Backpacking Switzerland

Switzerland’s landscape with its imposing mountains and beautiful lakes is simply breathtaking. To discover the most stunning places, you should visit both the Swiss Alps and the Swiss Jura, a mountain range in the northwest of the country. Have fun exploring our backpacking route through Switzerland!


Important Basics

Languages: ( German, French, Italian, Romansh, Swiss German )
EnglishSwiss German
breakfastZmorge
lunchZmittag
dinnerZnacht
thank youmerci
excuse meexcusez
Capital City

Bern

Form of Government

Federal republic with a directorial system

Best Time to Visit

June to August

Fun Facts
  • Internationally, Switzerland is a neutral country. In 2007, however, the Swiss Army got lost and accidentally invaded Liechtenstein.
  • Technically, Bern isn’t the capital of Switzerland, as the country doesn’t really have one. The city is treated like a capital, however, and most federal government agencies are located here.
  • Germany is the largest buyer of Swiss chocolate, accounting for around 21% of the total export.

Cities

Zurich

Zurich is the economic center of Switzerland and the perfect place to get a first impression of the country. Prices for a night in a 6-bed dorm start at around €43 here.

Zurich offers fantastic events all year round, such as the Film Festival, the JAZZNOJAZZ Festival, or the “Zürcher Theater Spektakel”, a theater and performing arts festival. It’s also a great city for shopping, because there are hundreds of shops and even six farmers’ markets, where you can buy vegetables, fruit, and bread, but also meat, sausages, and regional specialties. The market on the Helvetiaplatz is particularly interesting because its stalls are so international. You can admire and buy specialties from a wide variety of countries here. Don’t miss out on this great market when you’re in Zurich!

Of course, the city also has a lot of sights to offer, including many churches, like the Grossmünster, the Fraumünster, and St. Peter. Zurich is also home to the Swiss National Museum, which is just behind the main train station.

Visiting the Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich, where you can see about 1,200 different animals, is another very exciting way to spend your time. The city also has the famous Kunsthaus, an art gallery with changing – but always very prestigious – exhibitions. Last but not least, the zoo in Zurich is also well worth a visit.

If you prefer more physical activities, why not try out the Monday Night Skate, which takes place every week between May and October. Exploring the city on inline skates is a great opportunity. You could also run the Zurich Marathon in April, or you can spend a hot summer’s day swimming in the lake or or in a nearby river.

Finally, Zurich has lots of different clubs, restaurants, and cafés, so you definitely won’t be disappointed when it comes to food and drinks.

Lugano

From Zurich, you’ll continue your journey to Lugano. The bus ticket is only €10. Once you’ve arrived, check into a hostel, where a night in a dorm is about €26.

Lugano is located in the canton of Ticino and is therefore in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Lugano is a university city and filled with culture. It’s also characterized by a mild, sunny climate.

While walking along the lakeside promenade, which is lined with palm trees, you’ll get a great view of Lake Lugano. You can also see the surrounding mountains, including Monte Brè, Monte San Salvatore, and Sighignola, from here – the scenery is simply breathtaking.

The city of Lugano is very diverse and has a unique charm, because it’s the perfect blend of Swiss and Italian culture. It’s also a great place to go shopping, and it has a very diverse restaurant scene.

There’s something for everyone in Lugano, whether you’re an art and culture lover or a sports enthusiast. The city’s old town is also well worth seeing, especially its museums, such as the Museo Cantonale d’Arte and the Hermann Hesse Museum.

There are many great spots to go swimming in Lugano. Furthermore, the city is a good starting point for short hikes or longer trekking tours through Ticino. If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed, you can also explore the surrounding area on a mountain bike.

After you’ve enjoyed Lugano’s many sights and activities, it’s time for you to get to your next stop, Lucerne. Getting there by bus is about €15 per person.

Lucerne

Lucerne is an absolutely breathtaking city. It’s located directly on the shores of Lake Lucerne and lies at the foot of the Alps. Staying in a 6-bed dorm here will cost you about €31 per night.

Locals often call their hometown “the most beautiful city in the world” – a claim which is only supported by the fact that Lucerne is more or less at the center of Switzerland.

There are a lot of different churches in Lucerne, for example St. Leodegar and St. Paul. While you’re here, you can also visit one of the oldest Renaissance palaces in the world, the Rittersche Palast. Other buildings worth seeing are the Lion Monument and the Kapellbrücke (chapel bridge), which is Europe’s oldest covered bridge made from wood.

The old town is also home to a number of different museums and other well-preserved historical buildings. One of them is the Weinmarkt, whose façade is covered in paintings from the 13thcentury.

Lucerne is famous for its emphasis on culture, and there are many music festivals happening here. Among the biggest ones are the Stadtfest (city festival), the Fasnacht (the carnival), the Blue Balls Festival, and Funk am See.

Grindelwald

For your next stop, recommend taking the train from Lucerne to Grindelwald for approximately €41 per person.

After the busy crowds of the previous cities, the peace and quiet of Grindelwald will be very relaxing. The town in the Bernese Oberland has only about 3,700 inhabitants. Its name derives from the old high German words “grintil” (bar, barrier) and “walt” (forest).

Grindelwald’s scenery is beautiful, and depending on the time of year you can go either hiking or skiing. Nearby Bussalp is a popular destination with many different hiking and tobogganing trails. In Grindelwald, you can enjoy the outside, relax, and breathe in the fresh mountain air all year round. You have the choice between a few different hostels, but a night in any of them will be around €31.

Montreux

The final stop on your journey across Switzerland is Montreux. To get here from Grindelwald by train will cost you about €36.

Montraux is located in the canton of Vaud, directly on the shores of Lake Geneva. The town is known for its unusual location, as it’s also surrounded by several 2,000 m high mountains. The climate is mild, and the lake’s shore is lined with pretty flowers, sculptures, and Mediterranean trees. You can also see some beautiful buildings from the Belle Époque here. There’s an island in the water next to the promenade, where you can visit the medieval castle of Chillon.

Montreux is also well-known for its cultural events, which are responsible for its reputation as a city of music. It’s most famous for the Montreux Jazz Festival, which takes place every July.

Did you know that the band Queen spent a lot of time in Montreux? From 1979, the band owned the Mountain Studios in the Montreux casino. The casino was rebuilt in 1975, after it had burned down in December 1971. This event inspired a great song by a different band, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.

Montreux is also a fantastic spa town, whose facilities you should definitely make use of while you’re here. A night in a 6-bed room will cost you about €44.


Zurich

Zurich

Zurich is the economic center of Switzerland and the perfect place to get a first impression of the country. Prices for a night in a 6-bed dorm start at around €43 here.

Zurich offers fantastic events all year round, such as the Film Festival, the JAZZNOJAZZ Festival, or the “Zürcher Theater Spektakel”, a theater and performing arts festival. It’s also a great city for shopping, because there are hundreds of shops and even six farmers’ markets, where you can buy vegetables, fruit, and bread, but also meat, sausages, and regional specialties. The market on the Helvetiaplatz is particularly interesting because its stalls are so international. You can admire and buy specialties from a wide variety of countries here. Don’t miss out on this great market when you’re in Zurich!

Of course, the city also has a lot of sights to offer, including many churches, like the Grossmünster, the Fraumünster, and St. Peter. Zurich is also home to the Swiss National Museum, which is just behind the main train station.

Visiting the Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich, where you can see about 1,200 different animals, is another very exciting way to spend your time. The city also has the famous Kunsthaus, an art gallery with changing – but always very prestigious – exhibitions. Last but not least, the zoo in Zurich is also well worth a visit.

If you prefer more physical activities, why not try out the Monday Night Skate, which takes place every week between May and October. Exploring the city on inline skates is a great opportunity. You could also run the Zurich Marathon in April, or you can spend a hot summer’s day swimming in the lake or or in a nearby river.

Finally, Zurich has lots of different clubs, restaurants, and cafés, so you definitely won’t be disappointed when it comes to food and drinks.

Lugano

Lugano

From Zurich, you’ll continue your journey to Lugano. The bus ticket is only €10. Once you’ve arrived, check into a hostel, where a night in a dorm is about €26.

Lugano is located in the canton of Ticino and is therefore in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Lugano is a university city and filled with culture. It’s also characterized by a mild, sunny climate.

While walking along the lakeside promenade, which is lined with palm trees, you’ll get a great view of Lake Lugano. You can also see the surrounding mountains, including Monte Brè, Monte San Salvatore, and Sighignola, from here – the scenery is simply breathtaking.

The city of Lugano is very diverse and has a unique charm, because it’s the perfect blend of Swiss and Italian culture. It’s also a great place to go shopping, and it has a very diverse restaurant scene.

There’s something for everyone in Lugano, whether you’re an art and culture lover or a sports enthusiast. The city’s old town is also well worth seeing, especially its museums, such as the Museo Cantonale d’Arte and the Hermann Hesse Museum.

There are many great spots to go swimming in Lugano. Furthermore, the city is a good starting point for short hikes or longer trekking tours through Ticino. If you’re looking for something a little more action-packed, you can also explore the surrounding area on a mountain bike.

After you’ve enjoyed Lugano’s many sights and activities, it’s time for you to get to your next stop, Lucerne. Getting there by bus is about €15 per person.

Lucerne

Lucerne

Lucerne is an absolutely breathtaking city. It’s located directly on the shores of Lake Lucerne and lies at the foot of the Alps. Staying in a 6-bed dorm here will cost you about €31 per night.

Locals often call their hometown “the most beautiful city in the world” – a claim which is only supported by the fact that Lucerne is more or less at the center of Switzerland.

There are a lot of different churches in Lucerne, for example St. Leodegar and St. Paul. While you’re here, you can also visit one of the oldest Renaissance palaces in the world, the Rittersche Palast. Other buildings worth seeing are the Lion Monument and the Kapellbrücke (chapel bridge), which is Europe’s oldest covered bridge made from wood.

The old town is also home to a number of different museums and other well-preserved historical buildings. One of them is the Weinmarkt, whose façade is covered in paintings from the 13thcentury.

Lucerne is famous for its emphasis on culture, and there are many music festivals happening here. Among the biggest ones are the Stadtfest (city festival), the Fasnacht (the carnival), the Blue Balls Festival, and Funk am See.

Grindelwald

Grindelwald

For your next stop, recommend taking the train from Lucerne to Grindelwald for approximately €41 per person.

After the busy crowds of the previous cities, the peace and quiet of Grindelwald will be very relaxing. The town in the Bernese Oberland has only about 3,700 inhabitants. Its name derives from the old high German words “grintil” (bar, barrier) and “walt” (forest).

Grindelwald’s scenery is beautiful, and depending on the time of year you can go either hiking or skiing. Nearby Bussalp is a popular destination with many different hiking and tobogganing trails. In Grindelwald, you can enjoy the outside, relax, and breathe in the fresh mountain air all year round. You have the choice between a few different hostels, but a night in any of them will be around €31.

Montreux

Montreux

The final stop on your journey across Switzerland is Montreux. To get here from Grindelwald by train will cost you about €36.

Montraux is located in the canton of Vaud, directly on the shores of Lake Geneva. The town is known for its unusual location, as it’s also surrounded by several 2,000 m high mountains. The climate is mild, and the lake’s shore is lined with pretty flowers, sculptures, and Mediterranean trees. You can also see some beautiful buildings from the Belle Époque here. There’s an island in the water next to the promenade, where you can visit the medieval castle of Chillon.

Montreux is also well-known for its cultural events, which are responsible for its reputation as a city of music. It’s most famous for the Montreux Jazz Festival, which takes place every July.

Did you know that the band Queen spent a lot of time in Montreux? From 1979, the band owned the Mountain Studios in the Montreux casino. The casino was rebuilt in 1975, after it had burned down in December 1971. This event inspired a great song by a different band, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.

Montreux is also a fantastic spa town, whose facilities you should definitely make use of while you’re here. A night in a 6-bed room will cost you about €44.

Switzerland Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Zurich
Home – Zurich
Train
40
6-bed dorm
43
2. Zurich
Zurich
-
6-bed dorm
43
3. Zurich
Zurich
-
6-bed dorm
43
4. Zurich – Lugano
Zurich – Lugano
Bus
10
Dorm
26
5. Lugano
Lugano
-
Dorm
26
6. Lugano
Lugano
-
Dorm
26
7. Lugano – Lucerne
Lugano – Lucerne
Bus
15
6-bed room
31
8. Lucerne
Lucerne
-
6-bed room
31
9. Lucerne – Grindelwald
Lucerne – Grindelwald
Train
41
Dorm
31
10. Grindelwald
Grindelwald
-
Dorm
31
11. Grindelwald
Grindelwald
-
Dorm
31
12. Grindelwald – Montreux
Grindelwald – Montreux
Train
36
6-bed room
44
13. Montreux
Montreux
-
6-bed room
44
14. Montreux – Home
Montreux – Home
Train
40

Total price.

Flights 0,00
Transportation 182,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 450,00
Total632,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Birchermuesli: this muesli, which is usually served with fresh fruit, is very popular with the Swiss.

Soups

Basler Mehlsuppe: although this creamy flour soup is named after Basel, you can also find it in other parts of Switzerland.

Main courses

Berner Platte: this is a very rich dish, combining various sausages and appetizers.

Cheese Fondue: no trip to Switzerland is complete without a cheese fondue! It just tastes better when you’re in a mountain cabin with a breathtaking view.

Mostbröckli: this dish consists of smoked meat served with potatoes and a creamy sauce.

Raclette: this meal originated in Switzerland and is still very popular here. It’s great for festive occasions or dinner parties with friends.

Rösti: this potato pancake is fried in a pan and served with a side dish and a sauce of your choice.

Drinks & Snacks

Appenzeller: this is a type of cheese from Appenzell you’re bound to love! Of course, when in Switzerland you should try as many different cheeses as possible anyway.

Kartoffelbrand:  it’s a liquor people usually have after dinner..

Switzerland

The exchange rate for CHF1 is about €0.94 (as of March 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below.

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Greeting: in Switzerland, people traditionally greet each other with three kisses on the cheek.

Hiking: with a backdrop like this, it would be a crime not to go hiking. There are hundreds of trails for you to choose from.

High budget: Switzerland is a pretty expensive country, and you should adjust your budget accordingly.

Don'ts

Impatience: impatience has no place in Switzerland. Just try to keep calm and follow the locals’ example.

Elbows on the table: good manners are very important in Switzerland, especially when it comes to food. One of the most important rules is not putting your elbows on the table while you’re eating.

Knife: in Switzerland, you don’t use a knife to cut bread or salad. Just break them with your hands instead.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

Yes

Temporary national ID

Yes

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

All travel documents other than the temporary identity card may also have expired for one year. However, the legal situation regarding the use of expired travel documents may not be known everywhere. Therefore, it is recommended to carry valid travel documents with you. Please also inform yourself about the current entry regulations regarding the corona virus. You can find up-to-date information on this, e.g. B. at the Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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