A boat sails on the Rhine River beside the village of Stein am Rhein in Switzerland
Planning Zurich

Short Breaks and Weekend Trips from Zurich

August 22, 2023 Last Updated on October 17, 2023

If you want to find the best Switzerland travel packages to see all the sights without fuss, then this selection of midweek and weekend trips from Zurich means you’ll be spoiled for choice. 

As well as a two, four or three day trip from Zurich by train or coach, you can in fact commence these tours from anywhere in Switzerland. 

You can also tailor the trip to suit you perfectly by picking between first and second class travel, or selecting your standard and style of accommodation.

The iconic, panoramic train journeys Switzerland is famous for are also often included, as well as the all-important seat reservations you’ll need for these premium routes.

Switzerland’s popular mountain excursions feature on many tours, too.

Most tours run all year round, too, giving you the flexibility to depart whenever it suits you. 

In this guide you’ll find suggestions that include a quick weekend trip from Zurich, a relaxing wellness getaway to one of Switzerland’s most popular mountains, and a selection of 3 day Switzerland tour packages that feature panoramic train journeys.  

Read on to discover our pick of the best self-guided rail and partly-guided coach tours from Zurich.

[This post may contain compensated links. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.]

Quick summary of the short breaks and weekend trips from Zurich mentioned in this article

NameDurationBonus Offer Available*
Glacier Express Classic3 days / 2 nights✔️Book Now
Bernina Express Classic3 days / 2 nights✔️Book Now
Hidden Treasures3 days / 2 nights✔️Book Now
Stunning Waters3 days / 2 nights✔️Book Now
Glacier and Bernina Express Classic4 days / 3 nights✔️Book Now
GoldenPass Tour4 days / 3 nights✔️Book Now
Glaciers and Palm Trees4 days / 3 nights✔️Book Now
Top Attractions5 days / 4 nights✔️Book Now
Jewels of the Alps2 days / 1 nightBook Now
Highlights of Central Switzerland2 days / 1 nightBook Now
Mountain Wellness2 days / 1 nightBook Now
*See below for an exclusive bonus offer for Holidays to Switzerland readers.

Self-guided rail packages

Start your journey in Zurich (or anywhere in Switzerland) and benefit from having all travel arrangements made on your behalf.

Self-guided rail packages include trips on some of Switzerland’s most scenic train routes. 

Overnight accommodation in a variety of destinations is also covered, as well as any other transport you need to get you between places. 

On some itineraries, this even includes boat travel across one of the famous Swiss lakes. Read on to discover eight of the best self-guided Swiss rail packages, departing from a range of towns and cities. 

These rail packages are organised by our partner, the highly respected Switzerland Travel Centre. 

🎧 You can hear more about Switzerland Travel Centre’s offerings in episode 66 of our podcast.

As an exclusive bonus to Holidays to Switzerland readers, you can benefit from a 5% discount when you mention the code quoted below!

Bonus offer: Quote our promo code HTSWISS when booking your self-guided rail package and get 5% off the full package price.


Glacier Express Classic – 3 days / 2 nights

The Glacier Express crossing the Landwasser Viaduct
A ride on the Glacier Express is an experience not to be missed.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Zermatt and St Moritz
  • Panoramic train: Glacier Express

Highlights

  • See the mighty Matterhorn
  • Stay in Zermatt winter sports resort
  • Pass through the scenic Rhine Gorge 
  • Ascend to the 2,000+ metre Oberalp Pass
  • Ride along the UNESCO listed Albula/Bernina railway line
  • View the spectacular sights from the train’s panoramic windows
  • Visit glamorous St Moritz and see its sparkling collection of lakes
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

Travel between the classic Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt and glitzy St Moritz by joining the three day Glacier Express Classic tour. In addition to the eight-hour journey on board the panoramic Glacier Express, the itinerary includes overnight stays in both of these Swiss destinations. 

As well as the sights to see from the train, you’ll experience an excursion to Gornergrat with Matterhorn views,  the so-called Grand Canyon of Switzerland, views of the Upper Engadine lake region, the historic Albula Line and the Oberalp Pass. 

This tour includes the option to upgrade to Excellence Class travel. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


Bernina Express Classic – 3 days / 2 nights

The Bernina Express passing the Swiss village of Bergun
The Bernina Express travels Chur in Switzerland and Tirano in Italy and passes spectacular landscapes along the way.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: St Moritz and Lugano
  • Panoramic train: Bernina Express

Highlights

  • Glamorous St Moritz 
  • Upper Engadine lakes
  • Morteratsch Glacier panoramas
  • Brusio Circular Viaduct
  • Italianate Lugano with a warm, Mediterranean feel
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

During the second day of this tour beginning in St Moritz, you’ll join the Bernina Express to be transported to Tirano in Italy by premium panoramic train. 

Key sights during the trip include glamorous St. Moritz, the Lago Bianco on the Bernina Express route, the Alps’ highest railway line and the spiralling Brusio Circular Viaduct. 

The tour includes overnight stays in both St Moritz and Lugano. 

In Lugano you can spend the third day visiting spots like Parco Ciani, the LAC Art and Culture Centre, and the Old Town. You could also take a trip on the Monte Brè funicular or hike on Monte San Salvatore. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


Hidden Treasures – 3 days / 2 nights

Colourful buildings line the Piazza Grande in Locarno Switzerland
The attractive city of Locarno is one of the hidden treasures of Switzerland.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Interlaken and Locarno
  • Panoramic trains: Lucerne – Interlaken Express, Centovalli Express and Gotthard Panorama Express

Highlights

  • The city of Lucerne
  • Swiss resort of Interlaken
  • Domodossola in Piedmont, Italy
  • Travel through the Brünig mountain pass
  • The Centovalli Express via 83 bridges and viaducts 
  • BLS RegioExpress Lötschberger scenic mountain route
  • Lucerne – Interlaken Express trip with waterfall and lake views
  • Trip on the Gotthard Panorama Express
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

If you can’t decide which panoramic route to take, this short Grand Train Tour includes the Lucerne to Interlaken Express, the Centovalli Express, the Gotthard Panorama Express and the BLS RegioExpress Lötschberger through the mountains. 

Your first day of this itinerary includes a visit to Lucerne’s Old Town, and a trip via the Lucerne-Interlaken Express to Interlaken for an overnight stay. 

On the second day, you’ll travel via the Lötschberg mountain route and the Simplon Tunnel to Locarno. Later, the Centovalli Express whisks you to Locarno for another overnight stay. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


Stunning Waters – 3 days / 2 nights

View over Rhine Falls
The Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen are Europe’s largest waterfalls.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Lucerne and St Gallen
  • Panoramic trains: Voralpen Express

Highlights

  • Lucerne Old Town
  • Historic Chapel Bridge
  • Shores of Lake Constance
  • Voralpen-Express to St Gallen
  • Mediaeval town of Stein am Rhein
  • Elevated moorland near Rothenthurm
  • Rhine Falls, Switzerland’s largest waterfall
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

The Voralpen-Express from Lucerne to St Gallen is also known as the Prealps-Express. 

This panoramic Swiss train route forms part of the Stunning Waters itinerary, and offers a scenic and convenient way to travel. 

After arriving in Lucerne, where you’ll stay the first night, you have free time to wander Lucerne’s Old Town, where you can see sights such as Chapel Bridge and the Lion Monument. 

On day two, travel aboard the Voralpen Express from Lucerne to St. Gallen, home to the UNESCO-listed Abbey District.

The final day takes you from St. Gallen to Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls. If you wish you can travel the Stein am Rhein to Schaffhausen section of this trip by boat. 

You’ll also travel by the scenic shores of Lake Constance en route. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


Glacier and Bernina Express Classic – 4 days / 3 nights

The Matterhorn with its reflection in Riffelsee
For iconic Matterhorn views, a visit to Zermatt is a must.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Zermatt and St Moritz
  • Panoramic trains: Glacier Express and Bernina Express

Highlights

  • Bernina Pass crossing
  • Swiss resort of Zermatt
  • The majestic Matterhorn
  • Tirano in Italy and Italianate Lugano
  • The glimmering lakes of the St Moritz region
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

The Glacier and Bernina Express Classic includes two of Switzerland’s most treasured panoramic train routes, the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. 

If a two day trip from Zurich just doesn’t seem like enough, this four day package is a great option.

Special moments on this trip include unique Matterhorn views, the Oberalp Pass, the Albula Line, the Rhine Gorge, the Upper Engadine lakes, the Brusio Circular Viaduct, Lago Bianco, Tirano in Italy and the Swiss destination of Lugano with a distinctly Mediterranean air. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


GoldenPass Tour – 4 days / 3 nights

  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Montreux, Interlaken and Lucerne
  • Panoramic trains: GoldenPass Express
Scenic view of Lake Lungern and the surrounding village
Pretty Lake Lungern is just one of the lakes you pass on the GoldenPass Tour.

Highlights

  • Musical Montreux
  • Famous Lake Geneva
  • The scenic Brünig Pass
  • Stunning Lavaux vineyards views
  • Lakes Brienz, Lungern and Sarner
  • Prestigious resort of Gstaad Saanenland
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

After travelling from Zurich (or elsewhere in Switzerland) to Montreux, there’s lots for GoldenPass Tour participants to see before they even leave town. Montreux’s highlights include the lakeside promenade and Chillon Castle. 

On day two, you’ll depart for Interlaken via the Lavaux vineyards, Swiss lakes, alpine meadows and pretty villages aboard the GoldenPass Express.

The third day of this tour takes you via the Brünig Pass to Lucerne. During the two hour journey, you’ll see more lush meadows and crystal clear lakes. 

An overnight stay in Lucerne rounds off the GoldenPass Tour perfectly.  

> Click here to check full details and prices


Glaciers and Palm Trees – 4 days / 3 nights

View of Lake Lugano
With its palm trees and temperate climate, there’s a real Mediterranean feel to Lugano.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Lucerne, Lugano and St Moritz
  • Panoramic trains: Bernina Express and Gotthard Panorama Express

Highlights

  • Lucerne city and lake
  • The picturesque Bernina Pass
  • Upmarket resort town of St Moritz
  • Italian-style Swiss resort of Lugano
  • Trip on the Gotthard Panorama Express
  • Paddle steamer trip across Lake Lucerne to Flüelen
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

On your arrival in Lucerne, you have free time to explore this magical city.

After a restful night in Lucerne, day two of the Glaciers and Palm Trees itinerary starts aboard a classic paddle steamer for a trip across the lake to Flüelen. From there, take a first class seat on the Gotthard Panorama Express to Lugano. 

On day three, the Bernina Express awaits to take you to St Moritz, via the Italian Alps, Tirano and Lago Bianco. 

A panoramic trip on a local train between St Moritz and Chur, crossing the Landwasser Viaduct en route, awaits on day four.  You then continue to your final destination in Switzerland.

> Click here to check full details and prices


Top Attractions – 5 days / 4 nights

Chateau Chillon on the shore of Lake Geneva
Chillon Castle is one of the must-visit sites in Montreux.
  • Start in Zurich or anywhere in Switzerland
  • Overnight stays: Lucerne, Interlaken, Montreux and Zermatt
  • Panoramic trains: GoldenPass Express and Glacier Express

Highlights

  • Picturesque Rhine Gorge
  • Montreux on Lake Geneva
  • Glacier Express trip to Chur
  • The car-free village of Zermatt
  • Scenic trip on the GoldenPass Express
  • Interlaken, the gateway to the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau
  • 5% discount when you quote the code HTSWISS when booking

Tour Summary

The Top Attractions tour includes stays in four of Switzerland’s most attractive destinations – Lucerne, Interlaken, Montreux and Zermatt. You’ll also see the Matterhorn and the Lavaux vineyards en route. 

This five day package is packed with highlights including the Lion Monument and Chapel Bridge, several Swiss lakes, the Giessbach falls and the traditional lakeside village of Brienz.

Other popular sights are the Brünig pass, the Lavaux wine terraces, Chillon Castle and Gornergrat. A trip via the Oberalp Pass and the Rhine Gorge to Chur is also a highlight. 

> Click here to check full details and prices

BONUS OFFER
Holidays to Switzerland readers can benefit from a 5% discount when they book one of the self-guided rail packages mentioned above. Simply quote the code HTSWISS in the Promo Code box when making your booking via this link to qualify for the discount.

Partly-guided coach tours

If you prefer to have the company of an experienced tour guide for part of your vacation, these partly-guided coach tours are well worth considering.

Operated by Best of Switzerland Tours, each tour includes coach transport from Zurich with a guide, all cable car or mountain railway tickets you require and hotel accommodation with breakfast.

Best of Switzerland Tours offers a selection of carefully curated, multi-day tours including overnight accommodation. 

These tours are ideal for visitors who are short of time, or are looking for one simple package covering everything. For example, the Highlights of Central Switzerland tour takes in Mount Pilatus, Mount Titlis and Lucerne in only two days. 

Alternatively, the Mountain Wellness tour transforms a regular sightseeing trip into a wellness retreat, complete with admission to the spa and mineral baths at Rigi Kaltbad. 

Other tours include visits to top spots like the Bernese Oberland or Jungfraujoch, aka the Top of Europe. 

Below you’ll find the details of three of the best partly-guided coach tours of Switzerland. 

🎧 Hear more about these short tours from Zurich in episode 78 of the Holidays to Switzerland podcast.

Jewels of the Alps – 2 days / 1 night

Jungfrau Railways train with a mountain backdrop
An excursion to Jungfraujoch Top of Europe is a memorable experience.
  • Starts and ends in Zurich or Lucerne
  • Overnight stay: Interlaken or Grindelwald

Highlights

  • Eiger Express cable car ride
  • Leisure time to explore either Interlaken or Grindelwald
  • Trip to Jungfraujoch, aka the Top of Europe
  • Many attractions to enjoy at the Jungfraujoch summit
  • Cogwheel train ride to the highest train station in Europe
  • Choose between staying in Interlaken and Grindelwald overnight

Tour Summary

If you have two days and a night at your disposal, this tour includes a stay in either Interlaken or Grindelwald, return transport to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, and transport back to either Zurich or Lucerne. 

During free time in Interlaken – Europe’s adventure capital – you can sample adrenaline-inducing activities or take the funicular up to Harder Kulm. 

Alternatively, choose Grindelwald in the shadow of the Eiger’s North Face and you can take a trip up to Mount First as well as exploring the glacier village. 

Whichever you choose, a trip to Jungfraujoch is the highlight of day two, where there are lots of attractions to explore and enjoy. These include the Alpine Sensation, the Ice Palace and the Sphinx Observation Deck.

> Click here to check full details and prices


Highlights of Central Switzerland – 2 days / 1 night

Dragon Ride cable car at Mt. Pilatus, Switzerland
There are magical views in every direction from the summit of Mt. Pilatus.
  • Starts and ends in Zurich
  • Overnight stay: Lucerne

Highlights

  • Visit to Mount Titlis
  • Visit to Mount Pilatus
  • Stunning Central Switzerland views
  • Boat trip from Alpnachstad to Lucerne
  • Cogwheel train from Mount Pilatus to Alpnachstad
  • Titlis Cliff Walk, the highest suspension bridge in Europe

Tour Summary

You don’t need to choose between visiting Mount Pilatus and Mount Titlis when you take this tour, which also includes an overnight stay in Lucerne. 

The partly-guided tour includes cable car and cogwheel train rides plus other transport. 

Your first day includes discovering Lucerne Old Town and the shores of the lake, plus a trip to Mount Pilatus. 

During the day you’ll experience the Dragon Ride cable car, a Lake Lucerne cruise and a ride on the steepest cogwheel railway on earth.

Day two is devoted to Mount Titlis. Rides on the revolving Rotair cable car and the Ice Flyer chair lift await. 

Other highlights at Titlis include Europe’s highest suspension bridge as well as a whole world of ice and snow.

> Click here to check full details and prices


Mountain Wellness – 2 days / 1 night

Woman relaxing on a sun bed with scenic views. Mt Rigi is the ideal destination for short breaks and weekend trips from Zurich.
Mt. Rigi is the perfect location for a relaxing weekend trip or short break.
  • Starts and ends in Zurich
  • Overnight stay: Rigi Kaltbad

Highlights

  • Lake Lucerne boat trip
  • Wake to views over 13 Swiss lakes
  • Ride on the first mountain railway in Europe
  • Visit to Mount Rigi, aka Queen of the Mountains
  • 4-course dinner at a panoramic restaurant
  • Rigi Kaltbad Mineral Baths & Spa wellness experience

Tour Summary

This partly-guided tour transforms a regular sightseeing tour of Switzerland into a spa break. All transport is included, and you even get to take a boat cruise on Lake Lucerne. 

Tickets for the cable car and and cogwheel train trips to and from Mount Rigi are also covered, as is dinner, bed and breakfast at the Rigi Kaltbad hotel with its mineral bath and spa. 

Day one starts with a scenic drive through the Swiss countryside to Weggis. Here you’ll take a cable car and then a cogwheel train to Rigi Kulm, where you can follow the hiking trails if you’d like to. 

During the afternoon, you’ll head to the mineral bath and spa at the Rigi Kaltbad hotel, where you’ll find indoor and outdoor pools, steam bath, a herbal sauna, a whirlpool and a crystal spa bath. 

After soaking away your cares, head for a four-course dinner at the on-site SunSet restaurant. 

Your second day includes a cogwheel train ride down to Vitznau, a boat ride across the lake to Lucerne and time to explore the city fully.  Then, meet your guide for your return trip to Zurich. 

> Click here to check full details and prices


Planning a trip to Switzerland?

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Final thoughts

View of Jesuit Church from Chapel Bridge in Lucerne

If you want to see the very best of Switzerland but have limited time, then taking short breaks from Zurich – as well as other destinations – is a great idea. 

No matter where you’d like to visit and whichever panoramic train rides appeal to you most, the right tour by rail or coach is out there waiting for you.

From Zurich weekend trips to short breaks ranging from two to six days (or longer), there is an itinerary to suit every traveller.

Be sure to read more of our helpful Switzerland trip planning guides!


Switzerland Travel Essentials