Switzerland makes it easy for you to dive deep into its heart: distances are manageable and variety is within easy reach. You can be perusing a farmers’ market for picnic provisions in the morning, then feasting on them on a mountaintop come lunchtime. At nightfall, try gazing at stars in the night sky from cozy digs or reveling in the cultural offerings of one of Switzerland’s urban cities. Here are the 5 best Switzerland road trips.
Stats: 355km/220mi; 3 days
The best of Switzerland is blended to perfection with a little northern exposure. This route allows travelers to tiptoe off the tourist trail and experience lesser-known places such as Appenzell before returning for the heavy-hitting urban pleasures of museum-rich Basel. Impressive natural wonders like the Rheinfall compete with architectural jaw-droppers such as St Gallen’s Stiftsbibliothek, while tucked-away vineyards delight the senses. Wrap up your picturesque trip at the lakeside hamlet of Ligerz.
Lake Geneva and Western Switzerland
Stats: 175km/108mi; 4 days
Touring Lake Geneva (Western Europe’s biggest lake, known as Lac Léman to locals) is a treat; the 570-sq-km lake is the region’s summer playground, embellished by the Alps, historic vineyards, chic urban centers, petite plages (beaches), beautiful villages, classic castles and the constant play of light and wind upon its surface. Plus, this is the perfect spot to enjoy rare wines, fondue and heavenly meringues under double cream. This road trip begins in the pretty fishing village of Nyon and ends in the dreamy village of Gruyères and its glorious Château de Gruyères.
Geneva to Zürich
Stats: 470km/292mi; 7 days
Rather than take a straight line from Geneva to Zürich, this trip gives you room to roam some of Switzerland’s finest sights: the picture-perfect Old Towns in Bern and Lucerne, heaven-sent lakes with dreamy views in Stanserhorn, winding roads through countryside that is by turns bucolic and wild, an adventure capital with the perfect setting, a train ride to the top of Europe and scenic ascents that will have you gasping, all book-ended by Switzerland’s cultural capitals.
The Swiss Alps
Stats: 537km/333mi; 7 days
A natural barrier, the Alps are both a blessing and a burden when it comes to tripping around Switzerland. The soul-stirring views are stupendous, but you have to either get over, around them or go through them to get to the next one. Starting in Graubünden’s Arosa and finishing in Valais’ Zermatt, this trip visits five cantons via hairpin bends, valley highways, tunnels, passes and cable cars to bring you the best.
Graubünden & Ticino
Stats: 555km/345mi; 5 days
The wild beauty of Switzerland dominates, tracing valley floors sheltered by hulking mountains, pristine forests, and brilliantly blue lakes. Cities on this route like Chur and Zuoz are reassuringly relaxed and even a bit retro, the villages embrace their quiet appeal, and at the end of it all climbs one of Europe’s most exciting drives. Start in the beautifully raw Graubünden, with its unique language and identity, then finish with a hearty “Ciao Bella” in riviera-rich Ticino. Don’t forget to stop at the Swiss National Park for a day of truly breathtaking hiking.