Hey friends! Ready for another adventures post? This one is pretty special because it’s the first international one. LOTS of excitement for that on my part! In January, I had the chance to travel to Switzerland and Italy, which was such a treat. (Today I’m just going to be talking about Switzerland so stay tuned for an Italian themed blog post soon.) The list below details my favorite things I saw during my stay. My family and I stayed at a hotel in-between Zurich, Zug, and Lucerne so this list is centered on that geography. Without further ado, my top 5 things to do in northern Switzerland!
Mount Titlis. This was probably my family’s favorite day while we were in Switzerland. Mount Titlis, “mountain of angels,” is one of the peaks surrounding Engelberg, which is a very popular tourist town. Mount Titlis is one of three peaks in Central Switzerland. A storm came in the day we visited so it was actually the only peak open for visitors. Despite the grey clouds, we loaded up on a bus with the “Best of Switzerland,” Tour Company. You can drive up yourself and skip this step but honestly, it was so nice to just lean back and let someone else navigate. The tour guide was also amazing and gave us all kinds of facts and human stories about he people and economy. The trip up the mountain involves 3 different gondola rides and it certainly is difficult if you have a fear of heights. I kept my eyes on the floor of the gondola and made it up just fine, however.
On the top of the mountain, there are all kinds of activities from “The Ice Flyer” chairlift, ice caves, rock climbing, skiing, the highest suspension bridge in Europe, and on good day, fabulous views of the central Alps. Because of the storm, many of these attractions were closed when I went but honestly, I have no desire to do much that high off the ground. I would recommend the ice cave grotto. Tip: there are two restaurants on top of the mountain but they are pricey and pretty typical touristy food. If you are able, pack a lunch and eat in the panoramic lounge instead. The views are stunning and you can enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate.
Rhine Falls (RheinFall in German)
This is a very close second to Mount Titlis. We did this our very first day when it was rainy and few tourists were around. The falls are the highest in Europe and while much smaller than Niagara, still very pretty. One side of the falls is free and great for panoramic views of the lake and falls. The other side costs a small fee but allows you to walk down along the falls and get extremely close to the water. Honestly, everything is just really beautiful.
Another plus to Rhine Falls is the drive over. Seeing the landscape of Switzerland and even a small bit of Germany was a great first day.
This town is rated highly on pretty much everyone’s list of things to do. Old town, a neighborhood of Lucerne is the quintessential Swiss destination. Cobblestone streets, beautiful bridges, large murals on the buildings, and great shopping make this quite the one-stop-shop in terms of destinations. Wandering the streets is a great way to have a relaxing day while still seeing lots of sites.
I visited in January so there weren’t too many tourists but my mom was there last July and said it was teeming with visitors. I still think it’s worth a stop but if you’re not a big fan of crowds be aware that the shops are small.
The Rosengart Collection.
You know I had to throw in a museum! This is another Lucerne destination and it actually houses 150 Picasso paintings, which makes it the largest collection of his work in the world. They also have a fairly large collection of Paul Klee’s work and then a floor of other modern artists. It is a different kind of experience to see so many works by the same artists than a traditional museum for sure. Whichever you end of preferring, seeing his work was really interesting to me and one of my favorite stops.
Last but certainly not least, is the biggest city I visited. In general, I’m a big fan of cities. There’s so much to see and do as well as taking in the general culture of cities. We went on a rainy day by train (definitely recommend that mode of travel) and started off the day with lunch. We went to Hitl, which was the first vegetarian restaurant to open in Zurich. It’s a pay-by-weight place and the food was beautifully colored and delicious. It was actually the cheapest meal I had in Switzerland but was my favorite by far. It has a bohemian feel to it, which made sitting and sipping my delicious juice (homemade of course!) all the more enjoyable. Fair warning: you can make a reservation but that does make the food a little more expensive. If you have a larger party I would definitely recommend it. My mom and I went together and at lunchtime you definitely fight for a seat. I think it’s worth it though!
(Yes, sometimes I snapchat my food. But seriously, look at all the colors!)
After that, we followed a walking tour from Rick Steve’s book on Switzerland and explored Pestalozzi Park, St. Peter’s Church and of course Bahnhofstrasse. There are many cathedrals and great waterfront views. My favorite way to see a city is by simply walking around and Zurich is a great place to do that. Take in the windy streets and weird mishmash of alleyways and simply enjoy Swiss culture. It’s well worth it!