I had the absolutely incredible opportunity to visit Switzerland recently, and it was breathtakingly mesmerizing.
One of my dear friends from high school moved there with her family for work and so we got the real inside scoop travel tour.
There are definitely some things you should know before you go. First and foremost, especially in this COVID climate, check the US Embassy before leaving, link here.
Prior to leaving:
- Getting your COVID certificate. Link here to fill that out. We needed this at most restaurants / indoor activities. It’s a necessity, so definitely fill this out before going.
- A COVID test. I flew TAP Portugal, and they required a test within 72 hours prior to flying. I got a PCR test.
- If you have luggage and are flying TAP Portugal, I’d advise paying for a bag prior to leaving. If you pay a few days before, sometimes it’s cheaper.
- A COVID test 24 hours before flying to get back into the US. This was enacted very recently prior to leaving, and I’m glad we checked! We waited to schedule while in Switzerland presuming there would be plenty of appointments available, and we were WRONG. It took going to 4 different pharmacies and begging someone to take us. Luckily we were able to get them (phew).
- This website provides tons of different options, but again would definitely recommend booking earlier.
- DEFINITELY pay for your luggage prior to going to the airport. We flew out of Geneva and our flight was very early (6am). We felt VERY rushed when at the airport. Very, very, VERY rushed. It’s a weird system where you have to wait in line to check in, and then you get sent over to another kiosk to wait in another line to pay for baggage. We made our flight in time, but definitely would recommend getting to the airport at least 1.5 hours early and pay for luggage beforehand.
Where we went:
- We flew into Geneva and then started the trip in Zermatt. We rented a big bus to get us all there (5 adults, 1 three month old)This was a HIKE but I’m so glad we scheduled the trip to do this first. It was absolutely magical.
- We then drove back to Lausanne and spent a few days there, as this was where my friends are currently living.
Oh Zermatt, I will truly never forget you. The most whimsical place I have ever been. Zermatt is carless, so we had to park our big van in a lot before the city, take a train, and then take a little tutt-tutt taxi to our AirBnb. It was a LONG travel day: 23 hours total. But completely, 500% worth it.
Where we stayed:
We stayed in this AirBnb and it was an absolute dream. There were 3 rooms, 2 bathrooms, a huge kitchen, outdoor space, and an INCREDIBLE view. The floors in the bathrooms and kitchen were heated as well. PLUS, an amazing fireplace. It was about a 20min walk from the city center, though we loved the location. It was remote and quiet and just one of the most special places I’ve ever stayed.
- Day 1: explore Zermatt! We slept in and had a relaxing breakfast then took the train up to the top of the Matterhorn (more about that here). There’s a hotel and cafe at the top where we grabbed a drink and then spent some time exploring and taking photos. Pricy (~$60 per person), though incredibly worth it for the views! Beware if you’re afraid of heights.
- Day 2: skiing!! Our Airbnb had a discount at one of the local ski shop called Dorsaz Sport (10% but still better than nothing!). I rented skis, poles, boots, snow pants, and a helmet. I also had to buy gloves and goggles. If you have any of these things, may be better to bring with you. While the walk to the rental place was a bit (~25 minutes), the mountain entrance was right next to the shop so there wasn’t much lugging the rental materials around. A relief after a long day of skiing! There were only a few trails open as it was beginning of the season, yet still one of the best moments of my entire life. I will remember this FOREVER! For dinner we went to a little place called Grizzly’s and really loved it!
- Day 3: slept in, packed up and departed. We had breakfast at Le Gourmand, then took the van and drove back to Lausanne, though stopped at Montreaux along the way.
- On the drive back from Lausanne, we stopped in Montreaux. Montreaux Noel is an AMAZING Christmas market. It was quintessential Swiss and an absolute dream. I got the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life!! I’d recommend having cash with you (Francs) because many of the little booths were cash only. There must’ve been at least 200 booths!! It went on for miles!!
Where we stayed
We originally had this AirBnb booked which looked amazing! However, the heat wasn’t working properly so we ended up moving to this hotel. The hotel we stayed at was called Swiss Wine by Fassbind. It was affordable, cozy, and very centrally located. It also had a little gym and sauna, which was lovely! Many of the wines there are curated only in the region and you can purchase them and bring them up to your room!! Another huge plus. They also offer breakfast and the view from the breakfast room was stunning.
- Day 1: We spent the first day driving back from Zermatt and going to the Montreaux Christmas market (as above). It was late by the time we switched from the AirBnb to the hotel, so we didn’t do much.
- Day 2: Explored Lausanne! We walked EVERYWHERE and explored all the different Christmas markets of the city. It was an amazing way to see the city and explore. We didn’t have any real itinerary but our friends guided the tour, which was wonderful. We went to Black Bird Diner for breakfast – highly recommend!
- Day 3: We had plans to visit Gruyere and do a cheese tour, though the weather prevented us from doing this. We also had plans to stop at Maison Cailler Swiss chocolate factory that is in Gruyere as well. If it hadn’t been snowing so heavily, we would’ve stuck to this plan! Instead, we had a traditional Swiss meal at Restaurant Chalet Suisse (lots of cheese!), and then toured the Olympic Museum – still a great day.
- Day 4: We had breakfast at The Hideaway and then an AMAZING lunch at Cafe de Riex where it was 3 courses that the chef made and chose for you paired with wine. One of the best meals I’ve had in awhile!! We then went along to a local vineyard in Lavaux and did a wine tasting (website here). All of the wines provided were ones you could ONLY get in the region. Such a cool experience.
After that it was time to go home! The trip of a lifetime with my lifetime friends.