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Without a doubt, Switzerland is an absolutely gorgeous destination, with mountain views, crystal lakes, and cute medieval streets that will take your breath away. We’ve all seen pictures of the Swiss Alps, but after a trip here, you’ll find them underwhelming compared to reality.
Photographs don’t do Switzerland justice. You truly need to see the nature in person to appreciate it. It’s difficult for me to even describe Switzerland in words.
However, the downside is that visiting Switzerland also quite expensive.
I remembered feeling absolutely boggled at the prices once arriving in the country. So, if you’re planning a 5 days in Switzerland itinerary, then you want to make sure that each and every minute is worthwhile for you.
Time is money in Switzerland, haha. Literally.
Is 5 Days in Switzerland Worth It?
Yet, despite its hefty price tag, Switzerland is still one of my favorite countries in Europe. For instance, traveling alone in Switzerland is super safe and easy, and I even recommend first time solo travelers try exploring the Swiss on their own (although you should share your itinerary with friends and family at home).
Switzerland’s tourism infrastructure is also fantastic. You’ll gain a lot of confidence to travel to more challenging destinations after taking a trip to Switzerland.
Furthermore, Switzerland’s excellent public transit system offers quick and easy routes across this mountainous country, so don’t worry too much about how you’ll get from place to place.
Additionally, you don’t need to go through the hassle of renting a car, or learn how to drive through mountains. The trains are comfortable, and even the long rides themselves are even considered tourist attractions in their own rights. Simple, right?
How to Plan 5 Days in Switzerland
Now that I’ve gushed about Switzerland’s great qualities I need to share a little bit of bad news.
To be honest, I thought planning a Switzerland trip was a bit overwhelming. I mean, how can it not be?
Switzerland just had so many incredible towns and cities, as well as natural splendors that it was hard to narrow down the best places to visit. I actually spent hours sorting through all the suggestions on the official tourism site, and found myself wanting to go everywhere.
You need to accept that in spite of Switzerland’s trains, slowing down is the best and cheapest option for enjoying your travels.
By cramming in too many stops, you’ll mostly see the inside of train stations, and you’re spending way too much money to tolerate that.
Ultimately, for this 5 days in Switzerland itinerary, I put together my highlights from a much longer trip, although (of course) you’re still welcome to check out my 8 Days in Switzerland Guide for additional ideas.
Switzerland Travel Tips
First and foremost, I want to share some basic Switzerland travel tips. These simple tips will help your planning process regardless if you follow my itinerary or not.
I also hope to answer some of your questions about what it’s like to visit Switzerland in general.
Is 5 Days in Switzerland Enough Time?
Ugh, no it’s not. Even a month isn’t enough time in Switzerland.
However, it’s important to work within your time and budget. I think sometimes the travel space makes people feel guilty for not having piles of paid time off to fully immerse themselves in a country.
So, I want to say that if you only have 5 days in Switzerland, don’t feel guilty and plan activities that fit that time frame. You’ll still see a lot, and if you fall in love with Switzerland (spoiler alert: you will), then you can always plan to come back in the near future.
Best Time to Visit Switzerland
Determining the best time to visit Switzerland depends on your goals. Obviously, avid skiers would love a winter trip to Switzerland’s mountains, but personally, I loved summer time travel in Switzerland. Packing for Switzerland in August wasn’t super easy, but well worth it. I loved admiring the lush greenery on mountain hikes, as well as dipping my toes in Lake Geneva.
I also thought summer is Switzerland was warm, but not unbearably hot compared to nearby countries, such as Italy. With the world getting warmer, you’ll want to consider Switzerland’s mountains as a getaway.
All in all, though, anytime is great for visiting Switzerland.
What to Pack for a 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary
- Comfortable Day Pack: Carry your day-to-day essentials in a cozy daypack. You’ll want a lightweight one that’s good for long city strolls and mountain walks!
- EU Plug Converter: Keep those devices charged! While some hotels have USB plugs, not all of them do, so it’s important to have an EU plug converter with you on your trip!
- Hiking Boots: You want to be prepared for walking Switzerland’s splendid hiking trails, especially those in the mountains! Bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots, even if they are bulky. Hiking boots are a mandatory investment for a trip to Switzerland.
- Hiking Socks: Protect those feet from nasty blisters!! In addition to boots, pack a few pairs of moisture wicking hiking socks to keep your feet cozy on mountain walks.
- Language Phrasebooks: Three languages are spoken in Switzerland: German, French, and Italian. Depending on the regions you want to visit, you may want to brush up on casual phrases for all three of them!
How to Get Around Switzerland
Switzerland has an amazing public transportation system. Seriously, even with 5 days in Switzerland, I don’t recommend renting a car. A car rental would just cause an expensive headache, especially with narrow mountain roads and limited parking in old cities and towns.
Instead I personally recommend buying the 4 Day Swiss Pass. This pass will offer you unlimited access to Switzerland’s trains, buses, mountains, and even some attractions! It’s lovely not having to worry about buying tickets at every single station and every single museum. You save a ton of time.
Last but not least you will mostly travel across the country by train. Swiss trains are clean and efficient, and (most importantly), they are nearly always on time. Don’t bother spending extra money for first class train tickets. Switzerland’s trains are so exquisite that second class feels plenty comfortable.
5 Days in Switzerland: An Overview
|Further Explore Bernese Oberland
5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary: All the Details
Let’s talk about this 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary, now that we’ve covered basic Swiss travel tips. I included both cities and natural wonders in this itinerary, and I tried to limit how much time you spend on public transportation.
Unfortunately, three of the five nights are “one night stays,” but this itinerary really offers everything and better serves travelers who are on a tighter schedule.
Day 1: Zurich
Upon arriving to Switzerland, rest up in Zurich. Even though Zurich may not have a ton of attractions, I feel like it’s a wonderful city to just explore, shop, eat, drink, and relax.
After all, Zurich is a city that boosts a very high quality of life. Why not experience that positivity as a traveler?
I also think solo travel in Zurich is great, so don’t fret if you’re visiting Switzerland alone. Zurich is remarkably safe. So, switch off Google maps and simply wander at your leisure.
In Zurich, you don’t want to miss the gorgeous churches, such as Grossmünster and Fraumünster Church. You can easily view these churches from the outside and inside.
Furthermore, shopping addicts will love taking a stroll down Bahnhofstrasse, which is one of the most exclusive and expensive street in the world. If you’re like 99.9% of us and cannot afford a shopping spree here, you will still love doing some window shopping. Also sit at a cafe and watch the people. The best people watching is at the Hermes store. Not even kidding.
All in all, take time in Zurich to relax. You’ll need it.
Where to Stay in Zurich
- Hotel Adler Zurich: This wonderful 3 star hotel is in a perfect central location for your trip to Zurich. There’s also a highly rated restaurant on site. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com
- Marktgasse Hotel: This hotel is in a quiet and idyllic part of Zurich’s Old Town, so it’s ideal for travelers who are seeking a more relaxed stay. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com
- Zurich Youth Hostel: A perfect hostel choice for travelers looking to save money and socialize with other visitors. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com
Day 2: Lucerne
A quick train ride will take you to our next stop — which is Lucerne.
There is plenty to see and do with only 24 hours in Lucerne if you plan how to spend your time in advance. By heading right to Lucerne’s Old Town, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the Middle Ages.
My favorite thing to do in Lucerne was crossing Chapel Bridge, which is an impressive wooden covered footbridge that is 700 years old. Chapel Bridge has a ton of paintings inside that you’re able to admire, too.
You will also want to see the Lion of Lucerne. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. The lion’s face is incredibly realistic and will bring tears to your eyes. It’s a touching experience.
Furthermore, a good guided tour will help optimize your time in Lucerne. For example, taking a combination boat and walking tour offers the best of both worlds. Lucerne’s lake makes it a special city.
Ultimately, don’t skip Lucerne even though you only have 5 days in Switzerland. It’s well worth it.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
- Grand Hotel National Lucerne: This fancy hotel is well worth the splurge due to its perfect location. Close to the Old Town, yet still right near the shores of the Lake. A quiet spot that’s still very walkable. What could be better? See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com
- Hotel Beau Sejour Lucerne: This adorable boutique hotel is located right on Lake Lucerne — which I absolutely loved. It’s still in walking distance to Lucerne’s Old Town. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com
- Hotel Villa Maria: Another fashionable boutique hotel inside a historic home that is close to the lake. See prices on Booking.com | Expedia.com
Days 3 and 4: Bernese Oberland
For the next part of this 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary, you’re going to slow down and spend two nights in the Bernese Oberland. The Golden Pass train from Lucerne to Interlaken is super scenic, and well worth your time and effort. Get your camera ready.
You have plenty of options for your two night stay in the Bernese Oberland, and I know you’ll have a great time whether you stay in the mountains or valley.
Personally, I loved staying in Wengen. This village was easily accessible despite feeling more “off the beaten” in the region.
Plus, there is plenty to see and do in Wengen, so you won’t feel bored in the slightest. Of course, each traveler is different and I will write a couple different accommodation suggestions for you.
On your first day, I recommend taking the hour+ long adventure to Jungfraujoch, which is known as the Top of Europe. This is the highest train station in Europe, completed in 1896, and even by today’s standards, the engineering is a marvel.
I won’t lie to you. I cried upon reaching the summit of Jungfraujoch. Well worth the price. It’s easy enough to reach Jungfraujoch on your own, but guided tours to the summit are also available from Interlaken. You can also go on your own, and make a pitstop in the adorable town of Wengen if you’re not already staying there.
Afterwards, take the Eiger Express Cablecar down to the valley town of Grindelwald. Grindelwald is quite touristy and crowded, but the express ride is a ton of fun and well worth your time.
For your second day, you’re going to explore even more of the villages. First take the cable car to Murren, which is an adorable mountain village that is right at the foot of the famous Schilthorn mountain.
In Murren, you’re able to take a ride to Schilthorn Piz Gloria where the James Bond film, Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was filmed. I highly recommend going here. The small James Bond museum is a LOT of fun, and the views are (spoiler alert) breathtaking.
Last but not least, take the cable car to remote Gimmelwald. This magical little village will make you feel as if you’ve been transported in time. I loved sitting outside with a beer and admiring the mountainsides.
Ultimately, the Bernese Oberland is quintessential Switzerland. You’ll fall in love with this region, and want to come back. I know that I do.
Note that a lot of these activities are, unfortunately, weather dependent. Watch forecasts closely to ensure that you will have a clear view. Otherwise, you’ll want to adjust this 5 days in Switzerland itinerary.
Where to Stay in Bernese Oberland
- Eiger Mürren Swiss Quality Hotel: This gorgeous hotel is located in car free Murren and even has an indoor pool. Perfect for splurging, See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com
- Hotel Schönegg in Wengen: Another excellent hotel option with epic views. This building is so quaint, having been built in 1903. See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
- Valley Hostel: Do the prices of these hotels stress you out? Valley Hostel is a highly rated social accommodation with reasonable costs. Perfect for meeting other travelers! See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
Day 5: Lake Geneva
Before you leave Interlaken, make a quick stop at Harder Kulm. This beautiful viewpoint will give you nice pictures of Interlaken and surrounding trains. Afterwards, it’s time to board another scenic train.
The next (and final, boo) stop for this 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary is the famous Lake Geneva. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone in Geneva or in a group of friends. You won’t feel bored for a split second.
Without a doubt, you should take the train to Chillon Castle. In order to save time, purchase your entrance tickets to Chillon Castle ahead of time to avoid waiting in any long lines. English literature lovers will recognize Chillon Castle from Lord Byron’s poem “The Prisoner of Chillon.”
Afterwards, take a train to nearby Montreux, which is a typical resort town. Take a walk along the town’s iconic promenade, which has plenty of flowers and statues, including a famous one of Freddy Mercury. Posing with the Freddy Mercury Statue is always a lot of fun!
For a quieter scene, check out nearby Vevey or Cully, and relax at a cafe. Part of the joy in Lake Geneva is people-watching all the happy and sun soaked holiday goers (if you visited in summer).
As for wine lovers, it’s worth going to Lavaux Vineyard Terraces on Lake Geneva’s northern shore. These vineyards are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Final Note: For next day departures, Geneva Airport is easily accessible and has plenty of connections to Europe and North America. Open jaws flights are beneficial for this itinerary.
Where to Stay in Lake Geneva
- L’Auberge du Raisin: Located in gorgeous Cully, L’Auberge du Raisin is a small and luxurious hotel in close proximity to the vineyards. The restaurant is incredible too. See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com
- Nyon Hostel: This laid back and highly ranked hostel is located in the adorable town of Nyon. You have easy access to both Geneva and Lausanne. See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com.
- Royal Savoy Hotel & Spa: A historic hotel that was opened in 1909. This hotel will make you feel as if you’re staying in a luxurious castle. See prices on Expedia.com | TripAdvisor.com | Booking.com
I hope you had a splendid time reading this 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary. As always, feel free to reach out to me if you’re planning to go on an adventure in Switzerland. Have a great time!