Looking for an itinerary to visit Switzerland in 5 days? You have landed on the right page. First of all, Switzerland is not all about gorgeous ski resorts and famous Swiss chocolates, but also a country where you can see some of the best landscapes, pristine lakes, lively waterfalls and many more.
Switzerland is a magical country for honeymooners, families, and even solo travelers, but it is not as warm as Koh Samui in Thailand. It is also one of the most expensive countries in the world. Don’t worry. If you research and plan well in advance, it’s very possible to spend 5 days in Switzerland without breaking your bank.
In this 5 days in Switzerland itinerary, I will guide you on how to discover the best of this fantastic country. (And check out our guide to Lisbon in Portugal as well). It also includes where to stay in Switzerland, what to eat here, how to find the transportation, and some money-saving travel tips.
When to Visit Switzerland
September is the peak season in Switzerland. I would suggest visiting Switzerland during the shoulder season (April, May, and October) when the weather in Switzerland is pleasant and there are not too many tourists. Budget travelers love to visit in the month of April when you get some amazing hotel and flight deals.
If you are looking for adventure activities like skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports, then January and February are the ideal months for you. Switzerland offers plenty of hiking opportunities, May to August is the perfect time for hikers.
How to Reach Switzerland:
Zurich and Geneva are the two main Swiss cities from where most tourists start their Switzerland trip.
There are five international airports that help you entry in Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, and Lugano. I will recommend taking a flight to either Zurich or Geneva airport. However, Geneva Airport provides the opportunity of availing cheap flights.
Being a center lying country in Europe it is also easy to enter Switzerland by rail as it is well connected with other European countries. For example you can easily take a day trip from Zurich to Liechtenstein. There are several train services from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands to Swiss cities like Basel, Zurich, Geneva.
You can also cross the border by road from South Germany to Zurich and from France to Geneva.
Getting around Switzerland
Public transportation in Switzerland is very well organized. From rental cars, buses to trains and cable cars, whether you travel solo or with family, you can easily manage to get around Switzerland by yourself.
You can buy a Swiss Travel Pass that gives you access to unlimited travel on trains, public buses, boats, cable cars, full or partial free entry to selected museums. Even you can get discounts on mountain excursions and adventure activities with STP.
Swiss Travel Pass is perfect for people(especially when you are traveling with family) who are looking for a hassle-free way to get around Switzerland. Although it is expensive, but the comfortability and the jawdropping views on rail routes justify the cost.
Another popular way is to rent a car for your 5 days in Switzerland itinerary. The main advantage of renting a car over buying STP is the low cost. If you are visiting in a group for longer days, car rental could be very cheap compared to Swiss Travel Pass. It also gives you the flexibility to stop anywhere to take pictures or to change your plan at any time.
Day 1 – Switzerland Itinerary for 5 Days
Located in the northern part of the country, Zurich, the financial capital of Switzerland is one of the biggest cities in the country. Being the transportation hub of Switzerland, it is more convenient to start your Switzerland trip from Europe’s most expensive and most classy city.
From the historical churches, pristine lakes to medieval streets, branded shops, and classy cafés, you will find plenty of things to do in Zurich.
Things to do in Zurich
- Explore the Old Town of Zurich which is also known as Altstadt. It features some incredible museums, picturesque little alleyways, cozy restaurants, and cafés. Discovering the medieval cobbled streets with your partner on foot could be very romantic.
- There are two famous churches in Zurich: Grossmunster Church and Fraumunster Church. The Twin Towers of Grossmunster Church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Zurich. You can climb up the tower and get an amazing view of the city from the top. Founded in 853, Fraumunster Church is famous for its impressive frescoes and stained glass windows.
- Zurich is an expensive place, but surprisingly University of Zurich Botanical Garden has no admission fee. Nature lovers will definitely love this garden that boasts more than 8000 different species of plants.
- Take a 30 minutes train ride from Zurich central station to Uetliberg. Explore this beautiful Uetliberg mountain by hiking to the top. It is a very easy hike that offers a rewarding view of Zurich city, its lakes, and rivers.
Go for a romantic evening stroll along the Zurich Lake promenade. You can also take a boat ride and discover the lake and nearby parks. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you can take a free boat ride to reach Zurichhorn Park. At the day end, after exploring Zurich, come to this place and just relax and enjoy the calm atmosphere and surrounding nature.
Where to Stay in Zurich
You will find plenty of upscale luxury hotels near downtown Zurich. I will recommend booking Hotel Adler located in the heart of the Zurich old town.
It is a fantastic mid-range hotel with a great location, modest staff, and awesome service. They also have a restaurant. Don’t forget to taste their cheese fondue which is made with popular Swiss cheese.
If you are a solo traveler and looking for cheap accommodation, Zurich Youth Hostel could be your perfect choice. The dorm rooms are very clean, spacious and the location of the hostel is near Lake Zurich.
Tip: Accommodation price near Zurich airport tends to be cheaper than the downtown area of Zurich.
Day 2 – 5 Days Switzerland Itinerary
The next must-visit place for your five day Switzerland itinerary should be Lucerne. It is located in the northern part of Lake Lucerne where the Reuss River flows out of the lake. Lucerne is a pretty small Swiss town located just 67 km away from Zurich Airport. The city is also known as Luzern because of the local German influence. From snow-capped mountains, beautiful lakes to breathtaking natural views, Lucerne has a lot to offer its visitors.
Things to do in Lucerne
- One of the most photographed spots in Lucerne is the iconic Chapel Bridge. This 14th-century wooden bridge was partly burnt down in 1993 and was restored later. You can still see some incredible paintings while passing the bridge. Bring your camera and click some impressive pictures of this historical Chapel Bridge and the Water Tower.
- Discover the medieval old town and admire the beauty of old architecture and cobblestone streets. You will see various popular brands shops and boutiques are lined up in the center of the old town.
- Next visit The Lion Monument, one of the most significant monuments in Lucerne. It is just 10 minutes walking distance from the Chapel Bridge. The Lion Monument was built in memory of the Swiss guards who lost their lives in the French Revolution.
- Stroll along the lake promenade in the afternoon or go for a relaxing boat tour in Lake Lucerne and enjoy the beautiful view of the pristine lake, historical architectures, picturesque landscapes along with the 360-degree panoramic view of Lucerne city.
- Another most scenic place in Lucerne is Mt. Pilatus. At the height of 2132 meters, Mt. Pilatus is not only popular for hikers or adventure lovers, but also a favorite place for people looking for serene scenic views. The cog railway or the gondola ride to the summit is really fun and adventurous. The view of the Alps from the top will leave you awestruck.
Please Note: If you have only one day in Lucerne and want to include Mt. Pilatus in your 5 days in Switzerland itinerary, you might have to skip some other tourist attractions as it takes a good amount of time to explore Mt. Pilatus.
Where to Stay in Lucerne
Youth Hostel of Lucerne can be a great choice for solo backpackers and budget travelers. This a modern hostel that features a cozy lounge with TV, free WiFi, a library with a reading corner, and some indoor games.
For mid-range accommodation, you can stay at Roesli Guest House which is located at the heart of Lucerne and offers all the basic amenities with some modern facilities and an outdoor pool.
Day 3 – Switzerland Itinerary
Located at the heart of the Bernese Alps this picturesque small village town is surrounded by three majestic mountains: Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau mountains. Interlaken is just 32 miles away from Lucerne. Frequent train service is available from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost and it takes around 2 hours to reach Interlaken.
Whether you are looking for a peaceful romantic getaway or adrenaline-pumping thrilling outdoor activities, Interlaken is such a beautiful place that people from all around the world come to visit this little mountain town. I would suggest keeping 2 days for Interlaken in your itinerary.
Things to do in Interlaken
- Start your first day in Interlaken with Lauterbrunnen, a picture-perfect village in Switzerland located just 13 km away from Interlaken. Explore this mesmerizing village and enjoy the tranquility and serenity of nature. There are a total of 72 waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen Valley in which Staubach Waterfalls is the most popular one.
- Next visit another cute mountain village Gimmelwald. If you are an ardent hiker, you must hike to Gimmelwald. This 8.4 km hike offers the ultimate scenic view of Switzerland. Feel the charm of this tiny Swiss village and discover the simple lifestyle of Swiss farmers.
- If hiking is not your thing, take a gondola ride from Stechelberg to Gimmelwald. The gondola ride offers you a bird’s eye view of the beautiful Lauterbrunnen Valley. Even you can reach the top by another cable car through Murren, Brig, and then Schilthorn. The cable car ride is expensive but the views of the entire journey justify the high price.
- After visiting Gimmelwald, take a short(1.5 km) easy hike Murren. This car-free Swiss village is located at a height of 1650 meters. Enjoy the amazing views of three towering mountains: Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
Day 4 in Switzerland
Reserve your 2nd day in Interlaken to enjoy a world-famous scenic train ride and adventure activities.
- You must add Grindelwald to your Switzerland trip itinerary. It is basically a valley located 30 minutes’ driving distance from Interlaken. Take a cable car ride from Grindelwald to reach the top at Grindelwald-First. Grindelwald looks more beautiful in the winter season and offers a perfect skiing condition and breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks, rocky slopes, lakes, and waterfalls.
- There are plenty of outdoor activities for adventure seekers at Grindelwald-First. Choose a package as per your choice and enjoy cliff walk, mountain biking, wide gliders, and trolley back riding.
- Jungfraujoch is probably the most popular attraction in Interlaken. Enjoy the world-famous scenic train ride that goes to the top of Jungfraujoch at an elevation of 11000 feet. The stunning panoramic views of mountain Jungfrau and Eiger will surely make your day.
Where to Stay in Interlaken
I will recommend staying at the Alpenrose Hotel and Gardens, a great family-friendly hotel with fantastic views of the Jungfrau mountain range. Solo travelers can stay at Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof, a chalet hostel that offers free WiFi and free parking.
Day 5 – Switzerland Itinerary for 5 Days
Bern is an incredible city to include in your 5 days in Switzerland itinerary. It is rich in culture and history and has a laid back charm that is hard to avoid. The capital city of Switzerland, Bern is just 56 km away from Interlaken. If you don’t have a car, take a train from Interlaken OST to Bern and it takes around 50 minutes to get to the capital city. Once you reach Bern you will get to see a city with elegant heritage, fascinating medieval architecture and lush landscapes.
Things to do in Bern
- Bern travel is incomplete without visiting its old town which you can explore on foot. From cobbled streets to stunning red-roofed sandstone buildings, the old town of Bern has preserved its medieval character. Enjoy a stroll around the old town and discover the bridges over the Aare River, public fountains, old statues, and towers.
- Next visit the Zytglogge, a popular architectural landmark which was built in the 13th century. This 23-meter giant tower has a beautiful dial which is designed in the form of an astrolabe that represents the planets orbiting the sun.
- Another majestic Bern attraction is the Bern Cathedral. This Gothic-style cathedral is the tallest church in Switzerland. Above the main portal, there is a beautiful carving of the Last Judgement Day. Climb up the tower and enjoy the panoramic view of Bern city from the top of the tower.
- Visit the Einstein museum and Einstein Haus if you have a keen interest in Physics. The museum features some excellent exhibit on Albert Einstein’s life, an amazing opportunity to know about the famous scientist’s life.
Where to stay in Bern
I will recommend staying in the old town area in Bern. You can stay in Hotel Baren am Bundesplatz that is located in the center of Bern. You can reach all of Bern’s popular sightseeing on foot. The rooms are clean and spacious and the staffs are very friendly.
Tips for 5 Days in Switzerland Itinerary
- Some hotels, hostels, and apartments offer Public Transport Card for free to their guests. Don’t hesitate to ask if they offer any. It can save most of your local transportation costs for the day.
- Swiss people are very helpful to international tourists and most of them can understand and speak English.
- Book your flights and accommodations at least 4 months before your journey to save some bucks.
- Cost of food is pretty high in Switzerland. If your accommodation has a kitchen facility with a cooker, take the advantage of it. Cooking your own meals can save some serious amount o money.
- You can also buy fresh foods or ready-to-eat foods from any hypermarket like Lidl which is a cheaper option than two popular Swiss supermarkets such as Coop and Migros.
- No need to buy packaged drinking water. Carry a reusable water bottle, like one of the best filtered water bottles and refill it from many of the fountains in Switzerland. The water comes straight from the Swiss Alps, you can drink it directly without any worry.