Do it yourself 14-day tour "Best of the Swiss Alps"
This extremely varied tour includes the famous Jungfrau, cogwheel train rides, cable cars, the Rhine Falls, the city of Zurich and much more: the highlights of Switzerland in 14 days. You will not change base every day. That allows you to spend more time in the Swiss Alps and less on checking in and out of hotels and traveling.
The itinerary of this tour can be booked as displayed here (see the shopping list), or you can extend it by booking extra nights in Zurich, Interlaken, Brig or Lucerne.
This exact tour can only be done in summer (late June to mid October), as that's when all activities and suggested routes are available. Be sure to check the timetables for the various cable cars and other transport for your specific travel dates.
Shopping list for this tour
Please note that this is a sample itinerary. You can make any changes you like, to adapt the tour to your preferences and available time. The list below is what you would need to book if you choose to make the tour as described.
15-day Swiss Travel Pass. This includes all transfers Zurich to Interlaken, Interlaken to Brig, Brig to Lucerne and Lucerne to Zurich. Buses, trains and boats you'll need during the day trips are included as well. There are discounts on the mountain trips such as the Jungfraujoch and Gornergrat. Note that the suggested tour only requires 14 travel days, so the pass allows to easily extend your stay by one night. Of course you can pick another rail pass if you want to extend the tour even further. A good town to stay longer is Interlaken, as more days increase your chances of having good weather for your Jungfraujoch trip. The same can be said for Brig as the visits to the glacier and the Gornergrat require clear weather as well;
Hotel in Interlaken (4 nights);
Hotel in Brig (3 nights);
Hotel in Lucerne (4 nights);
Hotel in Zurich (2 nights).
Day 1: Zurich to Bern & Interlaken
First you'll take a train to the national capital of Bern, to explore the beautiful historical town center. Then you continue to Interlaken to check-in to your hotel. The total traveling time is about 2 hours.
The day trips for the next days are weather dependent, so it's good to have some alternatives in case of rain:
- The Trümmelbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen
- The Glacier Gorge near Grindelwald
- Shopping in Interlaken
- Great for kids: JungfrauPark Interlaken
Day 2: Mürren & Schilthorn
Today you'll travel to Lauterbrunnen by train, and change to the bus to Stechelberg. There you take the cable car up to the Schilthorn. After enjoying the view and possibly the restaurant, take the cable car down to Mürren and walk across town and further to Grütschalp. This is an easy stroll with beautiful views. The cable car takes you down to Lauterbrunnen, where the train to Interlaken will depart. Today's program will take about 6 hours.
Day 3: Jungfraujoch
From Interlaken Ost, you will take the spectacular railway to Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg, and finally reach the highest rail station in Europe: the Jungfraujoch. After enjoying the view and the snow up here, you descend back to Kleine Scheidegg. Then you'll take another route down to Grindelwald, passing the impressive Eiger North face. From Grindelwald you'll take a direct train to Interlaken Ost. This day trip takes about 6 hours.
It is not worth going up the Jungfraujoch if it's covered in clouds. If necessary, you can consider to travel only as far as Kleine Scheidegg. You'll skip the highest (and most expensive) section of today's route, which is most likely to be covered in clouds, but you can still enjoy the rest of the route.
Day 4: The Lauterbrunnen valley
On day 2 you've seen the Lauterbrunnen valley from the cliff of Mürren. On day 3 you've seen it on your way up to the Jungfrau. Today you will explore the valley on foot. This hike can be as long or as short as you want. You can start in Wilderswil (5 minutes from Interlaken by train), and walk via Zweilütschinen and Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg and beyond. The trails are not difficult. Trains back to Interlaken depart from Zweilütschinen and Lauterbrunnen. From Stechelberg there's a bus back to Lauterbrunnen. The highlight of the route is the Staubbach Fall, just past the village of Lauterbrunnen.
Day 5: Interlaken to Brig
You will leave the Northern Alps today and move to the South of Switzerland. Our suggestion is to travel to Spiez by any train you find convenient. Then switch to the local train that stops in Kandersteg, Goppenstein and finally in Brig. This is a more scenic route than the long tunnel that quicker InterCity trains use. This trip takes about 2 hours, so you have plenty of time left to spend in Interlaken in the morning or Brig in the afternoon.
Day 6: Aletsch Glacier
First you travel by train to Betten, where you will change to the cable car to Bettmeralp. Finally, a gondola will take you further up to the Bettmerhorn. Here you can enjoy a great view of the glacier, and it's the starting point for the hike to Fiescheralp. From there you'll take the cable car down to Fiesch and a train back to Brig. This day trip will take up the whole day.
Day 7: Zermatt & Gornergrat
Zermatt and its famous Matterhorn can't be skipped if you want to see Switzerland's highlights. You first travel to Zermatt by train (about 1h30). There you'll change to the cogwheel train to the Gornergrat (about half an hour), for one of the best views you can get of the Matterhorn and its surroundings. Afterwards you can explore Zermatt before you return to Brig.
Day 8: Grimsel Pass & Golden Pass
From Brig you'll take a train to Oberwald, in the outmost Eastern corner of the canton of Valais. There you board a post car that takes you across the Grimsel Pass to Meiringen. You may want to have a lunch break here before continuing on to Lucerne. You'll board the train in Meiringen to enjoy the ride on the Northern section of the Golden Pass route to Lucerne. Today comprises approximately 6 hours of traveling.
Day 9: Mount Rigi & boat trip
You'll travel by train to Arth-Goldau, and switch to the cogwheel train up the Rigi. From there, another train goes down to Vitznau. Optionally you can walk part of this route to explore the car free countryside even better. The section from Rigi Staffel to Rigi Kaltbad is a short and easy hike.
Vitznau is a beautifully located village long Lake Lucerne. A relaxed boat trip is the perfect way to reach Lucerne again. Today's trip takes about 5 hours.
Day 10: Lucerne
Lucerne is a beautiful town with plenty of activities. Today can be used to explore the town and its museums. Ideas for today can be found here.
Day 11: Pilatus Golden Round Trip
Today has been reserved for the so-called "Pilatus Golden Round Trip". First, a boat takes you to Alpnachstad, where you change to the spectacular cogwheel train to the summit of the Pilatus. You'll descend by cable car, and finally a short bus trip brings you back into the center of Lucerne. This trip will take just over half a day of time.
Day 12: Lucerne or Zurich
Zurich is less than an hour from Lucerne by train. If you liked Lucerne, you can spend most of the day in Lucerne and travel to Zurich in the early evening. You can also use today to explore Zurich.
Day 13: Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls are within easy reach from Zurich (an hour by train), and not to be missed. This day trip takes about half a day. You can extend it by exploring the town of Schaffhausen or do a two hours boat cruise to Stein am Rhein and take the train back to Zurich from there. This detour would add another 4 hours to your trip.
Day 14: Zurich
Zurich has a lot to offer. A whole day won't be enough but it's a good start.