Switzerland Itinerary for 5 Days

by Devang
(Chantilly,Virginia,United States)

My spouse and I will travel with our two kids (8 and 11) from the USA to Africa for leisure and safari (Kenya and Tanzania) for 3 weeks (I am having 3 big suitcases and 4 carryon luggage). We are planning a stopover in Switzerland for 4 to 5 days in the first week of August. We are arriving at Geneva airport and flying out from Zurich. We'd love to see Switzerland's landscape so our interest is to cover most of the panoramic rail routes and cable-ways (we are not interested in indoor activity like Museum).

> Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe.
> Geneva to Zermatt (up to mountain summit)
> St.Moritz to Tirano - Italy (Bernina Express)
> Zermatt to St. Moritz (Glacier Express)

Please help me to

1> Set route
2> Suggest Type of train ticket/pass
3> suggest me overnight stay location

Thank you,

Answer to

Switzerland Itinerary for 5 Days

Dear Devang,

Please allow me to be honest. Covering most of Switzerland's scenic trips in 4 to 5 days is impossible, even without kids. Frankly, almost all of Switzerland is scenic, no matter which way you turn :)

So, let's give it a try:


  • Day 1: Arrive early in Geneva and proceed to Zermatt for an overnight and maybe a bit of sightseeing if time permits. Zermatt is very small.

  • Day 2: Take one of the mountain rides to either Matterhorn, Gornergrat, Sunnegga, Rothorn or Schwarzsee. Be early enough back at the train station to proceed to Interlaken Ost for an overnight

  • Day 3: Spend the day in the Jungfrau Region. Either go up to the Jungfraujoch or - if the mountain is shrouded in clouds or you catch a rainy day - a good alternative would be taking a cruise to Brienz, go up to the Rothorn or visit the Open Air Museum Ballenberg. I am sure the kids will have fun there. Overnight again in Interlaken Ost.

  • Day 4: Continue your trip from Interlaken Ost to Luzern via Brünig-Hasliberg. Lucerne is easily discovered on foot, and a visit to the Mirror Maze would be great fun for your children. Overnight in Lucerne

  • Day 5: Travel to Zürich Airport.

Alternative Itinerary
  • Day 1: Arrive in Geneva and travel to Zermatt for an overnight

  • Day 2: Spend the day sightseeing and visiting one of the mountain tops

  • Day 3: Board the Glacier Express to St. Moritz (overnight)

  • Day 4: Board the Bernina Express to Tirano/Lugano (overnight)

  • Day 5: Leave Lugano and travel by train to Zürich Airport. Make sure your flight home is not before late afternoon/early evening. Leave Lugano as early as possible. Trains in Switzerland are accurate most of the time, but it can happen that there's a delay, and you don't want to arrive too late at the airport.

In my humble opinion, the first itinerary would be way more fun for the children. Both, the Glacier and Bernina Express are extremely long rides by train and bus (all day), and I would imagine it to be a bit too hard on your kids. What's more, the second itinerary is even more packed than the first. You wouldn't have time for sightseeing in Lugano, and that really would be a pity. The Tessin/Ticino is a magnificent area, and I am sure the kids would love at least a visit to the Swiss miniature Park, which would be impossible with this itinerary.


As for luggage, consider tacking only your carry-on luggage with you on the Swiss portion of your journey. Depending on your air carrier, you could send your luggage directly to your home airport via Fly Rail Baggage, though I'd suggest you send the three large suitcases by train from Geneva Airport to Zürich Airport where you can pick it up and repack before your flight home.

Train Tickets or Rail Passes

To find out which pass would be best for you depends on what you decide to do. Once your itinerary is set, this page will help you figure out the best option .

Keep in mind, the trip between Grindelwald and /or Wengen up to the Jungfraujoch is not included in any pass. With the Swiss Pass you'd be entitled to 25% discount; with the Half Fare Card you'd receive a 50% discount.

Your kids will travel for free with the Family Card. You can pick it up at the train station at Geneva Airport. If you decide to buy a Swiss Pass, choose "Airport collection" so you don't have to pay a high delivery fee. The Half Fare Card can be picked up there without ordering it in advance.

Reservations for the Bernina and Glacier Express are mandatory and I would do them early, since August is a busy travel month (you can make reservations as early as three month before departure - click on sales at the end of the page). A fee will apply, no matter which rail pass you choose.


Just fill in the date and off you go:

- Hotels in Zermatt
- Hotels in Interlaken Ost
- Hotels in Luzern
- Hotels in St. Moritz, Pontresina or Samedan (all would be possible for taking both, the Glacier and Bernina Express)
- Hotels in Lugano

Click here for all discounted trail travel options.

Safe travels,

PS: Please do share a few photos and words of your Swiss experience. I'd be delighted to hear from you.

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