Customize This Trip
Free service - no credit card required
The largest city of Switzerland runs along the edges of Zurich Lake, and the waters of Limmat River as art galleries and banks fill the arcades of the newer district that was built between the 18th and 19th centuries. Trolley cars run along the main street of Bahnhofstrasse, which reaches a length of nearly 4,000 feet while fountains offer a serene soundtrack with trickling water, accentuating the trees that line the walkways.
Your private transfer will greet you upon your arrival at Zurich Airport, and you will soon find the aroma of marzipan and chocolate emanating from a confectioner’s café first opened in the mid-19th century. Truffles and bonbons are stacked in graceful pyramids near the window for passersby to see as the snow-capped peaks of the Alps protrude along the horizon from the evergreen trees that blanket the hillside on the opposite shores of the lake. After settling into the comforts of your luxury hotel, your guide will greet you in your hotel lobby eager to lead you on an in-depth tour of the city. You will traverse the cobbled lanes of Old Town to find the riverside shopping street of Limmatquai. Antique guild homes once belonging to merchants line the waterway and frame the 17th-century Haus zum Ruden, highlighting a timber floor and lower stone walls reaching a thickness of more than three feet.
In the morning, the aroma of fresh coffee and rich truffles emanates from the doors of nearby cafes. Families in Zurich have visited one celebrated confectionary for generations, indulging in the flaky crusts of freshly made pastries and creamy texture of layered cakes. After breakfast, you have a private transfer to pick up your rental car on the outskirts of Zurich, allowing you to begin your Swiss road trip en route to St. Moritz. The road will lead you near the border to Liechtenstein, the smallest German-speaking country in the world. The mixture of rugged peaks, verdant forests, and historical architecture turns your time in the country nestled between Austria and Switzerland into a visit with a storybook.
The majestic 12th-century castle looms over the capital city atop a hill as the vista overlooks the city rooftops and mountains along the horizon. A castle has stood on the 230-foot plateau since Neolithic times as the parliament building overlooks the banks of the Rhine River near Peter-Kaiser-Platz. Return to Switzerland to find the iconic image of cows grazing on the alpine slopes while wearing large bells so that their farmers can hear them. You will soon reach the luxurious town of St. Moritz, nestled between lakeshores and mountain slopes in the Upper Engadine region.
In the morning, the scent of pine drifts from the forest around the edges of St. Moritz and sweeps through the quiet streets. The aroma of homemade marmalade and buttery croissants overtakes the fragrant trees, as you leave the charming city behind en route to Lugano, a town near the border of Italy that overlooks the shores of the eponymous lake. The winding roads offer stunning views of the forest, lots of grazing sheep and cows, and the ever-present peaks of Europe’s most famous mountain range.
You will make your way to Bellinzona, the capital of the Ticino region. Powerful fortifications and castles define the area with crenulated walls and soaring towers bursting through the surrounding trees. The strongholds were erected at the point where the valley narrows en route to the many Alpine passes. You will travel to Castelgrande, the largest of the three castles famous in Bellinzona, where the dramatic figure was erected atop a plateau that overlooks a steep slope on one side and a sheer granite cliff on the other.
The foundations of the castle were first laid in the 4th century with the edifice you see today taking shape around the early 19th century. The Grotto San Michele terrace provides views over the walls to the vineyards along the Ticino Valley. The Black and White towers frame the upper terrace inside the courtyard, and you can climb the stairs to the top of the towers for an unforgettable view of the surrounding landscape, including the rooftops of Bellinzona below.
The sunlight washes over the lakeside town of Lugano to reveal the Mediterranean palms and lavish villas that overlook the cobalt waters. The scent of espresso drifts out of the corner cafes where tables and chairs offer a place for patrons to watch the city pass them by. The flower beds that line the promenade shimmer with vibrant hues that guide the eye to the rising summit of Monte San Salvatore, the nearly 3,000-foot tall peak rising out of the water. After a traditional Italian breakfast of espresso and fresh-baked brioche, you will return to the car and cross the border into Italy.
The Alps continue to frame the winding streets dressed with craggy boulders and dense pine forests. You will soon reach the town of Stresa, located on the shores of Lake Maggiore. The bygone decadence of the Lombardy kingdom continues to decorate the waterfront with architecture that reflects the belle époque. Cobblestones line narrow alleyways, and the promenade offers views to the glistening waters that lead to Piazza Cadorna. Camelias blossom with vibrant pink petals as you catch the ferry to Isola Bella to explore the 17th-century Baroque village.
The cool water of the lake splash onto the windows of the boat as the refreshing air of the breeze brushes against your cheeks. The palace contains elaborate stucco ceilings and glass chandeliers designed in Murano. 16th-century Flemish tapestries cover the walls, which include an image of a unicorn, the Borromeo family’s emblem. You can wander through the false grottoes, which were designed in the 18th century with pebbles to form a black and white pattern across every surface.
In the morning, you can find the sunlight glistening over the surface of Lake Geneva. The scent of pain au chocolate drifts out of the tearoom at a café and confectionary offering elaborate views to the water. Ferries traverse the lake, including boats with large paddles that resemble a river cruiser from the 19th century. You will climb into the car for a day of sightseeing alongside the shores of Lake Geneva en route to Bern. Lausanne combines the contemporary culture of a commercial town with the charm of a historic village. The Gothic towers of the Cathedral shape the skyline amongst the alpine peaks.
The Bohemian ambiance of the Flon district highlights the rejuvenated spirit of the town through the art galleries and boutiques situated inside the antique warehouses. The medieval Cathedral was erected in the 13th century, and stone sculptures of the Apostles adorn the main entrance. The decorative rose window contains more than 100 panels that feature colorful stained glass, and a fragrant aroma of frankincense fills the nave. You will continue to the city of Geneva, a center of diplomacy and culture as the Jet d’Eau bursts with a white plume of the water to reach a height of more than 500 feet for a striking welcome.
The capital of Switzerland retains its alpine charm with half-timbered homes and high-level bridges that link the banks along the river to the higher slopes along the sandstone ridges. The buildings reflect the 17th and 18th-century prosperity amidst the glistening turquoise waters of the Aare River. Red-tiled rooftops glow against the emerald trees and copper spires of the Cathedral. The aroma of freshly baked bread and smoked sausage emanates from the Kornhauscafe located in the historical heart of the city. You leave the Swiss capital behind for the beautiful shores of Lake Lucerne. The drive takes you on a route true to the city’s name, which means “Between Lakes.”
The stoic waters reflect the plains and foothills that lead into the stunning peaks of the Jungfrau Massif. You will have a spectacular view of the snow-capped summits from the prairie of Hoheweg, a nearly 35-acre plot of land that once belonged to a Monastery. Tulips and marigolds bloom in the flowerbeds while cafes set out tables and chairs along the walkways for patrons to enjoy the view to the peak. Make your way over the Aare River to take the funicular that climbs the Harder. The slope reaches a height of more than 4,300 feet above sea level. A viewing platform provides an impressive view of the cobalt waters of the lake, the greenery around Interlaken, the half-timber homes of Old Town, and the nearly 13,650-foot thigh Jungfrau peak.
In the morning, the colors of Old Town regain their shimmer in the morning light along the right bank of the Reuss. The burghers’ homes contain bright red hues and green shutters that overlook the stone streets and the trickling fountains. The 17th-century Renaissance architecture and Swiss hipped rooftops give the city a fairytale ambiance accentuated by the ever-present scent of chocolate. The Spreuerbrucke covered bridge has lasted more than six centuries and continues to showcase 45 paintings adorning the triangular panels beneath the rafters.
You will take the car to Basel before returning to Zurich to find a charming city known for its culture and cuisine along the edges of the Rhine River. With more than 40 museums, Basel offers insight into art, history, and craftsmanship, along with the preserved medieval architecture. The main square of Marktplatz contains the Town Hall. The Bright red façade accentuates the colorful frescoes that frame the clock. The arcade dates back to the early 16th century while the interior features 15 coats-of-arms depicting the symbols of prominent Swiss families. The spire of Basel Minster rises above the sloped rooftops upon a former Roman fortress. The 18th-century square features buildings of red sandstone and high vaulted ceilings.
As you wake, the sunlight will wash over the neo-Gothic castle of the Swiss National Museum. The galleries display more than 820,000 historical and cultural artifacts that follow a timeline from prehistory to the 20th century. Gold and silver glint beneath the soft light of the galleries as textiles and costumes represent the aristocratic life of the court while stained glass windows glisten and glow beside medieval wall paintings. You will travel to the airport when you are ready, return the car, and check in for your flight home having enjoying your road trip across Switzerland.
Your exploration of the Swiss Alps offers a remarkable chance to move at your own pace, lingering in the villages you love and finding charm in the indelible landscape during your 8-day self-driving itinerary of Switzerland. Your journey begins with your arrival in Zurich, the largest city in the country, as your private transfer greets you at the airport and escorts you to the comforts of your luxury hotel located in the heart of Old Town. Meet your guide in the lobby for an engaging tour of the antique streets to enjoy the vibrant life found along the main road of Bahnhofstrasse.
Wake the next morning at your leisure and then pick up your car to set out into the scenic countryside of Switzerland. Enjoy the mountain roads before venturing into Liechtenstein. Visit the capital city of Vaduz and find castles adorning the rugged summits, and then cross back into Switzerland to reach St. Moritz. Enjoy the gorgeous views of the alpine meadows and the quiet ambiance of the town. The next day, discover the magnificent strongholds on the hills of Bellinzona and then tour the low-lying slopes of the Alps to find the three castles before continuing to the Mediterranean climate of Lugano. The beautiful small town allows you to stroll through blossoming gardens and historic arcades.
The following day, cross the border into Italy to enjoy the quiet lakeside promenade of Stresa. Take a ferry to Isola Bella to stroll along with the terraced gardens and opulent halls of the Villa d’Este before returning and venturing to Montreux by way of Sion. You then have a chance to visit the Chillon Castle on the outskirts of the city. Move next to enjoy the vineyards around Lake Geneva and the steep hills of Lausanne the following day, and then visit the bustling city of Geneva en route to Switzerland’s capital, Bern. Once there, find the arcaded buildings, cozy cafés, and the home of Albert Einstein.
Travel to Lucerne the next day with a stop in the town of Interlaken along the way. Wander the antique town center and make your way to a viewing platform to see the soaring Jungfrau peak. Once in Lucerne, you can wander the medieval battlements and walk beneath the remarkable covered bridges. Venture to Basel the next day to find a city with more than 40 museums adorning the banks of the Rhine River. Take your time to wander along the cobbled lanes and serene 12th-century buildings before returning to Zurich. Conclude as you drive to the airport and return your car before checking in for your flight home. Consider learning more about our travelers’ favorite Switzerland travel activities by reading their Switzerland travel reviews.
$3195 per person (excluding international flights)
This trip is customizable for your private travel.
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.