Best Places to Visit in Switzerland: Lucerne, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, & Zurich

I spent an entire week in Switzerland back in May 2018, and put a whole lotta effort into creating the perfect itinerary. But, the perfect itinerary also includes time for spontaneity—which is why I’m not surprised that my list of favorite Swiss experiences includes both planned and unplanned things.

These are the highlights of my trip. Three standout experiences from each of the places I visited during my whirlwind adventure. Yes, I’m calling one week a whirlwind because it is simply not enough time to truly soak in the beauty of this alpine country.

Best Things to Do in Lucerne Switzerland

Chapel Bridge

If you visit Lucerne, you will see this footbridge. It’s just across the road from the train station. Built in 1333, the bridge (traditionally known as Kapellbrücke) is like something out of a fairy tale. As an iconic focal point of Lucerne, it’s also heavily trafficked—so best visited in the early a.m. for a less touristy (aka. less strangers in your photos) experience.

Chapel Bridge Lucerne Switzerland
Chapel Bridge Lucerne Switzerland

Mt. Pilatus

Towering above neighboring Lucerne, Pilatus stands at an impressive 6,982 feet. So tall, in fact, that its peak pierces through the clouds. Worry not if the day you visit is overcast. You’ll still have a 360-degree view of the Alps from the top! And getting there is easy. In Lucerne, I hopped on a bus to Kriens and got off at the Zentrum Pilatus stop. From there, it’s a short (5-10 minute) walk to the gondola station. Just follow all the Mt. Pilatus signs.

View of the Swiss Alps above the clouds
Woman with a selfie stick taking photos in the Alps

Lake Lucerne Boat Ride

I hadn’t planned to cruise the lake while in Lucerne, but after watching all the boats ferry passengers to and from adjacent lakeshore towns, I was sold. Walking past the docks, I spontaneously checked the schedule and had just enough time to hop on the next boat to Weggis. It was 45 minutes one way, then another 45 back to Lucerne. I spent that full 90 minutes ogling the Alps that border the lake. It was one of the best spontaneous decisions I think I’ve ever made!

Woman on a boat looking out on a lake with mountains in the background

Best Things to Do in Interlaken Switzerland

Explore the town

I honestly didn’t plan to spend much time exploring the town of Interlaken. I’d scheduled bungee jumping for the first afternoon and evening and planned to hike an hour outside of town on day two. But my Airbnb hosts let me check in early, so I had a few extra hours to kill before my bungee excursion—so into town I went. Though Interlaken is surrounded by lakes and mountains, I honestly did not expect to be quite so charmed simply perusing the main strip and watching all the paragliders slowly float down to an adjacent field.

Field of yellow flowers with mountains in the background

Bungee Jumping in Switzerland

Seriously, y’all. If extreme adventure travel is your thing, go bungee jumping in the Alps. And book it through Outdoor Interlaken. You’re welcome. You can also read all about my bungee experience here, but lemme just say that jumping out of a gondola, over a lake, surrounded by mountains was THE highlight of my trip!

Woman bungee jumping over a lake with snow covered mountains

Interlaken is also pretty popular with the paragliding crowd. I didn’t try it (for lack of time and frugal reasons) but it seems a decent alternative if gliding toward the earth is more your speed.

Harder Kulm

While bungee jumping, I learned that the trail I’d planned to hike on day two was closed due to snow. Bummer! But a fellow jumper suggested hiking Harder Kulm, aka. “The Top of Interlaken.” When she added that it was challenging, with an amazing view, I was sold. And she was right. The challenge isn’t so much the path or the length. It’s the incline. It had me huffing and puffing for sure, but the views more than made up for that—especially the view from the top! To save time, I took the funicular train back down, but I didn’t regret hiking up.

Harder Kulm view in Interlaken Switzerland

Best Things to Do in Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Spending at least one day here

I almost didn’t book a night in Lauterbrunnen. But my friend Jason (@jasonmillerphotography) and more than a few Instagram photos convinced me otherwise. Imagine the most picturesque Swiss town and that is Lauterbrunnen—nestled in a valley with a real-life waterfall backdrop and oodles of chalet charm.

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Hike From Lauterbrunnen to Murren

Yesss. Hike it. Don’t take the tram or the train. Take that trail less traveled. The 2,275 ft vertical ascent took me about an hour and 45 minutes, including a few photo op stops (which also served as rest breaks, not gonna lie). Then, I fast-pace walked another 30 minutes of level terrain to Murren. The incline muscle fatigue was real, but so were the views!

Trail markers in the Swiss Alps
Shelter on a trail in the Swiss Alps
Woman hiking near a waterfall, and giving a peace sign

Visit Schilthorn (aka. Piz Gloria or Bond World)

From Murren, I took the gondola up, up, up to Schilthorn. For all you fellow James Bond fans out there, it’s also the site of Piz Gloria from the 1969 film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And now, it’s Bond World. What 007 fangirl could pass that up? Sure, I was disappointed that the view from the top was completely engulfed in clouds. But Bond. James Bond. James Bond WORLD. I didn’t eat in the revolving restaurant (because no view), but absolutely explored the movie memorabilia exhibit, took a selfie with a larger-than-life George Lazenby cutout, and made a few purchases in the gift shop. Oh, and oddly enough, one of my favorite parts of Bond World was the bathroom.

007 logo on a building in the fog
Woman hugging a cardboard cutout of James Bond
Woman pointing a finger in a bathroom mirror

Best Things to Do in Zurich

Freitag Tower

A store built with stacked shipping containers that sells products made from recycled truck tarp? Yup. Had to see that. The 360-degree view from the rooftop did not disappoint, and I couldn’t leave without buying something. That truck tarp stuff is pretty darn enticing.

A tower of colorful shipping containers stacked on top of each other

Love Locks Bridge in Zurich

Call me a romantic, but I love a good love locks bridge. I didn’t even know Zurich had one, but once I spotted all the locks on Mühlesteg footbridge I couldn’t walk away. Literally. I spent a full hour on that bridge gushing over (almost) every single one. I even took selfies with them. (Is that weird?) Clearly, I felt it was a good use of my time.

Love locks bridge in Zurich Switzerland
Locks on a bridge

Walk Around Lake Zurich

The path along the lake is a popular spot, but still felt peaceful. Distant mountains. Sailboats. City views. Street performers. Not a bad way to spend my last night in Switzerland. I didn’t stay for sunset, but I’m glad I took that stroll.

Lake Zurich in Switzerland
Kid making a giant soap bubble in the air at a park

Pro Tip: Buy a Swiss Pass for the Train in Switzerland

Ok, so technically I did this before my trip, but I’m SO thankful I did. One ticket for all those train rides I took. Plus, it covered buses, that boat ride in Lucerne, and some gondolas (ie. my ride up to Schilthorn was included, but the gondola to Mt. Pilatus was only 50% off). Overall, the ability to hop on and off whenever and wherever I wanted was INVALUABLE. And I absolutely would have spent more time and money purchasing individual tickets.

Honestly, I enjoyed everything I experienced in Switzerland. So, while these are my top recommendations, #1 on the list is actually JUST GO. Switzerland is a magical place—not kidding, it’s like a fairy tale or Disney movie—regardless of where you go or what you do.

The Alps are calling. Don’t make ‘em wait.

3 thoughts on “Best Places to Visit in Switzerland: Lucerne, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, & Zurich

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