Before embarking on this trip to Switzerland, I never once thought planning a vacation during the winter was a good idea. You invest so much time and money in traveling, the last thing you want to be is cold. In the past, I’d sometimes opt for more local experiences in the winter, like spending the weekend in Tahoe while I was living in Northern California. But I learned while planning my trip to Switzerland that some destinations are worth traveling to during winter, which is probably why you’re also here. This is the ultimate 5-day Switzerland Itinerary, winter edition.
Day 1: Arrive at Lake Lucerne
When visiting Switzerland in the winter, a good place to start your journey is Lake Lucerne. It’s a beautiful town that’s just an hour’s train ride from Zurich, and gets you a bit closer to places like Interlaken.
If you do decide to start your journey in Lucerne, Zurich will be the best international airport to fly into.
Things to do in Lake Lucerne in the Winter
- Take the tram up to Mount Rigi for the ultimate spa experience in the snow
- Try the Swiss’s famous fondue dish
- Walk across the historical Chapel Bridge
- Walk through a Christmas Market with mulled wine in hand
Where to Stay in Lake Lucerne
I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Hotel Beau Séjour. In fact, their breakfast is probably my favorite meal in Switzerland! For roughy 20 Euros each we had access to a huge spread of breads, ham, cheese, yogurt, coffees, and teas. The best part was that they had freshly made croissants, made-to-order coffee and hard boiled eggs. I did not hesitate to go back for that second round.
How to Get Around in Lucerne
Lucerne is small enough that you can walk to most attractions. If you do end up booking your stay at Hotel Beau Sejour, you will want to take advantage of the free bus that is included with the Visitor Pass that comes with your stay.
I’ve heard renting a car is also a good option while you’re traveling in Switzerland in general. It gives you the freedom to drive to all the scenic spots on your own schedule, and is often quicker than taking the train.
Day 2: Take a Scenic Train to Interlaken, Crash Landing On You Film Site
Today is the day to go on a scenic train ride! Regardless of whether or not you are visiting Switzerland during the winter, taking a scenic train ride in the country is a must.
Researching which scenic train ride to take in Switzerland can be very daunting, but we were off to a good start by picking Lucerne as our starting point. In the end, Alan and I narrowed it down to the Lucern <-> Interlaken route that made the most sense for our 5-day trip.
We booked a round trip ticket through SBB rail. The journey was 2.5 hours and the train itself was everything we imagined, with large windows that extended to the ceiling, and the ride was very comfortable. A round trip ticket costed 70 CHF per person which was a little pricey, but also to be expected when you’re traveling in Switzerland!
Things to Do in Interlaken
Once you arrive in Interlaken, you’ll realize there is so much to do in so little time. I recommend going tandem paragliding and taking the bus to see the film site of the popular Korean Drama Crash Landing On You.
Day 3: Do a Winter Sport: Paragliding, Skiing, Sledding
One of the main draws of Switzerland in the winter is winter sports!
A 43 minute train ride away from Lucerne, Engelberg Ski Resort is a good place to spend the day skiing and snowboarding to your heart’s content. You can take the Zentralbahn Luzern–Engelberg Express train to Engelberg, and from there take the Titlis-Rotair aerial cable car to the top of the mountain.
Wanderer Tip: Picking the right things to pack for your ski trip can be difficult. Here are 13 essentials you need to pack for your next ski trip.
Another option is to visit Mount Rigi for some sledding. To get to Mount Rigi, take the ferry to the Rigi tram that will lift you up Mount Rigi where everything will be covered in snow! But you don’t have to go to Mount Rigi just for sledding, for day four I’ll show you how to spend an entire day on the snow-covered mass.
Day 4: Enjoy a Hot Bath Atop Mount Rigi
By day 4 of your 5-day winter vacation in Switzerland, you’ll have had the opportunity to be on a train, an aerial cable car, and a bus. Why not also hop on a ferry and explore Lucerne on water? Your journey to Mount Rigi will give you the opportunity to do just that.
Mount Rigi is a part of the renowned Swiss Alps and is situated 5,897′ above sea level. To get there you’ll first have to hop on a ferry at Lake Lucerne, on which you’ll have the opportunity to take in gorgeous mountain views from the lake. Then you’ll take the Rigi cogwheel train (another 40 minutes) to the top of the mountain. The view on the cogwheel train is spectacular and is something you’ll want to make time for in your 5-day itinerary to Switzerland!
On Mount Rigi, you can go on a hike (yes even in the winter), go sledding, or enjoy a nice relaxing spa. Before you know it, you’ll have spent a full day there!
Day 5: Find the Best Hot Chocolate in Zurich
Be warned. Once you’ve gotten a taste of the hot chocolate in Switzerland, you won’t be able to go back to the single-pack powder stuff. Switzerland is known for its fine chocolates, so be sure to get a fresh taste of that while you’re there.
On the final day of your 5-day Switzerland itinerary, go on a chocolate hunt in Switzerland, and make sure you make a stop at the end for hot cocoa.
Where to Get Chocolate in Switzerland
- Confiserie Teuscher
- Max Chocolatier
- Confiserie Sprüngli
- Café & Conditorei 1842 – where I found my favorite hot chocolate!
The Best 5 Days in Switzerland
5 Days in Switzerland is not a lot of time. But if you follow this itinerary, you’ll be able to get a taste of winter in Switzerland and how beautiful the country looks covered in powder!
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