A Week Exploring Switzerland by Train

A Week Exploring Switzerland by Train

This post gives an in-depth guide and itinerary to exploring Switzerland by train. I took this trip in June 2017 and had the goal of seeing as much of the country in one week (without being overly rushed) as possible, including mountains and cities.

Here you’ll find a map to help you plan a visit to Switzerland and a list of activities to help you narrow down experiences you don’t want to miss!

I’ll be writing a more personal account of my trip, but I thought it would be useful to provide a plan for anyone else thinking of going. If your question isn’t answered here, comment below, or get in touch via my contact form.

Map with Route

This map shows the route I took through the country. I flew into Zurich (1) and travelled from here to Lucerne (2), Interlaken (3), Bern (4) and finally Geneva (5).

Click on the ‘walking tourist’ icons for information about day trips. From Lucerne (2), I went to Lauterbrunnen, and from Wengen, visited Mannlichen.

Itinerary for a week

Day 1 – Zurich

Trains

City Centre Station (Zurich HB / Hauptbahnhof).

Places to stay

Sorell Hotel Seefeld, 1 night

Main attractions

1. Lake Zurich

2. River Limmat

3. Old Town

  • Bahnhofstrasse, nice shopping street
  • Niederdorf, traditional street

4. Kunsthaus Zurich, art museum

  • 10am – 6pm, 23 CHF entry

5. Lindenhof for panoramic view of Zurich

6. Fraumunster Church, famous stained glass windows

  • 10am – 6pm, 4CHF

7. Botanical Gardens

  • 8am-6pm, free

8. Opera House Opernhaus

Day 2 & 3 – Lucerne

Trains

  • Transfer from City Centre Station (Zurich HB / Hauptbahnhof) to Lucerne (Luzern)

Places to stay

  • Boutique Hotel Weisses Kreuz, 2 nights

Main attractions

1. Lake Luzern

2. Mount Pilatus (half day +)

  • Take route Luzern to Kriens PB (15 mins) to Kreiseneregg to Fräkmüntegg to Pilatus Kulm (30 mins)
  • Bus from Banhof Luzern to Kriens Zentrum Pilatus, Bus 1, takes 15 minutes, bus every 8 minutes
  • Then walk to Kriens PB 5 mins
  • Kriens PB – Krienseregg – Fräkmüntegg, 2 gondolas, takes minimum 20 minutes
    • First car up 8:30, shuts 17:45
  • Fräkmüntegg – Pilatus Kulm, aerial cableway, takes 4 minutes
    • First car up 9:00, shuts 17:30
  • Fräkmüntegg has switzerland’s longest summer toboggan run
  • Restaurants at the top

3. Chapel Bridge Kapellbrucke (wooden bridge)

4. Spreuer Bridge (wooden bridge)

5. Old town

6. The Rosengart Collection, art collection featuring Picasso, 11am-5pm

7. Dying Lion Monument, famous sculpture carved in rock

8. Museggmauer, Castle Towers and town wall

Day 4 & 5 – Interlaken (Day trip to Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Männlichen)

Trains

  • Transfer from Lucerne (Luzern) to Interlaken Ost

Places to Stay

  • Hotel Royal St Georges, 2 nights

Day Trips

Harder Kulm via cable car

  • Departs about every 30 minutes
  • Leaves from 8:20, 8:50, 9:20, 9:50 etc last train approx (19:35) or 20:05 for very quick trip
  • Returns from approx 8:10, 8:40, 9:10, 9:40 etc last train approx (20:40)

Boat trip on Lake Brienz

  • Consider buying 1st class ticket to get seat on top, much better view
  • Recommended to get boat from Interlaken Ost to Brienz (takes 1h 13 mins) (leaves 9:07, 11:07. 12:07, 14:07, 16:07)
  • Then train from Brienz to Interlaken ost (takes 22 mins) (leaves 08:02, 08:37, 09:02, 09:37 etc, last trains around 19:02)
  • https://fahrplan.bls.ch/index.html?travelMode=ship

Trip to Lauterbrunnen-Wengen-Männlichen

  • Staubbach Fall, waterfall in Lauterbrunnen
  • Interlaken OST to lauterbrunnen
    • Depart, 20 mins, 9:05, 09:35, 10:05, 10:35 etc
    • Return, 21 mins, 11:03, 11:33, 12:03, 12:33, etc. Last train 20:33, backup last train 21:33
  • lauterbrunnen to Wengen
    • Depart, 14 mins, 10:07, 10:37, 11:07, 11:37, etc
    • Return, 18 mins, 12:03, 12:33, 13:03, 13:33 etc. Last train 20:03, back last trains up to 22:03
  • Wengen to Männlichen
    • Take Aerial Cableway to Mannlichen from wegen, takes 6 minutes
    • Runs every 15 minutes

Day 6 – Bern

Trains

  • Transfer from Interlaken OST to Bern
  • 1h, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00

Places to stay

  • Hotel National Bern, 1 night

Main attractions

1. Bear park, BarenGraben, free admission, 8am – 5pm

2. Rose garden

3. Old Town

4. Clock tower

5. Swiss parliament (The Federal Palace, Bundeshaus)

6. Kunstmeusem (fine art museum), 10am, 5pm

7. Berne Munster (Cathedral), 10am-7pm

8. Gurton, view over Bern, 10am, 5pm

Day 7 – Geneva

Trains

  • Bern to Geneva Central CFF
  • Geneve CFF to Geneva Airport, takes 7 minutes

Main attractions

1. Patek Philippe Museum, famous watch museum, 2pm-6pm

2. Old Town

3. Cathédrale Saint-Pierre

4. Bastions park & Reformation Wall

5. English Garden & Geneva’s jet d’eau

Key Information

General

  • Jaywalking is illegal
  • The Swiss don’t queue in the same way as the English – you don’t need to start a line!

Airport Information

Fly into Zurich and depart from Geneva. Reasonable transfers to city centres via train.

Train Information

Recommend buying the SwissPass in advance. This covers the majority (all in my experience) of train journeys in Switzerland and means you don’t spend time queuing, looking for change, or making the mistake of not validating a ticket for a journey, which can result in heavy fines.

The trains in Switzerland are usually double-decker, with first and second class carriages.

Words and phrases

  • Hello/Hi (informal) – Hoi!
  • Hello (formal) – Grüezi! [Grea-atsie]
  • Train station – Bahnhof [ban-hwaaf]
  • Numbers; 1 ais, 2 zwoi, 3 drü, 4 vier, 5 funf, 6 sachs, 7 sebe, 8 acht, 9 neun, 10 zehn
  • Days; Mäntig, Zyschtig, Mittwuch, Dunnschtig, Frytig, Samschtig, Sunntig
  • Yes – Ja
  • No – Nein
  • I don’t understand – Ich verstehe nitch [ich ver steer nicht]
  • Do you speak English? – Sprechen sie Englisch?
  • Excuse me – Entschuldigung sie mich [En-shoi-de-gung zee mihh]
  • Sorry – Entschuldigung [En-shoi-de-gung]
  • Thank you – Danke
  • Please – Bitte
  • A table for two please – Ein Tisch für Zwei bitte [Ein tush furt zvie, bitter]
  • I would like … – Ich hätte gerne …
  • The check, please – die Rechnung, bitte [de recknung]
  • It is very good – es ist sehr gut [sair goot]
  • It is not good – es ist nicht gut
  • It is Bad – es ist schlecht [shhlect]
  • Where is – Wo ischwh
  • Where’s the toilet? – Wo isctdie Toilette?
  • Help! – Hilfe! [hillfur]
  • Men/Women – Manner/Frau
  • How much is that? – Wie viel kostet das

Currency

100 CHF (Swiss Franc) = £80

Got a question? Don’t hesitate to get in touch. Each destination will be getting a dedicated post with more information. If you’re keen, subscribe to stay up to date!

*Information correct to my knowledge at the time of posting.

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