We were lucky enough to enjoy 10 sunny days in Switzerland, road-tripping around the country in a Camper King camper - such an enjoyable way to get around and so much freedom! Read on for our day by day itinerary with some top recommendations for photography, picnic, and hiking spots around the country.
Day 1 - Zurich to Lucerne
Picking up our vehicle from Camper King: We arrived in Switzerland just before lunch, and made our way to the Camper King office which is only a very short bus ride or taxi ride from the Zurich airport. Here we met the owner Daniel, who kindly welcomed us to Switzerland, and gave us a bit of a background about himself and the Camper King campers. We explained to Daniel that we are huge lovers of the outdoors, hiking, and photography - with this in mind, Daniel kindly gave us an entire list of recommendations for us to visit during our time here - some which are less known to tourists but just as beautiful (if not, more!), we couldn’t wait to hit the road!
We were taken to our camper and learnt that that Camper King is the first company in Switzerland to launch these ultra-compact camper van’s for people to use to cook/sleep in, as an alternative to hiring a car. They are also the first to install the QUQUQ system, which is a compact cooker unit that sits at the very back of the car, which pops out with a double burner cooking area, bench space, and storage space for all of your food / utensils. Meaning more room inside for the bed! We’ve been in many campers before, but never anything with this awesome function so we were pretty excited to start using it!
The bed in the back of the van folds up while you’re driving, but when you’re ready to sleep for the night, you simply fold it out and you still have lots of space underneath for all of your bags and storage. The mattress also is super thick, meaning for a good night sleep after our busy days that we have planned!
Our vehicle was essentially brand new, and we were told super economical when it comes to the gas (which it was). But what Mish was really excited for was to use the seat warmer function.. Mmm, nothing beats a warm tooshy!
Switzerland can be a little expensive in comparison to other European countries that we will be visiting in the future (Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Montenegro etc.), so having the ability to park our car essentially anywhere and sleep in the back of it, rather than booking and paying for hotels each night is really going to save us some pennies! We also love having the flexibility to be road-tripping without a tight schedule and requirement to be at a certain place where we have booked accommodation each night etc. We may fall in love with particular places and want to stay another night, and that will be just fine!
Of course we’re going to need to shower regularly while we’re travelling, but we will come to that later and how easily accessible that can be also!
Food shopping: After two plane flights to arrive, our bellies were grumbling for some food, so first stop.. a cheap supermarket! Daniel advised us that our best bet would be to go to either Lidl, ALDI’s, or Migro’s - all of which are discount supermarkets with reasonable priced food, and he wasn’t wrong! We stocked up on fresh bakery breads, cheeses, and fruit and vegetables so that we could utilise our camper cooker and again save as many pennies as possible.
Schloss Lenzburg (Lenzburg Castle): Our first stop in Switzerland was going to be Lucerne. Lucerne can be accessed via the main HWY, but we instead chose to drive via the scenic byway, which is actually shorter in distance than the main highway, but a lesser speed limit as you are often driving through cute little villages and areas where you will see animals. For anyone driving, we would certainly recommend this route as it was absolutely STUNNING, so green, and bright blue lakes either side of you for some of the drive!
On the way to Lucerne we stopped at our first castle in Switzerland, being Schloss (meaning castle) Lenzburg. Perched up on the top of a hill, the castle overlooked the entire town of Lenzburg - making for gorgeous views. We didn’t pay entrance into the castle/museum (around $17USD per person), so didn’t explore the whole thing (we decided to save this for a few other castles that we had in mind during our trip) - but still made the most of the outside views, the gardens, and reading about the history (information on the castle walls).
Lucerne: Lucerne was our first taste of Swiss style towns, and boy did we fall in love! Cafe’s, restaurants, bakeries, shops, and bars line the cobble-stone streets which are only accessible via foot and no cars (in the main central area of some of Lucerne anyway). We strolled around loving all of the sights and smells of delicious food every time we walked past a different bakery or restaurant.. the buildings had so much character and detail in them, so much beauty all around!
The Musegg Wall: built in 1386, this wall is still almost entirely intact and you are actually able to walk along it, and enter the towers, one in which you can find the oldest city clock which was built in 1525! Literally the biggest clock we have ever seen and this clock is allowed to chime every hour one minute before all the other city clocks - how cool is that!? This walk is completely free, with an optional donation box, and provides you with some of the most gorgeous views over the city.
Day 2 - Lucerne Lake
Lucerne Lake: As we had the flexibility of our own vehicle, we were able to drive around the entire Lucerne Lake, stopping off at many viewpoints and villages along the way. The sun was shining all day, and we were still mesmerised by the bright blue colour of the lake.. which if you look at up close, is also extremely crystal clear! So gorgeous! This was almost a full day-trip, including lots and lots of stops along the way for photographs. We loved the hundreds of mini jetty’s that are scattered around the lake, and all the thousands of picnic benches and tables! Make sure you pack a delicious lunch as there are so many gorgeous spots to stop at you’ll be doing so very often!
Lucerne - Interlaken: We made our way towards Interlaken towards the end of the day, where again we decided to take the scenic route along the Brünigpass - warning, this may be a very distracting route for the driver! Surrounded by mountains and lakes the majority of the time, we were sad that there weren’t more spots to pull-off along the way!
Day 3 - Exploring Interlaken
Hiking: With the sun shining and the snow glistening on the tops of the mountains, we were just itching to go for a hike! We drove up the mountain to a hotel restaurant called Luegibrüggli - we sat on their outdoor patio and shared a delicious cuppacino with the most wondrous views of the lake and mountains! After our coffee, the trailhead that we decided upon started just nearby.. here we weaved our way in and out of the forest, stopping to catch glimpses of the mountains every few switchbacks.
Eating: After a few hours of hiking, we were pretty keen to feed our rumbling bellies! We found out about Hüsi Bierhaus by a local recommendation, which are usually always great recommendations! This placed ticked ALL the boxes! Craft beers, delicious food, happy hours (craft beer of the day for 5 swiss francs between 4pm - 8pm), power points for us to charge our camera gear, wifi, and the friendliest staff! By the time dinner rolled around, the place was completely packed out with line-ups! So we were pretty glad that we had arrived early afternoon to secure our table! If you’re planning to come here during dinner time, you can also make a reservation! But definitely a recommended spot in Interlaken :)
Camping at Lazy Rancho: Only 15 minutes walk from the town, Lazy Rancho campground was an awesome spot for us to roll up in our camper, enjoy a hot shower, do some laundry, and lap up the rest of their amazing facilities! Situated in a valley where you have 360 degree views of the mountains, it could not be in a more incredible position, and also away from the hustle and bustle of Interlaken city itself. Lazy Rancho is a family run business by the lovely Aline & Stephan, a couple who are also travel and adventure lovers - so as you can imagine, it was amazing to chat to them upon our arrival and they were SO helpful with lots and lots of tips of things to do, see, and hiking and photography spots during our time here in Interlaken. And not only Interlaken, Aline and Stephan helped us plan the entire rest of our Switzerland road-trip, with lots of must-see recommendations that we would have never known about! Nothing beats a well travelled local’s recommendations!
Lazy Rancho was one of the best set-up campgrounds that we’ve ever stayed at! We’re not sure if this is just another incredible thing about Switzerland, but they had everything that you could think of.. and more! Their shop at reception sold lots of fresh produce, home-made jam’s, ice-cream, farmers eggs, and also fresh bread that you can put an order in for the night prior! Then there was also an assortment of foods, beers, and everything in between.
There was free wifi, a common area, kitchen, laundry room, play area for the kids, BBQ, swimming pool, and the recent additions of the hot-tub and sauna! If camping isn’t for you, then there are also the cutest little wooden igloo’s on the premise too available for rent.
When you check-in, Aline and Stephen also enquire about what activities you plan to do in Interlaken, as there are MANY that they can assist you with a discount with, if they are organised through them at reception - such as paragliding, and trains up to some of the most popular mountain ranges in Interlaken. With so much to do within the area, you could honestly spend over a week in Interlaken and at Lazy Rancho! If you’re heading to Interlaken yourself and looking for a campground, be sure to check these lovely people out at https://www.lazyrancho.ch where you can also make your reservation.
Day 4 - Paragliding Interlaken
If there is anywhere in the world to paraglide, Switzerland sure is the place to do it! And we are saying so from experience.. WOW what an incredible morning in Interlaken! We booked our paragliding tour through Paragliding Interlaken, and were pretty stoked when we awoke to a clear blue-sky day, sun shining, and just the right amount of wind for a paraglide over the picturesque mountains and lakes!
There are flight times running around 7 times per day, and we booked in for the 11am session. Paragliding Interlaken offer a pick-up service from any nearby hotel etc, but alternatively the meeting spot for the flight is in the city centre of Interlaken, where we made our way on our own as we have our own vehicle. We arrived here where we were welcomed by the friendly staff organising all the bookings, and taken to the van which would then transport us up to the top of the mountain, where we would launch. In a small group of only 4 others, we were given a run-down of what would occur once we reached the top of the mountain, and all safety information was explained to us here. Once we enjoyed a 15 minute scenic drive up the mountain, we were all introduced to our professionally trained flyers. Mish was paired with Roby, who has been flying for over 16 years, with 3.5 years of study, and over 8000 flights under his belt.. what an incredible job!? Roby did an awesome job at making me feel completely at ease, relaxed and super excited all at the same time!! He fitted my harness and checked over everything twice, I was definitely in the hands of a professional glider! I watched as the other paragliders ran out ahead of me, launching into the sky and floating away.. And before i knew it, that was me! Just a short running start together down a steep hill, until the chute started to carry us up, up and away, and it was now time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!! And by show I mean potentially the most beautiful landscapes that I ever have seen!
To see Switzerland from a birds-eye view was such a gorgeous experience.. all the while feeling as though we were floating through the air so gentle and smoothly! Emerging through the mountain valley and forests, until we were over the bight aqua lakes below us. From up so high you really feel so tiny in this big world! I was able to take my go-pro with me during the experience, however Roby also used a go-pro throughout the flight (optional) where he took lots of photos and short video’s, meaning that I could relax and really soak up everything around me rather than worrying about trying to capture the moment myself.. but of course I made sure I did anyway.. you can never have enough snaps and this is something that I wanted to keep in my memory bank forever!
Roby checked in with me to make sure I was feeling okay, and then gave me the option of whether I wanted him to throw in a few spins and tricks in the paraglide before we landed.. of course I said YES!
After at least 20 minutes in the paraglide, and a few 360 degree spins in the air just to make sure that we were seeing Interlaken from every which way and angle, it was almost time for landing… The landing was once again a very smooth experience.. gliding towards a big grassed area, it wasn’t long before we were standing back on our own two feet, looking up into the sky and mountains where we had come from only minutes before! Roby showed me the photos that he had captured on his go-pro, and then kindly transferred them instantly to a USB for me to take-away.
I’m certainly not the biggest dare-devil out there, and sure I had a few butterflies before hand at the thought of running off of a mountain cliff and hoping that your parachute sees you safely down to the bottom, but this experience was completely relaxing and I felt very safe the entire time in the good hands of Paragliding Interlaken.
For anyone visiting the Interlake region in Switzerland, make sure that you have this activity on your bucket list! For more information, visit the website at the link here: https://www.paragliding-interlaken.ch - it was certainly a highlight of our time in this gorgeous country!
Day 5 - Hiking in the area of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald
Schreckfeld Hike: Only a 10 minute drive from Interlaken, we made our way to Lauterbrunnen valley where we were once again blown away by the surrounding mountains.. With bright blue skies and sunshine, there was only one thing on our mind.. and that was to go for a hike up into the mountains!
We were recommended a day-hike to do by a lovely local woman, which started from the village of Grindelwald, only around a ten minute drive from Lauterbrunnen. The hike was only 12km’s return, however it had us reaching a peak of 1,955 metres at the top of Schreckfeld. Most tourists take the costly cable cars up to the top of this mountain range but as soon as we found out that there was a trail that we could follow that took us to the exact same spot, would save us a few hundred dollars in cable car tickets, and also meant that we could enjoy the scenery at our own pace - we were sold!
We left our car in Grindelwald, organised a packed lunch, and started the trail which took us through the village, weaving our way through the farmlands and traditional picturesque houses of the local people. We passed fields of flowers of every colour, cows, alpaca’s, and lots of friendly people who were outside enjoying the sunshine for the day. From the moment we left the village, the trail started to lead us steely up-hill through the valley, forests, but always with the most magnificent views of the mountains surrounding us!
Around the half-way post of the trail, after around 1.5 hours, we stopped for a short rest at Bort, here there was a restaurant and also a cafe which sold ice-creams, beers, and pizza - as tempting as it was to stop for a treat, we said to the owner that we would be back once we had reached the top on our way back down, and we continued on our merry way. The second half of the trail was certainly much steeper than the first (20% grade!) but after around another 1 hour of up-hill hiking, we spotted our finishing point, JUST below the snow-line! We reached the end of the hike where the cable car finishes also, and here was another restaurant, and a large grass area outside which offered incredible views of the valley below, and the surrounding mountains. Here we collapsed, exhausted and craving food! We enjoyed our packed sandwiches, with one of the most pretty and impressive views that we ever have seen! Switzerland truly continues to blow us away with it’s beauty, every single day! We didn’t want to leave, but we knew we had a steep hike back down the hill, and wanted to make many more photo-stops on the way back down.. plus Mish was excited for ice-cream!
At Schreckfeld, we noticed that they also offered a go-cart and scooter-bike rental, where for 19 francs per person, you are able to hire a go-cart for half of the trail back down the mountain, and then swap to a scooter-bike for the second half! If we had known this earlier, we definitely would have taken this option down!
Stopping again at Bort, for around 3 swiss francs each, we treated ourselves to a delicious chocolate peanut butter magnum and icy pole! A refreshing reward for reaching the top! (well that’s what we told ourselves anyway :)) The owner at the little bar was extremely friendly, and looked like he made a delicious margherita pizza too.
After a few more hours of hiking down and stopping for gorgeous photograph opportunities, we made our way back to the village of Grindelwald.. tummies rumbling, we were now on a mission to source some food!
Cheese fondue: Swiss cheese fondue.. When in Switzerland, right!? WOW - both being massive lovers of all things cheese, never have we had the opportunity to experience it in the form of fondgue.. until now! We did a bit of research, and from online reviews and tripadvisor posts, it became quickly apparently to us that Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen was seemingly famous for their delicious cheese fondue.. and these reviews did not disappoint! For around 23 francs, we ordered the cheese fondue dish on their menu, advertised to only serve one person, we were very very full by the end of it, so would highly recommend sharing this delicious feast.
We were initially served a garden-greens, side-salad, bread, and then.. the fondue came out.. with more bread for dipping, boiled potatoes, and mushrooms, garlic, onions and chives for optional garnishing. The pot sat over a little heating device, meaning that the fondue kept hot the entire time (not that it lasted very long wth us two hungry kids!!) If you’re a cheese lover, this is a must-try experience when in Switzerland.. and if you’re not a cheese lover, you soon will be!
Day 6 - Our stay at Camping Jungfrau
After a day of hiking, it was just perfect to come to Camping Jungfrau, enjoy a hot shower, meal, and a place to put our feet up. Located in the valley of Lauterbrunnen, Camping Jangfrau is situated between the waterfalls, mountains, and green pastures in this picturesque part of Switzerland!
From the moment we drove in, we did not feel at all as though we were staying at a campsite, but instead a beautiful little village with 360 degree scenic views! We were welcomed at reception by the friendly family owners Ruth & Hans, where we were given lots and lots of information pamphlets and recommendations about what to do and see in the area.. and there is ALOT to do and see! From hiking, to mountain visits via cable cars, trains to different nearby villages, snowboarding and skiing, canyoning, waterfalls, white-water rafting, paragliding, sky-diving, bike hire.. the options in this area are truly endless.
Not only were Ruth & Hans full of very helpful information about activities to do in Lauterbrunnen and nearby, but they also directed us to their on-site adventure kiosk where you can directly organise and book tours and activities through, how handy is that!?
The campground is one of the largest that we have been to, but once again, it was nothing at all like a campground, but more so a homely space where people from all over the world are all enjoying the mountainous landscapes around them! With so many green grassy areas to relax, picnic tables, and endless views, we loved the atmosphere and vibe at this place.
Adjacent to the reception is an on-site store, where you can purchase anything you can think of! A mini supermarket with food goods, beers, souvenir’s, Camping Jangfrau is incredibly well set-up! While most people were all outside enjoying the gorgeous sunshine, if you come across bad weather then there is a wonderful space for that too, the TV and internet lounge where there are a number of tables, chairs, and even a fireplace to warm you up.
One thing that we believe sets Camping Jungfrau apart from the other campsites in the Lauterbrunnen area would definitely be their onsite restaurant and bar. We had the pleasure of dining their during our stay, and loved the large menu with so many options for everyone, even for vegetarian Mish! The restaurant is completely open to the public, so even if you are not staying at Camping Jangfrau, you still have the opportunity to come along, say hello, and have yourself a delicious meal. With lots of traditional Swiss choices on the menu such a cheese fondue and rosti - we couldn’t go past a local beer and meal at this place! For entree we shared a traditional barley soup and salad. For mains Kirk had a pork dish served with a creamy mushroom sauce and a rösti, while Mish opted for the vegetarian rösti which came topped with cheese, tomato, herbs, and more cheese! Delicious! “Would you like to see the dessert menu?”, the friendly waitress asked.. Our bellies were more than content, but we were very tempted after seeing other people’s yummy looking dessert’s come out.. “yes please!” we responded without hesitation! Keeping in theme with our traditional Swiss dining experience, we decided to share the Aplestrudof - a warm apple pastry that came served with delicious warm vanilla cream sauce.. YUM, what a perfect ending to an already incredible meal. Whether you are staying the night at Camping Jangfrau or not, if you’re in the area of Lauterbrunnen, be sure to do yourself a favour and come and stop-by this restaurant! With both indoor and outdoor seating, gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain ranges, flowers decorating the patio, a large and affordable menu with lots of choice, friendly staff, great serving sizes, and the tastiest food, you will not be disappointed or leave hungry!
The facilities at Camping Jungfrau were amongst some of the best that we have ever come across when staying at a campsite. Once again, making you completely forget that you are in a “campground”. The spacious bathrooms have been very cleverly designed to allow guests their own private cubicle for showering, with another private area to hang your belongings with lots of bench space. Then there are also private vanity cubicles with a sink, power plug, and mirror - perfect for doing your hair or makeup in your own space!
The kitchen area was fully equipped with all that you may need, and was a very large space with ample bench space and cookers, to accomodate for multiple travellers using this area at the same time without a problem.
If pitching a tent or spending the night in a motorhome or camper is not for you, then Camping Jangfrau have that covered too! With lots of gorgeous little wooden bungalows scattered around the property, there is the option of having your own private little house for your stay, and as well as this, there is a completely separate hostel building where you are also able to book in for a more dorm-style room - accommodation options for everyone and every type of budget!
The high-speed wifi works extremely well all around the campground, which was perfect for us to sit in the afternoon sunshine on one of the many picnic benches around the place, and catch-up on some future Europe travel planning - we had such a wonderful stay at Camping Jangfrau, and will be back the next time we visit our favourite part of Switzerland!
If you’re visiting Lauterbrunnen, check out the Camping Jangfrau website at: http://www.campingjungfrau.swiss for more information about their range of accomodation types and prices.
Day 7 - Spiez & Gruyeres
Spiez Lake: We awoke to yet another beautiful sunny day in Switzerland, and yet another beautiful day for a cheese picnic! We made our way to Spiez Lake, which is little beach area that is right by the Schloss Spiez (Spiez Castle) - today was a public holiday for Switzerland, so the grassy area by the lake was full of people enjoying the wonderful weather, sun-baking, and having a picnic lunch. We set up our blanket right by the shore, with a perfect view of the glistening lake and the nearby snorkelers. With a glorious castle to our right, the views were picturesque and we spent a few hours here watching as the boats went back and forth, soaking up the sun! For anyone passing through the town of Spiez, be sure to pack a picnic and make your way down to this little spot!
Juanpass: A friendly local in Interlaken had recommended that we go along the Juanpass on our way towards the area of Gruyères - we have learnt to always listen to the recommendations of a local, and they have never failed us! This route was a slight detour from the standard HWY, but a million times prettier! Winding our way up through the mountains, past lots of little villages and farms - we pulled off quite a number of times to take photos of the landscapes, goats, and snow-peaked mountains surrounding us..
Gruyères: Gruyères was the first french-speaking area that we have visited in Switzerland, with the above areas being primarily German speaking and influenced. As soon as we made our way towards Gruyere’s, we instantly noticed a change in our surroundings. The roadsigns and shopfronts were now written in french, the houses were no longer wooden, and even the pastries at the bakery’s were more french-inspired, lots of fruit tarts and of course, croissants!
We made a quick little stop off at La Maison du Gruyère - the famous cheese factory in the area! Here visitors have the option of paying around 7 swiss francs to go inside the factory where there are complimentary cheese tastings, and if you visit in the morning or afternoon, you also have the opportunity to see a cheese production demonstration. In the same building as the cheese factory, you can also find the cheese market, and the cheese restaurant. We visited the market area, where they sold a selection of fresh cheeses, biscuits, and breads. As well as all things cheese! Fondue kits, cheese knives, cheese magnets.. the cheese options were endless! Before settled one one wheel of cheese, and left before we spent all of our money! We checked out the restaurant menu before sadly tearing ourselves away, and of course it contained all things cheese. Cheese soups, cheese fondue, cheese-breads, so much cheesy goodness! But a little overpriced for our liking, so if you’re unfortunately travelling in Switzerland on a budget like us, don’t be disheartened, there are many more affordable pubs and restaurants that will serve the same types of foods.
Gruyères Village & Schloss Gruyères: situated on the top of a hill overlooking the valleys and green pastures below, is the village and castle of Gruyères. You can either park at the bottom and then walk up the stairs that surround the village until you make your way to the top, or drive up to the top parking spaces. We decided to do the walk, enjoying the views along the way. Once at the top, you enter the gorgeous little village, cobble-stoned pathways, water fountains, and the most beautiful little shops and cafe’s. It will only take you around 5-10 minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other, but in-between you will find yourself stopping regularly to admire the surroundings. We popped into a cheese store which had free tastings, and browsed through the menu’s of the numerous cafe and restaurants all serving an assortment of traditional french and swiss style dishes (primarily french! Yum!)
At the furthest end of the village is where you find the castle - one of our favourite during our time in Switzerland, beautifully built of stone.
Day 8 - Vevey & Lac Bleu
As the drive from Gruyères to our next destination (Zermatt) was a lengthy one, we made a few stop-off’s in between. The first was in the Geneva area, at a little town called Vevey, the second was a wonderful hike up to Lac Bleu.
Vevey: This little cobble stone village is again the French part of Switzerland - with France being situated just across the other side of the lake! We parked our car right by the lake, and took a stroll through the cobble stone streets, purchasing ourselves a chocolate croissant from one of the many french bakeries! We walked down to the lake where we enjoyed our sweet pastry, while admiring the beautiful swans that swam right near us - there was literally about 50 of them! Like the majority of the lakes that we saw in Switzerland, this was no exception to the brilliant blue sparking colour. After putting our feet up in the sun for around an hour, it was time for us to move along to our next hiking spot.
Lac Bleu: Lac Bleu is an alpine lake, only accessible via hiking. We parked our car in the village below, packed ourselves a lunch, and hiked the trail up to Lac Bleu (around 45 - 60 minutes depending on fitness levels). This was a pretty steep hike, but enjoyable for the entire time through the forests, and opening up to mountain views towards the end. Once we arrived at Lac Bleu, we instantly understood why this was a popular place to come and see! Quite possibly the bluest lake that we ever have come across, grassy green picnic areas and benches, fire-pits for the cooler months, waterfalls, and mountains surrounding the lake in every which direction! We set-up and had a picnic feast, soaking up the sunshine. Kirk decided he was going to jump in the lake, regardless of the freezing cold temperatures and the fact that there was not one other person swimming in there. He lasted a few minutes before he came running straight back out, his body cold and numb from the freezing cold temperatures.. Quickly warming up in the sun once again, we enjoyed a couple of hours up at Lac Bleu before making the walk back down to our camper.
Day 9 - Zermatt
We had heard lots of good things about Zermatt from fellow travellers who had previously visited Switzerland, and it is also home of the impressive mountain called the Matterhorn, so of course it was on our bucket list during our stay. There are no cars allowed into Zermatt (apart from taxi’s), so we had the option of parking our car outside the village and walking, cycling (bikes are available for rental), taxi, or taking the train into Zermatt - of course we went with the walking option! In regards to leaving your car in Zermatt for the day, you can do so either at the train station (which will cost you around 15 francs per day), or alternatively ask one of the many taxi companies that are there whether you are able to leave your car there for the day for a small fee, with most of them happy for you to do so. We did a bit of asking around before we found the best price (around 8 swiss francs for the day), saving ourselves almost half of what it would have cost if we had left the car at the translation!
The walk was just under 5km’s one way, with only a slight incline, and very scenic the entire way - we are glad that we opted with this option, being in the fresh air, enjoying the mountain views around us, rather than the fast train. We also saved ourselves about 34 (just under $60 AUD) swiss francs in doing so (total ticket price return for 2 x adults). We reached the town in just under an hour, hungry and thirsty. We had packed ourselves picnic food, and found ourselves a gorgeous garden in the middle of the little town to lay out our blanket, and have a cheese feast. With little ponds and trees everywhere, it was a relaxing way to admire the 360 degrees of Zermatt and it’s mountains around us.
After filling our bellies, we were properly ready to explore the village! We walked the streets, admiring all of the beautifully traditional decorated cafes, restaurants, bars and buildings. We walked towards the furthest end of the village, which is where you are able to get the best views of the Matterhorn mountain on foot. We climbed our way to to a viewpoint where we were able to see the formidable mountain in clear views, and get some photographs. Alternatively, you are able to pay for a cable car ticket which will take you further to the top than we were able to reach, however this was quite expensive (around $160 AUD per person) and a little out of our backpacking budget, so we enjoyed what we could from foot instead.
Day 10 - Appenzell
Appenzell is only 1.5 hours from Zurich (where we were to drop our camper off before leaving Switzerland), so we enjoyed our last day in this cute and colourful village, with lots of hiking opportunities. Needing to refresh, we decided to find ourselves a campground with shower facilities. We arrived at a place by the name of Eischen Hotel & Camping - the offices were closed for the afternoon however they had their pricing sheet on the door and it seemed quite reasonable.. That was until the next day when we checked out and paid our bill and it came to almost 50 francs! ($75) - for simply a place to park our car for the night, we would hate to know how much it would cost someone who had a larger motorhome, or needed to set-up a tent. The fee we paid was also for NO electricity, and did not include hot showers (this was an additional 1 franc for 3 minutes of hot water). Although the views were pretty, camping on the top of a hill, unfortunately we would not recommend this campground area just due to their unjustifiably high prices and misleading pricing information upon check-in.
Other than this not so fab experience, Appenzell was gorgeous! We did a wonderful hike in the morning by the name of “Seealpsee” - this short but steep hike up through the forests started very nearby the main village where you can leave your car in the carpark without a fee (something that’s rather rare to find in Switzerland!)
After around 45 minutes, we arrive to the top of a large lake, surrounded by mountains in the distance and people enjoying morning walks, runs, and even fishing ! It took around another 20 minutes to stroll around the lake, soaking up the views and sunshine before making our way back down the same way. We would 100% recommend this hike to anyone passing through the area of Appenzell, and even if you don’t plan to do so, it is only a day trip from Zurich!
General tips & recommendations for Switzerland:
Switzerland is an expensive country! You may have heard it before, but we can assure you the rumours are true, Switzerland is an extremely expensive country to travel in. Travelling here on an extreme budget (like ours!) can be difficult, but if you are determined, you can still make it possible and enjoyable.
Accommodation: One of the reasons why we decided to travel around in a camper was to save costs when it came to accommodation - which will be close to your largest expense when visiting this country (depending on how often you dine out!). As we were able to both travel and sleep in our camper, we found this to be a great alternative to accomodation and it sure did save us a lot of money. Otherwise, if you have a tent there are also lots of campgrounds around which is another cheaper alternative.
For those of you who are looking for actual accomodation, we would recommend looking into air bnb’s and making booking’s well in advance to avoid prices rising during the busy peak seasons. Having a base nearby a train station etc. will be convenient for then venturing off on short day-trips without having to completely relocate.
If you go with the camper van option, you essentially are able to park your car and spend the night anywhere in Switzerland, unless there’s a sign telling you that you can’t. We never had any issues finding a place to stay, even in the busier and more touristy areas of Switzerland.
Getting around: Based on our budget situation, a camper van was perfect for us. We were able to be flexible in where we wanted to go, how long we wanted to stay places, and always had a place to sleep for the night. Alternative to this, we would certainly recommend the train system - with trains to take you essentially anywhere and everywhere in Switzerland, running multiple times per day (sometimes multiple times in the hour depending on where you’re going!), it’s an easy and fast way of getting around - but again, quite costly. For example, we purchased only one train ticket the entire time in Switzerland, this was to get us back to the airport after dropping off our camper, and were pretty shocked when a 15 minute train ride cost us around $60 AUD! Certainly put a decent amount of money in your budget for travel expenses.
Food: The food in Switzerland is DELICIOUS! Traditional dishes such as cheese fondue, rosti, and raclette were all crowd favourites for us and must-eats during your visit. The bakeries that can be found everywhere sell fresh bread and pastries, and depending on whether you’re in the German or French regions of Switzerland, you’ll see a big different in the types of food that are available at restaurants and in cafe’s/bakeries also. Although again, you are looking at anywhere between $40 - $60 for a single main meal per person, and that does not even include entree, dessert, or a drink! The supermarkets in Switzerland are stocked with extremely fresh produce and bakery goods, so this was a great alternative for us to purchase our own supermarket foods and cook at the back of our camper.
Getting up the Mountains: As we visited Switzerland during a time where they were coming out of the winter season, we were lucky enough to be able to hike some of the mountain trails without a whole lot of snow in our way. There are LOTS of cable car options for getting up to the top of the mountains in each of the towns that you will visit in Switzerland, where we found the prices ranged anywhere between $60USD - $170 USD! Which is why we stuck to the old traditional way of walking - which we think gave us much better views and opportunity to enjoy with out large crowds and a time-frame!
For any other questions or recommendations, feel free to send us an email at WeLiveWeExplore@outlook.com - we always love to hear from you guys! AND PLEASE check-out our Switzerland YouTube video at https://youtu.be/UiSASSyzp2Q and below :)