But first, you must wonder, where is Switzerland? It’s located in central Europe; this country is between France and Italy. It is also surrounded by Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein. In this article, I will give you all the details of my journey, and what to do in Switzerland. Without a doubt, the best itinerary for all those travelers who take pleasure in the mountain, but also, have a taste for the city. We will get to know the best places found in Switzerland in eight days.
Things to do in Switzerland. Who has not daydreamed of walking across Switzerland´s mountainous terrain? Or had the sense of being in a fairy tale inside one of its spellbinding cities? Today, I will give a description of each detail of my trip, the best places to visit in Switzerland within a week. And a bunch of suggestions so that your Budget doesn´t shoot up.
What to visit and what things to do in Switzerland during a week: recommended itinerary
Before getting into the subject, I have to admit that you’re going to have to dismiss many mind-blowing places that are worth visiting too, because traveling around Switzerland in just one week is not enough to see them all.
This is due to the fact that, in spite of being a small nation, it has a great deal of potential. There are many things to do in Switzerland.To give you an idea of its diversity, its surface is divided into 26 counties and has four official languages: Romansh, German, Italian and French. Now this is it, it’s time to start our journey through Switzerland, will you come with me? Then, let’s go!
Best places recommended for you!
I will now show the entire plan day by day, the distances covered, the visits and places that I enjoyed the most. This week trip through Switzerland is perfect for those who want to experience the best of its scenery and the most emblematic cities of the country.
The selection of the most suggested hotels is based on location and price. They are the most affordable hotels that I found and a short walking distance away from the city centers. With the exception of the Interlaken’s lodging which is very special.
1. Chillon castle, Fribourg and Bern (190 kilometers)
The first day was very charged. An unsurpassable way to begin my relationship with this breath-taking country. My plane landed in the morning at Geneva airport, so I did not waste a single minute to rent a car and start my tour.
The first stop, of the many places to see in Switzerland, took me to one of the most stunning castles in Switzerland: the Chillon castle. On the shores of picturesque Lake Geneva and encircled by mountains, this defensive construction from the thirteenth century is impressive both outside and inside. A highly recommended visit that is certainly worth paying the entrance fee.
We go on with our journey till our next destination, the medieval city of Friburg, a lovely place to wander around and to be astounded at any of its wonderful attractions, such as Saint Nicolas Cathedral, its medieval fountains, the great views from the top station of the funicular, or the half-timbered houses of the Auge district.
Already at night, we hit the road to spend the night at the capital of Switzerland, Bern. It is time to take a rest because the next day, we have a tight schedule.
2. Bern, Thun and Interlaken (60 kilómetros)
Now it’s time to get to know Switzerland’s capital. I had heard a lot of good stuff about Bern and it didn’t let me down. Its medieval historical center radiates magic all around. The most iconic monuments are the clock tower, Bern’s Parliament, the cathedral, and of course, the decorative fountains.
This city is a jewel, and beyond its monuments, it is well worth walking around every corner of it. The Rosengarten park is also unmissable, that way you can enjoy the best panoramic views.
It’s time to say farewell to Bern and get close to the mountains. We already start to perceive the big change in scenery. The next stop is the city of Thun. A pretty village on the shores of the lake which carries the same name. It will not take you too long to walk through all its little streets, pay a visit to its lovely castle, and be astonished by its sights. Yes, we are already at the feet of the Alps, it’s undeniable.
With the day approaching its end, it is time to drive to Interlaken to rest. This city is found between the lakes of Thun and Brienz, and it is the ideal entrance point to the Alps. The next few days will be unbelievable, and Interlaken is a splendid city to take as a base camp. And we will do it in a very different spot. The Tent Village, an inexpensive and enchanting accommodation. We can almost feel the mountains.
3-5. Interlaken and the Swiss Alps
These were the most awaited days of the trip. I had many things to do in Switzerland, that’s why I had a burning desire to explore the Swiss Alps and I did not waste a single second. They were super thrilling road-driving days, hiking trails, lovely little towns, viewpoints of cable cars and of hallucinating landscapes of this area, lakes, waterfalls, canyons…In short, nature in its pure form. I’m going to make a little summary of the best places to go and visit anchoring in Interlaken.
3.1. Grindelwald town and Lauterbrunnen.
At a very short distance away from Interlaken we have two towns for visits that you just cannot overlook. They`re ideal. They are idyllic landscapes just like you pictured them and much more. The Trummelbach waterfalls are the most visited locations in Lauterbrunnen and the very town of Grindelwald is in itself a real marvel to look at.
3.2. Climbing the Schilthorn and Murren
I was hesitating between climbing up the Schilthorn peak or the Jungfraujoch. They both have access by cable car and with prices that take your breath away. In the end, I decided to climb the schilthorn because it was a little bit cheaper, it allows me to go on foot along one of its sections and to visit the gorgeous town of Murren.
3.3. Aletsch Glacier and the road of the three passes
Doubtless, the excursion that I loved the most in this area and also the most exhausting. There were many kilometers by land and countless curves to crown three mountain passes: Grimselpass, Furkapass, and Sustenpass. In addition, I took a little detour to see the Aletsch glacier, the biggest in Europe.
3.4. Walk through the lakes Thun and Brienz
Both lakes are extremely beautiful, they can be traveled by road and you will find captivating spots such as the castle of Oberhofen, the little village of Brienz, Spiez and a lot of places where you can just sit down and look at the view.
3.5. Aare River Gorge
You probably know it better as Aareschlucht, a narrow gorge with blue, crystal waters and a really easy path to walk with the family.
3.6. Rosenlauital Valley
A real gem, and yet, one of the least visited places in this area. Glaciers, rivers, gorges, waterfalls…you know, in Switzerland everything is big, and this valley proves it once again.
I advise you to wake and get up early every day, because there are a lot of things to do in Switzerland. There are many places to sightsee and all of them are worth visiting. I assure you that only three days in the Alps are not going to be enough for you, so you have to take full advantage of them.
6. Lucerne (70 Kilometers)
This is one of the most beautiful cities to sightsee in Switzerland, in fact, it´s my favorite. The truth is that I was pleasantly amazed. The day dawned still raining but the allure of Lucerne painted everything in a thousand colors. From the very moment you come close to the historic center through Kapellbrücke bridge, you learn that this city is unique.
As special as the paintings on its buildings, the beautiful Weinmarkt Square, the city hall, the sculpture of the lion of Lucerne, the walls, and another of its impressive bridges, the Spreuer Bridge. It´s impossible to get bored here because there are numerous things to do in Switzerland. There are many things to explore.
In Lucerne, other than visiting the historic center of the city, you have a lot of exciting activities at your disposal. One of the most famous is the boat trips along the so-called Lake of the four cantons or simply Lake Lucerne. The boats leave from the same harbour of the city, very close to the center. I did it, and even though the weather was a little gray, I liked it very much. Another strongly suggested excursion is the ascension to Mount Pilate by cable car.
7. Basilea (100 kilometers)
A complete change of pace. Basilea has nothing to do with everything you have seen so far. This city is located at the crossroads of three countries, Switzerland, Germany, and France. You can go shopping in Germany, take a walk in France, and have a beer in Switzerland, all in the same day. It may not be as impressive as Lucerne or Bern, but undoubtedly it has a special fascination.
Dominated by the magnificent Rin river, this city is more than an industrial city. It´s a paradise for art and museum lovers. A place where you can take pleasure in narrow streets filled with cafes, with traditional architecture of the Altstadt district or monuments as cool as the cathedral, or the brightness of the city hall´s façade.
If your journey coincides with the summer months, it´s essential to enjoy the good environment that is focused on the shores of the Rin river. It´s almost like an indoor beach. A place where local people also gather together to have a drink after work or on weekends.
8. Gruyeres and back home (277 kilometers)
There are lots of things to do in Switzerland, for that reason, I didn´t want to finish my journey throughout the nation without stopping by the most enchanting town of the country. Gruyeres will sound familiar because of the popular cheese, won´t it? Well, it turns out that this medieval little town is one of the prettiest and more originals of the nation.
Everything here looks as if it all were taken out of a princess´ fairy tale. Starting from its castle, walking down through all its medieval streets, the stunning central square, and on top of it all, the famous architecture of its small houses. And, even though, it won´t take you too long to explore around the town in its entirety, it will be hard for you to walk away from there.
Could you possibly ask for a better end to the journey? No way! Unfortunately, I am sorry to say that it was time to get back to Geneva airport, give the rented car back, and leave the country. How gorgeous you are Switzerland! We will meet again for sure.
Practical tips to organize a journey to Switzerland
Now we know what the best locations are to visit, and the things to do in Switzerland in a week. Now it´s time to address the most practical details of the trip. How to get there and move around in the cheapest way throughout the country.
How to get to Switzerland
Unlike other countries whose best entrance point is generally in the capital, Switzerland has a number of options. The most inexpensive flights often land at the airports of Geneva, Zurich or Basilea. Just look for the cheapest alternative on Skyscanner and go for it.
With just a little anticipation, I found a really cheap flight ( 100 euros round trip) from Madrid to Geneva for the month of July. I didn´t have any intention of visiting Geneva, but in Switzerland the distances by land are manageable, so I didn´t care which city to land in.
How to move around in Switzerland
I usually tend to rent a car. It seems to me the easiest way to make this kind of trip, in which, every day you must make several stops along the way. In the end, it all depends on what sort of journey you want to make. Everyone is different and when traveling, the best thing to do is to do what we feel more comfortable with.
If you feel like visiting the most impressive cities like Lucerne, Bern, Interlaken or Basilea, the best thing to do is to choose public transportation. In Switzerland, the best choice is the train. This service works like a clock and it can take you to almost any place. To cheapen the costs, there is a variety of tickets that allow you to take unlimited transport (bus, train, and boat) for a certain amount of time. I suggest you to consult for more information at MySwitzerland.com
If, on the other hand, you´re interested in going to the Alps and getting to know the area at your own pace, you won.t have any other choice but to book a rental car. At the time, I found a good deal at Geneva airport, but I have checked prices again and I see that they are quite expensive. I advise you to consult several websites and rental companies. I usually rent through Auto Europe’s search engine because it has better prices than the rental companies’ own websites. But if you don`t find a good deal, keep searching and compare.
The roads are in good condition in Switzerland and there are toll roads. Don`t worry, rental cars come with a little sticker called Vignette. This will allow you to use all the highways of the country for free. Warning! If you`re driving your own car, you are going to have to buy it as soon as possible, or otherwise, you will have to pay a very high fine.
Recommendations to save money in Switzerland
Traveling to Switzerland is expensive, very very expensive. Everyday expenses such as entry fees to monuments, transportation, lodging or restaurants will raise your daily budget to amounts that you may not have planned to spend. Therefore, it`s better to be prudent and save as much as possible with these tips.
Choose the most essential visits
Warning to travelers. You must decide in advance which places you really want to sightsee and which ones are not worth seeing. There are many natural sites such as the Trummelbach waterfalls, or the Aareschlucht gorge, where you have to pay to get in and they’re not exactly cheap. For that reason, and to avoid spending so much money, it is better to decide it beforehand.
Not to mention the prices of cable cars, or funiculars that are completely unaffordable. I used them on two occasions, the one that took me to the Schilthorn peak and the one to the Aletsch glacier. Between them, today, you’re going to spend more than 150 euros per person. So, go figure. The Swiss Alps are a natural marvel in themselves. I assure you that it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to take delight in them.
Save money on food and restaurants
This is the kind of suggestion that I would have liked to receive before traveling to Switzerland. But I was not forewarned and I paid the price for it. The ideal thing is to carry some food in your backpack to get some of it on some occasions. Especially, during your visit to Alps. To prepare 4 or 5 meals like this is going to greatly reduce your budget in the end. The most practical thing is to carry some packed cold meats, canned food, and precooked food.
To give you an idea, just any regular pizza, the cheapest medium pizza was no less than 25 euros. Or just a simple mixed sandwich costs 10 euros. And if we talk about the local food, the prices dramatically raise over the roof. Treat yourself along the journey but trust me on this, take along food in the backpack.
Bend the rules every now and then
I never thought I would say this in public but there are certain things in Switzerland that I just can`t seem to understand. One of them is that there are blue hour parking lots in some Godforsaken spots, and I mean really lonely places.
You go driving down a beautiful road, you come across a waterfall, you see a roadside and…surprise! You have to pay if you want to park there. Are you serious? What`s the point other than collecting money? I honestly think it’s an abuse not worth paying for. I never saw any inspector in this kind of parking lots. Of course, this is a very personal opinion, and I’m not held accountable for the consequences.
And that is it. This journey has come to an end. What do you think about my trip around Switzerland in a week? Do you still have any doubts? As usual, you have the comments section open to express all your doubts and opinions about the best places to visit in Switzerland.