Things to do:
- I took a very brief train ride from Lausanne (see below) to this tiny, Medieval town on the shores of Lake Geneva. You can spend your day just walking around, hiking, biking, and enjoying everything the lake has to offer.
- If you're a wino, this place is for you! It is absolutely covered in mom and pop wineries and vineyards. This is how I spent my favorite day in the area -- walking around, chatting with locals, and tasting some of the best wines I've ever had.
- Note: if you're looking for an up-beat vacation spot, this is not it. Great for a day trip or a relaxing retreat though!
Things to do:
- If you're looking for a place to do adventure sports, this is THE place to do it. Interlaken is known around the world for its incredible activities, and you can do everything from bungee jumping, to canyoning, hiking, rock climbing, spelunking, zip lining, mountain biking, sky diving, skiing, snow boarding, and more!
- This is an incredibly active city -- come here with plenty of time to fit in all of your desired activities!
- I took a day trip here from Lausanne (below), mostly because the cost of hotels was much cheaper and the train ride was relatively short. If I could do it again on a bigger budget, I would definitely stay in Interlaken itself for a few days.
Things to do:
- Lake Geneva: This city is on the shores of a massive, beautiful lake where you can go swimming, boating, and do water sports.
- Lausanne Cathedral: Ornate Gothic cathedral in the heart of town
- Palais du Rumine: This building used to be a massive mansion, but has since been turned into a series of museums. Well worth going for a half a day to check out the many exhibits!
- Olympic Museum: Lausanne is the home of the Olympic Committee, and this museum highlights many of the modern Olympics most impressive moments.
- Botanical Gardens: Beautiful gardens with an even more beautiful view of the city
- Lausanne is well known for its festivals in the summer, and I was lucky enough to catch a great week-end long music festival (Fête du Ville). I had a blast listening to incredible live music and running around to the many venues spread across the city to hear my favorite acts. Be sure to do some research before you go and see if anyone will be playing while you're there!
Where to eat and drink:
- The Great Escape: good food and drink with live music every night
Where I stayed:
- Le Jeunotel: I highly recommend this hostel. It has good accommodations, a good location, it's very inexpensive, and it comes with free breakfast
Things to do:
- Lake Zurich: Absolutely beautiful lake in the center of town. Spend the day walking around, eating and drinking at the restaurants along the water, and doing water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming.
- Kunsthaus Zurich (Museum of Art): I love art museums, and this was one of my favorites! They have great works from the 1600s forwards, with lots of modern art.
- Grossmünster: A 12th C. cathedral in Old Town. You have to climb about 200 steps, but once you do you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the city!
- Zurich is very close the Alps. While I didn't make the trek on this trip, it's a pretty easy day trip to go into the mountains for hiking, biking, or skiing/snowboarding.
- I spent most of my time here just walking around and exploring. The city is so vibrant, it's a great place to wander!
Foods to Try:
Fondue: This is a very Swiss dish, and a great way to try the incredible breads and cheeses!
Chocolate: Swiss. Chocolate. need I say more?
Papet Vaudois: Basically potato and leek stew. This is particularly good with sausage in it.
Rosti: Delicious, thinly sliced and roasted potatoes usually topped with cheese, meat, or egg (or all three).
Let's go back to talking about those breads and cheeses again... I'm drooling just thinking about them! Eat as much as you can get your hands on...
Switzerland is incredibly expensive. Be prepared and make a budget before you go! Personally, I focused my money on adventures (like canyoning) and food, but you should prioritize as you see fit!
Switzerland is one of the safety places in Europe, but as with any country normal "be smart" rules apply. Keep an eye on your purse, wallet, and passport (pick pockets are common in most major cities around the world). Don't wander around unfamiliar areas at night unless you've checked with your hotel/hostel/Airbnb first to make sure it's a safe area.
Check the weather if you're going to the mountains, and be prepared for altitude change! You don't want to get stuck on the side of a mountain skiing or snowboarding only to find that a snow storm is rolling in. Be aware of the conditions before venturing out. Remember that if you're from a coastal area, the altitude will be very different. This may make you sleepier than normal, and you should be sure to drink more water than normal.
Transportation in Switzerland:
Switzerland has some of the best and safest transportation systems in the world. They're incredible, and always on time! You can easily bus/tram/metro wherever you need to go.
It's a very active country, so you can easily walk or rent a bike to get around the city.
There are many different kinds of transportation access cards -- find them here and pick whichever is best for your purposes!
If you're going to be traveling between cities or countries in Europe, I recommend getting a Eurail Pass. I bought a one month unlimited pass and was able to take as many trips, to as many countries as I liked for one flat rate. You can buy them for almost any length of time for whichever countries or regions you prefer. There are lots of discount flight websites if you prefer to fly. I particularly like Ryanair, Rome2Rio, and Google Flights.