Wondering what is the best way to spend 2 days in Switzerland? We got you covered. We understand vacation time is limited, so we compiled 9 samples to explore Switzerland in 2 days.
This post is curated with our experience in the country (use of Swiss railways, private tours, etc.) and research on the possible combinations to make the most of 2 days in Switzerland itinerary. We have combined Swiss cities and towns together that can be easily explored without traveling long distances!
2 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Planning for your trip
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Switzerland is located in central Europe. It is a landlocked country and is bordered by France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Although Switzerland is a small country in size, its landscape, and topography are diverse.
It has 4 official languages, and the influence of French, German and Italian nuances are evident in the architecture and everyday living of the residents.
Unlike its neighboring countries, Switzerland is not a part of the European Union. But it does allow Schengen Visa holders to enter the country (single entry visa – as long as you are already in the Schengen zone, or multiple entry visas).
If you require a visa to explore Switzerland, you have to apply for a Schengen Visa.
Euro is not the official currency of Switzerland. You can exchange money at the airport, or use your credit card for food, transport, and other expenses. Some stores may accept euros, but change will be provided in Swiss Francs.
- Currency: Swiss Francs (1 Euro = 1.10 Swiss Francs)
- Visa: Schengen Visa
For a short trip to Switzerland, we recommend keeping Zurich or Geneva as a base (also great if you are flying from overseas).
These itinerary samples can be followed at any time of year. If you are wondering if there is the best time to travel to Switzerland (keeping the weather and expenses in mind), then consider visiting in the late summer or fall months.
Our first trip to Switzerland was in September, and we loved strolling the streets of Zürich. It was pleasant with fewer crowds.
As we traveled deeper into the country, we were lucky to see some fall colors and little snow on mountain tops. And it was not busy, with fewer crowds at train station platforms, old towns and on guided tours!
Switzerland experiences 4 distinct seasons, and if you plan for skiing, summer festivals, or fall sightseeing, then you can travel accordingly.
Travel Pass and Cards: For a short visit of 2 days, it is not necessary to get a Swiss Travel Pass. Here is what we suggest depending on the itinerary sample you choose
- Option 1: You can book 2 guided tours for 2 days
- Option 2: Explore by walking on day 1, add a tour on the second
- Option 3: Explore by walking on day 1, and use 1 day Saver Day Pass on the second for use of the public transportation network.
- About Saver Day Pass: Saver Day Pass allows one day of free travel on all routes in the GA area. It starts at CHF 29 with a Half Fare card and CHF 52 without a Half-Fare travelcard. You have to pay for it ahead of time (it cannot be purchased on the day of travel)
Another note about the Swiss Travel Pass. Although super popular; for a short 2 day trip you do not need a Swiss Travel Pass. This travel card is available for 3, 4, 8, and 15 days. If planning to extensively explore Switzerland for 3 days, and 2 nights, then it might be worth it.
We recommend checking out the itinerary suggestions below, before purchasing the pass. The pass allows unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat, including on panorama trains and mountain excursions (like Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Stoos). Plus you can use it in over 90 destinations and visit 500 museums for free!
For more Swiss Tips, read all the posts from Switzerland Travel Blog
Switzerland 2 days trip planner: Itinerary Samples
2 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Explore Zurich + Rhine Falls + Rapperswil
- Day 1: Arrive in Zurich, explore the old town area (Altstadt) and check off Grossmünster, Fraumünster Church, The Rathaus (old hall), take in the Limmat River views from Lindenhof Hill, and more. Dine in the heart of the city, and shop (or window shop) at the Bahnhofstrasse.
- Day 2: Take a day trip to the Rhine Falls, and finish the day at Rapperswil, a small town in the canton of Zurich.
- Where to stay? Stay in Zurich
For international travelers, Zurich is a perfect base. On our first trip, we landed at the Zurich Airport, which is the largest international airport in Switzerland and also the principal hub of Swiss International Air Lines.
From the airport, you can take a train ride (S Bahn) to get to the heart of the city. If driving, it will take you 15 minutes.
Hotels in Zurich:
- Romantik Hotel Europe: This is one of our favorite hotels in Zurich. It is situated in a great location and within walking distance of the city centre. And with wonderful interiors, you will love your stay here. Best of all breakfast is free, and there is also a restaurant on-site in case it’s too cold for you to get out! Check out photos here
- Limmatblick– This is a relaxed 3-star hotel, with basic amenities and free breakfast. The location is good, pets are allowed and rooms have nice views (plus terrace access). Nightly prices are low to mid-budget. Check out availability here
On your first day in Zurich, explore the old town’s prime attractions like the Grossmünster, Fraumünster Church, and the town hall (Rathaus). Altstadt is very walkable, and you can easily spend time sightseeing, snapping photos, stopping at a cafe, or shopping.
The Limmat River flows through the old town, and it makes the city so picturesque. In order to capture the beauty of Altstadt with the river views, climb Lindenhof Hill. Don’t worry, it is not a ‘massive mountain’.
Lindenhof Hill is a public park, which was the site of a palace in the past. It is located at an elevation that provides sweeping views of the old town and is easily walkable.
Depending on when you arrive in the city, you can also explore Altstadt in a few hours. Here is a half-day tour, if you prefer to check off everything in an efficient manner, without wandering.
Other must do activities include: Bahnhofstrasse (most of the most expensive streets in the world), the Lakeside promenade.
On day 2, take a day trip to the Rhine Falls. Rhine Falls are the largest waterfalls in Europe, and this motorcoach tour also takes you through the charming farming village of Marthalen.
The journey is very picturesque. The tour takes 5 hours in total and includes a round trip to the old town area of Zurich.
You can also ride the train to get to the Rhine Falls. You can take the train to ‘Neuhausen Rheinfall’ or ‘Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall’, and it takes about 45 to 60 minutes to get there. Both stations are located right next to the falls.
For the second half of day 2 day of Switzerland itinerary, you can add Rapperwsil to your list. Rapperswil is a small town of roses. It is located on the upper end of Lake Zurich, and showcases the mesmerizing views of the lake, castle, and rose gardens!
Rhine Falls to Rapperwsil is 1.50 hours by train. For your return trip, Rapperswil to Zurich is 40 minutes.
2 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Visit Zurich + Bern
For the second 2 day Switzerland itinerary, you can combine the best of cities. Visit Zurich – the largest city in Switzerland, and explore Bern on a day trip, which is the capital city.
For this itinerary, stay in Zurich.
Follow the sightseeing recommendations for Zurich as listed above, checking off the old town attractions.
On day 2, head to Bern. Zurich to Bern is an hour’s train ride away.
Bern is often overlooked by tourists visiting Europe, but the city will win you over. With views of the Aare River and medieval architecture, Bern also has a charming old town or Altstadt.
Being the capital city of Switzerland it is home to the Swiss Parliament, which is housed in the Neo-Renaissance Federal Palace (building). The iconic Zytglogge (medieval tower) dates back to the 13th century, and the French Church of Französische Kirche adds a very romantic feel to the old town.
If you prefer a guided tour, here is a recommended one to Bern
2 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Visit Zurich + Lucerne
You can also easily combine Zurich and Lucerne for an epic 2 days in Switzerland. In this itinerary, you can check off cities, lakes, and mountain views (including a cogwheel train ride!).
Set aside one day for exploring Zurich, and on the second, take a day trip to Lucerne. We recommend starting early to make the most of your day. Zurich to Lucerne is about 50 minutes by train. There are about 41 trains that leave for Lucerne daily.
Lucerne’s beauty is characterized by the stunning Lake Lucerne, and its quaint old town. The Chapel Bridge or the Kapellbrücke built over river Reuss connects you to the city center.
It dates back to the 14th century. This pedestrian wooden bridge is filled with pictures and information representing Lucerne’s history. It is also the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe.
There are many wooden bridges built over the river that is worth visiting too.
Lucerne has the perfect blend of nature, mountains, and greenery; and that’s why many visitors prefer to include Lucerne in their itinerary (than Bern).
After exploring Lucerne, make your way to Mount Rigi. From the ferry terminal in Lucerne, you can take a boat ride to Vitznau. It will take about an hour to get to Vitznau, and from there you can hop on the cogwheel train to Rigi Kulm.
Along the way, you will be mesmerized by the lake views and stunning meadows. The ride to Rigi Kulm takes about 30 minutes.
Spend about 1.50 to 2 hours there, and then make your way back. The train frequency is not the best in this route, so do check the timetable ahead of time.
If you prefer to visit Lucerne and Mount Rigi on a day tour from Zurich, here is a summer day trip
Here is a round trip ticket from Lucerne to Mount Rigi (via cogwheel train), valid for 1 day.
Zurich + Lucerne & Mt Pilatus: Switzerland 2 day itinerary
Mount Rigi makes for a great visit – with fewer crowds and expansive views!
However Mount Pilatus is more popular, and many tourists opt to take a cable car ride from Lucerne to Pilatus instead.
You can go sightseeing in Zurich and Lucerne, and then proceed to Mt. Pilatus, which is located at a height of 2132 meters.
Along the way enjoy breathtaking views of Switzerland’s Alpine landscape. Spend some time at the summit, and soak in panoramic views of the lakes, valleys, and mountains!
For this day, we absolutely recommend this tour from GetYourGuide. This day tour embarks from Zurich and takes you through the countryside surrounding the Lake of the Four Cantons to Lucerne.
There is sightseeing time in Lucerne, followed by a cable car ride to Mt Pilatus. After visiting the summit, you will descend on the steepest funicular railway in the world, riding at a 48% slope to Alpnachstad.
The tour ends with a soothing boat ride over the Lake of the Four Cantons, and then back to Lucerne and Zurich. This is a relaxing way to visit the mountains and Lucerne on a short 2 day trip to Switzerland.
A third option from Zurich to Lucerne: Add a trip to Mount Titlis (and Lucerne) from Zurich!
Zurich + St Gallen + Appenzell in Switzerland Itinerary 2 days
From cities, mountains, and lakes we move to small towns. In this Switzerland itinerary sample, we will explore Zurich on day one, and then take a trip to Saint Gallen.
You can hop on a bus or train to get to St Gallen. Buses take 1 hour and trains take 1.25+ hours to travel from Zurich to St Gallen station.
In Saint Gallen, you must explore the city’s iconic landmark – the Abbey Library. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is worth visiting. You will be impressed by the stunning architecture and the beautiful Rococo designs on the building.
You will also love the Old Town, which is filled with cozy cafes and tea shops, shops, and more. The center is car-free and very walkable (so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes).
You can easily spend the entire day (and round trip/travel time) in St Gallen sightseeing. Or even wandering around in the old town is lovely!
If you wish to explore a little bit more, add Appenzell, a small town to your day trip itinerary. Set aside time to visit the Appenzell Museum, the Townhall, and the old town area.
St Gallen to Appenzell is 30 minutes by train. And back to Zurich, will be an additional 1 hour.
You can also combine St Gallen and Appenzell on a day trip from Zurich Switzerland here.
Zurich + Interlaken: 2 day Swiss itinerary
Interlaken is located about 2+ hours away from Zurich by train. If Interlaken is on your Swiss bucket list, we recommend starting for Interlaken in the evening on day one.
Stay in Interlaken on day 1, and stay in Zurich on day 2.
Once you arrive in Zurich, spend 1-2 hours in the old town. By evening make your way to Interlaken by train. Sleep in Interlaken.
- Hotel Silberhorn: Hotel Silberhorn offers amazing views from its suites. It is also located within minutes of the ski slopes and the train station. View room rates and availability here
- Hotel Staubbach: Hotel Staubbach is a family-run property located in Lauterbrunnen. It offers scenic views of Staubbach Falls and Lauterbrunnen Valley and is close to many hiking trails. Click to view photos and availability here
Interlaken is a beautiful resort town, located in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region. Travelers love to take boat tours on the emerald-colored waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and wander through the timber houses and parkland on the banks of the Aare River.
Interlaken’s views are different from Lucerne’s, but it is definitely one with nature, mountains, and surrounded by meadows and glaciers.
If you love outdoorsy activities, Interlaken has a ton of hiking and skiing trails that you can enjoy!
Zurich + Basel in Switzerland 2 day itinerary
One more Zurich itinerary, and this time it is combined with Basel.
Zurich to Basel is one hour by train and by car. If you love exploring cities like us, this combination is one to consider (similar to Zurich + Bern itinerary).
Basel is located on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland. It is well known for its medieval old town, and the prime landmark – 16th century red-sandstone Town Hall. The city’s tourist attractions can be explored in a day, so it will be a wise decision to check them off on this short trip to Switzerland.
Other than wandering through the old town, you can climb to soak in city views from the 12th-century Gothic cathedral.
The original cathedral was built between 1019 and 1500 in Romanesque and Gothic styles. Today it is an iconic attraction and pride of the city of Basel. You will love the colorful tiles on the roof of the cathedral (similar to the Matthias Church in Budapest!).
Suggested tour: Day tour from Zurich to Basel and Colmar
Geneva + Montreux: 2 day Switzerland Itinerary
We will take a break from Zurich, and feature Geneva as the starting point to Switzerland. Geneva is the second largest city in the city (after Zurich, of course).
Geneva Airport: Geneva International Airport is located 4 km (2.4 miles) northwest of Geneva city centre. The unique thing about this airport is that it can be accessed from the French territory as well.
Where to stay in Geneva?
- Hotel de Geneve: Located in the heart of Geneva is Hotel de Geneva. It is a mid-budget hotel, close to the train station and Lake Geneva. The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast during your stay. You can check out hotel photos here
- Hotel d’Angleterre: Hotel d’Angleterre is a luxurious 5-star property in Geneva, overlooking the lake and Mont Blanc. It is located in close proximity to many sightseeing attractions like the UN Offices, Rue du Rhone, and the financial district. Click to view availability here
With stunning quarters (French influence), lakeside, Swiss Alps, Jura mountains, and gorgeous views of Mont Blanc, Geneva makes for a delightful visit (I can stay here for full 2 days!). Anyhow, Geneva is also home to many international offices including the United Nations and the Red Cross.
On day one of this itinerary, start by exploring the Reformation Wall. It is an open monument that honors events, and individuals of the Protestant Reformation from the 16th century. This site is open 24 hours, and there is no entry fee.
From the monument head to the Old Town of Geneva. Start with the St. Pierre Cathedral, which is a 850+ year old church with beautiful interiors and stunning Gothic and neo-classical designs outside. This was the adopted home church of Protestant Reformation leader John Calvin.
A short walk from the cathedral in the Old Town’s central square – Bourg-de-Four Square. This is perfect to stop for a break or shop for souvenirs.
Up next is the L’horloge Fleurie, or the outdoor flower clock. It is located inside the Jardin Anglais park.
A stroll by Lake Geneva is a must. This is where you will also find the Jet d’Eau, which is the iconic water fountain in Geneva.
If you have time on your hands (and are interested) you must go on a boat tour at the lake. You can book an hour’s sightseeing tour here, and on this tour, you will be checking off the views of the Alps, the jet fountains, and Palais des Nations (which is the UN office).
On day 2, plan to explore Montreux. Montreux is a resort town, known for its Mediterranean vibe, with steep hills and the lakeside. Geneva to Montreux is about one hour away.
You can either take a day tour, public transportation, or explore as a road trip stop.
In Montreux, spend time strolling the promenade. The promenade is lined with flowers, Mediterranean trees, and grand Belle Époque buildings, and it is wonderful to explore in the springtime.
Montreux is also known for Château de Chillon, an island castle – which is a postcard worthy spot. It is a 13th century medieval fortress that houses many frescoes and Gothic dungeons. It functioned as a Roman outpost in the past.
You can go on a guided tour of the castle, and it is beautiful inside – plus you get to learn about Switzerland’s history and of the castle itself!
Because Montreux has mountains surrounding it, you can go hiking here as well. And if you missed the boat tour on day one, you can embark on a riviera cruise in Montreux as well.
Geneva + Lausanne: Switzerland itinerary 2 days
An alternate option to pair with Geneva is to explore Lausanne on day 2 in Switzerland. Geneva to Lausanne is only 45 minutes by train.
You can combine a day trip to Lausanne and Montreux via this tour as well
Unlike Montreux, Lausanne is a bigger city, in fact, the 4th largest in the country. It is known as the headquarters of the IOC or the International Olympic Committee, which organizes the summer and winter Olympics.
Along with the HQ, there is an Olympic Museum and lakeshore Olympic Park, which are open to visitors. Lausanne is located on Lake Geneva (just like Geneva) and is affectionately known as the Swiss Riviera. Lausanne is also known as a wine-growing region.
Away from the lake views, Lausanne also has a beautiful medieval old town. Its prime attraction is the 12th century Gothic cathedral. You must plan for visiting it by early afternoon so that after sightseeing you can sit down at the centre and grab a bite to eat.
If you prefer to explore museums, you must visit the 19th-century Palais de Rumine complex. It is home to 3 museums – natural sciences, history, and a library. It is completely free to explore the permanent exhibits (fee for temporary displays only). The building is very stunning to look at!
If you love castles (and history) pay a visit to the Château d’Ouchy. The Castle of Ouchy dates back to medieval times, and today it is a hotel. You can book a room with lake views. Or just stop by for a drink at the bar!
The promenade area of Lausanne is beautiful, and the castle views just make everything so pretty. Take a stroll here, before returning back to Geneva in the evening.
Additional Planning Tips: Switzerland 2 day trip guide
We have highlighted 9 Switzerland 2 day itinerary samples. You can pick one based on your city (airport) of arrival, and then explore using day tours. Even on a short trip, you can taste what Switzerland has to offer – cities with medieval old towns, city & mountain views, or a particular region in the country. You got options!
2 days in Switzerland are perfect for a weekend away to visit 1-2 cities or to extend to a business trip to the country. There are so many things to do in Switzerland that you will need multiple 2 days in Switzerland to explore it all. But if you have only 2 days – then yes you can make the most of it (use our itinerary samples 🙂 to begin with!)
To be honest, in order to explore some of the highlights of Switzerland, 7 days are enough. You won’t be able to explore the whole country in 7 days, but you can definitely cover a few cities, and the town resorts, and also enjoy scenic train rides! With more time on hand, you can explore other destinations and municipalities like Lugano, Grindelwald, and Jungfrau Region (adding a hike to Kleine Scheidegg summit). You can also make the most of your visit by taking day trips from one prime city. Suggested: Here are samples of Switzerland itinerary 7 days and 5 days in Switzerland
3 days in Switzerland will allow you to explore more places. You can keep Zurich or Geneva as a base and then explore 2 of the day trip destinations to make it longer.
We get questions from our readers about combining the best of Europe and exploring the prime destinations like Paris and Switzerland. You can take a high speed train to Geneva (Switzerland) from Paris, the travel time is a little over 3 hours. In Geneva, you can spend 2 days exploring the city and make a day trip to Montreux or Lausanne! Of course, flights are always an option.
For mid-budget travelers (like us), the average daily cost to travel in Switzerland is around 160- 200 Swiss Francs. This includes accommodation (on a twin share basis or share with your travel partner), food, local transportation/train pass, and attractions. You can find hotels in Switzerland for $140+ USD for two, in a standard property with free wifi, and clean rooms. Normally breakfast and parking are not free.
There are numerous scenic train routes that you can enjoy in 2 days in Switzerland. Golden Pass – takes about 5.5 hours, it starts in Lucerne and ends in Montreux. There are cogwheel train rides to Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi that we have mentioned in some of the Swiss itinerary samples above. Not included in this guide is the Bernina Express, which is a 4 hour connection between Switzerland and Italy, and the popular Glacier Express takes close to 8 hours, connecting Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn and St Moritz (Zurich is the best point of entry for Zermatt).
Whew! Now you have so many options to explore Switzerland in 2 short days. We hope you found our itinerary suggestions useful in planning your trip!
Have questions? Ask us below!
Other Switzerland travel guides
- Winter Tips: Guide to visiting Switzerland in winter
- Switzerland Packing Tips: What to wear in Switzerland