HOW TO HAVE AN EPIC ONE DAY IN INTERLAKEN

One day in Interlaken, Lake Brienz and Brienzer Rothorn

SEE THE BEST OF INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY – ITINERARY

Are you wondering about the perfect 1-day Interlaken itinerary? Then read on – this post will help you find out about what to do in one day in Interlaken.

Interlaken is the epitome of breathtaking scenery: The Swiss Alps are stunning, the (mountain) lakes are out of this world, the possibilities of activities are endless…

There is no shortage of things to do. However, if you have only one day in Interlaken, you have to decide what you want to do. And this will be a hard decision – it is really hard.

I have visited Interlaken so many times, yet I always fall in love with new places. And when I talk about Interlaken, I do not mean the town only but the whole area of Interlaken (and Jungfrau).

There is the Jungfraujoch, Lauterbrunnen, Lake Brienz, Lake Thun, Sigriswil, St. Beatus Caves, Trift Bridge, and much, much more. So, how do you decide? While I cannot say this is the very best 1-day Interlaken itinerary for everyone out there, my suggestions here are based on a very special day I had.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

A PERFECT 1 DAY IN INTERLAKEN

Here is how to have a relaxed and still fun perfect day in Interlaken. This itinerary is perfect for those who like to take it very easily and avoid physical exercise, but it is also a great itinerary for active people. You can include a hike and have some nice exercise with amazing views.

This itinerary includes a couple of highlights I have had in Interlaken/Switzerland.

One of my all times travel highlights, was actually my trip to Brienzer Rothorn Mountain (about 2300m above sea level). It was one of those experiences I will not forget.

The Brienz Rothorn Railway promises “an experience of a lifetime” when visiting Brienzer Rothorn Mountain in the region Interlaken. I can say that they definitely do not promise too much.

So, I actually repeated that experience, and it did not even disappoint me the second time.Arrive by boat at Grandhotel Giessbach or just do a boat tour on Lake Brienz

Boat Tour Lake Brienz

Start your day with a boat tour of Lake Brienz and get a good overview of the lake. The lake is located northeast of Interlaken – if you stay in Interlaken you are at the lake within minutes.

First of all, I should mention that Lake Brienz is one of the most beautiful lakes with an awesome color. It is a quite large lake with an area of 29.8 square kilometers. It is approximately 14 km long, 2.8 km wide, and 260 meters deep. At the surface, Lake Brienz is 564 meters above sea level.

View from the boat - get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat

I have seen smaller lakes with a more special color but never a lake of this size that mesmerizing. That lake is definitely one of my most favorites ever, if not my most favorite lake. This alone will make the boat trip a highlight. P.s. I keep coming back and have done probably 5 boat cruises on Lake Brienz.

I am obsessed with boat cruises, and if you are not, this might change your views on boat cruises.

Take the boat from Interlaken East to Brienz. It does not start spectacularly, but it will become amazing. There are several stops along the way. I suggest staying on the boat until you reach the Giessbach Waterfalls.

Giessbach Waterfall

If you have time, get out at the Giessbach Waterfall which is on the southern shores of the lake. Enjoy this unique waterfall and take a short hike up there. 

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls

The Giessbach Falls tumble right past the Grandhotel Giessbach in 14 tiers, plunging 400 meters into the depths in thunderous cascades of white. 

You can hike up to the waterfall (it should take anywhere between 10-20 minutes) and have a coffee at the hotel’s terrace.

Alternatively, there is a funicular that gets you up to the hotel. It is just a short ride and you have to pay a fee. It does not run all the time (it belongs to the hotel at the top).

Then, you could go even further up and walk behind the waterfall. This is another uphill but easy hike and should take an additional 10-20 minutes. There is no funicular taking you up all the way behind the waterfall though.

Giessbach waterfall - with a view of Grandhotel Giessbach

  • Take the next boat (though they don’t regularly go, so I would definitely check it out beforehand) and continue your journey.

TIP: By now, you have probably spent a few hours if you get out at Giessbach Waterfalls. If you are short on time, you can just admire it from the boat without getting out.

Brienz

Then it is time to continue your boat cruise and get to Brienz. It is a cute little village on the northeast shore of Lake Brienz with a beautiful boat station.Best things to do at Lake Brienz, Interlaken

You will find 18th-century wooden chalets and sculptures throughout the village which are testimonials to the woodcarving tradition of Brienz.

You can stroll Brienz for a while or get up straight to Brienzer Rothorn. 

TIP: Check out what time the steam locomotive leaves from Brienz. It is always annoying if you just miss it because you strolled Brienz for a minute too long.

Brienzer Rothorn

Then it is time to get up Brienzer Rothorn. It is a mountain of the Emmental Alps at 2,350 meters of elevation, which makes it the highest summit of the range.

There are different ways to reach the top: 1) Hike up (some parts or all the way to the summit), or 2) take the ride and enjoy a one-hour journey with a steam locomotive (almost 8km) that offers spectacular views.

In this post, I will start with the steam locomotive first and later talk about the hike.

IF YOU GET UP VIA STEAM LOCOMOTIVE:

  • The train station is located next to the boat station in Brienz. It is impossible to miss the “Brienz Rothorn” sign and station.
  • Buy your ticket directly at the ticket shop. I suggest buying a ticket first and then go and explore the village of Brienz. On busy days, you are not guaranteed to get a seat on the train you wish to take. You could buy a seat guarantee online or at the counter. It could happen, that the loc is full and you might have to wait for the next one (especially on clear days) without the seat guarantee.
  • When you buy the ticket, you have to decide whether you want to use the train for the whole distance or just for some parts. There are several stops along the way, where you could get out/in.
  • You should arrive at the station at least 30 minutes early.
  • Daily until October 24, 2021 – 08:00 am until 6:00 pm

Brienzer Rothorn steam locomotive station

Once you sit on the train, it starts to get amazing. 

Little houses in Brienz

Interestingly, the steam locomotives are the same that were used when the railway opened back in 1892. So, this also makes everything even more special, and be prepared that it is quite loud if you sit close to the driver.

I have gotten up many mountain peaks via cable car/gondola or funiculars. However, this was the most impressive ride. And believe me, I have been to almost all mountain peaks in Switzerland that are accessible via cable car, etc.

It is an hour-long journey (if you do not disembark) – and you will pass some beautiful little houses, many tunnels, and you get to see almost untouched nature.

View from steam loco
Then, at some point, you will get the first glimpse of Lake Brienz from above. It gets magical then.

Since I got up twice, the views were different. The first time, it was still a bit foggy, and on my second trip, the sky was clear, and the views were even more spectacular.

View of Lake Brienz

Most beautiiful lake in Siwtzerland Lake Brienz

Getting up Brienzer Rothorn via steam locomotive

View from Brienzer RothornAt the top of Brienzer Rothorn, you have stunning views of the lake and an impressive panorama of no fewer than 693 peaks! This is what you call a magnificent view!

Up on the top, you will also find a restaurant and hotel. 

The trip up to Brienzer Rothorn was an incredible trip with spectacular views and definitely an “experience of a lifetime. “

  • Return ticket adults: about 85€ (half-fare with your Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Kids (under the age of 6) and dogs don´t have to pay. Kids between 6-15 years pay a small fee.
  • Check out their website for more information.

If you take the locomotive, I suggest planning in about 4 hours at least for this mountain experience.

HIKING TO/FROM BRIENZ TO BRIENZER ROTHORN:

Alternatively, you can also hike from Brienz to Breinzer Rothorn. If you decide to do the full uphill hike, you should know the ascent is about 1750 meters and it is about 9 km long. Though the ascent is a lot, according to reviews, it is still doable because it is slow. This should take about 5-6 hours. 

You could also get up via the steam loc for some stops and just hike parts of it.

Or, this is how I would do it these days, get up via steam loc and then hike down. Since it is a quite gradual downhill hike, it should not be too bad for the knees, so that is possible for many people.

The hike is recommended between the months of June to October.

Dinner in Interlaken

After enjoying this fantastic panorama, it will be time for dinner. For this, I have a few suggestions for you.

I suggest heading back to the town Interlaken (which is on the other side of Lake Brienz) and have dinner there. Take the train (fastest way) from Brienz to Interlaken.Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte

The town center of Interlaken itself is not spectacular (in terms of being a very pretty town with historic buildings). Still, if you have dinner around Höhenmatte (a beautiful park area), you will have a fantastic place to end your day.

Buy something and have a picnic at the meadow while watching paragliders (on clear days, there will be many), or pick one of the numerous restaurants in the town center.

UNFORTUNATELY, this Interlaken itinerary is – I want to be totally honest – not ideal in the winter months. The steam loc does not operate in the winter.

It is the best day I can imagine for the months of April to the end of October. For the other months, we need different itineraries. But no worries, here is my post with the best day trips from Interlaken. You can use many of these ideas for the cold winter months, too.

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR INTERLAKEN

After talking about ta perfect day in Interlaken, here are some travel tips for Interlaken, so you are well prepared for your trip!

Language in Interlaken

Though Germany is the main language, most people speak basic English.

There are many Arabic, Chinese and Indian restaurants as Interlaken is extremely popular amongst tourists from those places. 

How to Get Around Interlaken

Driving in Interlaken is very safe and easy (the streets are well paved, driving in the mountains might be a bit tricky, though). Public transportation in Interlaken is effortless as buses/trains go often, are punctual and reliable, so I recommend getting around by public transportation.

If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card – giving you free bus rides within Interlaken and close places by (like really close villages like Iseltwald). If you stay in the region of Thun, you can even use your Thun Guest Card to get to Interlaken.

For this trip, I suggest using public transportation (Swiss Travel Pass if you stay for a few days) as you can hop on the boat without paying extra, and you do pay 50% only for using the steam locomotive to get up Brienzer Rothorn.

Where to Stay / Best Hotels in Interlaken

Interlaken is home to some amazing hotels – amazing and expensive. I have a detailed accommodation guide for Interlaken but find some tips below.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • One of my favorite hotels – ever – is the beautiful 4* hotel  Grandhotel Giessbach. You can probably see why. However, it is not open during the winter months.
  • I recently stayed in the newly renovated Hotel du Nord. I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying at this gorgeous hostel that I stayed at when I was not traveling with my dog. This hostel is a bit more expensive than other hostels, but the best I have stayed at (even though I relay missed curtains in front of my bed) and they also offer free parking. Check out the hostel here.

Security in Interlaken

Interlaken – and the region – is very safe and secure. With common sense, you should be fine. I have always traveled solo to Interlaken (sometimes accompanied by my little dog) and never felt unsafe. Keep valuables close to you, and you should be fine!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON BEST  ITINERARY FOR INTERLAKEN IN 1 DAY 

Interlaken is so incredibly beautiful – there are so many stunning, fantastic and crazy things to do in and around Interlaken. And I want to be honest – this is not the only way to have an epic one day in Interlaken.

But it is a pretty great itinerary for a day. If you stay longer or prefer something more adventurous, check out my many posts on Switzerland and Interlaken in particular, as I have written quite a lot on the area!

Stay safe!

BEST LAKES IN SWITZERLAND TO SEE

MOST BEAUTIFUL SWISS LAKES TO VISIT 

While other travelers might chase waterfalls, I chase lakes. Yes, I am a lake chaser – this might explain my obsession with Switzerland. Because some of the most beautiful lakes in the world are home in Switzerland.

And if you are wondering where to find these the best lakes in Switzerland, this post will help you. 

Here are the most stunning, prettiest, most amazing lakes in Switzerland to add to your Switzerland itinerary.

Lake Brienz

INTERLAKEN

Located just east of the town of Interlaken, in the canton of Berne, is the turquoise Lake Brienz, a quite large lake with an area of 29.8 square kilometers. It is approximately 14 km long, 2.8 km wide, and 260 meters deep. At surface, Lake Brienz is 564 meters above sea level.

Best things to do around Lake Brienz, Interlaken Giessbach Waterfalls

The alpine lake takes its name from the village of Brienz, which lies on the northern shore towards the east. Ships connect the main settlements around the lake, as well as the famous historical funicular Giessbachbahn, which rises 98 meters until the beautiful Giessbach Waterfalls nearby.

View from Brienzer Rothorn

The Aare channel connects the western tip of Lake Brienz to Lake Thun by crossing the town of Interlaken.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Brienz is definitely in my “top 3 of Swiss lakes”. Its sheer size in that unique color is beyond incredible. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Brienz. You can check out my full guide on Lake Brienz for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

Lake Thun

INTERLAKEN

Another famous lake in the Bernese Oberland is Lake Thun, located west of the town of Interlaken. With its 48.3 square kilometers, it is the largest of Swiss lakes located within a single canton (Bernese Oberland). Its length is about 17.5 km, the width is 3.5 km and the maximum depth is 217 meters. Similar to Lake Brienz, it stands among alpine peaks at 558 meters above sea level.

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves
View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

Best things to see at Lake Thun, boat tour Lake Thun

The town of Thun, which lies on the northwestern tip, gives its name to the lake. Multiple ships cross the deep-blue lake and connect the Thun to Interlaken.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Thun is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. Its amazing villages and towns along the shores make this lake very special. You can check out my full guide on Lake Thun for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Oeschinen

KANDER VALLEY

A true alpine gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007, the small Oeschinen Lake has a surface area of just over 1 square kilometer and 56 meters of maximum depth (1.6 km long and 1 km wide). With an elevation of 1.578 meters above the sea and high mountains all around, it is the perfect alpine lake postcard.

Stunning Lake Oeschinensee with Arzo Travels

Oeschinen Lake is located in the Kander valley, in the Bernese Oberland canton. You cannot reach the lake by car – you can take a gondola, a bus, or hike from the nearby town of Kandersteg.

Best Interlaken attractions

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Oeschinen is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its color and the scenery make it incredibly beautiful. However, for the best views, you have to do quite a bit of hiking.  You can check out my full guide on Lake Oeschinen for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Blausee

KANDER VALLEY

Even smaller than Oeschinen Lake, the gorgeous Lake Blauseee is another picturesque gem in the Bernese Oberland. At 887 meters of altitude in the Kander Valley, this tiny lake is just 0.64 hectares large (0.0064 square kilometers).

Blausee in Berner Oberland, Arzo Travels

Thanks to its deep-blue, crystal waters, Blausee is one of the most famous mountain lakes in Switzerland – it was praised in a travel guide in 1885! Located in a nature park between the town of Spiez (on Lake Thun) and Kandersteg, it is easy to reach and a popular spot to hike. Swimming in Lake Blausee is not allowed.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Blausee is pretty, a pretty, pretty small lake. It is not in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”, because there is an entrance fee to see it. Quite a bumper. You can check out my full guide on Lake Blausee for more information. 

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Lake Lucerne

LUCERNE

The fifth-largest lake in Switzerland is located within 5 cantons in the center of the country: surrounded by beautiful and famous peaks, the irregular shape of Lake Lucerne covers an area of 114 square kilometers at 434 meters of elevation. Its maximum length is 3 km, the maximum width is 20 km, and the maximum depth is 214 meters.

Getting up Mount Rigi - a must-do activity in Lucerne

Lake Lucerne is so large and complex that nine different parts have their unique designations: there are bays, funnels, basins, and lakes within the lake. However, the town of Lucerne gives its name to the lake, located on the western side.

Most Expensive Hotel in the region Park Hotel Vitznau

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lucerne is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its sheer size and stunning scenery make it a top lake in Switzerland. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Lucerne. You can check out my guide on Lucerne for more tips on things to do around Lake Lucerne. 

Lake Geneva

GENEVA, MONTREUX, LAUSANNE

All the way to the south-west of Switzerland is Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Switzerland. With 73 km of length and 14 km of width, its surface area is 580 square kilometers, making it one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. It lies at 372 meters above sea level, with a maximum depth of 310 meters.

Boat Tour on Lake Geneva with the Swiss Travel Pass

Its half-moon shape is cornered by the city of Geneva on the southwestern tip, the city of Lausanne in the center of the northern shore, and the picturesque town of Montreaux on the eastern tip. The southern shore belongs to France.

Geneva view of the lake for your one day itinerary

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Geneva is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. Its enormous size blew me away. Also, there is so much to do and see around Lake Geneva.

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Lake Zurich

ZURICH

Lake Zurich is located in the north of Switzerland, towards Germany. The city of Zurich is on the northern tip of this slightly L-shaped, long, and narrow lake. Its surface area is approximately 88 square kilometers, with 40 km of length and 3 km of width, making it the 6th largest lake in Switzerland. It lies at 406 meters above sea level and the maximum depth is 136 meters.

Where to stay in Zurich - best places to stay in Zurich Switzerland

It is popular to swim in Lake Zurich, thanks to its very clean water, even though summer temperatures go just beyond 20 °C (68 °F). Multiple ferries connect the towns around the lake.

Sunset over Lake Zurich

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Zurich is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. It probably is not the most beautiful lake in the country. However, there is so much to do and see around Lake Zurich. You can check out my full guide on Lake Brienz for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Lungern

LUNGERN

Between Lake Brienz and Lake Lucerne, in the Obwalden canton, is the pretty Lake Lungern. Named after the town of Lungern, on its southern tip, this lake at 688 meters of elevation is just 2 km long and 660 meters wide on average, which gives it an area of just 2 square kilometers.

Brüning Pass, Lake Lungern Switzerland Arzo Travels

With a temperature of approximately 23 °C (71 °F) in the summer, swimming in the crystal waters of the lake is very refreshing. There are many beaches, as well as an easy hike around the lake, and the beautiful Dundelbach falls nearby.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lungern is one of my favorite stops when I road trip. For the last 6 years or so, I always stop here and enjoy the view from here. Sometimes I take some short walks around the lake. 

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Lake Bachalpsee

GRINDELWALD

South of Lake Brienz, in the Bernese Oberland near Grindelwald, you can find Lake Bachalpsee, a small lake of just 0.08 square kilometers of surface and 14 meters of maximum depth.

Bachalpsee in Grindelwald - not too far from Hotel Caprice

The incredible elevation of Lake Bachalpsee is 2265 meters! It is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Switzerland, surrounded by green pastures and the high peaks of the Jungfrau region, not far from the Grindelwald-First gondola station.

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Bachsee is definitely a unique lake – unfortunately, it was very foggy when I visited. This might be a problem because it seems the weather in Grindelwald is often not ideal. If the weather had been better, it surely would have made it on my top 10 list.  

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Lake Walensee

Lake Walensee is located almost at the eastern border of Switzerland, not far from Lake Zurich, in the cantons of St. Gallen and Glarus. Approximately 20 km long and 1 km wide, this lake has a surface area of about 24 square kilometers and an elevation of 419 meters.

 

It takes its name from the town of Walenstadt, on its eastern side. However, it is famous for the Churfirsten mountain on its northern side, which rises almost vertically straight out of the water.

Lago di Saoseo

POSCHIAVO

The circular lake of Saoseo is located in the Val di Campo valley of the Poschiavo region, in the southeast of Switzerland, very close to the Italian border. This mountain lake is a small gem surrounded by pine forest, just 570 meters long and 550 meters wide – that’s 0.025 square kilometers. Its altitude is 2028 meters.

Lago di Saosea - underrated places in Switzerland

Making Lago di Saoseo even more photogenic, there is even a tiny rocky island that reflects in the crystal clear waters. During the winter, the lake is covered in ice and snow.

Lago di Saoseo in Valposchiavo

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lago di Saoseo is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. Its beauty is beyond…everything. It does not present itself on a silver platter and it is time-consuming getting there but it is worth it. This lake is everything. For more info, read my Valposchiavo travel guide.

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Lake Gelmersee

In the south of the Bernese Oberland, not far from Interlaken, is the reservoir Lake Gelmer, at 1850 meters of elevation. The surface area is just 0.64 square meters, with a maximum depth of 48 meters.

Gelmer Lake in Switzerland Arzo Travels

With a dam, an incredibly steep funicular, fresh water to swim in, and waterfalls along the hike around the lake, it is a very impressive Swiss lake.

Water Gelmersee view Arzo Travels

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Gelmersee is definitely in my “top 5 of Swiss lakes”. I know, it is a man-made lake and yet, I just love it. You can check out my full guide on Lake Gelmersee for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Lake Maggiore

LOCARNO

Lake Maggiore, or Lago Maggiore in Italian, has its northern tip in Switzerland, and most of its length in Italy. The Swiss part of the lake is located in the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino, in the south of the country, right in the center.

The whole surface area is 212 square kilometers, at an elevation of 193 meters, but the Swiss part is just 16 km long and less than 10 km wide.

Lago Maggiore in Locarno

In the town of Locarno, located on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, you will find the best climate in Switzerland, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures.

Best Places to See in Switzerland

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Maggiore is pretty – no doubt about it. It has beautiful towns and villages along the shores. However, it has not made it on my top 10-list. I am not sure, why not. Maybe it is just because I like another lake close by even more?  

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Things to do in Locarno/Ascona

Lake Lugano

LUGANO

Just east of Lake Maggiore is Lake Lugano, which is also shared between the Swiss Canton of Ticino and Italy. Its twisted shape covers an area of 48.7 square kilometers at an altitude of 271 meters.

Parco Ciani is one of the most beautiful places in Lugano

The lake takes its name from the town of Lugano, on the northern shore. It is popular to bathe in the lake at numerous establishments, as well as hike the nearby mountains.

Monte San Salvatore

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Lake Lugano is definitely in my “top 10 of Swiss lakes”. I love its colors, the vantage points, the villages along the shores (including the most beautiful village which is Morcote) – I just love it. You can check out my full guide on Lugano and Morcote for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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Palü Lake

POSCHIAVO

The small Palü Lake, a blue gem surrounded by forests and high peaks, is located in the canton of Graubünden, in the south-eastern part of Switzerland, near Poschiavo Valley.

Valposchiavo Palü Lake in heart shape

This small lake at the elevation of 1923 meters has a surface area of 0.052 square kilometers. It is a natural lake as well as a reservoir, fed by the Palü Glacier. 

PERSONAL THOUGHTS: Standing at the vantage point and looking at Lake Palü on the one side and Palü Glacier, on the other hand, made me realize it is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. I know, it is an artificial lake and yet, I just love it.

Disclaimer: I have seen the lake twice. The lake color looked incredible the first time. The second time, I visited after some heavy rainfalls – and the lake color was quite disappointing. That can happen if you visit after some rainy days. You can check out my full guide on Valposchiavo for the best vantage points, activities, and more. 

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FINAL WORDS ON THE TOP LAKES IN SWITZERLAND

These are my favorite lakes in Switzerland. Some are not easily accessible – some you will see while sitting on a train. Some are small and charming, some are gigantic and impressive. Each of them is stunning.  Each is special! Each s worth a trip! So, whichever lake you end up visiting, you cannot go wrong! 

 

Best Things to do in Interlaken

Interlaken - 50 Things to do in Interlaken Kopie

WHAT TO DO IN INTERLAKEN – PLACES TO VISIT AND FUN ACTIVITIES

Find out about the best things to do in Interlaken – one of Switzerland’s most beautiful places.

Personally, I am obsessed with Switzerland – and in particular with the region of Interlaken/Jungfrau. Gorgeous lakes, perfect mountains, stunning sceneries, and cute towns all around – this is Interlaken.

Though Interlaken isn´t geographically big, there are tons of fun things to do for people of all ages.

I should add that I will actually talk about two different regions: 1) Interlaken and 2) Jungfrau. However, sometimes it is a bit hard to differentiate between the two regions. This post is mostly about activities in both regions but also includes a couple of tips for Bernese Oberland in general.

  • TIP: Many people say they would love to visit Switzerland but that it is too expensive. Yes, Switzerland is expensive. Very expensive. Very, very expensive. That is why I have listed my top tips for saving money in Switzerland. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

BEST INTERLAKEN ACTIVITIES

Okay, now we can talk about the most fun things to do in Interlaken.

Get Up Harder Kulm

In most countries, towns and cities have their own cinema or their own shopping street. In Switzerland, each city has its own “house mountain” – a very own mountain. Interlaken´s house mountain is Harder Kulm which gives you great views of Interlaken and the scenery in more than 1,300 meters above sea levelHarder Kulm in Interlaken and things to doFrom the viewing platform, you can see Lake Brienz and Lake Thun (with Interlaken in the middle) at the same time. And a view of these two lakes will never disappoint – Harder Kulm as it surely is one of the top places in Interlaken.

HOW TO GET UP: Either hike up (it is a steep hike but takes less than 2 hours one way) or take a cable car. The cable car does not operate in the winter months (closed in December until the beginning of April). This place is particularly popular for sunsets (so get there early to secure a seat).

  • Tip: With a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount
  • When you check out prices for the Harder Kulm cable car, you have to choose the correct ticket. Check out ticket prices here.
  • Is free with the Jungfrau Pass.

Have a Picnic

One of the best free things to do in Interlaken is to enjoy a picnic. Okay, you have to buy your own food, but why not have lunch with a view of Interlaken?

Take some snacks and a blanket and admire the great scenery. Whether you picnic by one of the lakes, the beautiful Aare River, the wild Lütschine River, at Höhenmatte Park – there is an endless amount of nice places to picnic.

  • Free activity

Visit Höhenmatte

The Höhenmatte is located right in the heart of Interlaken. This lush and lovely park, with a view of Jungfraujoch, is a must when strolling Interlaken. Interlaken Where to go, HöhenmmatteFrom there, you can also watch all the paragliders which are numerous on clear days. This is the place to relax, watch people, and admire the stunning scenery. And all this while you can lay down!

It is located right at the main street of Interlaken (which is, however, not very big) and between the two train and boat stations (Interlaken Ost or Interlaken West). It is also between Lake Brienz and Lake Thun which you, however, will not see from Höhenmatte.

  • Free to visit

Make Your Own Chocolate 

While Interlaken is best known as the adventure capital, you can also do some unique things that are not about crazy outdoor sports. I had not expected to do a chocolate workshop in Interlaken, and yet I did one – right in the center of Interlaken. nterlaken what to do, Chocolate WorkshopMaking your own chocolate – e.g. at Funky Chocolate – is not only a good thing to do in Interlaken on a rainy day. It is also good activity if you want to escape the heat on a very hot day.

Plus, it is delicious. As a chocolate addict, I can say, that Swiss chocolate is the best in the world. You can even do your own vegan (and healthier) dark chocolate, too.

Spots can fill up quickly, so I would not wait for the last-minute with booking.

  • Prices start from around 65€ for a workshop.

Try Out High Ropes Adventure Park

What about jumping from platforms and soar through the air at High Ropes Adventure Park in Interlaken? It is basically a forest playground with wooden bridges, Tarzan swings, and zip lines.   

Whether you are a beginner or more exciting – it will be a few hours of fun here. Of course, you will be provided with everything you need and also get safety instructions before you set off into the trees.

From Interlaken West Station you will get there after a 15-minute walk.

  • For 3 hours at the park, you have to pay around 42CHF.

Fall in Love With Lake Thun

If you are in Interlaken, you will be surrounded by some of the prettiest, most stunning lakes in Switzerland. One of them is Lake Thun. Best things to see at Lake Thun, boat tour Lake ThunThis magnificent lake is impressive – its color alone will leave you speechless. You can do a boat cruise, do water activities or walk along the beautiful lake. Click here to find my tips on what to do around and on Lake Thun. 

Cruise Lake Brienz

Interlaken is located between two lakes: Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. We talked about the first one already and now let´s talk about my favorite lake which is Lake Brienz. Its unique turquoise color is one of a kind, and it is one of the most gorgeous and unique lakes out there (especially on a sunny day). Best places to visit in Switzerland Lake BrienzLake Brienz is one of the bigger lakes in the country and there are quite a few attractions close by. Hop on a boat and enjoy a boat cruise on this pretty lake – brave people also swim in the lake, but the water is quite cold, so it is not for everyone. Here are more tips on why to visit Lake Brienz and what to do around the lake.

Do Para – or Hanggliding

Same same but different: Paragliding and hang gliding are fun. Both activities offer to see Interlaken and its surroundings from a birds-eye perspective. 

There are also many other places in the region where you can do paragliding (e.g., Lauterbrunnen), but Interlaken is some of the most popular places to do so. So, if you are around Höhenmatte, do not be surprised to see all the many paragliders in the air.

Anyone volunteer to watch my dog when I am in Interlaken?  Then I could finally do this bucket list activity myself.

Have Coffee with a View

If you stroll Interlaken, you will probably observe an ugly high building – Hotel Metropol is a hotel with a rooftop restaurant.

It is a good way to see Interlaken from above. The restaurant staff is not the fastest and friendliest, but the view is so worth it! Switzerland Interlaken at Lake ThunHowever, in a region with so many mountains, it surely is not the best view of the town (and you won’t see much of the lakes).

But it is easy to get there, and you can have a coffee with a view and kill two birds with one stone.

Visit Jungfraujoch

The “At the top of Europe” – Jungfraujoch – has become one of the most popular attractions in the region.

You will find the highest train station in Europe which sits so high (3454 meters above sea level) that you can see snow throughout the year. But of course, there is more to do and see. There is also an Ice Palace, an Alpine Museum, and more to see and do (including some winter sports).top of europe Jungfraujoch - things to know.

Jungfraujoch is actually located in the region of Jungfrau. For us visitors, it does not really matter, though.

You cannot hike up there, so you need to get to the top via funicular/cogwheel. However, you can hike up to Kleine Scheidegg (more on that later) and then take the cogwheel to get to the top.

I enjoyed my trip there, but I think it is quite pricy, and it was not my absolute highlight. So if you are on a budget, I would not make it a priority (honestly).

Head To Kleine Scheidegg

Before heading to the top of Europe (Jungfraujoch), do not forget to soak in the views at Kleine Scheidegg along the way.

The Kleine Scheidegg is a mountain pass at about 2000 meters above sea level, and it makes a great stop when getting up the Jungfraujoch. So, from Grindelwald, you can either hike up all the way to Kleine Scheidegg or you take the funicular/cogwheel from Grindelwald/Interlaken and then get out of the funicular. The views are great and you can do some hikes around the area.

If you plan to continue your journey to Jungfraujoch, you will not need an additional ticket. However, if you plan to not get up all the way to Jungfraujoch, you will need a ticket (unless you hike up).

  • With your Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount.
  • With a Jungfrau Pass, you can get up to Kleine Scheidegg without any extra costs.

Admire Oeschinensee

Is not Lake Oeschinensee beyond amazing? It is so perfect that Oeschinensee should be on everybody´s bucket list. It is not officially in the region of Interlaken or Jungfrau, but in Kandersteg which is close by and thus a perfect place to visit in Interlaken. Stunning Lake Oeschinensee with Arzo TravelsI visited Oeschinensee twice. Once it started hailing, so I left quickly. But I came back – in summer 2020, I revisited and did the Heuberg hike. This hike is a bit challenging, but with proper footwear (real hiking boots, or very good runners), most people can do it for sure.

Once you get up with the gondola, the hike starts. After a 3-4 hour hike, you will arrive at the shores of this gorgeous yet cold mountain lake.

If you are not much into hiking, you can also just get up via gondola and then do a 20-minute hike to the lake. Or take a shuttle bus from the gondola station to the lake. Check out my Lake Oeschinen post for more detailed tips.

How to get to Oeschinensee: Take a train to Kandersteg station. From there, walk for about 10 minutes before arriving at the gondola/cable car station, which takes you up. Then either walk directly to the lake (a 20-30 minute walk is needed) or do some hikes for stunning views.

  • The return ticket for the gondola is CHF 30. A one-way ticket is CHF 22.
  • With a Swiss Travel Pass, you get a 50% discount.
  • The little shuttle bus, which brings you directly to the lake is 8€ one way.

Explore Blausee

Blausee is actually close to Lake Oeschinensee and too pretty to be ignored – Blausee is a tiny but gorgeous lake. Blausee in Berner Oberland, Arzo Travels

Visit Blausee Nature Park and admire the color of the Blausee (though the lake looks green to me, the name translated means Blue Lake”). There is not much to do around Blausee- you can do some short walks around the lake or do a boat “cruise”. Check out my full guide on Blausee to find out more.

There is actually an entrance fee which is why I am a bit reluctant to recommend Blausee. It is a beautiful lake but given that you can see so many stunning lakes in Switzerland for free, I am not sure it really is worth the money.

  • Prices for the Blausee Nature Park have gone up – and depend on the time of your visit and can cost up to CHF 12 (for an adult in the high season). 

Discover Grindelwald and Grindelwald-First

Grindelwald is one of the cutest villages and a must-see place in the region of Interlaken and should be on your list. But Grindelwald is also about adventure.

@shutterstock

Many people assume that Grindelwald is car-free (like some other villages), but it actually isn’t. However, it is pretty small, so I would combine it with another activity like Grindelwald First (see image) and actually do a hike in that area (more on that later).

Hike Around Bachalpsee

One of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland is the Bachalpsee (Bachalp Lake). Hiking or strolling around the Bachalpsee should be on your list, so another reason to visit Grindelwald and do some hiking.

Bachalpsee in Grindelwald - not too far from Hotel Caprice
Bachalpsee in Grindelwald @shutterstock

Take the cable car from Grindelwald to Grindelwald First. The hike from Grindelwald First to Bachalpsee is easy and scenic – it will take about one hour. If you are a fit hiker and want to save money, then skip the cable car and start your hike from Grindelwald. However, this part of the hike is not scenic nor nice.

Ticket prices are quite high but since Grindelwald First is also considered a top attraction, it might be worth it to you.

  • There is no entry fee for the lake or the hike itself, but to get to Grindelwald Frist you need to get up via gondola
  • Tickets are around 60€ for a return trip
  • 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass
  • Free with a Jungfrau Pass

Get Up Niederhorn Mountain

Niederhorn Mountain is another great place to visit on the shores of Lake Thun. However, it seems to be less popular amongst international visitors.

Niederhorn Mountain -amazing views from there
@Interlaken Tourism Board

When I visited Niederhorn Mountain, it was quite cloudy, but once the cloud disappeared, the view from Niederhorn Mountain was amazing. That panorama from almost 2000 meters above sea level confirmed what I had known before: Lake Thun is just amazing, and the only thing better than being on it (boat), being in it (swim), or being next to it (drive, stroll) is to look at it from above.

You do not even have to hike up – a gondola takes you to the top. But of course, you could also hike up if you REALLY want to or just buy a one-way ticket and then hike down. 

  • Tickets are quite pricy – you can check them out here.
  • There is a discount with a Swiss Travel Pass

Enjoy Views From Niesen Mountain

One of the most distinctive mountains at the shores of Lake Thun is the Niesen Mountain. The pyramid-shaped mountain is actually one of my favorite mountains in all of Switzerland. Best things to do around Lake Thun, Switzerland_However, it took me a while to realize that you can get on top of the mountain (without doing a challenging hike). Yes, like many other mountain summits Niesen is also quite accessible. So, my tip – look at it first but then get up via cable car or hike up all the way (Niesen stands at almost 2400 meters above sea level).

On top, there is tons to do and see from above, including some nice hiking trails. You will see the many paragliders from there, but it is also very family-friendly and has a restaurant on top, making it a great place to spend a few hours.

  • Tickets are up to CHF 59 – a 50% discount with a Swiss Travel Pass

Hike Up Männlichen Mountain

If you are into hiking, then get up to Männlichen Mountain which stands about 2,300 meters above sea level).

Though I have not hiked up myself, it is a popular hike in Interlaken. On a clear day, the Swiss Skyline (a panorama view consisting of the Swiss mountains Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau) is visible from many places, but from Männlichen it is said to be even more amazing (according to hear-say).

You could start your hike e.g. from Wengen or Kleine Scheidegg – depending on how difficult and long you want your hike to be.

Get The Steam Lok and Get Up Brienzer Rothorn

Probably one of my favorite mountain rides – ever – was getting up Brienzer Rothorn. View from Brienzer RothornIf you are a hiker, you´ll enjoy the hike. But I definitely recommend– even just for a stop – hopping in the old steam rack railway as it is such a unique experience.

Visiting the Brienzer Rothorn (on a clear) day has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had in Switzerland. 

Since it is one of my favorite Interlaken sightseeing attractions (find out more about the most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland), it is on this list of the best things to do in Interlaken.

  • A return ticket costs about CHF 94. This is not a cheap ride!
  • To save money, you could either hike one way or get a Swiss Travel Pass which gives you a 50% discount.

Visit Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge

The Glacier Gorge Rosenlaui is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau-Aletsch. Okay, Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge is not in Interlaken but close and should be on your bucket list as well.

Rosenau Glacier Gorge close to Interlaken
@shutterstock

Especially on hot days, walking through the gorge is amazing. But also after heavy rainfalls, as the waterfalls are stronger, it is amazing!  You have to do a bit of hiking but it is a gradual ascent and you will pass waterfalls, natural whirlpools, and more. 

  • There is an entrance fee – about 7,5€ – (but free parking), and it is open daily. Find more information here.

Head to Grindelwald Glacier Canyon

Another glacier – this Grindelwald Glacier Canyon is also in the region of Jungfrau. Walk towards the glacier while getting information about the canyon along the way.

The canyon was formed by the lower Grindelwald glacier, which then, over time, carved its way through the rock in this area. However, while the lower glacier no longer exists, you can visit the canyon, and the water cascades freely from the mountains into the Lütschine River below.

The gorge is only open from May to October, so check out their website for more info.

  • Prices are quite high (around 17€), something that you should be really interested in to enjoy fully.

Explore Iseltwald

Iseltwald is an adorable little village on the shores of Lake Brienz. It has many traditional Swiss wooden houses with charming decorations and makes a great walk from Giessbach Waterfalls or even Interlaken.Arzo Travels in Iseltwald with dog

But you can do more than just looking at the cute houses. Enjoy some water sports at Lake Brienz (that water is cold, though) or start your boat tour from here and make sure to take pictures from the quite famous little pier that you will find here. Though it is small, Iseltwald is one of the cutest places to visit in Interlaken.

You can get here by car, boat, or walk from Interlaken or Giessbach waterfalls.

Explore Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is THE place, according to outdoor lovers who are into extreme activities. Even if you are not into outdoor sports, you´ll love Lauterbrunnen as it is such a pretty village with the most beautiful scenery. Lauterbrunnen Staubbach waterfall a top activity in Interlaken with Arzo TravelsThe word famous Staubach Waterfall makes it picture perfect and is one of the highlights in Interlaken.

Lauterbrunnen is full of waterfalls (it is the village of 72 waterfalls after all), so it is definitely a great place for nice walks or longer hikes. However, it is one of the busiest places in the region, so be prepared for many people.

Visit Trümmelbachfälle

Talking about Lauterbrunnen…Experience the powerful waterfalls very close to Lauterbrunnen: the Trümmelbachfälle. Be prepared for a loud, wet, and cool experience. They are a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside the mountain accessible by a tunnel-funicular.

Luckily I did not take my DSL camera with me (I went after some hefty rain), but if you have a GoPro or waterproof camera, you are good to go and might take good pictures.

How to get there: I got there by car, but, luckily Switzerland has an amazing public transportation system (the station is Stechelberg) so you can get there by bus or have an easy walk from Lauterbrunnen (about 45 minutes one way)  

  •  The entry fee is about 10€ ($12).

Visit 007 Filming Location – Schilthorn

Close to the Trümmelbachfälle, you will find this attraction: Schilthorn. Most of you will probably know Schilthorn from James Bond because one of the movies (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) was filmed here.

When visiting Schilthorn, you can “date “James Bond and visit the “007 “museum. You can also eat at the revolving restaurant of Piz Gloria, which was the movie location of the James Bond. They even have a (vegetarian) 007 burger. But it is not all about James Bond – you can also admire the stunning scenery, including the famous “Swiss Skyline” which consists of the mountains Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

This is actually a fun thing to do in winter as well.

How to get to Schilthorn: You can take a cable car from Lauterbrunnen or get up via Stechelberg (you can also decide to hike some stations). On the way up to Schilthorn, do the Thrill Walk and stop at Allmendhubel.

  • The price depends on how much you hike – a return ticket for Stechelberg to Schilthorn is CHF 108! 
  • You can save money by hiking some parts (the hike from Stechelberg to Müren is quite easy and stunning).
  • With a Swiss Travel Pass, you will get more than a 50% discount

Hike to Mürren

Before you get to Schilthorn (to see Piz Gloria and follow James Bond), make sure to plan some time for exploring the cute car-free village of Mürren (1,638 meters – 5,374 feet above sea level) which will be on your way up. There is not that much to do, but this mountain village is quite popular.

Mürren in Switzerland - where to go in Switzerland
@shutterstock

You can buy a ticket from Lauterbrunnen Stechelberg to Schilthorn and just get out at Mürren to explore it. But you could also hike from Stechelberg (910 meters – 3000 feet – above sea level) or Grüttschalp  (1,487 meters – 4,879 feet – above sea level) to Mürren.

The hike from Grütschalp to Mürren is easy and even kids can do, and the views are breathtaking (on a clear day).

Get up Stockhorn

Stockhorn (2,190 meters – 7185 feet – above sea level) is another great mountain that you can visit. The ride up in the cable car is lovely (you pass several lakes along the way), and the view from there is great. Lake Thun best things to doAh, and of course you will find them again…the paragliders that are like everywhere in the area of Interlaken.

On the mountain summit (whether you hike up or take the cable car), you can do a few more hikes or just relax and enjoy the views.

  • A return ticket costs CHF60 
  • You can save money by hiking (some parts) or with a Swiss Travel Pass (50%)

Try out Bungee Jumping

Talking about Stockhorn… If you want to have a more exciting experience, you could bungee jump. You can do that from Stockhorn Cable Car in Interlaken. The view is probably one of the best you will ever have – when bungee jumping.

Stroll Thun

Located at Lake Thun, Thun is one of the bigger towns in that area. Stop by at the Thun Castle- it is one main attraction but not the only great place to see in Thun. Thun, most beautiful town in InterlakenI was stunned to see how pretty the town center actually is and was smitten by the beautiful Thun Castle and the view. Thun is definitely a place in Interlaken to add to your itinerary. The old town, the castles (yes, there are several), the river with many cafes and restaurants and the pretty market square – Thun is a lively and lovely town that is well worth a visit. Check out my Thun guide for more tips.

  •  Most activities are free in Thun- There are entrance fees for a couple of attractions, including Thun Castle where you have a wonderful view of the town. The entrance fee is around CHF 10 – free with a Swiss Travel Pass.

Rest at Schloss Schadau

Castles are probably not the first thing that comes to most people´s minds when hearing about Switzerland. However, there are some beautiful ones, like Schloss Schadau.

Switzerland attractions, things to do in InterlakenThe interior often is not as stunning as you might know from countries like Austria or Germany, but they are beautiful to look at and are often located in a beautiful area. 

If you walk behind Schloss Schadau, you have stunning views of Lake Thun and the Swiss Skyline.

  • The garden area of Schloss Schadau is free to visit. 

Some more castles to visit in Switzerland: Schloss Thun, Schloss Interlaken, Unspunnen Castle or Oberhofen Castle. Some castles charge for the garden area, too.

Go Swimming

Take a dip in one of the lakes – many are very clean, and swimming is allowed in many lakes in that region (few exceptions, e.g., Blausee). Most lakes, however, are very cold – too cold for me personally. 

While you could hop into the water at many places, there are a number of lidos (outdoor pools) that are free but there are also some lidos, the very fancy ones, where you have to pay an entrance fee. These lidos normally offer showers and options to change – some are directly on the shores of the lake and some have extra pools.

There are also some lidos along the shores of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz – e.g. in Iseltwald.

TIP: Lake Thun is warmer than Lake Brienz and probably the best choice on a hot day.

Walk Over the Trift Bridge

Also not directly located in Interlaken but in Grimselwelt, you will find the impressive Trift Bridge that has become a popular place to visit. Trift Bridge in Grimselwelt as a main place near Interlaken with Arzo TravelsIf you are into suspension bridges and hikes, then this place is for you. The suspension bridge is 170 meters long and offers great views (if you dare to look around). Unlike many other attractions in the country, the cable car will not drop you off at the bridge, but you have to do a 90-minute hike (or, in my case, a 120-minute hike) to get there.

To get back to the Trift cable car, you have to hike back the same route, so it is a bit of hiking (and ascent and descent) but doable. If you are fit, you could probably skip the cable car completely. Check out my detailed post on how to see the Trift Bridge.

  • Prices for the cable car are around 11€ (22€ return), and there is free parking. 

Take Ski or Snowboard Lessons

There are some places you can do winter sports throughout the year (like a few activities on Jungfraujoch), but if you are crazy about winter sports, then the best time to visit is…in the winter.

There is a reason why Switzerland is one of the most popular places for winter sports – and the region of Interlaken and Jungfrau (including the area of Grindelwald) are some of the best spots to hit the slopes. 

Winter sports are big here – whether you go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking or, or, or. You have quite some options to experience what an amazing winter sports vacation can look like.

Fall in Love With Spiez

Oh, Spiez… I love the village and the castle at the water – and my little Puppygak also fell in love. It is one of the most beautiful places in Interlaken. best places in SwitzerlandSpiez has a Mediterranean flair, and its small waterfront is lovely (and it comes with great views of the Niesen Mountain). So, if you are looking for some French Riviera vibes, this is the place to be. 

From Interlaken, you get there easily by public transportation or car, but why not get there by boat? That is a scenic way to arrive at this cute village on the southern shores of Lake Thun

Spend Time at Giessbachwasserfall and Grand Giessbach Hotel 

While doing a boat tour on Lake Brienz, get out at the Giessbachwasserfall boat station and explore the region.

You can take a funicular to get up to the amazing Grandhotel Giessbach (a full hotel review is here) or do the easy 10-minute hike. Giessbach waterfall - with a view of Grandhotel GiessbachThe hotel has a unique atmosphere and some of the best views of stunning Lake Brienz. From there, you hike even further and even walk behind the stunning Giessbach Waterfalls. 

  • You can also get to the area by car (the drive up in via a mountain street, so you should enjoy driving narrow mountain streets). 
  • If you get there by ca, you have to pay around 9€ for parking – if you plan to spend more time, it is probably worth it.
  • Alternatively, you can also get there by bus (the yellow Postautos will get you here) hike here from Iseltwald, or take the boat.
  • The Swiss Travel Pass covers the boat tour and also public transportation (Postauto).

Explore Wengen

Wengen is another beautiful and car-free village that should be on your list when visiting this region. It is small and tiny so you might not spend a lot of time there, but it is a popular place to visit in Interlaken. From there, you can do some nice hikes and just come down and enjoy the stunning nature.

Personally, it wasn’t my favorite place, but if you are looking for typical small Swiss villages, it is a great place to see.

You cannot drive all the way to Wengen by car – you have to catch a train from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen. 

Visit St. Beatus Caves

St. Beatus Caves are located on the shores of Lake Thun – it is a cave system that features lit pathways leading through tunnels & chambers and a museum. But it is also about views, views, views. And waterfalls. And flowers, but it is also a lot about views! 

What to do at St Beatus Caves in Switzerland

I was blown away by the views (have I mentioned the views before) from up there. Whether you visit the caves or just come here for the panorama – it is definitely worth a visit. Check out my detailed post on St. Beatus Caves.

Views from St Beatus Caves

If you are at beautiful St. Beatus Caves, walk down the other way for 10-15 minutes to enjoy the view from the famous Instagram spot (see picture).

  • There is an entrance fee for the caves (around 16€) and there is paid parking. Alternatively, you can get here by bus or boat.

Enjoy Views From Sigriswil

Sigriswil is a hidden gem, and getting up to Sigriswil (by car) was not always easy as the streets became quite tight on some parts, but it was worth it.

It is a less busy place – the highlight in the villages is the 340-meter long Sigriswil Suspension Bridge. It is a pedestrian suspension bridge over a gorge – and you have stunning views of the Bernese Alps & Lake Thun.Interlaken best activities

The suspension bridge is not as scary as some other bridges in the region – here it is more about the views!

You can also take a bus to get up there.

  • There is an “entrance fee” (yes) to cross the bridge of about 7€.

Find A Hidden Gem – Grabenmühle

Grabenmühle is probably the cutest place I have seen in Switzerland and totally unknown amongst tourists.  Grabenmühle best place to visitGrabenmühle is just a few hundred meters behind Sigriswil Suspension Bridge, and I do not want to say too much. Just go there during the day and feel amazed as you have a cuteness overdose. You can also do “gold rinsing” or see alpacas and other animals. It is a weird place, but I loved it!

  • The ticket for passing the above-mentioned suspension bridge in Sigriswil is about 7€. With that ticket, you also have entry to Grabenmühle. Otherwise, you can consume something at the cafe in Grabenmühle which is considered as your entrance fee.
  • Check out opening hours here (unfortunately, it is only in German). On Mondays, it is closed.

Get up Schynige Platte

One of the best views in Interlaken is from Schynige Platte. It is a small mountain ridge that stands at 2,076 meters – 6811 feet – above sea level.

The great, impressive, fantastic thing about Schynige Platte is the fact that you have two great views that could not be more different.

First, you have amazing views of the Swiss Skyline (seeing the three top mountains, Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau). For that view, there is no hike needed – just take the funicular to get up. Best Places to see in SchweizAfter a 20-minute hike from the funicular station, you get to see Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, two of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland, at the same time.

This makes Schynigge Plate one of the most unique viewpoints in Interlaken.

The funicular ride starts in Wilderswil (easily accessible from Interlaken). Sit back and enjoy the ride up. Alternatively, you can also hike up.

  • A return ticket costs around 60€ – you can save money by hiking down or get a discount with your Swiss Travel Pass. 
  • It is free with your Jungfrau Pass.

Do a Kayak Day Tour

The best Interlaken activities include a lot of outdoor time: With all the beautiful lakes, a kayak tour seems to be a perfect choice for the sporty ones among you. Disclaimer: I do not consider myself a very sporty person, so I skipped that one.

Lake Brienz is a popular place to do kayaking – either bring your own kayak or book a kayak trip in Interlaken.

Go Hiking

It took me a while, but I have finally gotten what the fuss is about hiking. Hiking from Grütschalp to Mürren was one of the most rewarding and amazing things I have done. Points of Interest Interlaken, Switzerland, Mürren

On a clear day, the scenery is just one of a kind. After that, I started hiking each day, and if you are in Interlaken, you might never get enough of it. 

The region of Interlaken and Jungfrau is one of the best areas for hikers. So whether you are a hiking novice, a more experienced hiker, or a super hiker – you will find spectacular hikes everywhere!

Experience Helicopter Skydive

I have mentioned it before, but Interlaken is known as the best place for adrenaline junkies. So a helicopter skydive is a great opportunity to experience this on your own – there are not many sceneries that beautiful when you are jumping out of a helicopter.

I enjoy some adventure – but in moderation. Everything in moderation for me! So jumping out of the helicopter is not for me.

P.s. you can justify the high price with the fact that you are actually doing two great things, a helicopter ride and a skydive at once.

Visit Merligen and Enjoy the Views 

Merligen is also a small village (568 meters – 1863 feet – above sea level) located on the northern shores of Lake Thun. It is one of the cutest places in Interlaken. 

There is not that much to do – but I still adore Merligen. You could go swimming or enjoy the views from the church. Meiringen church view of Lake Thun near InterlakenI tend to come here every year but haven’t really spoken about my little obsession – now, I am sharing with you guys this secret. The views are pretty stunning!

It is pretty easy to reach via bus, car, or even boat.

Though it is just a few hundred meters to drive from the main road, the streets are narrow, and it looks like a one-way street (though it isn’t). So, if you are uncomfortable driving up that short but narrow street, park it and just walk up for 5 minutes.

Hop on an E-Bike

Interlaken and the Jungfrau region are hilly – actually, it is more than that. You can also call it mountainous! An e-bike tour is a great solution to cycle your way around. It gives you more freedom when it comes to getting around.

You can rent e-bikes at many hotels or even in the town center and discover Interlaken this way.

Relax at the Lucerne -Interlaken Express

Train riding in Switzerland is not comparable with train riding in many other places. It is an experience in itself and something I sincerely recommend. One of the most beautiful rides in the ride from Lucerne to Interlaken.

What to visit in Interlaken, fun things to do in Interlaken, interlaken Switzerland points of interest
@shuttersock

This is one of the best things to do in Interlaken if you just want to sit and relax while watching beautiful surroundings.

Hop on the “Luzern-Interlaken Express”, in Interlaken Ost train station, grab a window seat and enjoy! You will pass several stunning lakes along the way. In Lucerne, you could spend a day (it is a stunning town!) and then come back later – and enjoy the same amazing window views again.

Do a Road Trip

Interlaken is one of Switzerland’s best places for a beautiful road trip (though some villages are car-free). I am not the biggest fan of driving, but I probably will never get enough of driving in Switzerland despite the many mountains and sometimes narrow streets.

Especially driving the roads along the northern shores of Lake Thun are fun and scenic!

Just be careful as there are many speed cams, but other than that, driving in Switzerland and Interlaken is fun. Here are more tips for driving in Switzerland.

End the Days With These Sunsets

If you enjoy watching sunsets, plan some time at Lake Thun – it is by far the best way to end the day. There is even a sunset boat cruise on Lake Thun. Switzerland Lake Thun best sunsetsHarder Kulm is also a popular place to watch the sunset – I still prefer the sunsets at Lake Thun. Check out boat tours for Lake Thun here in the evening.

More good places to enjoy the sunsets are Leissigen or Beatenberg station. I also heard about beautiful sunsets in Wengen, Faulhorn mountain peak (which comes with a hike, though), or Iseltwald at Lake Brienz. 

Enjoy Interlaken

Interlaken is one of a kind! So pretty…so so pretty! So my tip is to enjoy each second you are in this unique region!

GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS FOR INTERLAKEN

After talking about the best activities and attractions, here are some travel tips for Interlaken, so you are well prepared for your trip!

Language in Interlaken

Though Germany is the main language, most people also speak (basic) English. You should have no big problems with speaking either German or English.

How to Get Around Interlaken

Driving in Interlaken is very safe and easy. The streets are well paved, driving in the mountains might be a bit tricky, though. The main reason, I love driving here is that you can stop and just enjoy the scenery – this freedom and flexibility is priceless in a gorgeous place like Interlaken.

Public transportation in Interlaken is effortless as buses/trains go often, are punctual and reliable. 

If you stay in an official accommodation in Interlaken, you will get the Interlaken Guest Card – giving you free bus rides within Interlaken and close places by (like really close villages like Iseltwald). If you stay in the Thun region, you can even use your Thun Guest Card to get to Interlaken. However, they are not really useful if you rely solely on public transportation and do not have a car, because you cannot use trains.

Where to Stay / Best Hotels in Interlaken

Interlaken is home to some amazing hotels – amazing and expensive. I have a detailed accommodation guide for Interlaken but find some tips below.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. Since I have not started there myself, I can repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing. So if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • One of my favorite hotels – ever – is the beautiful 4* hotel  Grandhotel Giessbach. The hotel has the best location ever (sitting at the foot of the Giessbach Waterfalls) and is unique. It is not a cheap 4* hotel, but a very great one. However, it is closed in the winter months.
  • I recently stayed in the newly renovated Hotel du Nord. I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). The breakfast was good, too! Click here to get the best deals.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying at this gorgeous hostel that I stayed at when I was not traveling with my dog. This hostel is a bit more expensive than other hostels, but one of the best I have stayed at (even though I relay missed curtains in front of my bed) and they also offer free parking. Check out the hostel here.

Safety Tips for Interlaken

Interlaken – and the region – is very safe and secure. With common sense, you should be fine.

I have always traveled solo to Interlaken (sometimes accompanied by my little dog) and never felt unsafe. Keep valuables close to you, and you should be good to go!

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THINGS TO DO IN INTERLAKEN

As a regular visitor to the region of Interlaken, I have had the chance to make some incredible memories.

I am well aware that experiencing all the “best things to do in Interlaken” as described above would take weeks, and it would also cost a lot of money. While we cannot always do all the “top things,” I hope has helped you find a few Interlaken activities for your budget and fitness level.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed my post. Whether you visit Interlaken in winter or summer, the sport hopefully has helped you get some inspiration.

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Epic things to do in Interlaken, Arzo Travels

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

 

Best Valposchiavo Travel Guide – A Hidden Gem

Valposchiavo in 2 days

Best Things to Do in Valposchiavo + Travel Tips

Have you ever considered visiting Valposchiavo in Switzerland? If you haven’t, you should seriously add it to your bucket list because Valposchiavo is beyond stunning! Actually, is so stunning it has become one of my most favorite areas in the world.

I have seen quite a bit of Switzerland – I regularly visit and I regularly fall in love with places. I can say, I am used to spectacular sceneries, but what I saw in Valposchiavo was beyond all my expectations.

So, today I share my tips for a trip to Poschiavo and Valposchiavo – find some basic information about this stunning region + tips for the best things to do in Valposchiavo.

Valposchiavo Travel Tips

Let´s find out more about Switzerland´s best-kept secret.

Valposchiavo Facts

Val Poschiavo or Valposchiavo is a valley in the southern canton of Graubünden (Grison), close to the Italian border. Its remote location might be why it hasn’t become one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist spots. Given its natural beauty, there cannot be any other reason.

Its main town is Poschiavo, which lies about 1000 meters above sea level, with a population of fewer than 4,000 inhabitants.

The valley is drained by the Poschiavino River, flowing through the main lake of Lago di Poschiavo.

In Switzerland, there are four official languages.

Valposchiavo is in the mostly German-speaking canton of Graubünden.

  • However, in Valposchiavo, Italian is the primary language.
  • The locals speak another regional language at home, so the places have so many different names. 
  • For us visitors, this comes in handy because many locals speak Italian, German, and (some) basic English.

Disclaimer: Graubünden Tourism and Valposchiavo Tourism invited me to this trip as I blog regularly about Switzerland. However, the opinions and posts are all mine, and I can genuinely say that Valposchiavo has stolen my heart.

How to Get to Poschiavo (Valposchiavo)

It is, however, easily accessible via train (the central train station is Poschiavo) or car. Postautos (the yellow buses that run through the mountains in Switzerland) also get you there.

The easiest way to get to Poschiavo is via Zurich, so when you plan your Switzerland itinerary, you could plan your trip for a few days after visiting Zurich.

How to Get Around Valposchiavo

I would suggest making Poschiavo your base. From there, it is easy to hop on a train/bus and explore the rest of this gorgeous area. 

You could also easily get around by car – however, it is actually easier to explore Valposchiavo by train.

How Long to Stay in Valposchiavo

I think you could explore Valposchiavo for several weeks without getting bored. I stayed three nights and found so many beautiful places and got so many great impressions – I recommend staying for at least two nights, but if you can stay longer than even better.

If you book your stay in Poschiavo for at least two nights, you will get the Valposchiavo All-Inclusive Guest Card from the hotel, which you can then use for train and bus rides (for free). With that card, you can also get free guided tours for the Glacier which I will talk about later.

Where to Eat in Valposchiavo – 100% Valposchiavo

If you visit Valposchiavo, you will realize that restaurants offer 100% locally sourced Valposchiavo ingredients. I love the idea of having dishes with ingredients only from the region. It is fresher, with fewer chemicals, and it‘s better for the environment, so I would look out for restaurants that offer 100% Valposchiavo.

Meat and cheese lovers will love the food in Valposchiavo. Though Valposchiavo is no heaven for vegetarians or vegans, I, a vegetarian who tries to avoid dairy products as well, was able to find dishes I could eat. The choices weren’t endless, but I had no real difficulties finding yummy options.

Vegans might find it difficult because cheese is basically in every dish. But you can always opt for pasta with vegetables, I guess.

PLACES TO VISIT IN VALPOSCHIAVO

Ozpizio Bernina – Lago Bianco – Sassal Masone – Alp Grüm 

This hike from Ozpizio Bernina to Alp Grüm is probably the best hike I have ever taken, so I truly recommend it to you. You surely will be as amazed as I was and will thank me later for the great tip. Here are the stops and tips for the hike. Though the hike is short and actually takes only an hour or so, there are some incredible places you should stop by.

Ozpizio Bernina

I suggest getting to the starting point of the hike by train. The train ride goes from Poschiavo to Ozpizio Bernina, which takes about 45 minutes. It is a highly scenic train ride that gives you a great first impression of the municipality of Valposchiavo. Valposchiavo train station highest in EuropeThis is train riding at its best in Switzerland – passing Alp Grüm, and Lake Palü and Lago Bianco is a treat for the eyes.

Have you heard of the famous “Bernina Express” train ride? This panorama ride includes the stops mentioned here. There is a reason why it is known as one of the best train rides in the world – and once you enjoy the window views, you will easily see what the fuss is about!

If you are lucky and sit in a compartment with windows, you can even open windows and take great pictures. I say “lucky” because that’s only if you don’t sit with people on a train who complain about open windows. Yes, I have had discussions with locals about the open windows. 

You can start your hike at the Ospizio Bernina train station. The train station is the highest regular train station in Europe, at more than 2,250 meters above sea level. 

Getting here is an experience in itself, and standing on the platform when you get out of the train gives you an impressive view. 

  • The train ride is free with the Valposchiavo All-Inclusive Guest Card. It is also free with a Swiss Travel Pass.
  • This train ride is also absolutely incredible in the winter months!

Lago Bianco

Lago Bianco, a whitish lake in a rough mountain area, will welcome you right at Ospizio Bernina train station. It is a reservoir at 2,234 meters above sea level, and the water is used for generating electricity. And while it is not a natural lake, it is a beauty.

And if you like, you could have your first snack at the guest houses at the station or sit next to the lake and immerse yourself in the beauty.Lago di Bianco in Valposchiavo

Strolling the lake is very easy since it is a flat area – even if you are not a hiker, I suggest, getting out at this station and enjoying a walk around the lake.

Sassal Masone

Then it is time for s shortish but steepish uphill hike. While I saw many people heading to Alp Grüm directly, I truly, truly, recommend making a short detour and heading to Sassal Masone first because that is the real highlight – for any Switzerland trip!

Paths are well signed, but you could also use the Graubünden Hiking App to head towards Sassal Masone slowly. The hike to Sassal Masone is not strenuous, though it is uphill.

Valposchiavo Palü Lake in heart shape

It probably took me about 60 minutes (but I did not rush) from the Ospizio Bernina train station to the top of the Sassal Masone mountain. 

I was fortunate with the weather – the view on a clear day is probably one of the best views you can get. 

Up there, you have the most impressive view of the mountain ranges around, including the Palü Glacier and Lago Palü (Palü Lake). Palü Lake, with its heart shape and incredible watercolor, made me fall in love with the place. The water comes from the Palü Glacier (which you also have a great view of from Sasal Masone).

I have been at the lakes a few times – I must admit that on my last visit, the watercolor looked totally different. Maybe it rained a lot – and thus the water seemed more grey.

While I did not get to spend time at the lake, I assume it is very fresh and very cold. So, though it is not the best place to take a dip, it is undoubtedly great to just look at from above. In 1926, a dam was built, and the water is now used for generating electricity. While it is a dam, it is still a beauty!

Sassel Mason in Valposchiavo

TIP: There is a Refugio at the top. It wasn’t open at the time of my visit (beginning of October), but the stone house looked charming, as did the two stone buildings in the shape of an igloo/tent.

Though the refuge was closed, there was a surprising amount of people on Sassal Masone, and many (mostly Swiss) seemed to know that this was THE place to rest and soak in the views.

Valposchiavo with a dog

I have visited Switzerland often and extensively, so I can say that I am used to the fantastic scenery. However, I had no idea. I had no idea, Valposchiavo is that perfect! I just had never expected such a view in Vaposchiavo – the glacier, the lake, and the whole scenery left me speechless.

Plan in enough time for a break. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have planned more time for here.

In this region of Switzerland, water fountains are not as common as in other parts of the country, so pack enough and don’t rely on fresh mountain water.

Alp Grüm

The hike does not end at Sassel Masone. You could

a) hike the same way back to get to Ospizio Bernina,

or b) you could hike down the other way (behind the tiny stone houses, well signed). Then you will arrive at Alp Grüm.

My tip is to take the downhill hike because it is beautiful and you have great views of Palü Lake and Palü Glacier.

If you got to Ozpizio Bernina from Poschiavo by train, you have passed Alp Grüm already. It is a train station and an excellent place to have lunch/coffee as there is a restaurant there that comes with a view. 

From Alp Grüm you could also walk to Lake Palü. I did not do it, but if you plan your itinerary, I suggest adding one or two hours to walk down to Palü Lake and spend time there.

You could end your day and take the train to get back to the hotel. Depending on your speed, you most likely still have time for one more activity that day. I recommend adding the following place to your itinerary – Cavaglia Glacier Garden.

I added Sassel Masone to my “Most beautiful places in Switzerland” post as it definitely belongs there.

Cavaglia Glacier Garden

If you want to visit the Cavaglia Glacier Garden you can either get there from Alp Grüm by train or via a hike. The easiest and fastest option is to hop on the train and get off at Cavaglia train station. From there, it takes about five to ten minutes to walk to the Cavaglia Glacier Garden.

I kept hiking down –  from Alp Grüm station to the Cavaglia train station. However, I don’t recommend it, as it was quite steep at times and honestly not that spectacular. Hiking down takes about 60-70 minutes.

After passing the Cavaglia train station, you head to the glacier garden.

Glacier Garden in ValposchiavoThe Palü Glacier doesn’t only feed Lake Palü, but also the glacial mills of Cavaglia “were hewn into the rock by the Palü Glacier. Over the course of thousands of years, gravel and debris, transported by the pressurized glacial water, have ground giant holes into the bedrock.“

While going through the garden, I and some others were looking for the glacial mills (also known as Giant Pods) with water flowing, and it took us some time to find a hole that was not “empty.“  There are signs, but as it wasn’t only me but many people feeling a bit lost, we were starting to wonder if water was flowing at that time of the year.

Valposchiavo Glacier Garden in Switzerland

Good news: Yes, it does, and it looks great once you find it. So don’t give up immediately and stroll the whole area and you will find such a glacial mill with water.

TIP: There are water fountains at the Cavaglia Glacier Garden (the only one I can remember during that hike).

  • From May to October, there are guided tours for the Glacier Garden several times a week (free with your Valposchiavo All-Inclusive Guest Card), but you can also explore the garden by yourself. There is no entry free.

If the weather forecast predicts rain or clouds for the morning, you could do this part first because it is nice even in rain, too. Keep the view from Sassal Masone for the clear and sunny part of the day.

Poschiavo

Poschiavo, the valley’s capital, is a small village with a charming market square and picturesque buildings. Admittedly, it is not very big, and strolling Poschiavo (also known as Borgo) will not take you forever, but it is still worth it. 

Visit the market square, the Piazza Comunale, and its few buildings. This includes the Hotel Albrici and La Tor (the stone tower where witch trials were discussed and now used as a city hall).Valposchiavo Market Square

Valposchiavo Things to seeMuseo Poschiavo has two parts that are worth a visit. One is Casa Tome. Casa Tome is a popular tourist attraction in Poschiavo. Built in the 14th century, this old house has not undergone many restorations.  The house expanded in 1450, but if you visit the house now (which is open to the public from May to October, free with your Valposchiavo All-Inclusive Guest Card), you get an idea of how people lived back then. Actually, three sisters lived there until a few years ago. 

Visit the Via da Palaz to see some colorful buildings financed and bought by Swiss immigrants in Spain, and add a visit to the churches and the convent to your list. Also, pay attention to the little garden in front of the buildings. This is where the locals grow their own vegetables and fruits.

Visit the Palazzo de Bassus-Mengottii, where you can learn a lot about Valposchiavo´s history.

  • TIP: A guided tour, available from May-October, is probably the best way to learn about Poschiavo´s history and present. I would suggest planning in 3-4 hours for Poschiavo if you visit both the museum and the church.

Hike to Lagh da Saoseo (Lago di Saoseo)

Hike to Lago di Saoseo and see some more gems.

Switzerland has some of the prettiest lakes, which are very well-known. Switzerland also has some amazing lakes that are hidden gems. And you will find one of those beautiful lakes, which is Switzerland´s best-kept secret, on the hike today. Spend a day at Lago di Saoseo! Getting there is a bit complicated but it is well worth it!

You can travel via Postauto (yellow buses that drive in the mountains). Get from Poschiavo station to Sfazu/Fermata station (about a 15-minute bus ride).

From there, you can either start your hike or take another Postauto to bring you to Alp Camp. 

Normally, you can use Postautos like any other public transportation. There is no reservation needed and included in your GuestCard or Swiss Travel Pass. However, if you decide to take the Postauto now, you have to pay for the drive, and you have to reserve your seat (at least one hour before departure is required).

Tip: If you are a good hiker, you could skip the Postauto and hike up the whole way. Or you can use the Postauto for one way only.

  • The Postauto from Poschiavo to Sfazu/Fermata station is included in your GuestCard/ Swiss Travel Pass.
  • For the route from Sfazu/Fermata station to Alp Camp you have to pay around 12CHF, one-way.

Alp Camp

Hiking from Sfazu/Fermata station to Alp Camp should take about 90 minutes (an easy uphill/downhill hike). Hiking down later takes about one hour. This gives you more flexibility because the minibus doesn’t run often.

The path is good and quite easy, and you will see lovely stone houses along the way. And if the weather is great, I suggest spending as much time as possible outside.

Beautiful stone houses in Alp Campo

At Alp Camp, there is a little restaurant. Then continue to either Lagh da Saoseo (Lago di Saoseao) or Lagh di Val Viola (Lago di Val Viola) – we start with Lago di Saoseo.

Lago di Saoseo

While most headed to Lago di Val Viola first, I decided to start the hike at Lago di Saoseo. It takes about 10-15 minutes (downhill hike) from Alp Camp.

I am not sure that the pictures do the lake justice.  It is a perfect combination of Lake Carezzo in Italy and Blausee in Switzerland.
Valposchiavo where to stay

Valposchiavo Lake Saoseo

If you visit in fall, lie I did, you will get to see some beautiful fall foliage. With the yellowish trees around it, it looked absolutely amazing. But I am pretty sure, it looks great at any time of the year!

The mountains reflect perfectly in the lake. The lake color is more of a stunning green, and since getting here is not that easy, you don’t have to share it with too many other people (though it might be different during peak season).

Lagh da Saoseo

You can bring your own Stand-Up Paddle or floating boat and enjoy time on the water.

So, you have learned about some of Valposchiavo´s gems but there is more to Valposchiavo – there is more!

This lake is accessible only after a long walk/or drive but there is no difficult hike included. To see the next lake, you will need to be more active.

Lagh da Val Viola

Though Lago di Saoseo is the more stunning lake, there is another lake close by to visit. Lagh da Val Viola!

There are two ways to get to Lagh da Val Viola which is another beautiful mountain lake in the area. I chose the longer hike. Signs and the hiking app said it takes a bit more than an hour, but I ended up needing two hours. I do not know why I did that.

Anyhow, the people I met along the way also needed about two hours, but it was worth it – despite the narrow path and many ups and downs. Valposchiavo best places to seeThe scenery is wildish and rough, and it looks insane and unreal. Thanks to perfect weather conditions, the hike was amazing, though not very easy – but doable.

Trekking poles are probably good, as it is a lot of steep hiking up and down. Sometimes, I even had to walk through small streams. But if you have the time and energy, opt for the longer hike. Valposchiavo Lago di Val ViolaLagh da Val Viola looked grayish from afar (even though it was sunny), but the closer I got, the more greenish it looked.

Getting to the lake takes another 10-15 minutes, and down at the lake, you have some options for sitting right next to the lake and taking a break. 

At the lake, I was reminded a bit of the popular Oeschinensee. Though this lake is a beauty, I was still flashed by Lago di Saoseao.

Hiking Back 

From there, you can hike back to Alp Camp or Saoseo Refugio, which takes less than 30 minutes. You could also hike back to Lago da Saoseo (which I did just because I had some time and wanted to see the beauty again). 

If you have made a reservation for the minibus (required, if you don’t want to hike), you could hike to where you will be picked up. Otherwise, head to Alp Camp and then slowly head to Sfazu bus station.

The hike down to Sfazu Station is a lovely and easy downhill hike that takes about one hour – the stone houses along the way are just so unique (I can’t remember having seen so many in other cantons of Switzerland).

Extra Tips for Valposchiavo 

If you have two full days in Valposchiavo, your itinerary will probably be quite busy with the above-mentioned activities, but here are a few more tips for your stay in Valposchiavo.

Lago di Poschiavo / Lake Poschiavo 

If heading to the south, very close to the Italian border you will find the biggest lake in the region: Lago di Poschiavo. In summer, you can take a boat cruise and swim in the lake. Walking around the lake is probably a beautiful thing to do at any time of the year.

Poschiavo lake

You might have heard about the project “Swings the World” “Swing the World“ which is a project by two young people from Ticino with a goal in mind: encouraging people to spend more time outdoors. The homemade swings are in unique spots around Ticino – and now also outside in the beautiful area of Valposchiavo.

Swing the world in Valposchiavo

This is really a beautiful tranquil place which 

Hike San Romerio – Tirano

If I had more time, I would have done another hike, probably from San Romerio to Tirano (Italy), which promises beautiful views.

Cycling

Valposchiavo is probably heaven for mountain bikers. I like cycling more than mountain biking, but some people seriously biked Sassal Masone. If you are a bike fan, you should find out more about cycling routes in the area.Cycling in Valposchiavo

Is Valposchiavo Worth Visiting?

I hope you are convinced why to visit Valposciavo now. I never expected to see so much beauty in Valposchiavo. I was surprised that I hadn’t even heard of these places before. As someone who regularly visits Switzerland, I had thought I knew it all, but apparently, I was so wrong.

Valposchiavo is a perfect place to visit – whether you visit for the first time or are a regular Switzerland visitor (or even a Swiss resident). I am sure it will get busier eventually, and it will not be s hidden gem forever, so I recommend visiting as long as it isn’t crowded yet!

October was the perfect time to visit – the “crowds“ had gone, but most shops and restaurants were still open. Fall presented its best side, and while we never know about the weather (which is unpredictable in Switzerland), even the weather in October was great. If you are looking for a beautiful place to visit in the fall, then Valposchiavo it is!

Epic Things to Do in Switzerland in Winter

Switzerland, best things to do in winter on Arzo Travels, pic credit @MSC Gerber

BEST ACTIVITIES FOR WINTER IN SWITZERLAND

Are you planning a trip to Switzerland in winter? Switzerland, a small country in central Europe, is a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. Whether you visit in the spring, fall, or summer, the options for activities are endless. Of course, Switzerland in winter is also perfect for visiting.

As a Switzerland fan, I love exploring the country at any time, but I have to admit that I am not a winter sports fan.

Actually, I have never skied in my life. I recently went on my first ski trip. Of course, it was in Switzerland – in Verbier to be more precise. What should I say? The scenery was amazing, everything was organized perfectly and professionally. Switzerland in winter was just stunning!

So, spending time in winter is perfect for winter sports fans AND non-winter sports lovers.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

SWITZERLAND IN WINTER TRAVEL TIPS

So, this post should help you find out about things to do in winter in Switzerland, but you will also find many travel tips for your Switzerland winter trip.

Best Places to Stay in Winter in Switzerland

When you visit Switzerland in the winter months, here are my tips on where to stay:

Jungfraujoch Region (including Interlaken) is a great place to stay – it is one of the best winter destinations, and you can reach places like Lucerne easily. Interlaken would be my top tip here.

  • Victoria Jungfrau – Since I have not stayed there myself, I can just repeat what I heard: This hotel is supposed to be amazing, so if you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • I recently stayed at the newly renovated Hotel du Nord. I actually was very positively surprised (the reviews were not great, but since all rooms were renovated lately, it is a great place to stay). Click here to get the best deals.

Zurich: If you are more into Christmas Markets, then I suggest staying in Zurich so that you can visit Basel and Lucerne easily – and have the nice Zurich Christmas Markets, too.

  • Dolder Grand is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • A popular hotel in the mid-range section is Hotel Krone which is close to the city center.
  • Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This one is a good-rated hostel in Zurich.

Zermatt: Zermatt is an amazing place to stay in Switzerland in the winter. It is located a bit remotely and getting there is not as easy, but you have a beautiful town that offers plenty of winter sports and activities.

What to Pack for Switzerland in Winter

As it gets cold in Switzerland – and Switzerland is expensive – you might want to pack properly, so you do not have to go shopping in Switzerland.

It is important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers.

  • A Coat – Warm And Waterproof should be one of the first items you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 
  • Hat: A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.
  • A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
  • A warm scarf or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 
  • Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denim as an extra layer of warmth. 
  • When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker, the better. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. 
  • My favorite winter clothes are thermals. A quality set of thermals is your key to enjoying the winter weather in Switzerland. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, make sure they are a trusty pair of waterproof snowshoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible. Snowshoes allow you to enjoy a variety of activities while keeping your feet warm and dry. 
  • I bought my crampons (spikes that you wear over your shoes) in Iceland. I really thought I could make it without them in Iceland, but I was wrong. However, in Switzerland – so far – I did not need them. But that depends on you and the exact place you are headed.

TIP: If you travel by public transportation, you might want to check out a Swiss Travel Pass. I have bought several passes myself over the years and I LOVE it. You can use unlimited public transportation, do boat cruises on almost all lakes in the country, get free access to most museums and attractions and get a discount on many mountain excursions (a few mountain excursions are even included in the Swiss Travel Pass). Check out prices here – most likely it will help you save a lot of money.

AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN WINTER IN SWITZERLAND

Okay, now it is time to talk about what to do in winter in Switzerland.

Helicopter Flight

Recommended by MSC Gerber

A helicopter flight in the Swiss Alps – even better, in the incredible Jungfrau Region – is one of the best things to do in Switzerland during winter! And it will even bring you to a remote glacier that you can’t reach otherwise.

Helikopterflug Jungfrau Region (4)
@MSC Gerber

It’s always an unbelievable feeling once you are up in the air with a helicopter! Yet, it’s even better when you fly around some of the most stunning peaks of the Alps. With the “Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau,” the Jungfrau region is simply a perfect spot for a helicopter adventure.

The prices of these flights are probably the only drawback. A 30-minutes flight with a landing on a glacier costs around CHF 300 to 400 per person, which is quite pricey, but absolutely worth it.

Where to go in Switzerland in winter
@MSC Gerber

Tip: If you are on a budget but would love to do a helicopter ride nevertheless, there are also more affordable tours available (they are much shorter, though).

Christmas Market in Basel

So, if you are in Switzerland in December, visiting a Christmas Market in Switzerland is a must! The markets in Basel are probably some of the best ones to visit.

Basel, best actities in Switzerland in winter

You have three main lovely Christmas Markets: one at Münsterplatz, one at Barfüsserplatz, and the Adventsgass in Glaibasel. Each has its own charm – but you will always have mulled wine and some great snacks.

Get in the festive mood with all the lights and Christmas atmosphere – and does not the town hall look even more beautiful with the giant Christmas tree in front of it?

Kids can also enjoy their time at the Fairy Takke Forest – or hop on the Christmas Tram or the Christmas Ferry. Here is my detailed Basel winter itinerary.

  • The Christmas Markets are open for about 4 weeks (in 2021  from 23rd November to 23th December).

Ride a Velogemmel

Recommended by The World Pursuit

Dozens of ski resorts and villages worldwide all try to come up with interesting winter activities for the less ski/snowboard inclined of the group. Many activities start to sound the same, but a mountain village in Switzerland is home to something unique. That’s where you find the Velogemmel in Grindelwald and where you probably will fall in love with the wooden bike.

Velogemmel in Switzerland winter activities_
@The World Pursuit

The Velogemmel was made in the small town of Grindelwald for the postman to deliver mail in the winter. It’s been around for over a hundred years, and the best way to describe it is a wooden bike with two small sled edges instead of tires.

You can try it any time of day, but for a real blast, take it to the sled trails at night after an evening fondue in a small mountain hut nearby.

The course they have set up can get quite intense and steep at times, but it quickly mellows out for a reliever. It is a great way for families to get away from skiing and snowboarding and try something just slightly different while in the Swiss Alps!

  • You can rent the wooden bikes for around 15 CHF from the train station in Grindelwald, which gives you access to hours of fun on the mountain if you want it.

Winter Kayaking in Lake Brienz

Recommended by Awara Diaries

Whether you’re on a romantic holiday or a family vacation, a perfect bonding activity for you can be Winter Kayaking. It is one of those off-beat experiences you can also enjoy in Switzerland during the winter period.

Winter Kayaking in Switzerland
@Aware Diaries

The snow-capped Alps look extremely beautiful in the winters, especially when you see their reflection fall on the clear waters of Lake Brienz. Winter Kayaking is an excellent group activity that gives you a chance to bond, have fun, and enjoy the Swiss Alps’ serene beauty.

You can take up Winter Kayaking by booking a High Tide Kayaking School tour in Boningen, about 30 minutes from Interlaken. In this tour, you can go kayaking in small groups across the turquoise waters of Lake Brienz.

In case you’re worried about freezing in the cold, the high-quality dry suits are extremely effective in keeping you warm and dry in the course of this activity.

Typically, the tour lasts for 3 hours, although it is advisable to dedicate half a day to this activity, including the travel and preparation time from Interlaken. 

(Snow)Shoe Hike With a Matterhorn View

Recommended by My Travel Scrapbook

Start your day with a picturesque train journey. Pass through snowy valleys and past gigantic icicles in the south of Switzerland. Your destination is the touristy town of Zermatt. Leave the bustling town full of noisy golf buggies and tourists and head upwards.

Zermatt in winter Switzerland
@My Travel Scrapbook

Get the cable car straight to the start of the hike at Blauherd station. From there is the most breathtaking view in the whole of the Alps: the iconic Matterhorn.

After dodging a few skiers, you will have arrived at the start of your hike. The trail is just for walkers, allowing for safe and unimpeded views of the famous mountain. Another great feature of this path is that it is prepared for winter hikers meaning no snowshoes are required.

The hike takes around two to three hours, depending on which path you actually choose (there are a few to choose from).

Whichever you pick, the incredible Matterhorn is always standing proudly in the distance. It is a truly spectacular walk, and children will love the hike too.

  • As with everything in Switzerland, the hike comes at a price – but it is worth it. You will need to pay for the cable car up to the start of the hike and back down, as in winter, it is not possible to walk on certain parts of the mountain due to skiers. 

Check out my Zermatt travel guide

Ski from Zermatt to Italy

Recommended by A Pair of Passports

Not only is Zermatt a great winter destination on its own, but it is connected to Breuil-Cervinia. This means that people can ski from Switzerland into Italy for the day. Buying an international ski pass in Zermatt allows skiers to use all lifts on both the mountain’s Swiss and Italian sides. 

Skiing in Switzerland in winter
@A Pair of Passports

Go to the top of the mountain, ski down into Italy, enjoy an Italian lunch, and then ski back to Switzerland at the end of the day.

There is more than one way to get to Italy, but the recommended way is to take the gondola from Zermatt up to Trockener Steg. From there, switch to the lift that goes up to Klein Matterhorn. Klein Matterhorn is the very top, and there is a café there for any skiers that need a refreshment or a break before starting the journey to Italy! Exit Klein Matterhorn station and just start skiing, following the signs to the Italian side.

Once on the Breuil-Cervinia side of the mountain, it’s essential to stop and eat Italian food. Chalet Etoile is a very popular and picturesque spot with delicious pasta. Cervinia offers some stunning, wide pistes, which make for a great day out of skiing.

Skiers from Zermatt can spend the day skiing on the Cervinia side, but have to keep an eye on the time not to miss the last lift back to Zermatt! After a long day of skiing in Cervinia and back to Zermatt, Zermatt offers a range of great après ski spots – Cervo, Hennu Stall, and Papperla are some of the best rated.

There are no passport stamps involved, but spending a ski day in two countries is a fun, unique thing to do when visiting Switzerland!

Visiting the Jungfraujoch

Recommended by Arzo Travels

The Jungfraujoch, a saddle in the Alps connecting two four-thousander, is one of Switzerland’s main attractions. While you have snow at any time of the year (yes, even in the summer), winter is the perfect time to visit.

top of europe Jungfraujoch - things to know.

The Jungfraujoch, standing at 3,454 meters above sea level, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is fun for people of all ages.

Hop on a cogwheel train to visit the highest train station in Europe, and spend a full day up in the mountains – enjoy the views of the stunning Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains at the Sphinx Observation desk, stroll the Ice Palace, learn about the history of Jungfraujoch in Alpine Sensation, or just play in the snow high in the mountains.

This place is full of activities and attractions, so it’s no surprise that it is such a popular place to visit.

You can book tickets from different train stations (hiking there is almost impossible, regardless of the season) and access all of the mentioned places, like the Ice Palace. While tickets aren’t cheap, it is an activity that keeps you busy the entire day and is such a unique experience. Read my post that includes much more details on Jungfraujoch.

READ MORE: More things to do in Jungfrau/Interlaken

Visit the Arosa Gay Ski Week

Recommended by 2BT Travel

Each January, the Swiss Alps hosts one of the largest LGBT winter events in Europe. Arosa Gay Ski Week is now in its 15th year, and they offer a welcoming atmosphere for all LGBT people and allies in the gay-friendly village of Arosa. 

Fun things to do in winter in Switzerland, Arosa
@2BT Travel

The skiing and snowboarding might be the main draw for most attendees, but the amazing lineup of events and activities throughout the week make for an unforgettable experience.

Besides the daily group skiing available, attendees can enjoy activities like classical concerts, ice skating, nighttime fondue, and sledding, plus the infamous drag ski race, where the fastest pair in the race wins an amazing all-expenses-paid trip. 

The event attracts guests from more than 30 countries, with 500+ people attending the all-inclusive event. Arosa is accessible by both car or train, with direct connections from all major Swiss cities, by making a quick transfer in the town of Chur. 

  • A week-long pass to Arosa Gay Ski plus lift tickets is 408 CHF (approx. $410), plus the cost of accommodation, which varies based on your budget and location selected.

Visit Mount Pilatus

Recommended by The Invisible Tourist 

Visiting Mt Pilatus is in winter! It is the perfect place for those who want to experience this iconic mountain towering over Lucerne – a place that takes away the breath! So, you must go during your winter visit, too!

Mount Pilatus in Switzerland in the winter

Getting to the Pilatus gondola is a 15min bus ride from Lucerne to Kriens. On arrival, purchase your tickets up, and a little red gondola will swing around to greet you shortly after. The gondola ride itself is amazing – this alone is worth the trip.

Once the gondola reaches its end, a larger cable car fitting about 20 people will take you up the remaining distance. Be warned, once it gets moving the car does quite a sharp drop before ascending (to the horror of those who aren’t aware)!

If you are lucky, you will even see the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. Striking snow-capped mountaintops are visible all the way to the horizon and their icy blankets are glistening in the sunlight. 

It might also be surprising to see icicles taller than people suspended from the roof! During winter at the summit, it’s possible to rug up and admire the view from Pilatus Kulm Hotel, dine at the Bellevue Restaurant, and see various ice sculptures (if the weather permits). It’s just another reason to visit Switzerland in winter!

Here are great tips on where to stay in Lucerne

Visit Mount Titlis

By Wanderer Hubs

Of all the things to do in Switzerland in winters, indulging in snow activities at the popular Mount Titlis would be the best.

Ice Cave at Mount Titlis in Switzerland

You can enjoy pure winter fun and all sorts of snow activities whilst gawking at the panoramic valley views. The sturdy cableways will bring you in comfort to altitudes up to 3,020m. You can then uncover the snowcapped landscapes and a whole lot of winter activities such as snowboarding, skiing, toboggan run, and scootering around the Titlis adventure park.

The excursion starts with you sitting in Europe’s first-ever rotating cable car, which is an experience. It rotates 360 degrees within a short span of a 5-minutes journey. Just make sure you stand next to the window, so you do not miss out on scenic pictures.

Further on your glacier excursion, you can enter a glacier cave. Or try out the Ice Flyer chair lift or walk the cliff walk.

When you are done exploring the cave, simply hit the slopes. If skiing and snowboarding isn’t something that entices you much, sledding surely will. Sleds can be used free of charge, and no wonder tourists are flocking around to ensure they can make the most of this winter activity.

Snow activities at Mount Titlis are a definitive pull to prepare you for your Switzerland holidays this year.

Go Snowboarding in Portes du Soleil

Recommended by A World to Travel 

Portes du Soleil’s ski domain – which includes twelve resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland – is one of the best in that mountain range and the perfect one to enjoy the Swiss landscapes the country is famous for.

Switzerland what to do in winter
@A World to Travel

It is also a specially good one for snowboarding too, where crowds (unless in public holidays) are non-existent and the runs are quite enough for a week of fun.

In fact, it has more than 650 km of marked pistes for all levels, 30 snowparks, 286 ski slopes, and 196 lifts in total, which make Portes du Soleil one of the largest ski areas in the world.

Champéry, Champoussin, Morgins, Les Crosets, and Torgon, some of them with amazing views of the famous Dents du Midi (3257 meters) and Dents Blanches (2756 meters) are in the Swiss part.

It usually opens around mid-December until April. Getting there isn’t difficult if you fly to Geneva.

  • It is possible to enjoy accommodation in a shared apartment + forfait package from around 400€.
  • Prices can get significantly higher if you book a hotel room and choose busy dates like Christmas or Easter.

Visit Montreux Noel Christmas Market

Recommended by Simpler and Smarter

Montreux Noel should be top of your list if you visit the at the end of November to Christmas and love some Christmas spirit.

This festival takes part in Montreux and its surroundings in the month leading up to Christmas. It’s easy to get to the center of Montreux via train, and you can walk to many of the attractions from there.

The main event is the Christmas market! It spreads out along Lake Geneva, and there are tons of stalls, food, and drink. The best time to visit is in the evening, when Santa also rides across the lake regularly – it makes for quite a sight!

There are also many other attractions and events, like celebrating a medieval Christmas at the UNESCO-listed Chillon Castle, learning some new crafts (like candle making) at the Elves Village, eating a lot, or having a hot drink at the Lumberjack Village. There is also a light show in the evenings at Fairmont le Montreux Palace.

One of our favorite parts of this festival was visiting Santa Claus’ house up Rochers-de-Naye. At 2,042 meters above sea level, his house is located in a grotto reached by train.

It’s a very scenic ride up and down, and there are some activities and food at the top. There is also a very good chance of snow at the top, so this is a fun occasion to get some snow play in if there isn’t snow further down.

I recommend spending at least a couple of days in Montreux to visit it all. Most things are free, but there is a small entry fee to Chillon Castle, and you need to buy the train ticket up Rochers-de-Naye to visit Santa’s house.

Ski – at Rocher de Naye

Recommended by The Crowded Planet

Talking about Montreux! If you’re visiting in winter and like skiing, you shouldn’t miss heading to Rocher de Naye for a day on the slopes.

Top things to do in Switzerland in winter
@The Crowded Planet

Getting there is half the fun. The comfortable Goldenpass Express train heads straight to the ski resort from Montreux station.

It’s fun to sit on the little train as it heads further and further up, with stunning views the whole way and Lake Geneva getting smaller behind you until it reaches the Rocher de Naye station. 

Once you get there, just strap your skis on and… go! The slopes start right next to the train station, so you can spend the day skiing at will and then just head back down to Montreux by train when you’re tired. 

There are only a few slopes at Rocher de Naye, with two of them ideal for beginners, and there’s a chalet attached to the train station where it’s possible to get lunch or snacks, including lots of veggie options.

Enjoy an Epic Train Ride – Bernina Express

By Arzo Travels

I do not even try to hide my love for train riding in Switzerland. There are some epic train routes – and in Switzerland, the journey is indeed the reward if you take one of the “express train rides.”

Bernina Express in Switzerland in the winter, Valposchiavo

My most favorite train ride in the winter – without question – is the Bernina Express train ride. It is pretty epic in summer…but in winter, it is even more mind-blowing.

The scenery is like a dream come true (while you stay warm), and the window views could not be any better.

The train ride takes quite long but the scenery is (almost) always stunning. My most favorite window views in winter are from Poschiavo to Ospizio Bernina...oh wait, I actually cannot really say what I liked the most because I was constantly overwhelmed.

  • With a Swiss Travel Pass, you can use public transportation for free. This includes the “Bernina Express”. There is a reservation fee, though. However, if you use the local trains (that are exactly the same but have no panoramic windows which are a bit larger) you do not have to pay anything on top. Check out prices for the Swiss Travel Pass here.

Mount Rigi

By Arzo Travels

One of the most beautiful mountain views in winter is from Mount Rigi, on the shores of Lake Lucerne. This is the place to visit on a sunny winter day – the sunset from here is incredible.Switzerland in winter, best sunset Mount Rigi

Compared to the other popular mountain in Lucerne, Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi is much quieter, and there are fewer activities. You could still do a few winter sports activities (like sledding or snowshoe hiking) and if you are in Lucerne and do not visit Mount Rigi, you are missing out! 

TIP: Do a scenic boat cruise from Lucerne to Vitznau and then take the cogwheel up to Mount Rigi. The ride itself is impressive – it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Switzerland. 

  • In 2021, you can use the cogwheel up to Mount Rigi without any extra costs if you are a Swiss Travel Pass holder. Even the boat cruise is included in the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Check out my post with the most beautiful mountain views in Switzerland

Here are more travel tips for your trip to Switzerland:

AMAZING SWISS WINTER ACTIVITIES – FINAL THOUGHTS

Switzerland is perfect to visit at any time of the year – in summer, you can do gorgeous hikes that offer breathtaking views and picnics at one of the lakes and many more fun things, but winter in Switzerland is also an amazing time to visit. Whether you are into winter sports or not – there is tons to do in winter.

It is a perfect winter destination for basically anyone who wants to experience snowy Europe at its best!

We hope these tips have helped you find the perfect activities for your Switzerland winter trip! 

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

VISIT ZURICH IN WINTER – BEST THINGS TO DO + TRAVEL TIPS

Best things to do in Zurich in winter, Switzerland

THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH IN WINTER – ACTIVITIES + TRAVEL TIPS

Are you heading to Zurich in winter? Then check out this winter guide for Zurich to find out what to expect. 

Switzerland’s largest city is one of my favorite places in the country – I have spent quite a lot of time in the city and feel at home. BUT I am going, being honest: winter in Zurich can be semi-great. If you visit Zurich before Christmas, it can be an amazing place when the Christmas Markets take place. 

However, if you visit on a rainy day, it feels like a… let´s say not-so-good place. And if you visit Switzerland on such a day for the very first time, you might be disappointed.

Let me be clear: Switzerland is one of the most stunning places in the world, but Zurich on a gray winter day might not convince you of that. However, there are some fun things to do in Zurich in winter, and here are my tips for your Zurich winter trip, along with many travel tips.

Church and Christmas Tree in Zurich, Switzerland
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR ZURICH IN WINTER

Before discussing the best winter activities in Zurich, here is some info for your Zurich winter trip.

How to Get Around in Zurich in Winter

My tip: walk and use public transportation in Zurich. There is not really a need for a car if you want to explore this city.

  • Public Transportation: Zurich has amazing public transport, and it is the best way to get around in the cold winter months. However, most of the time, you can walk but when needed just – so on a tram/bus. 
Christmas shopping in the decorated Zurich Bahnhofstrasse
@shutterstock
  • With the Zurich Card, you can use public transport and have free entry to almost all museums in Zurich which is great to explore much of the city. Click here to find out more and check out prices.
  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you will not need an extra Zurich Card. With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can use unlimited public transportation, even use the boat on Lake Zurich, and get access to many museums and some attractions without any extra fee. Click here to find out more about the Swiss Travel Pass. I highly recommend a Swiss Travel Pass if you stay for more than 3 days in Switzerland and if you plan to visit other cities/places in Switzerland as well.

Where to Stay in Zurich in Winter

Zurich is very expensive, and there are no real bargains. If you need to budget, I recommend booking an Airbnb apartment (first-time users can save $$ using my link).

  • My full accommodation guide for Zurich is here.
  • Luxury Hotels in Zurich: Zurich has some great luxury hotels which are amazing to get spoiled and enjoy life. Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget Hotels in Zurich Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This one is a good-rated hostel that I tried out during my last trip to Zurich. It is a decent hostel with a perfect location right in the center of Zurich.

Read more: For more Zurich travel tips, check out my detailed 2-day Zurich itinerary. 

What to Pack for Zurich in WInter 

Though Switzerland in December is not as bad as many think, it is still important to dress warmly. Or better, to dress in layers.

  • Coat: A warm, waterproof jacket should be one of the first items you think to pack. Avoid choosing a bulky jacket that takes up a lot of space. This can make you feel uncomfortable when you have layers underneath. Instead, opt for a lightweight trench raincoat that will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable. 
  • Hat: A knitted beanie is a perfect solution for keeping the warmth in while you venture out. A hat will keep you toasty warm wherever you are.
  • Gloves: A pair of gloves can do wonders for your mobility, dexterity, and comfort. When selecting your options, it’s worth investing in a pair that can dry quickly and are touch-screen compatible.
  • Scarf Or Turtleneck: A warm scarf and/or turtleneck sweater are key items for keeping your neck covered. A turtleneck sweater is perfect as a garment to wear underneath your jacket, while the scarf can be removed easily. 
  • Leggings: Leggings are an essential item to pack as you can dress them up or down. You can even wear them underneath your denim as an extra layer of warmth. 
  • Socks: When it comes to packing socks for your Switzerland trip – the thicker, the better. The chances are that you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors in the snow, and you’ll want your feet to be warm and cozy. 
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: If you can only pack one pair of shoes, make sure they are a trusty pair of warm and comfy shoes. You’ll want your shoes to be as versatile as possible.

THINGS TO DO IN ZURICH IN THE WINTER MONTHS

Okay, here are some winter activities in Zurich – whether you visit Zurich in December, January, or February, you will find activities for each time of the year.

Christmas Markets

If you visit Zurich in December (from late November until Christmas, to be more precise), then you can experience some of the best Christmas Markets in Switzerland.

Zurich downtown at night
@shutterstock

There is a Christmas Market for every taste – whether you are looking to buy gifts or want to enjoy strolling the illuminated and beautifully decorated markets.

Though I am not the biggest fan of Christmas Markets, Zurich´s markets know how to impress.

Especially with tons to eat and drink (people are somehow crazy about mulled wine at Christmas Markets), it is a good place to eat your weight in yummy food and drinks.

Visit Zurich’s oldest Christmas market in the Old Town, or the urban “Weinachtsdorf” Christmas village on Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue. 

Even the Zurich train station dresses up, and you’ll find a 15-meter (49 ft) tall sparkling Christmas tree at the Christkindlimarkt. With around 150 stalls, it is actually one of the largest indoor Christmas markets in Europe.

Christmas Market in Zurich train station

Christmas market on Zurich main train station is one of the best places to visit in December
@shutterstock

Date: The Christmas Markets take place from the 19. November – 24. December, so Zurich in December is a good time for the festive atmosphere. Please check the exact times before your visit, as it might slightly differ each year.

Jelmoli Märlitram

Who likes to listen to Christmas stories in December in Zurich? Bad news: the Jelmoli Märlitram is just for kids between 4 and 10 years old. 

So, if you visit Zurich with children in winter, book tickets for this unique winter activity. Angels read their young passengers Christmas stories while the tram, dressed in its best  “Christmas dress,“ rides through the city.

Uetliberg

I am a fan of mountains, and even though Uetliberg – Zurich´s very own mountain – is quite small and “simple,“ I still recommend visiting it – whether you visit Zurich in the winter or the summer.

Uetliberg in Winter is one of the best places to visit in Zurich
@shutterstock

Uetliberg is just a short train ride from Zurich train station, and the ride offers lovely views – so, it is a great place to visit in the winter and enjoy a day in the snow.

Tobogganing

Switzerland in winter is normally a lot about winter sports – and while winter Zurich surely is not the very best place to do winter sports, there are a few things you can do. Whether you are big or small, tobogganing is a popular winter activity for locals and visitors alike.

Since snow in Zurich does not last for long, the best place to go tobogganing is outside of Zurich. One of the best places to do that is the Uetliberg. 

What a great coincidence that I have mentioned it as a great place to visit in the winter before – so combine a trip to Zurich´s Uetliberg with some tobogganing.

There are also more places to toboggan, like Mount Rigi, Mount Pilatus, and Engelberg.

Ice Skating

So, another fun activity in winter in Zurich is surely to go ice skating. You can choose from numerous ice rinks – whether you slide on natural ice rinks of frozen-over lakes or indoor rinks. If you visit Zurich in December, you can ice skate in the areas set up in the middle of a Christmas market.

Ice skating is quite big in Zurich in the winter, so join the locals and visitors and do your rounds, too.

Lindenhof Hill

No matter when you visit Zurich, make an effort and “hike“ up Lindenhof Hill.

Lindenhof Hill in winter, Zurich

If you are in the Old Town, it is just a few minutes´ walk up to enjoy lovely views from a small hilltop park known as the Lindenhof. 

It is a popular public space where locals often bring their food and have a quick lunch. 

In warmer months, you could probably chill and sit on the benches for a while. In the winter, though, it might be too cold to sit there forever – but the view is still lovely even in the cold months.

Old Town

The Old Town in Zurich is one of the city’s prettiest places – especially in late November and December.

Old town in Zurich in winter, Switzerland

Old Town in December in Zurich, Switzerland
@shutterstock

You´ll find many boutiques and stores – and of course, many restaurants and cafes.

And let’s not forget about the beautiful old buildings – which Americans, in particular, find overly exciting. It is a lovely place to visit during the day, but also in the afternoon/evening.

Fraumünster 

Of course, there are also some churches to visit in Zurich – not only to warm up but to admire the beautiful – yet simple – interior.

One of the most important churches is the Fraumünster. The church is quite easy to identify from afar thanks to the golden clock face on its bell tower and the greenish roof. Visit the church before Christmas and enjoy the special atmosphere.

In the winter months, it is open from 10 am to 5 pm, except for Sunday and holidays when it is only opens after services.

Tourists have to pay an entrance fee (and then visit the crypt museum), while non-tourists can enter for free.

Limmatquai Riverfront

Strolling along both banks of the Limmat River is a lovely thing to do in the winter. There are many restaurants you can sit down at, have a proper dinner, or have a drink.

Winter landscape in Zurich with lake
@shutterstock

There are some beautiful buildings along the river, making a stroll one of the best things to do in Zurich in winter.

Grossmünster

Another indoor place to visit in Zurich in winter is Grossmünster. This church is easily recognizable because of the two Romanesque towers and is located close to the Limmatplatz.

You can visit the towers for an entrance fee and enjoy some lovely views (be prepared to climb 187 narrow steps).

In the winter months, it is open from 10 am to 5 pm – and on Sundays, it opens after the service.

Lake Zurich

On a gray day, Lake Zurich does not look that beautiful, but somehow, it is still a must in the winter months to stroll Lake Zurich.

Lake Zurich in winter

The lake is quite large, and you probably won‘t be able to walk around the whole lake. But if you start from Buerkliplatz, keep left and walk along the shores (the right shores are also lovely).

You might fancy a boat tour on Lake Zurich? The boat tour starts near Bürkliplatz – you can choose from several cruises and all of them are free with a Swiss Travel Pass (you might have to pay a little surcharge).

I enjoy Lake Zurich definitely more in the summer, but it is not a bad place to visit in winter either.

Zurich Thermal Bath

I admit that I never experienced spa treatments in Zurich – mainly because I like to explore the outdoor places and because Switzerland is very expensive.

However, I just found out that a cool thermal bath is not actually that expensive. So, if you want to indulge, you can visit the Thermal Baths & Spa.

Take a hot bath while enjoying great views of the city – there is a discount with the Zürich Card, or there are many more spa places in Zurich to choose from.

Bahnhofstrasse

If you want to do some shopping – e.g., Christmas Shopping – then stroll Bahnhofstrasse. This is the most expensive shopping street – IN THE WORLD.

In December, it is quite busy but also very festive, and at the beginning of the year, the crowds are gone. But so are all the snack stalls and most of the illuminations. If you worry about your budget – though the street is expensive, there are also quite a few affordable stores.

National Museum

You can do this activity at any time of the year, but also save it for a rainy and gray day – visit the National Museum. It is located right behind the main train station and is the place to go if you want to learn more about Switzerland’s cultural history.

It is open daily (except Mondays).

With the Zurich Card or a Swiss Travel Pass, you will have free entrance.

Mount Rigi

Beautiful Mount Rigi – nothing beats watching the sunset on a snowy day on Mount Rigi. The “Queen of the Mountains“ is located near Lucerne, so it is a train ride there, but it is absolutely doable to visit in one day or even half a day. 

What to do in the winter at Mount Rigi_

While there is not that much snow in Zurich, the chances of a Winter Wonderland are quite high at Mount Rigi. 

This makes Mount Rigi a fun place for easy winter sports activities – but if you are like me, you might be happy to enjoy the sunset (it is one of the prettiest places to watch the sunset in all of Switzerland).

If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, the train ride from Zurich to Lucerne is free and you can also use the funicular up to Mount Rigi without any extra costs.

Mount Pilatus 

Another fun mountain trip from Zurich in winter would be a trip to Mount Pilatus.

Mount Pilatus in Switzerland in the winter

Of course, Mount Pilatus is a great alternative to Mount Rigi. A bit more time-consuming and a bit more expensive, but definitely worth a trip in winter.

The views are great. But it is, of course, not only about the views but also about winter sports.

Skiing, snowshoe hiking, snowboarding, and sledding – you can do all this in the region of Lucerne, and especially on Mount Pilatus. It takes about an hour to get to Lucerne from Zurich, and then it takes some time to get up Mount Pilatus so that you should plan a full-day tour.

In the winter months, the cogwheel train ride is not available, so you can only go up via cable car!

Read more: Here are more fun day trips from Zurich

CONCLUSION: VISITING ZURICH IN THE WINTER

Zurich in December – or in general Zurich in winter – can be a great time to visit. However, since I always want to be honest with you, it is not my favorite time to visit Zurich.

December in Zurich is great because of the Christmas Markets and the winter lights, but the city itself can be sleepy in January or February. However, it can be fun if you know what to do. And I hope the above-mentioned fun winter activities will help you plan your trip to Zurich in winter.

Have a safe trip!

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN ZURICH IN 2 DAYS

Things to do and see in Zurich

BEST 2-DAY ZURICH ITINERARY – WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO DO

Are you planning your Zurich itinerary and wondering about the best places to visit in Zurich in 2 days?

Well, then this post is perfect. Find out how to create the perfect 2-day Zurich itinerary with tips on the best things to do and the top attractions.

Without question, Switzerland is one of my favorite countries ever. There are so many stunning places to visit – but Zurich is a place I keep going back to. It feels a bit like home to me, and also, it is a great base for amazing day trips.

If you plan a visit to Switzerland, you should definitely add a trip to Zurich to your Switzerland itinerary, and I am sure you will not regret it!

Also, you will get some important travel information at the end of the post for your 2-day Zurich trip.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here

WHAT TO DO IN ZURICH IN 2 DAYS

Okay, let´s start with the best activities in Zurich.

DAY 1 OF 2 DAYS IN ZURICH

If you start your day early, you can easily see all my suggestions and even do a bit more. If you arrive during the day, then the itinerary for day 1 is perfect anyway because it is not too packed.

Bahnhofsplatz – Bahnhofstrasse

  • Free thing to do in Zurich

Forget Dubai or any other place. When it comes to luxury, Zurich is the place to visit! Why? Zurich points of interest - places to visit in Zurich - the BahnhofsstrasseThough it doesn’t look overly fancy, Zurich’s main shopping street, the 1.4 kilometers (0.87 miles) long Bahnhofstrasse, is actually one of the most expensive for retail properties in the world.  

You will find cafes and restaurants – including the famous Sprüngli cafe, luxury shops, but some more affordable stores – making it a perfect place for shopping addicts. However, even if you are not into shopping then it is still worth a trip.

I would not say it is a spectacular place yet it is a nice attraction – especially if you start at the train station and go towards Lake Zurich. 

Stay on your left side and before you arrive at Lake Zurich, visit Lindenhof Hill first.

Lindenhof Hill

  • Free Zurich activity

From Bahnhofstrasse head to Lindenhof Hill. Lindenhof offers a great view of the city and is of the best places to visit in Zurich in 2 days.

It is in the old town on Lindenhof Hill, where you can soak in the Limmat River’s view or relax and chill. 

Zurich @shutterstock
@shutterstock

No 2-day Zurich itinerary would be perfect without getting up here!  

  • After the little hike up here (3-minutes “hike”) you can enjoy the pretty views. The walk-up is not difficult but there are cobbled-stoned streets, so wear comfy shoes.
  • When I visit during lunchtime, I often encounter locals who have their lunch break at Lindenhof Hill.
  • They bring their own snacks or grab some takeaway food and enjoy their lunch here on nice days. Maybe you want to do as the locals do?

Then explore the rest of the old town in Zurich.

Zurich Old Town

  • Another activity to do for free in Zurich

Just walk down Lindenhof Hill and you are in the old town. I love Zurich´s beautiful old city. It is adorable! Located between Lake Zurich, the train station, and the main shopping street (Bahnhofstraße) is is a great place to discover before arriving at Lake Zurich.

Zürich @shutterstock
@shutterstock
  • It has cobbled streets, and there are many cafes and restaurants, which makes it a great place to walk around aimlessly. 
  • Though it’s probably not the most beautiful old town in Switzerland, it is still colorful with beautiful houses.
  • If you did not have lunch at Lindenhof, I suggest having lunch here.
  • Many different restaurants offer something for every taste. Also, the restaurants often have outdoor- and indoor seatings so it is perfect for any type of weather.

Grossmünster Church and Fraumunster Church

  • Grossmünster Church is free to visit
  • Fraumunster Church charges for entrance fee (5CHF) for tourists, but is free for people who pray

There are several attractions in the city center of Zurich, and two famous sights are churches. Solo female travel girl in Zurich in 2 days with Grossmünster in backgroundLegend says that Grossmünster Church was built on the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula. So, whether you look at it from afar or visit during the opening hours. The church is one of the main sights, so adding it to your 2-day Zurich itinerary is a must.

It is free to visit (and the glass windows are beautiful) but for the tower, there is a CHF5 entrance fee. 

Close to the Grossmünster – also located on the Limmat river but on the other side – is the Fraumunster Church. With its green steeple, it is one of the most distinctive sights in Zurich.

It is also very well known because of five stained-glass windows prepared by Marc Chagall in the 1960s, and for the rosette in the south transept. “The Heavenly Paradise” (1945) by Augusto Giacometti, a stained-glass window, is another sight inside the church in the north transept. 

Limmatquai Promenade

  • Free place to visit
  • A cruise on the Limmar River is free with a Swiss Travel Pass

The Limmat River is another place to visit. It commences at the outfall of Lake Zurich, in the southern part of the city of Zurich. You will come across Limmatquai when you visit the churches mentioned above.

Limmat river in Zurich with swans, one of the best places to visit in 2 days in Zurich
@shutterstock
  • There are also some small (boutique) shops which are quite charming.
  • The Limmatquai Promenade is also one of the best places to have dinner. Often, the restaurants come with nice views of the river, so try to grab an outdoor seat.

Alternatively, the Old Town would be another place you could head back to for dinner.

DAY 2 OF 2 DAYS IN ZURICH

After the first, quite chill day in Zurich, it is time for day 2 in Zurich. However, of course, feel free to swap the days – especially if day 2 in Zurich is not a full day and day 1 in Zurich is.

Uetliberg in Zurich

  • Free thing to do in Zurich (if you get up by train, you will need a train ticket)

You can start your second day in Zurich with a mountain excursion. If you enjoy hiking and appreciate great views, you will surely love the Uetliberg (Uetli Mountain) as much as I do. view from uetliberg how to get there in 2 days in Zurich

Btw: if you are looking for my great mountain views in Switzerland (that come without any hiking), click here.

It is easily accessible via train – from the train station, it is just a few more minutes (uphill) walk. At the top, you will find a restaurant and an extra platform which you can walk. It is a few extra stairs but the views are even better from the very top. They charge CHF 2 for the platform (you can walk the first few steps for free and then have to pay if you want to get to the very top). 

  • Uetliberg is the “house mountain” in Zurich and part of the Albis chain, rising to 870 meters above sea level (2,850 feet) and towering around 450 meters over the city.
  • It offers nice views of Lake Zurich and the city with the mountains in the background.
  • You can also take the train up there. It is free with your Zurich Card or Swiss Travel Pass.
  • You could spend a full day here, but with only 2 days in Zurich, I suggest only planning in a few hours and using the train for getting up and down.
  • However, if you want to hike up and down and enjoy a picnic at Uetliberg, you need more time.

Lake Zurich / BuerkliPlatz

  • Free activities 

Then I suggest taking the train/tram to get back to the city. It is time to explore the area around Lake Zurich today. 

Bürkliplatz in Zurich, places to visit in Zurich Switzerland
Ganymede Statue at Bürkliplatz in Zurich in 2 days

Buerkliplatz is a little square on the northern shores of Lake Zurich. This is how I define “the starting point of Lake Zurich.” I do not think it is something official, but so that you know,  “Rapperswil” (the southern shores) is my defining end of Lake Zurich. 

Something you should know about me: I am all about lakes (and views), which is why I adore Switzerland. I am a Lake Chaser. There are stunning lakes everywhere in Switzerland. Lake Zurich might not be the most stunning lake compared to all the other lakes like Lake Brienz or Lake Oeschinen. However, it is definitely a lovely lake.

  • You might have seen Lake Zurich on day 1 already as it just is at the end of Bahnhofstrasse and near the old town, but now you are going to spend some quality time here.
  • At Buerkliplatz, you have boats and beautiful views of the lake and the scenery.
  • Close to the Bürkliplatz is also the boat station – more on that later.
  • So, enjoy a few minutes there before you move on to the next activity.

Swim at Lake Zurich

  • Swimming at Lake Zurich is free

On a warm day, swimming in Lake Zurich is a must-do activity. 

The lakes in Switzerland are pretty clean, and it was in Switzerland where, for the first time as an adult, I voluntarily hopped into the lake water.Zurich what to do - end your day at the lake

  • One of the best places to swim is close to the Rentenanstalt.
  • If you are at Bürkliplatz looking at the lake and the Ganymede Statue, take your right side and pass the boat station. Walk a few hundred meters and you will get to the Rentenanstalt.
  • You could also take the tram from Bürkliplatz for one stop.
  • There is plenty of greenery and space – bring a towel and your bathing suit. You get to enjoy a wonderful day at the lake.
  • There are some kiosks selling snacks and drinks. Bring a water bottle and refill it at the water fountain near Bürkliplatz. Water from the kiosks is expensive!

Swimming in Lake Zurich or at least chilling here on a warm and sunny day feels like a beach vacation!

Places Around Lake Zurich

  • With the Swiss Travel Pass you can do all of these boat tours for free (you might have to pay a surcharge of 5CHF).

Of course, I have to mention doing a boat tour on Lake Zurich. Zurich boat tour at sunset in 2 days in Zurich

  • Here you have a few options. You can either do a short, medium, or long cruise on Lake Zurich.
  • The short cruise is free with the Zurich Card.
  • There are several stops where you can get off to have a break. Just make sure not to miss the last boat back to Zurich Bürkliplatz!
  • If you do not visit Uetliberg, you should have enough time to get out at Rapperswil – which is on the southern shores of Lake Zurich (or the end of Lake Zurich as I normally call it). Rapperswil is a tiny cute village and might be a good place to add to your Zurich itinerary.

Lake Zurich in the Evening

To end your second day in Zurich, plan an evening at Lake Zurich. Lake Zurich, Switzerland best areas to stayNormally, when I travel, I tend to go home quite early, but I try to stay out a bit longer in Zurich. My tip is to end your day at Lake Zurich on a sunny day. 

  • On nice days, there is always a lot going on, with musicians playing beautiful music and many people walking around having a good time which creates a great atmosphere.
  • This time, you have to walk towards Bürkliplatz and then take your left side, passing the Opera District.
  • There you will also find small pedalo boats to rent and more.

Use WiFi at Opera District

Pro Tip: One area which has become one of my favorite places is the Opera House area. Opera House in Zurich, main place to visit in Zurich in 2 days

  • The Opera House is located close to Lake Zurich and the old town. 
  • I have a secret. I mostly get here to use their free Wi-Fi. Since you probably all need Wi-Fi once in a while, I am happy to tell you there are some chairs where you can sit with a beautiful view of the Opera and Lake Zurich and at the same time have free Wi-Fi.
  • If you need to get something to drink or a snack, there are also some little stores where you can buy something.

DINNER AT DAY 2 IN ZURICH

For dinner, I suggest grabbing a snack and having it at the lake or at the Opera House. Or head to the old town and choose from the many restaurants there. Though Switzerland surely is not a vegan-friendly place, there are some great affordable vegan restaurants in Zurich.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR ZURICH ITINERARY

Here is some info for your 2-day Zurich trip.

How to Get Around in 2 Days

Let´s start with how to discover Zurich.

WALKING IN ZURICH IN 2 DAYS

  • Zurich is a very walkable city. For most of the time, you can just get around on foot.
  • If you are tired, you can hop on a tram for a stop or two.
  • If you wear comfy shoes (also because of the cobbled-stoned streets) you should be fine with walking.
  • The only time I highly recommend using public transportation is when you head to Uetliberg.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN ZURICH

  • Zurich has amazing public transport. So I recommend getting around by tram/bus. With the Zurich Card, you can use public transport, which is great to explore much of the city. Public Transport is pretty good, and you can rely on it. You also have free entry to several museums in Zurich. Click here to find out more and check out prices for the Zurich Card.
  • If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, you will not need an extra Zurich Card. With the Swiss Travel Pass, you can use unlimited public transportation, even use the boat, and get access to many museums and some attractions without any extra fee. Click here to find out more about the Swiss Travel Pass.

GETTING AROUND BY CAR IN ZURICH

  • While I have driven by car many times, it actually isn’t my preferred means of transportation in the city. There is quite some traffic, and expensive and limited parking spots make driving in Zurich a bit problematic. However, public transportation is great, so there is no real need to consider getting around via car.

CYCLE AROUND ZURICH

  • One of the fun things to do in Zurich is to rent a bike and explore this beautiful town on two wheels.
  • The best thing about it is…it does not cost a dime. Nothing! Not one cent. This news is awesome.
  • I have to find a way to make my dog stay in the basket to do some bike tours, but I am sure this is one of the cool things to do in Zurich.

Where to Stay in Zurich for 2 Days

As mentioned, Zurich is very expensive, and there are no real bargains.

  • I recommend staying close to the city center, but since public transport is pretty good, you can also book a hotel a bit further away, and you will still be mobile. My full accommodation guide for Zurich is here.
  • Luxury Hotels in ZurichZurich has some great luxury hotels which are amazing to get spoiled and enjoy life. Baur au Lac is one of the best-rated luxury hotels close to the city center.
  • Budget Hotels in ZurichWarning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. I once stayed at this well-rated hostel in Zurich and was not disappointed.

Solo Female Travel in Zurich

I often visit a friend in Zurich but spend a lot of time on my own (and sometimes with my dog Puppygak). Zurich is one of the best places to travel solo as a female. Or to put it differently: Zurich is a safe place.

Though the Swiss people are not necessarily the most open-minded, it is still easy to make friends, and most important of all, I feel safe even at night.

I avoid side streets – as I do everywhere – but do not feel the need to take extra precautions. 

More Tips for Your 2-Day Zurich Itinerary

CONCLUSION: PLACES TO SEE IN ZURICH IN 2 DAYS

Zurich in 2 days is not a lot of time, but it will allow you to discover the main attractions of Zurich without being too stressed. Hopefully, this 2-day Zurich itinerary has helped you plan your trip. Enjoy your trip to this lively and lovely city!

Stay safe and have fun!Safe Travels, Arzo

 

 

Best Things to Do in Locarno and Ascona

Brissago Islands, Ticino

WHAT TO DO IN LOCARNO AND ASCONA

So, are you ready to find out about the best things to do in Locarno and Ascona? Then this post is for you. Here you will find your answer to the question “what to do in Locarno,” and you´ll also find important travel tips for your trip.

Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful countries in the world. While everyone knows Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, or Geneva, not everyone knows the smaller, but no less gorgeous, places – places like Locarno.

Locarno and Ascona are located in the canton of Ticino, which is in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. This canton amazes with stunning sceneries, colorful villages & towns, breathtaking valleys, and gorgeous lakes.

With 2,300 hours of sunshine per year, Locarno is also the town with the warmest climate in Switzerland. So, while it can get hot in the summer, it is one one the best places to visit in Switzerland and one more reason to visit in spring, fall, and winter.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR LOCARNO AND ASCONA

I visited Locarno on my first trip to Switzerland 10 or 11 years ago. Back then it was just a day trip, but it was clear to me that I needed to come back. And so I have revisited a few more times. Based on that, I have listed my favorite activities for you.

But first: here are some travel tips for your trip.

Where to Stay in Locarno/Ascona

  • Luxury Hotels in Locarno – I have stayed at a couple of very luxurious hotels, but this is probably my favorite – ever. Villa Orselina is a top luxurious small boutique hotel in Orselina, just a few minutes from Locarno. Check out prices here.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Locarno – Hotel Garni Muralto. I did not stay here, but it is one of the best-rated hotels in that price range. Find out prices here. It is not directly in Locarno, but Muralto just borders Locarno and you can get there within minutes.
  • Budget Hotels in Locarno – Do not expect bargains when traveling in Switzerland, so there are no real budget hotels.

For general money-saving tips, check out my post with the best advice.

How to Get Around Locarno

It is always worth walking as much as possible, as this is the best opportunity to stumble upon a hidden gem. Wear comfy shoes because you might have to do some down/uphill walking, plus there are some cobbled-stoned streets.

  • Many activities mentioned here can be visited on foot. You can walk to most attractions if you are semi-fit.
  • For this Locarno itinerary, you could get around by car. However, I do not necessarily recommend it. If you travel by car, you might have difficulties finding parking (and parking fees can be expensive).  Plus, you will be faster with public transportation most of the time.  
  • The only exception might be Verzasca Valley. I went there by car both times and it was probably more convenient than getting there by bus, because I stopped quite a number of times along the way because of the beautiful views. However, public transportation will also get you there. 
  • The best way to travel in Locarno/Ascona is by public transportation. Public transportation in Switzerland is reliable, on time, and gets you everywhere. And Locarno is no exception. You´ll get to all the recommended places by public transportation.
  • Also, there are funiculars/cable cars that you can use (I will talk about that later).
  • My favorite mode of transportation is – and probably will always be – boats. I used boats several times (sometimes just for fun) and had scenic rides. Lake Maggiore is a beauty, and boat cruises are a great way to get around.

Swiss Travel Pass

If you use public transportation, I recommend getting a Swiss Travel Pass. I visit Switzerland often, and most of the time I get one – even if I road trip Switzerland.

It is only available to non-Swiss residents.

  • It allows you to use trains and buses without any extra costs.
  • You can also do boat cruises without additional costs – and you can cruise Lake Maggiore with the regular boats to get around (in the Swiss part of the lake).
  • It also gives you a discount on most mountain rides.
  • You can visit more than 500 museums without any additional costs.
  • Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

The initial prices for a Swiss Travel Pass are quite high. But it pays for itself if you get around via public transportation and are active in Switzerland for more than three or four days. So, check out prices for boats and trains and then calculate if it is a good option for you. 

For me, it usually makes sense as I am very active and use public transportation/mountain rides often.  I also love boat rides – which means many, many boat cruises for me whenever I have a Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices for a Swiss Travel Pass here.

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

I visited Locarno once with a female friend and several times by myself. I felt safe! I think Ticino is a great place for solo female traveling. The crime rate is low, and if you exercise common sense and watch your bag and valuables, you should be fine.

TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN LOCARNO / ASCONA

Here are my favorite places to visit in Locarno as well as in Ascona.

Locarno Promenade

  • Free to visit
  • Open 24/7

I recommend starting with walking the promenade of Lake Maggiore. The town is located on Lake Maggiore’s northern shore, and you can easily spend a full day here just relaxing, strolling, and enjoying the Italian way of life.

Locarno is beautiful – and has a charming promenade with lovely views of the Alps and Lake Maggiore. So walking along the promenade is one of the best things to do in Locarno. What a nice way to chill and relax!

points of interest Locarno

Lake Maggiore Boat Tour

  • Free with your Swiss Travel Pass

A boat tour on Lake Maggiore is also a great thing to do. However, I have to admit that Lake Maggiore did not make it in my unofficial “top 5 of Switzerland´s most beautiful lakes”.Lago Maggiore in LocarnoThe lake is blue, which is a good thing, but Switzerland spoils its visitors with numerous green and turquoise lakes, so I have become very picky. Lago Maggiore rather felt like an Italian lake and reminded me a bit of Lake Como. Either way, it is nice and I highly recommend a boat tour.

Old Town of Locarno

  • Free to visit
  • Open 24/7

However, it is not only about the stunning lake and its promenade – Locarno has more to offer. Locarno old town in Ticino with Arzo TravelsLocarno also has a cute old town that is worth discovering, with many colorful buildings and lively squares. For example, the lovely Piazza Grande, which is one of the biggest squares in all of Switzerland. Locarno old townThe colorful and lovely square is always worth a visit. If you need a particular reason to visit, check out the weekly market on Thursdays, the Moon & Stars concerts in July, or the evening film projections during the Film Festival in August.

Sightseeing Train Tours

  • Tickets for adults are around 7€ (I did not have to pay for my dog)

A small sightseeing train is a good way to get around and see the most important places in the old town of Locarno – especially if you are short on time or do not/cannot walk anymore.

Sightseeing trains in Locarno

It takes about 30 minutes and the Locarno sightseeing train gives you a good overview of the town.

Locarno Lido

  • Lido Locarno is open throughout the year.
  • There are different tickets available – to use all pools and slides the ticket prices are around 17€ for adults

Lido Locarno is a popular place amongst those who want to spend time in the water. Whether you want to be indoors or outdoors, here you have the option to choose from several pools – or you can swim at Lake Maggiore which is also accessible from the lido.Lido in Locarno with Arzo TravelsHere you have slides, thermal or play pools, and more. I have not visited myself but it is known as one of the best bathing facilities in Ticino, if not all of Switzerland.

Camellia Park / Parco delle Camelie

  • Free to visit

If you walk all the way along the promenade (away from the train station) you will eventually get to Camellia Park in Locarno. You will find more than 850 different camellia varieties, with a flowering period of nine months.

Camellia Park - Parco delle Camelie in Locarno

But it is not only about camellias. You will also be able to find some tranquility in this park.

Orselina / Madonna del Sasso

  • You can get there with a regular bus
  • Or take the funicular from Locarno to Orselina (return ticket is about 7€ – a discount is available with a Swiss Travel Pass)
  • Opening hours daily: 07:00 am to 6:30 pm (no entrance fee)

Before getting up to Cardada Mountain, you can stop in Orselina (which is a municipality in the district of Locarno situated on a hill) and at Madonna del Sasso. 

Madonna del Sasso @shutterstock
Madonna del Sasso @shutterstock

The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea experienced in the 15th century. It is one of the most famous pilgrimage churches in Switzerland and sits at about 370 meters above sea level. Thus, you get an interesting attraction plus great views.

MADONNA DEL SASSO in Locarno, Switzerland Arzo Travels

Cardada

  • Ticket prices for the funicular from Orselina to Cardada are about 25€. Discount with a Swiss Travel Pass.

You can get easily from Orselina to Cardada by funicular. From there you have a great panorama of Locarno, Bellinzona, and Lake Maggiore. Cardada is one of the top tourist attractions in Locarno in summer and winter. In winter, Cardada is a popular place to ski and for nice snowshoe hikes, and in summer it is a great place to hike – or to enjoy these amazing views!

When I visited it was a pretty hot that day, and walking around did cost too much energy. So I just enjoyed the scenery while not moving too much. These views…were absolutely stunning.

You have free drinking water right when you get off the funicular station, by the way. There is at least 1 restaurant but I would bring some snacks, drinks, and a blanket – this is the perfect spot for a nice picnic in Locarno.

Cardada - View over Lago Maggiore @shutterstuck
Cardada – View over Lago Maggiore @shutterstuck

Ascona

Ascona should also be on your Ticino itinerary, and it is a great (half) day trip from Locarno. You could actually walk to Ascona from Locarno – it is easier to hop on a bus that brings you there in just a few minutes. A more scenic way to arrive in Ascona is via boat from Locarno. What to see in LocarnoBeautiful and colorful – the promenade of Ascona is one of Switzerland’s most favorites because I am totally into colorful houses and buildings.

It looks as pretty as on postcards, and I am happy I managed to see it this time.

The old town is particularly charming – I probably liked it even more than Locarno´s old town. So, get lost in this cute old town.

Ascona is quite small and since it does not take long to get there from Locarno, you will just need 4-5 hours to for this whole trip. Where to go in Ascona

Then it is time to leave Ascona and see more of the places in/near Locarno.

Brissago Islands

  • There is an entrance fee of about 5€ to get on the Brissago Islands
  • The boat cruise is free with a Swiss Travel Pass

Another beautiful place in Locarno (or the region of Locarno) is the Brissago Islands. Places to visit in Locarno

From Ascona, hop on a boat to the Brissago Islands the boat gets there also from Locarno. The beautiful main island of the Brissago Islands is gorgeous. It is known for its botanical garden.

It was very hot the day I visited, and my dog and I missed some parts of the island (free maps available) because the weather killed us. I still enjoyed my time on the island.Fun things to do in Locarno

Verzasca Valley

Now it is time to talk about the stunning Verzasca Valley. It is a 25-kilometers long valley in the district of Locarno and comprises several municipalities of including Lavertezzo.

  • I got there by car, which takes about 40 minutes. It is a scenic yet sometimes challenging drive, and I passed the famous bridge in Lavertezzo.
  • There is also public transportation, so you can get there by bus (the yellow Postautos).

Before arriving at the Ponte de Salti in Lavertezzo (the famous stone bridge), I passed cute little villages and places and stopped here and there.

The car park in front of the bridge might be full and you might have to drive a bit until you find a good spot to park.

The valley is about cute villages but also about that water… That water! The watercolor is just amazing!

Best places to visit in Locarno Ticino is Valle

This is one of the most beautiful places in Ticino – probably even the most beautiful. 

When I visited in 2016 for the first time, it was almost empty. In 2018, it was already much busier and crowded. This is definitely not a hidden gem anymore. People come here from all over the world to see the bridge and the river. So, on Sundays, it gets busier and so it does after 11 am or so. So, try to come early and avoid Sundays and bank holidays.

Centovalli Railway

  • Free with a Swiss Travel Pass

A wonderful way to see some lesser-known parts of Ticino is by doing a train ride known as Centovalli (Railway). This is a scenic train ride from Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in Italy which runs through the Centovalli (meaning “100 valleys” in Italian).

Window views in Centovalli Railway

The window views include rocky gorges, quaint stone villages, and many waterfalls. You can get out at any stop and take the next train if you want to continue your journey.

If you plan to get out several times, you need to plan one full day for this train ride.

TIP: Next to the train station in Locarno, you will find an underground station where the Centovalli railway departs. Please keep in mind, that trains do not depart hourly. Some trains do not stop at every stop and some do not run all the way to Domodossola.

So, you need to plan in advance to make sure you see everything you would like to see + get back in time to Locarno.

Maggia Valley

Another must-see in Locarno is The Vallemaggia (Maggia Valley). It is less known than Valle Verzasca and yet absolutely stunning – with its idyllic Ticino villages, the crystalline river, the lush vegetation, and its wild nature.

Valle Maggia in Locarno

See the Foroglio Waterfall, the Maggia Gorge, or one of the many other beautiful spots – Valle Maggia is a perfect place for any outdoor lover.

Bungee Jumping

Are you up for a thrilling activity in Ticino? Then you might enjoy a bungee jump.

On your way to Valle Verzasca, you will pass the Contra Dam. If you want to do it like it was done in the James Bond movie you can jump….of course, not just jump but do a bungee jump from the bridge with professional people. I would never do it in my life – like never, but you might be braver than me!

Locarno / Ascona is surely one of the most beautiful regions in Switzerland. Though it isn’t as famous as other areas, I hope you will enjoy the area and the tips with the best things to do in Locarno/Ascona in a few days. Enjoy and stay safe!

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

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