Like so many of us, we took a travel hiatus due to the craziness of the last 2 years. We planned to travel to Switzerland during the summer of 2020 and you know how that ended…CANCELLED. Then we ambitiously booked it again for the summer of 2021… and CANCELLED again! The third time is a charm, they say! 2022 is our year!
You’d think we’d be a pro at planning this trip, right? Not so much. Each time the itinerary has changed quite a bit and gotten a little more expensive, of course! Thanks, inflation!
We flew in and out of Zurich and picked 3 areas to focus on…Lauterbrunnen, Zermatt, and Lucerne. I’ll break down each one and share what we did in and around the areas.
First stop, Lauterbrunnen! Lauterbrunnen is located in the Jungfrau Region. It has its own transportation system that is not validated by the Swiss Travel Pass. We purchased a 3-day Jungfrau Travel pass which was worth every penny! It gave us a discount on the Top of Europe (a must-see), free bus rides, free or discounted gondola rides, and was easy to flash the tickets that were added to my phone wallet.
We stayed in a super cute Airbnb that had a fantastic view of Staubbach Falls. It was located on the bus route which we learned after we lugged our bags through the hills and trails the first day.
It is a beautiful tranquil town with just a few restaurants and a small Coop grocery store.
Arrival Day: after settling into our Airbnb, the kids and I went into town to grab some groceries. Little did we know, the Coop grocery stores would become a frequent stop for us throughout the trip. We also scouted out a dinner spot.
Day 1 – Trummlebach Falls – took the bus to Trummblebach falls and took the self-guided tour of super powerful waterfalls. Be sure to pack a raincoat as you will get wet from the mist. Gary had to work that afternoon, so the kids and I walked to Staubbach falls, the waterfall we can see from our balcony. It is a steep climb but so neat to be able to look out from behind the waterfall. We enjoyed walking back on a trail along the raging river back to our place.
Day 2: Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe – We packed our puffers and prepared for the journey up the mountain. We started early as recommended by many bloggers. Took the train to Wengen, then hopped on another couple of trains to the top. We definitely felt the temp drop at the top. At the top, we did All The Things…, took in the breathtaking views, Ice Palace, walked through the snow, snapped all the photo ops, and indulged in Lindt Chocolate. Once finished, we took the Eiger Express gondola back down into Grindelwald. After a quick lunch and reset at our Airbnb, we decided to head to Murren and check out Schilthorn – Piz Gloria, where a James Bond was filmed. Again, more fabulous views and some 007 fun! Before we headed back, we wanted to check out Wengen. Wengen overlooks Lauterbrunnen. We found an Italian restaurant and had dinner before heading home.
Day 3: Grindelwald – First – Took a train to Grindelwald then a gondola up to First where we did the super fun Mountain Carts. After the mountain carts, we took the gondola up again for a hike to Bachalpsee Lake. It is about a 4-mile hike total (2 miles to lake and back). The views on this hike were some of my favorite. As I look back at the pictures, it doesn’t even look real. It was incredibly stunning! We hit up the Coop in Grindelwald since it was a bit bigger and enjoyed a picnic with yummy premade sandwiches and chips and our favorite Caffe Latte drinks!
Next stop, Zermatt:
Day 4 -This is where our Swiss Rail Pass came into play. We traveled via train to Zermatt (~3.5 hrs with 3 changes). Our Airbnb was right off the main street in Old Town Zermatt. We walked around checking it all out, found a Coop for groceries, and grabbed a quick dinner.
Day 5 – Checked the weather and decided that today was a good day to catch a clear view of the Matterhorn. Got up early to head out on the 5 Lakes Hike. Followed the AllTrails app as we hiked. We hit 4/5 of the lakes and somehow missed one, oh well! We hiked through, Vrony where we stumbled upon Paradise, a little mountainside restaurant. We had been waiting to have fondue until we found the perfect spot. Paradise was it! We enjoyed fondue with an amazing view of the Matterhorn!
Day 6 – We all agreed to take a day trip somewhere, just had to decide where. Ultimately, we chose Bern, the capital of Switzerland. It was a 2-hour train ride to get there. We started by visiting the Zytglogge, the clock tower, and trying to find as many fountains around the city. I had read that the Rosengarten had great views of the city so we headed there next. Yep, stunning views of Old Town and Aare River! Grabbed a quick lunch before we headed back to Zermatt. Enjoyed a fun dinner out at Club Mamacita in Old Town .
Day 7 – Leave for Lucerne – (3.5hr train ride from Zermatt to Lucerne with 2 changes) Stayed at Hotel Hermitage which was a 10 bus ride to town and right on the lake. A hotel felt nice at the end of our trip and with a lakeside Beach Club bar and access to paddleboards. While we waited for our room to be ready, we walked around town for a bit to check things out. Saw the Chapel Bridge and walked along the lake back to our Hotel. Enjoyed drinks by the lake and took a dip in the frigid water.
Day 8 – Mt. Pilatus Toboggan – Took the bus to the Mt. Pilatus gondola to ride the longest summer toboggan on the Fräkmüntegg mountain. You can hike up or down the mountain, but we were not prepared for that so we rode the gondola both ways. Once back in town, we walked along the Musegg wall and checked out a few of the 9 towers. As we were walking back, we decided to hop on a ferry to check out the views from the lake. Lake Luzern and the mountains surrounding it are just gorgeous. After a full day, we changed into swimsuits to play in the lake. Hopped on a couple of paddleboards and cruised around the lake. Glad I didn’t fall in because the water was so cold!
Day 9 – Zip off to Zurich – Train ride from Luzern Banhof-Zurich HB was only 45 minutes with no stops! Checked into Hotel Bristol for the night and packed in as much as we could in one day. Walked around the city and then decided to check out the Lindt Home of Chocolate Museum…it was delicious! I have to say that I never knew all that went into making chocolate. I have a whole new appreciation for it. The chocolate fountains were a family fave for sure! As we were heading back, we stumbled upon a quaint swimming spot so we dipped our feet in and took in the views. Later we decided that we couldn’t go back without a proper Swiss meal. So we found Rheinfelder Bierhalle and had sausage and rosti (pretty much a huge hashbrown) and tried all the local drinks…beer, cider, and Rivella and Vivi Kola for the kids. Then Zane found a sweet gelato spot for dessert. A great way to end our vacay.
After three years of planning, our Swiss Summer was definitely worth the wait!
We flew Delta. ATX-NYC-Zurich going and return was Zurich-Amsterdam-NYC-ATX (Our return was a 24+ hour travel day).
Swiss Travel Pass: We chose the 2nd class, 15 day flex pass. We realized we probably didn’t need the flex option, FYI. We bought the 15 day pass for ease. Although we could have used the 9 day pass and bought tickets for a day or two, we really just didn’t want the extra hassel. Gary did have to activate the 2 adult passes each day that we wanted to use them since they were flex. We would just add to our phone wallet to show the attendants. Once you add kids to your order you automatically get the family pass which you don’t have to activate daily. So kids had their pass on their phone so it was easy to flash to the attendant when they came through.
Jungfrau Travel Pass: We purchased the 3-day pass which was perfect. Just added the passes to my phone wallet and showed attendants as needed.
To check train/bus/gondola timetables, I used the SBB Mobile App which was very user-friendly. Gary preferred Google searches. To each his own, I guess! I just found the SBB Mobile App to be very accurate and easy.