We (70+ year old parents, 20 yo daughter and myself) just returned from 8 days in Switzerland and I wanted to share our experiences here because I found so much good information here when planning our trip. We stayed in Air BnBs, except for night before flight, and used our 8 day Swiss Travel Pass for transportation purposes. I'll include some general info that might be helpful for some as well as our itinerary.
Grocery stores are wonderful places to find quick meals! The larger Migros and Coops are amazing for finding anything you want, but the smaller Coops we ran across in the train stations and villages were great sources for fresh breads and pastries, salads to go, and even hot meals to go like chicken or pasta. Togo options did vary by location, but we were always able to find something fresh and tasty.
The Swiss Travel Pass was easy to use and only on two accounts did we purchase any tickets beyond that. We used it for boat, bus and train. The transportation system is amazingly efficient and easy to use!
Many restaurants close in the afternoon and reopen around 5:30 so keep this in mind when heading out for the day. Also know that on the mountain excursions there is always a restaurant or snack bar on top if you want sometime or even a drink on the beautiful patios before you head out.
Weather - use a local app such as meteoblue to get accurate weather and don't let rain deter you. Be flexible with your plans - if you get a blue sky day use it to head up in the alps for amazing views!
Lauterbrunnen - This location proved to be ideal for us because we were staying it the area for 5 nights. It allowed us a central location for heading out each day - one day in the direction on Wengen, one day to Murren, one to Interlaken and another to Lake Geneva, while also allowing us to explore area delights such as Trümmelbach Falls and Staubbach Falls. Lauterbrunnen is definitly small but we loved it! The bus runs the length of town and beyond so if we didn't want to walk to our Air BnB we could hop on it. We found what we needed at the small Coop and checked out the couple of shops that existed. Our favorite restaurant was Restaurant Weidstübli. It is located in a campground that was just across a covered bridge from our Air BnB. We ate there multiple times and enjoyed it every time! They are closed on Monday and Tuesday but have a wonderful Sri Lankan food truck then. Airtime was also a great cafe and Silberhorn Restaurant & Pizzeria had great food as well - the waitress here was helpful in making recommendations.
Lucerne - Beautiful old city with a compact tourist area. Highly recommend staying in new town across from old town to give you great views and easy access to transportation and many of the things you will want to see.
Day 1 - arrived in Zurich mid morning and transferred to Lauterbrunnen for the next five nights. Before departing by train we picked up a travelers wifi unit and grabbed some lunch to enjoy on the train.
After picking up needed items and settling into our accommodations we took a walk up to Staubbach Falls.
Day 2 - Took the yellow and green train to Wengen. Explored town a bit (great bakery) and then took the cable car up to Männlichen (this was beyond our Swiss Travel Pass but WELL worth it). Two took the "Royal Ride" on top of the cable car and thought it was great. Once up we completed the Royal Walk. It is short, but it goes up. Take your time and enjoy the views on the way up! We then completed the hike down to Kleine Scheidegg in about 1 1/2 hours. Amazing scenery again and the sound of the cow bells ringing as walk is lovely. From Kleine Scheidegg we took the train to Grindelwald and had an excellent late lunch at Barrys Restaurant, Bar & Lounge before heading back to Lauterbrunnen via train.
Day 3 - We took the train to Interlaken and then the town of Brienz where we got on a boat to make our way back while enjoying Lake Brienz. It was a rainy day so going about it in this order timed out well with the rain. We got off at Giessbach Falls and spent time exploring the area, hiking and enjoying soup and drinks in the hotel bar before moving on to Iseltwald. Here we just made a quick stop to enjoy the promenade before getting back on the boat to enjoy the beauty of Lake Brienz.
Day 4 - We took the Golden Pass Line to Montreux. From here we walked the promenade to Chateau de Chillon. The beginning of the promenade had vendors and performers. After exploring Chillon we took a train up to Chexbres and then walked to paths through the vineyards down to Rivas. In Rivas we made a stop at the beach because my daughter wanted to swim in Lake Geneva. We then took the quicker train route back to Lauterbrunnen. This is a long day with lots of train time, but it checked off some boxes for things we wanted to do without requiring us to move locations.
Day 5 - Took a quick bus to Trümmelbach Falls to check out the 10 falls and then another quick bus to the cable car that takes you up to Murren and then went up the Schilthorn from there. The transportation beyond Murren was extra, but again well worth it. Definitely stop in Birg, even if you don't want to do the trill walk, although I would suggest it! We enjoyed soups (they had 4 to choose from and all were delicious and came with bread) at the rotating restaurant at Piz Gloria - very fun views. Then back down to Murren (loved this car free town and if only had a couple of nights in the area I would consider staying here). From Murren we took the hike toward Grütschalp. We hiked as far as Winteregg where we picked up fresh yogurt from a farm stand (they had self serve and a money jar if no one is there) and then decided to take the train the rest of the way down before getting on a cable car at Grutschalp to head back to Lauterbrunnen.
Day 6 - Transferred to Lucerne via the remaining part of the Golden Pass Line we had not yet ridden. We used the lockers at the train station for our luggage and set off to see some of the city. We jumped on a city bus "train" tour. It was just under an hour, available in multiple languages, and kept us out of a passing rain shower while getting us orientated to the city. After getting settled into our accommodations we headed back across to old town to get some dinner and drinks. The British pub served great fish and chips and we could enjoy a table on the water as the sun was setting.
Day 7 - Headed to to Mount Rigi via boat to Vitznau. From there we took the cogtrain to the very top. Again a nice area to stroll around, hike to top for incredible views of multiple lakes or enjoy lunch/drinks on the terrace. Lots of hiking options and ways to get down. We opted to ride the train to Arth-Goldau and then back to Lucerne. For dinner we enjoyed German food at Restaurant Rathaus Brauerei Luzern.
Day 8 - Checked out the lion monument, the wall and the two biggest churches. All beautiful! Transferred to a stay at the Hyatt Regency at the Airport for an early morning flight back to the US.