Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary – Things To Know Before Going For a Road Trip In Switzerland
A Switzerland road trip was something I was dreaming about long time ago. Finally in 2020 I headed with my van for a road trip in Switzerland from Spain and passing by France. You will find amazing valleys, mountains, lakes and hikes in your Swiss road trip. Click here to get the best deals renting a car in Switzerland!
The roads are amazing and you will be driving in Switzerland thru gorgeous landscapes. As you heard Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world but I will give you some tips to make your trip in Switzerland on a budget.
BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
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INTERNET AND WIFI CONNECTION IN SWITZERLAND
There are over 1,700 public WiFi hotspots in Switzerland. Some are free to use for a limited time, especially in establishments like hotels and bars, train stations, and even on the slopes of popular ski resorts. It’s also possible for you to pay a fee to use the public WiFi for hourly, daily, or even monthly use of this access.
As with most overseas travel, the most convenient way to stay connected is to purchase or subscribe to your own mobile hotspot or data pack. Whichever way you choose to go online, internet connections in Switzerland are fast and reliable.
SIM CARD AT ZURICH AIRPORT
I wouldn’t recommend you to buy a sim card at Zurich airport. If you wish comfort you can buy eSim online and if you aren’t in a hurry just go around phone shops in the city and compare prices to buy the cheapest sim card in Zurich. Read here best Switzerland sim card and best Switzerland eSim
You can find the cheapest Swiss eSim with Nomad Switzerland eSim for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $15 USD with 3 GB data valid for 30 days. For $17 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days. For $24 USD with 10 GB data and for $34 USD with 20 GB data.
Airalo Switzerland eSim prepaid for $8 USD with 1 GB data valid for 7 days. For $18 USD with 3 GB data, for $27 USD with 5 GB data valid for 30 days. For $39 USD with 10 GB data valid for 30 days. (USING DISCOUNT CODE GAMINTRAVELER 10%
Things To Know Before Going For a Road Trip In Switzerland
First thing you need a car, a van or a motorhome. If you are bringing your own card from another country in European Union you will be able to drive with your driving license and with your car insurance (as it happened to me coming from Spain). If you are renting a car in Switzerland can cost you the cheapest around 40 CHF with insurance included per day.
If you want to drive in the highways during your Switzerland road trip you need a Swiss Motorway Vignette. The Swiss Highway Vignette is a sticker that you have to put in the front of your car. It costs 40 CHF and it will last for one year.
You can buy the Vignette in the supermarket, post office and petrol stations. If you a renting a car in Switzerland you will not have to buy since they have already in the rental company.
It’s not necessary to buy the Vignette if you don’t drive in the highways in Switzerland. But it will save you a lot of time when driving around the cities especially in the Northern part of Zurich, Bern, Basel and Lucerne. You can drive between those cities without entering the highways but it will take you a long time.
Be careful if you drive into the highways without the Vignette you can get an expensive ticket in Switzerland in the same way with the speed limits.
Apart from the general rules for your road trip in Switzerland respecting the speed limits, in the Vignette you will have to turn on the lights during the day and at night. You will realize all the cars do it!
The green signs will be indicating the highways mandatory to have the Vignette and the Blue signs are the secondary roads where you can drive without the Vignette. Obviously the speed limit is higher in the highways 120 km/h and around 70km/h in the secondary roads.
Parking in Switzerland
Parking your car in Switzerland the yellow sign means you can’t park they are private. You can park for free in the blue ones but only for 1 hour during the day and the whole night and you need to put the Blue Disk (you can buy in gas stations and supermarkets for 3 CHF).
In the white line you can park a maximum of 2 hours during the day but you need to pay. And you can park for free at night time usually in the cities. But you need to check the limited time for parking there since it’s not fixed and it can change in the cities and outside the cities in Switzerland.
Make sure you are bringing coins sometimes it’s not allowed to pay with a credit card. Parking fees aren’t so expensive in Switzerland but it’s hard to find for free.
Basic Needs During Your Switzerland Road Trip
The most important basic things during your road trip in Switzerland that you should know. Toilets are for free in Switzerland you can use Google maps to find them, petrol stations, parks in the cities and even in resting areas. Everything is clean and sometimes you will find tables to eat something and rest a little bit from your driving.
Apart from free toilets in Switzerland you will also find free water in fountains everywhere in Switzerland from cities to parks. And almost everywhere less than 20-30 minutes driving distance you will find a supermarket in your Switzerland road trip.
Make sure if you will spend the day outside in the mountains you buy everything that you need drinks, bread, snacks and food.
Petrol isn’t cheap in Switzerland it’s more expensive than France and Austria but the good thing the distances in Switzerland are really small and most of the places in this road trip Switzerland itinerary are only 1-2 hours driving distance or even less. Make sure you fill up your tank before going to Switzerland if you are coming from Austria, France or Italy to save a few dollars.
Bring Supplies Coming Overland
If you are coming overland to Switzerland from Italy, Germany or France as I did make sure you bring a few supplies. I was coming with my van so I made sure I was bringing a lot of food and alcohol. I bought essentials like milk cereals, vegetables, cans and also alcohol. So I could share with my friends and hosts in Switzerland having dinners with wine and saving a few dollars.
Where To Stay in Switzerland
During your Switzerland road trip most of the budget will go for camping and hotels. If you are traveling by van or motorhome you will be able to avoid paying for a hotel. You can stay for free or in camping where the price isn’t so expensive.
I was using the Free App Park4Night where you can check where to park and where to stay for free in your road trip in Switzerland and also in Europe. The app will tell you full information of the services that the parking spot provides if it’s free or there is a charge!
There’s no lack of hostels, backpacker inns, and budget hotels anywhere in Switzerland. These rooms can go anywhere between 50-100 CHF per night for accommodation in Switzerland. If you are looking for mid-budget and luxury hotels prices are starting from 200-300 CHF.
Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary
Where To Start Swiss Road Trip
If you ask me where to start the road trip in Switzerland as I was coming from France I did it from Geneva. I consider that Geneva can be the best starting point because of Geneva airport have most of the flights and Zurich can be the last destination or another starting point if it fits better for you. Let’s start taking Geneva as the first stop for this Switzerland road trip itinerary.
Day 1 Geneva
Let’s start with Geneva since it’s the beginning of the road trip in Switzerland. We have to go for a walk in the city. It’s not really big and you can see it around in a couple of hours. If you want to enjoy the comfort of a hotel or restaurant you can stay longer but if not you can go for the next stop.
The Jet d’Eau of Geneva is the most popular place to visit in Geneva city center. You can walk around and visit churches and cathedrals. If you want to move around by bicycle could be best to explore the United Nations area if not you can go by public transportation.
I did my second stop in Lausanne from Geneva only one-hour driving where you can stay for a day trip. Lausanne city center is beautiful and there is also a beautiful lake that you can’t miss it. Apart from city center you can do hikes to the top and have the best point of view of Lausanne.
After Lausanne make sure you visit the vineyard is a beautiful ride with views to the lake on the way to Montreux. If you wish to try local wine or buy there are a few shops for this in the vineyards.
Read here things to do in Lausanne!
After leaving Lausanne you have only 30 minutes to drive to Montreux. It depends on how much time you have you can visit Montreux a resort destination with views to the Lake so beautiful. And half of the way make sure you stop at Chateau de Chillon a fortress with great views from 14th Century. There is an entrance fee €11 and you can visit until 6 pm.
4. Monthey (South Switzerland)
Monthey is located in the South of Switzerland French part. I was exploring the little villages with so impressive views. Perfect for the weekend in summer since is quiet and busy in the winter with the resorts for skiing.
Monthey isn’t a very tourist place in Switzerland but it was one of my favorite parts of the road trip getting lost around the area. You can do a few hikes if you have time and you want to explore more. Most of the hikes have a small cottage where you can stay overnight with a kitchen and blankets and you just need to pay a donation for the maintenance.
I remembered I stopped in a popular small town called Champery just 30 minutes driving from Monthey thru the mountains and the views were so beautiful (you can check my Instagram for more photos and videos).
After visiting the mountains everything was so green in summer I was heading to Sion and on the way I stopped in beautiful waterfalls. All these places are very well indicated in the map and I didn’t find many tourists during weekdays in the French part of Switzerland.
I also visited Verbier before Sion it’s less than 30 minutes driving distance. The roads weren’t really good but it was a peaceful place to enjoy the views, take pictures and have your picnic.
There are a few spots where you can stay overnight just by parking your van and around these places accommodation is more affordable than in the next area Zermatt.
I didn’t visit Zermatt but it’s the most tourist area in the whole Switzerland in the South part. You can go by car until 10 kilometers before Zermatt where you will have to park your car in a parking. From there you can get taxi, bus or train to reach Zermatt.
There are many hikes to do! For some of them you will have to get there by funicular and accommodation is really expensive. I will visit next time!
The last part of the South was visiting Sion before heading to the other most touristic place in Switzerland: Interlaken. From Zermatt and Sion expect to have 3-4 hours driving if you go between the mountains how I recommend you when you see the pictures below in Grimsel Pass. The landscape and the road were so beautiful and picturesque.
Obviously you can do a few hikes around this area and you can stay overnight remember checking the app Park4Night will tell you the best places to stay and if it’s free or paid with the services that they provide. Totally worth it to spend the morning around this area on the way to Interlaken.
Interlaken is a beautiful town in the middle of Switzerland. It’s inside the German part for me as a Spanish speaker was harder since I can manage in French language but no clue of the German language.
Once you start here there are many spots to visit I will start coming from the South as I did. The driving distance is less than one hour in most cases. And you will decide if you stay overnight or just spend a few hours.
Lauterbrunnen is one of the most popular places to visit around Interlaken. You will find the typical houses next to the river with the green landscape perfect for pictures. There are many hikes and waterfalls around the area. If you like adventure there are plenty of activities for you.
8. Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is only 30 minutes drive from Interlaken and it was one of my favorite places to visit during the Swiss road trip. I could spend a beautiful sunrise and I stayed with my van almost getting the views to the lake. You can swim and do a few activities in the lake. Most of the people are walking around and cycling.
9. Harder Kulm
Harder Kulm hike will be an amazing thing that you can do in Interlaken. It will take around 3-4 hours or even less if you take the funicular. There are a few more hikes in this area but this one has amazing views.
Thun is a beautiful small town less than one hour drive from Bern. Half of the way between Interlaken and Brienz the other extreme of the lake. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in Thun city center and it’s so peaceful for enjoying the sunset swimming. You can also swim and do activities in the lake.
Bern is the capital and my favorite city in Switzerland. It’s small to walk around the bridges and the rivers. I also hiked Gurten for an hour to get views of the city. You can also reach the top by funicular and there are many activities if you are traveling with kids in Gurten Park.
Locals favorite activity is swimming thru the river in summer even the water is so cold you will see people walking around in swimming suit in the city coming from the river.
There are pools next to the river free of charge. And there are beautiful views of Rosergarten that you can’t miss it. I would say at least spending 2 days can be enough!
Read here things to do in Bern!
Lucerne is another of the cities that you have to visit in Switzerland. From walking around the Chapel Bridge to the popular Lion Monument. You can also swim in the lake or take a boat. There are many options for museums and restaurants if you want to enjoy at night and during the day.
Read here things to do in Lucerne!
13. Lake Zug
Lake Zug is on the way from Lucerne to Zurich around 45 minutes driving you will get there. You can swim in summer and enjoy a picnic in these blue waters. If you want to get nice pictures you can go for a hike or drive your car to the top to get the panoramic views of Lake Zug.
Zurich will be worth it to stay more than one day if you are interested in restaurants, museums and sightseeing. Zurich isn’t really big to walk around the lake and later to explore city center. The main problem will be parking your car since there aren’t many places for this. In general this is a problem in the cities in Switzerland.
Zurich can be a starting point or last stop in your road trip in Switzerland since it’s easy for taking a flight with so many connections. If you continue your road trip from Zurich you can go to the Dolomites as I did, Austria or Germany there are a few options.
Read here things to do in Zurich!
From Zurich to Liechtenstein in a day trip. It could be a great experience to visit a new country. You can visit Vaduz and go for a walk. There are also hikes and in general it’s pretty similar to Switzerland. You can go by train faster than by car if you are in a hurry and you decided to leave your car in Zurich.
Read here things to do in Liechtenstein.
Do I Recommend A Road Trip in Switzerland?
For sure I can recommend this Switzerland Road Trip Itinerary. It was a dream to do it and I have so much fun. If you are able to move around in the car or a van you will save a lot of money and you can explore little villages.
And if you combine the road trip with wild camping in Switzerland and hiking your expenses will go down since you have freedom with the car to buy in the supermarkets and carry food and more things.
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