Our seven-day Switzerland itinerary includes –
- Day 1 – Zurich
- Day 2 – Lucerne
- Day 3 – Interlaken
- Days 4 and 5 – Zermatt
- Day 6 – Montreux
- Day 7 – Geneva
Getting to Zurich
Zurich is well-connected by train to numerous international cities, which is great if you're planning a more extensive European trip. There a few main train companies you’ll be travelling with around Switzerland, including the national train company SBB and scenic trains such as the Malpensa Express, the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express.
If you’re flying into Zurich Airport, the train from Zurich Airport to Zurich Hb station takes just 10m. If you're coming from France, direct train from Paris to Zurich take 4h 3m, if you have a little more time to spare and want to save some money, there are also buses from Paris to Zurich that take around 10h. Booking in advance will help keep your costs down, regardless of where you're arriving from. Direct train journeys can be booked between Munich to Zurich (3h 42m), Stuttgart to Zurich (2h 54m) and Milan to Zurich (3h 35m).
Day 1 – Zurich
Your epic week in Switzerland begins in cosmopolitan Zurich, the city by the water. And what better way to get started than by boat across the waters of Lake Zurich? But not just any boat will do. The undisputed favourites are the two historic paddle steamers Stadt Zürich, built in 1909, and Stadt Rapperswil, built in 1914. Despite their age, they offer a safe, fast, and fabulous way to view the city shoreline. After orientating yourself by sea, take a stroll around town.
Fancy window shopping on Zurich's glamorous side? Take a jaunt down the famous Bahnhofstrasse, an ultra-luxurious street. We highly recommend stopping off at the Jules Verne Panoramabar for lunch and great views over the city. If the sun's out, take advantage of Zurich's many free outdoor swimming spots, such as Seebad Enge on the lake, or the Oberer and Unterer Letten riverside areas. Dry off and refresh yourself down in the artsy, alternative Zurich-West district. Here you'll find trendy restaurants, as well as galleries, ateliers, and live music venues.
Day 2 – Lucerne
It's an early start today with the train from Zurich to Lucerne, which takes just 55m. As you roll into Lucerne station, it marks the beginning of vast, majestic landscapes on your trip, so get ready for some scenic hiking or cable car rides. Either way, your views will be filled with soaring slopes and dramatic valleys. We recommend settling into your accommodation and promptly making your way to one of the nearby mountains.
Mount Pilatus or Rigi are great choices, and both also offer cable cars or cog railways if you prefer to rest your legs. Mount Pilatus has a variety of hiking routes, taking up to two hours to climb. Rigi is also a great day out – you can start with a boat trip before transferring to the cog railway or hike it in a little over three hours. Even if you're an avid hiker, the cog railways are a truly Swiss experience with some great history behind them. After returning to Lucerne in the evening, rest those legs and take a gentle stroll across the city where you'll have a wide choice of places for dinner by Lake Lucerne.
Day 3 – Interlaken
It's only a short one-hour train ride from Lucerne to Interlaken, but we recommend another early morning start to pack in as much as possible – and have put together two great day choices for Interlaken. If you'd like a day off from the mountains, Interlaken is a great place to hire a bike for a cycling trip around Lake Brienz. If you're up to it, a loop of the lake can take up to three hours, which you won't regret at all. The surrounding mountains and glistening waters make this a truly stunning ride. Make a day of it by stopping for a picnic along your journey route.
However, if you simply can't get enough of the mountains, head straight to the Niederhorn. Head to the village of Beatenberg and ride a cable car to the top of this stunning peak in the Emmental Alps. Avid walkers won't be disappointed, as the summit offers many trails with breathtaking views of Lake Thun and the entire Bernese Alps.
Days 4 and 5 – Zermatt
Get ready for two days of jaw-dropping adventure in Zermatt. This mountaineering and skiing haven in the Valais region has so much to offer that it can't be experienced in one day. For your first day here, catch the early train from Interlaken to Zermatt, which takes around 2h 30m, then make your way to the beautiful Five Lake Trail. This is a 10km hike which takes around three hours – make sure you pack a camera and a picnic to take your time on this adventure. The Five Lake Trail is a well-marked gravel route, looping around glacier lakes with magnificent views of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa.
Getting to the hike is another great journey in itself, with a short train ride from Zermatt Valley station which runs through a rock tunnel deep inside the mountain. Arriving at Sunnegga station, another stunning cable car ride takes you to the start of the hike. After your walk filled with goats, groundhogs, and sunbathers on the lakeshores, you'll return to Zermatt ready for a hearty meal and a rest.
If you're looking for a different type of adventure, then you can make today all about gliding in style up in the Matterhorn – one of the most photographed mountains in the world. You'll already have spotted this mountain from afar with its dagger-like peak piercing the horizon. Take a smooth ride on the Gornergrat Bahn mountain train up the Matterhorn's slopes (where Swiss Travel Pass holders can receive a 50% discount). Enjoy the breathtaking vistas as you arrive at the top, taking in the views of the Gorner Glacier, and of course, the Matterhorn itself.
On the other hand, if you're keen for even more hiking, take an alternative route to enjoy the Matterhorn. Walk to the foot of its north-eastern ridge, where you'll pass the beautiful Schwarzsee lake on your way to the Hörnli Hut. Here, you'll find not only panoramic views of the inconceivably beautiful landscape but also a superbly intimate view of the Matterhorn's slopes. After viewing the mountain from afar, it's amazing to stand directly beneath this majestic peak and gaze up at its ridges soaring above you.
Day 6 – Montreux
Leaving wonderful Zermatt, head on the Zermatt to Montreux train and keep an eye out for what's in store. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, Montreux's charm has enchanted poets such as Shelley and Byron for centuries. After getting yourself settled in, we suggest a relaxed exploration of the city's winding lanes and the famous promenade on the shoreline. From here, you can take a boat to the stunning Chillon Castle. You'll want to stay for a while to take stock of this 13th-century fortress, home to medieval frescoes, Gothic dungeons, and fairytale-like turrets.
To add a little twist to your day, we suggest taking the 30-minute walk back into town before visiting a unique attraction for any Swiss holiday. Queen: The Studio Experience is a unique experience dedicated to the legendary band, housing rare memorabilia, photographs, and original handwritten copies of lyrics in the complex where they recorded seven albums. Whether or not you're a die-hard fan, you might feel a little star-struck when you visit the original sound studio where lead singer Freddie Mercury recorded his last songs.
Day 7 – Geneva
This is the last day of your epic Switzerland itinerary, so let's make your time in Geneva an adventure, unlike any other day of the trip so far. Take the direct Montreux to Geneva train, riding along a scenic route through the areas surrounding Lake Geneva. Fancy some history and a little swim? On arrival, make your way through the narrow medieval lanes of Geneva's Old Town down to the edge of the lake.
Get your swimwear on and head down to Bains des Pâquis, an open-air lido on the shore complete with diving boards and climbing walls. This is a great spot to relax and grab a bite before or after your dip. After lunch, have a thrilling afternoon on a guided Segway tour with Citywheels. You'll get an introductory lesson on how to pilot your transporter before you hit the streets. Then enjoy the rest of the day relaxing in the Ariana Park, taking photos at the giant red Broken Chair sculpture and visiting the stunning Conservatory and Botanical Gardens next door.
And from here?
If you're continuing your adventure onward from Geneva, direct train routes run from Geneva to Milan (fastest journey time 3h 58m), Geneva to Lyon (fastest journey time 1h 41m), and Geneva to Turin (fastest journey time 4h 21m). But if you're ready to jet back home, there's also a short and speedy train to the Geneva Airport station. Wherever you're bound, you won't be forgetting your Swiss adventure anytime soon.
We know that Switzerland can be a pricey country to visit at times, so we're here to help you keep costs down. We highly recommend booking in advance for the best deals on single tickets, multi-journey options, and Swiss rail passes. From stunning mountain peaks to glistening glacier lakes, your Switzerland trip is the adventure you've been waiting for. Check out our full guide to trains in Switzerland to learn more about great money-saving options for train travel, including the Swiss Travel Pass, special multi-journey tickets, and Supersaver tickets.