With 2 weeks in Switzerland, you have a bit more breathing time, and you can take in less touristy cities like Basel as well as more esoteric destinations, such as Gruyères of cheese fame and folk culture capital Appenzell.
Days 1 & 2: Geneva: Your Entry into Switzerland
On this trip, we enter Switzerland from its French-speaking western frontier, the international city of Geneva. If you arrive early enough, take our morning walking tour, which will allow you to explore the quays and the Old Town, including such attractions as the famous Jet d’Eau fountain, trademark of the city, as well as Old Town landmarks like Place di Bourge-de-Four. In the afternoon, visit the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire (Museum of Art and History), with a fabulous collection covering everything from Swiss timepieces to Picasso, and the Musée Ariana, one of Europe’s top pottery and glass museums. Allow about an hour for each, and, if time allows, duck into the Palais des Nations, former seat of the League. Overnight in Geneva.
On Day 2, while still based in Geneva, take a steamer ship on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). In the summer, you can depart at 10:15am to Lausanne, then take the train back. Or, since you’re already going to Lausanne later, consider disembarking at one of the other delightful towns along the lake, such as Morges or Nyon, and catching a train or boat back.
Day 3: Montreux: Chief Resort of the Swiss Riviera
It’s best to rent a car for this stretch of the trip. Drive 100km (62 miles) east from Geneva and you’ll arrive at Montreux, the chic resort on Lac Léman. Expect a warmer climate as you explore the Château of Chillon, which Lord Byron wrote about in The Prisoner of Chillon. After lunch, take the cogwheel train to the summit of Rochers-de-Naye, at 2,042m (6,698 ft.), for one of the greatest vistas in all of western Switzerland. That night, if you’re a gambler, you can descend on Casino Barrière de Montreux.
Days 4 & 5: Vevey & Lausanne
In the morning, drive 6km (4 miles) northwest of Montreux, arriving in Vevey, home to global food giant Nestlé and the final residence of Charlie Chaplin. Start your exploration at Grand-Place, the large market square and town nerve center. All the museums are pretty small, but if you have time for one, make it Musée Historique de Vevey for its section of winemaking relics. Otherwise, head up to Corsier to Chaplin’s World, to explore the actor’s home before continuing to Lausanne, which lies 18km (11 miles) to the west. On the way, stop by the UNESCO-protected vineyard terraces of the Lavaux winemaking region, taking some time for a meal and a glass of the signature product. Check in to a hotel in Lausanne for 2 nights.
On the morning of Day 5, explore Lausanne’s Haute Ville, or Upper Town. Allow 2 hours for a visit here. Once you return to the train station, head over to Platforme 10, the newest major museum in Switzerland, built where an old railway maintenance building use to stand. For a change of pace, take one of the lake steamers leaving every hour in summer, heading for the resort of Evian-les-Bains just across the French border. Walk its lakeside promenade before returning to Lausanne. Back on Swiss soil, you can take a stroll along the quai in Ouchy, the port area along the lakefront, especially the promenades, Quai de Belgique and Quai d’Ouchy. Filled with tropical plants, these gardens stretch for half a mile. Overnight in Lausanne.
Day 6: Gruyères & Fribourg
Leave Lausanne in the morning and head 56km (35 miles) northeast to the small town of Gruyères, known for its château and its namesake cheese. Take an hour to visit the Château Gruyères, filled with art and antiques. Allow another hour to visit the Maison du Gruyère, a model dairy where the famed cheese is made (p. ###). If the free samples here haven’t sated your cheese cravings, have raclette for lunch—the traditional Swiss specialty, just like moitié-moitié fondue, is served all over town.
Continue on to Fribourg for the night, 35km (22 miles) north of Gruyères. You can stroll around this university city, set between lakes and mountains, and visit its major attraction, St. Nicholas’s Cathedral. Allow 30 minutes, and if time remains, duck into the Eglise des Cordeliers, a historic Franciscan church. Overnight in Fribourg.
Days 7 & 8: Murten & Bern
Leave Fribourg in the morning and drive 18km (11 miles) north to Murten. Allow an hour for a walk along its medieval ramparts, plus another 40 minutes to stroll its main street, Hauptgasse. You can also pay a 45-minute visit to the Museum Murten, installed in an 8th-century mill.
After lunch, set out for Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Check in to a hotel for 2 nights. With the time remaining in the afternoon, visit the famous BearPark, and the Münster (Cathedral of St. Vincent), with its celebrated tympanum over the main portal.
On the morning of Day 8, spend at least 1 1/2 hours in the Kunstmuseum (Fine Arts Museum), with its exceptional collection of world art dating from the 1300s. Before the morning ends, take our 2-hour walking tour of the Altstadt. After lunch, spend about an hour visiting the Historisches Museum Bern (Bern Historic Museum). To cap your visit, take the funicular to Mount Gurten at 844m (2,768 ft.) for one of the grandest panoramas in the area. Cap your final evening in Bern off with a drink in the former granary, the Kornhauskeller.
Leave Bern in the morning and drive 43km (27 miles) north to Solothurn. This town at the foot of the Jura mountains offers a rewarding 3 hours of exploration, as you visit its Old Town on the left bank of the Aare River. With time remaining, call at the Kunstmuseum Solothurn (Municipal Fine Arts Museum), taking in such paintings as the Madonna of Solothurn by Holbein the Younger.
After lunch continue to drive north into Basel, a distance of 69km (43 miles). Spend the afternoon exploring this culture-rich city on the Rhine, and budget a few hours for the Museum Jean Tinguely and Fondation Beyeler, one of Switzerland’s finest modern art museums. Overnight in Basel.
Days 10 & 11: Lucerne: Lake Tours & Mountain Vistas
From Basel, drive 96km (60 miles) southeast to the city of Lucerne. After checking in to a hotel for 2 nights, spend your morning taking our walking tour, which covers the scenic highlights. In the afternoon, load up on train info at the Swiss Transport Museum.
Spend Day 11 on an excursion to Mount Pilatus, described above under “Switzerland in 1 Week,” Day 4. Another option here—or if you have another day to spare—is a visit to Rigi, 24km (15 miles) east of Lucerne. A train or cable car gets you up to the summit (1,680m/5,510 ft.) for the most famous mountain view in Switzerland—even Mark Twain wrote about it.
Day 12: Appenzell: Strong on Folklore
From Lucerne, take a 129km (80-mile) detour to Appenzell, the most folkloric town of northeastern Switzerland. Take about 2 hours to explore the town, doing some shopping along the Hauptgasse for regional handicrafts. Have lunch at Hof, before heading out in the afternoon to visit Ebenalp, a distance of 7km (4.5 miles). This jagged promontory at 1,640m (5,380 ft.) offers one of the most stunning panoramas of the Appenzell region. For an even grander look, visit Mount Säntis, the highest summit in the area at 2,502m (8,208 ft.) and the single most spectacular view of eastern Switzerland. It’s 22km (14 miles) west of Appenzell. Return to Appenzell for the night.
Days 13 & 14: Zurich
For your final days in Switzerland, head west from Appenzell for 99km (62 miles) to the metropolis of Zurich. For general orientation, follow our walking tour, which will take you into the Altstadt and along the historic waterfront promenades by the Limmat River.
In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum) for a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Swiss people.
On Day 14, your final day in Switzerland, see Chagall’s stained-glass windows in the Fraumünster, admire the Romanesque and Gothic cathedral of Grossmünster, and spend some time at the Kunsthaus Zürich (Fine Arts Museum) viewing its treasure-trove of art. After lunch, take in the Botanischer Garten, and if enough time remains, take the mountain railway to Uetliberg for one of the great panoramic views of the area. Return to the city to dine on hearty regional cuisine at Zeughauskeller or Opfelchammer.
After a good night’s sleep, take one of Zurich’s many air, rail or bus connections back home or to your next destination in Europe.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.