Switzerland In The Summer: Best Things To Do & Where To Go
Are you heading to Switzerland in the summer? If so, this is for you!
Switzerland offers a broad spectrum of things to do, especially in summer. Despite being one of the smallest European countries, what Switzerland offers is diverse and exciting, satisfying every type of traveler, regardless of their interests.
In this guide to the best things to do in Switzerland in the summer, we’ll cover the variety of activities you can do, give some hiking tips, and recommend some Swiss mountain excursions, beautiful train rides, and lakes to visit. And of course, we’ll also recommend where to go to taste authentic Swiss cheese!
While we have been to Switzerland a few times ourselves, we’ve asked our friend Nicoletta to help us out with this post. She’s the creator or Voices of Travel, a travel blog and itinerary planning service for travel across Europe.
Switzerland In The Summer: Best Time To Visit
Before we head into the top things to do in Switzerland in the summer, it’s worth mentioning the best time to visit Switzerland.
The best months to visit Switzerland are June and September. There are still fewer tourists during this period, and the weather is usually beautiful. July and August are also great months to visit, but you should count on more tourists this time.
Best Things To Do In Switzerland In Summer
Now that you know the best time to visit Switzerland, let’s jump into the best things to do in the country.
As I mentioned before, this list includes a little bit of everything and covers a variety of interests. Whether you love sports, hiking, sightseeing, relaxing, or just staring at the mountains from inside a train, we’ve got you covered. So choose the perfect activity for yourself.
1. Explore The Jungfrau Region
We’ll begin our list of the best things to do in Switzerland in the summer by highlighting the best region in Switzerland, the Jungfrau region. It’s located in the Bernese Oberland canton, just an hour away from the capital city of Bern. It offers hands down one of the most stunning sceneries in the country.
The Jungfrau region has something for everyone: scenic train rides, glaciers, boutique hotels with incredible views, hiking trails, and even more adventurous activities such as sky-diving, paragliding, glider flying, and mountain carts.
The most popular places to stay in the Jungfrau region are Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, or the picturesque town of Mürren.
Activities From Grindelwald
Grindelwald is the biggest town in the area, with many accommodation options. I’d recommend staying here if you plan to visit the region. It offers the following activities:
✔️Visiting Top of Europe – the highest train station in Europe
✔️Exploring Männlichen & walking the panoramic trail
✔️Adventure activities such as First Glider, First Flyer, a mountain cart, and a Trotti bike
✔️Exploring Glacier Canyon
✔️Hiking on the First Mountain to Bachalp Lake
✔️Hiking to the Faulhorn Mountain Hut
Activities From Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen is a small town surrounded by vast mountain cliffs. It’s located in the valley of 72 waterfalls, which suggests its uniqueness. When arriving, you’ll be greeted by the spectacular Staubach waterfall falling from the mountain and disappearing in the air.
You can enjoy more of such scenery when driving through the entire valley. Even though it has fewer facilities than Grindelwald, it’s a hidden gem for those seeking to relax.
You can do the following excursions from Lauterbrunnen:
✔️Schilthorn Mountain – Piz Gloria (my favorite excursion in the Jungfrau region)
✔️Visiting a car-free village Wengen
✔️Exploring Top of Europe – the highest train station in Europe
✔️Visiting Trummelbach waterfalls
Activities From Mürren
Mürren is the most unique town to stay in, not only in the Jungfrau region but in all of Switzerland. It’s a car-free village, and the only way to get there is by taking a cable car from Lauterbrunnen.
Once you arrive, a fascinating panorama will open up in front of you with the three famous mountains: Mönch, Jungfrau, and Eiger.
Mürren is pretty spectacular, and even though it doesn’t offer that many options for activities, it’s worth staying at least for a night.
You can enjoy these excursions from Mürren:
✔️Via ferrata to Gimmelwald
✔️Schilthorn Mountain – Piz Gloria
✔️Hiking the Mountain View Trail/Flower Trail
✔️Taking a panoramic train to Grütschalp
2. Take A Swiss Panoramic Train
A visit to Switzerland is only complete when you’ve taken at least one of the beautiful panoramic trains.
In fact, the best way to explore Switzerland is by train. This way, you can enjoy its scenery throughout every single part of the country.
If you take one of the panoramic trains, you can be sure it’ll be an experience of a lifetime.
Altogether, Switzerland offers five incredible panoramic railways:
- Glacier Express
- Bernina Express
- Golden Pass
- Voralpen Express
- Gotthard Panorama Express
I recommend doing the Glacier Express ride. It’s the most spectacular panoramic train with the best scenery and most things to see.
Glacier Express runs once a day. It departs either from Zermatt and rides to St. Moritz or vice-versa.
I suggest starting your journey in Zermatt. Throughout this 8-hour train journey, you’ll see Swiss highlights, such as Andermatt village, the Swiss Grand Canyon, the Landwasser Viaduct, and incredible scenery after passing through Filisur village.
Bernina Express takes you from the Italian town of Tirano to the oldest city in Switzerland, Chur. You’ll be able to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Lago Bianco after riding via the incredible Brusio Circular Viaduct.
Another highlight of this train ride is the Swiss glacier called Bernina.
The Golden Pass train offers slightly different scenery. You’ll be hopping on the train in Interlaken, surrounded by the vast mountains of the Jungfrau region.
After, you’ll start descending to the French part of Switzerland, passing by the famous cheese town of Gruyère before making it to the beautiful Lake Geneva. The ride ends in Montreux, the city of jazz.
The Voralpen Express is one of my least favorites, simply because the scenery is not as spectacular as with other trains. This Swiss panoramic train will take you from St. Gallen to Lucerne.
Gotthard Panorama Express
Last but not least, the Gotthard Panorama Express is the only journey that combines train travel with a boat on Swiss Lake.
It takes you from the Italian part of Switzerland, Lugano, to the medieval German-speaking town of Lucerne.
Firstly, you’ll take a train passing through the world’s longest tunnel, Gotthard Tunnel. Once you reach Füellen town, it’ll be time to hop on a ferry that’ll take you to Lucerne.
Each of these Swiss panoramic trains has its advantages. So choose the one you like the most.
Recommended: The Swiss Travel Pass
These panoramic trains are not the cheapest, especially the Glacier Express. Yet there is a way to ride on it almost free of charge. I suggest getting the Swiss Travel Pass.
This pass lets you travel on various days throughout Switzerland using trains, buses, and boats. It even includes mountain excursions and museum entries. The Swiss Travel Pass saves you a lot of money and lets you explore this beautiful country as much as you want. It’s the perfect pass for your Swiss itinerary.
3. Drive Via The Grimsel Pass & Furka Pass
Grimsel and Furka Pass are other fascinating areas in Switzerland. The best way to explore them is by car.
I have never seen better scenery than when driving through these passes. If you are the unlucky driver here (as opposed to being the lucky passenger), there are panoramic spaces on the road to stop and soak up the atmosphere. So don’t worry, drivers out there; you won’t miss out.
On the way, I highly recommend stopping by the Gelmer Bahn, one of the steepest funiculars (cable rail systems) in the world. Take a ride up and hold on tight.
It’ll be a tough ride, but it offers incredible scenery. It’s necessary to purchase your ticket in advance on their website.
I recommend starting your journey in Interlaken. From there, drive alongside the Brienz Lake towards Innertkirchen. Then stop at the Gelmer Bahn and take a drive up to the mountains.
Continue to the Grimsel Hospiz and have some lunch in this beautiful historic hotel.
After, drive up via the Grimsel Pass until you reach the famous Furka Pass.
Make a stop at the Hotel Belvedere for some photos.
Then drive down to the Swiss town called Andermatt. It’s one of the most beautiful towns in Switzerland and is a great place to spend the night.
4. Relax At The Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva is another fascinating region in Switzerland. It offers perfect places to relax, city life, amazing wine-tasting experiences, and endless boat rides.
If you’re a big fan of cities and lake views, this is the best thing to do in Switzerland in the summer for you.
You can visit 3 of the major Swiss cities on Lake Geneva:
If I were to choose one, it would be, without a doubt, Montreux. It’s a famous jazz city offering a spectacular lake promenade, a great museum, and the Queen Studio Experience. In addition, the famous Chillon Castle is just a walk away.
Geneva is the main city on Lake Geneva. It’s home to the United Nations and the European Organization for Nuclear Power (CERN). You must see the famous Jet d’Eau fountain and walk through its old town.
If the weather is clear, you can also spot the highest European mountain from the lake promenade, Mt. Blanc.
Lausanne is another beautiful city you can visit. It’s considered the Olympic City, where you can explore its Olympic Museum. Walk up to its spectacular Cathedral and enjoy the city’s best views along Lake Geneva.
Don’t miss the opportunity to ride a boat on Lake Geneva. You can take a boat from Geneva city to Castle Chillon, or from Montreux to Lausanne. The Swiss transportation system is the best in Europe, and its boats are no exception.
Being at Lake Geneva, visiting one of these cities, and walking on its promenade will give you the perfect summer vacation vibe (as if you were close to the ocean).
5. Take A Steam Train To The Brienzer Horn
Brienzer Rothorn Railway is the only Swiss cogwheel railway that is powered by steam. Not only are you riding a unique open-air railway, but the journey up the Brienzer Rothorn mountain is also in itself fantastic.
As you ride, you’ll be able to see the incredible scenery of the Jungfrau Region and its glacier from the top. This was the most beautiful mountain train ride I had when I visited Switzerland.
The Brienzer Rothorn train is located in Brienz, a small Swiss village on the Brienz Lake close to the Jungfrau region. So the best way to visit it is to combine it with your visit to the Jungfrau region.
From Interlaken, you’ll have to take a train to Brienz. Check the Swiss railway website for a train schedule. Once you’re in Brienz, walk across the road from the train station, and you’ll already see the Brienzer Rothorn station.
Enjoy the 1-hour ride to the Briener Rothorn mountain and have your camera ready. On the mountain, you can go hiking, eat in a local restaurant, and, most importantly, enjoy the breathtaking views of the region. Here, you’ll see two of the most beautiful Swiss lakes: Brienz and Thun Lake.
Pro Tip: When staying in Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, make it a 1-day excursion combining the steam train to Brienzer Rothorn and a boat ride on the Brienz Lake from Brienz back to Interlaken.
6. Eat Delicious Swiss Cheese/Gruyere Excursion
What would a visit to Switzerland be without tasting its delicious cheese?
If you’re a cheese lover like me, you’ll enjoy visiting the medieval town of Gruyère and its cheese factory. It’s situated in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, close to the Golden Pass panoramic train route.
Its cobblestone streets with a medieval fountain in the middle will make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. You can visit its castle dating back to the 13th century. Nowadays, it’s a museum where you can learn about the history of the town and the Swiss canton of Fribourg.
While you’re in Gruyère, don’t forget to check out the Tiber Museum and La Maison du Gruyère.
But the main reason why you should visit Gruyère is because of its delicious cheese, which is named after this town.
Gruyère cheese is an alpine cheese made from cow’s milk. The Swiss perfected its production, and nowadays, you can taste it in French onion soup, quiches, and cheese puffs.
For the best experience to learn about this famous cheese, visit La Maison du Gruyère. It’s a cheese factory just below the fortification of the Gruyère town. Here you can learn about the production of this cheese and even taste test some for yourself.
Afterward, eat at the onsite restaurant and taste some delicious Swiss cheese dishes. Buy more cheese in the local shop if you haven’t had enough yet.
Best Places To Go In Switzerland In Summer
Switzerland offers a wide range of places to stay and go during your trip to Switzerland in the summer. Each of these places has excellent facilities, transportation systems and connections, along with many things to do.
Depending on the region of Switzerland, locals will even speak different languages than you may have heard elsewhere in Switzerland.
Here are a few recommendations of cities and towns you should visit when in Switzerland. Each place is close to a few attractions and the best things to do in Switzerland in the summer. So use one of these cities as a starting point for doing the activities and excursions you want to do during your stay in the country.
Zurich is one of the most famous cities to visit in Switzerland. It’s also the first place many visitors go to in the country, as it has the most flight connections from around the world, as well as train connections from/to other European cities.
Zurich is a great place to start your Swiss itinerary. I recommend you only spend 1 or 2 days here. I think you’ll find that a short visit in the city is enough.
Exchange some Swiss francs, familiarize yourself with the Swiss culture and food, and explore the rest of the country from here.
Lucerne is my favorite Swiss city. It’s a beautiful medieval town with the famous 14-century Chapel Bridge to cross the river.
Lucerne is the perfect starting point for mountain excursions, such as Mt. Titlis or Mt. Pilatus. You can also enjoy boat rides on Swiss lakes around the city or hop on the Golden Pass panoramic train to Interlaken (which, as a reminder, is one of the best things to do in Switzerland in summer).
Geneva is another big city with great worldwide connections. It’s also a nice place to start exploring Switzerland.
Located in the French-speaking part of the country, you can go for wine tasting, see some of the most important international organizations such as the UN, and enjoy the largest freshwater lake in Europe, Lake Geneva.
Grindelwald is one of the most stunning mountain villages in the country. In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful place in Switzerland and should definitely make your Switzerland in summer itinerary.
Grindelwald is the perfect place to stay to explore the entire Jungfrau region. From adventuring on the spectacular Eiger mountain to heading to the Top of Europe, it’s all very close to this charming town.
Switzerland has four official languages. One of them is Italian, the official language of the Ticino canton with its capital city of Lugano. This city will give you yet another perfect summer vacation vibe, similar to Geneva and its lake.
Lugano is the best place to stay if you love lakes and mountains. You can take trains up to the hills and enjoy the spectacular scenery. The best mountain excursions are San Salvatore and Monte Brè.
The city has a significant Italian influence, so you’ll feel like you’re in 2 countries simultaneously.
Remember to try some gelato. Go to a local supermarket to get fresh Italian products such as prosciutto, mozzarella, burrata cheese, or some Italian wine.
Visiting Switzerland In Summer: FAQs
Now that you fully understand Switzerland and things to do in the summer let’s dive into some of the frequently asked questions.
What is Switzerland like in the summer?
Switzerland in the summer is truly spectacular. The country is filled with vibrant colors, from the green grass with Swiss cows to the crystal-clear lakes, rivers, and canyons, to the snowy mountains and glaciers. Even the mountain huts are open so that you can enjoy a unique experience!
Summer is the best time to visit Switzerland as it offers many activities across its varied terrain, allowing you to enjoy both the warm grassy regions in the valleys and the snowy mountaintops in the Swiss Alps.
What is the temperature like in Switzerland in summer?
Switzerland has a variety of climates as it spreads from lakes and valleys to mountains and glaciers. So prepare for a different temperature depending on the places you visit.
On average, the temperatures range from 22°C in the mountain villages to 32°C in the Swiss cities and places near the lakes. However, you can also face cold temperatures if you visit Jungfraujoch or any other Swiss mountain with temperatures below 0°C. So pack accordingly.
Is it better to visit Switzerland in June or September?
It’s better to visit Switzerland in June than in September. The reason is that you’re almost guaranteed that it won’t snow in June. You can enjoy beautiful weather, crystal-clear rivers full of glacier water, and facilities prepared to serve visitors.
September is a great month to visit, but it might already be snowing in some parts of the country. For instance, I was in the Jungfrau region in September 2022, and it was snowing heavily on the 17th of the month. While this is unusual, it does happen!
Furthermore, if it does snow, this might cause some of the mountain huts and excursions to be closed. So to avoid the risk of snowing, make sure to visit Switzerland in June instead of September.
This is Switzerland in the summer with all it offers. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I highly recommend you explore it at least once in your lifetime.
You might hear people saying that Switzerland is ridiculously expensive to visit. To some extent, it’s true. Switzerland is not the cheapest country to visit.
Yet there are still many ways to travel in Switzerland on a budget and at a reduced cost. So don’t let this fact discourage you from seeing it all.
If you want to explore Switzerland in the summer, check out this 8-day Switzerland itinerary. It’ll show you the country’s highlights and take you on an adventure of a lifetime. If you’re still thinking about what to visit this summer during your vacation, Switzerland can be the perfect destination for you.