Many people reach out to me looking for advice on visiting Switzerland, in-particular the Swiss Alps. I have created an easy itinerary of what I would recommend on your first visit to Switzerland. If you have more time, of course, I would recommend visiting so much more of Switzerland. But if it is just the Swiss Alps you are looking to visit, I think this may be the perfect start for you.
Morning arrival to the Zürich airport
After a short visit in Zürich, catch a late-afternoon train from the Zürich Bahnhof (HB) to Interlaken, only a 2 hour train ride (1.55 mins) It is a delightful train ride through Switzerland with breathtaking views along the way. You can also dine in one of the train cars on your journey.
Spend the night in Interlaken
Interlaken is a quaint village in-between two Lakes, Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. If you have time, both lakes have Ferryboats you can take to different villages along the lake. You may want to consider adding another day to explore Interlaken or cut-out Zürich.
Take the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald. Spend some time exploring the town of Grindelwald, then go up the mountain to Kleine Scheidegg. I recommend going to the Kleine Scheidegg from Grindelwald, not only is it cheaper ( return ticket for 62 CHF), but also for the sake of time constraints.
Going to the top of the Jungfrau will put you back about 200 CHF per adult, (Yes, Switzerland is expensive, but the views are PRICELESS) Grindlewald to the top of Jungfrau is 190 CHF for an Adult Return ticket.
For budget travelers, you may want to consider hiking up part of the mountain from the valley. There are many trails and the Tourism office will help you find a good route. During the summertime you can enjoy gorgeous hikes around the area and in the wintertime skiing in the Alps is a dream .
Check out the Jungfrau page for details on the routes for hiking.
Spend the night in Grindelwald
After a day on the Jungfrau take the train back to Grindelwald, enjoy a traditional Swiss meal in one of the many restaurants and spend the night in Grindelwald. There are restaurants scattered throughout the area offering dining with a view.
Explore the Berner Oberland villages of Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, and Gimmelwald. Lauterbrunnen is the only town you can drive in, the rest of the villages are car-free so you have to take the train into the towns. All of these villages are a short train ride from Lauterbrunnen. The train ride is an experience itself with magnificent views out the train windows.
Make sure to visit the famous Staubbach Falls in Lauterbrunnen. There are over 70 waterfalls in the valley, but this is the most famous waterfall. It is easy to see why, with the water falling about 300 meters into the valley.
You can take little joy ride on a Toboggan (Rodelbahn) down the Swiss mountains. It is an easy cable-car ride up the mountain from Grindelwald to Pfingstegg. The cable cars open once the snow has melted. (usually mid-June)
After a day exploring a few of these quaint Swiss villages either catch the train back to Zürich in the evening (2.5 hour train ride) or spend your last night in the mountains before returning to Zürich.
Obviously, this is a whirlwind visit to the Swiss Alps. If you want to spend more time hiking and seeing more of Switzerland you would have to add more days to your trip, but I think this is a good start to seeing some of the Swiss Alps and experiencing the beauty of Switzerland.
Things to Consider:
SBB (Switzerland Railway) offers international passes for visitors, for both Adult and Youth Prices (under 26). Train travel throughout Switzerland can be expensive, so taking advantage of the offers through SBB can help save money.
Children from 6-16 can travel free if a parent buys the Swiss Family Card at the Railway station.
If you are flying in and out of Zürich you can easily rent a car but I would also consider taking the train. Swiss Trains are reliable, relaxing and the views along the way are incredible.
Consider adding more days to your vacation and travel down to the Matterhorn in Zermatt. It is a 2 hour train ride from Interlaken to Zermatt. Explore the area of Zermatt for a day or two before taking the train back to Zurich, a 3.5 hour ride.
Do you have any questions on visiting the area? We would love to hear from you.