It all feels like something out of a fairytale to be really honest. Impeccably manicured hills of green grass set in front of a majestic mountain backdrop, a match made in heaven is the only way to describe this kind of beauty. As my husband and I planned our 7 night trip to Switzerland I knew one thing for sure, I wasn’t going to Switzerland for its cities, I was going to get lost in charming villages, breath in mountain fresh air and of course to indulge in a little luxury and relaxation.
Wedged between Italy, France, Germany and Austria, Switzerland has absorbed much of the culture of these countries while gracefully maintaining its own unique appeal. Whether you are tobogganing down a snow capped mountain, cruising on the crystal clear waters of Lake Thun, or indulging in endless amounts of fondue in the medieval town of Gruyere’s, Switzerland will never stop amazing you.
What To Do & Where to Go
Switzerland is a great place to go for pretty much anyone, any age. Thrill seekers, nature lovers, and even those who just want to sit their beautiful behinds in a spa all day! (hey girl, me too..me too!) I even saw a lot of families traveling with their small children (they were so adorable all bundled up in their trekking gear!)
Adventure in Interlaken:
Interlaken, meaning “between two lakes”, sits perfectly in the middle of Lake Thun & Lake Brienz . Though touristy, it’s location makes it a great choice as a base. Many of the scenic mountain tops are just a short train ride/cable car ride away from Interlaken. If you are a Bollywood fan, much of DDLJ was filmed here ? Thrill seekers can pick their poison with skydiving, paragliding, hand gliding, or take the back seat in a fun jet boat tour on the water. These can all be easily scheduled at the many booths lining the streets of Interlaken or online through their websites.
Aside from seeing the country on foot, biking is also a great alternative (and quicker of course). My husband and I signed up for a three hour bike tour (e-bike) of Lake Brienz & Lake Thun and it was one of my favorite experiences during the entire trip. After the tour was over we decided to rent the bikes for a little longer and explore on our own. Don’t you know as luck would have it, we stumbled right into a FOOD FESTIVAL! God is Good! Anyway, There are SO many tiny little towns around Interlaken, we had a blast getting lost and finding our way back! I highly recommend doing this !
Hiking in the Bernese Oberland:
Interlaken is known as the entryway to the Berner Oberland, which is made up of the most scenic (in my opinion) part of Switzerland. Think everything from green hills to snow covered mountain tops scattered with wooden chalets and amazing viewing points! Hiking trails are marked clearly and most hotels or information centers will give you a map highlighting the various routes which vary in degree of difficulty/athletic ability. Must see towns are Murren, Lautrebrunnen, Grindelwald & Gimmelwald. The best part of exploring on foot? The faint sounds of cowbells filling the air (cows roam free here so farmers place bells on them to keep track), which reminded me so much of wind chimes, and if you listen close enough you can hear the waterfalls as they cascade down the mountain side.
Switzerland is also home to many Michelin starred restaurants, five star hotels, and worldclass spas. You could easily take in all the beautiful views laying poolside with a mojito in your hand. (Mojitos, especially passion fruit mojitos, were absolutely amazing in Switzerland!). We also had the most incredible burger we have probably EVER had at Montreux Jazz Cafe! During the colder winter months, hot springs are also a popular attraction and a great way to relax and reset!
We did not visit any major cities like Zurich, Bern or Lausanne. However, my in laws went to Switzerland just weeks before us and agreed that the cities did not stand up well in comparison to the beauty of the country side.
When to Go
To enjoy summer in Switzerland, July & August are the warmest months and also the busiest. Surprisingly however, I found Switzerland to not be overly crowded with tourists, aside from Interlaken which seemed like the main hub for travelers.
What to Pack
The varying elevations and climates in different regions during our time in Switzerland, made packing quite the challenge! I knew the mornings and evenings would be chilly so I chose to bring lots of sweaters and cardigans to layer on top of dresses (only a few).
Most of your time will probably be spent in comfortable athletic gear that you will want to wear in layers! If you plan on hiking, I suggest buying proper hiking boots (not just “cute” sneakers) and wearing jackets that have hoods as sometimes rain can be a problem. You will pretty much need a little bit of everything form a lightweight but warm jacket for early mornings and mountain hikes, to a bathing suit so you can soak in the sun and relax poolside !
Even though the trains in Switzerland are very convenient and offer panoramic scenic views, my husband and I decided to rent a car for the week we were there. I used google maps to map out the distance and routes between all of the towns and the longest drive from one base to the other was 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remember, everything is so scenic so even a three hour drive is quite enjoyable! We like to rent a car in almost every country we visit because it gives us flexibility and independence to change our itinerary at a moments notice. It’s nice to be a little spontaneous and just veer off the road if a place looks like it’s too good to just drive by! Also, it’s much less stressful when you’re not constantly rushing to catch a train in time! This will save you at LEAST a quarrel or two while on vacation ?
The key is to pick the least amount of “bases” but have the most amount of sites to see from each of those bases.We chose to stay for 7 nights but I think 9 nights would have been perfect. Looking back on our trip, my husband and I both agree that we would have enjoyed spending more time in Murren (or Interlaken) than in Montreux so we could have enjoyed a few more scenic hikes.
- 3 Nights in Montreux [ Hotel: Fairmont Montreux Palace)
- Day 1: Drive to Glacier 3000, then continue to Gstaad for Dinner
- Day 2: Drive or take train to Gruyere’s & Broc for chocolate making and cheese making tours
- Day 3: Visit Lavaux Wine Region (Unesco Wold Heritage Site) and hike to different Vineyards (train, boat or driving are all options to get here)
- 2 Nights in Murren [Hotel: Hotel Eiger] ( I also recommend staying in Interlaken)
- Day 1: Day trip to Interlaken, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun (My favorite towns were Oberhofen & Iseltwald)
- Day 2: Explore Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Gimmelwald
- 2 Nights in Vitznau [Hotel: Park Hotel Vitznau] ( I also recommend staying in Lucerne)
- Day 1: Boat Tour on Lake Lucerne
- Day 2: Relax (You could take a boat ride to visit Lucerne)