Whether you’re seeking breathtaking mountain vistas, mesmerizing waterfalls, charming villages, or outdoor adventures, these road trips from Zurich offer a taste of the enchanting Swiss countryside.
The journey itself is a feast for the eyes as you drive through the scenic Swiss Alps. After approximately 1.5 hours, you’ll arrive at the base of the mountain, where a thrilling adventure awaits.
There are plenty of things to do on Mt. Titlis. My favorite activity is to take a cable car ride up to the summit and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks.
For the daring, walk across Europe’s highest suspension bridge, where you can feel the adrenaline rush as you gaze down at the sheer drop below.
You can also try snowboarding or skiing on the slopes of Mount Titlis. Even in the summer months, there are opportunities for snow sports thanks to the perpetual snow on the mountain.
Also, explore the Glacier Cave, a fascinating underground ice tunnel where you can marvel at the shimmering blue ice formations.
After a day of thrilling activities, satisfy your hunger at one of the mountain restaurants. Indulge in traditional Swiss delicacies such as fondue or raclette, where you can dip bread into melted cheese or savor a variety of grilled meats and potatoes.
Don’t forget to try Swiss beer or a hot chocolate to warm yourself up.
Just a short drive from Zurich, you’ll discover the awe-inspiring Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfall.
The journey takes approximately 40 minutes, and upon arrival, you’ll be captivated by the sheer power and beauty of this natural wonder.
Start your visit at the viewing platforms that offer breathtaking vantage points of the falls. You can even feel the mist on your face as you stand close to the roaring cascade.
For a more interesting experience, I highly recommend taking a boat ride that brings you closer to the falls, so you can witness their grandeur from a unique perspective.
The boat ride is especially beautiful during the summer months when rainbows dance in the mist.
After marveling at the falls, explore the surrounding nature trails that lead you to picturesque viewpoints. Capture stunning photos, and breathe in the fresh air. Isn’t it wonderful?
Besides driving by yourself, you can also take the Rhine Falls tour from Zurich. This tour will take you along the picturesque German border, through vineyards, and past charming farming villages.
For an adrenaline rush, try zip-lining across the river, adding an element of excitement to your visit.
If you’re feeling hungry, there are several food stalls and restaurants near the falls where you can indulge in local Swiss cuisine.
Treat yourself to a bratwurst (grilled sausage) or a hearty Swiss cheese sandwich. End your visit with a scoop of creamy Swiss ice cream or a slice of delectable Swiss chocolate cake.
Embarking on a road trip from Zurich to Lucerne is like stepping into a fairytale.
This picturesque town, nestled on the shores of Lake Lucerne, boasts charming medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains.
The journey takes approximately an hour by car, and upon arrival, you’ll be enchanted by the beauty that awaits you.
Start your exploration by strolling through the Old Town, where you can admire the well-preserved medieval buildings.
Don’t miss the iconic Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden bridge with a postcard-worthy view of the lake and the cityscape. Take a walk across the bridge and immerse yourself in the history and charm of the area.
For a cultural experience, visit the Swiss Museum of Transport, where you can learn about the country’s fascinating transportation history through interactive exhibits and displays.
The museum showcases various modes of transportation, from trains and automobiles to airplanes and ships. It’s a great place for both adults and children.
To enjoy the natural beauty surrounding Lucerne, you can take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne.
Cruising along the calm waters, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the mountains and the picturesque shoreline. Relax on the deck, feel the gentle breeze on your face, and soak in the beautiful surroundings.
For a memorable culinary experience, head to one of the traditional Swiss restaurants in Lucerne. You should try Swiss specialties such as cheese fondue, where you can dip pieces of bread into a pot of melted cheese.
Another popular dish is rösti, a Swiss-style potato pancake that can be enjoyed with various toppings like cheese, bacon, or vegetables. Pair your meal with a glass of Swiss wine or a refreshing local beer.
If you’re interested in history and art, visit the Richard Wagner Museum, dedicated to the famous composer. Explore the exhibits showcasing his life and works, and enjoy the serene atmosphere of the museum, set in a beautiful villa overlooking Lake Lucerne.
To capture the best views of the city and the surrounding mountains, take a short cable car ride to the top of Mount Pilatus. From there, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking one of the scenic trails on the mountain. For those who have a tight schedule, you can take a combo tour of Lucerne and Mt. Pilatus from Zurich.
Before leaving Lucerne, make sure to visit the Lion Monument, a poignant sculpture carved into a rock face. The monument commemorates the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution. It’s a powerful and moving piece of art that reflects the history and resilience of the Swiss people.
A road trip from Zurich to Jungfraujoch is a true Alpine adventure. Located in the Bernese Alps, Jungfraujoch is one of the highest railway stations in Europe and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
The journey takes close to two hours, but the mesmerizing scenery along the way makes it well worth the drive.
Upon reaching Jungfraujoch, step onto the Sphinx Observation Deck, where you’ll be greeted by a stunning panorama of snow-capped mountains, pristine glaciers, and deep valleys.
You can also explore the Ice Palace, a fascinating underground world of ice and sculptures. It’s like you’ve entered a magical ice kingdom, as you can admire the intricate ice carvings and walk through the ice tunnel.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are numerous activities to enjoy at Jungfraujoch.
Take a guided hike on one of the well-marked trails with breathtaking views and the opportunity to spot wildlife along the way. Alternatively, try snowboarding or skiing on the glacier, even during the summer months.
When it’s time to refuel, indulge in a hearty Swiss meal at one of the mountaintop restaurants.
Savor traditional dishes like raclette, where melted cheese is scraped onto potatoes, or enjoy a warm bowl of Swiss-style fondue. Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate to warm up from the alpine chill.
Another excellent road trip destination from Zurich is Lauterbrunnen.
Lauterbrunnen, nestled in a valley surrounded by towering mountains and cascading waterfalls, serves as the gateway to the famous Jungfrau region.
The journey takes about two hours, and upon arrival, you’ll be in a picture-perfect Alpine paradise.
Lauterbrunnen is famous for its traditional Swiss chalets, flower-filled meadows, and the thundering Staubbach Falls. You can take a stroll along the river and enjoy the tranquility of this idyllic setting.
For an extra dose of adventure, consider paragliding over the breathtaking Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Soar through the sky, taking in the magnificent views of the mountains and the lush green landscape below. It’s an exhilarating experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories.
When it’s time for a break, head to one of the cozy mountain restaurants or alpine huts. Indulge in hearty Swiss cuisines like rösti, a delicious potato dish, or traditional Swiss cheese and meat platters.
Quench your thirst with a refreshing local beer or treat yourself to a glass of Swiss schnapps.
Located in the heart of the Swiss Alps, Zermatt is one of the most popular road trips from Zurich.
This charming mountain village is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and world-class skiing. Nestled at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn, this car-free resort town offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and alpine adventure.
For avid skiers and snowboarders, Zermatt is a paradise. With over 360 kilometers of slopes and an extensive network of lifts, you can spend days exploring the pistes and enjoying the fresh mountain air.
The highlight, of course, is skiing down the slopes with the majestic Matterhorn as your backdrop. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner or not into winter sports—Zermatt has plenty to offer year-round.
During the summer months, go hiking through alpine meadows, discover hidden mountain lakes, and marvel at the panoramic views from various viewpoints.
The Gornergrat Railway is a must-do experience, taking you to the Gornergrat summit for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the surrounding peaks, including the Matterhorn.
Beyond outdoor activities, Zermatt boasts a vibrant village center filled with charming shops, cozy cafes, and exquisite restaurants.
Don’t forget to visit the Matterhorn Museum to learn about the history and culture of the region.
Also, end your visit with Swiss specialties such as fondue or raclette, delicious chocolate treats, and local wines.
Nestled in the rolling hills of northeastern Switzerland, Appenzell is a picturesque region renowned for its rich traditions, charming villages, and stunning landscapes.
It’s the perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat and an authentic Swiss experience.
Start your exploration in the town of Appenzell itself, known for its beautifully preserved medieval architecture.
Take a stroll through the narrow streets lined with colorful buildings, visit the Appenzell Museum to learn about the region’s history, and don’t miss the chance to try the famous Appenzeller cheese at a local dairy.
For nature lovers, the rolling hills and meadows of Appenzell offer endless opportunities for outdoor activities.
Lace up your hiking boots and embark on scenic hikes through pristine landscapes, passing by lush green meadows, grazing cows, and charming farmhouses. One popular trail is the Ebenalp hike, which takes you to the iconic Aescher Cliff restaurant—a must-visit spot with breathtaking views.
A visit to Appenzell is incomplete without experiencing the traditional Swiss folk culture.
Attend a folk music concert, witness the colorful costumes and lively dances during a folk festival, and even try your hand at yodeling.
Don’t forget to sample other regional specialties like Appenzeller sausage, hearty stews, and delicious apple strudel.
Nestled in the Engadin Valley amidst the stunning Swiss Alps, St. Moritz is a world-renowned destination that offers a unique blend of luxury, natural beauty, and outdoor adventures.
The drive from Zurich to St. Moritz takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, showcasing scenic landscapes along the way.
Once you arrive, you’ll be captivated by the charm and glamour of this mountain resort.
St. Moritz is known for its excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, with a variety of slopes suitable for all skill levels.
In addition to hitting the slopes, you can enjoy a range of winter activities such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and bobsledding.
During the summer months, these hiking trails offer breathtaking vistas, and you can try mountain biking, or even windsurfing on the nearby lakes.
Beyond outdoor adventures, St. Moritz boasts high-end shopping boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and luxurious spas.
Don’t miss a visit to Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, an iconic landmark that has hosted royalty and celebrities over the years. For a touch of culture, explore the Segantini Museum, dedicated to the works of Giovanni Segantini, a renowned painter.
Food enthusiasts will be delighted by the culinary offerings in St. Moritz. There are traditional Swiss dishes like fondue or raclette, gourmet international cuisine, and après-ski drinks at cozy mountain huts.
For a unique experience, try dining at the famous restaurant Chesa Veglia, located in a historic Engadin farmhouse.
Nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps, Interlaken is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
The drive from Zurich to Interlaken takes approximately 2 hours, offering picturesque views of the Swiss countryside.
Interlaken is famous for its stunning natural beauty, surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled between the crystal-clear lakes of Thun and Brienz.
The town serves as a gateway to adventure, with a plethora of activities to suit all interests and thrill levels.
Adrenaline junkies can partake in skydiving, paragliding, or canyoning, while those seeking a more relaxed experience can enjoy leisurely boat rides on the lakes, scenic hikes, or simply soak in the breathtaking views.
For a truly unique experience, take a day trip to the Jungfrau region. Board the cogwheel train from Interlaken and ascend to the Jungfraujoch, often referred to as the “Top of Europe.” Marvel at the panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, visit the Ice Palace, and enjoy various outdoor activities like snow tubing and husky sledding.
In Interlaken itself, explore the charming streets filled with Swiss chalets, boutique shops, and cozy cafes.
Don’t miss the opportunity to sample traditional Swiss cuisines such as rösti (grated and fried potatoes), cheese fondue, or chocolate specialties.
A short drive from Zurich, Zug is a charming town known for its picturesque setting and rich history.
The journey from Zurich to Zug takes around 30 minutes, making it an ideal day trip destination.
Start your visit by exploring the well-preserved medieval old town, known as Altstadt, with its narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and charming squares. Admire the iconic Zytturm Clock Tower, where you can witness the clock mechanism in action as it strikes the hour.
Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, soaking in the serene atmosphere and enjoying the panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
You can also rent a paddleboat or take a boat cruise to explore the lake further.
History buffs will appreciate a visit to the Museum Burg Zug, housed in a medieval castle, where you can learn about the town’s fascinating past.
For a unique experience, take a boat trip to the nearby Ägeri Lake and explore the idyllic landscape surrounding it.
You can find a variety of dining options to suit all tastes. Sample traditional Swiss dishes like Zuger Kirschtorte, a delicious cherry-infused cake, or Zuger Rötel, a regional specialty made from red beetroot.
Don’t miss the chance to dine at one of the lakeside restaurants, where you can savor fresh seafood while admiring the scenic views.
Zug is also a great starting point for exploring the region. Consider taking a scenic drive to nearby Mount Rigi, known as the “Queen of the Mountains.” Ascend to its summit by cogwheel train and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding lakes and Alps.
Tucked away in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, Arosa is a hidden gem that offers natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and a tranquil atmosphere.
The drive from Zurich to Arosa takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, taking you through picturesque landscapes and mountain passes.
Arosa is an all-season destination, offering a wide range of activities throughout the year.
In winter, hit the slopes of the Arosa-Lenzerheide ski resort, which offers over 225 kilometers of ski slopes suitable for all levels.
If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, try snowshoeing, ice skating, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the snowy landscape.
During the summer months, Arosa transforms into a paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Explore the scenic trails that wind through lush alpine meadows, forests, and past pristine mountain lakes.
Weisshorn Peak is a popular hiking destination, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
For a more leisurely experience, take a ride on the Arosa-Weisshorn cable car and soak in the breathtaking vistas.
You can also explore the charm of Arosa’s pedestrian-friendly village, with its traditional wooden chalets, boutique shops, and quaint cafes.
Arosa is also home to a variety of wellness and spa facilities, allowing you to relax and rejuvenate amidst nature. Pamper yourself with a soothing massage or indulge in a wellness retreat at one of the luxurious hotels.
Food lovers will delight in Arosa’s culinary offerings. Sample traditional Swiss cuisine at cozy mountain restaurants, savor hearty dishes, or enjoy international flavors at gourmet eateries.
Don’t miss the opportunity to try Arosa’s signature dish, Churer Fleischtorte, a savory meat pie made with beef, pork, and a flaky crust.
Situated on the Rhine River, Basel is a vibrant city that blends Swiss charm with a touch of international flair.
Known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and thriving art scene, Basel offers a unique and captivating experience.
Start your exploration in the Old Town, where you’ll find beautifully preserved medieval buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, and charming squares.
Visit the Basel Minster, a stunning Gothic cathedral with panoramic views of the city, and wander through the bustling Marktplatz, home to a vibrant farmers’ market.
I highly recommend joining the Basel Old Town Walking Tour. With a knowledgeable guide leading the way, you’ll learn fascinating stories and gain insights into Basel’s rich heritage.
You can uncover the city’s history while strolling through winding streets, encountering iconic sights like the Tinguely Fountain, Basel Cathedral on Cathedral Hill, and the impressive town hall.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the many museums and art galleries that Basel is famous for, including the renowned Fondation Beyeler.
Basel is also known for its lively cultural scene. The city hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, showcasing music, art, and theater.
The Basel Carnival, known as Fasnacht, is a particularly vibrant and colorful event that attracts visitors from near and far. Join the revelry, witness the elaborate costumes and masks, and immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.
For those interested in history, a visit to the Basel Historical Museum is highly recommended. Explore the exhibits that span from prehistoric times to the present day, and gain insights into the city’s rich heritage. The Tinguely Museum is another must-visit attraction, dedicated to the works of Swiss artist Jean Tinguely, known for his playful and kinetic sculptures.
When it comes to food, Basel offers a diverse culinary scene. Sample traditional Swiss dishes such as raclette and fondue, as well as international cuisine from around the world.
Don’t miss the chance to try Basler Läckerli, a local specialty gingerbread, and wash it down with a glass of Basler Wein, the region’s delicious local wine.
If you have some extra time, consider taking a day trip to the nearby Alsace region in France. Just a short distance from Basel, you can explore charming French villages, visit world-class wineries, and indulge in Alsatian cuisine.
Tips for memorable road trips from Zurich
- Plan your itinerary in advance, considering the distance, attractions, and time required for each destination.
- Check weather conditions and road conditions before setting off on your road trip.
- Carry a detailed map or use a reliable GPS navigation system to ensure a smooth journey.
- Ensure your vehicle is in good condition and filled with fuel.
- Bring warm clothing, water, and snacks.
- Take regular breaks to stretch your legs, enjoy scenic viewpoints, and capture memorable photographs.
- Explore local cuisine and indulge in regional specialties along the way.
- Embrace the flexibility of a road trip and allow for spontaneous detours to discover hidden gems.
Where can I rent a car in Zurich?
Zurich offers several car rental companies where you can easily rent a car for your road trip adventures. Ensure you have a valid driver’s license and check the rental company’s requirements and policies.
Are the roads in Switzerland easy to navigate?
Yes, Switzerland boasts a well-maintained road network, and the signage is clear and reliable. However, some mountainous routes may be narrow and winding, so cautious driving is advised, especially during winter months when snow and ice can make driving conditions more challenging.
Are there tolls on Swiss roads?
No, Switzerland does not have a widespread toll system for cars on its roads. However, keep in mind that there are mandatory vignettes (road tax stickers) required for motorways. These vignettes can be purchased at border crossings, petrol stations, and post offices.
What is the best time for road trips from Zurich?
The best time to visit Switzerland is during the summer months (June to September) when the weather is generally pleasant, and the mountain passes are open. However, each season offers its own unique charm. In winter, you can see the snow-covered landscapes and engage in winter sports activities.
Are there petrol stations along the routes?
Yes, you will find petrol stations at regular intervals along the roads, making it convenient to refuel during your journey. It’s advisable to keep an eye on your fuel gauge and fill it up when necessary, especially in more remote areas.
Are there parking facilities available at the destinations?
Yes, each destination mentioned in the road trips offers parking facilities, including public parking lots and garages. However, be prepared for parking fees, especially in popular tourist areas.
Can I take public transportation instead of driving?
Yes, Switzerland has an excellent public transportation system, including trains and buses, which can take you to most of the destinations mentioned. This option is convenient for those who prefer not to drive or for those who want to relax and enjoy scenic views without worrying about navigation.
Each road trip destination has its own unique charm and attractions, providing you with unforgettable experiences and memories.
As you drive back to Zurich, take your time to savor the beauty of the Swiss countryside. Stop at charming villages along the way, explore hidden hiking trails, or simply pull over and admire the scenic vistas.
So pack your bags, hit the road, and let the adventure begin as you explore the breathtaking landscapes and captivating cities of Switzerland from the comfort of your car.