Oh. Em. Geeeee!!! Switzerland is like walking into a freaking Disney storybook! Everything is just absolutely breathtaking! The Swiss Alps, the gorgeous reflection of the mountains on the lakes, the architecture...well, you get the point. All that to say, we loved our trip to Switzerland and would go back in a heartbeat. Really our only complaint was how unearthly expensive everything was, but I guess that's the price you pay for those stunning views.
If you've followed along with our previous travels, you know that we like to do lots of research ahead of time to avoid the "what should we do today" question and already have some well thought out options. We are always flexible based on the weather forecast and how we're feeling, but we always like to be prepared! So here is our itinerary for our unforgettable trip to Switzerland in August and I hope it can help you plan yours.
P.S. We really planned this trip to escape the unbearable summer heat in Salerno, Italy and are incredibly thankful we did. The heat was making us incredibly cranky as sweaty people often are. Of course check the weather ahead of time as this year Europe has experienced an insane heat wave, but while we were in Zermatt the highest temp was 73° F/22°C. Zurich was on the warmer side, but still cooler than Southern Italy!
We arrived in Zurich arriving on Swiss Air which after only flying with Ryan Air and Easy Jet was like flying on a private jet. They passed out Swiss chocolate before we departed and you would have thought we each received $100. We were so pumped! I digress. After taking the train to our hotel, we went into the center of Zurich and walked up to Lindenhof Hill for a panoramic view of the city. Boy was it worth it. Such a peaceful place with people playing chess, locals picnicking and people just chatting and overall enjoying their time...not sweating. (See a theme here?) We then went for a stroll, wandering the streets of Zurich, and enjoying views of Lake Zurich before eating dinner at Zeughauskeller.
We checked out of our hotel in Zurich and took the train to Zurich Main Station where we bought our Swiss Travel Pass. Now let me tell you, it was an i-n-v-e-s-t-m-e-n-t, but totally worth it. We were going to be traveling to and from Zermatt so buying this allowed us to make some additional stops in other cities and provided discounts on some of the mountain railways we planned on doing in Zermatt. So yes, we paid a lot upfront, but it ultimately saved us money. THIS is why we plan.
After checking into the Best Western Hotel Butterfly, grabbing lunch and changing into some more comfortable hiking clothes, we took the Gornergrat Bahn (saved 50% using our Swiss Travel Pass) and went up to the very top, soaking in all the views of the majestic Matterhorn. One the way up, we recommend sitting on the right side for the best views of the Matterhorn.
We were smitten. It was absolutely incredible! After exploring and enjoying the views, we hopped back on the mountain railway for one stop to Rottenboden where we jumped off again to hike around and enjoy this beautiful lake where the Matterhorn reflects on the water (Riffelsee). This lush meadow hike was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. We hiked down to the next stop, Riffelberg where we grabbed a beer, obvi, and then decided we wanted to do some more hiking so we jumped on the mountain railway one last time to Riffelalp and then hiked the rest of the way down into Zermatt. We definitely earned our fondue that evening!
After enjoying a leisurely breakfast at our hotel we walked to the Matterhorn Express cable car (about a 20 minute walk from the city center) and purchased a ticket, again saving 50% with our Swiss Travel Pass, to Klein Matterhorn, which is the highest peak station, for snowy views. The cable car ride itself is 45 minutes one way which provided some gorgeous views (no surprise there) on the way up and back. Also, it was incredible how different the Matterhorn looked from this vantage point. After we enjoyed the cool air, a brief walk in the snow, and the Glacier Palace, we started making our way back to Zermatt. We stopped where we change cable cars at Trockener Steg where we enjoyed some surprisingly tasty Indian food while soaking in the views. David and I often turned to each other as if to be like "is this real?". We were constantly in awe of our surroundings.
After arriving back in Zermatt and enjoying a late afternoon tea, we changed and went on the hunt for some Swiss chocolate which can easily be found in the area. We walked back past the cable car to some grassy fields to enjoy our Swiss chocolate with our last views of the Matterhorn before dinner.
It was sadly time to leave the beautiful city of Zermatt so we jumped on the train, but decided to take a detour back to Zurich in Lucerne. Again, this city did not disappoint with a lively lake view surrounded by snow capped mountains and a beautiful pathway underneath the trees just begging you to go on a stroll. We happily obliged and spent an hour walking along the lake and of course stopping to walk the famous wooden bridge and enjoying the church views before making our way to Zurich. After dinner in the city we strolled around looking for ice cream and once we found some we just sat down and enjoyed the peaceful city with mesmerizing scenery we will not soon forget.
We flew out the next morning saddened to go back to the unforgiving heat in Italy, but with a new appreciation for all the beauty that can be found in Europe. We can't believe we can just easily pop up into a new country with different languages in culture in just an hour and a half. As tough as it can be living here sometimes, the ease of travel is truly a gift.
Switzerland in the summer exceeded my wildest expectations so if you find yourself able to go, don't think twice and just GO! You won't regret it.
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