Last Updated on January 27, 2022 by Nellie Huang
Dreaming of an epic Switzerland road trip? Here’s my recommended Switzerland itinerary for those with 2 weeks in Switzerland.
Dramatic mountains, spearmint lakes, cute alpine towns blanketed in sparkling white snow — Switzerland is the winter wonderland that many dream of. Switzerland may be a small country, but it sure packs a punch with landscapes of epic proportions.
Having just returned from another Switzerland road trip, I can certainly say that Switzerland has some of the most impressive mountainscapes in the world. For those who are keen to see the best of Switzerland in 2 weeks, here is our Switzerland itinerary.
Table of Contents
- The Ultimate Switzerland Itinerary
- How to Get to Switzerland
- Current Switzerland Travel Restrictions
- How to Get Around Switzerland
- Best Time to Visit Switzerland
- 2 Weeks in Switzerland Itinerary
- Switzerland Itinerary Days 1-2: Explore Basel
- Itinerary Days 3-4: Drive to Bernese Oberland
- Itinerary Days 5-7: Head into Lauterbrunnen Valley
- Itinerary Day 8: Visit the Alpine Village of Wengen
- Switzerland Itinerary Day 9: Head to Glacier 3000
- Switzerland Itinerary Day 10-12: Visit Montreux
- Switzerland Itinerary Day 13: Continue to Beautiful Zermatt
- Itinerary Day 14: Drive back to Basel
- Cost of this Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary
- Packing for this Switzerland Road Trip
- Want to Read More about Switzerland?
The Ultimate Switzerland Itinerary
How to Get to Switzerland
This Switzerland itinerary starts and ends in Basel Airport, which is located right across the border with France and Germany. Alternatively, you can also fly into Zurich Airport, just an hour’s drive to Basel. There are plenty of cheap flights from various cities around Europe to Basel. You can get budget flights from London to Basel for €50 return. From the US, you can find flights from New York to Basel for as cheap as $500 return.
How to Get Around Switzerland
For this Switzerland road trip itinerary, we recommend hiring a car or driving your own vehicle. Switzerland has remarkable infrastructure and transport network. Plus it’s a small country and driving distances are never more than a couple of hours.
Car rental in Switzerland is also relatively cheaper than train travel. A 1-week car rental in Switzerland costs around US$365 or €300. Currently, petrol costs around €1.3-1.5 per liter.
We drove our camper van and loved exploring the lakes and high mountains in the day and sleeping in our warm van by night As Switzerland is so expensive, driving a camper van can be a great way to save on accommodation and meals.
Wild camping is one of the best things about campervan travel, but technically it is not allowed in Switzerland. There are plenty of campsites in Switzerland though and they costs around €20-30/night for a parking spot and 2 adults.
You can you can hire a campervan in Switzerland on Indie Campers from €50/day and it comes with everything you need including outdoor table and chairs, bedding, cooking equipment. Just be sure to select a van with warmer if you’re coming in winter!
Most people would say the best way to get around the Switzerland is by train as that’s the fastest mode of transport. Almost every corner of Switzerland can be accessible by train — in fact some mountain towns like Wengen can only be reached by train and not car.
If you’re intending to explore Switzerland by train, it’s best to get a Swiss Rail Pass as that will save you quite a few pennies. You can buy it here in advance and check train schedules on the Swiss Federal Railways website.
Best Time to Visit Switzerland
It really depends on what sort of experience you’re seeking in Switzerland. We find winter (November to February) the best time to explore Switzerland’s charming alpine villages and snow-covered mountains. However, expect sub-zero temperatures and make sure you are comfortable driving in snowy conditions. Refer to my guide on driving in Switzerland.
If you’re after long hikes and warm weather, then summer (June – August) is the best time to visit. Everything turns green and it’s an excellent time to go on boat trips, swim in the lake, hike the mountains and visit observatories in the Swiss Alps.
2 Weeks in Switzerland Itinerary
My recommended Switzerland road trip focuses on exploring the countryside, mountains and small villages. I prefer nature to big cities, and so I’ve designed this Switzerland itinerary with a focus on nature, and skipped cities like Geneva and Zurich.
- Day 1-2: Basel
- Days 3-4: Interlaken & Lake Brienz
- Days 5-7: Lauterbrunnen & Grindelwald
- Day 8: Wengen & Murren
- Day 9: Glacier 3000
- Days 10-12: Montreux, Lausanne, Gruyères
- Day 13: Zermatt
- Day 14: Back to Basel
Switzerland Itinerary Days 1-2: Explore Basel
Basel is a great starting point as it’s within a short driving distance to the best parts of Switzerland. Basel’s medieval old town is one of the most beautiful anywhere in Europe, dominated by the red-sandstone Town Hall, Its medieval old town centers around Marktplatz.
Its 12th-century Gothic cathedral has city views, and contains the tomb of the 16th-century Dutch scholar, Erasmus. The city’s university houses some of Erasmus’ works.
Itinerary Days 3-4: Drive to Bernese Oberland
Time to kickstart your Switzerland road trip! Once you leave the city behind, you’ll see the silhouette of the massive Swiss Alps looming in the distance. Drive south, past the city of Bern, towards Thun and you’ll be there in two hours.
Located at the lower end of Lake Thun, Thun is the gate to the Bernese Oberland. You’ll get your first glimpse of the quintessential Swiss landscapes here: snowcapped peaks looming above the glassy waters of the spearmint lake. The historic Old Town is situated about one kilometer from the shore of the lake, on the river Aare.
Drive around Lake Thun
After exploring Thun, take a scenic drive around the pristine Lake Thun. First, stop for a picnic at Schadau Park, that has a beautiful marina, playground and lake views.
It takes just over an hour to drive a loop all around Lake Thun. This area is known as the Riviera of the Bernese Oberland and the scenic route has plenty of picturesque views. Some of the highlights include the Hünegg castle in Oberhofen, and St Beatus Caves.
Explore the Town of Interlaken
Built on a narrow stretch of valley between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, Interlaken is definitely the highlight of Switzerland for many. It’s an outdoor lover’s playground, characterized by mountains, meadows and numerous hiking and skiing trails. The town itself is an excellent base for hiking excursions and boat trips.
One of the best hiking routes is the 2-hour circuit from Panoramaweg. Another popular thing to do in Interlaken is paragliding, one of the best views to see the formidable Swiss Alps, regardless of the time of year.
Base Yourself in Unterseen
You can choose to stay in Interlaken or Unterseen, a neighborhood just outside of town. We stayed in Unterseen as we wanted to be closer to nature (while Interlaken is more of a city). Unterseen literally means Lower Lake, since Unterseen is located on the flat area on the eastern shore of Lake Thun.
Itinerary Days 5-7: Head into Lauterbrunnen Valley
Before you leave Interlaken, take a scenic drive along Lake Brienz enroute to Lauterbrunnen. The views here are even more stunning than at Lake Thun as the mountains loom higher over the glassy spearmint waters of the lake.
If you’re traveling Switzerland in summer, catch a boat trip on Lake Brienz to see them all. One of the best places to stop is the village of Iseltwald. The beautiful village backdropped by snowcapped mountains looks straight out of a fairytale.
If you have more than 2 weeks in Switzerland, I recommend continuing your journey to Lucerne from Brienz, as it’s just an hour drive away. Lucerne has an attractive old town and lots of cool museums and mountain hikes. Check out this list of things to do in Lucerne.
Weave through the Lauterbrunnen Valley
It’s time for the best part of this Switzerland road trip! Drive 2 hours southeast into the Lauterbrunnen Valley, one of the most impressive trough valleys in the Alps.
The name ‘Lauter Brunnen’ (‘many fountains’) suggests the magnificence of this landscape. There are 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the most famous being the Staubbach Falls right in the heart of town. Plunging almost 300m from an overhanging rock face, they are one of the highest free-falling waterfalls in Europe.
Another deafening natural phenomenon are the Trümmelbach Falls in the ‘Black Monk’ mountain, hidden behind mighty rock faces. Up to 20,000 litres of water per second cascade over the ten glacier falls from a total height of about 200m. This spectacle can only be reached in summer by tunnel lift.
Go Skiing in Grindelwald
Continue driving towards the ski resort of Grindelwald, just 20 minutes away by car. I recommend staying in Grindelwald for the next few days as it’s the largest ski resort in the Jungfrau region and makes for an excellent base (even if you don’t ski).
Embedded in a welcoming hollow, Grindelwald is surrounded by the imposing mountains of Eiger and Wetterhorn. In winter, Grindelwald is blanketed in snow and you can easily ski off the slopes outside your hotel or go sledding right outside your front door.
In summer, there are 300 km of walking trails around Grindelwald. The high-altitude walk from Grindelwald-First along the Bachalpsee to the Schynige Platte ranks among the most beautiful hikes of the region.
Itinerary Day 8: Visit the Alpine Village of Wengen
Head back to Lauterbrunnen for a day of excursions in the mountains. A rack railway links Lauterbrunnen with the mountain town of Wengen which can only be accessed by train. The train trip itself is well worth the journey, as it literally takes you up the mountain with steep cliffs right outside your window.
From Wengen, you can also continue onto the Kleinen Scheidegg, and change trains for the onward journey to the Top of Europe, Jungfraujoch*.
Take the Train to Murren
On the opposite side of the valley is the holiday resort of Mürren, accessible from Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. The cableway from Stechelberg continues to the peak of the Schilthorn at 2971 m, famous for being the setting where the 007 classic, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was filmed.
Switzerland Itinerary Day 9: Head to Glacier 3000
The next day, drive 2 hours southwest to Glacier 3000 in Col du Pillon. It’s another observatory perched high in the Swiss Alps, with jawdropping views of Mont Blanc, Jungfrau and Matterhorn. But ticket prices are half of Jungfrajoch prices, and so we chose to visit Glacier3000 instead. Book your tickets here!
One unique attraction that Glacier 3000 has is the Peak Walk. The The 107m long bridge is the only suspension bridge in the world that connects two mountain peaks. It takes just minutes to walk it; but it’s not for the faint-hearted. We were lucky to visit on a clear, sunny day, but we still experienced 70km/h winds and -12degC temperature.
Switzerland Itinerary Day 10-12: Visit Montreux
For the last part of your Swiss road trip, head west towards Montreux, one of the most charming cities in Switzerland. The city is built along Lake Geneva and oozes an elegant European style.
Known for its mild microclimate, Montreux has colorful promenade lined with flowers, sculptures, Mediterranean trees and grand Belle Époque buildings. One beautiful spot to visit is the offshore medieval island castle, Château de Chillon, complete with ramparts, formal halls and 14th-century murals.
Wander the Old Town of Lausanne
Just a 30-minute drive along the lake, you’ll find the city of Lausanne. The town is built on three hills, surrounded by vineyard-covered slopes overlooking Lake Geneva.
The attractive old town of Lausanne is largely car-free. Small alleyways with cafes and boutiques shape the streetscape in the medieval city centre. The 19th-century Palais de Rumine houses fine art and science museums.
Explore Medieval Town of Gruyères
It’s almost the end of your trip. On your way back to Basel, make a stop at the medieval town of Gruyères, 1 hour away from Lausanne. The town gave its name to the region La Gruyère and its delicious cheese, Gruyère. Be sure to try some Gruyère quiche, raclette and fondue when you’re here.
The hamlet is ridiculously charming, built on a hilltop surrounded by its fortress walls. Inside the car-free town, you’ll find postcard-perfect cobblestoned streets, fountains and fairytale-like houses. The 13th century Castle of Gruyères dominates the town.
Switzerland Itinerary Day 13: Continue to Beautiful Zermatt
Head to southern Switzerland (a 2-hour drive) to visit what’s arguably one of the best winter destinations in Europe. This car-free village is where you’ll go for a full view of the iconic Matterhorn. Its main street, Bahnhofstrasse is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants, and also has a lively après-ski scene.
Admire the traditional Walser architecture and sip hot chocolate on the streetside cafes. Don’t miss the excellent Matterhorn Museum, which details the harrowing stories of mountaineers who attempted to ascend the Matterhorn.
On our first trip to Zermatt, we took the Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt. The views through the open-roof windows were spectacular, the journey itself was one epic adventure: it brought us through 291 bridges and 91 tunnels. It was definitely one of the most beautiful train journeys we’ve ever taken.
Itinerary Day 14: Drive back to Basel
Sadly, your trip has come to an end. The drive from Zermatt to Basel is around 3.5 hours. I recommend driving back to Basel in the morning to make sure you can catch your flight home.
You can also fly home from Geneva Airport which is 2h 45m by car, or Zurich Airport slightly further at 3h 45m away. Alternatively, you can continue on to explore the neighboring countries as Zermatt is right across the border from France and Italy.
Cost of this Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary
Let’s be clear: Switzerland IS an expensive place to travel. Prices of attractions, accommodation and food can be exorbitant. Restaurant meals are expensive — prepare to spend at least $40 on each meal. Thankfully supermarkets are pretty well priced. Even cheap hostels are around $50 per person per night.
If you’re traveling Switzerland on a tight budget, cooking your meals and staying at cheap Airbnbs, then you can get by on as little as $120 per person per day.
Packing for this Switzerland Road Trip
What you pack depends on when you’re planning to do your Switzerland road trip. If you are visiting Switzerland in winter, be sure to bring warm clothes including a high quality ski jacket, hat, thermals, gloves, and thick pants. It’s important to invest in a good pair of winter boots or sturdy hiking shoes for snow conditions.
In addition, remember to get snow chains for your car/rental if you’re planning to drive in winter. They are not required by law, but they can keep you safe in the snow mountains. We didn’t have winter tires and found the snow chains to be very useful. If you are driving a camper van, it’s also useful to bring a thermos and pouch warmer to keep yourself warm.
Want to Read More about Switzerland?
That’s a wrap! Thank you for reading all the way to the end. We’ve definitely packed a lot into this 2-week Switzerland road trip itinerary. But rest assured you’ll be exploring at quite a leisurely pace.
This Switzerland itinerary will give you a taste of the country and show you the best parts of the country, whether you’re visiting in winter or summer. If you have any question, feel free to leave me a comment below!
Read my articles on Switzerland below:
- Riding the Glacier Express
- 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe
- Best Winter Destinations in Europe
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