and warm weather. The trip started with sunny, warm days and ended with rainy and overcast weather.
Here are a few of my favorite outdoor gear items that I recommend to bring for adventures in the Swiss Alps:
- Warm Puff Jacket. Weather in Switzerland can change drastically without much notice. I always bring a warm jacket in case it starts raining or the temperatures start dropping. With a windproof and moisture-repelling shell, the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket will keep you warm by trapping your body heat and blocking the wind.
- Danner Trail 2650 Hiking Shoes. A good pair of hiking shoes can make all the difference in outdoor adventures! I recommend getting a pair that are tough and have lots of traction so you don’t fall, especially if you plan to do a lot of hiking. The Danner 2650 shoes are lightweight, durable, and made with Vibram 460 outsoles for an extra strong grip.
- REI Co-op Nalgene Water Bottle. Bring plenty of water since there are limited amenities at mountain destinations. I love my reusable REI Co-op Nalgene bottle which is leakproof, easy to clean, and great for the planet by eliminating one-time plastic bottle use!
- Anker Portable phone charger. I always bring a battery pack when going on international trips. A portable phone charger can come in handy in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to use it to look up directions, trail routes, reservation information, and places to eat.
- Small Day Pack. I have a small lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. The Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put small things like hand sanitizer, sunscreen, a headlamp, and an emergency medical kit.
Here Is The Ultimate Switzerland Itinerary For 7 Days:
Day 1: Arrive In Geneva & Travel To Zermatt
On our trip, we flew into the Geneva Airport which is close to all the major attractions that we wanted to visit in Switzerland. From here you can also easily travel to Chamonix, France, and Aosta, Italy if you want to check off a few other countries from your bucket list.
After landing in Geneva, we picked up our rental car from the airport. From there we started driving towards Zermatt which is about a 2.5-hour drive.
Zermatt is one of the top tourist attractions in Switzerland – so visiting this town is a must! In the summer Zermatt is a popular destination for outdoor adventures and hiking, while in the winter it attracts skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts from all around the world.
Tip: Zermatt is a car-free town so you will need to leave your car in Parking Matterhorn Terminal Täsch and take a train into Zermatt. The train from Täsch to Zermatt costs 16.40 Swiss Franc round trip and runs every 20 minutes.
Once you arrive in Zermatt, you can arrange a pickup taxi with your hotel, get a taxi on your own or walk to your hotel. The majority of the hotels are situated within 10-15 of the arrival train station so it’s easy to get around on foot unless you have extra luggage that is too heavy to carry.
On our first day of arrival, we always feel jetlagged and tired from all the traveling. Instead of diving into the first activity, we like to adjust to the time zone, relax, go out for dinner and get a good night’s sleep so we can feel refreshed for the rest of the trip!
Driving time from Geneva to Zermatt: 2.5-3 hours
Here are some of the best places to stay in Zermatt:
- The Omnia. This unique hotel is perched on a rock 148 feet above the town offering some of the best views overlooking Zermatt and Matterhorn Mountain. The spectacular location high above the city is just one attraction of The Omnia, along with excellent amenities and an on-site restaurant.
- Backstage Boutique. This boutique hotel offers visitors a luxurious place to stay at the heart of Zermatt not far from the main attractions. The guest rooms come furnished with elegant pieces and feature fireplaces, private balconies, and some come with a bathtub overlooking the Swiss Alps.
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Day 2: Five Lakes Trail In Zermatt
The Five Lakes Trail (5-Seenweg) is one of the best things that you can do in Zermatt, Switzerland! This hike offers a bit of everything – stunning blue lakes, charming mountain lodges, rivers, alpine forests, and great views of the famous Matterhorn mountain.
The Five Lakes Trail is about 6-7 miles long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete, depending on which direction you decide to hike it. During our time in Zermatt, we dedicated a full day to hiking the 5 Lakes Trail.
To reach the starting point of the trailhead, you will need to take a funnicular and a gondola from downtown Zermatt up the mountain. You can start the hike in Sunnegga or Blauherd transit stations, depending if you want to hike the trail downhill or uphill.
The five lakes that you can visit along this route are:
During your hike, you will be able to see stunning reflections of Matterhorn Mountain in three of the five alpine lakes!
TIP: If you’re short on time, we recommend taking the gondola to Blauherd and only hiking to Stellisee Lake. This is one of the most beautiful lakes along this route and a great option if you’re not up for a full-day hike.
The Five Lakes Trail goes in a loop so you can finish where you started. As a fun way down the mountain, you can rent a mountain cart and a kickbike that you can ride all the way into downtown Zermatt.
Day 3: Gornergrat Bahn In Zermatt
Although Zermatt itself is a small mountain town, there is plenty to do in this area so we recommend staying for 2-3 days to explore various activities before traveling to the next destination.
Along with hiking the Five Lakes Trail, the Gornergrat Bahn is a popular activity that you should have on your Switzerland bucket list! This high-altitude train will take you to the top of Gornergrat Mountain for panoramic views of alpine lakes, glaciers, and some of the tallest peaks in the Swiss Alps.
The Gornergrat Railway costs over 100 USD so it’s quite an expensive bucket-list activity. During this 30-minute train ride, you’ll be able to enjoy up-close views of the Matterhorn and rugged mountain landscapes.
At the top, you can walk around an observation platform that overlooks Gorner Glacier and the surrounding 29 peaks. Many people also stop at the gorgeous Riffelsee Lake one train exit down to see picture-perfect reflections of the Matterhorn in the lake water.
Photography Tip: To get the best photos of Riffelsee Lake try to come early in the morning or late in the evening for the best lighting and to avoid the crowds.
If you’re looking for a unique place for an overnight stay, these two top-rated hotels are located along the Gornergrat Railway route:
- 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat – sitting at 3100 meters in elevation, the 3100 Kulmhotel is the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. This hotel is situated at the ending station of the Gornergrat Railway so the only way to reach this hotel is by taking the train to the summit. Within 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, you can explore a planetarium, a library, and a shopping center, or dine at one of the two restaurants offering a variety of Swiss plates.
- Riffelhaus 1853 – this hotel is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking for a relaxing stay in the mountains. The rooms are beautifully decorated and many have a balcony with excellent views. Spa facilities include a sauna, steam bath, and relaxation room. There is a swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, and sun terrace with excellent views of the snow-capped mountains.
Day 4: Grindelwald & First Cliff Walk
After spending a couple of days in Zermatt, we recommend moving on to the Bernese Oberland region. This area is home to charming mountain towns such as Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Wengen, and Interlaken where you can take trains and gondolas to summits of mountains for surreal views of the Swiss Alps.
You can start off with Grindelwald town which is located about a 2.5-hour drive from Zermatt. Be sure to account for extra time to get back to the Täsch parking lot from Zermatt.
We recommend having an early head start so you can spend more time in Grindelwald town and Grindelwald First. This is a popular attraction where you walk on a cliff pathway built into the side of a mountain, hike to Bachalpsee lake, ride a mountain cart, or pedal Trottibike scooter down from the summit. Grindelwald First has so many fun activities that we dedicated an entire day to this fun attraction!
To reach Grindelwald First you will need to take a 25-minute gondola to the top of the mountain. After you exit the gondola, you can head directly to the First Cliff Walk where you can go on a 15-minute walk across a metal pathway with dizzying heights below.
At the end of the First Cliff Walk, be sure to stop by Berggasthaus First Hotel which has a restaurant and patio overlooking the surrounding mountains. At this location, you can also go hiking, zip lining, or take the gondola back to Grindelwald to explore the town.
Driving time from Zermatt to Grindelwald: 2.5 hours
Here are some of the best places to stay in Grindelwald:
- Bergwelt Grindelwald. This stunning hotel is perfect for all adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts, and dreamers planning a trip to Grindelwald, Switzerland. There is a spa within the resort where you can unwind in a sauna room, take a steam bath, or go for a swim in an indoor or outdoor pool.
- Belvedere Swiss Quality Hotel offers spectacular views of the Grindelwald valley from its rooms, along with fine dining restaurants and wellness areas for relaxation. The wellness area has an indoor swimming pool along with steam baths, saunas, and massages. There is also a cocktail bar on the property where you can enjoy a variety of drinks before or after dinner.
Day 5: Lauterbrunnen & Aare Gorge
Lauterbrunnen is another charming village that is situated just a 30-minute drive from Grindelwald. Due to the close location, most people visit both of these towns on the same Switzerland trip.
Lauterbrunnen is a great place to explore if you enjoy beautiful landscapes surrounded by towering waterfalls (and who doesn’t?). This little village is home to 72 waterfalls including the popular Staubbach Falls and Trümmelbachfälle.
Here are some of the best things to do in this area:
If you arrive at Lauterbrunnen, I recommend starting with the Trümmelbachfälle attraction. Trümmelbach consists of ten glacier waterfalls situated within a granite mountain that can be reached by taking a tunnel lift.
Trümmelbachfälle is the only mountain glacier waterfall in Europe that is accessible to the public. It can get very chilly inside the mountain so be sure to bring an insulated puff jacket to stay warm.
To see the waterfalls you will need to purchase an admission ticket for 14 CHF (Swiss Francs) and take a funnicular to get higher up. Once you exit the cable car ride, you can walk through a series of tunnels and stairs carved into the mountain providing you with closer access to the waterfalls.
As you descend, you will pass 10 glacier waterfalls that you can witness rushing down the mountain. The sheer force of the water makes a loud, thunderous noise that shows the power of Mother nature!
Tip: For safety reasons, this attraction does not allow little kids under 4 years old. The waterfall current is very dangerous and the pathways are very slippery.
Staubbach Falls is situated at the center of Lauterbrunnen town and is an easy attraction to visit, even if you’re short on time. This is one of the most recognizable waterfalls in Switzerland and a popular photography spot!
From this viewpoint, you’ll have a great vantage point of Staubbach Falls and the entire Lauterbrunnen village. There is a little pathway that you can use to frame your photo with the waterfall in the background.
Pssst! I use the Sony a7c camera for my travel photos. This is the smallest and lightest full-frame camera available on the market – perfect for traveling, hiking, and outdoor trips – while still maintaining the same incredible image quality as Sony’s full-frame cameras!
Walk Around Lauterbrunnen
After capturing photos of the Staubbachfall waterfall, we spent an hour walking around downtown Lauterbrunnen and marveling at this magical scenery. The landscape in this part of Switzerland is just unreal with great photo opportunities around every corner!
The Water Fountain by the Lütschine river is another great location for viewing the Staubbach Falls with a closer vantage point. The Lütschine river is fed by glacier water giving it that stunning blue color tone.
After visiting the waterfalls, we walked around town and did a bit of souvenir shopping. There are also plenty of restaurants where you can try local Swiss mountain cuisine. For dessert, we indulged in freshly made mini donuts at the Waffeln pop-up stand.
If you have extra time on your hands after exploring Lauterbrunnen village, I recommend going on a quick trip out to Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) in Meiringen town.
We drove out to Aare Gorge from Lauterbrunnen on a whim by randomly finding it on Google Maps. This attraction is not as well advertised as other locations in Switzerland so it’s mostly visited by locals – which means cheaper entrance prices and smaller crowds!
The entrance to Aare Gorge costs 10 CHF and consists of a long pathway built into a cliff wall next to a blue glacier river. We were truly amazed at how beautiful and underrated this natural wonder was!
It takes about 45-60 minutes to walk the entire gorge. You can start the walk on one end and finish it on the other end, then take a train back to the starting point.
Aareschlucht consists of towering cliff walls and a milky blue river that has carved its way through this limestone canyon. The cliff walls that surround the gorge are about 180 meters tall so they’re quite high!
Driving time from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen: 30 minutes
Driving time from Lauterbrunnen to Aare Gorge: 45 minutes
Here are some of the best places to stay in Lauterbrunnen:
- Hotel Staubbach is a cozy place to stay in Lauterbrunnen that strives to provide guests with excellent service. Built in the 1890s, Hotel Staubbach has been winning the hearts of tourists due to its proximity to nature and local attractions. The rooms also offer excellent panoramic views of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Staubbach Falls.
- Hotel Silberhorn is nestled in a peaceful location away from the main road with jaw-dropping mountain views all around. The hotel features an alpine-style restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious Swiss buffet breakfast.
Day 6: Oeschinen Lake & Interlaken
Oeschinen Lake (Oeschinensee) is one of the most beautiful places that we visited in all of Switzerland. This lake is situated between Zermatt and the Bernese Oberland region so you can stop by here while traveling in between both of these areas. Due to a late start leaving Zermatt, we didn’t have enough time so we decided to put this hike off until the end of our trip and designate an entire morning/afternoon for it.
Oeschinen Lake is about an hour’s drive from Lauterbrunnen. Be sure to head out early and give yourself plenty of time to drive out there, take a gondola to the summit, and hike to the lake. We spent around 5 hours visiting this gorgeous alpine lake so it can be an all-day type of activity.
Upon arrival, most people stay at the main visitor area by Berghotel Oeschinensee Hotel, but I highly recommend going on the 5.4-mile-long Lake Oeschinen Circular Trail for better vantage points. The higher you go, the better the views will get!
Once you pass the tree line, you will have clear unobstructed views of Oeschinen Lake. This is truly one of the best places to visit in Switzerland where you can enjoy dramatic mountain landscapes surrounded by tall mountain peaks, glaciers, and waterfalls!
After completing the hike and heading back to the parking lot, we drove out to Interlaken. Interlaken is the largest city in the Bernese Oberland region that has a lot of hotels and food choices from Indian to Mexican, Thai, and a variety of European restaurants.
A few of our favorite places to eat in Interlaken were:
- Aare – a Korean BBQ place next to the river. We shared one pot of Spicy Bulgogi BBQ between the both of us which was plenty!
- Hopplá Bistro – a small and intimate restaurant serving mouth-watering European dishes. The owner was very friendly and even gave me a complimentary glass of wine to pair with my cabbage roll entre.
- Delicias Algarve – an excellent Portuguese restaurant if you’re looking for a hearty meal. I ordered the shrimp dish made in butter sauce and it was so delicious!
Interlaken is also one of the best places in Switzerland for paragliding. At any time during the day, you can look up and see at least 10 paragliders in the sky!
If this exciting activity is on your bucket list, check out this Tandem Paragliding Experience from Interlaken where you can enjoy the stunning views of Lake Thun and Jungfrau summits from a bird’s point of view – an experience that you’ll remember long after your trip!
Driving time from Lauterbrunnen to Oeschinen Lake: 1 hour
Driving time from Oeschinen Lake to Interlaken: 1 hour
Here are some of the best places to stay in Interlaken:
- Hotel Interlaken is one of the most luxurious places to stay in all of Switzerland. This 4-star hotel dates back to the 14th century but has been remodeled with a chic and luxurious interior. If you wish to try authentic Swiss food along with international cuisine and wines, there is an on-site restaurant to satisfy your cravings!
- Hotel Royal St Georges Interlaken MGallery Collection is another excellent hotel at the heart of Interlaken. The unique rooms are furnished in a baroque style and offer great amenities and excellent views. At night, the hotel’s elegant restaurant offers guests French and Swiss cuisine made from fresh local produce.
Day 7: Bern & Return To Geneva
On our last day in Switzerland, we decided to stop by Bern city. We had heard many great things about this historic town and it truly lived up to our expectations!
Similar to other Swiss cities, the Old City of Berne is built around a river. But its downtown has much older architecture and many historic buildings earning this beautiful city the UNESCO World Heritage Site title.
Upon arrival, I recommend parking your car and exploring the city center on foot. Here you can walk along old cobblestone streets and see elaborate water fountains, charming buildings, and intricate clock towers. The entire downtown is painted in a sage green color so it has a uniform look.
For one of the best views of the city, head over to the Kirchenfeldbrücke bridge that overlooks the turquoise Aare River and the Old Town Geneva.
One of the most unexpected places (that took us by surprise) was the Bear Pit Park. This riverfront animal habitat was established in the 19th century and now houses several bears. It is free to visit the Bear Pit Zoo and we were able to see several brown bears up close through a clear glass wall.
With the Old Town as its backdrop, the Bear Pit is quite a unique attraction that is especially great for families with little kids. If you’re up for a unique experience, you can even sleep next to the bears by staying at the boutique One Suite Hotel – Zollhaus next door!
A few other popular attractions in Bern include:
- Kramgasse – the Main Street that travels through Old Town Bern with shops and restaurants lined along both sides.
- Zähringerbrunnen – historic 16th-century water fountain featuring the city’s founder surrounded by bears (yes, they sure love bears in Bern!).
- Zytglogge – ornate medieval clock tower from the year 1405.
- The Cathedral of Bern – grand Gothic cathedral at the center of Bern’s downtown.
- Einstein Museum – Bern was home to the world-famous scientist Albert Einstein for 7 years. At this museum, you can explore various historic, scientific, and archeological exhibits centering around Swiss culture and history.
After exploring Bern for a couple of hours, we started driving towards Geneva and getting ready for our flight back home to the US.
Driving time from Interlaken to Bern: 45 minutes
Driving time from Bern to Geneva: 2 hours
Here are some of the best places to stay in Geneva:
- Les Armures. This hotel offers visitors a luxurious stay in Old Town Geneva near the St Pierre Cathedral. The Les Armures hotel is housed in a 17th-century building that has been upgraded with modern furniture and excellent amenities. Within a short walk, you can reach local restaurants and shops, but there is also a restaurant on site serving classic French cuisine.
- Hôtel Longemalle. Contemporary chic décor wows at Hôtel Longemalle, a boutique hotel nestled in downtown Geneva. The elegant rooms are quite impressive with an option to book a room with a balcony overlooking the city. In the mornings, indulge in a delicious buffet breakfast before heading out to the airport.
We hope this post has inspired you to book a flight to Europe and add a few new places to your Switzerland 7-day itinerary!
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