The country is surrounded by high mountains, which offers visitors all kinds of outdoor activities, scenic trains and more. In this article we recommend the best Swiss Alps tours to see the essentials.
Mountains reaching over 4,000 meters high, forests and alpine villages, crystal clear lakes, a large number of ski resorts and a perfect structure in terms of transportation to reach the top of the mountains, is what the Swiss Alps offer.
Although there are many tours to do in the Swiss Alps, we have made a selection of the best ones to make it easier for you to choose.
🔝 Check out our article on tips for choosing the best travel insurance to Switzerland. Discounts for TravelRutadelMate readers!
How many days are needed in the Swiss Alps?
If you want to see the most attractions in the Swiss Alps you will have to stay at least a week or even ten days if you want to visit Zermatt, on the border with Italy.
If you prefer to base yourself in Interlaken, Lucerne or Grindelwald and from there do the main excursions such as Jungfrau, First and Rigi, you should dedicate at least four days.
What is the best month to visit the Swiss Alps?
The reality is that there is no better month to visit the Swiss Alps, but the landscape changes abruptly whether you choose the summer or winter months.
In the winter months the landscape is completely dyed white with snow and it is very likely that certain hikes and hiking trails in the high mountains are closed due to weather conditions (snowfall or wind).
If you want to enjoy the landscapes in all their splendor, the best months to visit the Swiss Alps are from June to September. You will be able to hike and observe the intense green of the prairie in the lower areas of the mountain.
✏️Whether you visit Switzerland in summer or winter, always carry a coat and raincoat with you. Don’t forget that mountain weather is changeable and temperatures drop sharply at night.
What is the closest city to the Swiss Alps?
There are several cities close to the Swiss Alps, with Interlaken, Lucerne and Grindelwald standing out. Actually, depending on the excursion you want to do, it is convenient to make a base in Lucerne or choose between Interlaken or Grindelwald.
Interlaken has slightly more affordable prices than Grindelwald and a larger hotel offer, as it is larger in size.
Zermatt is the ideal location for exploring the Rothorn Paradise, hiking the five lakes or taking the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car.
Do you need a car in the Swiss Alps?
The reality is that it is best avoided. Railway trains, cable cars and funiculars take you to all the mountains, ski center and attractions of the area. All means of lift transport are expensive, that has to be taken into account, but car parking is also chargeable with rates ranging from CHF 1.50 per hour to CHF 25 per day, and in high season there is usually little room to park.
If you go by car to the Swiss Alps from Zurich or Bern, it is best to park it in Interlaken or Lucerne depending on the tours you choose and from there move by lift.
🚗 Search here for the best car rental prices; and travel at your own pace!
Which tours in the Swiss Alps are the best to do?
Best Swiss Alps tours near Interlaken
Interlaken itself is a must-see small town in Switzerland. Surrounded by the Brienz and Thun lakes, the surrounding environment is simply breathtaking. There are several tours of the Swiss Alps that can be taken from here.
📷 Do you want to live an adventure in the middle of the Swiss Alps? Book the paragliding flight from Interlaken to see the mountains up close. Pure adrenaline!
1) Cogwheel Train to Jungfraujoch
The Jungfrau mountain, with its more than 4,000 meters high, is one of the great attractions in Interlaken. The panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, glaciers and green valleys from its summit are amazing.
One of the most popular ways to reach the top of the Jungfrau is with the Jungfraujoch cogwheel train, one of the highest in the world. Your journey is a real wonder, passing through tunnels excavated on the mountain itself.
Once you reach the summit, you can see the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks and you can access the Sphinx observatory, one of the largest glaciers in Europe, the Aletsch glacier. Nature in its purest form!
In addition, the Ice Palace is another mountaintop site to see. It has ice sculptures of animals, world-famous characters and a large number of passageways. Of course, wear a jacket because it is very cold inside!
⚠️It is advisable to check weather conditions before hiking the Jungfrau. On cloudy or snowy days, visibility is greatly reduced and you will probably not be able to appreciate your surroundings in all their magnitude.
📷 Book the Jungfrau mountain tour from Interlaken here. Includes the cogwheel train to the summit, the Eiger Express cable car, guide and entrance fees to viewpoints and the Ice Palace. You can also book the Jungfrau mountain tour from Lucerne.
2) Funicular to Harder Kulm viewpoint
Do you want to appreciate the town of Interlaken and its lake and mountain environment from above? The Harder Kulm viewpoint offers this possibility, a platform that seems suspended in the air at an altitude of 1,300 meters.
From the lookout point the views are fascinating, the small town of Interlaken below, the turquoise color of Lake Brienz and the mix of green grass in the lower areas of the mountain with the rocks and white snow in the upper area.
There are two options to get to the Harder Kulm viewpoint, one is to pay for the funicular from the Interlaken Harderbahn station. The other option is free, on a trail through the forest where it takes about two hours to climb up from Interlaken and an hour and a half to descend.
📷 Buy here the Harder Kulm viewpoint pass with round-trip ticket from Interlaken.
✏️To save some money, the best option is to take the funicular and then walk down. This way, you can have a totally different view on the way there and back. The trail is not very difficult and can even be done with children.
3) Mount First, one of the best Swiss Alps Tours.
With a much lower altitude than the Jungfrau mountain, Mount First offers a wealth of outdoor activities such as hiking, paragliding, mountain biking and zip-lining.
To get to the top, it is necessary to take the funicular from Grindelwald Firstbahn. From the top you can perfectly observe the alpine landscape and large mountain peaks such as the Reeti and Faulhorn.
The peculiarity of Mount First is that it has a hanging walkway that surrounds the summit, with sections that are even suspended in the void. You can reach the First Cliff Walk by Tissot, a platform to contemplate the great mountains. Be careful if you have vertigo at heights!
✏️ At the top of Mount First there is a restaurant called Berggasthaus First, ideal for lunch or a drink with panoramic views. Prices are high, but it is worth it.
📷 Book here the cable car from Grindelwald to Mount First and the access to the First Cliff Walk by Tissot viewpoint. You can also buy the cable car to Mount First and choose one of the adventure activities in the mountain (zip line, pedal vehicles).
4) Grindelwald, one of the most beautiful villages in Switzerland
Grindelwald is used as a base for excursions to many of the nearby mountains such as First or Jungfraujoch, although there are also many places to visit nearby. It is a town well prepared for tourism with numerous bars, restaurants and hotels.
It is a dream locality where the protagonists are the intense green color, the low alpine style houses and the high snow-capped mountains that border it.
In winter, the ski resort is one of Switzerland’s favorites, and there is even an ice-skating rink. There are also numerous trails that start from the village to explore the Swiss alpine environment.
✏️If you are staying at least three days in the Jungfrau region, you may want to buy the Jungfrau Travel Pass, a pass with unlimited access to the trains, cable cars and funiculars of the Swiss Jungfrau region (Grindelwald, Mürren, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Unterseen and Wengen).
One of the activities to do in the Swiss Alps with children in the vicinity of Grindelwald, is the hike through the canyon of the old glacier. It is a one-kilometer tour through hanging walkways nestled on the canyon wall and tunnels, a great adventure. Below, you will see the flow of a meltwater river.
📷 Book here the entrance to the Grindelwald glacier canyon.
5) Explore the Lauterbrunnen valley
The valley is characterized by the large number of waterfalls, highlighting the Staubbach with its imposing 300 meters high. A hiking route through forests and alpine flowers is worthwhile.
One of the best things to do in the Lauterbrunnen Valley is to take the funicular to Mürren, a beautiful pedestrian village with plenty of restaurants and views of the Swiss Alps. The place is very referenced to James Bond, since several scenes of the series were filmed here, there are even guided tours through the filming locations of the movie.
✏️Although it is expensive, if you are a James Bond fan you can stay at the Schilthorn Hotel, a place where many scenes of the series were filmed.
If you want to climb in altitude even higher, a good option is to take the Schilthorn cable car from Mürren, which will take you to about 3,000 meters, to view the imposing mountains and glaciers. The cable car has two stops worth getting off at: the famous Piz Gloria revolving restaurant and Thrill Walk Birg, a metal footbridge over a cliff.
Best Swiss Alps Tours near Lucerne
Lucerne is a city worth exploring in at least one day. In the surrounding area there are many mountains to visit. Here are two tours in the Swiss Alps near Lucerne that are worth doing.
🔝 Do you want to get to know Lucerne? Check out this article on things to do in Lucerne in one day.
6) Mount Rigi Tour
The so-called Queen of the Mountains offers views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne.
To reach Mount Rigi there are three options: from Vitznau by the late 19th century cog railway (from Lucerne you have to take a boat to Vitznau), from Weggis by cable car to Rigi Kaltbad and then the same cog railway mentioned above, and from Goldau by cog railway. In all three cases you reach Rigi Kulm, the top of the mountain.
The Rigi Kulm platform offers breathtaking panoramic views and several hiking trails to do. One of the recommended routes is from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad, making a stop at the Canzelli viewpoint.
Mount Rigi is also famous for its hot springs, an experience worth living at the top of the mountain. The Rigi Kaltbad Mineralbad & Spa resort offers the possibility of soaking in thermal waters in both its indoor and outdoor pools. Contemplating the Swiss Alps from the warm water pool is fascinating!
🔝 Many of these excursions are free or discounted with the Swiss Travel Pass. See our article on whether to buy a Swiss Travel Pass.
📷 Book the Rigi cog railway train from Vitznau here (includes round-trip ticket for the Weggis cable car). In addition, you can add the entrance to the Rigi Kaltbad Mineralbad & Spa Rigi Kaltbad thermal complex for complete relaxation.
7) Alps Swiss Tours, the Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus is easily accessible by taking a train from Lucerne and then climbing more than 2,000 meters on the world’s steepest funicular railway Pilatus or by the Dragon Ride cable car.
There are several hiking trails available to explore the mountain, one of the main ones being the Dragon Trail.
To reach the Pilatus – Kulm observation center, take the cog railway from Alpnachstrad or the cable car from Kriens. At the top of the mountain there is a restaurant and cafeterias. If you go up to the terrace there are magnificent panoramic views.
✏️Mount Pilatus is in great demand by tourists. It is recommended to go in the morning, when the influx of tourists is lower. Also be aware of the weather conditions at the top of the mountain, which are very changeable. There are many days of fog, which prevents us from observing the surrounding landscape.
📷 Book the cable car to Mount Pilatus from Kriens here.
Other tours in the Swiss Alps to do
8) Excursions in the area of Zermatt
The most emblematic tour in Zermatt is the Matterhorn, although to reach the summit of this mountain you will have a hard climb, only suitable for climbers with previous preparation. The Matterhorn mountain has its characteristic pyramid shape and is the image that appears on traditional Toblerone chocolates.
What is worthwhile is to get to the village of Zermatt, a beautiful alpine site where access by car is not allowed, only electric public transport works. To reach Zermatt, take the cog railway train, known as the Glacier Express, from Täsch. From Zermatt you can reach the Matterhorn by cable car.
Also in the Zermatt area, the Riffelsee lake, where the Matterhorn mountain is reflected, and the Matterhorn Glacier paradise, with fantastic views of glaciers and the highest peaks of the Alps, stand out. In this place you can get to know authentic ice caves.
📷 Book your ticket here for the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car from Zermatt, the highest in the world.
Is it possible to take a day trip to the Swiss Alps?
Normally each of the excursions described above can be done in one day either from Interlaken, Zurich, Bern or Lucerne. It is necessary to select which is the most convenient according to personal tastes.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
- Cheap flights with Skyscanner
- Rent a car with Auto Europe
- Interrail Pass
- Eurail Pass
- Train Tickets with OMIO
- Bus tickets with OMIO
- Ferry tickets with OMIO
- Asia tickets with 12Go
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