If you only have time for a quick trip to Switzerland, and would like to see as much as possible while you’re there, our 8-day Best of Switzerland self-guided tour may be just the tour for you! We’ve put together what I think is the best week-long introduction for independent travel to Switzerland. It combines stays in two of Switzerland’s prettiest and most interesting cities – Lucerne and Zürich – along with visits to 2 of the most incredible mountain areas anywhere – the Matterhorn region (Zermatt) and Jungfrau region (your choice of Wengen or Mürren). It’s a good balance of seeing as much as you can, without feeling like your whole trip is spent on trains.
Your typical day will start with a buffet breakfast at your inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – giving you a good start for a full day of sightseeing. Then you’ll be out, seeing the sights such as Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge or Mount Pilatus, Switzerland’s highest train station – the Jungfraujoch, or breathtaking Gornergrat in Zermatt. Many days will include a scenic train ride between villages. In Zermatt you’ll finish with a multi-course dinner at your hotel’s restaurant, while in the other locations we’ve left evenings free for you to explore some of the many restaurants in town.
Choose between a deluxe option with luxurious 4-star hotels and a 1st class railpass (5-star hotels and suite upgrades are also available), or our standard option with more modest inns, 3-star hotels, and a 1st class railpass. As always, you can count on your hotels being the best in their class – charming, family run inns with perfect locations, great food, and professional service. We’ll take care of all the details: get you the most appropriate rail pass, find the best hotels, recommend our favorite sights, and link them together in an itinerary that gets the most out of your week in Switzerland!
Zermatt – Arrive in Switzerland, and transfer by train to Zermatt, the atmospheric mountain village nestled up at the foot of the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most recognizable monument, a massive and distinctive mountain surrounded by dozens of fine, glacier-clad peaks. Ride a cable car up to stunning viewpoints, or just enjoy the ambiance of the village with great restaurants and hotels, and a lively shopping district.
Zermatt – You have a second day in Zermatt to take in the sights. The historic cogwheel train ride of up the ridge at Gornergrat is a must, with gorgeous views of Monte Rosa (Switzerland’s highest mountain), the Gorner glacier, Matterhorn and more.
If you want to get out, there are many walks from easy strolls to challenging hikes to choose from.
Wengen or Mürren – A beautiful 4 hour train ride brings you to the Bernese Oberland to the Jungfrau region, where you’ll stay in your choice of car-free villages, Wengen or Mürren.
Wengen is slightly larger and more convenient to the Jungfraujoch, an unforgettable train ride that tunnels through the Eiger to upper reaches of the Jungfrau mountain. Mürren is quieter, with slightly better mountain views, hiking trails in all directions, and is the perfect place to unwind and slow down.
Wengen or Mürren – A second day in either Wengen or Mürren gives you a chance to fully appreciate this incredible region, my favorite in Switzerland.
This is the Switzerland of fairy-tales, with soaring mountains, flower-munching cows, quaint villages and countless waterfalls. Ride the Jungfraujoch or Schilthorn cable car, see the Yosemite-like Lauterbrunnen valley, or take a beautiful alpine walk.
Lucerne – The scenic Goldenpass train route takes you through Interlaken, past beautiful glacial-fed lakes, and into Lucerne (called Luzern in German), Switzerland’s prettiest city.
Stay in Lucerne’s charming Old Town center and see the Chapel Bridge, the Lion of Lucerne, and perhaps an excursion to Mount Pilatus.
Lucerne – A second day in Lucerne gives you a chance to further explore this beautiful city and region.
Visit one of Lucerne’s many museums, take a boat ride along the lake, a full-day excursion to Lugano, or a daytrip to the nearby mountain village of Engelberg.
Zürich – Take the train back to Zurich, Switzerland’s main city with a surprisingly quaint and walkable city center.
Lose yourself in a maze of narrow, winding streets filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, and enjoy a fantastic dinner on your last night in Switzerland.
depart – A 10-minute train ride from the city center brings you to the airport for your post-tour destination.
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