Please sign in to post.

Driving Itinerary in Switzerland? For Family Road Trip

My family and I are thinking of a driving vacation in Switzerland in early July. Does this itinerary make sense? 1 car, 2 teenagers. We are used to driving vacations in Europe, and my husband really likes to drive twisty mountain roads. We want a mix of mountains, cute towns, lakes. Just some family time, not overly planned.

Fly into Zurich.
2 night in Zug. Visit Lucerne.
3 nights in Interlaken area. Visit Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Jungfrau, Brienz.
2 nights in Ascona. Visit Lugano, lakes area.
2 nights in a chalet in the Nendaz valley. Visit Zermatt.
3 nights in Zurich before flying home. Visit Gruyères on our drive back to Zurich.

Does this itinerary make sense? Any great hotels/resorts in the mountains that we should consider?

Thank you!

Posted by
1546 posts

Quite a few of the destinations are not car friendly at all. Try to use public transit, which is clean and reliable in the country.

Posted by
1987 posts

A few things...

Staying outside of your area of interest with the intention of then driving everywhere is not going to be the experience you expect. Parking is expensive, and often time consuming.
So what this will probably end up looking like is:

  • Pick up car at airport. drive to Zug. Park car. (note that by the time you have picked up your car you could already be in Zug if you took the train...)
  • Visit Luzern by train from Zug.
  • Drive the car to Interlaken and park it again.
  • Visit the Interlaken area using the trains, cable cars etc...
  • Drive the car to Ascone, and park it
  • Visit the area using the trains, buses etc. using the free Ticino ticket you get with oyr accomodation...
  • Drive the car to Nendaz. (why? because it is cheap? you will quickly find out why...). Then for Zermatt you could drive to Täsch, but there you have to park again...

You will also discover that trains, cable cars etc... are expensive. The obvious way to make it less expensive is to get the Half Fare Card, which comes with the free family card. But once you have that you can as well use public transit everywhere.

Given that my suggestion would be:
- Do not bother with Zurich. That city is not worth staying 3 nights in.
- Go to Luzern directly after landing. Spend time there. Then got to Interlaken. Then maybe Montreux or Vevey for a change of scenery, then on the Ticino (via the very scenic Centovalle railway) and then back to Zurich and home. Try to stay at least 3 nights in every base. You need to be flexible to be able to plan around the weather.

Posted by
7006 posts

I'll offer some slightly different advice here, perhaps.
With the destination you are listing, I fully agree that a car does not make much sense... so if you really want to drive, I suggest that you change the destinations.

If you are set on Luzern, head there, not to Zug, and rent a car out of Luzern perhaps.

Use Meiringen as a base for the Interlaken area, so that you can easily drive the "3 passes". You could also visit Luzern from Meiringen (best done by train), skipping the Luzern stay altogether.

Ascona is good, a car makes it easy to visit Verzasca valley.

Replace Nendaz with the val d'Anniviers, e.g. Grimentz or Chandolin, and make it 3 nights.

But overall, I'd say that as a first trip to Switzerland, a train-based route sticking to highlights is probably more convenient.

Posted by
20321 posts

This is not the Brienz on the Brienzersee in the Berner Oberland, but a small village in Graubunden near Tiefencastel.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you for the advice!
Updated plan? Based on the advice.

Fly into Zurich
Train and public transport for first few days.
1 night in Zug. Personal reasons to be in Zug.
4 nights in Interlaken area. using public transport, Lucerne, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Jungfrau, Brienz, some combo of these. As noted, we do not want to be overly planned.
Rent car and drive to Ascona.
3 nights in Ascona area. Visit Lugano, Ascona, lakes.
Drive to Montreux. Visit Montreux area, Gruyeres.
Drive to Zurich. Return car.
3 nights in Zurich. Personal reasons to be in Zurich.

I'm thinking this makes best use of public transport while giving husband the mountain driving time he requested. Welcome any feedback!

Posted by
7006 posts

It is starting to look good to me!
Interlaken is not necessarily the best place to stay in the Berner Oberland but July is coming up (limiting availability) and it is a convenient place for sure. Do have a look at villages closer to the highest mountains, like Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, and see if you find accommodation there.
To "properly" visit the Montreux area you would need to stay there for 2 nights. To do so, you can safely shorten Ascona to 2 nights; it does not matter if you never make it to Lugano (Lake Maggiore is just as nice).

Regarding Zug and Zürich, without questioning your reasons I just want to point out that they are only 20-35 minutes apart by train, with frequent trains from 4.30 AM to midnight. So you might be able to do what you need to do in Zug while staying in Zürich.

Posted by
181 posts

If you are including Gruyeres you should also include the Calliers Chocolate Factory in Broc, not far from there. The whole village smells like chocolate! I have not been there for quite a few years but the last time I visited, after the factory tour, we were invited to sample the many kinds of chocolate they produce. There are so many! Also a gift shop to buy your chocolate to take home as souvenirs.