Best Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – How to spend 7 days in Switzerland
Switzerland is one of the most stunning places on earth. With a high quality of life, gorgeous mountain views, clear lakes, and modern amenities, the Swiss landscape will surely win you over. In this best Switzerland Itinerary 7 days, we will discover some of the most beautiful places to explore in 7 days in Switzerland.
Area wise Switzerland is not huge, it’s like 4 times smaller than the size of Michigan in the US.
And a smart way to explore Switzerland in 7 days is to keep 1 or 2 cities as your base and then venture out to the countryside with day trips. That will also help to keep accommodation costs low as you save on multiple night stays, stock up on groceries, and take public transportation to explore.
This one week in Switzerland itinerary can be done without a car as well. We hope you enjoy these handpicked beautiful places in Switzerland for your itinerary.
Best Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Visit beautiful places in 7 days in Switzerland
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For the purposes of this 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary, we will use Zurich as the starting point. Zurich and Geneva are the two popular cities for arriving in Switzerland.
If you are arriving in Geneva, read our modified day 7 of the Switzerland itinerary which includes sightseeing activities and tips for the city.
7 days in Switzerland Itinerary: Snapshot
- Day 1: Arrive in Zurich
- Day 2: Berne
- Day 3: Lucerne
- Day 4: Interlaken and Jungfraujoch
- Day 5: Basel
- Day 6: Zermatt
- Day 7: Return to Zurich
- Alternate day 7: Return to Geneva from Zermatt
Before we proceed with the Switzerland itinerary, here are some important items to keep in mind as you start planning your trip.
Travel documents and visa
Switzerland is not part of the European Union, but they follow the Schengen agreement for non-visa-exempt countries. So if you are traveling with an Indian or any other non-visa-exempt passport, apply for a Schengen visa ahead of time from your country of residence. Read our detailed guide to applying to the Schengen visa.
Passport holders from the US and Canada can stay up to 90 days in Switzerland visa-free. From 2023, they are required to apply for eTIAS – online entry authorization prior to arrival in Switzerland.
Currency and Credit Cards
As Switzerland is not part of the EU, they use its own currency which is the Swiss Franc. Euros are accepted but change will be provided back to you in Francs.
Currency exchange/conversion for Euros and Francs are almost at par. Well, almost – when we were in Switzerland, francs were stronger than euros.
Credit cards are widely accepted especially in high-end boutique stores and restaurants, including train stations.
Depending on your month of travel and the activities you will be indulging in Switzerland, your packing list will differ. But here is what you MUST carry.
- Comfortable walking shoes – If you are planning a lot of city exploration and shopping, carry comfortable shoes. Both Zurich and Geneva’s old town is best explored on foot. Click to shop this my favorite walking shoe
- Light jacket – A light, all-weather jacket is a MUST for all times of the year. You will find this super handy during the cross over or shoulder seasons when temperatures suddenly drop in the evenings or early mornings. Buy my lightweight travel jacket here
- Universal adaptor – Our North American or Asian electronics won’t charge in Switzerland without a universal adaptor. Invest in one today. Buy this universal adaptor – convertor duo that works in over 150 countries.
- A day pack – Carry a day pack with your travel essentials and camera as you embark on sightseeing. Anti-theft bags are not a necessity here. Instances of theft are very rare (reminds me of my good ol’ Canada – It’s true, Switzerland reminded me so much of Canada, but that’s another story, another post). So yes, take a good day pack or travel purse. Click here to view my favorite travel bag.
- Travel Insurance – No matter where you go, get travel insurance. We get insurance on all of our travels. Get insurance travel quotes for your trip to Switzerland here.
Swiss Travel Pass
To explore all of the beautiful places in Switzerland in 7 days – purchase the Swiss Travel Pass. The Swiss Travel Card allows you to take unlimited train rides across the country (for a set duration of time) and also comes with discounted entry fees to many iconic landmarks in the city.
Without a Swiss travel card, for a week in Switzerland, you will end up spending up to $600+ USD on train/ public transportation alone. Buy your Swiss Travel Card here.
Day 1 – Arriving in Zurich Switzerland and city sightseeing
Zurich Airport to City Center or hotel
Trams/Trains – 25 minutes, 13.50 Francs, or free with the Swiss Travel Pass.
Private Transfer/Cab – Book a private taxi for two here.
On day 1 of your Switzerland itinerary, arrive in Zurich. Zurich International Airport is 25 minutes away from the city center (by tram). Here are some options to get to the city center or to your hotel.
- Public Transport – Trains are very efficient in Switzerland and Zurich is no different. You have to pay for tickets at the station (credit cards accepted, cash accepted in some).
- Private transport or taxi – If you wish to arrive in luxury, you can book a chauffeur-driven transport to your hotel. This is a good option if you have tons of luggage and are traveling in a big group. Book a taxi here
Recommend hotel in Zurich:
We stayed near the airport in Zurich. Hotel rates are expensive in Zurich regardless of the area or time of travel. Their low range starts at $120 USD per night. You might be able to find hostels for cheaper, but when we booked our trip even hostels were averaging $100 USD+.
- Storchen Zurich (Luxury) – This is a lifestyle boutique – a 5-star hotel, located in the old town. A central location, it is perfect for exploring the prime attractions in the city and taking day tours. A riverfront hotel, it also offers free breakfast. Book your stay here
- Zurich Marriott Hotel (Mid-range hotel) – This is a 5-star hotel, with good accessibility to the city center. Nightly rates for this hotel are a little bit cheaper than the ones in the old town. Zurich Marriott Hotel is located in District 6. The hotel is within a 15-minute drive from Zurich Airport and is quite accessible to the Central area via tram. Zurich’s main train station is only a 7 minute walk away. Book your stay here
- Ibis Budget Zurich Airport (budget option) – This is a 2+ star local located near the airport. The benefit of staying here is that the trams are located right outside the hotel. They have a laundry and a restaurant on-site. Book your stay here.
READ: Hotels guide to Zurich
For your one day in Zurich, we recommend heading straight to the downtown area. Take the tram and get down at the Central station. Here are a few highlights of Zurich city that you should explore
Walk the Altstadt aka the old town center of Zurich – The old town of Zurich is filled with cobblestoned lanes, pretty cafes, and shopping areas that you shouldn’t miss. Put on your comfy walking shoes and join in and explore the old town.
In the old town, you will see important churches in Zürich that keeps following you everywhere in the city center. One of them is the Fraumünster church which was built on the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women. The church is very beautiful with its stained glass windows – a characteristic trait of any medieval European church.
The second and probably the most iconic one is the Grossmünster, which is a Romanesque-style Protestant church.
There is a bridge located near Grossmünster called the Münsterbrücke. Standing at the Münsterbrücke bridge, you can capture some amazing views of the river Limmat.
Admire the Limmat River and join in the activities near it – The Limmat River flows through the city of Zurich and it makes the city center even more picturesque with its presence. Stroll the river banks and if you are visiting during the summer months, go on a river cruise.
If you wish to add a museum or two to your Zurich itinerary then consider adding the Swiss National Museum or the FIFA Museum.
Lindenhof Hill is located a few minutes away from Altstadt and it is an amazing place to relax whilst soaking in the river and the city views. This spot also makes for great Instagrammable photos. Lindenhof Hill is free to explore.
In the evening head to one of the most expensive streets in the world – the Bahnhofstrasse – take a stroll, window shop, or shop in this street. Some of the world’s finest luxury brands can be found here – Cartier, Rolex, Chanel, YSL, etc.
Pro-Tip: If you are short on time, use this city tour of 4 hours that combines the best of the city center, a boat cruise, and more. This sightseeing tour starts in the afternoon – so it is perfect if you are arriving on day 1 of the Zurich itinerary and want to cover more of the city. Book the city sightseeing tour here.
For dinner, you will find a lot of options near the riverside in the old town. Our favorite was Niederdorfstrasse Lane near the Steakhouse. The area is touristy, but oh so pretty!
All the restaurants here take credit cards and serve local and international cuisines.
Read our 2 day Zurich itinerary if you are extending your stay in the city. You can also opt for a Zurich day pass if you not using Swiss trains but are planning to explore city highlights intimately.
Day 2 of 7 day trip Switzerland – Spend a day in Bern – the Swiss capital
On day 2 of your 7 day Switzerland itinerary, explore the capital city of Bern on a day trip.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland. This European capital city is unlike any other on the continent. Bern has stood the test of time and has remained still since the 12th century – when the city was laid out. The Old City in Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Zurich to Bern
Trains – 1 hour. Freeride with Swiss Travel Card.
Tour – Here is a recommended one day tour to Bern from Zurich
Bern is also known as the city of fountains due to the existence of a myriad of fountains – sprinkled across town. Being the capital, a visit to the Parliament Building is a must. Spend an hour or so and take a guided tour if interested.
Also, don’t miss out on the Zytglogge – an Astronomical Clock from the 15th century. It is Bern’s famous clock tower, which features an intricate clock face and mechanical figures that perform every hour.
After that head to the Old Town – Altstadt of Bern – which is filled with cobblestone lanes. As you wander the cobbled streets of Bern’s Old Town (Altstadt in German), you’ll find many covered arcades that house the shops, cafes, and galleries.
There are about six kilometres of covered arcades here, making this the longest-covered shopping arcade in Europe.
Stop to shop at any of the medieval arcades in the old town or head to the Kirchenfeld bridge (at the south end of the city) to admire the city skyline.
For more wonderful views over the city, head to Berner Munster, the city’s cathedral that was built in the 15th century. This landmark cathedral is impressive with its 12-meter-high stained glass windows inside the cathedral. You can climb up the church tower for amazing views.
Remember Einstein’s theory of Relativity? Bern is home to Einstein’s House. This was Albert Einstein’s residence when he developed the theory.
In the evening, pop by a Bernese rooftop restaurant to see some of the amazing views of the city and the Aase River.
You can also take a day tour to Bern from Zurich, which includes round trip transportation, a sightseeing guided tour, and free time to explore on your own. Book your day tour to Bern from Zurich here.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: If you wish to spend the night in Berne, consider staying at Hotel La Pergola located close to the old town.
Day 3 of Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Explore Lucerne
On day 3 of one week Switzerland itinerary, take a day trip to Lucerne from Zurich.
Lucerne, also known by its local German name as Luzern, is located at Lake Lucerne and on the river Reuss. It is a compact, lively town with 80,000 inhabitants.
Zurich to Lucerne
Trains – 1 hour 10 minutes. Ride free with Swiss Travel Card.
Tour – Day tour to Lucerne and Mount Pilatus with lunch
There are lots of things to do in Lucerne. With its location at the lake, the place is an ideal starting point for boat trips, including the Gotthard panorama tour.
The nearby mountains of Rigi, Stanserhorn, Bürgenstock, and Mount Pilatus attract thousands of visitors every year. As the town is not big, you can explore it on foot doing your own Lucerne walking tour.
Lake Lucerne defines and makes this compact city, very picturesque. You can enjoy an hour cruise across Lake Lucerne (seasonal) and ride the world’s steepest cog railway up to Mount Pilatus.
It is also possible to visit Mount Rigi from Lucerne, via a boat and a cog railway ride.
Iconic landmark places of Lucerne include the Chapel Bridge or Kapellbrücke, which is named after the St. Peter’s Chapel, dating back to the 14th century, and the Spreuer Bridge which is also a must-visit to explore the 67 paintings dating from the 17th century and representing the “Dance of Death”.
Lucerne has many military structures in the city. There is a monument of the Dying Lion of Lucerne – which is carved out of stone and it commemorates the fallen Swiss guardsmen who died in 1792 while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution.
Bourbaki Panorama is another important military attraction in Lucerne, depicting General Bourbaki’s Eastern French Army entering Switzerland in the winter of 1871 to save their lives.
Other important attractions include the Lucerne Town Hall; a defensive Musegg Wall from the 15th century and a majestic Jesuit church from the 17th century.
If you wish to extend your stay, take a day tour from Lucerne to the 1,900-meter mount Stanserhorn and because it has a double-decker cable car with an open upper deck it allows you to take the best pictures.
The CabriO cable car is the world’s first cable car with a roofless upper deck.
The guests can enjoy 360° panoramic views as well as fresh mountain air. The ride up to Stanserhorn has two parts: first, you take the old-time funicular from Stans to Kälti, then the new CabriO will bring you to the mountain for stunning views.
Day Tour: Visit Stanserhorn and Lucerne in one day tour
Another option is to take the Golden Round trip to see Mount Pilatus and back. You have to start from Lake Lucerne – take a steamer and then get on the cog railway to the top. This is perfect for people who love to hike and enjoy scenic views! (This trip is included in the Swiss Travel Pass).
Or here is a day tour which includes Mount Pilatus and Lucerne.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: If you decide to stay in Lucerne, here is a recommended hotel: Hof Apartments by Keyforge on 16 Hofstrasse. This hotel is close to all the attractions in Lucerne.
SCENIC TRAIN: The Golden Pass is a train route that starts here, in Lucerne. On this train route, you will see Montreux, Brünig Pass, the lakes of the Bernese Oberland, the Simmen Valley, upper-class Gstaad, and Lake Geneva. The duration is for a day.
You can start in Lucerne, switch trains in Interlaken, and end in Montreux (located 75 minutes away from Geneva) – all in a day.
Golden Round Trip: The Golden round trip is different from the Golden Pass. The Golden Round trip takes you to Mount Pilatus’s scenic spots from Lucerne.
Day 4 of Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Explore Interlaken & Jungfrau Region
Head to Interlaken from Zurich, on day 4 of Swiss Itinerary.
Interlaken is considered one of the prettiest places in the world. The town itself is small but holds a few attractions to keep you busy.
Zurich to Interlaken
Trains – 2 hours 10 minutes. Ride free with Swiss Travel Card.
Tour – Or book this day tour from Zurich to Interlaken and Grindelwald
In Interlaken itself visit the “house mountain” – Harder Kulm. Whether you hike up or take the cable car to get up – the views from there are stunning! It is also a great spot to watch the sunset.
Also, make sure to do at least one boat tour – since Interlaken is located between two lakes (Lake Brienz and Lake Thun), it is almost difficult to decide which boat tour is better.
In the end, both lakes are just impressive and after a boat ride (given the size of the lakes, they will take a few hours) head to Höhenmatte and watch all the paragliders. Interlaken is beautiful but so are the places near Interlaken.
If you wish to extend your stay in Interlaken, here are some options. You can visit many cute towns and villages near it – especially Thun is worth a visit. It is located at the end of Lake Thun and is actually a nicer place than Interlaken with a beautiful old town.
On the way from Interlaken to Thun also stop at St. Beatus Caves for the views. And if you are into hiking make sure to enjoy some of the best mountain views in the country – hike up Brienzer Rothorn, Schynige Platte, Niesen, or one of the many mountain peaks.
If you are not into hiking, then plan a full day to enjoy the Jungfraujoch – one of the most popular places in the region where you have snow throughout the year (and afterward stroll Grindelwald).
Jungfraujoch is Europe’s Highest Train Station and from here you can view the Jungfrau mountain. It is easy to reach Jungfraujoch by train from Interlaken (travel time is 2 hours one way).
You can start from Interlaken Ost station towards Lauterbrunnen Valley or Grindelwald (Bernese Oberland Railway) and from there change for the Wengernalp railway and then to Kleine Scheidegg. Hop on the Jungfrau Railway to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe.
Other options to reach Jungfraujoch:
- Here is a day tour from Zurich to Jungfraujoch.
- Or take a tour to explore Interlaken and Grindelwald in a day
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Stay at Hotel du Nord in Interlaken so you are close to the main attractions. Or Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa (luxury option).
Day 5 of Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Head to Basel
For city lovers like us, visiting Basel is a must. It is Switzerland’s third-largest city in terms of population and it is also the last navigable city on the river Rhine. However, very often visitors overlook Basel, as it is sort of “unswiss”, due to the lack of mountains nearby.
But did you know, it is ONE of the most beautiful historic centres in the country and, as far as art is concerned, it boasts over 40 first-class museums!
We are SOLD on the historical gems, I mean why not? Nature and history = LOVE! Here is a detailed one day in Basel itinerary!
Zurich to Basel
Trains – 55 minutes to 1 hour, Ride free with Swiss Travel Card.
Basel is divided into two parts: the large town (Gross Basel) where you will find the railway station, and the small town (Klein Basel), on the other side of the Rhine.
It can be visited in a day if you decide to stick to the main sights, but we assure you that you won’t be disappointed.
As you soon as you arrive in Basel from Zurich, from the railway station (Centralbahn Platz) head towards Barfusserplatz, taking a small detour to admire the fountains created by the eclectic local artist Jean Tinguely (Tinguely Brunnen). His bizarre iron sculptures are located in Theatervorplaz and they move gracefully in the water.
From Barfusserplatz, walk to the Spalentor Gate Tower, which in the 15th century was the main entrance to the city. This is perhaps one of the most impressive monuments, with its square main tower, flanked on each side by two round towers.
The next stop is the market square – Marktplatz where, today like in the past, you will find flowers, fruit, and fresh vegetable merchants. This market is only open on weekdays.
The last stop in the Old Town is Münster, Basel’s large Romanesque cathedral. Behind it, you will find the Pfalz, a large panoramic terrace from where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city.
After exploring the old town, head to the St Albans Gate. The gate itself is nothing to drive home about, but the area is particularly quiet and charming. People call it the little Venice of Basel because it is crossed by a small canal. For those with a romantic soul, this is a place not to be missed.
After St Albans Gate, make your way down to the river and cross it by Färi, an old wooden boat without an engine that movies using only the current of water. Färis is symbolic of the city. Tickets for the Fari ride are available onboard.
Once you reach the other side of the river Rhine, you are not too far away from the city’s most bizarre museum, the Jean Tinguely Museum.
The museum is home to strange-looking, huge mechanical machines – all created by using recycled materials – and it is a treat to explore. There are kinetic sculptures that can be activated with a press of a button.
With a day full of sightseeing, it’s time to head back to the old town to take the train. Of course, you can travel by bus, but here’s an alternative… do it like many local people do: swim back!
Yes, that’s right! In order to do that, you need to have one of those floating and watertight bags that you can buy from anywhere in the city. Change into your swimsuit inside the (Jean Tinguely) museum’s toilets, walk down to the river, by the museum’s restaurant, and just wade into the Rhine.
Relax, let it float… and within minutes you will reach the city center without any effort.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Hotel Teufelhof, an old but finely restored hotel in the heart of the Old Town. Each room of the hotel is uniquely painted by different artists.
Day 6 -7 of Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Explore Zermatt & back to Zurich
For many travelers, exploring Switzerland means checking off the Matterhorn. Now because one way trip to Zermatt city, which is the base to explore Matterhorn is about 3-4 hours, we recommend staying in Zermatt for the night with 2 days of sightseeing.
Zermatt is the highest ski resort in Europe and boasts of 365 days of ski activities. Whether you are visiting Zermatt in summer or winter, this fairy tale charming town will win you over.
Zurich to Zermatt
Trains – 3 hours 10 minutes.
To reach Zermatt, we highly recommend taking the train using the Swiss Travel Card, as Zermatt is a car-free town. This resort town is located in the southern part of Switzerland.
Once you arrive in Zermatt, head to the Gornergrat which is located at an altitude of 3,089 metres to soak in panoramic views of the mountains. Gornergrat Bahn which is Europe’s highest open-air electric clog railway transports visitors from Zermatt to Gornergrat in 33 minutes.
Panoramic views are everywhere as you reach the summit and if you love mountains as we do, you will be welcomed by 29 mountain ranges snow-capped and all pretty, including the Matterhorn.
Gornergrat’s observation platform is open all year round. You can stay here for the evening if you like – enjoying fine dining on the mountaintop (known as sunset dinners in the summer and moonlight dinners in the winter).
Or you can explore the old town and dine in their finest restaurants whilst enjoying the views of Matterhorn.
If you are visiting in winter, you can enjoy the many outdoor rinks in the city, with natural and picturesque backdrops.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Stay at a laid back alpine hotel located close to ski lifts, with breakfast and free wifi included for nightly stay – Best Western Hotel Butterfly.
For day 7 of your Switzerland itinerary, ride the Matterhorn glacier paradise cableway to get into the cradle of the mountain range. This is a newly opened cableway (2018) with gondola style cabins to transport to the observation platform, which provides a very different view than the Gornergrat.
Adventurous hikers and mountaineers choose the Matterhorn to scale the Brithorn. But if you prefer soft adventure like us, you can visit the ski resort that is open 365 days and go snow tubing (also open in summer).
The Glacier Palace, which is one of its kind in Europe, is also located here and is accessible all year round.
The cableway to the viewing platform only takes 9 minutes.
After taking in those panoramic views, finish the day by shopping at the Bahnhofstrasse – a shopping street filled with Swiss souvenirs and high-end retailers, to take something back home.
In the evening, hop on a train to return to Zurich for your return flight.
SCENIC TRAIN ROUTE OPTION: The Glacier Express Train is a popular train route in Switzerland, starting from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
The journey takes about 8 hours, making it through the Swiss Alps and stunning landscapes and bridges.
You can take the train in the morning on day 7 and arrive at St. Moritz.
St. Moritz to Zurich is about 3.50 hours by train.
Alternative Option: Day 7 to Geneva & modified 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary suggestion
If you wish to add another city to your Switzerland 7 day itinerary, then consider returning to Geneva from Zermatt on day 7 and skip the Matterhorn cableway. You will be able to see the Matterhorn on day 6 using the Gornergrat railway.
On day 7, take the train to reach Geneva. Geneva is located an hour closer to Zermatt than Zurich.
Geneva to Zurich is only 3 hours away by train or drive.
There are many reasons why you should visit Geneva. Straddling the French border on the shores of Lac Leman, Geneva is packed with a colorful history and is a lovely place to spend one or two days exploring.
Zermatt to Geneva
Trains – 3 hours 15 minutes. Freeride with Swiss Travel Card.
With buildings dating back to the Roman times and many remnants of the city’s medieval past being still visible, no visit to Geneva is complete without witnessing the modern water jet fountains shooting high above the city’s skyline.
The Water Jet aka Jet d’Eau is a 140 metre high water fountain over Lake Geneva. These Jet d’Eau fountains have become synonymous with the city itself and are a MUST visit.
Alongside the English Garden lies a huge working Flower Clock, displaying the time as accurately as the much-loved Swiss watches exported globally from the country.
The charming old-town square of Place du Bourg-de-Four is an unmissable spot to explore (and grab a bite to eat).
Standing tall beside the St Piere Cathedral for many centuries, there are colorful narrow buildings that have witnessed countless events throughout Swiss history. It’s amazing to think St Piere’s has been a grand icon of Geneva since the 10th century!
While you’re in this area, don’t forget to take a look at the lovely frescos painted within the Old Arsenal.
Inside today’s grounds of Geneva University stands the Reformation Wall. The 16th-century structure showcases sculptures of important figures during the city’s Protestant Reformation.
A short stroll from the Reformation Wall lies a number of huge chessboards in Bastion’s Park – worth a visit if you fancy a game of human-sized chess.
Geneva is home to many international headquarters. Venture into the city’s north to see the United Nations headquarters – Palais des Nations – and the League of Nations Museum.
Time permitting explore the Broken Chair sculpture nearby. It’s said the missing leg on this chair is a tribute to honor landmine victims around the world.
RECOMMENDED HOTEL: Being one of the more pricier cities to stay in Switzerland, you will get your money’s worth by staying at Hotel des Alpes, on the northern side of the Pont du Mont-Blanc bridge.
Map of Switzerland – Places to Visit in 7 days Switzerland Itinerary | Switzerland road trip
Most beautiful places in Switzerland Itinerary 7 days – Zurich – Bern – Lucerne – Interlaken -Basel – Zermatt – Zurich/Geneva
How many days are enough in Switzerland?
This is one of the MOST asked questions. How many days do you need in Switzerland? Switzerland is not huge in terms of country size, but it is loaded with stunning landscapes, you can easily spend anywhere from 2 to 10 days exploring, what interests you.
Ideally, 5 days are enough to explore Switzerland. Keep Zurich or Geneva as your base (check out the cities), make a trip to Interlaken, and visit resort towns. Taking a scenic train route for a day is a great idea – you can soak in those alpine views in less time.
If you are really tight on time (and budget), stick to one city and use a day trip to explore smaller towns/resort areas.
Planning a trip to Switzerland Travel Guide
Did you know – Switzerland was originally called Helvetia. Its official name is Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin.
We have covered travel documents and currency-related information above. This section is additional information on seven days in Switzerland like budget, souvenirs, tour packages, and other frequently asked questions like sightseeing in Switzerland for different seasons.
Quick Facts about Switzerland:
Switzerland is a small landlocked country, located in Western and Central Europe. It is bordered by France, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Liechtenstein.
There are four official languages spoken in Switzerland. They are German, French, Italian, and Romansch. Switzerland has a rich cultural heritage. Swiss cuisine varies by region, although dishes like fondue and raclette are popular throughout the country.
Switzerland has a very strong economy. It is highly industrialized and ranks at the top of the Human Development Index, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. It has consistently been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world.
Switzerland is home to many famous landmarks including the Matterhorn mountain in Zermatt, the Chillon Castle in Montreux, Lake Brienz in Bernese Oberland, and Lake Lucerne in Central Switzerland. It is also home to some of the most renowned ski and snowboarding resorts in Europe.
Switzerland is recognized for its chocolate, watches, cheese, and other luxury goods. Swiss watchmaking is one of the oldest industries in Switzerland, with many famous brands such as Rolex being based there.
When should you visit Switzerland in summer or winter?
Switzerland is amazing at any time of the year. In both seasons, you can explore the outdoors in different ways – so whether it is sunbathing in the summer or skiing in winter (or even summer). So here is what to expect in Switzerland in summer and winter.
Switzerland in the winter – Switzerland does get snow in the winter and it is a beautiful time to visit. With so many medieval old towns in the country, you will be walking into a fairy tale book – when Switzerland rings in the festive season, which is usually from late November.
Definitely, Christmas Markets should be on your itinerary if you are heading to any of the Swiss towns in the winter. And not to forget the obvious, snow-related activities and skiing resorts should be visited in the winter months.
Switzerland in summer – Switzerland is a great place to spend your summer holidays. Just like winter, summer is a popular time to visit. June- July might be too hot for city day trips (also you will see a lot of people outside), but it is perfect for hiking, picnic, sunbathing, water sports, etc.
Read: Planning a trip to Switzerland
Is Switzerland expensive?
That’s a million-dollar question in itself. Switzerland overall is expensive. It can be compared to Iceland for hotels and day to day food, travel, and tour costs. Although flights to Iceland were cheaper from Canada, your return ticket to Switzerland may not be that cheap. We cover that in more detail below.
But keep in mind, after flights ensure you book your hotels sooner (or book than with flights). Hotels in peak season will be pricey and on average, it will be $100-$150 for 2-3 star hotels and $300+ USD and upwards for 4 or 5-star hotels in a prime location in Zurich – based on this itinerary.
Other cities mentioned in the itinerary are not behind, but those towns are small, so even if you book/get a cheaper place outside the old town you will be fine in terms of sightseeing.
Food is where you will have the most control over. The grocery stores in Switzerland sell amazing baked goods and salads to choose from, to keep the budget under check. When you are exploring via day trips, carry food with you, or eat at fast food joints – they will be there too.
But go out every now and then to treat yourself to this beautiful place. So set aside some moolah for that.
Transportation budget for one week in Switzerland travel itinerary
Swiss Travel Card
The Swiss Travel Pass provides you with unlimited travel throughout the Swiss travel network of rail, bus, and boat on consecutive days available for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days.
If you are planning to use local trams and trains extensively (and no day tours), then opt for the 8-day pass. This will cover your transport back to the airport as well.
BUY Swiss Travel Card.
Note: The Swiss Travel Card is different from Swiss Half Fare, which offers 50% off on train, bus, boat rides, and mountain railways. Its validity is for one month (which is beyond the scope of this itinerary). Unless you love Switzerland so much and wish to extend your stay from one week to a month, check out the Swiss Half Fare card here.
Combination of tours and Travel Card
You can certainly combine 2-3 day tours (from the ones listed in the itinerary) and add a 3 day or a 4 day Swiss Travel Pass. Use the pass either at the start of your trip or toward the end so that you are using the pass on consecutive days.
Budget (3-day Swiss pass and 3-day tours & 2 return tickets for the airport, itinerary 1, departing from Zurich): $650 – $1000 USD
- If you follow our 1st itinerary sample and arrive and depart from Zurich – you will need $120 – 200 USD a day for day tours (No sightseeing on day 7) with guided sightseeing and transport. Budget: $700 -$850 USD
- For the second itinerary with a day in Geneva, day tours will be the same, but factor in added costs for traveling to Geneva from Zermatt on day 7 as well as stay and sightseeing. Budget: $800 – $900 USD
BUY> Swiss Travel Card.
Best of Switzerland tours – Scenic Train Routes in Switzerland
Here are the 3 MOST popular train travel routes in Switzerland. They are also part of the Swiss Travel Pass, but a seat has to be reserved prior to departure (seat reservation is an extra charge).
- The Golden Pass – This is a train route from Lucerne to Montreux. The train route is an easy one and PERFECT for those short on time. Lucerne is one hour away from Zurich and Montreaux is 75 minutes away, making it easy for transportation. The entire route can be done in 5.50 hours to a day. There 3 sections of the train – Lucerne to Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux.
- The Bernina Express Train – This is a direct train from Chur in Switzerland to Tirano in Italy in just 4 hours, followed by a bus service from Tirano to Lugano.
- The Glacier Express – This is one of the most popular train routes in Switzerland. A direct route from Zermatt to St. Moritz – this train journey takes about 8 hours, making it’s through the Swiss Alps, narrow valleys, and stunning landscapes and bridges.
- Gotthard Panorama Express Train – This is a scenic train and boat tour/route originating in Lugano via the Gotthard tunnel to Flüelen (train), and then from Flüelen to Lucerne. The trip takes about 5.50 hours and is operational during the summer months only.
- Read: Most scenic train rides in Switzerland
What is Switzerland famous for? What souvenirs should you buy?
Switzerland offers a ton of things that are Swiss made and should be bought back home (or had/eaten/stuffed) while you are in the country.
Did you know – Switzerland produces the most chocolate in the world?
And the Swiss eat more chocolate compared to any other country.
- Swiss Chocolates – Like heaven. Eat them, bring them home, and visit workshops if you have time. Walk a store, even a grocery store and you will be welcomed with chocolates galore.
- Swiss cheese – Swiss cheese is popular all over the world. Give them a try!
- Swiss knives – As the name suggests, these are the popular Swiss knives found all over the world and made in Switzerland. You might see a great variety here – as it’s the land where it’s made. (If you are traveling just with a carry-on, skip the knives)
- Swiss Watches – Swiss watches are equally popular. Brands include – Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer
- Luxury brands – For all of my luxury goods lovers (bags, belts, clothing), you will find everything in Switzerland’s major cities. Think Chanel, YSL, Louis Vuitton, Gucci – but the prices are not a steal. London Heathrow still has the best bang for your buck when it comes to luxury brands for less.
Coco Chanel is buried in Switzerland.
Set aside some money to enjoy what the country is famous for and take back souvenirs.
Planning a trip to Switzerland from North America, Europe or India
North America: Switzerland trip cost from USA & Canada
Traveling from major cities in the USA to Switzerland’s Zurich or Geneva is easy.
There are non-flight flights leaving from New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles every day. Return trips from New York to Zurich will be 7+ hours long (one way) and the fares start at $720 USD. Add 1-2 hours of extra flying time for San Francisco and LA.
Swiss Air flights are available from all the major cities. However, we recommend looking at IcelandAir’s stopover program for cheaper flights (not non-stop).
For transport, take the Swiss Travel Card. And for some of the days, you can also do a few day tours that cover a guided walk and includes entry into attractions. (We covered that in our budget section).
Traveling from Canada
Traveling from major cities in Canada to Switzerland’s Zurich or Geneva should not be a problem. The connectivity with Air Canada and Swiss Air is great.
We hopped on a direct flight from Zurich to Canada. Return trips from Vancouver to Zurich will be 12+ hours long (one way) and the fares start at $1080 CAD.
Toronto has non stop flights to Zurich for around the same price, but flight times are a bit better – 8.50 hours+ of flying time. After flights hotels and food will account for most of your budget.
For simplicity of math, if you stay in Zurich for 7 days and take day trips out, which is completely doable you are looking at $1070- 2100 CAD double occupancy for a mid-range hotel. Food, although expensive, is under your control – for 7 days, allot $100 CAD a day.
For transport, take the Swiss Travel Card. And for some of the days, you can also do a few day tours that cover a guided walk and includes entry into attractions. (We covered that in our budget section).
Traveling from European cities to Switzerland
We arrived in Switzerland – Zurich from Morocco and at one time also flew from Zurich to Barcelona. Our flight from Fes Morocco was via Lisbon Portugal. So that means, flight connectivity from within Europe is great. TAP Portugal, Vueling Airlines, and other budget airlines all have flights to and from Switzerland.
One way fares from Zurich to nearby countries like Spain, France, Italy, Germany will be anywhere from 2- 3.50 hours and about $100 USD per person.
Remember Switzerland takes Euros, but their official currency is the Swiss Francs. The currency exchange is almost on par with Euros. Traveling from Morocco to Zurich and comparing the expenses there or with Barcelona and Lisbon – tells you how expensive the country is.
Switzerland trip cost from India – Switzerland packages from India
Flights from major cities in India to Switzerland will average around 40 thousand Indian rupees. Traveling within the country with day tours or discounted passes, plus staying in a 3-star hotel, will roughly cost around 50-60 thousand rupees (just an average. Will be higher for 5-star hotels).
Many tour companies in India have an organized group tour with a 3-star hotel stay for a total of 1.20 to 1.50 lakhs (no meals or shopping, just limited sightseeing plus flights, and hotels). The only thing to keep in mind here is that you will be restricted to set an itinerary of the provider.
If you are planning a trip on your own, you will be spending around the same amount, with a more flexible schedule and control over the budget.
Why do Indian movies aka Bollywood love Switzerland?
For most Indians (count me in), we LOVE gooey romantic heroes singing love songs on snow-covered mountains. Well, that explains why we got married in the mountains in Banff Canada.
Swiss villages and mountain peaks have been a TOP movie location for so many love stories and sagas in India. And no Euro dream is complete without a visit here.
We have been to quite a few countries in Europe, and Switzerland does make it to the list of our favorite places. And the entire country although located in Western Europe is not the same as its counterparts – it is not overcrowded, not dirty and scenic landscapes everywhere!
It does remind me of Canada in some ways and it felt like home.
We hope you enjoyed this one week itinerary to Switzerland. Remember to book your hotels, tickets, and Swiss Travel Pass as you plan your trip.
Additional Travel Tips – Switzerland 7 day itinerary
Planning your trip to Europe – If this is your first-ever trip to Europe, consider reading our Europe 101 guide.
Schengen Visa – If you require a visa to travel to Europe, most likely it is the Schengen Visa (for those belonging to the Euro Zone or EU, doesn’t include the UK). Read our guide to applying for Schengen Visa.
Packing List – Read our in-depth guide to packing for Europe for all seasons and regions.
Europe Itinerary & Travel Guide – Read our itineraries from Europe
- Europe – Get our 27 Europe in one week itinerary samples
- Spain: Best of Spain in 7 days
- Central Europe in 2 weeks – Visit Munich, Budapest, Prague, and Vienna in 14 days
- Winter Destinations – Get the TOP destinations to visit in Europe winter for Christmas markets, skiing or winter sun
Well Switzerland seems to be a beautiful country. Although I have never been in the country I know of The Swiss Alps and the famous Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. It would be great if I can visit the country I really want to witness the magnificent Swiss Alps and maybe meet Roger in the streets of Switzerland, that would be super awesome.
That beautiful images of Switzerland!
This is such a comprehensive article on traveling in Switzerland! It’s just what I’d use when planning my trip, although I wouldn’t be able to relate To Hindi movie locations 😊
Thanks for sharing.
Great itinerary for Switzerland! I’ve been to most places, but your post reminded me that I must still add Interlaken to my list of places to visit in Switzerland.
Thanks so much!
I really want to go back to Switzerland. This is a great guide!
Thanks so much! Glad you found it useful!
Truly amazing switzerland! Basel and Zermatt is high on my list!!
Thanks so much!Happy travels!
This is very helpful! Planning to have a vacation trip to Switzerland after pandemic! This 7-day itinerary Switzerland and your blogs are such a big help and great 🙂 Hoping pandemic ends as soon as possible! Looking forward to your next blogs.
Thanks so much! Happy Planning!
I am impressed with the details and that comes with openness and honesty. It is so useful and practical that I will definitely use it for my next trip.
What caught my attention is the ‘intent’ of Mayuri to be helpful and practical.
Thank you so much
I am in Germany planning to see all that I can of Switzerland and France. I found your site and learned a lot. Amazing work! Thank you so much for the details and the format of your plans. It was extremely helpful.
Thank you so much, Bob! Happy travels, and stay safe!
Awesome – thanks for doing this.. exactly what I was looking for – thanks to people like you who devote their time and energies to make it easier for everybody else. Great job.. keep it up.. Well laid out along with hotel recommendations and all the other key necessities for getting and touring Switzerland..
Thank you, Cynthia! I am so glad you found our post useful! Happy and safe travels!
this is incredibly helpful – thank you!
just 1 question – just returned from Istanbul which was bustling and looking for a quiet and low-key holiday, is it quite busy/ stressful travelling to so many parts of Swit? Is there a shorter itinerary of the most beautiful/ best places to see?
Thank you, Liliana. The off-season (September onwards) should not be very hectic/busy. Here is a 2-day and 5-day itinerary samples for you to consider!
2 days in Switzerland itinerary (9 Epic Samples)
Perfect 5 days in Switzerland Itinerary (with 5 samples)
Loved this article! We are planning a trip to Switzerland this summer and reading this article was such a confidence booster. We’ve never traveled Europe by train, but I think we can do it with your very detailed itinerary! Thanks so much!!
Wonderful info! Question on abroad travel though – what do you use for internet access on your phone? Or do you just rely on WiFi in cities? Curious because when we visited Iceland we had a portable hot spot with our campervan rental but haven’t been able to find the same thing since.
Hi Chelsea, I had an international data plan from my mobility provider. It included free minutes per day at a set daily rate. For Switzerland, you can also consider this pocket wifi
Hey Mayuri! Thanks for the awesome information. I am planning a trip to Italy and Switzerland in May this year. Is there any other country I can add in this mix, I would have 3 spare days after covering Italy and Switzerland. I have to return to Toronto. Thank you!
I am so glad! You can visit Liechtenstein on a day trip from Zurich. Here is a detailed guide.
If you are planning to stay/explore Basel in Switzerland you can visit France (Colmar/Alsace) or Germany. Read our Basel guide here
Happy Planning 🙂
Hello, I am planning to do a trip to Switzerland in the summer and am following this itinerary or something similar.
Day 0: arrive in Zurich and sleep
Day 1: do stoos ridge trail hike in the morning and go back to Zurich and explore the town in the afternoon
Day 2: Lucerne
Day 3: interlaken
Day 4: lauterbrunnen/ wengen
Day 5: Montreux
Day 6: Geneva
Day 7: Geneva (day trip to Matterhorn) might skip this due to long train rides in one day
Does this seem doable by public transportation in your opinion? Is it too much traveling to do?
Days 0 to 6 sound good and doable using trains. You will be doing 1 to 1.50 hours train ride (one way). If you get the Swiss travel pass your ride to Wengen is also included.
Day 7: Geneva to Matterhorn will be a long day by train. Even with a rental car to the nearby town of Täsch and then the train to Zermatt will be close to 4 hours.
So maybe you can do a wine-tasting tour from Geneva or join a day tour to Chamonix and Mont Blanc!
Hope this was helpful!
Happy travels 🙂