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Itinerary for 11 nights in Switzerland

Hi everyone,
My BFF/I will be travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Switzerland in September 2024 for 11 nights. We arrive into Zurich on Sept 2 at 10:35 and leave Geneva on Sept 13 at 17:10. About us: We are 57/60yo. We are not hikers (more walkers), but we would still like to see/enjoy the beauty of the region up in the mountains. We love the water (ocean/lakes/etc.), good food, browsing thru local shops, seeing how the locals live and learning about the history of the places we visit. Not so much into museums. I've heard so much of the beauty seen from the trains alone so I am excited just to ride the trains from one destination to another. Does this sound like a good itinerary for our first visit to Switzerland? We'd prefer to stay in 3-4 places max as opposed to 5, but I don't know if it's possible without cutting one out so hoping you can help with that. We don't want to tire ourselves out too much either on this trip as we like to balance our trips so we're not exhausted coming home so also wondering if this might be too much.

Arrive Zurich 10:35 (2 nights)
/ Appenzell - day trip from Zurich
/ Lucerne & Central Switzerland - 2 nights
/ Bern - day trip from Lucerne
/ Lauterbrunnen Valley (stay in Lauterbrunnen) - 3 nights
/ Zermatt (Matterhorn) (2 nights)
/ Lausanne (Lake Geneva & French Switzerland) - 2 nights
/ Depart Geneva 17:10 for Dublin Ireland

Thank you,
Arleen

Posted by
494 posts

You can easily remove Zurich and simplify your stops, as your day trips are easy from Luzern. Zurich isn’t in the mountains and I wouldn’t waste precious days in the city. Here is an option:

Arrive Zurich > Immediately train to Luzern for 4 nights (Day Trips to Appenzell, Bern, Zürich I’d you really want + time around Luzern)

Luzern > Wengen - 3 Nights (more picturesque than staying in Lauterbrunnen and can easily access The Valley + experience a car free village)

Wengen > Zermatt - 2 Nights

Zermatt > Montreux - 2 Nights (Lausanne is a large city and requires the subway to navigate because it’s on a steep hill. Montreux or Vevey are smaller and still have great access to the area)

Alternatively you could further narrow down to 3 stops by skipping Zermatt and doing Luzern 4 Nights, Wengen 4 Nights, Montreux 3 Nights

Posted by
8582 posts

I'd skip Bern. It's not in the mountains. In your original itinerary, 2 nights in Luzern, with a day trip to Bern, would effectively mean no time in Luzern, which is much more interesting than Bern. Travel times are not insignificant.

Posted by
78 posts

Sorry, but I LOVE Bern, especially in the evenings, when work is done, and tourists gone.
SO many quaint alleyways and parts that are hundreds of years old.

Posted by
4973 posts

September is a great time!
I think you need four nights in the Berner Oberland (Murren or Wengen). Don't you want to maximize time IN the Alps? No one is ever ready to leave. And I agree, eliminate nights in zurich. Add a day to Lucerne, if you can. Two nights is really I full day.
Secure lodging asap. Since Covid, folks are booking 8-9 months out.
Enjoy this beautiful area!

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks everyone, I REALLY appreciate your help & advice! I will start booking hotels now.

I like the idea of staying in only 3 places - Lucerne (4 nights), Wengen (4 nights) and Montreux (3 nights). Would that mean eliminiting Zermatt or that a possible day trip from one of those 3 places? Other than the Matterhorn, is Zermatt worth a visit?

Posted by
2768 posts

You can easily do a day trip to Zermatt from Montreux. I did this in June 2022 and had a great day.

From my trip report:

I took an early train (6:43) to see the Matterhorn. And did I see the
Matterhorn. 😊 I love the Swiss trains and did not consider the 2.5
hour ride to be too long, especially considering the gorgeous scenery
in this part of the country. And the train station is right in the
town center. I wasn’t really expecting to see the Matterhorn as I had
read it’s always in the clouds. I guess I lucked out as I had perfect
blue skies. My first glimpse was just the peak over the buildings. So,
I kept walking and walking until I was out of the town center and had
perfect views. I have so many great pictures of the Matterhorn, pine
trees, and wildflowers. After about 100 pictures or so, I had a great
walk back towards the train station to find the Gornergrat station. A
great train ride up and there was even more of the Matterhorn. Still
blue skies with a few white wispy clouds. Made for some great
pictures. I would have loved to spend more time here, so it’s on my
list for a future trip.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/solo-in-switzerland-my-trip-report

I enjoyed Zermatt so much I am going back for 3 nights this June.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you everyone! Our itinerary is set as far as where we will be staying. Now just need to figure out excursions and sights to see.