Ultimate 8 Day Switzerland Itinerary: See The Swiss Highlights In 8 Days
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Thanks to Switzerland’s excellent railway system, it is quite easy to explore as many Swiss places on your bucket list as you wish and, at the same time, stick to your budget. With the flexibility of its timetable, you can also adjust the itinerary on the way, depending on the circumstances. But as I suggested in my other Swiss articles, planning your Switzerland itinerary ahead is always a good idea.
If you are unsure where to start planning, let me inspire you with my 8-day Switzerland itinerary. This route is designed for you to see some of the most spectacular places in Switzerland and travel with the Swiss panoramic trains. It will help you to check Switzerland off on your travel list while seeing all the Swiss highlights.
Ready for the exciting Swiss journey? So here you have it; the 8-day Switzerland itinerary to finally convince you that travelling in Switzerland is much worth it and doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.
Overview Of Switzerland Itinerary For 8 Days:
Here is an overview of what you can expect from this Switzerland itinerary each day:
- DAY: Lugano & Bellinzona
- DAY: Lugano ⇒ Panoramic Train Ride Gotthard Express ⇒ Lucerne
- DAY: Lucerne ⇒ Cruise on Brienz Lake ⇒ Interlaken
- DAY: Jungfrau Region (Grindelwald/Lauterbrunnen/Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe)
- DAY: Interlaken ⇒ GoldenPass Panoramic Train ⇒ Montreux
- DAY: Montreux ⇒ Zermatt
- DAY: Zermatt ⇒ Glacier Express Panoramic Train ⇒ St. Moritz
- DAY: St Moritz ⇒ Engadin Valley ⇒ Zürich
How to Travel in Switzerland with this Switzerland itinerary
I believe that the best and most enjoyable way to travel in Switzerland is with the Swiss Travel Pass. Swiss Travel Pass is a rail pass you can buy for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days and travel through the entire country accordingly. With this pass, you can travel by any train, take buses, even boats, and public transportation in cities. Additionally, you have included 500 museums across Switzerland, 2 mountain excursions (Rigi mountain near Lucerne and Stanserhorn).
Use this Siwtzerland itinerary together with your Swiss Travel Pass Flex
I have designed this itinerary to travel exclusively with the Swiss Travel Pass Flex. That means you can travel without limits for 1 month in Switzerland using everything that is included (as I listed above) for the number of days you have chosen. For this Switzerland itinerary, I have chosen 8 days.
Note that this Swiss itinerary officially has 8 travel days because the Swiss Travel Pass Flex is valid for 8 days. Therefore, you can travel 8 days using trains, buses, and boats. But the advantage of this pass is that when you are not using any transportation on the day, the number of days on your Swiss pass will not decrease. That is why I suggest you stop in some cities and places and just enjoy the places, go hiking, without using the Swiss Travel Pass Flex. This way, you can extend your itinerary to 10 or more days. The only important thing is that you can be travelling using public transportation only for 8 days.
In the itinerary, I sometimes suggest you stay in a place and enjoy it for 1 more day without using the Swiss Travel Pass. This happens, e.g., in Lucerne, Montreux, and Zermatt.
Stop in some cities and places and just enjoy the places, go hiking, without using the Swiss Travel Pass Flex
If you want to learn more about Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Travel Pass Flex, read my article about Swiss Travel Pass with all the explanations. Book your Swiss Travel Pass Flex now, get this itinerary, and travel in unlimited Switzerland.
Get my Switzerland Packing List
Before we head to the Switzerland itinerary, I’ve prepared the ultimate Switzerland Packing list for you. I travelled Switzerland with 1 backpack and managed to fit everything inside. Especially, you need a certain type of clothes for mountain excursions. So get the list now and pack your backpack without overthinking.
You’ll get detailed descriptions of clothes and materials, best backpacks, and necessary things to pack for your Swiss itinerary. Personal photos of what I brought to my Swiss trip so you can pack according to my strategy:
Switzerland Itinerary 0. DAY: ARRIVE IN LUGANO
Our Swiss adventure starts in the region of Ticino, the southeast part of Switzerland. The first stop is the small town, Lugano. Arriving in Lugano, you still feel the Mediterranean atmosphere, where Lugano Lake reminds you of a sea. The local shops with hotels, markets, cafes, and promenades make you think you are on holiday somewhere in Italy. No wonder. This region is on the border with Italy, and locals even communicate in Italian, as it is one of Switzerland’s four official languages.
Once you arrive in Lugano, check-in to your accommodation and enjoy the evening in the centre, having some nice Italian-style dinner. Then walk alongside the lake and get the first impression of Lugano.
Where to stay in Lugano: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Enjoy your first night in Switzerland, Lugano, and sleep well. Tomorrow, we will explore Lugano a bit more and do great excursions in its surroundings.
Switzerland Itinerary 1. DAY: LUGANO & BELLINZONA
Lugano annually hosts Film Festival and is also referred to as the Monte Carlo of Switzerland. Take a funicular from the old town to the main train station and go to Parco del Tassino to see the city from the top. Or walk on the main lake promenade to Parc Ciani with beautiful gardens and enjoy a lake view.
Sightseeing in Lugano
- Lake Lugano
- Centro Storico (the old town of Lugano)
- Walk through Parco Ciani with the best gelato
- Via Nassa (historic street)
- Cathedral San Lorenzo
- San Salvatore mountain
Get one of the best gelato at the entrance of Parco Ciani next to the lake at: Gelateria Naturale Chez Guglielm (or the one gelateria opposite is good as well).
Visiting Bellinzona in the afternoon
Once you have soaked up the atmosphere in Lugano, let’s head to the train station. In the afternoon, I suggest you visit Bellinzona, a town surrounded by medieval castles. There is a direct train, which takes you to this medieval place just within 30 minutes.
Bellinzona is the only Swiss town hosting a medieval military complex with three fortifications, which are still accessible nowadays. Besides the charming centre, there are three fortifications to explore: Montebello, Sasso Corbano, and the grandmother, Castelgrande. It is perfectly fine if you visit one of them, the Montebello Castle. You can walk up from the centre, about 20 minutes walk. It is less visited, very interesting, and you will get views of the Castelgrande and the entire Bellinzona.
If saving up some time or your legs is your priority, you can also take the tourist train Artù. Artù leaves from Piazza Collegiata (Bellinzona centre). It covers both castles, Montebello as well as Sasso Corbano within just an hour.
Check out the Artù website for timetable and specific routes.
Having explored this enchanting small town, you can come back to Lugano to stay for the night.
Second option: San Salvatore mountain
There is an option for mountain lovers in the afternoon (instead of the trip to Bellinzona) to hike up to San Salvatore mountain near Lugano (approx. 2 hours walk). Or to climb up, taking the famous Via Ferrata, if you are an experienced climber with equipment.
You can take a funicular, which will take you right to the top (25 CHF for a single way or 50 CHF for a return ticket). The views are stunning, so if you have more time in Lugano, don’t hesitate to see this place. This is another option to spend your afternoon if you stay in Lugano and want to see Lake Lugano from above.
San Salvatore organized tour with 70% discount
You can also do a guided tour from Lugano to San Salvatore, with 70% discount. If you do it individually, it will cost you 50 CHF (per person). If you book this excursion with Get Your Guide, you will have even better experience for less than 15 EUR per person.
Switzerland Itinerary 2. DAY: LUGANO ⇒ LUCERNE
Good morning; I hope you slept well because today you have a scenic train ride in front of you. You are about to do your first Swiss scenic route with the Gotthard Express train. This is one of the 5 Switzerland panoramic trains, which will take you from Lugano to Lucerne.
Gotthard Express scenic train ride
The train departs Lugano in the morning. You will be passing through the world’s longest tunnel, the Gotthard Basistunnel. Take off at the stop called Füellen and hop on a steamboat, which will take you through the lake to Lucerne.
For more information about timetable and seat bookings, head to the Gotthard Express website.
Similarly, you can check the timetable of the regular train from Lugano to Füellen with SBB.
Here is the steamboat schedule for you.
NOTE: This is a scenic train, where you have to pay an extra fee for a seat reservation. If you want to avoid paying extra, take a regular train to Füellen. It covers the same route, and you don’t have to pay additional fees for a seat reservation. For more detailed information about all 5 Swiss scenic trains, you can read article.
In the afternoon, you will arrive in Lucerne. Take your time to check-in at your accommodation and leave the rest of the afternoon and the evening to explore this beautiful historical town and see the famous Chapel Bridge from the 14th century. Tomorrow, you can either continue the itinerary or spend an extra day in Lucerne (if you have the Swiss Travel Pass Flex for 8 days, you can stay in Lucerne without using it for the day).
Sightseeing in Lucerne
- Old Town of Lucerne
- Renaissance Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
- Chapel Bridge
- Glacier Garden
- Swiss Transportation Museum
Where to stay in Lucerne: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Here in Lucerne, I highly recommend you stay in the Lake Villa Lotus. It is a unique cozy accommodation, in a quiet place right next to the lake I love this place, and I am sure you will love it, too. You can also book a boathouse and sleep right on the lake and enjoy dinner or breakfast with lake views. It is a fantastic experience.
Lake Villa Lotus is located 3km from the Lucerne centre. You can take a bus n. 21 or n. 8 from the main train station in Lucerne and get off at the ‘St. Niklausen LU, Stutz’ stop. From this stop, it is only 2-minute walk to the Villa. Remember, the bus ride is also included in your Swiss Travel Pass.
If you want to stay in the centre of Lucerne, here I my top tips for accommodation:
Top Mountain Excursions to take from Lucerne
If you are staying 1 more day in Lucerne, you can do one of the following mountain excursions. Don’t use your Swiss Travel Pass Flex on these days, just book one of these excursions:
- Mount Pilatus
- Mount Titlis – my personal favourite and the best choice – walk through the ice cave
You will find detailed information about these 2 mountain excursions here.
Have a good rest and enjoy some evening walks through Lucerne with its charming atmosphere. Tomorrow, we are going to the spectacular Swiss mountains.
Switzerland Itinerary 3. DAY: LUCERNE ⇒ INTERLAKEN
You have now woken up in the gateway to the Alps, Lucerne. Having explored a few Swiss towns, today, we will descend down to the incredible Swiss mountains. Let’s go for some adventure.
GoldenPass route – Zentralbahn train ride
We will first cover part of the second scenic ride – the GoldenPass route. Head to the train station in Lucerne and take the Zentralbahn train to Interlaken Ost. Don’t forget to sit on the right side for better views.
Optional boat trip on Lake Brienz
I recommend you get off in Brienz, from where you can hop on a boat to Interlaken. The train station in Brienz is right next to the port. Check the boat timetable and enjoy the spectacular boat ride on the Brienz Lake to Interlaken. It takes about 2 hours, and you will for sure not regret it.
Interlaken – the Swiss adventure capital
Welcome to Interlaken, the Swiss adventure capital. Take some time to walk through this town in the afternoon and take a rest in your accommodation. Tomorrow, there is a new adventure waiting for you.
Where to stay in Interlaken: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Switzerland Itinerary 4. DAY: JUNGFRAU REGION
The real adventure is just about to start. For today, I recommend you to choose among the following three options:
Grindelwald – Grindelwald First
Take your adventurous soul up to Grindelwald and Grindelwald First, where you can enjoy some sports activities, take a thrilling cliff walk, and walk further up to a mountain lake. This option requires extra costs for the mentioned activities.
Lauterbrunnen – Schilthorn mountain
Head up to Schilthorn mountain to walk through the steps of James Bond. Besides, enjoy stunning views of the whole valley and the three majestic mountains – Mönch, Jungfrau, and Eiger. In the afternoon, visit the enchanting Lauterbrunnen and its waterfall valley. Everything in this option is included in your Swiss Travel Pass.
Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch
Do you want to experience how it feels to be at the Top of Europe? Then go all the way up to Jungfraujoch. Take three incredible trains to the glacier, where you can learn about the famous Jungfrau station, take stunning pictures of the glacier, and walk through an ice cave. Don’t forget to buy some Swiss chocolate at the store to have more energy to walk on the snow up there. This trip is more costly. You can buy the Jungfrau Pass, which is for a reduced price if you have the Swiss Travel Pass. Jungfrau Pass can be used within the whole region.
If you want more inspiration and information about the places you can visit within the Jungfrau region and the Jungfrau Pass, check out my post about the top things to do in the Jungfrau region.
Switzerland Itinerary 5. DAY: INTERLAKEN ⇒ MONTREUX
Let’s take some rest from the mountains and continue our scenic GoldenPass route. In the morning, hop on the train in Interlaken. Attention, the train will now depart from the station Interlaken West. It is a regular train (BLS RegioExpress) direction Zweisimmen. You might have to change the train in Spiez – check SBB for the connections.
GoldenPass scenic train ride
Get off in Zweisimmen, from where our next scenic train takes you all the way down to Lake Geneva. The GoldenPass scenic train is a panoramic train. It is recommended to pay an additional fee for a seat reservation, especially during summer, when the train gets pretty full. This one is not expensive, and securing your seat to enjoy the journey is a better idea. However, the seat reservation is not compulsory for GoldenPass. For the timetable, check their website. GoldenPass train will take you through the Swiss green forests until the beautiful Lake Geneva opens up in front of you.
In the afternoon, you will arrive in Montreux, a beautiful town famous for its Jazz Festival and the lake promenade. Take your time to walk through the 3.5km long promenade with stunning views on Lake Geneva. The highlight is the popular Château de Chillon, which became famous thanks to the poem: “The Prisoner of Chillon.” Its author, Lord Byron, describes deep and old Chillon’s Gothic dungeon. Come and see this historical site set right on the lake, located 4 km from Montreux centre. You can reach it walking from Montreux on the lake promenade or taking a bus Ligne N° 202.
Coming back to Montreux, Queen music band lovers should definitely visit Montreux Mountain Studio, where the band created a large proportion of its albums. Besides, Freddy Mercury recorded his last song here. If you fancy exploring the city a little bit, just walk up the hill through tiny streets until you reach a church, Saint-Vincent. You will get beautiful sights on the lake on the way. Or visit some museums, like the Montreux museum, where you discover how life used to be in Montreux over the past centuries.
Sightseeing in Montreux
- Montreux Mountain Studio (for Queen band lovers)
- Saint-Vincent Church (with stunning views of the lake)
- Montreux Museum
- Lake Promenade
- Château de Chillon – book your tickets below
- Charlie Chaplin’s World in the Hollywood-style Studio – book your tickets below
Where to stay in Montreux: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
My personal favourite place to stay near Montreux is Le Coucou Hotel & Restaurant-Bar. It has a unique location up in the mountains overlooking Lake Geneva. I absolutely love this place. You will have an authentic experience.
You will have to take the cogwheel train from Montreux main station direction Rochers-de-Naye (mountain excursion) and get off at the ‘Haut-de-Caux’ stop. The hotel is only 200m from Haut-de-Caux stop. Again, check the timetable on the SBB website.
Haut-de-Caux is a STOP ON REQUEST! – you have to press the train button to let the driver know you want to get off. The ride is included in your Swiss Travel Pass.
If you want to stay in the heart of Montreux or nearby, here are my top accommodation tips:
Switzerland Itinerary 6. DAY: MONTREUX ⇒ ZERMATT
Let’s enjoy another train ride, which will take you back to the Swiss mountains. Today, the famous car-free village, Zermatt, awaits you, with its spectacular Matterhorn.
Train ride from Montreux to Zermatt
In the morning, take a regular train from Montreux to Visp (train direction Brig). After about an hour and 15 minutes, you will be in Visp. You will then have to change to the train direction Zermatt. The train leaves every half-an-hour, and you will have plenty of time to change. On the way from Visp to Zermatt, you will start feeling the mountains and their atmosphere again.
Around lunchtime, you will arrive in Zermatt, the only village where cars are not allowed (only for those who work or live there). Take your time to check-in at your accommodation.
You will have the whole afternoon to explore this picturesque place with the views of the famous Matterhorn.
Spend The Next Day in Zermatt
I suggest you stay an extra day tomorrow in Zermatt, doing some great mountain excursions or hiking the trail through 5 lakes. Don’t use your Swiss Travel Pass Flex on that day.
Here are the top mountain excursions you can do in Zermatt.
Top Mountain Excursions from Zermatt – Skip the Line Tickets
- Gornergrad Cogwheel Train Ticket – get the best views of Matterhorn from above
- Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Cable Car Ticket – Europe’s highest mountain station
5 Lakes Hiking Trail – Switzerland itinerary
I highly recommend you to do the 5 Lakes hiking trail. You can enjoy nature and endless views of the majestic Matterhorn. Check this trail around the lakes online for more information.
Where to stay in Zermatt: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Switzerland Itinerary 7. DAY: GLACIER EXPRESS: Zermatt ⇒ St. Moritz
Yet, the day has arrived.; the best scenic train from the entire Swiss Grand Tour. Take your seat and relax. Because today, the Glacier Express takes you on an unforgettable journey through the massif mountains, Alpine Passes, Swiss Grand Canyon, and the UNESCO train ride through the Grisons canton.
Glacier Express is another scenic train where you need a seat reservation. It is pretty common among tourists, so plan ahead and make sure you book the seat way in advance. Read more about the Glacier Express route and information about the fee and bookings in my article. You can reserve the seats online on their website. Remember, you only have to make the seat reservation, the ride is included in your Swiss Travel Pass.
Enjoy the evening walking alongside Lake St. Moritz. If you are into luxury shopping, visit some stores in the town.
Where to stay in St. Moritz: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Switzerland Itinerary 8. DAY: ST MORITZ ⇒ ENGADIN/SCUOL ⇒ ZÜRICH
Eventually, let’s explore the largest Swiss canton, Grisons. You will have a chance to immerse yourself in the incredible atmosphere of the Engadin valley on the last day of your Swiss itinerary.
Scuol Thermal Baths – Engadin Valley – Switzerland itinerary
In the morning, hop on a train to Samedan (direction Chur). Change in Samedan to another train to Scuol-Tarasp. I have taken you here to relax a little bit and reflect on the whole Swiss adventure you have just experienced. Spoil yourself in the thermal baths of Scuol and bath in pure Swiss mineral water.
Walking Tour of Scuol
You can also do a walking tour of Scuol and learn about the local history and life of people. Enjoy an aperitif in an authentic Engadine parlor.
Travel to Zürich in the evening – the end of our Switzerland Itinerary
In the evening, take a train to Zürich. You have connections to other cities and countries in Europe once you finish this Switzerland itinerary from this Swiss hub. Tomorrow, you can still enjoy Zürich and do a walking tour, for which you don’t need your Swiss Travel Pass anymore.
After, continue your journey wherever you need. Explore my other travel itineraries through Europe if you have more days and weeks in Europe. You don’t have to plan anything, just take the itinerary and travel to another country from Zürich.
Where to stay in Zürich: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Book a walking tour with a local guide in Zürich:
The best way to explore any city is to go on a walking tour. This tour will make you see the highlights of the old city, take you on the coach to other areas, and even includes the cable car ride to Felsenegg. You’ll see stunning views of Zurich Lake from the top and even get to take a ferry on it later on.
More Tips For European Travel
This is my sample Switzerland itinerary for you. I hope that this Switzerland itinerary will help you spend incredible 8 days in this picturesque country. Switzerland has even more stunning places, but I have taken you to the most spectacular ones.
I hope you will have a perfect time and enjoy everything that Switzerland has to offer you. For more inspiration on Switzerland and places to see (based on your interest), check out my Switzerland Travel Guide. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need help designing a customized itinerary just for you.
After, you can continue exploring Austria with my Austria road trip for 10 days. Or head up to the Czech Republic. Visit Prague, Bohemian Switzerland, medieval towns, and bath inside a beer spa. All of this with my Czech Republic itinerary for 10 days.
If you fancy a quick road trip, Slovenia is a perk right next to Switzerland that you can visit. Get my Slovenia road trip itinerary for 5 days and explore the country.
For more inspiration, head to my section ‘travel itineraries‘.