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Switzerland Aug '19

My wife and I were just in Switzerland for 11 days and it was the coolest place we've ever been. While we obviously would've preferred a couple more sunny days (it rained 4-5 of the days), we made the most of it. The ability to hike to pristine, beautiful lakes surrounded by 11,000ft mountains was truly spectacular. We made a loop through the country, going Lucerne-Berner Oberland-Zermatt-Montreux with the Swiss Travel Pass. Here is a summary of our trip!

Day 1: Flight into Zurich then train to Lucerne
Weather was off and on rain so we spent the day exploring the city. We ended up at the Lion Monument where they were having a festival with live music, which was a lot of fun. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant - La Baracca, where we encountered our first language gap. We should've noticed the lack of an English translation on the menu, but they did find an employee who was able to assist us. We got a bruschetta, pizza, and desert, all of which were tasty. However, one thing that I'll never fully understand is why Swiss restaurants get upset over sharing a giant 8-slice pizza.

Day 2: Lucerne: Pilatus + Rigi
Sunshine. We went up to Pilatus first thing, which was incredible. We walked to a few lookout points to take in the views and heard our first cowbells. On the way down we stopped to do the toboggan ride which was a blast. I'm apparently a thrill junkie as I caught the person in front of me and had a slow ending. We then got some lunch and hopped on the boat in Lucerne to head to Rigi. Rigi had some spectacular views and we were glad we decided to do both. For dinner we went to Balances. It was raining at this point so we unfortunately couldn't sit on their terrace, but the food was delicious.

Day 3: Train to Berner Oberland
Another day of off and on rain. We hiked from Lauterbrunnen to Trummelbach Falls. The views from inside the valley were incredible. We lucked out and got some sunshine for most of this hike. Trummelbach Falls was a great experience as it was impressive to see just how fierce these falls are. It was raining when we got out so we decided to head back to Wengen where we had some pasta at Da SiNa, which was excellent.

Day 4: Aare Gorge, Grindelwald, Gimmelwald/Murren
Rain and more rain. The Aare Gorge was a last minute decision due to rain. It was neat but pales in comparison to hikes near Lauterbrunnen. We then toured Grindelwald, had some fondue, then went to Gimmelwald/Murren after the rain stopped. The terrace at Pension Gimmelwald was incredible despite the clouds. Great beer, great view.

Day 5: Shynige Platte - First + Kleine Scheidegg - Mannlichen hikes
Sunshine. We weren't sure we were going to have another sunny day so we crammed these into one day. The Schynige Platte - First hike was our favorite experience on the trip. While it was long and strenuous, the views were unmatched. It was also our first time interacting with cows as they approached us on the trail. It was a lot of fun, but man, their tongues are gross! The hike down to Bachalpsee Lake was breathtaking. Definitely the most beautiful spot I've ever been. 30 cows running around, light reflecting off of the pristine water with the alps in the background was truly memorable. These views persisted the entire walk to First, we were mesmerized. After lunch in Grindelwald we headed to Kleine Scheidegg for the walk to Mannlichen. This gave us another amazing view of the alps, though we were spoiled from the First hike.

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Day 6: Airtime Paraglide in Lauterbrunnen, Schilthorn, Murren-Grutschalp hike
Paragliding.. now that caused some nervous excitement. The adrenaline rush at takeoff was thrilling, as were the twists and turns to make the final descent. The in-between was pleasant and breathtakingly beautiful as we coasted past waterfalls and got one of a kind views of Lauterbrunnen Valley. The pilots were friendly and professional, would highly recommend. We then made our way to Schilthorn which provided some amazing views of Mt Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. We finished off the day with a hike from Murren to Grutschalp. The views along the hike were beautiful and it was a nice change of pace as we walked near/through some forests on a relatively flat trail relative to the previous day's hikes.

Day 7: Zermatt, 5 Lakes Hike
Upon arrival we decided to hike to Findlerhof for lunch. Steep walk down/back up was worth it as the food was delicious, the staff friendly, and the view of the Matterhorn unmatched. We then did the 5 Lakes Hike. It's really more like 3 lakes as one is a reservoir with a weird blue color that looks unnatural and the 5th lake is a kids play area near the lift station at Sunnegga. The first 3 were beautiful though with great views of the Matterhorn throughout the hike. We then had a delicious dinner at our Hotel restaurant, Filet et Fils, which had a talented live musician.

Day 8: Gornergrat hike
We shortened the hike to Riffelberg-Rottenboden, which I think was a smart decision. The Riffelalp-Riffelberg and Rottenboden-Gornergrat portions looked very steep. We got the same views without as much of the pain. We actually preferred the smaller, unnamed lake near Riffelsee to Riffelsee itself. It was there that we were able to get a view of the Matterhorn reflecting in the pond with hardly any other hikers around, truly a magnificent sight. We then took the train up to Gornergrat which offered more views of the Matterhorn and the Gornergrat Glacier. We made our way down from Gornergrat and hiked to Bergrestaurant Barren for an early dinner. The atmosphere, view, food, and staff were all phenomenal. Try their Au Grautin Mac & Cheese, it was incredible!

Day 9: Montreux
Sunny day so we wandered the promenade near the lake then took a boat trip to Lausanne where we did the same. Nice relaxing day near the lake after a week of hiking.

Day 10: Chateau de Chillon + Lavaux Vineyards
Off and on rain. We woke up and rode our bikes to Chateau de Chillon, which was a lot cooler than I expected. We did a self-guided tour and really enjoyed learning about it. Crazy to be standing in a former prison where you can see engravings from the prisoners or up high with views of the castle defenses. We then made our way to the Lavaux Vineyards, starting in Grandvaux at Domaine Croix Duplex. This was a beautiful spot with delicious wines and a friendly owner. After a tasting we made our way to Domaine Bovy in Chexbres. The tasting here was more of a party experience. Everyone was having a great time and the staff was fun. We then walked down to Lavaux Vinorama in Rivaz for our final tasting. Vinorama was nice that you could try a large variety of wines but didn't have the same unique vibe as the first 2.

Day 11: Zurich
Our final day before flying back home, we toured Old Town and had dinner at The Bite, which was phenomenal. One of the best burgers we've ever had, amazing desert, great drinks, fun staff and ambiance.

Final thoughts:
Amazing place with the most spectacular views you could imagine. Our favorite spot was Berner Oberland, would love to go back someday. The Swiss Travel Pass was a necessity. I think the total cost would've come somewhere close to the Half Fare pass but the ease of use is unbeatable. Downsides of the trip.. it was pricey, though that was expected, and overall the food left something to be desired for how expensive it is.

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Nice trip report. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a good time. I did a similar trip (minus Zermatt) 2 years ago. Great memories/experiences. And I liked the cows!

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Enjoyed the report. I too had an excellent meal at Da SiNa when I was returning from my time up in the Jungfrau at the end of May. I decided to stop off in Wengen, I was staying in Murren, and enjoyed walking around the town itself.