I knew Switzerland would be pretty, but I didn’t know it would be bewitching. If you love mountains, fresh air, lakes, and pure bliss – Switzerland is a must-see. I will try my best to capture the beauty that is Switzerland with words and pictures but in all honesty, I think it is impossible to capture it in its entirety. You must experience it for yourself, so add it to your bucket list!
Before getting into what I did, saw, and ate, I want to share my pros and cons from this gorgeous country. Although I was only there a week, I feel I got a good grasp of the country. Safe to say, I would go back in a heartbeat.
- SCENERY – mountains, lakes, hills, animals, etc. (locals say it does not get old)
- People are nice
- Weather (Went in June. Rain came and went. Temperature was enjoyable)
- Chocolate, cheese, coffee, fresh ingredients
- Public transportation
- Expensive (Switzerland is a wealthy country. Everything, for the most part, is expensive here)
- Limited airconditioning
- Difficult for those with dietary restrictions like dairy and gluten sensitivities
- Annoying flies in rural areas🪰
- Annoying roundabouts when driving but dramatically reduced traffic lights
Guide to Switzerland
Day 1: Travel Day
Day 2: Arrive in Zürich. Drive to Lucerne and then Wilderswil/Interlaken
Day 3: Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Interlaken
Day 4: Grindelwald-First, Neuhaus lido at Lake Thun, and Harder Kulm
Day 5: St. Beatus Caves and Thun
Day 6: Zermatt
Day 7: Montreux
Day 8: Gruyere & Zürich
Day 9: Zürich
Day 10: Travel Day
✈️Flew into Zürich, picked up our car rental, and drove straight to our next destination, Lucerne, for about 40 minutes. Trains can get you everywhere you need to go, but it ended up being cheaper to rent a car and use trains when needed.
Lucerne is a compact city in Switzerland known for its preserved medieval architecture amid snowcapped mountains on Lake Lucerne. Its colorful Altstadt (Old Town) is bordered on the north by 870m Museggmauer (Musegg Wall), a 14-century rampart. The covered Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), built in 1333, links the Aldstadt to the Reuss River’s right bank.
I thought this city was adorable! I was already sold on Switzerland just by seeing Lucerne. The day was gorgeous, and the views were already awe-inspiring. I am so glad we stopped here for lunch. The city was alive with pedestrians, a farmers’ market, and ducks enjoying the lake.
We arrived ready for some eats and German/Swiss beer, so we checked out Restaurant Rathaus Brauerei Luzern. Before coming here, I saw that this brewery was popular. It did not disappoint. I had the house beer and shared some appetizers. I found everything fresh and delicious. Big surprise, cheese and bread were phenomenal – actually, everything was (they had the best olives, pickles, onions, etc.). Location, location!!! I loved the view of the lake I had while sipping my cold beer.
After lunch in Lucerne, we drove a bit over an hour to our next stop. Wilderswil, a village and a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the canton of Bern, was our home base for 3 days. From Wilderswil, you can easily access other parts of Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Grindelwald-First, Thun, and more. I loved how close it was to so many sightseeing spots without being in the more touristy Interlaken. I quickly noticed how beautifully manicured everything is over here. I have never seen so many roses. It made me think about who is responsible for all the bright – and very much alive – flowers all over Switzerland. Whoever handles this….
We stayed at Hotel Berghof Amaranth where the view was phenomenal, breakfast was included, and I got to sleep in an attic (not a typo, haha – it made my treehouse dreams come true). I loved how peaceful it was here. There is also a friendly hotel cat that walks around outside!
One of the nights we were here, we ate at Hotel Baren. I really enjoyed this cozy restaurant. It was adorable and authentically Swiss. I loved everything I had. Asparagus was in season, so I even got to have an asparagus martini, which was completely new to me! It was even made right in front of me with homemade bitters and a burnt orange peel. The steak tartare was delicious and so was everything that came with it. I had my very first rosti for dinner and loved it – who doesn’t enjoy breakfast for dinner? The dining experience concluded with a chocolate molten cake, which was chocolatey and awesome.
On our last night in Wilderswil – after exploring the caves and Thun – we ate at a restaurant in town called Luna Piccante. The place offered some great Italian eats with a mountain view! On the downside, no air-conditioning and A LOT of flies pestering us as we ate. I enjoyed my wine and pasta dish but would have enjoyed it more if I did not have to fight flies for it.
I was blown away by the view of the mountains here at Interlaken (spoiler alert, won’t be the last time I am blown away by the view here in Switzerland. It is simply just the beginning, my friends). The Interlaken area was packed, and it became hard to find somewhere to eat. Eventually, I found one – Brasserie 17 (also a hostel). To drink, I had a Leffe Blonde and loved it. For dinner, we shared chicken satay, fondue, chicken wings, and ribs. It was all good; my favorite was the chicken satay. After dinner, we got some gelato (the cherry and chocolate gelato hit the spot), sat on a bench in the park area, and attempted to commit to memory the view of the mountains.
The next day, we came back to eat dinner in the area – Actually, at a restaurant we couldn’t get into the day before, Hüsi Bierhaus. I loved the beer the waitress recommended I try; it was fruity and different than what I normally drink. For appetizer, we had a sampler that really filled us up. I did not need a main dish but I did continue eating. For dinner, I shared a burger that was more like a hot dog burger – I was not a fan.
The village of Lauterbrunnen is set in a valley featuring rocky cliffs and the roaring, 300m-high Staubbach Falls. I did a short hike to see the falls closer and it was totally worth it (make sure to wear shoes with traction, because it gets slippery)! I enjoyed the cute village and the amazing view it provided. After getting our steps in, we devoured some well-deserved, made-to-order doughnuts topped with strawberry syrup and powdered sugar.
After exploring Lauterbrunnen, we took a train to Wengen, a Swiss Alpine village in the Bernese Oberland region. The view got even better in Wengen (didn’t know that was possible). Naturally, it was cooler up here (Elevation: 4,180′). When it started to rain, we took the opportunity to hide out at the closest spot, which happened to be the Crystal Bar. The warm bar served as a great stop to avoid rain and savor some beers and food.
The Mannlichen Royal Walk
We took a cable car from Wengen – that took about 5 minutes – to a very regal viewing point. The Mannlichen Royal Walk has to be one of my top highlights from the trip (possibly even my favorite part). The views from up here left me speechless. I apologize for not doing them justice with my pictures. This short 25-minute stroll to the top of Mannlichen provides views of the famous Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains, as well as the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Grindelwald.
Guess what….more AMAZING views – bet you didn’t see that coming. When I thought Grindelwald, I thought Harry Potter…Now, I think about the incredible mountain views and astonishing experiences we had here (as well as Harry Potter, lol).
As a family, we did the First Glider. Trust me, it is super safe. I am a chicken and wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t. We got to float through the mountain landscape and enjoy a panoramic view at high speeds (we came back to the platform with tears streaming down our faces from the wind). How it works: the First Glider is pulled backwards from Schreckfeld towards First at 72 km/h and its passengers glide the 800-metre-long flight route at up to 83 km/h. Probably the closest I have ever felt to flying!
For a closer look at the First Glider, check out my video:
We took the cable car all the way up to First and my gosh, the view🤯. We did the First Cliff Walk and it did not disappoint. See for yourself with the slideshow below.
We decided to take in the view a little longer by eating lunch at the Cliff Walk Bar/Berggasthaus Restaurant. The fondue was delicious and the best we have had on the trip. The fondue was technically for 2 people but there was plenty for 4 people (there was still fondue leftover). The potatoes and french fries were magnifique in the fondue! To drink, I had Hugo – which was perfect for battling the sun’s rays.
After chowing down, we went back down with the cable car to where we started. We saw cows, a pretty cat, and had coffee from one of those machines (it was magnificent. the milk actually tasted like milk). I wish I had one of these machines back home and/or at work!
The Neuhaus lido at Lake Thun
We came here thinking we could rent a boat. Unfortunately, they were all already reserved. We still got to see this cute, tranquil spot, though. I recommend going early if you are looking to rent something.
We took a funicular to Harder Kulm (which I kept reading as Heidi Klum) that took about 10 minutes. Yet again, another incredible viewing point. We basically got our pictures and hopped on the funicular back down. I learned a lot this trip, the word funicular being a big one🚆.
St. Beatus Caves
The next day was rainy, so we decided to check out the St. Beatus Caves. I found this to be a intriguing and great activity to do if the day is not conducive to outdoor activities. The view from the area was also really nice (even on a cloudy, rainy day). As a Stranger Things fan, the caves made me feel like I was in the Upside Down – in a good way, of course.
We decided to check out Thun and get some lunch and chocolate while we were there. Let me tell you, the view was gorgeous as we drove along the lake (it was giving me Pacific Coast Highway but Switzerland edition). I loved the European architecture of the buildings and how we could see the Thun Castle from afar. We were a bit tired of Swiss food, so we went to McArthurs Pub for some beers and fish and chips. After that, we got chocolate at a Läderach store in town – when in Switzerland🍫! It all hit the “Americans in Europe” spot. In full transaprency, we went to take a nap after all this adventuring (& eating).
On our way to our next destination – Zermatt – we saw some new views and drove on to a train that carried us closer to our destination (which I found totally wild). In total, it took a little over 2 hours to get to Zermatt. Since Zermatt is car-free, we left our car at the Matterhorn Gotthard Railway in Täsch (private car traffic is only permitted as far as Täsch) and took a train to Zermatt, which only took 12 minutes.
For our one day in Zermatt (which ended up being enough since we weren’t skiing), we stayed at Hotel Carina, which was close to the train station we got off from. The hotel has a great view of the Matterhorn and was very hip and modern. Our room was a spacious 2 floor loft with a kitchen and 2 bedrooms. I wanted to stay longer because our room was so nice.
After dropping off our suitcases, we got ticket to explore the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise – the highest mountain station in Europe with views of the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. The journey time takes about 40 minutes and provides incredible views. It was wild to think that we were in the middle of a snowstorm in JUNE. When we got to the last stop, it was cold, and the air was thin. We made sure to walk up the steps (with snow and wind hitting our faces) to see the crucifix at the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Observatory and then warmup at their restaurant with some fries and drinks.
When doing my research on what to eat, I found all the restaurants to be expensive (it is a ski town). We wanted something different, so we opted to eat at Golden India – which was a happening spot. We shared appetizers and main plates. Everything we had was cooked for us and well flavored. I am glad we shared, so I was able to try different dishes.
It took about 2 hours to get to Montreux from Zermatt. Montreux, a town on Lake Geneva, was such a shock to me. I absolutely loved the French influence in this adorable town and how you could see France across the lake.
For accommodation, we stayed at the Hôtel Villa Toscane. We had a spacious room with 2 bedrooms, along with a couch and television. I loved how vintage and French the room was with all the art, mirrors, windows, and furniture pieces.
We explored the lake area and checked out the Freddie Mercury statue. I wish the day was nicer, but I still enjoyed the scenery. Although the water was rocky – making it look more like the ocean than a lake – the ducks were still out and about.
Queen Studio Experience Montreux
My sister is a big Queen/Freddie Mercury fan, so we, of course, went to the Queen Studio Experience in the former Mountain Studios in the Casino Barrière de Montreux. Queen actually made recordings in the studio from 1978 to 1995. The museum was opened December 2, 2013, by band member Brian May. I thought this was a great way to learn more about Freddie and Queen, as well as their connection with Montreux.
After exploring the museum, we saw a bit more of the city and got lunch at Barrel Oak, The Irish Pub. The pub offered a great view of the city/lake, beer, and good eats. I had 1/2 a club sandwich and 1/2 a quesadilla.
After pigging out, we went off to inspect Chillon Castle. To get there, we got on the bus – which was easy, painless, and free. We felt safe using their public transportation. Our hotel gave us a 50% discount for the castle, which was obviously nice. I loved exploring the 13th-century fortress that is Switzerland’s most visited historical building and is widely considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval European castles. I saw A LOT of castles while in the U.K. – this was nice but wouldn’t say it was my favorite in Europe.
The excursion to the castle allowed us to do some sightseeing in the process, further adding to my love for the city.
For dinner, we tried checking out a local spot but that turned out to be really popular, so we ended up eating at a restaurant (Cafe Bellagio) in our hotel. It was pricey, but the view was great and so was the food. The portions were also bigger than expected.
La Maison du Gruyere🧀
The iconic cheese factory was not originally on our itinerary but was recommended to us by a local. How could we go to Switzerland without touring a cheese factory? It took around 30-40 minutes to get here from Montreux. It was a nice stop before landing at our last destination in Switzerland, Zürich. I found the audio tour to be informative (I learned cows have 4 stomachs), interesting, and to the point. We also got to sample cheeses and see how cheese is made. OH – and the view was yet again, gorgeous over here.
The drive to Zürich took about 2 hours. We decided to drop off our car a day early at the car rental spot in the airport (by the way, you do not get refunded for dropping it off early). After that, we took the train to then central station – which ended up being conveniently near our hotel, Hotel St. Gotthard. The hotel was cute but the least interesting and comfortable of the hotels we have stayed at throughout the trip. To begin with, they do not have 4 person rooms and the rooms were hot (get used to cracking the windows open in Switzerland during Spring/Summer).
I really loved the city. It was clean, safe, and architecturally/naturally pretty. I did not expect much from Zürich, since it is a bigger city.
For dinner, we went to the popular and historic Zeughauskeller for beer and Swiss food. I enjoyed my chicken dish but everyone else in my party was unimpressed. For the most part, we were over Swiss food. After that, I had some delicious pistachio gelato from Gelati am See. Overall, our first day in Zürich was a success.
The next day – after getting some much-needed rest – we had breakfast at Café Gourmet. I loved this cafe, it’s coffee and food, and the general vibe – I felt like I was in Paris! I could get used to having chocolate with my coffee…
May not be in NYC, but you can have a Serena van der Woodsen moment at the Zürich Hauptbahnhof (Zürich’s main station). We used the main station to get to Lindt Home of Chocolate. It was a quick ride and a 5-minute walk to the must-see chocolate museum.
I loved the museum. It was informative (maybe too informative at times. I gave up on the audio tour at some point), had a huge chocolate fountain, and presented us with an abundant amount of samples. I was all chocolate out after, which I was not sure was possible. The gift shop also provided great prices on Lindt chocolate. We stocked up on chocolate for our loved ones while we were here. I mean, chocolate is the best souvenir!
After getting chocolate wasted🍫, we did some more exploring of this beautiful city. We even got to witness an outdoor concert. It is nice to walk around the city at all hours and feel safe. Even families with small kids are out late exploring the city.
We were in the mood for Asian food, so I found Thach through all their positive reviews online. It ended up surpassing expectations. Everything was tasty, fresh, and fulfilling. I think it was a great restaurant for our last night in Switzerland. I even made sure to get my last Hugo before the trip came to an end.
I had a great time but was happy to head home. I thought time would fly by – which it did – but a week was a good amount of time. The days were long since the sun did not set until late (around 10PM) and they were jam packed with activities. I was tired and ready to relax by the end of the trip. That being said, I really would love to return – maybe in winter next time?
Until next time, Switzerland🇨🇭.