Bless my luck, I got to visit Switzerland once again, earlier this month! It’s such a gorgeous country and I have now visited most of it, save a couple of cantons such as Ticino and Basel. I’ve seen the touristy places when I went as part of a media trip earlier this month, and several hidden places, when I went backpacking solo in Europe last year. Based on my experiences, I’ve put together an itinerary of sorts that you could follow, if you’re in country for a week.
Your flight will most probably land in Zurich, but I don’t suggest spending much time here as it’s like other big cities in Europe. Tall, fancy buildings, and busy people.
From Zurich, you can move to Lucerne and acclimatise yourselves to the weather. Lucerne is a city you can see on foot. From Lucerne, once you’ve adjusted to the cold, you can go up to Mt Titlis for a day-trip. You’ll get a direct train from Lucerne to the village, Engelberg. That’s your base for Titlis. From Engelberg, take the cable car, called ‘RotAir’, up to Titlis. Titlis has snow all through the year, so it’s good to go there. Plus, Europe’s highest bridge was opened for public, here, at Titlis last December. It’s a 100m ropeway bridge and is often called the scariest bridge in the world! There’s also a skywalker thing you can do here, at the top. It’s super cold here, because of the wind. The day I visited, the winds were recorded at 95 km/hr!
Jungfrau and Interlaken are similar, and too crowded and tedious to get to, so I won’t suggest that if you’re doing Titlis.
Move to Bern for a day from Lucerne. Bern’s their capital, but it’s more like a small town. World’s oldest hand-wound clock is in Bern, and you can go up to the tower to see the machines too. You’ll have to sign up with the toursim centre for that. The tower serves as the centre of the city, and that’s where all the arcade-styled shopping stores are. You can easily get around Bern on foot.
From Bern, move to spend a couple of days in Lausanne. It’s my favourite place is Switzerland. It’s got all the modern trappings of a city, but from any road on the city, you can catch a glimpse of the mountains or the glistening lake. It’s a perfect mix of urban style and scenery and I often wished I stayed there! Lausanne’s too big to be discovered on foot, but you can walk along Avenue Petit Chenin; it’s close to the train station and kind of in the middle of the city. For everywhere else, the buses serve as a good option. You can also take the ferry.
From Lausanne, you can do a day-trip to Geneva. The Swiss folks do not like Geneva too much because they think it’s too modern and can be any other city in the world. But Lake Geneva is enchanting, and it’s worth a day-trip. I’m not sure about this, but the tourism centre lends out bicycles to tourists for free. If you can ride bikes, that’s a great way to see the city, because it’s large to go walking.
If you have a day to spare, you can consider visiting Zermatt. It’s a quaint little woody village down south. It’s the base to visit Gornergrat. (Direct train from Zermatt to Gornergrat). Gornergrat is the peak from where you can have a close and splendid view of the Matterhorn. Matterhorn’s one of their more difficult peaks to climb as it has a steep face. They have a beautiful restaurant at Gornergrat where you can have lunch. It’s less than half a day’s trip from Zermatt. If you do decide to spend the night at Zermatt, Alpenblick’s a lovely hotel.
I’d suggest you get Swiss Passes. They have one valid for a week. The pass allows you to travel in all trains, buses and even ferries. If you have the Swiss Pass, you almost never have to worry about tickets. From Zermatt to Gornergrat though, you’ll need to buy tickets. You can buy the pass after arrival in Zurich, but it’s convenient and cheaper to book them online.
Spring and summer should give you pleasant weather, except Lucerne, where it’s always raining. You might want to check the weather at Lucerne when you’re in Bern, and go ahead accordingly. Switzerland’s a small country, and to get from any place to another, takes a maximum of 6 hours in the train. So you don’t have to worry too much about going off-track or overlapping cities.
This is all I can think of at the moment; if you need more details about any of these places, leave a comment. Also, http://www.myswitzerland.com has a lot of info, as do the folks over at Swiss Tours at Urmi Estate, Lower Parel, Mumbai.