Before we get to exploring Switzerland in 2 weeks: If you’re new here, welcome! To learn more about us, check out the About Us, or if you want to read our last blog post on how we spent 2 weeks in Greece, check that out here.
But for now, let’s talk about some things you can do while in Switzerland for 2 weeks.
Of course there is an almost unlimited amount of things to see and do in Switzerland and hundreds of blog posts that explore these things. We’re not new and innovative, but we’re going to talk about it anyway!
Like so many before us, we started and ended our trip in Zurich. This is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich located in the north-central part of the country.
After a 10 hour flight from San Francisco, we checked into our Airbnb, and took a walk to get dinner at NA081 (which had delicious pizza). Then we headed over to Lake Zurich for a sunset stroll. The first day was pretty low key as Sean and I had just arrived and were feeling particularly tired and jet-lagged.
The next day we got up early to head to the Old Town. Our first stop was the tourist info center to find out about getting the Swiss Pass. Unfortunately, none of us thought to bring our passports with us and therefore could not purchase. So top tip: bring your passport with you if you intend to purchase the Swiss Pass! Also, if you are planning on using the public transit system frequently, we do recommend the Swiss Pass. It’s expensive but worth it to be able to move around freely. We got the 15 day pass which cost us about $450 USD per person.
Instead, we decided to explore the Old Town area before heading back to the Airbnb for our passports. We made our way to Lindenhof, which has a great view of the city. We also walked around the Church of St. Peter and Grossmunster. I would definitely recommend just getting lost within the streets of Old Town Zurich. It’s so worth it and you find amazing little gems!
After doing quite a bit of walking, we decided to stop for lunch. Fortunately, we ended up being near a place we had on our list: Raclette Factory! Yes, this is a very touristic place, but for good reason. We had delicious raclette and iced tea!
Once full of cheese and potatoes, we make the walk back to the Airbnb, retrieved our passports, and headed back to the tourist info center inside the main train station. Achievement unlocked! We got our Swiss Passes!
As if they day wasn’t long enough already, we decided to check out the Lindt factory. Lindt is my favorite chocolate and I’m drooling just thinking about it! So, since we had our Swiss Passes, we hopped on a boat that took us down the river to a bigger boat, that took us around Lake Zurich, finally stopping at Kilchberg (our destination for Lindt).
By the time we arrived, it was 5:10 PM and they said they stopped allowing tours at 5 PM as they close at 6 PM. Sean convinced them that we would be quick and they allowed us in. Tickets are about 10 CHF and you can find out more information on their website: here. The tour is self-guided and at the end you get to sample sooooo much chocolate! The information is interesting, but I think it’s worth it just for the free chocolate. Of course, you can end in the gift shop full of a chocolate lovers dream.
We had a wonderful first day in Zurich and went to bed sufficiently tired and full of chocolate. The next day we take the train to Lucerne!
Lucerne, or Luzern
I know what you’re wondering, is it Lucerne or Luzern? Well both are correct! Lucerne is the English version, while Luzern is the German-speaking version. So now that we’ve cleared up the confusion, let’s talk about the beautiful Lucerne. Luzern? I don’t know!
Most people that fly in to Zurich, tend to head right to Lucerne. And for good reason. It’s a beautiful town with lots to do. The vibrant Old Town (or Altstadt) is bordered by the Musegg Wall and centered around the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke).
Lucerne is an easy train ride from Zurich and you’re in the Old Town right when you get off the train. The first thing we did was head straight to the bridge for a very important reason. Sean’s great grandfather proposed to his great grandmother on that bridge! History was made here! If THAT did not happen, WE may not have happened.
So, besides the beauty of the town, the reason we decided to take a day trip to Lucerne was Pilatus Mountain and the toboggan run. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the toboggan run or not as it was raining up on the mountain and the toboggan was closed due to the wet track.
We were hoping the rain would clear up so decided to get lunch at the restaurant to kill time. Since the rain would not let up, we decided to head back to the Old Town, walk around enjoying the wonderful cobbled streets, amazing buildings, and delicious pastries.
After a bit of walking, we decided to stop at Rathaus Brewery for a beer and a view of the Chapel Bridge. I can’t speak for the food, but the beer was delicious and refreshing!
Once done enjoying our drinks, we headed to Musegg wall, north of the city. This is a definite recommendation, as you get a wonderful view of the town and can walk the wall and explore the towers. A bonus: It’s free!
On the third day of our time exploring Switzerland in 2 weeks, we took multiple trains to our new location in Stechelberg.
Stechelberg is a small village right outside of Lauterbrunnen and our Airbnb had a wonderful view of the valley. Once we arrived at the train station in Lauterbrunnen, we had to take a 20 minute bus ride to Stechelberg.
We checked into our Airbnb, then took the bus back to town to buy some items from the grocery store (there’s a Coop right by the train station) and have dinner.
After dinner, Sean and I decided we wanted to figure out how to hike to Stabbauch Falls. Sean used Apple Maps, which highlighted a trail that, supposedly, would take us around behind the falls.
This path turned out to be something else. The route said it was a little over a mile to get to the falls. We never found out if that were true, as the trail was so steep, it was essentially vertical (yes I’m exaggerating, but it’s more fun that way).
However, the hike was particularly steep, muddy, and rocky – none of which we were prepared for. We happened to be carrying some of the groceries in our backpacks! After about a half a mile, we decided to call it quits. We ended up stopping at two abandoned looking cabins, in a field with a wonderful view. This field also happened to have – what I assume – were wild mountain goats grazing.
I’ll say this, we were totally unprepared for an extreme hike and would have loved to continue on. However, it was totally worth it and I would highly recommend doing it if you’re able to. I believe it was part of the Via Alpina trail from Lauterbrunnen to Murren.
On this day, we had been debating whether to take a trip to Jungfraujoch or go to Schilthorn, which happened to be much closer. We opted for Schilthorn, as the weather was not our friend that day.
Side note: we did not end up going to Jungfraujoch during our trip, but would recommend making sure you have nice weather if you do go. You can check out their website here to view the live cameras. It is pretty expensive and not at all covered by the Swiss Pass.
Back to Schilthorn…. So we decided to take the cable cars up to Schilthorn and have breakfast at Piz Gloria (the rotating restaurant where they shot scenes for James Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
The reason I mentioned the weather earlier, is because we had some of the worst weather possible! It was completely overcast and covered in fog. As we were taking the cable car up, you couldn’t even see anything around you.
We were hopeful, however. We had heard that the weather at the top can change pretty quickly, so we decided to enjoy our breakfast buffet and keep our fingers crossed.
This turned out to be fruitless as the weather never changed. So we gave up and headed back to town. While deciding what to do, we researched Trummelbach Falls. This happened to be a stop on the bus route to and from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg.
As it turned out, this was a series of glacier-fed waterfalls inside a mountain. Again, I would definitely recommend and think it was worth 14 CHF entrance fee.
If you’re staying in or near Lauterbrunnen, we definitely recommend taking a trip to Grindelwald. From here you can go to Jungfraujoch if you’d like. But as I mentioned earlier, we skipped going to Jungfrau due to weather and money. It just wasn’t worth it for us.
The trip to Lauterbrunnen to Grindelwald is simple. You take the train toward Interlaken OST, get off at Zweilütschinen, and then board the train to Grindelwald. FYI: While we were visiting, they were doing construction on the train tracks at Zweilütschinen, so the train for Grindelwald was on the same track but would pick up in sections C and D.
So the reasons were initially decided to go to Grindelwald to, not only see the the fairy-tale like town, but to check out Mount First. Again, we encountered poor visibility weather. So much so that we couldn’t even see the surrounding mountains of the town.
Tip: As with Jungfraujoch, you can check the weather for Mount First at the same website.
Since the weather didn’t appear to be working in our favor or letting up, we decided to make a trip to Interlaken, for the boat ride instead. Grindelwald, we took the train to Interlaken OST and then got on the train to Brienz. This was because by the time we got to the train station, we had missed the last boat leaving from Interlaken OST. So we had to take the train to the Brienz stop and get on the boat from there, which took us back to Interlaken OST.
Definitely take the boat around Lake Brienz (and Lake Thun if you have the time. We didn’t have the time unfortunately). The boat ride is about an hour from Brienz to Interlake OST and it is absolutely beautiful! The water was an incredible turquoise. The weather was much clearer here and we got some breath-taking views.
So we checked the live cameras for Jungfrau and Schilthorn, which showed clear views! Because Schilthorn is so close to Lauterbrunnen, and where we were staying, we decided to go back there in fear that the weather would change quickly.
Be warned when going up on the cable cars, you will be packed in like sardines!
Schilthorn is a must if you have a good, clear day! We got amazing views of all the snow covered peaks and mountains around!
Upon leaving Schilthorn, we decided to go back to Grindelwald (the train trip it super quick and easy) in order to see the town with its famous views.
I would also recommend taking the time to explore the vast and various hiking trails in and around Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. We did this after returning from Grindelwald but unfortunately it was raining so we didn’t go too far.
Travel day! If you’re going on the same path like us, today will be a travel day to Zermatt. We left our Airbnb around 10 AM to take the bus into Lauterbrunnen and the train to Zermatt. This requires multiple transfers.
We took the train from Lauterbrunnen station to Interlaken OST, Interlaken OST to Spiez, Spiez to Visp, and then Visp to Zermatt.
A little anecdote before we continue: While we were on the train from Spiez to Visp, Sean realized he left his GoPro on the table of the previous train from Interlaken OST. Thankfully, I had international data and quickly searched for a customer service number. Sean called immediately and provided as much detail as possible about what train and where the camera was located. Unfortunately there was not much more we could do, so we tried to make the best of the train ride. As we were waiting fro the train at Visp, I received a call from a Switzerland number who informed us that they had found the GoPro! So, Sean decided to go back to Interlaken OST, since that was where they were holding the camera, while my mom and I continued on to Zermatt.
Now back to our regularly scheduled blog… Zermatt is a car-free town with only small electric vehicles allowed. Once we got out of the station, we took an e-taxi to our Airbnb. Now, we could have walked, as the Airbnb was only about 10-15 minutes away. But my mom and I both had luggage and the walk is a bit uphill at times.
So depending on where you are staying, I would recommend an e-taxi. It can be a bit expensive, depending on your budget. It was between 12-18 CHF for the three of us (since Sean had to take a separate e-taxi as he arrived an hour after my mom and I).
This Airbnb was a great location! We had a wonderful view of the Matterhorn from the balcony and it was easy walking distance to the main street.
But keep in mind, we were there during off-season and did not realize a lot of construction occurs during this time. That meant that we were not able to utilize the balcony as they were doing construction all day right outside.
Take the Gornergrat train for a better view of the Matterhorn! This is kind of a must when you’re in Zermatt. The Gornergrat is a cogwheel railway that goes up to 3,100 meters above sea level.
We paid 55 CHF per person for round trip tickets with the Swiss Pass (yes this is half off the price without the Swiss Pass). It’s worth it for the amazing views, if you’re willing to spend the money.
After tons of pictures and awe, we went back to town and explored. Definitely make sure to check out Hinterdorf Street (or Hinterdorfstrasse). This street has some of the oldest wooden houses in Zermatt. Many of them were built upon stilts in the 16th and 17th century.
Another reminder: If you’re going during off-season, many of the restaurants and attractions will be closed.
Since it’s Switzerland, you are bound to spend some money, so why not check out Matterhorn Glacier Paradise? The price for return tickets from Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is 109 CHF per person (again, you can get half off with the Swiss Pass).
This required 3 cable car rides up. Once there head to the panoramic views. This is, supposedly, the highest point in Europe.
When you’re done taking in the breathtaking views and chill air, head into the Glacier Paradise. This is a walk-through ice cave with ice sculptures.
There is a little ice slide in there as well. They have small seat pads at the end of the slide, to take to the top. This slide was a bit of a disappointment since it was basically flat and you end up having to scoot yourself most of the way. If nothing else, it’s good for a laugh!
When you’re done freezing your buns off in the cave, head to the cafe and gift shop to warm up with some mulled wine, hot chocolate, and pastries!
Relax and explore! Not really much more to it. We didn’t do anything specific other than relax at our Airbnb and explore the town and shops of Zermatt.
Travel day! So after about 4 days in Zermatt, we decided to head back to Zurich for a couple of days before leaving.
This time we walked to the train station with all of our belongings. Downhill wasn’t too bad. We took the train from Zermatt to Visp and then from Visp to Zurich Airport. Stopping at the airport first as my mom was flying out the next day and needed to get a Covid test to return to the US. Later, we found out there was a testing site at the hotel. So tip: check your hotel to find out if they have a testing center! This can save you time and money.
After checking into the hotel, we spent the rest of the evening walking around the Old Town of Zurich. Definitely recommend as it is lively and vibrant in the evening. There are also so many shops and restaurants. The shops, however, seem to close fairly early around 6 PM.
This day happened to be our last full day. My mom left that morning, which left Sean and I by ourselves to explore. We decided to visit a couple of the castles in the area.
First we started with Kyburg Castle. This happens to be about an hour train and bus ride from Zurich. From the Zurich main station (Zurich HB), you take the S3 towards Wetzikon and get off at Effretikon. From there you take the 655 bus (right outside the train station) towards Kyburg, Dorf. This takes you directly to Kyburg Castle.
The admission to get into Kyburg Castle was 12 CHF per person (adult pricing). We would highly recommend it as there was so many rooms to explore and so much to see. We kept being surprised by all the rooms! Sean and I also happened to go early in the day so there were not many people. We essentially had the place to ourselves!
From Kyburg Castle, we headed to Laufen Castle. This required a bus ride back to Effretikon station, to get the S8 to Winterthur, and then the S33 to Neuhausen. All of this took about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The main attraction of Laufen Castle is actually the falls. The castle is situated overlooking Rhine Falls. Going up to the castle was free, however, getting to walk the path to the falls was 5 CHF per adult. This also gets you access into the castle. Beware the falls get incredibly crowded. There are several different viewing areas, so you can find some spaces for pictures, but people are everywhere!
Not many people seem to either know or care about the inside of the castle, as we were the only ones there when we went in. You walk up to the castle from the falls and into the courtyard. The courtyard overlooks the water so you’ll see tons of people taking pictures. However, there is a ticket scanner by a doorway at the castle. If you purchased a ticket you can enter. It’s not very big but it was an interesting museum.
Of the two castles, our recommendation would actually be Kyburg Castle for actual castle vibes. Really the only attraction of Laufen is the waterfall. If you’re looking to see a cool castle, you might want to skip Laufen.
Final thoughts on exploring Switzerland in 2 weeks
So there you have it! That was how we explored Switzerland in 2 weeks. Here is a concise list of our recommended itinerary:
- Spend time in Zurich! There is a lot to see, it has amazing architecture, so many shops and food, and is overall a beautiful city!
- Of course, visit Lurcerne. If you’re not staying in Lurcerne, definitely make the trip to visit. It’s an easy train ride from Zurich. If you have better luck with the weather than we did, do the toboggan and tell us how it was!
- Go to Zermatt! See the Matterhorn, pay a ridiculous amount of money to take the Gornergrat train to the top for a closer view, and then more money to get to the highest point in Europe.
- Visit the castles! There are so many castles around Switzerland and Zurich itself. We only got to visit Kyburg and Laufen. Kyburg is a definite for that castle feel and Laufen for the amazing waterfall.
- Eat raclette and fondue! Wherever you find a place, eat it! It’s Switzerland, cheese and potatoes is a must!
- Visit the Lindt Factory. Free chocolate, need I say more?
- Go to Lauterbrunnen. Beautiful, fairy tale landscape and waterfalls.
- Take a trip to Schilthorn. If you’re a skier or just want some amazing views, Schilthorn was more affordable, probably less crowded than Jungfraujoch, and offered breath-taking views!
- Take a boat ride around Interlaken. Whether you go to Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, or both, a boat ride is worth it for a wonderfully relaxing experience with gorgeous views.
What did you think of our trip? Any suggestions for what to do when exploring Switzerland for 2 weeks? Let us know in the comments!