If you’ve read our itinerary for an epic road trip in Switzerland, you would know just how much we enjoy exploring the little villages and towns in Switzerland. Driving a car is fun in Switzerland but there is nothing quite like the romance of Swiss Rail. So on this particular trip, we decided to visit Switzerland on a stopover and experience some of the magic and charm of Swiss cities and countryside in a short time.
If you’re thinking of spending a few days in Switzerland then try looking up the ‘Stopover Switzerland‘ package offered by SWISS. It offers an affordable way to combine nature and culture on your holiday in Switzerland. We would highly recommend visiting one city such as Zurich and experiencing the countryside, especially the villages around Interlaken on your stopover in Switzerland. This will give you a taste of both the countryside and the cities in a short time.
If you’re visiting during winter months, then try to visit the villages around Grindelwald and Zermatt for fairytale panorams. And if you happen to be in Switzerland in the month of January, then try experiencing the Lauberhorn races, one of the largest winter sporting events in Europe. The atmosphere is nothing short of electric and some crazy parties follow.
When it comes to travelling around Switzerland, nothing beats the romance of Swiss Rail. The Swiss Travel Pass is the easiest way to get around the country – it’s included in the stopover package but you can also purchase it separately if you so wish. It’s basically an all-in-one ticket that allows you to travel by rail, road, and water in all of Switzerland and also offers some great benefits when visiting different attractions. We picked the 8 day passes since we were there for 6 days. There isn’t much of a difference between first and second class tickets, so we’d advise saving your pennies and opting for second class tickets. Try to steer clear of peak office hours while travelling on trains in Switzerland because they tend to get quite crowded at that time. You can find further details about the Swiss Travel Pass here
We spent the first three days of our stopover trip exploring everything Zurich has to offer. Zurich is a sprawling city with a charming city centre. We suggest staying in the heart of the city if you’re there for a short time. We stayed in the heart of the action at Hotel Marktgasse – the quaint boutique hotel is ideal because all the major sites are a short walk away. Rooms are well-furnished and comfortable. They have a distinctly hipster vibe about them and we loved that!
However the hotel is not without its cons. Here are a couple of drawbacks that you should be prepared for:
- you might have to drag your luggage up a slight slope to reach the hotel as this is a pedestrian only area.
- Breakfast is served in an adjoining café and consists of just coffee, juice, and pastries.
There are several things to do in Zurich but here are a few things we would highly recommend:
- Take a chocolate tour or better still hop from one chocolatier to the other independently sampling their offerings and picking the best for friends and family back home. We love Laderach but there are plenty of others lining the streets of Zurich
- Take a cruise on Lake Zurich – If you’ve purchased a Swiss Travel Pass, then you needn’t purchase a ticket for the cruise. The cruise is a great way to see different villages and towns dotting the lake and even witness Zurich from a different vantage point
- Spend a morning exploring the old city centre. You could even take a free walking tour. Whatever you choose, make sure you take your time admiring its old bridges, quaint houses, and cathedrals
- Photograph the city from its vantage points – our favourites include Lindenhof Hill and the view at the end of 187 steps at Grossmunster
- Take a tram to nowhere! Trams are a way of life for locals – hop on one and get down wherever you spot a cute café or gorgeous scenery
- Explore the hipster area called Kreis 5 or Zurich West. It’s home to several trendy bars, restaurants, boutiques and cafés
- If you happen to be in Zurich on the second Saturday of August, then make sure you don’t miss the Street Parade – an electronic music festival that promises a party to remember!
- Take a day trip to the Alps. Zurich is the getaway to several gorgeous villages and towns such as Grindelwald and Adelboden. So hop on the Swiss Rail with your Swiss Travel Pass and prepare to be wowed!
- Finally, when you’re on your way out of Zurich, do try and checkout the observation deck – it’s free if you show your boarding pass and allows you excellent vantage point for aircraft taking off – perfect if you’re an aviation geek 🙂
You can also watch our video on some of our favourite things to do in Zurich if you would like to get a feel of the place:
We followed up our whirlwind stopover in Zurich with an action-packed weekend in the Alps. The Lauberhorn Ski World Cup is one of the largest winter sporting events in Europe and the atmosphere is nothing short of electric. Everything from the ski-races to the Patrouille Suisse Show left us gobsmacked! Take a look at all the fun we had at the race – highly recommend experiencing this event if yo happen to be in Switzerland in January:
Irrespective of where you choose to base yourself in the Alps, here are a few must dos that just need to be on your list of things to do in the countryside of Switzerland
- We’d suggest making Interlaken as your base for a few days – try and stay at Victoria Jungfrau hotel for some incredible hospitality and scenic views of the alps
- Sample traditional Swiss Fondue. Try to steer clear of over-priced and touristy restaurants and look for a place recommended by locals. If you’re in the Interlaken area, then Laterne is a good bet. They do great fondue!
- If you’re fans of Swiss cheese, then don’t stop at Fondue. Try other Swiss dishes such as raclette too – it’s perfect to warm your insides on a cold winter day.
- Go for a hike and take countless photos in scenic Swiss villages such as Grindelwald. If you do happen to be in Grindelwald, then make sure you take the cable car to Grindelwald First. It offers incredible views of the Alps
- Go skiing or enrol yourself for a skiing class. If you’re visiting during winter months, then you must dabble in winter sports, irrespective of whether you’re an amateur or a pro
- Hunt for hidden gems in the area. Consult locals and look for little-known sites such as Lake Blausee. There are fewer tourists here compared to popular tourist sites such as Mt Titlis but we promise it will leave you spellbound nevertheless.
- Utilize your Swiss Travel Pass as much as you can and hop onto some of the most scenic trains in Switzerland such as the iconic Glacier Express
I hope this article got you all excited at the thought of exploring Swiss cities and the Alps. We had the best time exploring Switzerland’s natural and historical landmarks and attending one of the most scintillating European winter sports event.If you’re chalking out your itinerary of Switzerland, then check out all our previous articles on Switzerland here.
If you have any questions, drop them below and we’ll reply asap 🙂