How to Have an Epic 2-Week Italy Itinerary

First-time in Italy_ An itinerary for Italy in 10-14 days

AMAZING ITINERARY FOR ITALY IN 14 DAYS

If you are planning your 2-week Italy itinerary, this post is for you! This 2-week Italy itinerary helps you to see some of the most beautiful places of Italy in 14 days (or a little less).

There are not many countries that are so rich in natural sights and beautiful architecture and history! Italy plays in a different league, and you could never spend too much time here.

While I have many favorite places in Italy, some quite unknown to tourists, I understand that the main tourist destinations like Rome, Venice, and Florence are on everyone’s bucket list!

For your first trip to Italy, these destinations are probably very high on your list! And I can assure you: Each destination is impressive and worth a visit. 

In two weeks you will experience some city life and also some stunning scenery. But more on that later.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 2 WEEKS IN ITALY

So, before talking about the perfect 14 days in Italy, here are some travel tips for your first-time trip. Find out how to get around, where to stay, and more tips for your trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND ITALY IN 14 DAYS 

There are two main ways to get around in Italy. I have done both: road-tripping and rail travel.

I suggest using the train to discover Italy in two weeks. You might have less freedom by using public transportation only but will gain so much more. Particularly, because it is less nerve-wracking compared to driving in Italy and it is way cheaper (at least, if you travel alone or in a group of 2 or where you can share the costs of a rental car).

ROAD TRIPPING

  • Petrol is sooooo expensive in Italy. It has some of the highest petrol prices in Europe, even more, expensive than in Switzerland!
  • Tolls are also pricey.
  • Plus, the streets are narrow, and Italians rush when it comes to driving!

TRAIL TRAVEL

Luckily, public transportation is an excellent alternative.

  • Trains are quite cheap, reliable, and very efficient.
  • Trains might run late a few minutes. Basically, all my trains were 5-10 minutes late, but that is still tolerable in my eyes.
  • Check out prices and schedules here.

So, go with public transportation for this Italy trip.

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY FOR 14 DAYS

You can visit all the places mentioned in this two-week Italy itinerary throughout the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

However, I recommend NOT visiting Italy in the summer months. It is hot and sticky, expensive, and worst of all, every place is full of tourists

Understandably, tourists are here all year round, but in the summer months, be prepared to fight your way through the crowds. If you plan to visit attractions during the summer months, you will need to buy the more expensive “skip-the-lines tickets.“ Otherwise, you will spend a big portion of your day, waiting in lines. 

Even during shoulder seasons, I highly recommend those tickets because it gets busy – but in summer, it is a must!

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

PLACES TO STAY IN ITALY FOR 2 WEEKS

Since I suggest rail travel for you, and I recommend not changing hotels too often as it makes the trip more stressful.

  • If you stay 14 days in Italy, my tip is to have a base near/in Rome for exploring Rome and Vatican City. Then have a base near/in Florence and a base in Venice. If you visit Cinque Terre and its surroundings, I recommend staying in La Spezia, a city directly in front of Cinque Terre.

These places are, without a doubt, quite expensive. It might be cheaper to stay a bit further out of the city. If you do so, make sure the train station is close by so that you can easily get to the places you want to visit.

So, here are my recommendations for places to visit for your Italy itinerary.

I suggest arriving in Rome and end your trip in Venice. You can, of course, do the trip the other way around and start with Venice. I wouldn’t change the stops in between, though, as they make sense looking at Italy’s geography.

PLACES TO VISIT IN 10-14 DAYS IN ITALY

Okay, let’s talk about all the beautiful places you can visit in up to 14 days in Italy.

ROME AND VATICAN CITY FOR 3-3,5 DAYS

Arrival in Rome + Rome + Vatican City 

  • Rome has two airports: Fiumicino and Ciampino.
  • Both airports are well connected to the city center.
  • The cheapest way to get to the city center is via a shuttle bus. The most expensive is via taxi or private transfer!

ROME (2 DAYS)

I suggest not wasting too much time in the hotel – head out and explore Rome! What a unique ancient and special city. 

View from Castello del Angelo  - best viewpoints in Rome with Arzo Travels
@shutterstock

I’d say that the minimum amount of time for Rome and Vatican City would be 2.5 days. Three full days would be even better. Also, plan in a few hours to get to the next destination.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN ROME

  • Colosseum is the largest ancient amphitheater ever built
  • Roman Hills & Palatine Hills is the centremost of the Seven Hills of the city is one of the most ancient parts of Rome
  • Spanish Steps are a set of steps, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti
  • Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele is a national monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy
  • Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in the city 
  • Castel Sant’Angelo was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Later, it was used by the popes as a fortress and castle and is now a museum.
  • Here are my travel tips for Rome

WHERE TO STAY IN ROME

Rome is one of the busiest cities in Italy. Accommodation can be pricey though you will not find many of the typical 5-star hotel chains that you might know from other parts of the world.

  • Luxury Hotels in Rome: St. Regis is one of the few hotel chains with a property in Rome. The hotel is popular because of its central location (within walking distance to Rome attractions like the Spanish Steps, etc.). Click here to find out more and get the best rates.
  • Mid-Range Hotels in Rome: This 3-star hotel is also popular – find out more about the Suites Farness Design Hotel.
  • Budget Hotels in Rome: Looking for a budget hotel in Rome? This might be the perfect choice for you: We were a group of three and needed a big room with three beds. And we were really, really happy with our hotel. It was not spectacular, but the location was good, and so was the value for money: Find out more about the St. Peter Bed in Rome here.

VATICAN CITY (1 DAY)

Crossing borders has never been easier than crossing the Italian border and entering a new country – Vatican City. I must admit, the excursion to Vatican City was one of the highlights of my Rome trip. I highly recommend a day trip (or at least half a day in Vatican City) and to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica

That view....Places to see in Vatican City

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VATICAN CITY

  • Sistine Chapel is a chapel in Vatican City and the official residence of the pope
  • Spiral Staircase was designed to link the Belvedere Palace to the streets of Rome. This also allowed Pope Julius II to travel directly to his private residence by carriage
  • Raphael’s Rooms form a suite of reception rooms and are now part of the Vatican Museums. They are famous for their frescoes
  • St. Peter’s Basilica is a church built in the Renaissance style
  • Check out this Vatican City 1-day itinerary with important travel tips

FLORENCE AND TUSCANY FOR 3 OR 4 DAYS

Then it is time to visit Tuscany and its capital of Florence.

From Rome to Florence

  • From Rome’s Termini Station, you can take the train to Florence. It only takes about 90 minutes.

They say that the earlier you book, the better and cheaper it will be. However, I haven’t noticed that prices go up within a few days for train tickets. So, I always bought them more or less last-minute. But please do not take my word for granted and double-check because I might be wrong.

FLORENCE (2 DAYS)

Florence in one day is possible, but not fun! This city is bursting with attractions and sights. There is so much to do and see that you should try to stay 1,5-2 days.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock View from Piazzale Michelangelo

Even if you aren’t into art – believe me, I am not – art in Florence is a different matter and totally amazing – you will love the city. You might skip a few museums and “finish“ within 1.5 days.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN FLORENCE

  • Florence Cathedral helped set the tone of the Italian Renaissance – now, is the third largest church in the world
  • Uffizi Gallery is a famous art museum housing impressive collections of ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period
     
  • Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River
  • Piazzale Michelangelo is on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River and offers a stunning panorama of the city
  • Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence
  • Piazza della Signoria is an L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio and still maintains its reputation as the political focus of the city.
  • Check out my Florence trip for more tips.

After your 2 days in Florence, it is time to do one or two day trips and explore the area around Florence. You can also do them in between the days you are in Florence. You can do San Gimignano and Siena in one day and see Lucca and Pisa the other day. 

WHERE TO STAY IN FLORENCE

I did not stay overnight in Florence but took a train from my accommodation nearby. However, based on recommendations, these are my tips for places to stay in Florence:

LUCCA AND PISA (1 DAY)

So, when planning your two-week Italy itinerary, you should plan one full day for Pisa and Lucca. These two places are located close to each other which makes it a perfect day trip from Florence.

PISA

As mentioned, the main places in Italy are easily accessible by train. While I road-tripped Tuscany, I often left my car at the hotel and used trains to get around, so I also suggest doing day trips this way.

Day trip to Pisa, The leaning tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower in Pisa

Pisa is well known for its Leaning Tower, but there is actually more to see. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this itinerary.

How to get to Pisa from Florence

It is easy to get to Pisa from Florence (in Italian Florence is Firenze). It takes about one hour by train, and the cheapest tickets are less than 9€ one way.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN PISA

  • Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower, of the cathedral of Pisa, most known worldwide for its nearly four-degree lean
  • Cattedrale di Pisa is a medieval Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
  • Camposanto Monumentale is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square
  • Palazzo Blu is the center for temporary exhibitions and cultural activities
  • Check out my travel guide on Pisa for more information

On your way back, stop in Lucca – a lovely, charming medieval town. Lucca is a little gem, and while not really off-the-beaten-path, it is probably one of the least busy and least crowded places on this Italy itinerary.

Secret places places in Italy, Lucca in Tuscany

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN LUCCA

  • Guinigi Tower
  • Basilica of San Frediano
  • St. Martin Cathedral
  • Plaza del Anfiteatro (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro)

SIENA + SAN GIMIGNANO (1 DAY)

Another day trip from Florence could be a trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Both are wonderful places to visit – you could rush a bit and add both places to your itinerary or decide on one of the places.

SIENA

Siena is known as one of Italy’s best medieval cities. It takes about 70-90 minutes to get from Florence to Siena by public transportation.

The city sits over three hills, so comfortable shoes are a must.

Sienna tower, looking up

THINGS TO DO IN SIENA

  • Piazza del Campo 
  • Duomo di Siena
  • Pubblico Palace
  • Tower of Mangia
  • Basilica of Caterina
  • Foto Gala
  • Check out my Siena travel guide for more tips

SAN GIMIGNANO 

Siena is beautiful and you might need one full day for visiting it. However, I would try to add another town/place on this day. Some might also be interested in visiting San Gimignano, a famous village about an hour from Siena. 

It is a small hilltop village encircled by 13th-century walls. It looks pretty to look at but also the village itself is impressive.

landscapes of Italy. medieval San Gimignano - Tuscany cutest towns in Italy
@shutterstock

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN SAN GIMIGNANO

  • Piazza della Cisterna
  • Torre Grossa
  • Duomo di San Gimignano
  • Palazzo del Popolo
  • Torre e Casa Campatelli

With Florence or Rome as your base, you have spent about six to seven days in Italy so far – it is time for some beach time and a different side of Italy.

CINQUE TERRE AND PORTO VENERE FOR 2 DAYS

CINQUE TERRE + PORTO VENERE (2 DAYS)

It is time to head to Liguria – a beautiful region northeast of Italy.

It is quite easy to get to Cinque Terre and Porto Venere from Florence. 

  • From Florence, you take a train to La Spezia. You cannot get to Cinque Terre by car. It is almost impossible and will make your hard day harder, so park your car at La Spezia.
  • From there, you will hop on the Cinque Terre Train, which will take you to Cinque Terre within minutes.

CINQUE TERRE 

This string of five towns on the Italian Riviera is famous for its colorful seaside houses and a great combination of relaxed Italian village life and outdoor activities, like swimming and hiking. While I enjoyed my time in Cinque Terre, I would suggest not spending more than 1,5 days there. Italy has so much to offer, and two weeks in Italy actually isn’t that much – and Cinque Terre is quite small.

Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore Harbor (1 von 1)

It is easy to visit the five villages. Either hike or hop on the train that connects all 5 villages. It does not take much time.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore
  • Manarola
  • Corniglia
  • Vernazza
  • Monterosso
  • Here is my Cinque Terre travel guide (also with more images and plenty of travel tips)

There are many more beautiful places in Tuscany – check them out here.

PORTO VENERE

This place is not a typical stop on most Italy itineraries, but I loved it. Porto Venere is a small and lesser-known but equally stunning (or probably even more stunning) little fishing village near Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre, half day trip to Porto Venere

Cinque Terre is quite small, and you can explore it in one day or 1,5 days max. Use the rest of the time for Portovenere. I know places like Portofino, which is also in this area, are more famous and popular with visitors, but after having visited both, I can say, that I liked Portovenere better.  

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN PORTO VENERE

  • Doria Castle
  • Promenade
  • San Pietro Church
  • Byron’s Grotto
  • San Lorenzo Church
  • Cemetery
  • Here is my Portovenere travel guide (with more pictures and info)

Spend 1-1,5 days in Cinque Terre and half a day – 1 day in Porto Venere. I would leave half a day for the onward journey. If you want to find out more about the area, check out my post with the most beautiful places in Liguria.

WHERE TO STAY IN CINQUE TERRE

  • Riomaggiore is a popular place to stay in Cinque Terre. I stayed there, too. Check out rates and prices here for the hotel I stayed at. The location was okay. It did not come with any great views, but it was easy to reach from the train station, and the room was quite big by Italian standards. 
  • However, I would choose differently if revisiting Cinque Terre, and it would probably be in Vernazza or Manarola because they were the prettiest towns in my eyes.
  • If you are on a budget, I actually recommend staying in La Spezia. After two nights in Cinque Terre, I booked a hotel in La Spezia for two nights. I used it as a base to get around and see other places in Cinque Terre, like Porto Venere, and it is easier to take a train if heading to your next destination on your Italy itinerary. Click here to find the best hotels in La Spezia.

VENICE, BURANO, AND VERONA FOR 3-4 DAYS

So, while the two weeks in Italy are almost up, you still have a few highlights on your itinerary.

From Cinque Terre to Venice

  • I recommend that you now head to Venezia Santa Lucia.
  • The whole journey will take about 2 hours.

Venice (1 Day)

Venice is a city like no other. I have never seen or experienced such a city before. Even those who didn’t like Venice can‘t disagree on that.

Venice Itinerary 2 days

Seeing all the gondolas and ferries, and no cars around, makes this city quite surreal. So, you have to see and experience the city, the Grand Canal, gondolas, and everything else to really believe it.

However, the city itself is quite small. Venice is one of those places you have to see once in your lifetime. While there is definitely way more to see and do in Rome or Florence, Venice also has some attractions.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VENICE

  • Grand Canale
  • Doge’s Palace
  • Saint Mark’s Basilica
  • Rialto Bridge
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Campanile Tower
  • Check out my Venice guide for more info.

But after one full day in the city, you will have seen all the main attractions and might even have time to visit a museum or two.

WHERE TO STAY IN VENICE

  • Luxury Hotels in Venice: Venice has some great 5* hotels like the Gritti Palace with a lovely view of the Grand Canal. You can check the prices for the Gritti Palace here.
  • Mid-range Hotels in Venice: Travel back in time to the 18th century at Antica Locanda Sturion Residenza d’Epoca: antique furniture, silk wallpaper, and views of Rialto and Grand Canal. Check out the prices for this hotel here. 
  • Budget Hotels in Venice: The family-run Hotel Locanda Ca’ Foscari offers some hotel rooms with ensuite bathrooms, as well as cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms, at a good location close to a Vaporetto ferry stop. Check out prices here.
  • If you plan to travel to Verona by train or need even cheaper accommodation, consider staying in Mestre, the first large city on the mainland. The ao Hotel Venezia Mestre is conveniently located near the train station. Recently built, it provides comfortable rooms as well as dorms, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Check out the prices here.

BURANO AND MURANO (1 DAY)

If you have one full day, visit Burano and Murano but if you have less than one full day, make sure to visit Burano – the most colorful place in the world. Burano is a small little island near Venice and it is easy to get from Venice to Burano and Murano.

You can buy a 24-hour (or 48-hour) pass, which allows you to use unlimited water taxis. Within 90 minutes, you are in colorful Burano. Spending 2-5 hours on the island is totally enough because it really is tiny!

Best Instagram pictures for Burano

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN BURANO

If you like, you can also visit Murano, which is on the way to Burano. If you have a 24-hour ticket for the water taxis, you can just get out in Murano and take another taxi later to head to Burano.

See if you still have time left to discover this little island that is known for its glassworks. However, I would make Burano a priority. 

VERONA (1 DAY)

You can do a day tour from Venice to Verona.

  • It takes a bit more than one hour to get to Verona from Venice.

One of the best, most pleasant surprises in Italy was the beautiful city of Verona. Though it was bursting with tourists, I have the feeling that it is somewhat underrated.

Verona in one day, the best Verona travel travel tips and best 1 day Verona itinerary
@shutterstock

And when I went through my own images, I understand the problem: taking great pictures is a bit challenging because it is so full of statues and attractions that something is always “in the way.“ It is hard to find a good angle. Thus, I hardly saw great photos that convinced me to go. Luckily, I still went and was happy because it is just the most charming city in Italy.

THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO VISIT IN VERONA

WHERE TO STAY IN VERONA

Verona is great for a day trip from Venice, but of course, you can stay there overnight, too. 

  • I highly suggest picking a hotel directly in the city center, and I would choose this hotel for my next Verona trip.

DEPARTURE

Now, there is some bad news. It is time to leave beautiful Italy! Your two weeks are up! There are many other gorgeous places to visit in Italy – I do not want to confuse you but I want to give you more options in case you are looking for alternatives.

  • Check out this guide on the Dolomites – this area in Northern Italy is perfect if you are an outdoor person who likes hiking. 
  • If you want to spend time in and around Lake Como and Milan, you can check out this Lombardy itinerary.
  • If you want to avoid long train rides and rather focus on one part of Italy, you can check out this Northern Italy itinerary or find out about the best places in Southern Italy.

CONCLUSION: ITALY IN 14 DAYS

Wait, where is Milan? As you can see, some top places, like Lake Como and Milan or the Dolomites, are not on the list. They surely are lovely and have their charm, but with limited time (meaning less than three or even four weeks in Italy) for the first time, I suggest the places mentioned above.

If you are a restless traveler and want to add even more places to the itinerary, I have more tips here. However, this itinerary is busy already, though it should not stress you out.

If you plan a trip to Italy, you’re sure to broaden your horizon and experience a variety of unique adventures. I can highly recommend that you travel to Italy for a guaranteed great trip.

You will be able to see quite a lot – and with this 2-week Italy itinerary, you get a perfect idea of the best places to visit.

However, you can never spend enough time in the country and 2 weeks in Italy is surely not enough, so it will just whet your appetite for Italy, and you can see more of it on your next trip.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

 

Best Things to do in 2 Days in Florence, Tuscany

The best 2 days in Florence itinerary, what to do and see in 24-48 hours in Florence

HOW TO PLAN YOUR 2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

Are you planning your Florence itinerary and are wondering about the best things to do in 2 days in Florence? Then this post is perfect for you – here I share my tips on what to do in Florence for 2 days.

Florence had been on my Italy bucket list forever (mostly because of Michelangelo), and yet it took me more than a decade to finally visit. I fell so in love that I had to revisit just a few months later. 

First off: I am by no means an architecture or art enthusiast, but after reading a biography of Michelangelo as a teenager, I knew I had to visit Florence. And of course, there are Leonardo Da Vinci and the Medicis… And what can I say? Florence did not disappoint. 

You cannot visit Tuscany and skip Florence. After all, Florence is Tuscany’s capital and most famous city, with millions of people visiting it each year. It should be on any Italy itinerary.

In this 2-day Florence itinerary, I share with you:

  • How to Get to Florence
  • How to Get Around Florence for 2 Days
  • Best Time to Visit Florence
  • Where to Stay for 2 Days Florence
  • Places to Visit on Day 1 in Florence
  • Places to Visit on Day 2 in Florence

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

TRAVEL TIPS FOR 2 DAYS IN FLORENCE

How long should you stay in Florence? Well, I suggest staying at least 2 days. You will not see all of its beauty, but with 2 days in the city, you can still visit most of the stunning sights. 

How to Get to Florence

You have two airport choices to get to Florence. The airport in Pisa is actually bigger than the one in Florence and you might fly into that.

  • From Pisa Airport: Take the Pisa Mover shuttle train to Pisa Central Station. There you can transit by train to Florence’s main train station (Firenze), Santa Maria Novella.
  • From Florence Airport: The Volainbus shuttle bus runs to the Florence bus station every 30 minutes during the day and hourly in the evening.

Florence is also quite easily accessible via train from many places in Italy. Even if you are coming from neighboring countries like Austria, Slovenia, or Switzerland, it might be worth checking the train connections to Florence.

How to Get Around Florence for 2 Days

WALKING

  • Many of the attractions listed here are in the city center and within walking distance of each other. Wear comfy shoes because of some (minor) uphill walking and the cobbled-stoned streets.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

  • If you need to take a bus or public transportation, don’t worry. It is easy, safe, cheap, and reliable.
  • If you stay outside the city center, you will arrive at one of the train stations – Santa Maria Novella or Campo di Marte in Florence. Then walk or take the bus to the attraction (or walk).
  • You can buy tickets for the buses at tobacco shops and newsagents, and they come as either a single trip or a multi-trip. Tickets are quite cheap and are only around 1,50€ one way. The last resort is to buy one from the driver, but it will cost you a bit more. Remember always to validate your ticket on the bus (or at the train station when taking the train). ALWAYS!

CAR

  • Getting around via car is impossible as a tourist because the center of Florence is a Limited Traffic Zone (ZTL), which means you need a permit to drive there.

Best Time to Visit Florence For a Weekend

Never visit Italian cities in the summer. At least, if you want to avoid the heat and crowds of tourists. Like hardly any other country, Italy is stuffed with people in the summer months, and Florence is no exception.

The shoulder season is certainly the best time to visit Florence. So, if you can, visit Florence in April or May (and early June probably) or from mid-September to October. 

Where to Stay For 2 Days in Florence

Florence skyline from Piazzele Michelangelo

More Travel Tips For Your 2-Day in Florence Itinerary

  • Keep in mind that some of the biggest museums in Florence, including the Uffizi, Galleria dell’Accademia, and the Palazzo Pitti (which holds the Boboli Gardens), are closed on Mondays, so if one of your 2 days in Florence is a Monday, you might need to make some adjustments! One of the few exceptions is the Duomo and Duomo museum, which are open on Mondays.
  • Besides, all the museums close on certain holidays, like Christmas. Make sure to check the website before visiting.
  • If you are on a budget, check out my Florence budget guide for some tips on how to save money.

2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

So, here we are: discussing places to visit in 2 days in Florence. Day 1 focuses on the city center and its attractions and day 2 focuses on the other side of the river with some lesser-known activities.

Day 1 of 2 Days in Florence Itinerary

Early in the morning, when it is still quiet at the city center, head to the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square). This will be the only time you can take pictures of the stunning buildings without millions of other people around! It is the perfect place to start your day in Florence.

Stop 1: Piazza del Duomo

Your first stop should be the Piazza del Duomo. It is home to several attractions and is located in the heart of Florence.

You will find the impressive Duomo (cathedral), which is also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

This stunning church was completed in the 15th century – being the fourth largest church in the world back then. Today, it is the 11th largest church building in the world.Florence Duomo - visit this place in 2 days in Florence

Florence Campanile with churchThere are several ways to enjoy the Duomo Complex:

You can marvel at it from the outside; see the Duomo from inside and enjoy the mosaic floors and frescoes; and visit the Baptistery with its bronze Gates of Paradise.  

You can also climb Giotto’s very tall bell tower for the views. It was named after the painter Giotto, who also was the architect of the project for the bell tower (though the bell tower was only completed after his death). 

I am all about views, so I highly suggest climbing to the top and soaking in the sights. Oh, and you should be aware that there are quite a few steps to climb. To be exact, there are 414 steps to reach the very top!

TIPS:

  • Visiting the Duomo is free, but you will need a ticket for the top and the Baptistery.
  • I recommend buying the ticket in advance and having the option to skip the lines. Believe me: I visited at the beginning of April before 9 am, and I saw them…the lines were long! Yes, they exist in the off-season before 9 am! Imagine this during peak season and after 9 or 10 am! It must be shocking! 
  • Come here early to avoid the crowds inside.
  • Total time: I would estimate, for seeing everything, anywhere from 1-5 hours (with skip-the-line tickets, much longer without them). Find out about prices for skipping the lines at the Duomo and a guided tour here.
  • Opening hours: The opening hours for the areas differ. Check out the opening times here.

Stop 2: Piazza Della Signoria

Close to the Duomo is the Piazza Della Signoria. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the piazzas (squares) in Italy? They tend to be colorful, fun, and lively – and Piazza Della Signoria is no exception.Florence Piazza della Signoria in one of the best places to go

Florence Michelangelo David StatueYou will find statues like the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati. And of course, the replica of the famous statue of David by Michelangelo.

This piazza used to be the center of Florence’s political power for centuries. From here, you have quite a few impressive buildings to look at. There is the grand Palazzo Vecchio, headquarters of the city government, and a city museum.

After 10 am, this piazza fills with tons of tourists, but it is still so much fun and worth it.

You could visit the Palazzo Vecchio, but my guide actually recommends another place for admiring art – so feel free to skip it with only two days in Florence.

  • Total time: It depends on how closely you look at everything, but my guess is between 20 and 90 minutes (without the Palazzo Vecchio).

Stop 3: Lunch at Day 1 in Florence

Maybe it is already time for lunch? The best restaurants are said to be on the other side of the river. However, close to Piazza Della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery is a street named Via Dei Neri, where you can also find good food. 

Actually, according to my local guide, you will get the best sandwiches in Florence there. All the restaurants there have good sandwiches – which is considered a typical meal in Florence.

Stop 4: The Uffizi Gallery

Close to the Piazza Della Signoria is the Uffizi Gallery. As mentioned, I am not an art fan. By no means do I understand much about it. But names like Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci make even my heart beat faster. Florence Uffizi Gallery which is one of the main points of interests in 2 days in FlorenceCommissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, the building was conceived to house the “Uffizi”, the administrative and legal offices of Florence in the 16th century. Now, the Uffizi Gallery entirely occupies the first two floors of the building. 

The Uffizi Gallery is one of Italy’s top museums and one of the most important in the world. Its large collection of Renaissance masterpieces displays Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and many more.

  • Florence is quite busy – at any time of the year. So make sure to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid wasting much time waiting.
  • Skip-the-lines tickets are a bit more expensive but will save you valuable time with just 2 days in Florence.
  • Total time: 1,5 to 4 hours
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8.15 am to 6.50 pm
  • On Saturdays and holidays, it will be necessary to make the reservation at least one day in advance
  • Closed on: Mondays, 1 January, 25 December

Stop 5: Ponte Vecchio

I admit I did not really understand the fascination for the most famous bridge – Ponte Vecchio – when I initially looked at its pictures.

I mostly saw pictures taken from people standing on the bridge…but after finally visiting, I got it. Now, I really got it!Florence Ponte Vecchio which is one main tourist attraction to visit in 2 days in Florence

The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge) connects the river banks (nothing unusual for a bridge, but wait) and probably dates back to the 10th century. It was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. It was destroyed once by a flood but rebuilt in the 14th century.

Florence Vecchio Bridge close-up_

The bridge looks like a little street with houses from a distance. On the bridge, you can buy souvenirs and jewelry from the little shops but be warned; this place is stuffed with people.

  • The opening hours are not the same for all shops. Some shops might be closed on Sundays or Monday mornings and some might close during lunchtime.
  • However, you can cross the bridge at any time.
  • After crossing the bridge, you are on the other side of Florence. It is less busy and less visited, but it also holds a few great places and attractions. However, we will focus on that side of Florence on day 2 of this itinerary.

Stop 6: Dinner in Florence

Cross the bridge to have dinner, if you are ready for it. My local guide told us that the best restaurants are on this south side of the river. Cheaper, more authentic, and they all serve good food! 

If you are not ready for an early dinner yet, you will find more options later. Then cross the bridge just for fun.

So, after dining it is time to end the evening at a beautiful spot.

Stop 7: Giardino Delle Rose

So, for the rest of the day, head to Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers gorgeous views of the skyline. But don’t head there straight away – before the Piazzale, you will find a gorgeous little garden that you should take your time in.Florence Rose Garden with a view for your Florence itinerary

Rose Garden in Florence- things you can do in Florence on a budgetIf you have crossed the Ponte Vecchio, it takes about 20 minutes and is an uphill walk, but not too difficult.

The Rose Garden in Florence is beautiful! You will find 1200 botanical vanities and 400 rose species… It also houses a Japanese garden, donated by the twin city of Kyōto and the Zen Kodai. That all come with great views and a lovely setting (and tons of options to sit and rest).

The garden was created in 1865 by Giuseppe Poggi, who also designed also the Piazzale, on behalf of the City of Florence. The Rose Garden is just below the Piazza Michelangelo, and thus, a great stop on your way up.

If you plan to visit, keep the opening hours in mind:

  • Free entrance
  • January, December 9 am – 4:30 pm
  • February, October, November 9 am – 5 pm
  • March 9 am – 6 pm
  • April, May, September 9 am – 7 pm
  • June, July, August 9 am – 8 pm

Stop 8: Piazzale Michelangelo

End your first day in Florence here: Piazzale Michelangelo. This piazza was created in 1869 by Florentine architect Giuseppe Poggi. From there, you can admire the gorgeous view of Florence and the skyline of the city. Florence view from Piazzale Michelangelo is one of the best things to seeIn the middle of the square, you will find another replica of the statue of David.

You can buy something to drink beforehand, so you can enjoy watching the sunset (there are also a few cafes and restaurants) on a warmish day.

Florence- from Piazzale Michelangelo, Italy
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR VISITING THE PIAZZALE MICHELANGELO

  • It is free to visit
  • Open at any time of the day, all year round

If you head back down, you will find a larger selection of restaurants.

With this Florence itinerary, you have actually seen quite a lot on your first day, but day 2 is also full of amazing things to do. 

Day 2 of 2 Days in Florence

Knowing that more beautiful places in Florence are awaiting will make it easier to wake up early and start the day, right? So, here are my tips on how to spend the second day. Today, you will also spend some time on the south side of the River Arno.

Stop 1: Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery is on the north side of the river. By now, you have come across the replica of David twice – and here is the original.  

David Statue in Florence in 2 days is a must
@Pixabay

There are, of course, some other art pieces, but nothing can top this famous statue by Michelangelo. 

If you want to see the original, book in advance. Check out skip-the-lines tickets to see the art pieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Gaddi, and more, and it is a must-see in 2 days in Florence.

  • Opening hours: Open every day except Monday
  • Closed: January 1, December 25, and every Monday
  • Total time: 30-90 minutes

Stop 2: Piazza San Lorenzo

About 500 meters from the Accademia Gallery, you will find the Piazza San LorenzoFlorence Basilica di San Lorenzo is a place to go in FlorenceI have mentioned Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. But the most famous and important families of their time, not only in Florence but all of Italy, were the Medicis. Without them, Florence would not be what it is today.

The Medicis were patrons of the arts, especially during the time of Michelangelo and da Vinci. So, they were politically active and supported the arts in a way that allows us, centuries later, to admire the works of the Renaissance.

If you still have energy and time on your hands, then visit the San Lorenzo Church with its unfinished facade, where the Medici family once worshipped. You can also visit the Medici Chapels, the final resting place for the Medici dynasty, where you’ll find marble statues by Michelangelo in the New Sacristy.

  • Total time:  30-90 minutes

TIP: If you have to skip out any of the activities on day 2 (for whatever reason), I would say, this skip one. 

Stop 3: Lunch on Day 2

Then it is time to visit the south side of the Arno River. As mentioned above, according to my guide, you will find the best restaurants on this side of the river. Great prices and even better food – afterward, you will stay on that side of the river.

Stop 4: Boboli Garden

The Boboli Garden comprises the largest monumental green area in Florence. The park hosts centuries-old oak trees, sculptures, fountains, an amphitheater, and more – this garden actually inspired Versailles.

TIPS

  • The single ticket is around 10€ and 26€ for a ticket to Pitti Palace and Boboli Garden.
  • Total time: 1 – 3 hours
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8.15 am 
  • Closing: 4.30 pm in November, December, January, February, 5.30 pm in March and October (without Daylight Saving Time), 6.30 pm in April, May, September, March, and October (with Daylight Saving Time), 7.00 pm June, July, August
  • Closed: First and last Monday of each month, 1 January, 25 December

Stop 5: Pitti Palace

Most of the day, I suggest staying in the Oltrarno area and visiting the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. The Pitti Palace was home to the Medicis and houses not only a lot of impressive pieces of art but also furnishings and more. Florence Pitti Palace from outside should be on your Florence itineraryYou need to stand in front of it to feel how big the palace really is. I mean, of course, the Medicis were not to be humble (they were one of the most influential families in the history of Italy), but that palace is enormous!

On the ground floor and mezzanine is the Grand Dukes’ Treasury, displaying a vast collection of Medici household treasures, from table silverware to precious stone vases, rock crystals, and precious jewelry.

On the first floor is the Palatine Gallery, which has 16th and 17th-century paintings (including works by Raphael), and the Royal Apartments.

The Gallery of Modern Art is on the top floor, holding mostly Tuscan, 19th, and 20th-century paintings.

In the separate Palazzina del Cavaliere, on the upper slopes of the Boboli Gardens, is the Porcelain Museum, while the Palazzina of the Meridiana contains the Museum of Costume and Fashion.

TIPS

  • You can either buy a single ticket for the Pitti Palace (16€) or a combined ticket for the Palace and the Boboli Garden (26€).
  • Total time: 1,5 to 5 hours
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 1.30 pm to 6.50 pm 
  • On Saturdays and holidays, it is necessary to make the reservation at least one day in advance
  • Closed: Mondays, 1 January, 25 December

Read more: Things to know before visiting Italy for the first time

Stop 6: Dinner at SE·STO on Arno

On my second visit, I had dinner at this stunning place: SE·STO on Arno at Westin Hotel. The views were amazing, the staff great. There is even a rooftop bar, and I could not imagine any better restaurant with a view of the Duomo.Florence SE·STO on Arno

However, it was also busy, so should reserve a table in advance. If you have a second evening in the city, it is a great place to end your trip here.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM FLORENCE

Florence is amazing – but there are also many places close by that make for perfect day trips.

So, in case you plan some excursions, check out my post on the best places to visit near Florence for more information.

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN FLORENCE IN 2 DAYS

Florence has quickly become one of my favorite cities in Europe. I was smitten within seconds. Its people, the architecture, the lifestyle – everything about Florence made me love it (okay, the crowds not so much). And I was lucky to visit Florence twice within a few months. 

Two days in Florence is surely not enough to see all the highlights, let alone all the attractions and beautiful places. However, it gives you a good idea of what the city is about. It is enough time to fall in love with it.

Also, with 2 days in Florence, you will want to come back again – because it is so rich in attractions and landmarks, that you always have a reason to come back and enjoy more of this gorgeous city!

Hopefully, this 2-day Florence itinerary has given you a better idea of what to expect and what to do and see!

PIN ME FOR LATER – 2-DAY FLORENCE ITINERARY

Save this pin on Pinterest for your trip to Florence.

Florence in 2 days, ARZO TRAVELS

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

 

 

WHAT TO DO IN 5 DAYS IN SWITZERLAND

Points of interest Switzerland 5 days

MOST EPIC 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

Switzerland might be small, but there is definitely a lot to see. So, if you are looking for the best things to do in 5 days in Switzerland or the perfect 5-day Switzerland itinerary, this post is for you.

While Switzerland is not a big country, the truth is that 5 days in Switzerland is the absolute minimum to visit Switzerland! However, I understand that some of you might only have three or four days in Switzerland, so you can adjust this itinerary to 4 days in Switzerland or also 6 days.

If you are heading there for five days, then be prepared to sacrifice those extra hours in bed to see the best of what Switzerland has to offer. But believe me when I say: it will be worth it!

While 5 days in Switzerland isn’t enough, it’s definitely possible to see some of its best places.

In this 5-day Switzerland itinerary post, you will find out:

  • How to get around in 5 days in Switzerland
  • Places to visit in 5 days in Switzerland 
  • Things to do in Switzerland in 5 days

Travel Tips for a 5-Day Switzerland Itinerary

Before telling you about the 5 days Switzerland itinerary, here are some important travel tips for Switzerland. If you want to find out about the 25 very best things to do in Switzerland, read my awesome post here.

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.

Where to Stay in Switzerland for 5 Days

If you stay in Switzerland for five days, I recommend not having a base.

Instead, I suggest changing your hotels/locations a few times. This might be a bit more stressful than just doing a few day trips – from Zurich, e.g. – but this way, you do not spend too much of your precious time traveling back and forth.

How to Get Around Switzerland in 5 Days

I have been to Switzerland numerous times, and I have road-tripped and traveled by train. Both are amazing ways to discover Switzerland in 5 days.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION / SWISS TRAVEL PASS

For this Switzerland itinerary, I strongly recommend that you use the Swiss Travel Pass.

  • There are different passes available regarding flexibility and duration. Flexible passes allow you to use the pass a certain amount of days within one month or the regular, more affordable option, which means you have to use the pass on consecutive days of travel.
  • Yes, the Swiss Travel Pass is quite expensive but it will pay off.
  • You can use buses and trains without any extra costs.
  • Also, most boat cruises and some mountain excursions are included.
  • The Swiss Travel Pass also covers most museums and entrances to castles.
  • The great thing about it is that you never have to worry about finding parking spaces and instead use buses and trains. 

Review Swiss Travel Pass

Okay, I have some bad news to deliver:

  • The Swiss Travel Pass is valid for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days.
  • I still recommend getting one as you will save money.
  • So my tip is to get around the first day by buying single tickets and use the 4-day pass from day two onwards. Click here to find the rates for a Swiss Travel Pass.

ROAD TRIPPING SWITZERLAND FOR 5 DAYS

Switzerland is also great to road trip. I actually love driving there. However, if I only had five days, I would probably leave my car and instead take the train because it is often easier and gives you more time to enjoy the scenery. If you still want to drive, check out my Switzerland road trip itinerary or my post on driving tips for Switzerland.

Visa Regulations

  • Switzerland is not part of the European Union.
  • People from the European Union do not need a visa.
  • If you are coming from elsewhere, please do check visa regulations.

Language

Switzerland is small and has only a bit more than 8,5 million inhabitants. However, it has four official languages! Yep, 4 languages. 

  • Most of the country speak Swiss-German. The places I mention here are mostly located in the German-speaking part of the country (which is the north and east of Switzerland) as well as Central Switzerland. If you learn German at school etc. you will not understand that dialect, though. It is not the German that is spoken in the news, movies or so. But most Swiss people will try to speak High German, if they realize you do not speak the Swiss dialect.
  • Italian is spoken in some parts of South Switzerland – especially in the canton of Ticino.
  • French is another main language that people in the west and south speak. This includes Zermatt (where also German is spoken) but also places around Lake Geneva.
  • Romansh is a minor, yet still official, language spoken by very few (about 37,000 people) in the southeast.
  • English is not an official language but many people – especially in the tourism sector – speak at least some basic language. 

Money

  • The official currency in Switzerland is Swiss France (CHF).
  • Most Swiss shops accept payment in dollars or euros. I still recommend changing money and have some Swiss Francs with you, as it gets more expensive if you pay in euros or even in dollars.
  • Also, you can often pay with your credit card, at least in bigger stores.
  • Switzerland is expensive – so here are a few tips on how to save money during your trip.

Best Switzerland Itinerary – How to Spend 5 Days in Switzerland

So, lets get started with the places to visit in 5 days in Switzerland.

Day 1 of 5 Days in Switzerland

Of course, this itinerary is not set in stone. It depends on whether you arrive in Zurich or begin your trip somewhere else in Switzerland. So, you can change the itinerary depending on where you are starting from.

Rhine Falls and Zurich

I suggest visiting the Rhine Falls and Zurich on your first day in Switzerland. From Zurich, head to the Rhine Falls for half a day.

  • Distance: Zurich – Rhine Falls: 45 minutes by car (45km) and less than one hour by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 1 – MORNING

The Rhine Falls are the biggest waterfalls in Europe. 

Five days in Switzerland itinerary

  • The Rhine Falls are located near the German border in the northern part of Switzerland.
  • The waterfalls are imposing, especially after rainy days, which means that even more water is cascading down.
  • If you prefer, you can stay longer and visit the town center of Schaffhausen as well but if you have only five days, I suggest heading back to Zurich in the afternoon.
  • Click here to read more about the Rhine Falls.

SWITZERLAND DAY 1 – AFTERNOON

Zurich is my favorite city in Switzerland, purely because there is so much to do and see. It has a city feel though it is not huge and won’t overwhelm and, as with any other city in Switzerland, there is a lot of natural beauty even in the city center.Places to see in Switzerland in 5 days

  • In Zurich, I definitely recommend taking a stroll from the train station to Lake Zurich. Walking all the way to Lake Zurich, you will pass the Bahnhofstrasse, which is one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets.
  • Explore the old town with the cute, colorful buildings.
  • There are also cafés and restaurants here.
  • Then head to Lake Zurich. Personally, I would recommend sitting in a café with a view of Lake Zurich.
  • You can also make a boat trip on a pedalo or take some time to relax at the lake.
  • The water is so clean that you can even swim in the lake.
  • This is also a great way to end your day. Especially in the summertime, there are many street artists by the lake, often playing beautiful music, so it’s great to sit there and chill.
  • Click here to find a more detailed post on things to do in Zurich.

WHERE TO STAY 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.
  • Arlette am Hauptbahnhof is one of the best-rated mid-range hotels close to the city center.
  • Warning, there are not many budget hotels in Zurich. This is a good-rated hostel in Zurich – I stayed here once and for a hostel it actually was quite good.
  • Check out my guide on the best places to stay in Zurich.

Day 2 of Your 5-Day Switzerland Itinerary

After a busy but great first day, it is time to head to Switzerland’s next beautiful destination: Lucerne and the Alps.

Distance: Zurich – Lucerne: By car, it takes about one hour (52km), by train it also takes about one hour.

Lucerne / Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus

Lucerne and one mountain excursion are must-do activities in five days in Switzerland. As a mountain excursion, you could choose from several, but my top tips are either Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus.

SWITZERLAND DAY 2 – MORNING

Mount Rigi is a mountain offering fantastic views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne. It is quite easily accessible from Lucerne.

Where to go in Switzerland in 5 days
Mount Rigi
  • With the Swiss Travel Pass, the Mount Rigi excursion is included in 2021. Thus, there is no extra cost for you.
  • If you enjoy hiking (or want to save money because you do not have a Swiss Travel Pass), you can also hike one way or both. You could also just hike some parts and take the funicular for the rest.
  • There is a restaurant at the top of the mountain.

Mount Rigi takes less time than visiting Mount Pilatus and is perfect if you do not want to spend too many hours on the mountain peak.

MOUNT PILATUS

Alternatively, I recommend visiting Mount Pilatus, which offers incredible mountain views, but it does take more time to get up than Mount Rigi.

4 days in Switzerland
Getting up on Mount Pilatus
  • A mountain excursion to Mount Pilatus will probably take up to 8 hours. 
  • With a Swiss Travel Pass, you have a 50% discount on the ride up and can do a Lake Lucerne boat cruise for free.
  • There are many options for outdoor activities at Mount Pilatus, like paragliding or hiking.

So, I highly, highly suggest doing one of the mountain trips. With only 5 days in Switzerland, I would probably pick Mount Rigi because it is free with a Swiss Travel Pass in 2021, and it takes less time to visit. Then you still have a couple of hours for the town center of Lucerne. 

SWITZERLAND DAY 2 – AFTERNOON / EVENING

After your mountain excursion, I recommend exploring the charming town of Lucerne.

Chapel Bridge 2016 in Lucerne - Can you spot me and Puppygak on th bridge?

  • Lucerne itself is quite cute and small, so you can reduce your activities in the town itself.
  • Walk along stunning Lake Lucerne.
  • Cross the famous wooden bridge – the Chapel Bridge. It is very picturesque and contains several paintings on the roof dating back to the 17th century.
  • Choose one of the cafes/restaurants with a view of Lake Lucerne to end your day (there are many to choose from).
  • Read my detailed Lucerne guide with more info on Lucerne and the mountain excursion.
  • If you visit Switzerland and Lucerne in winter, check out my Lucerne in winter travel post.

WHERE TO STAY IN LUCERNE

Day 3 of 5 Days in Switzerland

From Lucerne, I recommend visiting Interlaken. Personally, I think visiting this region is a must for any 5-day Switzerland itinerary.

Interlaken is a small town. It is located in between two stunning lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun which are some of the most stunning lakes in the country. However, the name also encompasses the whole region of Interlaken and for this itinerary, I also included the area of Jungfrau.

Distance: Lucerne to Interlaken about one hour by car (70km) or about 2 hours by train.

Take the scenic Luzern – Interlaken Express train if you use public transportation. This guarantees amazing window views!

Jungfraujoch OR

For the third day in Switzerland, I have a couple of suggestions. Choose the one that suits your taste and budget.

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – JUNGFRAUJOCH (FULL DAY)

The most popular day trip in Switzerland is a trip to Jungfraujoch. “The top of Europe” has the highest train station in Europe.

View of the Sphinx Observatory on Jungfraujoch, one of the highest observatories in the world located at the Jungfrau railway station, Bernese Overland, Switzerland. @shutterstock
@shutterstock
  • The train journey up Jungfraujoch + discovering the summit will take quite a while.
  • From Interlaken, you will need at least eight or nine hours for the whole trip.  
  • There is so much to do and see up there (snow guaranteed throughout the year).
  • Be warned, it is quite touristy and also quite expensive.
  • You get a 25% discount with the Swiss Travel Pass. Check out prices and tours here (without or with a Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Here is my more detailed post on the Jungfraujoch.

Is it really a must-see in 5 days in Switzerland? To be honest, it is a great place. But is it a must-see with less than one week? I do not think so. The Interlaken region is so rich in breathtaking places that do not cost a fortune, so I have a few more suggestions for you.

Lake Brienz / St. Beatus Caves / Thun

If this doesn’t take your fancy, here is an alternative day three itinerary. Explore Lake Brienz and the Giessbach Waterfalls, then head to Lake Thun, see St. Beatus Caves, and spend your evening in Thun.

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – MORNING: LAKE BRIENZ & GIESSBACH WATERFALLS

Get to Interlaken Ost boat station, which is within a few minutes from the heart of Interlaken, to start your day 3 in Switzerland.

Take a boat tour on Lake Brienz, get off the boat at Giessbach Waterfalls to see the waterfalls up close.

View from the boat - get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat
View from the boat – get to Grandhotel Giessbach by boat

Giessbach waterfall - with a view of Grandhotel Giessbach

  • Get out at the Giessbach Waterfall boat station and do a 20-minute hike up to walk behind the waterfall. It is worth it!
  • Enjoy the views of and from the waterfalls.
  • There is a beautiful hotel and restaurant open in summer here, too.
  • I really recommend having a drink at the terrace of this gorgeous hotel (it is closed in winter) before heading to your next destination. 

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – MIDDAY: ST. BEATUS CAVES

After this, you can then catch the boat again to head back to Interlaken. The boats run every 1-2 hours, so plan accordingly. As mentioned previously, 1-2 kilometers south of Interlaken is another fantastic lake: Lake Thun. 

In Interlaken, take a bus and head to the St. Beatus Caves. Alternatively, you can also do a boat cruise on Lake Thun to get to this amazing place.  

St. Beatus Höhle in Interlaken

  • The St. Beatus Caves are quite impressive – especially on a hot summer day it cools you down and refreshes you (yes, it is quite chilly inside).
  • But to be honest, the best view is from just standing in front and looking at Lake Thun, which is an extremely pretty greenish color. 
  • If you can’t tear yourself away from there right away, you have the option to dine at the panorama restaurant.
  • If you have your Swiss Travel Pass, you could also do a boat tour on Lake Thun – keep in mind that most boat tours in Switzerland are free with the pass. 
  • There is a sunset boat cruise on Lake Thun – it is absolutely stunning and is a great way to end your day.

View from the panorama restaurant in St Beatus Caves

SWITZERLAND DAY 3 – EVENING: THUN

Alternatively (to a sunset boat cruise on Lake Thun) you can also finish your day by going to another town close by – the pretty town of Thun.

Surfing in Thun Arzo Travels

  • Thun is a perfect little town where you will have plenty of options to dine.
  • Not only this, but Thun also has a charming town center – perfect for nice strolls.
  • And there are a couple of castles to visit in Thun.
  • Check out my Thun travel guide for more info.
  • Either way, a Lake Thun sunset boat cruise as well as a dinner in Thun would be a great way to finish day three in Switzerland. 

Find my 50 recommendations for Interlaken activities here.

WHERE TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN:

For day 3 and 4 of your itinerary, I suggest staying in Interlaken.

  • The most luxurious hotel in Interlaken is Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa. I have not stayed there myself, so I can only repeat what I heard: This hotel is amazing. If you are looking for a fancy place, this is probably the best pick.
  • For your stay in Interlaken, I recommend this hotel which is centrally located and is quite nice. Check out rates for Hotel du Nord here.
  • If you are on a budget, I recommend staying in Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof next to the Höhenmatte. It is not the cheapest hostel but definitely worth the money and one of my all-time favorite hostels. Check out prices here.

There are more gorgeous places to visit in the area. I admit I am in love with Interlaken and Jungfraujoch. I could stay for months without getting bored. 

Day 4 of 5 Days in Switzerland

Let’s continue your 5-day Switzerland itinerary.

So, there are several options: Extend your stay in Interlaken and choose one of these day trips from Interlaken. A day trip to Lauterbrunnen, Lake Oeschinen (what a stunner!), or Lake Gelmersee (another stunner!) are great options. You then stay in the region of Interlaken for the rest of your trip.

If you are still eager to visit another gorgeous area of Switzerland – leaving the region of Interlaken – then I suggest visiting pretty Montreux on the 4th day of this Switzerland itinerary.

Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken

Distance: Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen about 20-minutes by car (15km) or about 20 minutes by public transportation.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – FULL-DAY TRIP: LAUTERBRUNNEN

Lauterbrunnen is indeed a stunning place and out of the world, and getting to this little village is an experience in itself.

While Lauterbrunnen is renowned for crazy outdoor sports like base-jumping, it is also an incredible place to visit for non-crazy outdoor enthusiasts like me (and probably you).

where to visit in Switzerland
@shutterstock
  • You have one of the most beautiful mountain ranges here. Looking at the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains is mind-blowing (on a clear day). They are also known as the Swiss Skyline.
  • There is water. Water in terms of waterfalls. Many, many waterfalls. 
  • Lauterbrunnen is the valley of 72 waterfalls.
  • And then you have gorgeous, gorgeous waterfalls like the Staubbachwaterfall.
  • You can also visit the Trümmelbachfälle for an entrance fee (when visiting the waterfalls within the mountain, pack some waterproof clothes – especially after a rainy day).
  • And if you are into James Bond, you might want to get up the “James Bond Mountain” – Schilthorn.
  • You can either hike up or take several cable cars to get up from Lauterbrunnen/Stechelberg. Both ways are fun. Even if you are not an experienced hiker you can do the hikes, because it is not a challenging. I promise it is worth it.
  • If you visit Lauterbrunnen, plan a full day and check out hiking options in and around Lauterbrunnen.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – EVENING: INTERLAKEN

For the evening, head back to Interlaken. Interlaken is a small town with absolutely amazing scenery.

Interlaken Where to go, Höhenmmatte
Höhenmatte Park with a view of the Swiss Skyline

It just takes a few minutes to get here from Lauterbrunnen, and if you make Interlaken your base, you can explore it in the evenings rather than reserving a full day for it.

  • Buy some snacks from the supermarket at Höheweg street or a take-away meal from one of the numerous restaurants and then head to Höhenmatte park.
  • There are benches and a beautiful meadow – the perfect setting for a dinner picnic.
  • Do not be surprised to see many, many paragliders on a sunny day. This is what Interlaken is known for: Outdoors sports like para- and hang-gliding in the most impressive setting.

Montreux

Montreux is a great alternative to Lauterbrunnen, but it will include quite some of travel time.

Distance: Interlaken to Montreux is about 2 hours by car (150 km) or 2 or 3 hours by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 4 – FULL DAY TRIP

I recommend taking the Golden Pass Line, which is the most scenic way to arrive in Montreux from Interlaken. It passes along Lake Geneva’s shores and many beautiful vineyards. This train ride takes longer but is worth it.

Chateau de Chillion_ What to do in Montreux
Chateau de Chillion
  • Although Montreux itself is quite small, it has the most beautiful promenade in all of Switzerland.
  • You can walk along this promenade from the town center to the Château de Chillon (free entry with the Swiss Travel Pass).
  • Visit the Charlie Chaplin Museum.
  • See the Freddie Mercury Statue and learn about his life in Montreux.
  • Visit the famous vineyards, do some easy hikes there and go wine tasting.
  • Check out my Montreux travel tips for more information.

Montreux Switzerland - where to go in 5 days Switzerland

WHERE TO STAY IN MONTREUX:

Okay, this is how you could spend 4 days in Switzerland, and you will surely be amazed. Do you have 5 days in Switzerland? Then it is time for one more train ride/drive to another great town.

Day 5 in Switzerland

If you stay 5 days in Switzerland, I have several suggestions. You could prepare for your departure and spend the rest of the day in Montreux or Interlaken and get ready to leave to the final destination. Or, if you have another full day (leaving late at night or on day 6), you could head to Zermatt

Zermatt

Distances: Montreux to Zermatt by car is about 2 hours plus 15 minutes by train. Zermatt is car-free, so you cannot get up to Zermatt with your car, and you will need public transportation for some parts. If you use only public transportation it takes about 2,5 hours by train.

Distances: Interlaken to Zermatt by car is about 2 hours plus 15 minutes by train. Zermatt is car-free, so you cannot get up to Zermatt with your car, and you will need public transportation for the rest of the journey. It takes about 2,5 hours if you travel by train.

SWITZERLAND DAY 5 – ALL DAY

Zermatt is a little town famous as a ski destination in winter, but it is also a great place to visit in summer. Switzerland in 1 week

  • You probably know that Zermatt is home to the Matterhorn mountain – the most famous mountain in Switzerland.
  • If you want to, you could get up (via cable cars, etc.) to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at Klein Matterhorn, which is about 4000 meters high. But you should be aware that altitude sickness is a real problem, especially if you get up really quickly.
  • With 5 days in Switzerland, getting up Klein Matterhorn is not really a must-do activity. I actually recommend admiring the Matterhorn from below rather than hopping onto a cable car.
  • You can have a really wonderful time simply exploring the cute little town.
  • Take trillions of pictures of the amazing Matterhorn and do some hikes in this beautiful part of the world.
  • Here are more Zermatt tips.

SWITZERLAND DAY 5 – EVENING

It is time to plan your departure – I hope you had an amazing 5 days in Switzerland.

So, where do you need to go from there?

If you head back to Zurich, plan in 4 hours to get from Zermatt to Zurich. From Montreux to Zurich it takes about 2,5 hours and from Interlaken to Zurich it takes about 2 hours.

While trains in Switzerland are pretty amazing and reliable, leave early. Even in Switzerland, the trains might be late one day (though it most likely will not happen). And if you drive, it might always happen that there is traffic.

If you stay 5 nights in Switzerland, you might want to stay overnight in Zermatt.

WHERE TO STAY IN ZERMATT

  • Luxury hotels in Zermatt: Grand Hotel Zermatterhof & Hotel Mont Cervin Palace – these places define luxury. If you are looking for 5-star hotels, these might be perfect for you.
  • Mid-range hotels in Zermatt : Sunstar Style Hotel. I enjoyed my stay at the hotel. The prices were very reasonable (summer prices are normally better than the prices in winter), and the location was great. I even had a great room view of Matterhorn. If you have the budget, I definitely recommend booking a hotel room with a view of Matterhorn as it is with some extra $.
  • Click here to find my accommodation guide for Zermatt.

CONCLUSION: 5-DAY SWITZERLAND ITINERARY

I admit that it is a jam-packed and ambitious Switzerland 5-day itinerary. Still, it is definitely doable, and if you visit Switzerland, you do not want to spend much time sleeping anyway as there is so much to see and do.

If you want to have it a bit more relaxed, I would skip either Montreux or Zermatt. Or skip both and spend one more day in Zurich, Interlaken, or Lucerne instead. My tip: Spend the last 3 days in Interlaken and visit Lake Oeschinensee.

I am one of the biggest Switzerland fans out there, and this is for many reasons. I am always overwhelmed by its beauty and think that 5 days is a minimum to spend in the country.

I hope this 5-day Switzerland itinerary is helpful, and that you know now how to spend 5 days in Switzerland. If you want to stay longer and are looking for more tips, check my other Switzerland posts, which you can find here.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

Where to Stay in Switzerland – Best Areas and Hotels for Each Budget 

Best places to stay in Switzerland - all areas all budgets

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SWITZERLAND – TOP AREAS AND HOTELS FOR ALL BUDGETS

Are you planning your Switzerland trip and are wondering about where to stay in Switzerland? Then read on, here I share my favorite places and hotels in Switzerland with you.

There are tons of reasons to visit one of the most beautiful countries in Europe: Stunning scenery, lovely little towns and villages, the most amazing lakes, and of course, gorgeous cities. Though these are just a few reasons, you will quickly discover more once you are in the country.

While it is easy to discover its beauty, it is a bit more difficult to find the perfect accommodation in Switzerland.

I mean, just finding one hotel nestled among the beautiful landscapes is quite easy. But finding one for your budget (especially if you do not want to spend a small fortune) is not that easy. So, this wonderful post will help you find the best place to stay in Switzerland.

I have listed a few of my favorite places all over the country, naming reasons you should stay in an area and giving you a few of my favorite hotel choices.

So, whether you do a Switzerland road trip or stay in one place, these tips should help you plan your trip.

  • Normally, each region/city charges an extra tax on accommodation. The amounts differ. The tax is around 1-4 € a day, per person.
  • You often, not always, also get a guest card in return. Some districts are generous. You can use public transportation for free, and sometimes you get access to some attractions / or a discount. 

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE  – AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

Where to stay in Switzerland – the best places to stay in Switzerland

ZURICH

Zurich is a perfect base. It is big enough that you will not get bored, with nightlife, loads of restaurants and cafes, and plenty of activities and culture around. Where to stay in Zurich - best places to stay in Zurich SwitzerlandIt is quite close to the main Switzerland attractions, like the Rhine Falls; the world-famous cliff mountain guest house, the Aescher in Appenzell; Lucerne; Stein am Rhine; and Schaffhausen.

The city itself is home to a costly shopping street (the Bahnhofstrasse), many clubs and bars, museums, and of course, Lake Zurich. For more tips on what to do in Zurich, click here.

Here are some tips for places to stay in Zurich. 

Baur au Lac in Zurich

If you are looking for a luxury hotel in this beautiful city, go for this one. It is definitely a good choice. This beautiful 5-star hotel is located right next to the Bahnhofstrasse, Lake Zurich, and close to several tram and bus stations.

Zurich best places to stay
Image credit: Baur au Lac

Whether you enjoy the view from the hotel, relax in the private garden, or walk to the lake or the city center. You will have plenty of options to discover Zurich or to enjoy all the fantastic hotel amenities  – all this is easy while staying in one of the best hotels in town.

Mövenpick Regensdorf in Zurich

This four-star hotel is a good choice if you want to stay in a good hotel without breaking the bank. It is not located in Zurich but in Regensburg, a lovely, quiet village-like area. Thanks to the amazing public transportation, you can get to the city center of Zurich quickly and easily.

Admittedly, the building itself does not look very inviting from the outside but it is actually very beautiful, modern, and friendly on the inside and offers all you need if you are looking for a peaceful stay. 

You even have access to the gym and a large pool, and of course, the famous Mövenpick restaurants serve excellent food!

Oldtown Hostel Otter

Switzerland is not known for many amazing budget accommodations – Zurich is one of the most expensive places to stay in Switzerland. However, I recently stayed in a nice hostel I actually liked.

It is located in the old town of Zurich – from there, you can easily reach many sights and attractions in Zurich on foot.

Also, you can stay out late and do not have to worry about “getting home.” A train station is close by so you can also do day trips quite easily.

The rooms are basic but okay, and it is actually known for its famous bar “Wüste.” I have not visited the bar myself, but for those who are into meeting people from all over the world, this hostel is probably the best choice to stay in Zurich.

BERN

Bern is probably one of the prettiest capitals in the world. Though it is quite small (way smaller than Zurich), it is the official capital and actually a great place to stay. where to stay in Switzerland

Due to its location, it is THE best place to get around from – whether you head to Interlaken or the Italian- or French-speaking parts, many train connections are via Bern.

But there is a lot to do and see in Bern, too. 

Visiting the bears that live at the Aare River, right in the heart of the city center, strolling the old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (yes, the whole beautiful town is one heritage site!), or enjoying the views from the Rosengarten on the “house mountain” Gurten – these are just a few reasons to pick Bern as your base and stay for a few nights. Click here to read about the best things to do in Bern.

Here are some tips for places to stay in Bern:

Bellevue Palace in Bern 

This 5-star luxury hotel is the most luxurious one in all of Bern. Its very central location (right in the heart of the Old Town) makes it convenient to walk to many top attractions in Bern.

Its classy interior and the amazing views from the rooftop restaurant make it a perfect place for those who like to start and end their day in a top-notch hotel right in the capital of Switzerland.

Bären am Bundesplatz

This 4-star hotel is also located right in the Old Town of Bern, which comes very handy as you are just a stone’s throw from the train station and main tourist spots.

The hotel is not very big (69 rooms), and you can choose between single and double rooms. It is surely a great choice for those who do not want to spend a fortune on accommodation while still staying in a welcoming hotel with a great location.

Bern Youth Hostel

Unfortunately, Bern, like many other tourist hot spots in Switzerland, does not offer a lot of budget hotels. Most cheaper options include the fact that the restrooms are shared.

Bern Youth Hostel is located in the city center. It offers affordable dorm beds but also private rooms with private bathrooms.

LUCERNE

Lucerne is probably in the top 3 most popular tourist destinations in Switzerland. It seems that all visitors are crazy about this small city that is located on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Best tours on SwitzerlandIt actually does not surprise me, as the scenery is among the most beautiful around. Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, and places like Weggis or Vitznau make it a great Switzerland vacation area.

The city itself is also perfect for some nice evening strolls (with the Chapel Bridge as the main tourist attraction) or walks along the lake. It is probably the most romantic place, perfect for love birds but actually, it is an amazing place to stay for all kinds of travelers. Click here to read about the best things to do in Lucerne.

In addition to it, it is quite easy to get around from Lucerne – many train connections are via Lucerne.

Here are some tips for places to stay in Lucerne:

Schweizerhof Lucerne

This iconic luxury hotel is the best choice for a stay in Lucerne. It is a festival hotel – meaning smaller concerts and music events take place here. Also, you will find many music-oriented details here. Though I did not experience a concert during my 2-night stay, I fell in love with the hotel. Schweizerhof Lucerne - where to stay in Switzerland Friendly, charming, and with a fantastic location, it is for sure a hotel you cannot go wrong with. 

While the wellness part falls a bit short, the location (just in front of the lake and a stone’s throw from the Chapel Bridge) and the atmosphere make up for it.

It is my first choice for a trip to Lucerne.

Hotel des Alpes

I also stayed at the Hotel des Alpes next to the Chapel Bridge for two nights. It is a mid-range hotel, and the location is perfect.

If you choose a river view, you can admire the stunning Mount Pilatus and the Alps. The city rooms of the old town. So, I recommend paying a little extra to see the great panorama of the river.

Bellpark Hostel

Lucerne, without question, is a treat for the eyes, but unfortunately, not a treat for your wallet. It is expensive. And so, this simple but sufficient hotel is a good choice if you are on a budget.

This hostel is located close to Kriens, not too far from Lucerne’s old town, and perfect if you plan a trip to the Mount Pilatus cable car station. You´ll find some restaurants and cafes nearby, and you can catch a bus directly to the train station in Lucerne.

Though the prices are much lower than hotels, you still get the ticket to use public transportation for free because you get a guest card.

INTERLAKEN

If you are wondering about the best place to stay in Switzerland, I would probably say somewhere in the Interlaken region. Where to stay in SwitzerlandIf you visit Switzerland, you cannot – no, you should not – miss out on Interlaken. It is one of my very favorite areas in the whole wide world – it even makes me write like a teenager in love. Despite the high prices in summer and winter, I keep going back. 

Its beauty is almost overwhelming. The prettiest lakes, the most stunning mountains, the cutest towns, and much more: that region has it all. Even for Switzerland standards, the region is expensive. However, given its gorgeousness, it is worth the money.

Visit the St. Beatus Caves, Brienzer Rothorn, Jungfraujoch, go skydiving, and much more – you surely will not get bored in this region.

HERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO STAY IN INTERLAKEN

Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa

Though Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa does not look very impressive outside, it is the most luxurious hotel in Interlaken.

Located right in the heart of Interlaken, amid beautiful mountain views of the Bernese Highland, this is the hotel to stay in if you are looking for top-notch service and amenities.

The hotel leaves nothing to be desired (including two pools), and if you have the budget, this hotel is the perfect choice in the perfect region on Interlaken.

Grandhotel Giessbach

Though it is only a four-star hotel, it is fantastic in every single detail. The best views, the most stunning sceneries, and the most interesting, historic interior design make this a perfect hotel in Switzerland. Balcony - Waterfall view roomEven the restaurant’s food is delicious!

If you head there from April-October (it is closed in winter), this is a good choice for your trip to Switzerland (and make sure you book a room with a waterfall or Lake Brienz view).

Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof

One of the best hostels I have stayed at is the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof next to the Höhenmatte. It is not the cheapest hostel but definitely worth the money. I stayed four nights and loved getting around easily. The rooms are modern, clean, and the views were quite beautiful.

They even offered free parking (the main reason to book this hostel, to be honest), and breakfast is always included (a very simple yet decent breakfast).

I only missed bed curtains to have more privacy, but sticking towels on the top-bunk bed will do as well. So it is my top tip for a budget tip in Interlaken.

ZERMATT

Toblerone! When I found out that the Matterhorn is printed on the Toblerone chocolate, it was a real eye-opener. After all, this astonishing mountain is the main attraction in Zermatt and one of the most impressive natural wonders in Switzerland.

@shutterstock

As a ski resort, it is a perfect destination for the winter. In and the summer (prices are lower in summer for basically all hotels here) you can do some amazing hikes and explore what this area has to offer (spoiler alert: it is a lot). 

This beautiful, car-free town is a bit remote so it is not a perfect base to explore the rest of Switzerland. However, it is home to many attractions – so you do not have many reasons to leave.

You can start the famous Bernina Express or Glacier Express train rides from here.

Riffelalp Resort 2222m

This hotel in Zermatt has probably the best location of all. The views of Zermatt and the Matterhorn are stunning. Though I have not stayed there myself, this place is where I would love to splurge.

Most of the rooms have breathtaking panoramas of the Matterhorn (make sure to book a room with a view), and all rooms have a bathroom with a bathtub and/or shower, a Nespresso coffee machine, and a Smart-TV. But the outdoor pool with the view of the Matterhorn is probably one of the best facilities. 

It is loacted quite remote – so perfect for spending some nice days in the hotel and enjoy all the amenities.

Sunstar Hotel Zermatt

This accommodation is a lovely four-star hotel. Since Zermatt is quite small, most hotels have a perfectly central location, and so does Sunstar Style Hotel. Where to stay in Zermatt (1 von 1)The hotel has a rustic Swiss charm, and you can walk to many Zermatt attractions and the shopping street (mostly for luxury watches). The cafes and restaurants are just around the corner.

MONTREUX

After Lucerne, Montreux is probably the best place for love birds. Walking along the most beautiful water promenade in Switzerland while watching Lake Geneva’s sunset is quite romantic. Chateau de Chillion_A must see place in MontreuxHowever, it is also a perfect Swiss destination for everyone else. Whether with kids, as a solo traveler, or with your friends, Montreux is a good option for your Switzerland holiday.

Stroll along Lake Geneva, visit picturesque Chateau de Chillon, and overlook the most impressive vineyards – Montreux might be small, but there is plenty to do and see in the area.

Eurotel Riviera Montreux

This is a lovely and friendly, four-star hotel right on the shores of Lake Geneva – which is quite handy, as the hotel has no pool and you can easily take a dip in the pristine water of the lake in front of the hotel.

The hotel itself is bright, friendly and most of all, has a fantastic location. You can stroll Lake Geneva and have many restaurants and cafes close by. Getting to Chateau de Chillon(one of the main attractions in Montreux) takes about 30 minutes on foot (including some stops to snap pictures of this beautiful area).

All rooms come with a view of the lake, and if you start your day with breakfast on the terrace, the day cannot go wrong!

GENEVA

Geneva is a city with quite a lot of history: the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations. If you are into these things, you will enjoy them as much as I do. 

Geneva in summer, Switzerland
@shutterstock

If you are not into politics or luxury watches, you might not love it (but I am also nuts about Lake Geneva). 

Actually, I see many people returning a bit disappointed. There are more beautiful and fun cities to visit in Switzerland. However, it is a great place to stay if you want to explore the area of Lake Geneva.

As I do not have much luck with Geneva’s hotels, I can only recommend this one.

WHERE TO STAY IN GENEVA

Hotel Manotel N’vY Geneva

This hotel is fun. And stylish. And extremely colorful. So, it does not surprise, that I loved it.

While there was no pool or any super facilities (apart from the Nespresso machine and very cool light), the proximity to the lake (just a 1-minute walk to the lake and a 5-minute walk to the busiest part of the promenade) and the friendly and bright interior make up for it.

TICINO

Whenever you are in Switzerland, make sure to visit the Italian-speaking part of the country, too. I admit that part of Switzerland sometimes comes up short in my posts, but you can believe it is beautiful! Do not miss out on this area. Where to go in Switzerland on holidaysLake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, the Alps, the waterfalls along the highways, historic castles, and…Valle Verzasca, these are just a few reasons to stay here.

And on top of that, the people here are a bit louder, friendlier, and livelier. This spark of Italy makes a trip to Ticino even more beautiful.

Villa Orselina in Locarno

To date, this is probably my favorite hotel. Villa Orselina - Dinner with an amazing viewIf you want to feel ZEN, then book your stay here and enjoy dinner at the restaurant with a view of Lake Maggiore. I have never felt calmer or more at peace than here.

This has probably influenced my perception of the hotel, but since it was named the best small hotel in Switzerland, I am not the only one who fell head over heels in love with it.

The hotel has less than 30 rooms and suites. All rooms have a view of Lake Maggiore, and so does the restaurant (where you can have a fantastic dinner or breakfast) and the pool.

Whether you decide to get pampered in the spa area or take some spa time in your own bathroom (there is a sky ceiling, meaning little lights in the ceiling which you can turn on and off and which makes it look like a beautiful sky with stars), or swim in the outdoor pool – nothing is left to be desired.

P.S. Unfortunately, the hotel is not open in winter.

CONCLUSION: BEST AREAS TO STAY IN SWITZERLAND

I hope this post has helped you find the best places to stay in Switzerland.
 
This country is so amazing, and deciding where to stay in Switzerland might be overwhelming at first – but with my tips, you hopefully have found the best area and hotel for your trip.
 
Planning a trip to Switzerland but have not figured out your itinerary yet?
Safe Travels, Arzo
 

 

50 Best Things to do in Dubai

WHAT TO DO IN DUBAI – ACTIVITIES FOR ALL BUDGETS AND AGES

Whether you visit as a tourist for a short time, stay longer, or live in Dubai – this list will give you a good idea about the best 50 things to do in Dubai, UAE.

After endless visits, I have concluded that Dubai does not get boring. There is so much to do and see, making planning challenging and overwhelming. Many new, interesting places did not even exist 2 years ago – and it seems that there are new attractions that pop up regularly. So, I have compiled a list of the best things to do in Dubai.

P.S. Some activities are not offered throughout the year. Especially in the summer, some places are closed, so please double-check the dates.

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MIGHT EARN A SMALL COMMISSION WHEN YOU BUY A PRODUCT/SERVICE (AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU). MORE ABOUT IT HERE.

50 FUN THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI 

Are you ready? Here is my ultimate list of 50 cool and most fun things to do in Dubai – for young adults, kids, and everyone else.

GO ON A DUBAI DESERT SAFARI

One of the best things to do in Dubai is to go on a desert safariArzo Travels Desert Safari in DubaiThere are many different desert safari tours offered in Dubai, and I tried several of them.

However, my favorite is the one that includes 4×4 wheel drive and a BBQ, and a belly dance show. I had enough vegetarian options, but meat-eaters will also find something, it is definitely a unique dinner. Some argue, that it is quite touristy – so yes, it is but it is still a great experience.

TIPS FOR A DUBAI DESERT SAFARI

ENJOY A SEAPLANE FLIGHT

A seaplane flight sounds pretty amazing, right? A seaplane flight in Dubai sounds even better, as seeing Dubai from above is such fun and one of the more unique things to do. It is a bit fancy and surely not one of the cheap activities you can book, but since it is a lot about Dubai’s luxury, it is a unique activity. 

It is unfortunately not a cheap activity but one of the most unique things to do in Dubai.

TIPS FOR A SEAPLANE FLIGHT IN DUBAI

  • You can book different tours – check them out here to find out about prices.
  • There are different take-off locations – when booking check where your flight will start.
  • The flight takes around 30-35 minutes, but plan a couple of hours for the whole activity.

EXPLORE LA MER

Relax at La Mar is one of the newer hotspots in Dubai, and if you ask me, that is not surprising. La Mer Beach DubaiWhether you want to spend a day at the beach, stroll the beachfront, chill at one of the very cool restaurants and cafes, or just check out the coolest street art – La Mer is a beautiful place and great to visit as a family, with friends, as a couple, or solo.

TIPS FOR VISITING LA MER

  • There is no metro going, but some buses and if you stay in a big hotel the shuttle bus might get you here. However, if not, a taxi would be the c choice to get here (taxi drivers will know where it is).
  • There is no entrance fee.
  • Most restaurants and shops are open from 10 am until 11 pm.
  • You can also do water sports and rent equipment at the beach area.
  • Read more about my tips for things to do at La Mer.

DO A SPEED BOAT TOUR

A speedboat tour in Dubai is great to enjoy the breeze – especially on a hot day – and to see Dubai from a different perspective. While the boat rides fast, it stops at several tourist attractions like Atlantis Hotel or Burj Al-Arab -, so you have time for snapping pictures.

TIPS FOR A SPEED BOAT TOUR IN DUBAI

STROLL DUBAI MARINA

Stroll Dubai Marina and see all the cafes, food trucks, and restaurants – and skyscrapers. This is one of the best places for nice strolls, and if you asked me, I would name strolling Marina as one of the top activities.

Dubai accommodation in Dubai Marina IC Dubai Marina

Yes, I am a city girl, and this area is definitely nicer and easier to walk in than many other areas in Dubai that are not very pedestrian-friendly. The amount of skyscrapers is insane. So, whether you come here during the day or in the evening, it is always worth a trip.

If you are with kids, you can rent a little cat car, or you just walk along the beautiful promenade. If you stay a minimum of 2 days in Dubai, it is a place you should visit.

TIPS FOR VISITING DUBAI MARINA

  • Dubai Marina “is open” 24/7 – it gets especially busy in the evening and its the best time to visit
  • You can reach Dubai Marina also via metro and then get use the tram for longer distances (but most of the area is best explored on foot)

HAVE A DRINK AT PIER 7

After strolling Dubai Marina, it is time for a break. Marina is beautiful – especially in the evening! So don´t miss Pier 7 at night and dine in one of the seven restaurants with beautiful views at nightDubai Marina at nigt from Pier 7With all the illuminated buildings (including the shopping mall), the view from there is just superb! I have to admit that the Scene Dubai (4th floor) staff was not the best, but the views are great.

TIPS FOR VISITING PIER 7

  • For great views AND nice staff, head to the 6th floor ASIA ASIA
  • During the high season I recommend booking a table on the terrace in advance

ENJOY A MARINA CRUISE TOUR

Boat tours are one of my favorite ways to get around. Walking Marina is fun, but for a unique angle of Dubai´s great Marina, go on a Marina Cruise tour. 

TIPS FOR A MARINA CRUISE TOUR

  • If you love food and boat cruises (two of my personal favorite things), you can even book dinner on a boat. 
  • Click here for prices
  • Tours last around 90 minutes

GET TO THE TOP OF BURJ KHALIFA

When in Dubai, visit the highest building in the world. Burj Khalifa is probably also the most famous attraction in Dubai.  View from Burj Khalifa At The Top Best stuff to do in DubaiGo to the top of Burj Khalifa and enjoy amazing views from up there. Plan in some time to see the water dance show from above and ideally, plan to see the sunset from Burj Khalifa as well.

TIPS FOR VISITING BURJ KHALIFA

  • I had to stand in line for ages, so probably a VIP ticket is the better choice for the people who are less patient. 
  • On my second visit, I got a ticket which included a lunch/dinner at the Burj Club as well, and the price was definitely worth that experience.
  •  On my third trip, I visited with my two little nephews – the older (4 years) loved the views. But Burj Khalifa does not allow strollers for the younger ones
  • To find out more about getting to Burj Khalifa, click here and read my detailed review.
  • Get the best rates for your Burj Khalifa tickets here:
  • Level 124 & 125
  • Level 124 & 124 and 148
  • Level 124 & 125, including a dinner at Burj Club

WATCH THE WATER FOUNTAIN SHOW

Watch the water fountain show at Dubai Mall/Burj Khalifa and see the water dance. The show itself is quite short (about 2-4 minutes), and I have seen nicer shows (Kuala Lumpur), but sitting at a cafe and watching it is still lovely.

Water Fountain Show in front of Dubai Mall @shutterstock
@shutterstock

TIPS FOR WATCHING THE WATER FOUNTAIN SHOW

  • This place gets crazy – especially in the evening. Avoid coming here on weekends.
  • For a great – free – view, just visit the Apple Store inside Dubai Mall and get on the balcony so you can see it from above. The “seats” are limited, though, but there are also nice views if you stand just in front of it. However, it might be totally crowded as all the tourists get to the water show on time.
  • Check out the show times here. 
  • Since there are many restaurants close by, you can get more exclusive views. I had a nice view from Burj Club, a restaurant that is part of Burj Khalifa.
  • If you want to get very close to the water fountain show, you can do an abra ride. You can buy tickets just at the abra station at the water fountain or booked them in advance.

REST AT ZABEEL PARK

For those who do not believe that Dubai has some greenery, Zabeel Park proves him/her wrong:

Kids will love it as there are many playgrounds, and the older ones also enjoy the mobile phone chargers in the shape of palms (bring your cable, and you can recharge your phone while relaxing in the park).

TIPS FOR VISITING ZABEEL PARK

  • Between the Gold and Spice Souks and Burj Khalifa – not too far away from the Crown Prince of Dubai’s palace and from there you can walk to a quite new attraction: Dubai Frame (more on that later).
  • For a small entrance fee (about $1), you can visit Zabeel Park and relax in the lush and green park.

GET A TAN AT KITE BEACH

Not all beaches are free and public (most actually belong to luxury hotels), but you can chill for free at Kite Beach and enjoy great views of Burj Al-Arab. Chill at Jumeirah Beach Best things to do in DubaiHop on and hop off buses stop there, but you can also ask the taxi driver to get to Kite Beach. Even on sunny days, it is not crowded by European standards. Personally, I like the beach area at JBR or La Mer a bit better. But if you prefer beaches with a good views of Burj al-Arab, then this is your beach.

TIPS FOR VISITING JUMEIRAH BEACH / KITE BEACH

SPLURGE AT BURJ AL-ARAB

Want to splurge? Getting inside Burj al-Arab isn’t easy if you don’t stay overnight. You need a written booking reservation for one of their restaurants. So why not having an afternoon tea at Burj Al-Arab (it is still on my own list) at the only “7* hotel in the world”. It is not a bargain but probably an amazing experience.

TIPS FOR VISITING BURJ KHALIFA

  • If you do not stay overnight at Burj al Arab, you will need written confirmation for the restaurant reservation
  • Click here to book your dining experience at Burj al Arab
  • Alternatively, you can book spa treatments to get access to the hotel

BOOK A HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE

See Dubai from above and book a hot-air balloon ride. One of my personal highlights was to see the desert from above when flying over Dubai in a hot-air balloon. What to do in Dubai - hot air balloon rideI did my first, and so far only, hot-air balloon ride in Dubai. Dubai surely cannot be compared to Cappadocia in Turkey but it was still worth it.  

TIPS FOR A HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE IN DUBAI

  • You are normally being picked up at the hotel
  • It is worth waking up early to have such a unique experience
  • Click here for more information on a hot air balloon ride in the desert.

TRY OUT FLYBOARDING

There are a lot of adventurous things to do for those who like to be more active. The activity is unique and is not offered everywhere, so make sure to try this in Dubai. 

TIPS FOR FLYBOARDING DUBAI

  • Try out Flyboarding in Dubai and soar above the Persian Gulf. 

EAT TONS ON A FRIDAY BRUNCH

Dubai is known for great brunches, so experience an infamous Friday Brunch in one of the top hotels or restaurants in Dubai. I tried out the Friday brunch at the fancy Ritz-Carlton JBR, and I was not disappointed. 

TIPS FOR A FRIDAY BRUNCH IN DUBAI

  • Friday Brunches are quite costly, so some research might be needed if you are on a budget
  • Booking in advance might be good (especially for popular places)
  • You might not be able to do a Friday Brunch during Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting)
  • Ramadan in 2021 – 13. April to 12. May
  • Ramadan in 2022 – 2. April to 1. May

PARTY THE NIGHT AWAY

I am not a party girl – so I won’t be able to give the best advice first hand. However, Dubai’s nightlife is supposed to be great if you like to dress up, drink and enjoy the fancy nightlife.

  • So, though the Emirates are Islamic, Dubai is quite liberal, and partying – and drinking – is allowed.
  • Just be aware not to overdo it. I saw security being quite strict with drunken people
  • Here are more tips for things NOT to do in Dubai. 

ENJOY THE VIEWS FROM A HELICOPTER

See Dubai from above when doing a helicopter flight – this city is the perfect place to try out this amazing activity.  If you ask me, it is my tip for one of the most unique things to do in Dubai.Arzo Travels Heli Dubai Fligh

TIPS FOR DOING A DUBAI HELICOPTER RIDE

  • There are two main companies offering helicopter rides: HeliDubai and Dubai Helicopter Tour 
  • You can choose between a 12, 15, and 25-minute helicopter flight
  • I enjoyed my 12-minute flight but would not have minded flying over Dubai for longer
  • Click here to find about prices for a helicopter ride
  • Read my detailed post about my own personal experiences of a helicopter ride

EAT DATES

Try out dates in Dubai. When I talk about dates, I don’t mean dating in Dubai (I have never tried that out), but I mean the delicious little things you can eat. You find many different kinds of dates in Dubai. In Germany, we have mostly the very simple ones but in Dubai, you will some with nuts in them, chocolate and more.

TIPS FOR EATING DATES IN DUBAI

  • Dates are healthy, vegan (mostly), sweet, and a traditional snack of that region.
  • They also make a great gift for your loved ones back home. You can buy them in every supermarket and many other stores and souks (markets).

GO SKIING

Do some winter sports. Though it is surely not the most natural environment to ski, skiing in Dubai is for sure a great place to escape the heat in Dubai.

TIPS FOR SKIING IN DUBAI

SHOP AT DUBAI MALL

Explore Dubai Mall – the biggest mall in the world (it feels more like a town rather than just a mall). Seriously, the mall is crazy and it would be easy to spend several days in it. From luxury to budget brands, from beauty and fashion to electronic stores. From restaurants to fancy cafes, there is everything you can ask from a shopping mall (and there is even more than you ask for).

What attractions in Dubai Mall

Whether you are in Dubai for 1 day or much longer, Dubai Mall is a must-see place.

TIPS FOR VISITING DUBAI MALL

  • Dubai Mall is located next to the water fountain and Burj Khalifa
  • Tips: Do not visit on a Friday (evening) – it will be crowded as heck
  • There is actually a dress code (cover shoulders and knees) though it is not often respected 

GO HOTEL SIGHTSEEING IN DUBAI

The hotels in Dubai are among the best in the world – some are attractions in themselves. If you do not stay overnight in one of the top hotels, you can still see some and be amazed at what hotels could be like.

This can be done in several ways. You can book day tickets for the pool areas of some top hotels, make restaurant or spa reservations, or just visit them without any “obligations”.

TIPS FOR DOING HOTEL SIGHTSEEING 

  • Burj Al-Arab is not open to the public, you will need a spa/restaurant reservation
  • Atlantis Hotel on The Palm is probably one of the best hotels to check out (no reservation needed)

COOL OFF WITH JET-SKIING IN DUBAI

If you prefer outdoor activities, go jet-skiing in Dubai – where everything is about higher, faster, further, fast jet-skiing seems to be the perfect activity in Dubai. It is fun, but also very refreshing on a hot day.

TIPS FOR JET-SKIING

EXPLORE THE GOLD AND SPICE SOUKS

Visit the souks in the old part of the city.Spice Souk in Old DUbai Deira Where to go in Dubai This part is different from the rest of Dubai, and though it is hectic, it has some traditional charm.

If you visit, be prepared to haggle – never accept any price immediately. Normally, you can get things for 50%, but you need to be patient and nice while discussing prices. Apart from spices and clothes (you will also find traditional clothes for a much lower price than in the malls), there is gold…a lot of gold.

TIPS FOR VISITING THE GOLD AND SPICE SOUKS

  • Many souvenirs etc. are much cheaper here than in malls
  • Do not forget to haggle
  • If you like to buy gold, check the gold rate online first
  • For women, I recommend not to wear the most revealing clothes and dress modestly

DISCOVER AL BASTAKIYA

Explore Al Bastakiya, which is quite close to the souks and is one of the oldest districts. It is located at Dubai Creek, quite charming with the narrow streets, and surely worth visiting. It shows you another side of Dubai – definitely a nice break from Downtown’s modernity – this is also a more off-the-beaten place in Dubai, and I have never really seen it crowded as other parts of the city.

TIPS FOR VISITING AL BASTAKIYA

  • The Secret Garden is probably the most beautiful restaurant/cafe in Al Bastakiya
  • It is great to visit at any time of the day, but in the evening it actually is livelier and lovelier

HOP ON AN ABRA

Do an inexpensive abra ride on Dubai Creek, a natural creek close to the Gold and Spice Souk. Abra are traditional wooden water taxis that you find especially in the old part of Dubai. Activities in Dubai - ride an abra - Visit Dubai attractionsTIPS FOR AN ABRA RIDE 

  • To get from the Spice Souk to Bur Dubai, you only pay about 0,25€ (1 Dirham).
  • If you like to have the whole abra for yourself, you can get it for 20 Dirham (about 5€). 
  • If you prefer a fancier abra ride and do not mind paying a bit more, you can also do an abra ride in Madinat Jumeirah.

LEARN ABOUT HISTORY AT DUBAI MUSEUM

Learn about Dubai´s past. Apparently, Dubai is super modern, but if you visit one of the museums (Dubai Museum is the best choice), you´ll learn more about its past (yes, there is some history involved). It is near Al Bastakiya and very popular amongst UAE visitors.

So it might be quite busy during high season, but it is still worth it, and it is quite illustrated so you learn about the life of people in Dubai easily (and thus it is a great fun thing to do with your kids, too).

TIPS FOR VISITING DUBAI MUSEUM

  • The entree fee is just about 1€

HAVE FUN AT DUBAI JBR WALK

Enjoy JBR Walk. One of the most fun places is JBR – the Walk, so discover JBR Walk by feet – a popular area with many restaurants, hotels, cafes, and access to the beach.Places to see in Dubai in 7 daysIn March 2018 Flying Cup opened. For about 20€, you can hop into the capsule and enjoy an amazing view of JBR The Walk – The Beach.

If you are more into relaxing at the beach, this beach might be a good option (though it can be quite busy), or you can check out street art, eat your weight in meals from all around the world or do one of the other activities that are offered there.

SPEND A DAY AT GLOBAL VILLAGE

Learn about other cultures. Another popular place is the Global Village, so check it out and enjoy a ride in one of the 50 rides in the Fantasy Island theme park and visit pavilions of different countries.

Pay is about 5€ ($6), but rollercoaster rides cost extra.

Location: It is located a bit further away from other Dubai attractions, so it is probably not a place to quickly go through (combine it in the winter months with a trip to Miracle Garden).

VISIT A MOSQUE

Visit a mosque. Actually, most mosques in Dubai look similar but stunning, so make sure to stop by one and admire the architecture.

Jumeirah Mosque is one of the very few mosques in Dubai open to non-Muslims, so put it on your list. You have to take part in a free tour to enter, so check out the times. It is a beautiful mosque – so even if you don’t go inside, it is lovely to look at from outside.

One mosque that looks a bit different is the beautiful Iranian Mosque in Bur Dubai.

TIP: you need to cover your head/arms/legs as a female when visiting a mosque, and as a male, you also have to cover your arms and legs. It is close to La Mer so that you could combine it with a trip there.

ADMIRE FLOWERS AT MIRACLE GARDEN

Visit Miracle Garden and take 10000 pictures at Miracle Garden.Miracle Garden is not open in summer, though (it normally opens in November), and you need to get there by taxi.

This is art that comes from flowers. Though it is totally crowded in December, it is worth a visit (about 12€ entry), and I reckon it is great for people of all ages. During the summer months, it is closed.

Take a bus/cab and plan in a few hours for this trip. It is close to Global Village, so the most efficient way would be to see both places in one day.

CRUISE MARINA, ATLANTIS, AND BURJ AL-ARAB

Another boat cruise for a hot day. One of my favorite activities anywhere in the world: doing boat cruises. I normally spend a lot of time, cruising lakes in Switzerland but also boat cruises in Dubai are not too bad. With all the stunning buildings in Dubai, boat cruises are pretty amazing – and there is something for every taste. Whether you like to have dinner on board or just sailing along Burj al-Arab, I am sure you will find the perfect cruise for yourself.

HAVE AN ADVENTURE AT IMG WORLDS OF ADVENTURE

Ride some rollercoaster at IMG. The IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world´s largest theme park, is still on my”to-do list” for Dubai.

I am sure your kids will love it – but even the grown-ups can have a fun day here. So plan a day for this giant theme park where it is a lot about thrilling rollercoaster rides.

GET AROUND VIA DUBAI FERRY

An inexpensive way to do a little boat cruise is by doing a ferry ride (okay, I know another kind of boat ride), but it is way cheaper and shorter – and you get from a. to b. You can also use your NOL card to hop onto the ferry and get around in some parts of Dubai (e.g., Dubai Marina).

SPEND A DAY AT A WATERPARK

Book a ticket for one of the waterparks in the city.

I never spend much time in waterparks…except when I did in Dubai at the Aquaventure Waterpark…and later at Wild Wadi Waterpark. I enjoyed both my days at the waterpark – though I felt they were very crowded and surely overpriced.Dubai Wild Wadi Waterpark It is easy to spend a full day at one of the biggest and best waterparks in the region with all the different slides, different pools, and more to do at the waterpark. However, I think about $70 for a day at the waterpark is a kind of a rip-off.

P.S. If you book your stay in one of the above-mentioned hotels, you will have free access to the waterparks. Click here to get the best prices for Aquaventure Waterpark.

If you are looking for a more affordable waterpark, then check out Laguna Waterpark at La Mer. Though I haven’t visited that waterpark myself – yet – it is located in my new favorite area, and it is about half the prices of the other two water parks (probably as crowded). Get the best price for the Laguna Waterpark at La Mer.

EXPLORE DUBAI VIA HOP-ON AND HOP-OFF

The best way to get around in Dubai is to hop on in one of the sightseeing buses and discover many areas by bus – with great stops along the way.

There are actually two operators – either City Sightseeing or Big Bus. Both offer almost identical, but there are some differences in the extras, lengths, and minor differences in the routes.

Find out about prices for the Dubai Big Bus tour – and compare prices and offers for City Sightseeing Dubai.

MAKE A TRIP TO MUSANDAM / OMAN

Explore the neighboring country of the USA and make a day trip to Oman.

On my fourth trip, I finally managed to make a day trip to Oman. It is quite a long drive, but Dubai is still a good base for day trips to Oman’s northern parts.

If you feel like escaping the hustle and bustle of crazy Dubai, then head to Oman. Click here to find out about the best prices for a day trip to Oman.

HEAD TO ABU DHABI

Visit Abu Dhabi. If you do not plan to stay overnight in Abu Dhabi, you should make a day trip to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.Day trip from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, best recommendation for DubaiI highly recommended a day trip to the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, and see, among others, the stunning Grand Mosque, stroll along the Corniche. Click here to find out what else to do in Abu Dhabi.

To get there by car takes about 1 hour and there are also buses and guided tours that get you to Abu Dhabi. Check out prices for an organized day trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai.

GET LOST AT THE CHAMBERS

Visit the Lost Chambers at the 5* hotel Atlantis – The Palm and find out about the Atlantic myth and marine life – I not only recommended escaping the heat in summer. You might have seen images on Instagram already – there is not that much to do, and it is a bit lame, but this giant aquarium is probably a fun thing to do as a family. Check Prices for visiting the Lost Chambers.

GET A DAY PASS FOR JUMEIRAH PALM HOTELS

If you do not stay at one of the hotels on the Palm, get a “day ticket for beach access on the Palm” (the beach at Dubai Palm is my favorite in Dubai, but since it is private, this is an easy and legit way to get access).

DO A BIKE TOUR

Rent a bike (at a rental station on the Palm) and explore Palm Jumeirah this way. The Palm is the best place to ride, and it is a fun experience. You can rent a bike from a station – you just need a mobile with you and a credit card – it is one of the best places to ride (and easiest, since the streets are new, which makes cycling easy).

STROLL MADINAT JUMEIRAH

Stroll Madinat Jumeirah, which is one of the most beautiful places in Dubai.What to do in Dubai on a layoverThough it is extremely modern, it is a recreation of ancient Arabia, and it is also home to some fantastic hotels. You can also dine there, do an abra ride, shop in the souks or just get lost there. From there you´ll also have beautiful views of Burj Al-Arab.

BOOK A PRIVATE YACHT CRUISE

Okay, if you want to splurge, then hire a private yacht. Dubai is the city of the rich – so a private yacht cruise sounds pretty standard in Dubai. Check out Rates for Your Private Yacht Tour in Dubai Here

DINE AT AN UNDERWATER RESTAURANT

Dine in a special restaurant. Dubai has several underwater restaurants, so why not dine in an extraordinary atmosphere? I admit that it is still on my own bucket list – but if you have the perfect companion with you, I cannot imagine anything more romantic. Book a Dinner in an Underwater Restaurant

SEE A SHOW AT WAFI WALL

See a light show for free. This Egypt-inspired Wafi Mall also has a free light show every evening, which is worth watching. Though Wafi Mall might not be on your two-day Dubai itinerary, it is a fun place to see in Dubai if you are staying longer.

GO SAND BOARDING

Do exercise and go sandboarding. Skateboarding can be done anywhere – sandboarding in Dubai is more exclusive. If you love snowboarding, you will love this. I sucked at it – but well, sports, other than walking/hiking/dancing, are not so much my strong points, but it was a fun and cool Dubai experience. Check out Rates for Sand Boarding in Dubai

VISIT DUBAI AQUARIUM AND UNDERWATER ZOO

Visit Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo, one of the biggest indoor aquariums in the world. It is located in the Dubai Mall, and you can see a part of it for free when strolling on the ground floor of the biggest mall in the world. If you want to see more, get a ticket and discover marine life.

To be honest, I have visited twice so far. Both times, it was included in my hop-on and hop-off tickets. I personally do not think it is worth almost $40 (no discount for kids above 3 years), but the reviews are good, and if you into marine life, this might be a fun activity. Check out Rates for a “Dubai Aquarium” Ticket Here

SEE DUBAI FROM THE FRAME

See Dubai from a different angle and visit the Frame. If you like to see Dubai from above, then head to Dubai Frame. This cool golden frame opened in January 2018, and you get an amazing view from the skyline of Dubai, but you can also walk on the glass floor and see 100 meters down. Attractions in DubaiIf you visit after sunset, is it beautifully illuminated. However, I recommend visiting in the daytime. Check out city tours, including a trip to The Frame.

STOP AT DUBAI GLOW GARDEN

Stop at Glow Garden. A perfect Instagram location is the Dubai Garden Glow – a garden with beautifully arranged lights. It is not a place to spend hours at. But if you have some free time in the evening, go and visit this place in Dubai.

I only passed it in the evening – when I was in my taxi, and I always have wanted to come back but never made it. Seeing dinosaurs at Dubai Garden Glow makes me believe this is a great thing to do with kids.

SPEND TIME AT CITY WALK

Shop and chill at City Walk. There are so many new areas in Dubai that you might not be able to visit all, but add City Walk to your itinerary as it is one of the best things to do in Dubai for free. Whether you visit with kids (they surely will love it with all the activities they offer for younger tourists) or as an adult.

City Walk in Dubai with Arzo Travels-4It is an interesting place to stroll along – especially in the evening when all the stores and places get illuminated, and you have a lovely view of Burj Khalifa. You will even find some street art there, and you have plenty of options to dine here, too.

Enjoy Your Trip

Enjoy your time in Dubai.

Though I could probably add many more things, these are my 50 favorite things to do.

DUBAI TRAVEL TIPS

Before talking about the best things to do in Dubai, here are some – quick – travel tips. For more detailed information, just click on my Dubai travel guide.

  • Best time to visit: Between late October to the end of March (the weather is lovely around that time of the year, it is not too hot). During this time, you will do most of the best things to do in Dubai (as some activities in Dubai are also closed in the summer months)
  • What to wear: You don’t have to cover up – as a female you can wear shorts and tops but keep in mind, it is still a conservative city, so don’t overdo it. Check out my What to Wear post for more info.
  • How to get around: By public transportation, taxi, and Uber. I never rented a car in Dubai as driving seems very stressful if you aren’t used to crazy driving. Also, guided tours can be great if transportation is included.
  • Where to stay: Ideally, in Dubai Downtown or Marina. If you are looking for beach access, check out accommodations on the Palm or at JBR. Here is my full “Dubai – where to stay” guide.
  • Alcohol is allowed – but only in certain restaurants and hotels.
  • Booking Tours When I book tours, I normally use GetYourGuide or Viator to visit any Dubai attraction. Both are great websites and absolutely trustworthy. Many of the links I added will lead you to one of the two websites. GetYourGuide is my personal favorite because of their generous cancellation policy (normally, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour and get a full refund – especially in times like these – with all the uncertainty, it is a lifesaver) and though many of the Dubai activities mentioned here are free, for some of the best things to do in Dubai you need to book in advance.

PIN ME FOR LATER – FUN DUBAI ACTIVITIES FOR ALL AGES & BUDGETS

best things to do in Dubai, where to go and what to do in Dubai, UAE, PinConclusion: Things to See and Do in Dubai

As you can see, it is not only about malls and skyscrapers. Dubai offers so many activities for people of all ages and fitness levels. And I hope that this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Dubai – whether you are on a budget or want to splurge. I hope you have found out what to do in Dubai.

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

Hidden Gems in Switzerland

10 unknown places in Switzerland with no tourists

Hidden Gems in Switzerland – Most Underrated Places to Visit

Do you want to explore some hidden gems in Switzerland? Explore places that are not well-known?

If you are interested in traveling, you probably know about Lucerne, Geneva, Zermatt, Zurich, and Interlaken. These are all places that are well-known, popular, and often crowded (understandably, as they are gorgeous).

It is no secret that Switzerland has some of the incredible scenery in the world – the Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, and other famous places are on the bucket lists of many. 

But there are equally stunning places but underrated, and these are the ones I want to introduce to you.

I saw places like the Blausee, Montreux, and even Oeschinensee on a list of hidden gems – and while I am sure that even travel addicts might not have heard of those places, I still think that they are too popular to be on this list.

I tried only to name places that haven’t become Insta-famous (yet) or aren’t named in hundreds of other publications. So, it was hard to focus on ten, but here they are – stunning places for your off-the-beaten-path Switzerland itinerary.

Here are my top 10 recommendations for not crowded, lesser-known places in Switzerland that are worth visiting!

From lakes to mountain peaks, to villages and towns and mountain passes,  here are some great places to visit in Switzerland that you probably haven’t heard of before.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links which 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.

Unique Places in Switzerland That Are not Overrun by Tourists.

Lago di Saoseo in Graubünden

Switzerland. So tiny, yet with so many stunning lakes. Of course, Lake Brienz and Lake Oeschinen are well-known for a reason, but this lake is mind-blowing, and it is no exaggeration if you’ve read that it is the prettiest mountain lake in Switzerland. Lago di Saosea - underrated places in Switzerland

Valposchiavo Lake SaoseoThe lake color is unique, as is the backdrop with larches and mountains. I couldn’t believe why I did not encounter way more people there.

Getting there isn’t as easy as getting to some other lakes, which can be the only explanation why it is still a hidden gem. 

Whether you enjoy hiking or not, it is worth the effort. You will be rewarded with seeing one of the prettiest lakes in Europe (that isn’t totally overrun).

Click here for my detailed post on visiting Lake Saoseo.

I have a little video for you with some of the highlights of this pretty region. Click on play (and in case you will see an ad, wait patiently 🙂 to watch the video of Valposchiavo!

Click here to find your accommodation in Valposchiavo. I recommend staying in Poschiavo and then visit Lago Saoseo.

Sigriswil in Bernese Oberland

Sigriswil is another underrated attraction in the area of Interlaken, and as mentioned above, no place is a secret in Interlaken. Sigriswil, however, somehow is. Interlaken best activitiesIf you finished visiting the St. Beatus Caves (which should be on any Interlaken itinerary), head to Sigriswil on the north shores of stunning Lake Thun. You have beautiful views over the lake and the Alps. The best views are probably from the Sigriswil suspension bridge. 

The bridge over the Gummi Gorge is more than 340 meters long and connects the villages of Aeschlen and Sigriswil. This is perfect for those who would like to hike from Oberhofen to Sigriswil.

The only downside: To pass the bridge, you have to pay around 8€ (some discounts are available with a Thun or Interlaken Guest Card). Good news: This ticket is also valid for the next hidden gem that I fell in love with, Sigriswil.Grabenmühle best place to visit

Grabenmühle: While I am still unsure how to classify this place, I know that hardly anyone knows about it. Not even locals. It is a beautiful place that sends you back in time (where you can also prospect for gold), and the pretty flower pots and the view of stunning Niesen Mountain make this one of my favorite underrated places in Switzerland.

If you want to stay in this beautiful area (highly recommended), check out hotel rates for Sigriswil.

Flims in Graubünden

Another hidden gem in Switzerland (and Graubünden) is Flims, home to several beautiful tourist attractions – including two lakes and a gorge.Caumasee - lift down

Rhine Gorge from above - Can you spot the train from there?

How to get to Crestasee

You can get to Flims as a day trip from Zurich or stay there for a day or longer. While doing an easy downhill hike, you will stumble upon Lake Cauma first, and later you have a great view of the Rhine Gorge from the viewing platform II Spir Conn. Near the end of your hike, you will pass another beautiful mountain lake, Lake Cresta.

Bring your blanket and some snacks because you have plenty of options for where to rest along the way.

How can it be that this gorgeous place is still a hidden gem and mostly only visited by Swiss? I don’t know.

Here is a detailed post about hiking and seeing these three places.

You have a couple of hotels in Flims – Click here to find your accommodation in Flims – if you want to stay in Zurich, check out my accommodation guide for Zurich.

Gelmersee in Bernese Oberland

Okay, the area around Interlaken is anything but a well-kept secret, but though this artificial lake is not a real gem, it somehow still is.Where to go in Switzerland

Gelmsersee in SwitzerlandWhen you start your Gelmsersee hike via the Gelmerbahn (funicular), you might see crowds of Asian tourists and wonder how I added it to the list of “underrated places.”

BUT, being politically incorrect, “Asians don’t hike.” Whether you have Chinese, Indian, or Arabic tourists standing in line for the funicular that brings them to the lake, Asian visitors hardly hike. My Asian genes made me hesitant to hike for the longest time, too.

But once you get in the hiking mood and pass the visitors at the funicular station, you have the lake almost all to yourself.

The hike isn’t easy, but it’s doable, and having such a stunning place for your own is worth the effort. For more info, check out my detailed post on Gelmersee.

Want to see more places to visit in Interlaken? Here are my favorite Interlaken activities.

Check out accommodation in Guttanen.

Susten Pass in Bernese Oberland / Uri

If you are road tripping Switzerland, you will most likely pass some mountain passes. If not, you should check your itinerary and add a few mountain passes to your list.Sustenpass in Siwtzerland-2

Best underrated activities in Switzerland-2While I cannot name one particular pass as my very favorite, driving the Susten Pass is indeed an incredible experience. The 45 km-long pass connects Innertkirchen and Wassen and has made it on the list because it isn’t a typical tourist attraction.

While it can be busier in the summer months (it is only open for a few months in summer), it is still a unique experience. Try to enjoy a break around sunset at Steinsee (a little artificial lake at Susten Pass). It is an incredible place to watch the sun go down.

Aarau in Aargau

Since I don’t live in Switzerland, I hadn’t heard of it much – and probably you haven’t heard of it either.Aarau insider thing to do in Switzerland-2

However, this little town and capital of the Aargau canton is a lovely place to visit – great for those who want to escape the crowds but still want to have a Swiss experience (including some castles).

The town has some imposing buildings with beautifully painted eaves (Dachhimmel). Aarau is undoubtedly not a place where you have to fight your way through tourist crowds. The town itself is small, but the buildings are perfect for architecture and art lovers. After strolling the old town, head to Alpenzeiger for a nice view.  

The area is also home to some lovely castles, like Lenzburg and Wildegg Castle.

I stayed at an Airbnb (which was only okay), so here are the hotels and the rates for your stay in Aarau.

Solothurn in Solothurn

A beautiful town located on a beautiful river – Solothurn provides just that.Switzerland tourist places

Solothrun hidden gem in SwitzerlandIf you are looking for a lovely town that is centrally located (between Lucerne and Zurich) and that has old and beautiful baroque and renaissance buildings, plus a relaxed environment, then add Solothurn to your list.

Stroll the car-free old town and admire buildings like the St. Urs Cathedral, and count the churches, water fountains, and towers (okay, spoiler alert: there are eleven of each).

On a warm day, the best way to top it off is to get a drink (or ice cream, I suggest ice cream) and have it at the Aare River.  

Are you planning to stay overnight in Solothurn? Then check out rates for accommodation in Solothurn.

READ MORE: Things to know before visiting Switzerland for the first time.

Weggis in Lucerne

Tourists love Lucerne and, yes, it is pretty. But did you know that the best place to swim in Lake Lucerne is in Weggis, at the shores of Rigi Mountain and Lake Lucerne which makes it a great day trip from Lucerne? Weggis_ hidden gemWeggis is a luxury resort that can be reached via car, boat, or public transportation, and it is home to a luxurious hotel and a lido.

But for the ultimate hidden experience, pass the lido and keep walking towards the end of Hertensteinstrasse, and you will find a perfect spot to relax and swim. There are even toilets, benches and if the water level is high, it is very easy to get into the water :).

In all the years I have been there, it was never crowded or busy. Not even in the summer months.

No entry fees, no tourists, just some locals, and a great place to chill while looking at the Alps. Is there a better place to relax in Lucerne than here? 

Weggis is known for some of the very luxurious places to stay – click here to find out more about hotels in Weggis.

If you want to stay near Lucerne, you can check out my accommodation guide for Lucerne (hotel tips for all budgets).

Appenzell in Appenzell Innerrhoden

If you plan to visit the world-famous mountain guest house, the Aescher, you should make sure to add this small town center to your itinerary, too – Appenzell. While it may have gotten busier recently, it is still not overrun with tourists.

Things to do in Appenzell Town

Appenzell, the most colorful town in SwitzerlandThe colorful and unique houses with their exciting architecture make great Instagram pictures. So seriously, this is great social media material (of course, I am a bit dramatic, but it is adorable).

The German-speaking town of Appenzell is an excellent base from which to hop on a train and get to Wasserauen Station, where the hike to the Aescher starts. Make sure to plan in an hour or two to stroll the streets, marvel at the colorful buildings, and have a drink or two before you start your hike.

Appenzell has some cute hotels – check out rates for hotels in Appenzell here.

Sassal Masone in Graubünden

This! This place is probably the most underrated place in all of Switzerland.Valposchiavo Palü Lake in heart shape

Sassel Mason in ValposchiavoThough the view is probably one of the most unique ones in the country, looking at the Palü Glacier and Palü Lake, it is somehow unknown outside Switzerland. This is a perfect place for those who like easy hikes without compromising on the views.

To enjoy the view, you could get here by train (one of the most scenic train rides around, just saying), get out at the highest regular train station, and then do an easy one-hour hike. It is so secret that it hasn’t even been posted about that much on Instagram. So, how much more of a hidden gem could it be?

Read a detailed post on travel tips for Valposchiavo 

READ MORE: How to spend seven days in Switzerland

Places not on the List

Some places haven’t made it on my list – of course, I don’t claim to have seen all of Switzerland (yet) – but some just weren’t unique or impressive enough.

Creux de Van hasn’t made it onto my list. While it is true that the place isn’t overrun, I openly admit that I wasn’t too impressed. Sure, if that place had been in my hometown Bremen, I would have been blown away! But for Switzerland, my standard is high. Please don’t ask me why, but I still wanted to mention it here as I read several times that it is an absolutely perfect Swiss hidden gem.

I also did not add places like Stein am Rhein (even though it is the most beautiful town in Switzerland) just because I don’t think it is a real hidden gem – it seemed it is not as famous as it deserves, but it still is known amongst Switzerland visitors. And neither is Blausee or Oeschinensee a hidden gem because they are nowadays well-known outside of Switzerland. 

I hope this post has inspired you to visit less famous and lesser-known – but no less stunning – places in Switzerland.

Btw: As you might know, I am totally in love with the Bernese Oberland region – so here are my favorite day trips from Interlaken.Safe Travels, Arzo

Best Things to Do in Iceland in Winter

WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND – BEST WINTER ACTIVITIES

If you are planning your Iceland winter trip, you might be wondering about what to do in Iceland. This post will help you to find out about the best things to do in Iceland in winter, and you’ll also find some travel tips.

I visited Iceland in December/January and again in summer! I think it is a great destination to visit throughout the year. However, I probably liked it better in winter (I am not 100% sure yet).

While I was super active in Iceland – and did quite a lot in 12 days – I did not get to see everything. Winter days are just very, very short in Iceland. With just a few hours of daylight in the cold months, seeing a lot is not possible. So I have asked other travel bloggers to name their favorite thing to do in Iceland in winter.

Beautiful Iceland scenery winter

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.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR ICELAND IN THE WINTER

I have written a very detailed post on visiting Iceland in December – where I speak about the very mixed feelings I have about the visit during the time.

It is magical and amazing – but there was some ugly (but not literally).

However, if you visit in the winter months, check out the following winter travel tips for Iceland.

WEATHER IN WINTER IN ICELAND

The winter season is quite long – and lasts from November until March.

Daylight in these months is…rare. So, short days mean less amount of time to do proper sightseeing in December (so keep that in mind when planning your itinerary).

  • In December sun rises after 11 am, and the sun sets at around 3:30 pm…Yes, it is that bad.

Surprisingly though, the winter in Iceland is pretty mild and only a bit colder than in Western European countries. At least this can be said for the southern part of the country. It does get colder in the North of Iceland. Most visitors focus on the south and west of Iceland, so that really does not affect many.

  • Temperatures in Iceland´s capital, Reykjavík, ranges from about -10 °C – almost 10 °C. The average temperature is just above freezing which is surely bearable if you dress appropriately.

However, when I visited Iceland in December/January, I was surprised to see how often it actually rains. Though I was told that the amount of rain is not typical, be prepared for a lot of rain – especially in Reykjavik.

WHAT TO PACK FOR ICELAND IN THE WINTER

Though Iceland in the winter is not as bad as many think, it is still important to dress warmly. Or better to dress in layers.

  • A warm and 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. 
  • 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 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 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 Iceland 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 Iceland. You have to wear them on a cold day to believe what a wonderful invention it is!
  • 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 in Iceland. I thought I could make it without them, but I was wrong. If you want to walk and see places from different angles, you will need crampons. They were a lifesaver, and while I fell many times on my first day, I didn’t fall after I got them (and only got to see other people falling) because they help walking on ice.
  • For a full guide on what to wear in Iceland, check out this post.

HOW TO GET AROUND IN ICELAND IN WINTER

Public transportation in Iceland is not amazing, in Reykjavik you can use it to get to some main attractions but you basically have two options: driving yourself or booking guided tours. My advice: opt for the second one in winter.

While road tripping in summer is surely an amazing way to discover the country, driving in winter is challenging.

I did a lot of research and decided against driving myself. If you are not an experienced winter driver (plus mountain driver), think twice! In Reykjavik and the southern coast of Iceland driving is quite “easy” and the roads are cleared! The northern coast of Iceland is, however, a bit more problematic with extremely heavy snowfalls and roads that do not get cleared.

Booking tours might be the best option. While I road-tripped Iceland in summer, I only booked tours for my winter trip.

WHERE TO STAY IN WINTER

Most activities listed here are in or near Reykjavik. You can visit most places here if you do day tours from Reykjavik. So, I recommend making Reykjavik your base and then head to most destinations.

However, you can also do a road trip and stay overnight in other areas. 

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND IN THE WINTER MONTHS

So, here are the best activities for the winter months in Iceland. 

Chill at The Blue Lagoon

Visiting the Blue Lagoon is one of the best places to visit in Iceland during the winter. So, do not be surprised that it can be busy.

  • I highly recommend booking your experience in advance.
Top Things to do in Iceland The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in winter
@Shutterstock

The Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to visit at the end of your trip – relax in the steamy hot mineral water after a few cold days. There’s no better way to enjoy a break from the cold temperatures in winter while being warm.

There is a swim-up bar – so grab your drink and wander to the outer edges of the Lagoon.

Give yourself plenty of time – I spent about 3 or 4 hours there, but if I had company, I probably would have stayed all day.

The Blue Lagoon is only about 30 minutes from the airport, so it makes sense to visit after you land or on your last day before heading to the airport. Some buses will take to from the airport to the lagoon. Check out the latest bus going to the airport because they do not run late.

Or rent a car and drive yourself. This part is quite easy to drive – even in the winter. 

See Iceland’s Vik Beach

Recommended by Talek from Travels with Talek

Iceland’s Vik Beach is otherworldly and mysterious in the winter – and one of the best tourist attractions in Iceland to see in the winter months.

@Shutterstock

The village it is named for is the southernmost town in Iceland, about a 110 miles (180 km) drive southeast of the capital city Reykjavik. 

Even though it has a small population, Vik is the biggest town in the area and an important stopping point mostly due to its amazing beach with its black sand.

The sand is black is due to the volcanic eruptions that have deposited lava and ash over the centuries.  In the winter, the black sand and the white ice make for an eerie combination. Are you on earth or a distant moon in a frigid and forbidding galaxy?

The otherworldly aspect of Vik Beach in winter is exacerbated by the ocean’s reputation for rushing up on the shore, grabbing unsuspecting visitors, and dragging them into the cold waters of the North Atlantic. The nearby basalt rock formations and caves complete the picture of a ghostly yet beautiful landscape.

  • The easiest and most efficient way to get there is by car or tour bus from Reykjavik. While driving in some parts of Iceland can be difficult in winter, the southern part is quite accessible.

Go Horseback Riding in Iceland

Recommended by Natascha and Cameron from The World Pursuit

Horseback riding in Iceland in winter is an incredible experience.

Places to visit in Iceland
@shutterstock

While you’re getting around Iceland, you will more than likely see hundreds and hundreds of horses everywhere you look. These Icelandic horses are a special breed that can only be found in Iceland. What’s so special about them?

Well, for one, they are much smaller than a regular horse, and many people confuse them for ponies – they are not.

They also have a very distinctive gait style called the Tolt. The Tolt is a natural and fluid gait that is decently fast, and one foot is always touching the ground.

You can find horse riding stables all over the county – so in the wild Icelandic countryside near Vamahlid. For two whole hours, you can gallivanter through meadows, rivers, and even near some glaciers, which is just magical.

Of course, you can do this activity in the summer. But in the winter you start to feel like you are really in ICE-Land and it is much less crowded!

Visit the Mývatn Nature Baths

Recommended by Siddharth and Shruti from Siddharth and Shruti

One of Iceland’s best experiences in winter is to get into a geothermal pool at the end of the day. We have learned about Blue Lagoon already but here is another amazing pool to check out: Mývatn Nature Baths. 

Iceland places to visit, Myvatn Naturebaths, a geothermal hot lagoon in Northeast Iceland. Places to see in Iceland
@shutterstock

After a cold day, nothing feels as amazing as it felt to dip into the toasty 36 – 40°C pools. There are two pools here. One is warmer than the other.

There is also a smaller hot tub nearby for that extra warm water that may make you want to stay there for hours. The Mývatn Nature Baths are located in a geothermal area east of the Grjotagja (Game of Thrones fans will probably know this cave thanks to Jon and Ygritte) and west of Namafjall.

It is marked correctly on Google Maps, so reaching there is a breeze. There is parking within the premises. There are lockers for your valuables, and there is also a small restaurant if you feel peckish after your soak.

Mývatn Nature Baths was a fantastic experience, and if you are super lucky, you might even catch the Northern Lights while you are there in the winter!

See the Northern Lights

Recommended by Hélène from Flight to Somewhere

Iceland is a great place to go hunting for the Northern Lights between September and mid-April.

Top 10 things to do in Iceland - Mountain Kirkjufell and Aurora in Iceland
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There are a few different ways you can do that – bus or boat tour, staying in a rural hotel with the option of a Northern Lights wake-up call, or renting a car and going out on your own.

One of the key prerequisites needed for a display of Northern Lights is clear dark skies, which means that the tours take place at night and are weather-dependent – they will get canceled if the cloud cover is too thick.

You will also have to get away from the populated areas due to the light pollution they produce.

Dress warm – standing outside in the snow at night got very cold very quickly! If you are planning to explore on your own, make sure to check the Aurora forecast from Iceland’s Met Office before you set out, which will show you the cloud cover and the activity level.

If you want to book one of the tours, make it at the beginning of your trip! You can rebook if you don’t see anything – most of the tours allow you to go again for free in that case.

TIP:: Do not plan anything for very early the next day as you are unlikely to get back to the hotel before midnight.

Experience ATV at the Black Lava Sand Beach

Recommended by Laura from The Down Lo

Called the “Land of Fire and Ice” for its glaciers and geysers, one example of Iceland’s fiery landscape is the black lava sand beaches.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is the most famous and one of the “Game of Thrones” filming locations. Located off Ring Road in South Iceland near the town of Vik, it’s about 110 miles from Reykjavik.

Not a beach to feel the sand between your toes. The ground is quite rocky, made of hardened basalt lava. In fact, the landscape looks more like the moon than paradise.

Giant angular columns called Gardar guard the cliffside like jagged walls, reminiscent of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and there are two notable freestanding rock monoliths called Reynisdrangar that jut out from the sea.

Legend has it. They’re trolls that got caught in daylight and were turned to stone.

You can visit the area on your own, but one of the best ways to explore is on an ATV-Quad safari. It’s a heart-pumping, bumpy ride that’s quite wild at times but definitely an unforgettable, otherworldly adventure.

One of my extreme outdoor challenges as part of a weeklong tour to become a Certified Viking is truly a unique thing to do in Iceland.

CONCLUSION: WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND IN WINTER

Iceland surely is a winter wonderland – and yet so different than other winter wonderlands like Switzerland.

Okay, guys, these are the top things to do in Iceland in winter. I hope you have found enough reasons to add Iceland to your bucket list and got a good idea of what to do in Iceland and the best places to visit.Safe Travels, Arzo

 

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