Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I was privileged enough to spend a few days, traveling the country by rail last month. Here’s a suggested Switzerland one week itinerary for those planning to go there.
Day 1 – Zurich
Welcome to the capital city of Switzerland. There are many ways that you can enjoy this ’boutique’ city: take a stroll and do some window shopping at the old town area, enjoy the city view from Lindenhof, visit some of the iconic churches like Kirche St. Peter, take a free ferry ride around Zurich Lake (included in the Swiss Travel Pass) and many more!
Day 2 – Zurich to Zermatt
After a good rest in Zurich, move on to the next stop in this itinerary, Zermatt. Although Zermatt is located close to the southern border of the country, the train ride from Zurich, in the north, takes only ~ 2.5 hours.
When you arrive at Zermatt Station, make use of the free Hotel Pick Up Service phone to inform your hotel of your arrival. They will then send one of their electric cars to pick you up at the station!
Day 3 & 4 – Zermatt
Zermatt was definitely the highlight of my trip. This quaint town with no cars allowed offers stunning sceneries wherever you look and a nice mix of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ activities. For those who enjoy shopping or bar hopping, the main street in Zermatt village offers places to do this although it can be packed with tourists during the peak travel season.
Personally, I enjoyed being up in the mountains the most and one of the highlights of our Zermatt trip was the Gornergratt Bahn train ride up to Gornergratt and Riffelsee where we enjoyed clear views of the iconic Matterhorn. I also loved the kickbiking experience offered at Sunnega. If you enjoy winter sports, you will also be happy to know that at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (accessible by cable car from Zermatt) offers skiing and snowboarding all year round, even in summer!
PS. You get 50% off ticket prices for the Gornergratt Bahn or any other mountain train and cable car using the Swiss Rail Pass!
Day 5 – Zermatt to St. Moritz
Hailed as the slowest express train as well as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, The Glacier Express takes passengers from Zermatt to St. Moritz in a 7.5-hour ride through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges. This special train is free if you have the Swiss Travel Pass but as seats are limited, all passengers are required to make a seat booking (with a small fee) prior to the ride.
You might also want to take note that not all Glacier Express trains departing from Zermatt travel the full distance from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The first train of the day stops at Chur and you would have to change to a normal train from Chur to St Moritz. For more details, check their website out.
Day 6 – St. Moritz
St. Moritz is known for its winter activities yet it is still a beautiful place to visit even in summer. Other than trying the various water sports on one of the four crystal-clear lakes there, be sure to taste the unique St. Moritz water fresh from the spring. The spring water is naturally carbonated and has a unique taste due to the high concentration of iron in it. For those looking for branded products, you will also love the shopping street at St. Moritz.
If you’re an early bird, I would highly recommend traveling to a nearby town, Pontresina while you are staying in St. Moritz. Head down to Morteratsch Station, a short train ride away from St. Moritz Station and have a lovely cheese brunch at Alp-Schaukäserei Morteratsch (Morteratsch Alpine Cheese Diary) followed by a short trek around the area to enjoy nature.
Day 7 – St. Moritz to Lugano
From St. Moritz, continue your adventure to the Italian-speaking part of the country. There are two options to get to Lugano from St. Moritz: by train and bus on the Bernina Express or by Swiss’ postal bus, The Palm Express (the option we chose for our trip!).
The Palm Express took around 4 hours from St. Moritz to Lugano. There is only one bus a day so seat reservation is required even though the bus ride itself is free with the Swiss Travel Pass. The bus took us through curvy mountain passes, small towns, cross the border into Italy along the beautiful Lake Como before coming back into Switzerland to reach Lugano.
Day 8 – Lugano
Lugano, near Italy, felt very different from the previous Swiss cities that we visited. Part of Ticino canton, residents of Lugano speak Italian and the Italian influence can be seen in the food and town structure. The weather was also noticeably warm, going up to 31 degrees in the day during our visit in summer.
Some things you can enjoy here include walking around the city garden, heading up to Monte Generoso (a newly built stone-flower building offering stunning views of both Italy and Switzerland) and enjoy a meal at the one-star Michelin restaurant Fiore di Pietra, walk through a miniature park of Switzerland Swiss Miniatur and many more!
Day 9 – Lugano to Lucerne
Once you’ve had your fill of pizzas and pasta in Lugano, time to head back up to the northern area of Switzerland. This time, take the Gotthard Panorama Express to Lucerne. Please take note that you will also need to make a prior seat reservation for this ride.
However, unlike the Glacier Express, the Gotthard Panoramic Express is divided into two parts. The first leg of the trip involves a panoramic train ride from Lugano to Fluelen through the historical Gotthard tunnel. You will then stop at Fluelen to board a boat for the second half of the journey.
The boat ride, in my opinion, was the highlight of the trip. Just imagine feasting your eyes on the beautiful turquoise-tinted water with the lush green mountains and bright blue sky at the background all together in one seating! It was breathtaking and leaving the boat was the hardest part of the trip.
Day 10 – Lucerne to Zurich
Last stop before heading back home: Lucerne! Well known for its medieval structures, one can not miss walking through the iconic Chapel Bridge when visiting this city. Other than the Chapel Bridge, you can also enjoy shopping at the old town area, visit the Swiss Museum of Transport, head up to Mount Rigi (totally free with the Swiss Travel Pass) and more!
Are you excited for your trip to Switzerland? Well, do yourself a favor and buy a Swiss Travel Pass first before your trip if you have not already done so! The convenience and savings you will enjoy from it will definitely justify the cost. For those wondering where to stay during your visit, check out these Switzerland apartments – a great option for affordable stays!
Have fun in Switzerland!
Special thanks to Switzerland Tourism and Dynasty Travel for making this trip possible!