Home / Travel Europe / Travel Switzerland / Perfect 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary (with 5 samples)

Perfect 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary (with 5 samples)

Love it? Share it!

Switzerland is one of the most idyllic destinations around the world. Not only is the country politically stable and economically progressive, but the landscape is spellbinding. If you are looking for 5 days in Switzerland itinerary, you will love this guide. 

Map of Switzerland: Itinerary 5 days
Switzerland Itinerary

The snow-capped mountains and tranquil lakes of the central European country are one of the reasons that Switzerland is such a popular travel destination. Chances are that it has made its way into your heart and onto your bucket list.

How to spend 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary and travel guide

Switzerland 5 day itinerary

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What can you do in Switzerland for 5 days?

As a country, Switzerland is not massive. But it surely has a ton of places to explore that may or may not be enough for 5 days or even a week. However, if you plan it really well, and know what interests you, you can definitely check off many places in Switzerland from your bucket list. 

Take in the gorgeous mountain views in Lauterbrunnen in 5 days in Switzerland

In this post, we will share a city only 5 day Switzerland itinerary, which is perfect for all year round (especially off-season and summers), another one that is for winter outdoorsy exploration, plus an itinerary of scenic train rides, tours with a base in Zurich, and a cultural sightseeing expedition. 

So there is a lot that you can do in 5 days, just pick one that you like, and get packing! 

Switzerland Itinerary 5 days for summer: Cities and small towns (Sample 1)

  • Day 1: Arrive and explore Zurich
  • Day 2: Visit Bern
  • Day 3: Head to Lucerne, and ride up Mount Titlis
  • Day 4: Explore Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
  • Day 5: Return to Zurich (visit Rhine Falls) or Geneva

Switzerland Itinerary 5 days for winter: Mountains and ski/non-ski activities

  • Day 1: Arrive and explore Zurich
  • Day 2: Explore Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
  • Day 3 – 4: Head to Zermatt, visit Matterhorn. Ski and non-skiing activities
  • Day 5: Return to Zurich in the evening

Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: 4 More Samples 

  • Sample 3: Zurich, Lauterbrunnen day trip, Lucerne, and Basel
  • Sample 4: Zurich as a base, taking tours to explore other areas in Switzerland
  • Sample 5: Best train routes in 5 days in Switzerland (but can be done as a Switzerland road trip as well)
  • Sample 6: Geneva as a base, and exploring the UNESCO/ cultural side of Switzerland 

Is 5 days enough in Switzerland? 

Wondering how many days are enough in Switzerland? 5 days in Switzerland is enough to explore the highlights that the country has to offer.

Keep a city as your base (like Zurich or Geneva), and then travel via trains/tours or choose a city to stay overnight as you go through the day by day itinerary. 

Ideally, we recommend that you book a week for a relaxed Swiss vacation from North America or Asia. Use the weekends to travel overseas, add flight and time differences, and then you have awesome 5 days in hand to explore your favorites in Switzerland. 

View of Matterhorn, Zermatt Switzerland itinerary

Preparing for Switzerland 5 day itinerary: Travel Tips

If you are a first time visitor, here are essential tips for preparing for your trip to Switzerland for 5 days (or more).

Switzerland is located on the continent of Europe. Its capital city is Bern, and Zurich is the largest city.

If you are traveling from overseas, especially from Asia, the United States, or Canada, consider arriving in Zurich. Next, the best option is Geneva. Both cities have international airports that connect you to Switzerland. 

View of Zurich

Switzerland is one of the premier destinations in Europe, it is expensive to visit and explore, but it is still possible to keep sightseeing within budget. 

Note that Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, and Euro is not its official currency. Switzerland’s official currency is the Swiss Francs (CHF), and it is almost at par with the Euros. 

If you require a tourist visa to Europe or the Schengen zone, you can use the same visa to enter Switzerland.

Swiss Countryside
Switzerland Itinerary 5 days

Visitors with US and Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter the country and stay for 90 days; however, from 2025, an online authorization – ETIAS – is required prior to travel. 

For commuting and travel within Switzerland, we highly recommend buying a Swiss Travel Pass. Pay for a 4 day card, and use it to get unlimited rides on Swiss trains and public transportation. 

Here are the top packing items for Switzerland: 

  1. Carry a waterproof warm/light jacket (all season), or winter parka for winters
  2. Wear comfortable walking shoes, they are perfect for exploring city centres and traveling in public transportation
  3. Backpack: 45 L backpack which is carry-on friendly, plus a cute anti-theft daypack or convertible purse
  4. Travel Insurance
  5. Don’t forget your camera and universal adaptor for charging your electronics 

5 day Switzerland Itinerary: Best of cities & culture travel (Sample 1)

The first route begins in Zurich and takes you through the capital city of Bern. You’ll visit the cultural city of Lucerne, move through the valleys of Lauterbrunnen, and pass the lakes of Interlaken. Are you ready?

Day 1 of Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: Arrive in Zurich

As far as bustling cities go, Zürich is by far one of the most beautiful. Revered around the world as a global hub for banking and finance, it’s easy to forget that there’s a lot more to Zürich than its economic reputation. 

Old town Zurich exploration

Where to Stay 

The first establishment that serves as your home base in Switzerland should set a good example. Here are three top suggestions for affordable, modest, and luxury Switzerland accommodation options. 

  • Romantik Hotel Europe: This is our favorite hotel in Zurich. Great location – you can easily walk down to the city centre, and the interiors are just so charming. 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! 
  • 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. 
  • Gasthaus zum Guten Glück : This hotel offers a simple and minimalistic stay on a budget
  • Hotel Arlette Beim Hauptbahnhof Located in the heart of Zürich, this is a comfortable family-run hotel
  • La Réserve Eden au Lac Zürich is located at a scenic lakeside location and set in a historic building

Arriving in Zürich

If you arrive in Zürich by plane, then you’ll probably land at Zürich Airport, the largest international airport in Switzerland. 

Zurich Main Train Station
Zurich Train Station

Trains run daily from the airport to the main station every 5-10 minutes from 5:00 am to 0:30 am. If you haven’t downloaded your Swiss Travel Pass beforehand, then you can buy one at the airport from any of the Swiss railway offices. 

There is also the option of arriving in the city with the airport shuttle, private transfer, or taxi. These options are noticeably more expensive than the train or tram. You can read our 2 days in Zurich Itinerary

Things to Do

Zürich boasts some impressive buildings that have witnessed interesting history over the years. Depending on what time you arrive in the city, a short architectural and historical walking tour will get you acquainted with the city’s narrative. 

Did someone say Swiss chocolate? Switzerland has a coveted reputation for producing the best chocolate in the world. A chocolate tasting walking tour is one way to indulge in the sweetness while learning about the traditions behind it. 

Zurich and Lindehof Hill in Best Switzerland Itinerary 7 days
Zurich and Linderhof Hill

If you have time, the Glass Biodomes at the Botanical Gardens are a must-see. Although the botanical garden is small, it’s home to around 9,000 species. The domes serve as a home to the natural wonder and demonstrate a fine piece of architecture. 

Day 2 of Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: Visit Bern

The capital of Switzerland is built around a crook in the Aare River. Remnants of the city’s fascinating history, which extends back to the 12th century, is still evident in the Altstadt (Old Town). 

Where to Stay

If you want to be surrounded by ancient beauty, then we’d suggest staying in the Old City which is home to some of the most impressive architecture. 

  • Hotel Waldhorn is a boutique-style hotel that has been complimented for its friendly staff and excellent breakfast
  • Hotel Bellevue Palace Bern is a luxurious 5-star hotel set in an elegant Art Nouveau building from 1913

Arriving in Bern

Bern is a short 121 kilometers (75 miles) and one-hour-long train ride from Zürich. It’s possible to arrive by bus or rental car, but the train is the most convenient option. 

Tickets can be purchased at Zürich Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in the city. Platforms 31-34 are used for the routes to Bern, and the trains run regularly without delay. 

Things to Do

The Old City in Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Center, packed to the brim with stunning buildings and rich history.

Bern city centre
Bern city centre

One of the first activities to do in Bern is to explore the Old City and hear stories of its past. While it’s possible to do this on your own, the experience is significantly more rewarding with a guided Bern Old City Walking Tour.

As one of the world’s oldest democracies, Switzerland’s political structure is a marvel. Make sure that you stop by the Swiss Federal Assembly, the Bundeshaus, which is impressive on both the interior and exterior. 

View of Bern with River Aare
Bern, capital of Switzerland

Did you know that bears are the emblem of Bern? BärenPark is a popular attraction that is also home to three very healthy bears. Visiting BärenPark is a great outdoor activity with a dose of symbolism.

Top tip: If you visit in summer, make sure to pack your swimming gear. The River Aare is proud to be Europe’s urban swimming capital. Just make sure that you only dip your toes in areas where there is no strong current.

Day 3 of Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: Explore Lucerne

Also known as Luzern, Lucerne is picture-perfect. The city frames the lake, and the snow-capped mountains frame the city. Steeped in history and natural beauty, Lucerne is the third stop on your Switzerland itinerary. 

Girl in Lucerne
Lucerne city centre

Where to Stay

It would be a sin to stay in Lucerne and not be in full view of the lake. Begin your search with these two highly-reviewed hotels.

Arriving in Lucerne

Once again, you can use your Swiss Travel Pass to arrive in Lucerne. The train is the most convenient (and beautiful) way to travel from Bern to Lucerne, but there is also the option of catching a bus or renting a car. 

The trains depart every hour from Bern’s station and arrive in Luzern after an hour-long journey, having covered a distance of 109 kilometers. 

View of Lake Lucerne
Views of Lake Lucerne

Things to Do

There are so many iconic sights and landmarks to discover in Lucerne. Start by walking through the old town, and crossing the Chapel Bridge. Chapel Bridge or the Kapellbrücke is said to be the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe, dating back to 1333

Mount Titlis is an essential stop on your itinerary. Book an afternoon tour to Mt Titlis from Lucerne and ride the cableway as you absorb marvelous views.

Another major attraction is the Glacier Garden, which is estimated to be millions of years old and contains kettle basins from the most recent Ice Age. This is one of the 500 museums accessible with the Swiss Travel Pass. 

Top tip: The Swiss Travel Pass also offers a half-price discount for some of the cableways and mountain railways such as Pilatus Kulm and Rigi Kulm. Rigi Kulm is the highest peak on Mount Rigi.

Day 4 of Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: Interlaken & Lauterbrunnen Valley

Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen are short 20-minute train journeys apart from one another, making them ideal destinations to enjoy on the same day. 

Beautiful view of the river and the house in Interlaken, Switzerland

Where to Stay

If you have to choose one of the two destinations to spend the night, we’d suggest Lauterbrunnen as the scenery is unparalleled. 

  • Hotel Silberhorn is a cozy spot with a spectacular view and quick access to the ski slopes
  • Hotel Staubbach is one of the first hotels in Lauterbrunnen and features stunning panoramic views

Arriving in Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen

There are direct trains that run from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost Station. The trip is a short two hours but as you’ll be exploring two destinations in one day, we suggest you begin your journey early. The Lucerne Interlaken Express is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass (Flex). 

When you’ve soaked up the glorious tranquility of the lakes, you can jump onboard one of the 32 daily trains that travel from Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen. 

Oberhofen village on the lake Thun, Switzerland
Lake Thun, Switzerland

Things to Do

Starting off in Interlaken, you’ll have peaceful lakes to enjoy at your leisure. If you’re an adventure junkie, then there are several fun activities to get your heart racing. From a winter kayak tour on Lake Brienz to a tandem paragliding flight. 

If you want something more relaxed, then you can ride a funicular to the top of the popular Harder Kulm and enjoy the sweeping views. 

Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen Valley

Make sure that you reserve some energy to enjoy Lauterbrunnen in the afternoon. The little village is set in the valley. Take the time to appreciate the natural wonders such as Staubbach Falls and Trummelbach Falls before wandering through the quaint village.

Day 5 of Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: Return to Zurich/Geneva

Considering that you’ve been traveling for nearly five days, the return journey from Lauterbrunnen to Zürich is not as long as you’d imagine. So, take your time soaking up the final charm of Lauterbrunnen before returning to Zürich.

In Lake Geneva

Alternatively, you can change things up and return home from Geneva. 

Where to Stay

If you’re spending the night, then the previously mentioned spots are great options for places to stay in Zürich. If you’ve shifted your itinerary to leave from Geneva, you can check out the following recommended hotels. 

Geneva in the winter

Arriving in Zürich/Geneva

The train back to Zürich from Lauterbrunnen goes via Bern and Interlaken Ost, offering an opportunity to reflect on your newly-made memories while you enjoy the beautiful views. The train leaves hourly and takes just over 2,5 hours.

If you’re traveling to Geneva, you can expect a longer trip of approximately four hours. The route also goes via Interlaken Ost and Bern before arriving in Geneva’s only station.

Things to Do

If you’ve returned to Zürich, then you can treat yourself to Swiss cuisine before jetting off home. A top recommendation is Raclette Stube which is known for its delicious fondue. 

Geneva city centre
Geneva City center

If you choose to spend your final moments in Geneva, and you have the time, then the Old Town is a must-visit. Strolling through the streets is an affordable and memorable activity. Another great option is to indulge in a meal on the waters – Oakfire comes highly recommended!

Best of Mountains: Switzerland Winter Itinerary 5 days (Sample 2)

While the first itinerary offers a fool-proof plan, it’s always handy to have a backup. This second option promises to be equally as memorable. 

Day One – Zürich

You can mimic the above-mentioned itinerary for starting out in Zürich. Once you arrive, you can get settled and begin exploring the stunning city. Find things to do in Zurich in winter

Day Two – Jungfrau

The Jungfrau region has been described as “all of Switzerland in one spot”. The area is known as being home to one of the most famous European peaks and also has the highest railway station in Europe. 

Where to Stay

Jungfrau is home to Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Lauterbrunnen, which means that a hotel in any of these villages will give you a welcoming stay in Switzerland. But to get the ball rolling, you can have a look at these spots…

Arriving in Jungfrau

The first step is to decide where you want to stay in Jungfrau – Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, or Grindelwald. This will determine the ticket that you reserve from Zürich – all of which are covered with the Swiss Travel Pass. 

The train from Zürich to the Jungfrau region passes through Bern and takes approximately two and a half hours – so the earlier you leave, the better. To reach the mountain (Jungfraujoch) it’s an additional hour and a half trip and is only accessible by train. 

Panorama Scenic of Great Aletsch Glacier Jungfrau region,Part of Swiss Alps Alpine Snow Mountain Landscape at Switzerland.
Panorama Scenic of Great Aletsch Glacier Jungfrau region

Things to Do

As you can imagine, visiting the “Top of Europe” involves a lot of mountain-centric activity. The views are to die for, and the experience is nothing short of surreal. 

The Sphinx Observation Deck and Aletsch Glacier is a great place to start as it sheds some light on the history of the area and offers a visual introduction to the region. From there, you can visit the Ice Palace and take a photograph at Glacier Plateau. 

View of the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch, one of the highest observatories in the world located at the Jungfrau railway station, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland.

If you have time in the afternoon or are traveling with family, then the Snow Fun Park is also a fantastic stop!

Day Three – Jungfrau

The Jungfrau region is so much more than just the summit – although the experience is very impressive. The villages and lower-lying natural wonders are equally as mesmerizing and deserve a bit of your time. 

Take your time to enjoy the tranquil lakes of Interlaken, the valley of Lauterbrunnen, and the lush green pastures of Grindelwald. If you visit in the summer months, then you can plan for a wonderful hike along one of the many Alps hiking trails. 

SWISS TRAVEL PASS

Get unlimited rides on trains, trams, buses, and boats throughout Switzerland with an all-in-one Swiss Travel Pass!

Buy it online, show your e-ticket on your phone, and start your Swiss Adventure with ease and stay on budget!

Grindelwald First Cliff Walk is a must-do here. This is a loop walk or hike that takes about 30 minutes to complete (15 minutes one way), and it welcomes you to some of the most stunning views in the Swiss Alps.

The First Cliff Walk is located just a few minutes’ walk from the First cable car station, making it easily accessible for all levels of hikers.

Day Four – Zermatt and Matterhorn

The mountain resorts of Zermatt and Matterhorn Mountain are a short 13 kilometers (8 miles) away from one another. The journey is best experienced with the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car. But we’ll get there in a bit…

Zermatt in 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary

Where to Stay

The southern Swiss mountain resort Zermatt is a beautiful area that is both picturesque and filled with history. With such a rife culture, you’re in for a treat regardless of where you stay.

Arriving in Zermatt

As with many of the other routes on this itinerary, Zermatt is easily accessible by train and the Swiss Travel Pass. The best route is to leave Interlaken and travel via Kandersteg.

From here, it’s recommended that you travel on the Regio-Express Lötschberger train. This offers a special experience as you travel over the 100-year-old mountain route.

Matterhorn on a snowy day
Matterhorn Zermatt on a beautiful winter day

Things to Do

In addition to the many opportunities to ski, climb and hike in the Zermatt mountain region, there is also the essential activity ascending the Matterhorn peak which sits at an elevation of 1,600 meters. This is done by purchasing a Matterhorn glacier paradise ticket

Day Five – Zürich

After an incredible few days in Switzerland, it’s time to return to your departure point. 

Evening Lights in Zurich Limmat River
Evening Lights in Zurich Limmat River

The best way to get to Zürich from Zermatt is, once again, by train. The train ride is approximately three and a half hours, and there are around 25 trains running per day. These trains typically stop in Visp along the way – so make sure that you keep an eye out for this change. 

The Swiss Travel Pass covers 50% of the costs of mountain transportation in Zermatt, once again demonstrating the usefulness of the pass. 

5 day itinerary Switzerland Summer | City lovers (Sample 3)

This Switzerland 5 day itinerary kicks off in Zurich, and then explores cities like Lucerne, Basel, and the countryside including the Lauterbrunnen Valley with gorgeous views of the Swiss Alps!

Tram lines in Zurich

We recommend staying overnight in Basel (for the last leg of your Swiss itinerary), but all the places can be explored on a day trip from Zurich and return to the city to fly out. 

Day 1: Zurich

A great way to start off your 5-day tour of Switzerland is with a visit to Zurich. This beautiful city offers stunning views of the Swiss Alps, as well as the stunning Lake Zurich. Here is a detailed one day in Zurich itinerary

Day 2: Lauterbrunnen Day Trip

No visit to Switzerland is complete without a trip to the Swiss Alps. A great day trip from Zurich is Lauterbrunnen, which has some of the most spectacular views in Switzerland.

From Zurich, it will be a 2 hour and 30 minute train ride to Lauterbrunnen with a stop in Interlaken. If you are on a road trip, you will be in Lauterbrunnen in an hour and 30 minutes and also stop in Lake Thun. 

Beautiful Lauterbrunnen

Regardless, make use of your Swiss Travel Pass and their public transportation system! The train route is scenic and here is a detailed guide for Zurich to Lauterbrunnen day trip itinerary.

Once you arrive in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, walk to the Staubbach Falls, and enjoy the wonderful mountain views. Visit the charming church and then go on a short hike. 

Afterward, take a break for lunch at one of the many local restaurants that specialize in traditional Swiss cuisine. Before bidding adieu stroll through Lauterbrunnen’s charming old town and marvel at the traditional Swiss architecture.

Day 3: Lucerne

Lucerne is one of the most picturesque cities in Switzerland, located on Lake Lucerne. This city is home to some incredible sights such as the Chapel Bridge, a wooden bridge that dates back to the 14th century, or nearby Mount Pilatus. 

Other attractions include the Lion Monument, a tribute to the Swiss Guards who died during the French Revolution, and Richard Wagner’s house, which is now a museum dedicated to his life and works.

Take a boat tour on Lake Lucerne or take a cable car up to Mount Pilatus for some stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. After a day of sightseeing, dine at one of Lucerne’s many restaurants or explore its vibrant nightlife.

Zurich to Lucerne is just a 50 minute train ride away. Here is a detailed one day in Lucerne itinerary with travel tips

Day 4 and 5: Basel

Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland and is an underrated destination. You can visit Basel on a day trip from Zurich, or stay overnight in the city. 

Basel Marktplatz

Zurich to Basel is an hour’s train ride. 

Where to Stay

If staying overnight in Basel, we recommend opting for Old Town. This way you will be within walking distance to almost all the iconic attractions as well as the public transportation system to even venture out to Germany and France. 

  • Hotel Motel One Basel: Hotel Motel One Basel is 3-star mid-budget accommodation in the heart of Basel. You can walk to landmarks, restaurants, and transportation from here. Book your stay here
  • Grand Hotel Les Trois: If you prefer a luxury stay, then the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois has gorgeous interiors and provides beautiful views of the Rhine River and the city. Check current prices here

Things to do

Take some time to explore Basel’s old town on day one, which is filled with cobbled streets, old buildings, and churches. As you walk through the streets, take a break for lunch at one of the many cafes or bakeries.

Basel is known as the City of Culture on the Rhine, and it is home to museums such as the Kunstmuseum and the Tinguely Museum which are worth visiting. 

Kunstmuseum  Basel
Kunstmuseum Basel

Before heading home after your 5 day tour through Switzerland, be sure to take some time to indulge in some shopping. From designer boutiques and department stores to quaint local shops, you will be spoilt for choices in Basel. 

After a day of shopping, enjoy a lovely stroll by the Rhine River promenade (before returning to Zurich by evening). 

Read: 3 days in Basel itinerary

Explore with day tours: 5 days in Switzerland itinerary from Zurich (Sample 4)

It is possible to explore Switzerland in 5 days, by combining multiple day tours. We have done something like this in Seville, and Zurich is a perfect base city for that. 

We personally use GetYourGuide for our day tours, and love their customer service. They are available by phone, or email for support when you need them. Best of all you can cancel up to 24 hours before your activity starts for a full refund.

If you are feeling fancy, take a day trip to Liechtenstein and stop at Heidiland and Rapperswil (Switzerland). Liechtenstein is a micro-state aka a small nation in Europe, and it can be easily explored from Zurich. Check out this day tour

For a full packaged tour, opt for G-Adventures. We are known for conducting ethical small group tours. What I liked about them is that they are a Canadian company, and they focus on cultural travel. You can view their current Switzerland tour offers here

Scenic Train Routes: Switzerland Travel Itinerary 5 days (Sample 5)

Here is a 5 day itinerary for Switzerland starting in Zurich and exploring Zermatt by train, embarking on the Glacier Express to St. Moritz, and returning to Zurich on day 5. 

  • Day 1 Explore Zurich: Explore the city in the morning. Set aside 2-4 hours in the Old Town. Grab some lunch and then hop on a train to Zermatt from the Zurich Main Station. 
  • The train ride from Zurich to Zermatt: Zurich to Zermatt train time is about 3 hours+ covering the 100 miles (161 km) long route. The train passes through Bern and Thun, before arriving in Zermatt. The ride from Visp to Zermatt is super scenic so make sure to stay awake 🙂 
  • Day 2: Wake up in Zermatt. Spend time exploring this beautiful mountain town. There are a ton of hikes and walks of all difficulty levels to enjoy here. If you prefer to sit back and just drool at the mountains without a hike, then head up to Gornergrat. This steep train ride will take you to an altitude of 3.089 metres (10.135 feet) above sea level and you can soak in the views of the Gorner Glacier and the Matterhorn. 
Zermatt: Sightseeing packed 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary for your trip. It includes 5 samples for Switzerland Itinerary 5 days, plus travel tips.
Zermatt Town
  • Day 3: Next day ride the scenic Glacier Express. This train leaves Zermatt twice a day and takes you to St Moritz in about 8 hours. The train takes you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, three cantons, and two language regions. Stay in Piz St. Moritz Lodge, a no frills 2-star hotel. 
  • Day 4: Explore St. Moritz for a day. There are a ton of outdoorsy things to do in St Moritz from hiking, stand up paddling, swimming, and windsurfing, to skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in winters in Switzerland. You can also explore soft adventure/light activities like strolling the town centre, eating your heart out, or taking the train from Ospizio Bernina (the highest spot of the Bernina Express Line) to nearby areas. 
  • Day 5: Return to Zurich. Train from St Moritz to Zurich is only 3 hours long, so you can explore in the morning or stop at Walenstadt (Lake Walensee). This lake is the perfect stopover between the two cities, offering mesmerizing views. 

There are other scenic train routes available including the Golden Pass Train Line that goes from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken and Zweisimmen. 

Views of Montreux in summer time
Montreux in the summer

Culture Exploration: Switzerland 5 Day Itinerary from Geneva (Sample 6)

This Switzerland 5 day itinerary starts in Geneva and goes across the country exploring the UNESCO/cultural gems along the way. 

  • Day 1: Arrive and explore Geneva. Stroll the downtown/city centre area and stop by the UN buildings aka Palais des Nations. Be sure to book a guided tour to learn more about the UN formation (League of Nations) and its functioning today. The water jet –  Jet d’Eau – is a must see attraction in the city. It receives water from Lake Geneva. In the evening, leave for Bern. Stay in Bern for the night.
  • Day 2: Explore Bern. Bern is a UNESCO listed city, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. choose from. Take a stroll through the old town, stop by the bear park, or visit the Bundeshaus (House of Parliament). Nature is still at your doorstep here, so take time to head to Rosengarten for the views. Or visit the botanical garden, and later go for a swim either in the River Aare. 
The Bern Bears in the new Bern Bear Pit. The Pit houses the famous Bern bears that gave the Swiss capital city its name.
Bern Bears in the new Bern Bear Pit. The Pit houses the famous Bern bears that gave the Swiss capital city its name.
  • Day 3: From Bern, start for La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Canton of Neuchâtel. The city is known for Le Corbusier, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century who was born here. You will also find watches/watch factories here. Take your time here, relax, and then when ready return to Bern. In the evening,  catch the train to St. Gallen (two hour train ride)
  • Day 4: Start your day in St. Gallen. Explore the old town of St. Gallen, and wander through the UNESCO listed Abbey District. The Cathedral and the impressive Abbey Library will take your breath away. From the city, you can venture into the mountains – the nearby Alpstein range. Lake Constance is also easily accessible from St. Gallen. In the evening head back to Bern.  
  • Day 5: Bern to Morat & Neuchâtel. In the morning, take the train to the quaint little town of Morat from Bern. The train ride is about 30 minutes and will engulf you into a town steeped in prettiness. Stroll the historic town centre, or hang out at Lake Morat in Salavaux. From here, travel to Neuchâtel. Head to Chaumont, a mountain in Neuchâtel. You can take the funicular from Le Coudre to the top and then you can hike down to Cressier via Trois Cheminées. From Cressier, board the bus back to Neuchâtel (and take the train to Geneva in the evening. Trains take 1.25 hours).

Using Swiss Travel Pass for Getting Around

As a highly-functional country, Switzerland’s transportation system runs like a well-oiled machine. There are car rentals, bus stops, and even lake cruises available as options to get from A to B. But perhaps the most efficient way to travel around Switzerland is by train. 

The train is used as a popular mode of transport for both intercity and intracity movements. But there are also several scenic train rides in Switzerland that can be enjoyed as an activity in their own right. 

View from Swiss trains to the countryside and tracks
5 days Switzerland itinerary with Swiss trains

The Swiss Travel Pass is a savings card that gives you access to train rides throughout Switzerland. These passes help you to save money in the long run, while traveling in comfort and style.  

The pass gives unlimited access to trains, boats, and buses across the country for your choice of 3, 4, 8, or 15 consecutive days. In addition, it offers entry into select museums and includes select mountain excursions.

Get your Swiss Travel Pass online before you arrive

Switzerland Bucket list | The Ultimate Guide to Switzerland

Zurich: Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and is one of the most visited cities in the country for its art galleries, museums, clubs, and other attractions. The Gothic-style Grossmünster Church stands proudly on Limmat Quay and is a must-see for its stunning architecture. 

Take a stroll through Zurich’s old town and shop or window shop in Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive streets in the world.

Bahnhofstrasse
Bahnhofstrasse

Visit some of Zurich’s world-famous museums such as the Swiss National Museum and FIFA Museum. 

Bern: Bern is the capital city of Switzerland, and it is sprinkled with sandstone-colored buildings, winding cobblestone streets, and numerous fountains. 

The Zytglogge clock tower is a popular attraction in the city, as is the Federal Palace which houses the Swiss Parliament and several federal administration offices.

Basel: The city of Basel is situated on the Rhine River and boasts many attractions including the Old Town, Basel Cathedral, and Kuntsmuseum. 

Rhine River promenade
Rhine River promenade

Kunstmuseum is one of the oldest public art institutions (dates back to 1661). The museum is home to over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, and installations, along with over 300,000 drawings and prints – with many dating back to the Middle Ages. 

Interlaken: Interlaken is one of Switzerland’s most popular resorts as it offers easy access to many outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, rafting, canyoning, and paragliding.

The beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Thun and Brienz are a treat for the eyes and the nearby Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains provide plenty of adventure opportunities.

Jungfraujoch: One of the most visited attractions in Switzerland is Jungfraujoch, also known as “The Top of Europe”. Situated at 11,333 feet (3,454 meters) this mountain railway station offers breathtaking views of the surrounding alpine landscape and glaciers. 

Train station of Kleine Scheidegg, the transfer station of Jungfrau Railway to the famous Jungfraujoch

You can either take a train via the highest train station from Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen to the highest railway station in Europe or take a cable car from Kleine Scheidegg.

Mount Rigi: Mount Rigi, also known as Queen of the Mountains, is a stunning mountain situated in Central Switzerland. As one of the most popular destinations for hikers and tourists alike, it offers breathtaking views of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding Alpine landscape.

You can take a cogwheel train from Vitznau up the mountain, or Arth-Goldau station. From the top of Mount Rigi, you can enjoy stunning panoramic views and take in the fresh Alpine air.

The peak is home to many cozy mountain restaurants and traditional Swiss Chalets, providing an ideal place to rest after a long day of exploring.

Schilthorn: Take a cable car ride up to the Schilthorn and experience breathtaking views of some of Switzerland’s highest peaks –  Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

Geneva: Geneva should also be on any Swiss itinerary for city lovers as it is home to many sights such as the Jet d’Eau fountain, the Palace of Nations, and the old town with quaint cafes and shops. 

The Saint Pierre Cathedral is a must-see for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture and intricate interior designs.

Lucerne: Visit this Swiss city known for its beautiful lake, old town, wooden bridges, and Lion Monument. The Chapel Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions in the city as it was built to protect the town from outside forces. 

Famous lion monument in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Lion Monument is another important symbol of Lucerne as it commemorates the fallen Swiss Guard at the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Montreux: Montreux is home to one of Switzerland’s most famous attractions – Château de Chillon, a medieval castle built on an island in Lake Geneva. It was the home of the Counts of Savoy from the 12th to the 16th centuries.

Zermatt and Matterhorn: Zermatt is a small mountain village in Switzerland famous for its ski resorts and majestic views of the Matterhorn peak. You can take a cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn to see it up close and personal.

Activities to add to your bucket list:

1. Take a Chocolate Tour in Zurich: Switzerland is home to some of the world’s most beloved chocolates, and what better way to appreciate them than by taking a chocolate tour? In Zurich, you can visit the Lindt Home of Chocolate or join a chocolate tuk tuk tour

2. Take a Cruise on Lake Geneva: Hop on one of the boats and enjoy the views of Mont Blanc and beyond while on a cruise. 

3. Try Swiss Cheese Fondue: Experience Switzerland’s famous dishes by indulging in a fondue experience where you can dip chunks of bread into melted cheese and savor local wines. It’s an experience that’s hard to beat!

Fondue and wine
Fondue and wine

You can book a fondue/culinary tour in Zurich or Geneva 

4. Go on a wine tour: Switzerland is home to some of the world’s best wines and a tour through local vineyards will give you insight into different varieties, flavors, and production methods. You can also savor delicious food pairings as part of your experience such as the Riviera tour from Geneva or a cruise along the Lavaux Vineyards.

5. Enjoy a spa day in Zurich:  Zurich is a great spot for relaxation and rejuvenation. Whether you want to take part in a wellness treatment or just soak up the atmosphere in one of the many luxurious spas, there are plenty of options. You can book a spa date at the Thermalbad & Spa

6. Visit the Rhine Falls:  Europe’s most powerful waterfall is a must-see for any visitor to Switzerland. The falls are an incredible natural wonder and a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a boat tour of the area, or hike along the banks of the river.

Additional Travel Tips: Switzerland Itinerary 5 days

Where should I go if I have 5 days in Switzerland?

After exploring Switzerland multiple times, we can say that although small and compact there is a lot to see in the country. To make the best of 5 days in Switzerland you can mix nature and culture with ease. Spend at least one day in the majestic Swiss Alps in places like Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, along with sightseeing (and museums) in Zurich and Basel. 

If nature is your calling you can consider just one day in Zurich, and then spend the rest of the time in Interlaken and enjoy hiking, paragliding ride to scenic cogwheel rides!

How much does it cost to go to Switzerland for 5 days?

For 5 days in Switzerland, you can expect to pay $200 to $250 USD per day for a 3-star hotel (shared basis) with a Swiss Travel Pass and food. With that said, you can save a lot by visiting during the off-season, especially on accommodation. 

Is it better to fly into Geneva or Zurich?

Zurich is home to the largest airport in the country, and it makes a good option for entry into Switzerland. You will find lots of flight options including direct flights from many cities in North America.

What is the best way to tour Switzerland?

Switzerland’s public transportation system is efficient, clean, and safe! They are very reliable, and in most cases scenic! Paired with the Swiss travel pass you will love saving money along the way as well. 

What is the cheapest month to visit Switzerland?

The cheapest month to fly to Switzerland is January, followed by April.

Why Not Extend Your Switzerland Trip?

Before you know it, your surreal time in Switzerland will be over and you’ll be begging for more. If these itineraries only served to whet your appetite, and you can afford to extend your stay, then we’d highly recommend that you do!

To help you get started on further planning, you can browse our 7-day Switzerland itinerary. The beautiful country is warm and welcoming – even in winter. So pack your snow boots or your sun hat and enjoy the trip!

Pin: Perfect Switzerland Itinerary 5 days: 6 samples for 5 day trip to Switzerland 

Pin for Switzerland Itinerary 5 days
5 days in Switzerland itinerary

Love it? Share it!

Similar Posts

26 Comments

  1. Looking at your recommendation for Hotel Europe in Zurich. Hotel website does no show that breakfast is free per your post. It’s $35 per person which is very high for breakfast. Is there a promo code needed for free breakfast or something else we need to know.

    1. Hi Vicki,

      Currently, the free breakfast promo is offered on Hotel Europe’s official website! You should be able to find it there it is included when you select a room/suite!

      Happy travels to Switzerland <3

  2. Hello Mayuri ,

    We are a couple with our child from Eindhoven Netherlands, Planning to travel to Switzerland in Mid of April . If I booked Swiss Travel Pass , will I need to pay any additional cost to travel Jungfrau from Interlaken and Lucerene to Mt Titlis Via Train .

    Can you please suggest/help me in this regards.

  3. Hi Sai,

    It will cover your trip fully until Grindelwald. From here you can get to Jungfraujoch with a 25% discount by using the Swiss Travel Pass. Then for Mount Titlis, you will get 50%.

    Because you are traveling with a child, you can request a free Swiss Family Card when ordering (the card allows kids aged 6–15 to travel free with a parent). To get the Family Card directly, add the child as a passenger under ‘Add passengers’ when you buy your Swiss Travel Pass. (The 25% and 50% ticket discount also applies to the child passenger)

    I hope this helps! Happy Travels 🙂

  4. Hi Mayuri,

    For the summer itinerary, is there a reason you go from Bern – Lucerne – Interlaken – Zurich? Seems like there’s less travel time going from Bern – Interlaken – Lucerne – Zurich. Thanks for you help!

    1. We had Zurich – Bern – Lucerne – Interlaken – Zurich, as you can explore both Bern and Lucerne as day trips from Zurich (about 1 to an hour and 15 minutes train ride).

      This is great if one is looking for multi-night hotel discounts in Zurich and are happy staying overnight in 2 places (Zurich and Interlaken during their 5 day trip).

      Without day trips, it is adding about 30 to 40 minutes travel time which is not too bad (by train), and with overnight stay in each city there will be ample time to explore!

      Hope this helps!

  5. Hi Mayuri,
    I plan go to switzerland next year on Dec 23, I need some information about transportation
    according to you better we rent car or used public transportation. If we need go to tourist attraction and move to others city.
    Talking about Swiss Travel Pass, can it used for every transportation and to others city?
    Travel plan is arrive in Zurich, explore in swiss 5 days, and then by train to Paris.
    please give me suggestion.

    Narto H

    1. Hi Narto,

      For cities, public transportation is better. All the major cities in Switzerland have efficient trains and trams for getting to attractions (in that city).

      To connect to different cities, again trains are better.

      The Swiss Travel Pass will cover intercity trains + local trains/buses/trams. Plus you can access many of the popular museums for free.

      We just returned from Switzerland after spending 10 days, we used the Swiss Travel Pass (8 day) to cover transportation + ride on the Glacier Express (seat reservation was extra).

      Hope this helps

  6. Hi Mayuri! This is so helpful. I’ll be in Geneva for work in February. I’m very well travelled but have never been to Switzerland. I’d love to explore before my work meetings. Is there a five day itinerary from Geneva in the winter for a non-skier? I saw the sample Geneva one but it seemed to be for the summer. Thanks!

    1. Hey Kimberly!

      That’s so exciting! Geneva is beautiful in the winter too. You can keep 1-2 days for city sightseeing – museum hopping, etc.

      You can include a spa day at Les Bains De Lavey, and a chocolate or wine-tasting tour.

      Add a day trip (car or day tours) to Château de Chillon (free with the Swiss Travel Pass) and the Swiss Riviera. Other day trip options are to Lausanne and Annecy in France (which looks amazing in the winter).

      Enjoy your trip! 🙂

  7. Hi!
    This has been so helpful!

    Would you recommend us staying in Zurich the whole 6 nights that we are in Switzerland for/ or would it be better that we stay in Grindelwald for a few beofre heading back to Zurich for our return flight home?
    Thank you,
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan,

      You can surely split your stay between Zurich and Grindelwald – it all depends on your sightseeing plans. Grindelwald is very pretty and 2-3 nights there will be amazing! 🙂

      Enjoy beautiful Switzerland!

      1. Thank you for the quick response!
        We have a list of sightseeing plans to do on our trip in March! We plan to see Bern; Lucerne; Interlaken; Basil and Zermatt!
        My concern was taking our tours from Zurich every day to our destination or after a few days would it be easier (less time) to stay in Grindelwald and do our tours from there before heading back to Zurich and home.

        1. Of course Susan 🙂

          So to explore Bern; Lucerne; and Basel – one day each will be fine as you are on a 6 day trip. All are doable from Zurich by train or day tours.

          From Zurich, you can explore Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen on a day trip (might be a long day) but still possible.

          Depending on your sightseeing plans for Zermatt and mountain excursions, an overnight stay here will be nice.

          I would keep day tours from Zurich – for the last leg of your trip, and then fly out from Zurich. Hope this helps!

    1. Thank you Anita! Both are great additions to your Switzerland itinerary – just depends on what’s on your bucket list.

      For a short trip Zurich – Zermatt – Matterhorn is a good idea. Zermatt – Matterhorn can be explored in a day (without hikes, etc). Jungfraujoch/Top of Europe requires 5 to 6 hours to a day (with travel time) and is very popular! There are lots of places of interest near Jungfrau like Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald – so it will be nice to add extra days to cover it all while you are there (ideally 3 days).

      Hope this helps!

  8. Hi Mayuri,

    your post is so informative, me & my husband are planning a trip in August covering Zurich, Bern, Interlaken & Lucerene for 10 days, my husband wants to rent a car & drive all over, is that convenient vs taking trains? also how do i reach Zeramatt?
    Thanks & looking forward to hear from you.

    1. Hi Shikha! I am so glad you enjoyed the post. You will LOVE Switzerland 🙂

      I have a 10 day Swiss itinerary here – do take a look. We did the 10 day trip by trains and covered Zurich, Bern, and Lucerne. It was very convenient by trains (especially with the Swiss Travel Pass). These cities have pedestrian friendly Old Towns, so car isn’t necessary.

      A car did come in handy in Interlaken, but the same routes will be covered by trains as well.

      For Zermatt, we traveled there from Zurich and Basel (two separate trips) by train. Zermatt is a car-free town, and you will have to park your rental car at Täsch, and then take the train to Zermatt – so again car isn’t required. If you have a lot of luggage, and need a hand to take them to the hotel, your accommodation should have shuttle services that you can use (just confirm with them).

      Hope this helps! Enjoy your trip 🙂

  9. Hi Mayuri,
    I see your posts are very helpful. We are family of 4 with (with two kids) coming from Paris. Planning to stay 5 days in Switzerland and then Venice/Rome for another 5 days. Please suggest center spot so we can do daily trip and then train to Venice.

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Thank you kindly! For your trip, I suggest keeping Zurich as a base and then exploring Switzerland. Cities like Bern, Lucerne and Mount Pilatus, Basel, Chur are all an hour or so train ride away.

      You can also visit Interlaken from Zurich on a day trip.

      (Sidenote: You can explore Interlaken on your last day and take the train to Venice from there)

      Zurich (or Interlaken) to Venice will be about 6+ hours by train.

      Alternate option:

      Here is an itinerary suggestion covering Zurich/Rome/Venice with a panoramic train ride

      Day 1 and 2: Rome
      Day 3 and 4: Venice for 2 nights (by train)
      Day 5 and 6: Visit and stay in Milan for 2 nights
      Day 7: Train travel to Chur in Switzerland via Bernina Express. So Milan > Tirano > Bernina Express > Chur. (Chur to Zurich is one hour train ride. You can stay overnight in Chur or Zurich)
      Day 8: Explore Zurich for a day
      Day 9: (Pick a Swiss city like Interlaken)
      Day 10: (Pick a Swiss city like Bern or Lucerne)

      Hope this is helpful!

  10. Hi,
    I’ll be traveling with my elderly mom who can’t hike/climb or walk long distances. We are arriving in Zurich morning (Day 1) and I need to be in Bern (Day 2) the next day at 2pm for a mtg. Day 6 we will spend the night in Zurich due to morning departure. So I was thinking land in Zur and training to Lucerne for first 3 nights? We want to take scenic train rides. What’s the best way to incorporate the Bernini Express, Glacier express etc?

    1. Hi Jessica,

      Here is what I would suggest,

      Day 1 – Zurich

      Day 2 – Take a train to Bern from Zurich for your meeting (1 hour train ride)

      If you are returning to Zurich for the night, then you can head to Chur for a scenic train ride the next day (like the Glacier Express or Bernina Express – both have stops in Chur).

      Day 3 – For the Glacier Express start from Zurich to Chur (1 hour train ride) and then get on the panoramic train to Zermatt (the ride is included in the Swiss Travel Pass, but seat reservation is extra).

      The entire journey takes 8 hours (St Moritz to Zermatt and vice versa), but on this route, you will doing the Chur to Zermatt section (and staying overnight in Zermatt on day 3)

      Day 4 – Travel to Lucerne from Zermatt and continue your trip (for your departure, Lucerne to Zurich is one hour away by train)

      —————-

      Another option

      Day 1 -2 – Same as above

      Day 3 – 4 – Lucerne

      Day 5 – Another option is to take the panoramic train from Lucerne on day 5

      Travel to Chur (from Lucerne) to ride the Glacier Express and then stay in Zermatt for a night

      Day 6 – Return to Zurich from Zermatt and fly out!

      Hope this helps!

  11. Hi there! Thanks for your detailed tip and tricks! My Husband and I are planning to visit Switzerland in April, entering from Italy. Our plan at this stage is to train from Venice – Milan and then train from Milan. Instead of starting in Zurich, do you see any issues with travelling from Milan to Interlaken, and then travelling up to Zurich over 4 – 5 days instead of your suggestion of starting in Zurich and travelling south? We plan to fly out of Zurich onto Paris. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jimi,

      Yes, you can absolutely do that. The itinerary suggests Zurich as a starting point as it has a larger airport (and it is easier for us to fly from Canada).

      You can take the train from Milan to Interlaken, and later take the train to Zurich (about a 2-hour journey). We have traveled to Switzerland from Italy and France as well, so this route works 🙂 We have an Italy and Switzerland itinerary here if you are interested!

      Happy Planning 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.