Quick 3-day Itinerary for Switzerland (Swiss Alps)

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.

Day 1:

Morning arrival to the Zürich airport

Take an easy train-ride to the center of Zürich from the airport. Enjoy a stroll through the beautiful city of Zürich with a visit to Zeughauskeller for lunch.

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.

Day 2:

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.

Day 3:

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.

Beautiful Switzerland

Cervino – The Italian-side of the Matterhorn

When most people think of the Matterhorn they think of Switzerland, but the Matterhorn shares a border with both Switzerland and Italy.  It is located between the Canton of Valais in Switzerland and the Aosta Valley in Italy.

The famous peak may look a little different from the back-side but  the views will still leave you in awe. The Breuil-Cervinia-Valtournenche -Zermatt ski-area is one of the largest in the Alps. We have skied many resorts but Cervino tops the list of favorites.

By car  Cervino Resort  can easily be reached in less than 2.5 hours from Milan.  The drive into the valley is absolutely breathtaking.  When driving make sure you have winter tires and chains. This is obligatory during the winter-months in Italy and you can be fined if caught without.

Cervino is a popular destination and hotels  fill up quickly.  There are smaller villages if you are not able to secure a hotel within Cervino.  Valtournenche is a popular nearby village and the ski slopes are still accessible from the town.

Although parking is centrally located, finding parking can be an issue.  Cervino offers a reasonably priced (2 Euro) shuttle bus , which is a good alternative to the hassle of not finding parking.  The bus shuttles to  surrounding  villages and runs into the evening (9.00- 23.00). Another alternative for parking is Valtournenche as you can access the mountain from the their lift.

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There  are 50 ski-lifts between Breuil-Cervinia-Valtournenche and Zermatt.  Basically you can ski all day and never hit the same slope twice.  Between the two resorts there are 150 ski runs which you have full access to. If 150 ski runs seems overwhelming, you can always settle for a day pass at either Cervino OR Zermatt. Both resorts have over 70+ runs each.  In total, the ski-runs cover over 200 km (125 miles). Wow, that is a lot of ground to cover in one day!

Different ticket prices are available depending on which part of the mountain you want to ski. We skied only on the Breuil-Cervinia-Valtournenche side and did not have time to ski the whole mountain in one day.

Tickets for Breuil-Cervinia-Valtournenche:

Adult  €43,00

Teen:  €38,00

Child: €31,00

Tickets for Breuil-Cervinia-Valtournenche and Zermatt

Adult  €62,00

Teen:  €55,00

Child: €44,00

*During high-season (Christmas and February) the rates increase by a few Euros. You can also purchase multi-day tickets for a reduced rate.

The ski-mountain is littered with charming mountain huts and restaurants. Many of the restaurants are self-serve and have breathtaking views looking over the Cervino Resort and The Matterhorn.

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One of our top picks for an Apero-ski is  Chalet Plantorrette which is centrally located on the mountain. The relaxed atmosphere and lounge chairs in the snow, makes for the perfect break.

There are dozens of restaurants to choose from, so the crowds are not near as bad as some resorts.  Most restaurants are in an easy ski-in/ski-out location, making for an easy pit-stop.

How can you go wrong with those views? The Matterhorn as a backdrop and views of the mountains and valley below.  Chalet Plantorrette is the perfect place to take a ski-break on the Mountain.

Next time you think of the Matterhorn and Switzerland, consider giving the Italian-side of the Matterhorn a go.  Both the Swiss and Italian-sides are breathtaking and worth a visit.  The resort of Cervino makes it easy to enjoy both countires.

5 must-do hikes in Ticino, Switzerland

1. Monte Generoso

Mount Generoso offers breathtaking views of both Switzerland and Italy.

There are many different hikes leading  to the top, most of which you can find here.  We have taken the shorter (4 hour) hike from the Bella Vista parking lot. 

You can take the train from Riva San Vitale, hike from Mendriso, or drive to the Bella Vista station. From the Bella Vista station you can park in the parking lot and begin the hike. It is about 2 hours to the top.

Once you arrive to the top you can see Lake Lugano below. You can enjoy a self serve restaurant or a sit down restaurant with 360 degree views below.  You can also access the roof for even more incredible views.

We thoroughly enjoyed this hike and the views it had to offer. The hike down takes about half the time, which makes it a little under a 4 hour hike round-trip from the Bella Vista parking lot.

2. Tibetan Bridge Carasc

The Tibetan bridge is a pretty impressive 270 meter long bridge that connects from Curzùtt to Via delle Vigne.

We found the easiest way to hike to the bridge was to take up the cable car. It is a small car so on busy days the wait may be long. This is not a problem if you decide to hike up. The hike from the top of the cable car to the Tibetan bridge is about an hour.

When the cable-car reaches Curzùtt you can hike through this darling little village. There is a small restaurant and restrooms. There are also picnic benches and a park where we enjoyed a picnic before starting our hike to the bridge.

The trails are easily marked and pass  beautiful scenery along the way. There is an 11th century church along the trail that is pretty impressive.

When we reached the bridge there was hardly anyone on it because we were late in the season. The kids enjoyed running back and forth, but I must say this is not a bridge for those afraid of heights.

To return from this hike you do have to turn around if you want to get to your car.  There isn’t a decent loop that is kid friendly, or at least what we found. It took us about 2 more hours to hike back down to our car but the hike and views from the bridge were well worth it.

3. Valle Verzasca

I would like to say this is a hidden-gem but unfortunately it is not. In the summer the crowds come flocking to this famous bridge over Valley Verzasca. Thankfully, the Valley has many hikes away from the crowds.

I do recommend taking a dip in the glacier cold water either before or after your hike. It is very refreshing in the summer-time.

We have managed to do a few hikes within this valley. There are trail markers throughout but many of the trails require climbing up some rocks to get to the trails. We have never found this to be a problem, even with our youngest at the time (7).

There are buses which service the valley which make it possible to just hike one way and take a bus back down to your car. This is a useful website for  more hiking and information in the area.

The river winds throughout the valley so you can follow it along many of your hikes.  This is such a beautiful area to hike through.

 

4. Mounte Tamaro

The easiest way to experience this Mountain is to first take the funicular up the mountain, from there you can branch off into easy, intermediate or difficult hikes. There is over 90 km of hiking options.

Monte Tamaro is a popular mountain for paragliding and it is entertaining to watch them glide over the valley while hiking along the trails.  There is a restaurant and restrooms available at the top of Tamaro. Many of the hiking trails branch out from here.

One of the most popular hiking trails goes from Monte Tamaro to Monte Lema. This trail is an almost 13 km trail, along the ridge-line, which can take the average hiker 5 hours one way.  You can purchase a ticket to have the bus take you back at the end of the hike but make sure you check the schedules.

If you are feeling energized after hiking there are plenty of other activities. There is a zip-line, rodelbahn and also a rope park. This is a great Mountain for the seasoned hiker and even those who just like to take in the views.

 

5. Monte San Salvatore

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If you want a workout with breathtaking views this is the hike for you.  To begin the hike, you can park in the Funicolare parking lot. From there, walk out of the parking lot in the direction towards the lake & Lugano Paradiso train station.  Once you start up the road Via Corona there will be signs directing you to the top. The signs estimate it to take about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

 

The trail is marked with trail markers the whole way up.  In the beginning, you take a short trail through the forest passing some houses along the way.

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The halfway point seems to be a bit after you reach the end of the trail following the tracks.

Along the trail, there are a number of panoramic viewpoints. The trail winds around the Lugano side of the mountain so you are able to see many beautiful views of the city and the lake below. On a clear day, you can see Monte Rosa and other snow-capped Alps in the distance.

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When you finally reach the top you will come out by the Funicular.  There is a restaurant where you can sit and admire your accomplishment. Just past the restaurant, you can take the trail about 5 minutes more to the very top. On the top, there is a little church and the most amazing panoramic views over Lugano. You can see parts of Italy, the Swiss Alps, and the winding Lugano Lake below. (Pictured above is the first look out, you have to climb a little higher for the best view of all. )

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There is also a church by the viewpoint. It is open to the public and you can go inside to see the little chapel. If you go around the backside of the church you will see a small door with stairs leading to the roof.

Once you’re done enjoying the views, decide if you are going to hike or ride down on the Funicolare. The hike down is about an hour.

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If you’re going to take the Funicolare down, it departs every half hour. During spring and fall, the last train down is at 5 pm. In summer the last train down is at 11 pm! If you miss the tram you have no choice but to hike down. The Funicolare ride is only a 10-minute ride to the top versus the 2 1/2 hour hike, although you miss out on some fantastic views.

 

Climbing Monte Generoso in Switzerland

 

We have a view of Monte Generoso from our bedroom window and have wanted to hike it for years.  Finally, this last weekend we made the climb. Mount Generoso offers breathtaking views of both Switzerland and Italy.

We did a bit of research before climbing the mountain. There are a few options to get you to the top.  You can take a train from Riva San Vitale to the top.  For a Family of Four it will cost you 108 Chf.  to ride the train up and back.

Monte Generoso has a Swiss and Italian side. There are many different hikes leading you to the top, which you can find here.  We decided to hike with our kids and opted for a shorter (4 hour) hike from the Bella Vista parking lot. 

You have a few options to arrive at the Bella Vista Station. You can take the train from Riva San Vitale, hike from Mendriso, or drive to the Bella Vista station. We decided to drive to the station as we knew a 4 hour hike would be long enough for our family. Fair warning, the drive up is a bit narrow and windy and parts.

From the station you can park in the parking lot and begin the hike. It is about 2 hours to the top. Part of the path follows along the train tracks,  so if you were to get tired you could always hop on the train.

The last few kilometers to the top of the mountain are fairly steep but offer beautiful views of the Swiss and Italian valleys below.

Once you arrive to the top you can see Lake Lugano below. On top there is a famous building designed by Mario Botta “Fiore di pietra” (Stone Flower). You can enjoy a self serve restaurant or a sit down restaurant with 360 degree views below. The building is quite fascinating in itself.  You can also access the roof for even more incredible views.

A climb to the top of Monte Generoso will not disappoint. We throughly enjoyed this hike and the views it had to offer. The hike down takes about half the time, which makes it a little under a 4 hour hike roundtrip from the Bella Vista parking lot.

Hiking in Engleberg

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One area we enjoy visiting, in the German part of Switzerland, is Engleberg.  Hiking trails are scattered throughout Engleberg, but one of our favorites is the Kitzeltrail.  You can access the trail by taking the Brunni chairlift to the top of the mountain where you find Lake Härzlisee.

If you are ambitious, you can also hike up from the valley.  With younger children, I recommend taking the chairlift.  The half-fare and junior cards are accepted, so it makes it a reasonably priced mountain to go up as a family.

The Kitzeltrail is also know as the “tickle path”.  The “tickle path” surrounds Lake Härzlisee.  The path does not cost and is free to go around as many times as you’d like.   You get to experience textures barefoot; from rocks, mud, cold and warm water.

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The views from the top are incredible. Mount Titlis is just across the way offering stunning views.  There are picnic tables and fire pits making picnicking easy.  The trail is open June through October.

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There are other fun activities on the mountain including, a play area for the children and a  personal favorite, the toboggan (rodelbahn) run.

The hiking season in Engleberg usually is about mid-May through October.

Once hiking season is over you have the winter activities.  In the winter you have endless ski options. You can enjoy downhill skiing, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing and even  a horse-drawn carriage ride through the mountains.

Have you been to Engleberg? What was your favorite area?

Skiing in the French Alps


In a small valley, nestled between the French Alps, lies the little town of Valliore. We booked our family New Year’s holiday here. Soon after we had booked our stay, we read it was “The best kept secret…” And sure enough, we may have to agree.

 

This resort town is located in the Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France and about a 3 hour drive from Milan or 2 hours from Geneva. We skied over the New Year’s holiday and, apart from the ticket line, the slopes did not feel crowded. Valloire-Galibier Resort has over 150 kilometers of slopes with 33 lifts, which helped make for shorter lines.

 

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A family of 5 can make for an expensive ski holiday, but this resort has very reasonable prices, including a family pass. An adult all day pass runs 50 USD (38.5 Euros), with options for a reduced child rate. For what the resort has to offer the prices can’t be beat.

 

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Think of the smell of baguettes and crepes on the slopes….It really exists in here.  A bakery literally sits on the bottom of the slopes and pumps out irresistible smells of deliciousness.

For the past 35 years, this town has had a snow sculpture contest. Really, how amazing is the giant Santa sculpture? You can see some pretty amazing sculptures carved out of snow here.

Much of the lodging provides direct slope access. My advice is to book ahead. We waited until the week before New Years to book, and the town was 95 percent booked. We lucked out and found a Resort lodge only 5 minutes from the slopes, but if had been proactive with booking we would have been able to ski home.

The views from the peak are really breathtaking. There are many cross-country and snow-shoeing trails scattered throughout the resort.

Avalanche control is an issue and signs are posted throughout the resort. Daily controlled avalanche blasts can be heard but are done in order to reduce the risk of avalanches. Just be careful and pay attention to their ski boundaries.


The town was just as quaint as you would imagine a little French village. The streets are lined with pâtisserie and restaurants. There is a giant ice skating rink and plenty of shops.  We have heard this town is enjoyed year-round, but if you are looking for a reasonably priced ski holiday in a beautiful town, add Valliore to your list.

Hiking up Monte San Salvatore in Lugano

 

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If you want a workout with breathtaking views this is the hike for you. We hesitated to do this hike, as our youngest is only 7, but we gave it a go and it was well worth it.

 

 

 

To begin the hike, you can park in the Funicolare parking lot at:

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For Parking, you will need the right change to get out. Make sure you have 1, 2 or 5 CHF on you. Parking is 4 CHF for those who took the Funicular and 10 CHF if you hiked up.

From there, walk out of the parking lot in the direction towards the lake & Lugano Paradiso train station.  Once you start up the road Via Corona there will be signs directing you to the top. The signs estimate it to take about 2 hours and 40 minutes.  It took us about 3 hours with a few breaks along the way.

The trail is marked with trail markers the whole way up.  In the beginning, you take a short trail through the forest passing some houses along the way.

Eventually, you will see the Funicular and follow the stairs along the tracks. This part was a little discouraging for my kids when they could see how much further they had to climb, but they were troopers.

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The halfway point seemed to be a bit after you reach the end of the trail following the tracks.

Along the trail, there are a number of panoramic viewpoints. The trail winds around the Lugano side of the mountain so you are able to see many beautiful views of the city and the lake below. On a clear day, you can see Monte Rosa and other snow-capped Alps in the distance.

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When you finally reach the top you will come out by the Funicular.  There is a restaurant where you can sit and admire your accomplishment. We enjoyed some refreshing drinks and snacks while soaking in the views.

There is also a section with picnic tables. So, if you decide to hike up with a picnic you have somewhere to sit and enjoy it.

 

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Just past the restaurant, you can take the trail about 5 minutes more to the very top. On the top, there is a little church and the most amazing panoramic views over Lugano. You can see parts of Italy, the Swiss Alps, and the winding Lugano Lake below. (Pictured above is the first look out, you have to climb a little higher for the best view of all. )

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There is also a church by the viewpoint. It is open to the public and you can go inside to see the little chapel. If you go around the backside of the church you will see a small door with stairs leading to the roof. Take the stairs up to the top, the views will not disappoint.

From the top, you can get a good idea of how Lake Lugano winds through the beautiful mountains.  Once you’re done enjoying the views, decide if you are going to hike or ride down on the Funicolare. The hike down is about an hour.

If you’re going to take the Funicolare down, it departs every half hour. During spring and fall, the last train down is at 5 pm. In summer the last train down is at 11 pm! If you miss the tram you have no choice but to hike down.

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The Funicolare ride is only a 10-minute ride to the top versus the 2 1/2 hour hike, although you miss out on some fantastic views.

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 Funicolare Lugano-Paradiso – Monte San Salvatore 

Adult return fares are 30 CHF and children 13 CHF. If you decide to hike in one direction they have a reduced rate of 23 CHF /10 CHF. Opening hours change depending on the season.