Holy SMOKES guys, I just went to the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to in my entire life and I can’t even begin to wrap my head around it. A magical country called…. SWITZERLAND. Keep scrolling for my complete Switzerland travel guide!
I can’t count the number of times in my life someone has asked me “where’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?” I’ve always had such a difficult time answering it because there are so many places that I love, but in hindsight, I had a difficult time answering that question because I had never been to Switzerland! It is by far my new favorite place that I’ve ever visited, and I’ll tell you why.
- It is just GD Be-a-utiful. Like absolutely stunning. Everywhere you go feels like you’re walking around in a postcard. We went during the winter and the snow-covered alps were like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
- The culture. So, I’m a sucker for Germany too.. absolutely LOVE Germany, and Switzerland has a lot of similar aspects to it. For one, they speak German (and French) in Switzerland. Two, the food is very similar. Three, the architecture is similar.
- We only had time to visit 4 cities in Switzerland, but they were all so different and so beautiful in their own way. We went to the ski town of Verbier, the mountaintops of Gstaad, stayed along the lake in Lucerne, and experienced the hustle and bustle of the city in Zurich.
- The adventure. We really had NO idea what we were getting ourselves into. My friend and I knew we wanted to go to Verbier, but we played everything else by ear. It’s one of my favorite ways to travel honestly. Plan your first couple of nights before you go, then rent a car upon arrival, explore and figure out the rest as you go. I know that gives some people anxiety, but I loveddd it.
- The company. You know what they say “it’s not about the road you travel, but those you travel it with.” I was lucky enough to meet up with three different friend groups while I was in Switzerland. First my British/Portugese friend and photographer Benni, who y’all know from Instagram came with me for the first 3 days. Then another good friend of mine from San Francisco met me there for the next 3 days *** Update this “good friend of mine” was actually KILLIAN*** (aka my now boyfriend for those of you who don’t follow along on Instagram 🙂 ), and lastly a couple that I like to call my “German Parents.” I met them at Oktoberfest in Munich 5 years ago and have stayed close with them, so they drove down from Germany to meet me for a couple of days too!
Below is where we stayed, where we ate, and what we did in each place. Hope it helps you plan your trip to Switzerland because you will LOVE it!
Switzerland Travel Guide: Zurich
How much time we spent there: 2 days
Where we stayed: I’m a Marriott Girl, so we stayed at some Marriott hotels with my points because Zurich is EXPENSIVE.
- Courtyard Marriott– we stayed here our first night because we arrived late and it was a cheap option near the airport
- Kameha– We stayed here on our last night because it was also near the aiport, but it’s an autograph collection hotel, so much nicer than the Courtyard, but still reasonably affordable for Zurich
- The Marriott– We stayed here for 2 nights while we explored Zurich because it was walking distance to all of the sights we wanted to see.
Where we ate:
- Widder Bar and Restaurant– Great bar and restaurant. The downstairs bar is more casual with live music and a lively bar scene on the weekends, while the upstairs restaurant tends to be a little fancier.
- Sternen Grill– Y’all know I love hot dogs and this place is home of the most famous bratwursts in Zurich since 1963! It’s a to-go place where they serve sausages without the buns, but very authentic to Zurich.
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bynn_wgHV-b/
- Sprungli– Great shop for delicious Swiss chocolates and macaroons. You can find these throughout the city, but there’s one in the main train station for your convenience.
- Zum Kropf– A quaint local place my local friends brought us for dinner one night. Order the “Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch Zurcherart”—you won’t regret it.
Where we drank:
- Jules Verne Panoramabar– An enclosed circular rooftop bar that overlooks the city of Zurich.
Pic credit: https:/www.instagram.com/p/Blm1WUggMn_/
- Aelpli-Bar– a small little local dive bar with traditional live music.
- Widder Bar– The downstairs bar is lively and has live music on the weekends.
Switzerland Travel Guide: Verbier
How much time we spent there: 3 days (Wish we could have stayed longer)
Where we stayed:
- Farinet Hotel– Not only is this a hotel, but a bar, restaurant, and club that is home to one of the best Apres ski parties in Europe!
Where we ate:
- Farinet Restaurant– We ordered the “Mountain Platter,” which essentially is a taste of everything on the menu. 10/10 would order again. But if you’re going to order one thing, order the cheese sticks!
- Le Carrefour– A restaurant located at the highest point that you can drive to in Verbier. You can also ski in and ski out here and it has great traditional food for lunch. You can’t beat the views either!
Where we drank:
Alright, so here’s the lowdown on where/how to drink during ski season in Verbier. The Apres Ski party starts around 2:00-3:00 at a place called Icecube, which is located on the mountain. Once you finish up at icecube, you continue down the mountain to Le Rouge, where the party continues until about 6:00. Then after that you finish the Apres Ski party at the Farinet bar where they have a live band until 9:00. After that everyone goes to eat dinner and reconvenes for drinks at a local place called The Lodge and then heads back to the Farinet Hotel for their late night club, “South.”
Pic credit: https://www.kvhotels.com/fr/restaurants-bar-verbier/ice-cube.html?utm_source=organic_mybusiness
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BvY2_DmlD-2/
- Vinabagnes– outdoor beers in center of town
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bd5I-9gg80X/
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0Q-UJtB1v1/
Pic credit: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/fitness-spa-services/details/gvawh-w-verbier/6035278/
Switzerland Travel Guide: Lucerne
How much time we spent there: 1 Night (Would recommend 1-2)
Where we stayed:
- Hotel des Balances– I cannot say enough about how much I LOVED this hotel! It was so cute and quaint and sat right along the river with the most incredible views I’ve ever seen. So, this was actually the first trip Killian and I ever took together…. literally had only met twice in our lives before we casually went on this romantic getaway to Lucerne. I’d be lying if I said we did anything except for hang on our balcony at Hotel Balances and go out to eat. We were so in love with our room and balcony at Hotel des Balances that we ended up spending all day and night there, except to leave for meals. We drank all the drinks on that balcony from coffee to champagne to wine. I mean with these views, how could you leave? They also have a DELICIOUS breakfast.. we still talk about their pancakes to this day.
Where we ate:
- Restaurant Zunfthaus zu Pfistern– A local and traditional restaurant for cheese fondue!
Where we drank:
- Hotel des Balances– I’m sorry I don’t have more to report, but I promise you won’t want to leave the balcony of this hotel either, ha!
Switzerland Travel Guide: Gstaad
How much time we spent there: 1 day (Would recommend longer, especially if you are a skier or snowboarder)
Where we stayed:
- Hotel Iglu Dorf– Y’all this was one of the most unique places I have ever been in my life. An IGLU HOTEL. Yes, a real iglu. They build the hotel of snow and ice every single year and then it melts away in the summer. This is definitely an experience, but as you may expect… your bedroom is ICE COLD. I don’t think I would survive here for more than a night, but it definitely was a cool experience. Also, something we didn’t expect… the hotel is situated at the top of a mountain, so we had to pay the ski lift price just to get up to the hotel and check in. It was nearly $100 for 2 of us to get up and down the mountain! Although it’s pricey, I will say it was worth it for these views.
Pic credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiGEvbOguY0/
Tips and Advice for Traveling to Switzerland
- Whenever I go to Europe, I find the cheapest flight I can find TO Europe and then book cheaper flights within Europe. I flew roundtrip from Nashville to London and then booked a roundtrip flight from London to Switzerland. It’s not ALWAYS the best way to do it, but if you can’t find affordable flights from the USA direct to Switzerland, it’s worth looking into. Also, I always find my flights on Google Flights… it’s the best way to find the best deals.
- We decided to rent a car because we didn’t know exactly where we wanted to go and the weather was great while we were there. If you already have a set itinerary and don’t want to deal with icy and snowy roads (if you’re traveling in the winter), Swiss Rail is a really great rail system. Renting a car for 4 days was about the same amount of money we would have spent getting 2 train tickets to and from the places we wanted to go.
- When people say Switzerland is expensive, it’s no joke. All I have to say is this… a Whopper from Burger King was $17. That being said, we managed to do alright. We took full advantage of the breakfasts at the hotels if they were included. We ate at a sausage stand one day (although it was still about $50 for 3 sausages and a potato salad.. yikes). But just be prepared before you go, that eating and drinking is very expensive. We also bought some wine upon arrival at duty free in the airport to save some money.
- They only use Swiss Franks. A lot of people think that they’ll be able to use Euros when they travel to Switzerland, but that’s not the case.
- The outlets are different than everywhere else in Europe, but European plugs and adapters still work in Switzerland. I was bamboozled at the airport into buying 3 new “Switzerland specific” adapters, but my European ones worked just fine.
- Most definitely get out of Zurich. Zurich is AMAZING, but traveling through the mountains and seeing other parts of Switzerland was by far my favorite part.
- Brush up on your German and French. Depending on the region you’re in people will either speak predominantly German or French. Of course you’ll find that a lot of people speak English, but I always think it’s nice to know at least a couple words in the native language to show the locals you’re not an ignorant American and that you’re trying to learn their culture and language. Just learning “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and “goodbye” will go a long way!