·

Ultimate 10 day road trip in Switzerland – Itinerary & Travel guide

Visiting Switzerland was on our bucket list for quite some time. Finally, in the summer of 2023, we booked our flight and planned an epic 10-day road trip to explore this beautiful country. We totally fell in love with the breathtaking scenery everywhere we drove. Riding mountain cable cars so high was something we had never done before, it was exhilarating. Admiring Glaciers from an overlook at a train station was fun. Switzerland has something for everyone, quaint mountain villages, majestic Swiss Alps, and numerous outdoor adventures.

We started our road trip from Zurich, traveled across gorgeous villages/Towns, and ended our journey in Geneva. In this travel blog will share how we spent 10 days driving across Switzerland, what we loved, and some helpful travel tips. So, here is the ultimate travel guide for a Switzerland road trip with a detailed Itinerary.

 Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you make a purchase through the links provided, at no additional cost to you. It’s one of the ways I can keep producing free guides and resources for all our readers. Thank you for supporting the work I put into mrnmrstraveler!

Best time to visit

You can visit Switzerland any time of the year. Late Spring, Summer, and early Autumn are the best times, if you are planning to include hikes in your itinerary. Summer (July – August) is the peak season to visit Switzerland but it is more expensive as well. Another idea is to visit in the shoulder months (late Spring & early Autumn) when you will find relatively lesser crowds and also cheaper prices. Winter (the ski season) is also a popular time but beware of challenging driving conditions and road closures.

Renting a car

We picked up our car at the Zurich airport and dropped it at the Geneva airport which we had booked 2 months in advance. Few things to keep in mind –

  1. Do check multiple websites for better deals. We prefer Rentalcars.comExpedia.comAutoeurope.com.
  2. Usually Manual cars are cheaper than Automatic cars.
  3. Do check beforehand if you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent a car. We have a US driving License and it was valid to rent a car (with Sixt) in Switzerland.
  4. We would suggest getting rental car Insurance as you will be driving in a new country (not mandatory though). 
  5. Thoroughly check and take photos or videos of any car damage before picking up the car.
  6. If you are planning to cross any borders, inform the car rental company while picking up the car.
  7. Check with the rental car company beforehand about how they handle toll payments (Motorway vignette).

Driving in Switzerland

As such we didn’t have any issues driving in Switzerland. Undoubtedly, the roads are in good condition with proper signs. If you are new to roadway signboards, learn them beforehand. The speed limit on the highway goes up to 120 KM per hour. The Driving fines are very high so be careful – Be in the speed limit & don’t park at no parking

Keep in mind, in Switzerland the driving is on the right side same as US – which can take some adjustment if you’re used to driving on the left. We used Google Maps for navigation and it worked fine. Download the offline maps, it helps incase of network issues.

Visa required to visit Switzerland

We are Indian passport holders, and to enter Switzerland we need a Schengen Visa (Tourist visa). If you want to know more about it, we have a video on YouTube on ‘How to Apply Schengen Visa‘. For other nationals, please check if you need a visa to visit Switzerland.

Which travel pass to choose?

There are different types of travel passes that you can purchase in Switzerland and get free / discounted prices on public transportation in Switzerland. Depending on your mode of transport and the region you are planning, you can choose the pass best suited to your itinerary.

For instance, if you select a Swiss Travel Pass (valid for a certain number of days such as 3,5,8,15), public transportation such as trains, buses, and boats will be included free of charge (seat selection extra). But for mountain rails and cable cars, you will only get discounts of up to 50%. You can get a complimentary Swiss Family Card which allows children between 6-15 to travel free.

If you choose a Half fare card (like we did), it provides a 50% discount on public transportation and most of the mountain rails and cable cars. Half fare card is valid for 30 days and was better suited for us since we did a road trip and only needed the pass for mountain rails and cable cars/gondolas. There are other regional and day passes as well which might suit your itinerary. You can learn more about the passes here.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 0: Fly from NYC to Zurich. 
  • Day 1: Explore Zurich & drive to Rhine Falls
  • Day 2: Day trip to Liechtenstein (another country)
  • Day 3: Saxer Lücke Hike (Eastern Switzerland) + Lucerne (Plan an extra day if you want to visit Mount Pilatus or Mount Titlis or both)
  • Day 4: Trift Bridge Hike
  • Day 5: Bernese Oberland Region
  • Day 6: Bernese Oberland Region
  • Day 7: Bernese Oberland Region 
  • Day 8: Kandersteg + Zermatt
  • Day 9: Zermatt
  • Day 10: Geneva

Here is our summer road trip in switzerland itinerary

We did a 10 day road trip exploring different parts of Switzerland. Here is how we planned our days, however you can modify according to your preference.

Day 1 : Zurich & Rhine Falls

We flew from New York City and landed in Zurich. After the immigration and baggage claim, we picked up our rental car and started our epic Switzerland summer road trip. 

Rhine Falls is just 40 minute drive from Zurich Airport so we drove there first. The waterfall was really impressive. There is a boat ride to enjoy the waterfall. 

From the Rhine Falls, we drove back to the Old Town area of Zurich and spent the rest of the evening there. We just roamed around the narrow cobble street alleys in the Old Town and near the pathways next to Limmat River. 

Our hotel for the night – We stayed here situated near a tram station for easy access to Zurich’s old town.

Tips/Notes:
  • If you are renting a car, be aware that most of the hotels in Zurich charge extra for car parking. 
  • If you are traveling to Rhine Falls by public transport, there are direct trains from Zurich to Rhine Falls. Also there are two different entrances to see the waterfalls. We enter from the northern entrance which is free, however, we would suggest visiting the Southern (paid entry) side as well. You can take a ferry to cross the river or drive if you have time.

Day 2 – Day trip to Liechtenstein

On the second day, we left Zurich and drove to the neighboring country of Liechtenstein. There is no border control between Switzerland and Liechtenstein, you can just drive there (so cool right!). Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in Europe and you can explore most of things in one day. 

Here are the places we visited in Liechtenstein on our day trip from Switzerland.

  • We started our day visiting Haus Gutenberg Castle in Balzers. You cannot go inside the castle, but you can admire it from outside.  
  • Then we drove to the capital city of Vaduz. Here, we walked on this street known as ‘Stadtle’ and visited the Post Museum, the council building, and Kathedrale St. Florin (Cathedral). We also visited the Liechtenstein Center and took some really cool pictures posing as the king, You can also get a stamp on the passport here. So cool right!  
  • After that we visited Vaduz castle. Unfortunately, when we visited the castle was under construction.
  • Then we headed to the Old Rhine Bridge, a wooden bridge that divides Liechtenstein and Switzerland. It is a car-free bridge where you can walk between the two countries. (So interesting right!)
  • After that we went to a vineyard ‘Cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein sampled some wines.
  • 20 minutes drive from Vaduz, Stausee Steg is a beautiful Alpine lake. If you have time we would suggest to include this in your itinerary.

After enjoying our visit to the beautiful country, we drove to a place called Sax in Switzerland, checked in our hotel, and called it a night. 

Our hotel for the night: We stayed at this beautiful boutique hotel. Also, we were surprised to know that the hotel has a Michelin Star Restaurant. We dined at the hotel and the food was delicious.

Tips/Notes:
  • If you are traveling by public transport to Liechtenstein, you can get a train from Zurich to Sargans and then a bus to reach Vaduz.
  • In Vaduz, We parked our car in Parkhaus Zentrum located in the center of the city. The parking lot is just next to the ‘Stadtle’, the main street where you will find most of the attractions.

Day 3 – Saxer Lucke Hike and Lucerne

It was raining when we started our day to hike Saxer Lucke viewpoint. We took a cable car from Frümsen, Luftseilbahn Staubern to reach the trailhead. Fortunately, the rain stopped as we arrived at the cable car station. It is a 6 km moderate hike (round trip) and takes about 3 hours. However, we took around 5 hours with a lot of photo stops in between. It was cloudy so we could not see the Saxer Lucke in its full glory. 

This hike is a part of the Alpstein Mountain Range and lies in the Appenzell Region of Switzerland (Eastern Switzerland). The views were really breathtaking from the start of the hike itself. 

There is a mountain hut & restaurant at the start of the hike (near the cable car station), where we enjoyed delicious sandwiches and omelets. Best meal after a hike!

After the hike, we drove 2 hours to the beautiful city of Lucerne. We spent a few hours exploring the highlights of the city – Chapel Bridge, a beautiful covered wooden bridge on the river Reuss, and walked around the old town.

After dinner, we said goodbye to Lucerne and headed to Innertkichen where we spent the night.

Our hotel for the night: We stayed in Innertkitchen in this basic hotel.

Tips/Notes:

  • In Lucerne, you will find many parking lots and garages. We parked near the station.
  • If you have extra day, you can plan to visit Mt Titlis and Mt Pilatus from Lucerne or Zurich.
  • For the Saxer Lucke hike, consider wearing good hiking shoes as there are some rocky and steep sections. Also, carry a rain jacket as the weather in the area is unpredictable. 
  • You can check the cable car (Frümsen, Luftseilbahn Staubern) timing & pricing here. Keep in mind, that Half fare card or Swiss travel card does not work here. If you are exploring eastern Switzerland for more than one day, I would suggest checking the Oskar card to save money.

Day 4 – Trift Bridge Hike and Iseltwald

It was a beautiful sunny day. After breakfast at the hotel, we drove to Triftbahn parking where we took a cable car for ‘Trift Glacier and suspension bridge hike’. It is a 5.4 km roundtrip hike rated as moderate to strenuous. This hike has some amazing views on the way and as we reached the final point we were mesmerized by the beauty of the turquoise glacier lake with glacier view. 

Another thrilling experience here is walking on the suspension bridge suspended 100 meters high over the lake. The trail is steep in parts so would recommend wearing good hiking shoes.

After an amazing hike, we then drove to Giessbach Waterfall. The final part of the road to the waterfall trailhead is a bit sketchy and narrow. It is a 10 – 15 minute walk to the waterfall from the parking area (which costs 10 CHF for 24 hrs). We saw the waterfall from behind over overlooking Lake Breize which was stunning.

We then headed to this quaint Swiss village – Iseltwald, where we spent the rest of the evening. The views from our hostel room window overlooking Lake Brienz were just breathtaking. Our favorite part was just walking around this gorgeous village. Fun Fact if you love K-drama – The series ” Crash Landing on You” aka CLOY was filmed here.

Where we stayed: We spent the night in Isetwald at this hostel with gorgeous view of Lake Brienz.

Day 5 – Murren, Trummelbach Falls & Lauterbunnen

Paragliding in Switzerland surrounded by Swiss Alps was something on our minds when we were planning this trip. So we drove from Isletwald to Schilthornbahn parking and took the cable car to Murren station where our instructor was waiting for us. After the preparation, we (me and the instructor) ran towards the edge, and suddenly we were flying over the valley. It was an experience that cannot be explained in words, one can only feel it. 

We did this thrilling ride in Murren with Airtime Paragliding

After paragliding, we visited Trummelbach Falls, a series of ten cascading glacial-fed waterfalls tucked inside a canyon. It costs 14 CHF per person to enter.

We then drove to one of the prettiest swiss villages in Switzerland – Lauterbrunnen, where we stayed for the night. We took a walk around the village and visited the popular waterfall – Staubbach Falls. We hiked half a kilometer to the waterfall lookout, the views were insane out there.

Where we stayed: We spent the night in Lauterbrunnen. It is a small village and the facilities are limited. I would recommend checking more options in Grindelwald (20 mins drive) or the mountain town of Murren or Wengen.

In case you plan to stay in Murren or Wengen, you need to park your car in a nearby station and take your luggage in a cable car or train to spend a night as these are car-free towns.

Day 6 – Grindelwald First & Interlaken

We started our day walking around Lauterbrunnen. There were no restaurants open at 7-8 am so we picked up our breakfast at Coop (Supermarket). We usually add breakfast with our stay but the hotel we booked in Lauterbrunnen had no breakfast option.

We then headed for the Grindelwald First Top of Adventure and spent most of the day there. Here are the things we enjoyed here – 

  • Bachalpsee Lake Hike (2-3 hours).
  • First Cliff Walk by Tissot: A thrilling walk on a metal suspension with a viewpoint to see the panoramic views of the Swiss Alps.
  • Adventure activities -First Glider, First Flyer, Mountain Cart, and Trotti Bike.
Tips/Notes:

You can get an adventure package (Grindelwald First Top of Adventure) if you are planning to do multiple activities with unlimited gondola rides. 

In the evening we went to visit the popular town of Switzerland – Interlaken. We walked around the town and bought chocolates & souvenirs. Also, if you are a fan of Bollywood movies, you should see the statue of Late. Mr. Yash Chopra has been recognized for filming in Switzerland thereby increasing the popularity of Switzerland among Indian tourists. 

You can also visit Harder Kulum which is considered as the top of Interlaken where you can see Lake Brienz and Lake Thun from a viewpoint. Other things you can do – visit Lake Brienz village, take a lake cruise, Brienz rothorn bahn (train ride) for beautiful views.

In our opinion, Interlaken would be a good choice for a stay, if you are planning to use public transportation to visit all the places in Bernese Oberland region.

After exploring the town, we drove to Grindelwald, had dinner, and checked in to our hotel.

Where we stayed: We booked this gorgeous hotel for the next two nights overlooking the Grindelwald Valley.

Day 7 – Jungfrau Top of Europe & Wengen

On this day, we visited one of the most popular attractions in Switzerland ‘Jungfraujoch: Top of Europe Adventure’. We bought a ‘Good Morning Ticket’ to visit Jungfraujoch from Grindelwald using which we saved more than 20% on our Top of Europe tickets. On top of that, we also used our Half Fare Card to further reduce 50% off our ticket prices. Without using the Good Morning Ticket and the Half Fare card, the roundtrip ticket per person from Grindelwald could have been 232 CHF. But after applying the half fare and using the good morning ticket the cost came down to 85 CHF!

There are multiple ways to reach the Jungfraujoch station. We started at Grindelwald Terminal Station where we hopped on a cable car (Eiger Express) and reached Eigergletscher. From Eigergletscher, we then boarded the Jungfrau Rail to reach Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe.

What to do in Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe?
  • Visit the Sphinx observatory and check out the Panoramic views of the snow-covered Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsh and from the Sphinx Terrace.
  • Visit the Ice Palace and Alpine Sensation corridor.
  • Visit the Snow Fun Park.
  • Hike to the Monchsjochhutte and get a close-up view of the Aletsh Glacier

After exploring Jungfraujoch, we visited this beautiful Swiss Alpine village in the Bernese Oberland region – Wengen. We walked on the pretty streets of Wengen and enjoyed the views. Also, we tried the famous Swiss Fondue for the first time, though it was a bit strong for us. From Wengen, we ditched the train and decided to hike down to Lauterbrunnen (where we had parked our car). The starting point of the hike was simply breathtaking. We found the rest of the hike a bit monotonous, though in parts the valley views were fantastic.

Day 8 – Oeschinensee Lake and Alpine Coaster in Kandersteg

We drove from Grindelwald to Kandersteg and took the gondola to reach the top where we planned to do two things –

  • Summer Toboggan Ride or the Alpine Mountain Coaster: This was really fun and the views were fabulous. It costs 6 CHF per ride. To know more, you can check the details here.
  • Oeschinensee Lake: We hiked for 30 minutes to visit this beautiful UNESCO world heritage alpine lake known as Oeschinensee Lake. If you have half a day to a whole day here, we would suggest going for longer hikes. To know more about the hikes, you can check the details here

From Kandersteg, we drove to Tasch (a part of this drive consists of transporting the car by train!). After reaching Tasch, we parked our car at the Tasch Terminal Parking and boarded the shuttle for Zermatt, our next destination. 

After checking into our hotel, we walked around the city and admired the view of Matterhorn (a popular mountain peak in Switzerland). Also, we visited a few viewpoints to click pictures with a Matterhorn backdrop.

Where we stayed: We booked this hotel which has a great view of Matterhorn. Zermatt is an amazing mountain town with a variety of hotel options.

Day 9 – Zermatt

We started early as we had planned a lot of things for the day. 

First, we boarded the Gornergate Bahn, one of the most scenic rides in Switzerland. We would suggest to seat on the right side for the best views. You can also purchase priority boarding to secure a better seat. 

We got down at Rotenboden station and hiked for 5-10 mins down to the Rifflesee Lake. It was a clear day and we saw the Matterhorn’s reflection in the lake. It was a magical site!

Then we boarded the same Gornergrat train and went further up to Gornergrat station. We would suggest hiking up to Gornergrat if you have extra time. The views are absolutely amazing. After getting down at the Gornergrat station, we enjoyed the panoramic views of Gorner Glacier and also could see the Matterhorn. There are many viewpoints and short hikes here to enjoy the views here.

Then after heading back to Zermatt, we walked to Sunegga Cable car station and got down at Blueheard station where we started the Five Lakes Trail. We went to the first lake Stellisee, which is about a 15-20 minute hike. The lake is beautiful and on a clear day, you can see the reflection of Matterhorn from here. After spending some time near the lake, we hiked for 10 more minutes to reach this mountain hut where we had delicious pasta and coffee! 

After an amazing day, we headed back to the hotel and called it a day.

If you have an extra day, you should visit Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.

Day 10 – Explore Geneva and Fly back Home

This was the last day of our epic Switzerland Trip. We started from Zermatt and reached Geneva around 11 am. and explored the city for half a day before flying back home. 

  • We visited the UN building from outside as the tours were not available for the day we visited. So plan and book in advance, if you like to visit here.
  • There is a huge Broken Chair opposite the UN building which represents the destruction by land mines and explosions.
  • Next we went to the waterfront area and saw the most popular attraction of Geneva, Jet d’Eau, or the Geneva water fountain. The water from the fountain can go up to 140 meters! We also did a short boat ride from one port to another on Geneva Lake which was fun. 
  • We also visited the beautiful St. Pierre Cathedral. 
  • After this, we spend most of our time walking around the cobble streets in the Old Town and the Geneva lake waterfront. 
  • Another interesting thing to check out in the Old Town is the secret passages used in the olden days by soldiers.

If you have an extra day, before arriving in Geneva spend some time in Montreux where you can visit Chillion Castle.

What to pack

Though we visited during the peak summer (July), it was still cold at the higher-altitude mountain ranges. So definitely carry a jacket, a pair of gloves, and a beanie. At the lower altitude mountain towns and cities, it was warm and sunny so carry a hat and sunscreen with you. Also, it rains quite a bit, so carry a rain jacket as well. 

Budgeting for the trip

Switzerland is an expensive destination to visit. Visiting during peak summer is even more expensive. The cost will vary based on the type of accommodation you choose, the number of activities you plan to do, the mode of transportation you choose, and whether you are eating at restaurants or picking up food from the supermarket.

Flights:

It will vary based on the city you are flying from and the month you are planning to visit. We usually use Skyscanner for price comparison.

Transportation: 

Transportation in Switzerland is expensive whether you choose public transportation or rent a car. We got a good deal on car rental which costed us $550 ($25 per day for insurance extra) for 10 days. We also purchased a Half Fare Card which costs $147 USD per person and is valid for 30 days. Using the half fare card, we were able to get a 50% discount on most public transportation including mountain rails and cable cars. 

If you are using public transport, a Swiss Travel Pass might be a better option. Swiss Travel Pass gives free unlimited rides on public transportation like trains, buses, boats, etc But on most mountain rails and cable cars, you only get a discount of up to 50%. There are other regional passes such as the Bernese Oberland pass which are good if you plan to spend most of your time in that particular region only.

We would suggest to take time and calculate the cost based on your travel itinerary.

Accommodations:

We visited Switzerland in peak summer and spent around $150-250 per stay. Wherever possible we opted for a stay with breakfast included to save some time and money.

Food:

Dining out in Switzerland is expensive. For a normal meal, it can cost up to $30-40 for 2 people. You can find a variety of good “to go” options (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) in supermarkets such as Coop, Migros for a much cheaper price. If you have a room with a kitchen, buy groceries and cook yourselves. It is safe to drink tap water in Switzerland, so just bring your reusable water bottle with you. On average, we spent $70-80 per day on Food.

Activities and Mountain Excursions:

As you would have guessed, activities and mountain excursions are also expensive in Switzerland. There are mountain excursions like Jungfraujoch Top of Europe, Gornergrate Glacier ect for which you will need to spend quite a bit. All these activities range in the price of 100-150 CHF (without a Swiss Travel Pass or a Half-Fare card). And there are so many activities like ParaglidingCanyon Swing, Grindelwald First Adventures etc which are also on the expensive end. The cost will vary based on the no of activities and mountain excursions you plan for.

Adventure activities you should add to your itinerary

  • Paragliding over the Lauterbraunnen Valley/ Interlaken/ Zermatt 
  • Mountain Cart, Trotti Bike, First Flyer, Glider & First Cliff Walk in Grindelwald First 
  • Alpine Coaster in Kandersteg / Mount Pilatus / Grindelwald First
  • Mountain Cart in Zermatt
  • Canyon Swing in Grindelwald 
  • Skydiving

Best way to explore – Road Trip vs Public Transportation?

The mode of transport depends on how you would like to explore the country. Switzerland has an extensive network of public transportation and you can almost reach everywhere using public transport. We opted for a road trip as we wanted more flexibility. 

Other things to know before you go!

1. Switzerland’s currency is Swiss Francs. Most of the places in Switzerland accept credit cards but it’s always good to keep some cash with you. We used credit cards with zero foreign transaction fees. Please check with your credit card company or bank about this before traveling.  Also, if you are using an ATM in Switzerland to get Swiss Francs, use only Bank ATMs. Never use ‘Euronet’ or 3rd party ATM for cash dispense as they charge much higher transaction fees.

2. Apart from the passport and Schengen visa, we would always suggest carrying printed documents of return tickets, Insurance, and hotel stays. The immigration officer may ask about this at the border control entry. 

3. You can buy prepaid SIM cards such as Swisscom at the Airports. We did not buy any SIM cards, however, we used our existing numbers. We use T-Mobile as our provider in the USA which offers an International pass for 7 days with 5 GB data or 30 days with 15 GB data. This international pass includes Switzerland which was good for us. The other option for data, I would suggest digital e-sims from Airalo. Do check if your cell phone is compatible before buying esim.

4. Switzerland is a major tourist hub and everywhere we visited people spoke English. Also, if you don’t understand what is written on the menu or signboards use the Google Translate app.

5. We would suggest booking hotels that provide breakfast (included in the room price/chargeable). This will save a lot of time in case you want to get an early start in the morning.

6. If you looking to stay in one place and explore different parts of Bernese oberland region, then staying in Interlaken would be a good choice. (Specially if you want to use public transportation)

There are so many regions to explore in this country. It is overwhelming to plan and decide which places to visit. Hope you find this post helpful to plan your epic road trip to Switzerland. 

Also, let us know in the comments if have any questions. Happy to answer! or if you find our blog useful. Happy to know!

You can also follow us on Instagram Or Facebook, where we post all about our recent travels. We also have a YouTube channel where we share travel videos. 

Pin it or Bookmark this post for your future reference. If you liked our content and want to buy us a coffee, you can do that here.

Thanks for Reading! See you next time!

Pin this for later!

How to plan Switzerland in 10 days
10 day Switzerland Itinerary

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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