In late April I did what was probably my most active solo trip ever. I packed my tiny backpack, took my camera and off I went to Switzerland. There are very few countries in Europe I absolutely love and with no hesitation, Switzerland is one of them. The more I visit, the more I wanna keep going back. So it goes without saying that 3 days in Switzerland is 100% not enough and you’ll have to go back again. But luckily Switzerland is such an infrastructurally perfect country that even with 3 days, you can do a whole lot! Wherever you visit in Switzerland, you’ll most likely love it. But with only 3 days you gotta prioritize to have time for the absolute best places to visit in Switzerland if you fly into Geneva.
Getting around with the Swiss Travel Pass
When I was planning my trip to Switzerland at first I was convinced that I had to drive to see all the places I wanted to visit. I wanted to get to such remote tiny places that I thought public transport could not possibly get there. But hey, I was so damn wrong. The Swiss are just the best honestly. Never else in Europe have I seen a better train network which goes quite literally everywhere, even to the tiniest Swiss villages you can imagine.
In fact after I did quite a bit of research for my trip, I realised that driving there would have been an absolute nightmare because of how much longer it would have taken to drive in the mountains. Not to mention, expensive!!! Finding a parking space in the Swiss Alpine villages is also such a mission that I would have probably spent more time frustrating myself than enjoying my trip.
So luckily I found out about the Swiss Travel Pass (STP). You have no idea how much money this pass saved me! I bought a 3 day pass for 225 CHF which essentially gives you access to pretty much the entire public transport network in the whole country. I had not heard of anything like it! Not only that but with the pass, you get free admissions to 500 museums in Switzerland and quite a few freebies and discounts for the cable cars which honestly is the best reason to get the pass. Why? Because cable cars are insanely expensive!
Important things to know about the STP
> You don’t have to purchase tickets. All you have to do is jump on trains, buses, trams and show your printed STP when asked for your ticket. How hassle free is that??!!
> Having said that if you decide to go off this itinerary, you might have to make a reservation for some of the mountain railways such as the Glacier Express.
> If you’re planning on a longer trip, you can get an STP for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days.
> The STP is valid for the days you specify but it does not matter when you first use it. So whether you start using the pass at 2 AM or 2 PM, it does not matter. This is important because initially I thought that the 3 day pass is valid for 72 hours from the time I first use it but sadly that’s a myth.
> Not only do you get to hop on buses ands train but also boats. Although some lake tours come at a discount and not for free.
> Here is a pdf map which shows you all the routes covered with the STP as well as what isn’t and what is just discounted. Read the rules carefully!
Travelling as a solo female
I genuinely cannot think of any European country that is as safe for solo females as Switzerland. I didn’t feel unsafe at any point, neither in the big cities nor the tiniest remote places where I was pretty much by myself with barely anyone around. In fact, Switzerland would be the perfect destination for anyone looking to do their first solo trip. Having to worry about security isn’t fun so going to Switzerland definitely has that one covered.
Budget for 3 days in Switzerland
This is the most painful part of any trip to Switzerland. The Swiss know they have a wonderful country and they safeguard it from mass tourism as much as they can by keeping their standard one of the highest in the whole of Europe. Sadly for those of us who love to travel, that means budgeting a lot more even for the basics.
For a one night in a hostel you’ll need to budget at a minimum 35-40CHF. Luckily you get hostels in pretty much all cities and more popular towns in Switzerland so unless you want to stay overnight in a tiny village like Murren, you’ll have to budget way more.
Food is the other thing that is very expensive. You’ll struggle to find any main course in an average restaurant for less than 20 CHF which frankly is excessive. This is why if you are spending only a few days in Switzerland, bring some snacks with you from your home country or the country you travel to before crossing the Swiss border. Trust me, it sounds silly but when you get to Switzerland and a small pack of nuts costs 6-8 CHF, you’ll thank yourself for doing it! Staying in places where breakfast is included is an excellent cost cutting strategy. For lunch and dinner, the supermarkets, although still pricey, are your most cost efficient option. Having said that you should budget at least 15-20 CHF per day for food if breakfast doesn’t come with your accommodation.
Going out in Switzerland, as anything, is super expensive. A soft drink can easily cost you 5 CHF with alcohol often costing even double that. My advice would be to stay away from alcohol as much as you can!
This can range from anything between 20-200 CHF so it would very much depend on what you want to do. I only paid extra (on top of my STP coverage) for a cable car in Interlaken but you can do a whole lot more that you need to budget for separately.
Minimum Daily Budget (without transport): 50-60CHF. Pretty steep, I know but it’s totally worth saving up for it!
The coolest places to visit in Switzerland
Switzerland is such a phenomal scenic country that you’ll likely wanna go everywhere. But with only a few days, you gotta plan to have time for the best places to visit in Switzerland. Here is the list of places I visited in just 3 days. The list is long and comes to prove that in an orderly country like Switzerlald, you can do tons, if only you use the public transport. It’s also important to say that I didn’t rush myself too much to see all these places. Trains run very frequently and are fast which gave me enough time to spend in each place. Of course in some places I wished I could stay longer but it’s not because I hadn’t seen everything I wanted to see but because I just loved the lanscapes so much, I didn’t want to leave!
As soon as I landed in Geneva, I wanted to get out of there. With its posh pretentiousness I knew this place would not appeal to me so I got the train straight from the airport to Laussane. I had seen many photos from here and I knew this was more the kinda city that I might like. So I took the plunge. I must admit that for a short stop over, Laussane is actually pretty nice! Thanks to the gorgeous lake, the mountain views and the flowers, my trip to Laussane was actually really lovely.
Be sure to have a long stroll along the lake and go up the tower of Laussane Cathedral. I have no idea why but I was literally the only person who showed any interest in going up. It costs 5 CHF and the views from up here are simply eye-popping. You might think that I’m messing up with you but I really was the only person up here. People were coming in and going out of the cathedral but no one seemed to be bothered to walk up the tower stairs. You, DO IT!
If I had to describe this town in a few words I’d certainly say that Montreux is the absolute charm of the Swiss riviera. This place can easily compete with the many gorgeous places on the French Mediterranean coast or the picturesque villages on the Italian Amalfi coast. Honestly, as soon as you step foot on the lively street by the lake Geneva, you’ll immediately fall in love with this place. It’s a place where you can take a slow walk, fill up your eyes with the views over the lake, the Alps and the many colors of the flowers covering the entire town. This is the perfect spot for a bit of swim into the lake or at least getting a tiny bit closer to it by hopping on the platform spanning right above the lake. Great lunch spot too!
Chateau de Chillon
From Montreux I got a quick 20 min bus to Chateau de Chillon, aka Switzerland’s island castle. Arguably this is Switzerland’s most visited historical monument so if you love a bit of history when you travel, you’ll love this. There is an entrance fee of 12.50CHF to get in but even if you don’t go inside the view from outside is actually pretty spectacular too. You can have a nice walk along the paths leading to the castle and like anywhere else in Switzerland, indulge in the views.
Tip: If you decide that the castle is not worth your time, head over to the charming town of Vevey. Here you can hike up the valley to get even better views over the Alps and the lake.
Yverdon les Bains
Yverdon les Bains is about 30 min on the train from Laussane and I must admit, I was super delighted that I made a stop in this surprisingly beautiful town. On the surfice this town might not have phenomenal tourist sights but like most of Switzerland, it’s the landscape and the vibe that makes us all fall in love with it. Yverdon les Bains is no different. Its cute narrow streets full of young people buzzing around was actually super refreshing. Here you can take a boat trip to Neuchatel or just walk around yet another Swiss lake, lake Neuchatel.
Some people still look a bit puzzled when they hear than Bern and not Geneva is the Swiss capital. Unlike most capitals however, Bern is just such a wonderful city. And I don’t say this lightly because if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m no longer a fan of the cities. But Bern is different. To my suprise, Bern is actually quite a calm, scenic capital, void of the classic terrible traffic, smell of car exhaust and dodgy corners. In fact there is quite a bit to do in Bern, most of which includes remarkable views and qenuine peacefulness such as taking the funnicular to Bern’s park to see the Alps at the backdrop, visiting the bear park and the rose garden and if you’re lucky even admiring the hot air balloons floating around at sunrise.
Where to stay: I stayed in a really really nice hostel called Youthhostel Bern which I booked through Hostelwold. I can’t recommend this hostel enough. They have the best breakfast I was dying for (super important when in Switzerland and need to keep the budget in line).
If I could stay somewhere for longer, Spiez would have been that place. I absolutely loved this little town. Right on the massive and absolutely gorgeous lake Thun, this place is the perfect day trip. When I stepped foot in here, I got flashbacks of my time in Positano because Spiez gave me such a refreshing Mediterranean-like vibe. If you have more time, definitely hike up or take the cable car up to the summit of mount Niesen. The view from the ground up is epic but being able to look down from the 2,362 meter of Niesen will surpass it in a heartbeat.
Spiez is gorgeous when explored onshore but the true experience is getting on a boat and memorizing the views from the lake. To have the best time, take a boat all the way to Interlaken. It’s 2 hours of unbelievable lake and mountain views you just don’t wanna miss out on.
Right in the middle of two of Switzerland’s most beautiful lakes, Interlaken is the Swiss adventure capital. It’s the perfect town to be based out of if you wanna venture into the nature and explore the Swiss Apls or just wander in the tiniest mountain villages we’ve all seen in the photos. But be sure not to leave Interlaken before you take the cable car or hike to Interlaken’s most stunning view point at the top of Harder Kulm. The views from up there are truly some of the best you will ever see! A walk in the old town followed by a stroll along the Aare river are the perfect afternoon activities especially after an adventurous morning of paragliding or parasailing which are both super popular in Interlaken.
Where to stay: For my overnight stay in Interlaken I chose the Alplodge which I also booked through Hostelwold.
If you have seen any photos from the Swiss Alps, one of the place you will have definitely come across is Lauterbrunnen. Nested right at the bottom of a valley surrounded by the fascinating vertical slopes of the Swiss mountains, Lauterbrunnen is home to the famous Staubbach falls and a total of 72 waterfalls rushing down its cliffs. Walking up and down the valley can easily take hours but if you’re up for even more adventure, why not visit the Trümmelbach Falls or hop on the 10 min train to Wengen right up towards the heart of the mountains.
You will never forgive me if I keep the secret about Murren to myself. Of all places I visited in Switzerland, Murren intrigued me the most. At 1640 meters above sea level, Murren is one of Switzerland’s car free villages home to only a handful of locals. Its location so high up in the mountains makes this village the last inhabited place on the way to the adventurous summit of mount Shilthorn. Taking a moment to wander around Murren can take either 10 min or hours and hours on end. Every mountain lover will instantly know why as soon as one gets off the train and falls in love with the snow capped hill tops and fresh air never polluted by a single vehicle.
Whether you’re an adventurous action seeker or not, getting to the top of Schilthorn is a must for all. The summit, standing at the whooping 2,970 m, opens up to some of the best 360 degree views you will ever see from the Swiss Alps. Hike up or take the cable car up but don’t miss to get that much closer to the many hill tops surrounding the summit and of course pay a visit to James Bond’s exhibition. You may or may not know but the Schilthorn summit was featured in one of the JB’s films and when you get to the top, you’ll see the Swiss have made a big thing out of this! For more on the whole Schilthorn experience, check out this post.
Grindelwald is a village of green valleys, adventure activities and many many little (and sometimes not so little) chalets scattered all over the mountains. This place is so tiny that you can literally have it to yourself especially if you visit in the summer when most locals seem to be chilling indoors. I for one walked up and down the valleys for hours and saw barely any people, just the occasional goats who seemed to be loving life! With so many hiking trails, it’s hard to get bored in Grindelwald so put your hiking boots on and go venture out into the nature! Home to arguably one of Europe’s best toboggan runs, your thirst for adventure can easily be quenched if you slide down the Pfingstegg toboggan so be adventurous and fearsly go for it!
You might think that squeezing all of these places to visit in Switzerland into 3 days is impossible. But trust me, it totally is if you get the Swiss travel pass.