Driving in Switzerland

The Grand Tour of Switzerland | 14 day Switzerland itinerary by car

January 11, 2022 Last Updated on April 11, 2024

It’s one of Europe’s most scenic countries with towering mountain peaks, sparkling lakes and lush green fields and a 14 day Switzerland itinerary is the best way to discover this gorgeous country by car.

If you’d love to explore everything from modern cities to charming alpine villages at your own pace then a Switzerland road trip is perfect for you.

Choosing which places to visit and which ones to miss on your Switzerland vacation can be difficult so, realising that their country has so much to offer visitors, Switzerland Tourism launched the Grand Tour of Switzerland.

The Grand Tour is a scenic route made up of 25 different sections (or legs), which highlights the best of Switzerland.  In most cases it is possible to cover more than one leg each day.

Covering around 1,600 kilometres, the Grand Tour takes in 44 top attractions – eleven of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites – two biospheres, five mountain passes that are 2000 metres above sea level and 22 lakes, along the route.

Below you’ll find a suggested 14-day itinerary based on the official Grand Tour of Switzerland route but keep reading for my own two week itinerary for touring Switzerland by car.

Whilst the Grand Tour route includes visits to Switzerland’s beautiful cities including Zurich, Luzern, Basel, Geneva and Bern (amongst others), for me the real delight in the scenic itinerary is the chance to enjoy some of the best mountain scenery and views in the world. 

Prefer to travel around Switzerland by train? See my Swiss rail itineraries here.

Lake Lungern from Brunig Pass
When driving over the Brunig Pass between Lucerne and Interlaken, you are rewarded with views like this one of Lungernsee.

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Grand Tour of Switzerland Info

📍 The official Grand Tour route is signposted with distinctive signs to help you stay on track.

📍 Numerous photo points have been highlighted at the most picturesque locations along the route. Special Grand Tour ‘photo frames’ help you to pinpoint the most photogenic viewing points.

📍 The core route can be completed in seven days with at least five hours’ driving each day.  It is recommended that you take longer – as we have suggested in the itinerary below – and allow more time for detours and visiting places of interest.

The Grand Tour of Switzerland 14-day itinerary

The following itinerary allows for travel at a relatively relaxed pace and takes two weeks to cover the entire Grand Tour route. 

Should you be short on time, by skipping the days allotted for sightseeing in Bern, Lucerne, Zurich and Lake Geneva, you could reduce the route to a 10-day Switzerland itinerary.

Map of Grand Tour of Switzerland
The 25 legs that make up the Grand Tour of Switzerland cover much of the country.

Suggested two week itinerary for the Grand Tour of Switzerland

The following itinerary follows the recommended route of the Grand Tour of Switzerland and covers a large part of the country. However it only briefly visits the Jungfrau Region, one of Switzerland’s most popular holiday destinations, so we have provided an alternative, more detailed, itinerary – with a longer stay in the region – later in this guide.

We have included details below of which ‘leg’ of the official Grand Tour each day’s itinerary refers to.

Itinerary summary: Basel > Neuchatel > Bern > Lucerne > Zurich > Appenzell > St. Moritz > Lugano > Zermatt > Lausanne > Neuchatel

Day 1 – Basel > Neuchatel (Leg 21)

  • Distance: 158 km / 98 m
  • Highlights along the route: Laufen, St-Ursanne, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Lake Neuchatel

Day 2 – Neuchatel > Bern (Legs 22, 23, 24 and 25)

  • Distance: 252 km / 156 m
  • Highlights: Murten, Fribourg, Gruyeres, Gstaad, Interlaken and Thun
Grand Tour of Switzerland photo point
Photo points pinpoint the most scenic locations along the route. Photo © Switzerland Tourism / Andre Meier

Day 3 – Sightseeing in Bern

Day 4 – Bern > Lucerne (Leg 1)

  • Distance: 220 km / 136 m
  • Highlights: Emmental region, Aargau

Fun fact: In Solothurn there are 11 fountains, 11 museums, 11 churches, a clock with 11 hands, and even an Oufi-Bier (Eleven Beer)!

Day 5 – Sightseeing in Lucerne

Day 6 – Lucerne > Zurich (Legs 2 and 3)

  • Distance: 221 km / 137 m
  • Highlights: Sisikon, Einsiedeln, Rapperswil

Day 7 – Sightseeing in Zurich

Day 8 – Zurich > Appenzell (Legs 4 and 5)

  • Distance: 175 km / 108 m
  • Highlights: Schaffhausen and Rhine Falls, Stein am Rhein, St Gallen

Day 9 – Appenzell > St. Moritz (Legs 6, 7 and 8)

  • Distance: 200 km / 124 m
  • Highlights: Heidi’s village in Maienfeld, Zernez, St. Moritz
Scenic road in Switzerland
Turquoise lakes and snow capped peaks provide spectacular views as you drive around Switzerland. © Switzerland Tourism

Day 10 – St. Moritz > Lugano (Legs 9, 10 and 11)

  • Distance: 221 km / 137 m
  • Highlights: Three Castles of Bellinzona, St. Gotthard Pass, Locarno,

Day 11 – Lugano > Zermatt (Legs 11, 12, 13 and 14)

  • Distance: 264 km / 164 m
  • Highlights: Airolo, Furka Pass, Bettmeralp, Matterhorn

Day 12 – Zermatt > Lausanne (Legs 14, 15, 16 and 17)

  • Distance: 178 km / 110 m
  • Highlights: St-Maurice, Montreux

Day 13 – Sightseeing around Lake Geneva

Day 14 – Lausanne > Neuchatel (Legs 17, 18 and 19)

  • Distance: 190 km / 118 m
  • Highlights: Nyon, Yverdon-les-Bains, Creux du Van
sign post for the Grand Tour of Switzerland
The Grand Tour route is well signposted. Image © Switzerland Tourism/Martin Maegli 

To plan your Grand Tour of Switzerland, visit the fantastic interactive Grand Tour website where you’ll find suggested routes and useful information.

If you’d prefer to explore Switzerland from the comfort of the Swiss trains, see my Grand Train Tour of Switzerland itinerary here.

Alternative 14 day Switzerland itinerary for road trippers

If you are planning to explore Switzerland by car but don’t necessarily want to follow the exact Grand Tour of Switzerland route, the following itinerary is for you.

This two-week Switzerland itinerary includes visits to major cities and smaller towns, mountain and lakeside locations and some of the country’s most popular attractions. 

There are full days in each location (except Basel) to allow you to explore each destination in more depth.

Itinerary summary: Geneva > Zermatt > Ascona > Lucerne > Interlaken > Bern > Basel > Zurich

Itinerary DAY 1 | Geneva

Flower Clock, Geneva
The Flower Clock is a must-see when visiting Geneva.

Welcome to Switzerland – it’s time to get your Switzerland road trip underway!

Geneva’s location on the shores of the lake of the same name means it is the perfect spot for relaxing but there are plenty of sights and attractions to visit, too.

Most visitors head straight for the Jardin Anglais (English garden) located beside the lake to admire the l’horloge fleurie (flower clock) which was created in 1955 to commemorate Geneva’s watchmakers.  

It’s at the English garden that you’ll probably get your first glimpse of the Jet d’Eau, the city’s emblem.  This fountain spurts a huge jet of water 140 metres above the lake, so it’s hard to miss.

Allow some time to stroll around the lake, (called Lac Leman in French), or even relax onboard a paddlesteamer as it chugs its way across the water.

Other attractions in Geneva worth a visit include the Palais des Nations, the European headquarters of the United Nations, and its surrounding park; the Reformation Wall; and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

For fabulous views of the city and lake, climb the 175 steps of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Stay: Novotel Geneva Centre – > click here to check room rates

Further reading: Things to do in Geneva

Itinerary DAY 2 | Geneva

Chillon Castle, Switzerland
Chillon Castle is Switzerland’s most-visited historic monument.

Having explored the major sights in Geneva city, it’s time to see more of the lake.  There are plenty of lovely towns and villages dotted along the northern shore of the lake including Nyon, Rolle, St. Saphorin, Lausanne and Montreux (read more about this lovely town here).

After a leisurely drive around the lake, be sure to visit Chateau de Chillon near Montreux, a turreted Medieval castle that has served as a fort, a summer residence for the Counts of Savoy, and a prison!

Check opening times for Chillon Castle here.

Alternatively, take a drive through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lavaux vineyards for stunning views from the terraced vineyards over Lake Geneva.

Stay: Novotel Geneva Centre

Itinerary DAY 3 | Geneva to Zermatt

Distance: 232 km / 144 m

View of Zermatt village and the Matterhorn
Zermatt is a typical Swiss alpine village built at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn.

Today’s journey to Zermatt should take around three hours if you don’t stop but I suggest you take a break at Martigny.  Here you can visit the 13th century fortress Tour de la Batiaz, the Roman amphitheatre or enjoy a ride around the city aboard the tourist train.

After your break, it’s time to head to the beautiful alpine town of Zermatt. At Visp, the road starts climbing and you’ll be winding your way up the mountain until you reach the village of Tasch.

Zermatt is a car-free town so all vehicles must be parked in one of the parking garages in Tasch. It’s then just a short shuttle train ride to Zermatt.  The underground car park adjoining the railway station is the most convenient place to leave your car. 

Parking costs CHF 16 per day (24 hours) and shuttle trains from Tasch to Zermatt (and vice versa) run every 25 to 30 minutes – price CHF 17 return per adult.  Tickets can be purchased from the machines in the station (English language option available) using a credit card.

After checking in to your hotel, spend the rest of the day exploring Zermatt and admiring the views of the stunning Matterhorn.

Stay: Hotel Mirabeau – > click here for current prices

Itinerary DAY 4 | Zermatt

Matterhorn reflected in Riffelsee
A number of walking trails above Zermatt offer you the chance to visit alpine lakes with Matterhorn reflections. This one is Riffelsee on the way to Gornergrat.

Spend the day getting up close and personal with the Matterhorn.  There are three ways to experience this amazing peak at closer range – either catch the train to Gornergrat or take a funicular and cable car to Rohorn for front on views, or take a cable car ride to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise at the peak of the Kleine Matterhorn for stunning 360 degree views. 

The Gornergratbahn is a rack railway that winds its way up from Zermatt to Gornergrat (3089 metres above sea level) where the Matterhorn sits right in front of you.  Trains depart every 30 minutes from the Gornergrat station, opposite the main railway station in Zermatt, and the journey takes half an hour.

Alternatively, jump aboard a cable car for a spectacular ride to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (3883 m.).  There’s plenty to do here, including summer skiing on the glacier and you’re so close to the majestic Matterhorn you’ll almost be able to reach out and touch it.

For Insta-worthy photos of the Matterhorn, hop aboard a funicular and then two connecting cable cars to Rothorn (3104 m.).

At the summit there are numerous things to do including mountain cart and kick bike hire, paragliding and, of course, hiking.

Rothorn can only be reached from May to October but there are frequent funicular and cable car services during this period.

After your day’s sightseeing, head back to Zermatt for some retail therapy or treat yourself to a bit of relaxation in one of the many spas and wellness centers in town.

Stay: Hotel Mirabeau

Further reading: Things to do in Zermatt

Itinerary DAY 5 | Zermatt to Ascona

Distance: 148 km / 91 m

Ascona, Switzerland
Ascona is located in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region and enjoys a Mediterranean climate.

Today we’re off to another popular Swiss holiday resort but this time it’s one with an Italian flavour.  During today’s drive, which should take around three hours, you’ll cross into Italy for part of the trip before re-entering Switzerland.

Tip: Make sure you keep your passport handy in case you are asked to present it at the border.

Ascona is situated on Lake Maggiore, the northern tip of which lies in Switzerland.  Italian is the main language spoken here and the architecture has a strong Mediterranean influence.  The climate, too, resembles the Mediterranean and this part of Switzerland is said to be the sunniest in the country.

Stay: For pure luxury, splurge on a room at Eden Roc Ascona – > click here to check prices

Itinerary DAY 6 | Ascona

Cruise boat on Lake Maggiore at Ascona
Cruises on Lake Maggiore are popular with visitors to Ascona.

There are plenty of ways to amuse yourself today. (You can find plenty of options in this article.) Why not enjoy a lake cruise to another of the lakeside towns or to the Brissago islands?

Or wander the streets of Ascona’s pretty Old Town where you’ll find plenty of boutiques and galleries lining the narrow cobbled streets.  Many of the buildings date back to the 14th Century.

If it’s too hard to make a decision, head to the lakefront and enjoy a cold drink or a coffee whilst you take in the gorgeous views.

Stay: Eden Roc Ascona

Itinerary DAY 7 | Ascona to Lucerne

Distance: 170 km / 105 m

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne
Seeing Lucerne’s stunning Chapel Bridge is a highlight of any visit.

It’s only a two hour drive to Lucerne this morning so you might like to stop on the way at Bellinzona, a fortress town built in the Middle Ages. 

Three castles remain in Bellinzona today – Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbano – and together they have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Castelgrande is the most impressive with its crenellated walls connecting two square towers.

Allow time to explore Lucerne’s Old Town this afternoon.  After checking out the pretty frescoed buildings along the cobblestone streets, the Chapel Bridge should be your next stop.

Other sites worth visiting include the Jesuit Church and the Dying Lion statue.  

Stay: Hotel des Alpes – > click here to check room rates

Itinerary DAY 8 | Lucerne

Mt Rigi cogwheel train
The are numerous mountain excursions available from Lucerne including this one to Mt Rigi.

What a choice you have today!  There are numerous mountain excursions available from Lucerne including trips to Mt. Pilatus, Mt. Titlis and Mt. Rigi.  

Titlis boasts the world’s first rotating cable car or you can ride on the world’s steepest cog railway to reach Mt. Pilatus.

Alternatively you could enjoy a lake cruise or spend a few hours at the fascinating Swiss Transport Museum which houses a huge collection of trains, planes, automobiles and ships.  There’s also an IMAX theatre and heaps of interactive displays, as well as a Chocolate Adventure museum.

Stay: Hotel des Alpes

Further reading: Best things to do in Lucerne

Itinerary DAY 9 | Lucerne to Interlaken

Distance: 72 km / 44 m

Two Lakes Bridge at Harder Kulm, Interlaken
From the Two Lakes Bridge on Harder Kulm you get fantastic views of Interlaken and lakes Thun and Brienz.

Your Switzerland road trip continues today with a short drive but the scenery will blow you away. 

Allow plenty of time for photo stops as you pass the pretty village of Lungern and drive over the Brunig Pass.There’s a great lookout point at the top of the Pass with room to park off the road.

Further along, you’ll drive along the shore of Lake Brienz.  The main motorway is the fastest route into Interlaken but why not take a detour into Iseltwald and follow the smaller road by the lake to Bonigen? You’re then just a couple of kilometres from Interlaken.

A great way to appreciate Interlaken’s location is to take the funicular to Harder Kulm.  The station is just a few minutes’ walk from the Interlaken Ost railway station in the town centre and the funicular runs every 30 minutes.

At the top you’ll see that Interlaken is nestled between two lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun – and surrounded by alpine peaks.  The Two Lakes Bridge is the perfect spot from which to appreciate nature’s beauty.

Stay: Hotel Derby – > click here to check prices

Itinerary DAY 10 | Interlaken

The train journey to the Jungfraujoch is one of Switzerland’s most popular day excursions from Interlaken.

One of Switzerland’s most scenic train rides is right on your doorstep so if you’ve ever dreamt of visiting the Jungfraujoch, today’s the day.  With a journey time of around two hours, you’re advised to set off early to get the most out of your day.

After a scenic train ride, the last thirty minutes of the trip is through a tunnel carved inside the mountain before you emerge at what is known as the Top of Europe. (Alternatively, you can catch a cable car for part of the journey, which reduces the travel time – more info > in this guide.)

There are plenty of activities available at the summit including skiing, sledding and tobogganing in the Snow Fun Park (during summer only). You should also visit the Ice Palace and the Sphinx Observatory which are open year round.

If you don’t fancy a full day excursion, an excursion to the Schilthorn is another great option.  Drive to Stechelberg, just past Lauterbrunnen (about twenty minutes from Interlaken) and then take the cable car via Murren to Schilthorn.

The 360° views you get from up here are simply amazing!  The Schilthorn is also where the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed sixty years ago, and the Bond Museum is an interactive and fun display of Bond memorabilia. > Click here to check ticket prices 

Tip: The cable car stops between Murren and Schilthorn at Birg.  Be sure to disembark and check out the Thrill Walk and the Skywalk Platform – if you’re brave enough! 

Stay: Hotel Derby

Further reading: 60+ attractions and things to do in Interlaken and surrounds

Itinerary DAY 11 | Interlaken to Bern

Distance: 57 km / 35 m

Bern Switzerland
The Swiss capital of Bern is a friendly city with a compact Old Town.

It’s less than an hour’s drive to the Swiss capital, Bern, so you’ll have plenty of time to see the city’s main attractions, which are all close to the Old Town.

Sites to tick off include the Zytglogge (clock tower), Albert Einstein’s house – he developed the theory of relativity here, the Berner Munster (cathedral) and the Laubengange, a series of covered arcades that stretch for nearly six kilometres around the Old Town.

Cross the Nydegg bridge over the River Aare to Barengraben, a specially-designed park alongside the river that is home to Pyrenean brown bears, Bern’s symbol.

Heading back into the Old Town you’ll find plenty of places to sit and enjoy the atmosphere in this friendly, vibrant city.

Stay: Hotel Savoy – > click here to check room rates

Further reading: Things to do in Bern

Itinerary DAY 12 | Bern to Basel

Distance: 123 km / 76 m

Basel Switzerland
Basel sits on the Rhine River close to the borders of both France and Germany.

Today’s drive should only take an hour so you’ll have plenty of time to have a good look around Basel.  The city, which is close to both France and Germany, is situated on the Rhine River.

Basel’s medieval Old Town sits on the south bank of the Rhine and it’s here you will find the Romanesque-Gothic Munster (cathedral), the brightly painted Rathaus (town hall) and Marktplatz, where a busy market is held every weekday morning.

There are plenty of ancient alleyways and modern shopping streets to explore, too, as well as some wonderful gourmet restaurants in Basel.

Stay: Steinenschanze Stadthotel – > click here for current prices

Further reading: Things to do in Basel

Itinerary DAY 13 | Basel to Zurich

Distance: Varies according to which route you choose

Zurich and the River Limmat
Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, is often overlooked by tourists but has plenty of sites worth visiting.

Although you’re probably keen to reach the lively Swiss city of Zurich, why not stop enroute at Baden, one of Switzerland’s oldest health resorts?

Take some time out to immerse yourself in the healing waters of Baden’s spa centre which are rich in sulphur before getting back behind the wheel and continuing on your way.

The water theme continues at Rhine Falls, just outside of Schaffhausen, and this makes a great detour should you wish to see Europe’s largest waterfalls.

From both Baden and Schaffhausen it’s only a short drive to Zurich giving you just enough time to decide how you’ll spend your time in the city.

A city tour is a good way to get your bearings and get a quick lesson in Zurich’s history at the same time but if you’d rather do your own thing, grab a city map from your hotel or the Tourist Office and start exploring on foot.

Stay: Sorell Hotel Zurichberg – > click here to check prices.

Further reading: How to spend 48 hours in Zurich, Hotel Sorell Zurichberg Review

Itinerary DAY 14 | Zurich

Tram in Zurich
You won’t need your car to get around Zurich as the public transport network is excellent.

It’s the final day of your Switzerland itinerary and whilst you probably won’t need your car today, there’s still plenty to see and do.

Highlights of Zurich include the Old Town with the Fraumunster and St. Peter’s Kirche (church), the upmarket shopping street Bahnhofstrasse, Limmatquai, and the Grossmunster cathedral.

For great views of the city, head to Lindenhof across the river from the Old Town or take the cable car to Uetliberg, Zurich’s own mountain.

Be sure to wander down to Quaibrucke (bridge) where the Limmat flows into Lake Zurich.  Not only do you get fantastic views of the many bridges spanning the river but this is also the place to hop aboard a boat for a pleasant lake cruise.

Before you call it a day, head to Zeughauskeller, a former weapons warehouse that is now home to a popular restaurant serving traditional Swiss meals.  

The house specialty, Zürcher Art schnitzel, a pan-fried veal schnitzel with creamy mushroom sauce, is delicious! It’s the perfect way to end your Swiss vacation.

Final Thoughts

This 14-day Switzerland itinerary covers a good part of the country without requiring long travel distances.  It provides the opportunity to explore cities, holiday towns and mountain resorts at a leisurely pace with plenty of jaw-dropping scenery along the way.

I hope it has encouraged you to see Switzerland by car.

Prefer to get around Switzerland by train? No problem!  Click here to read my recommended Switzerland itinerary for train travellers.

Important info for driving in Switzerland

Couple looking at Grand Tour of Switzerland Map
Where will your Swiss road trip take you? Photo © Switzerland Tourism / Andre Meier 

📍 Before you set off on your road trip, be aware that Switzerland law requires that all vehicles travelling on motorways have a toll sticker (called a vignette) attached to the windshield. 

📍 If your rental car does not have a Swiss vignette, you can purchase one from any gas station for CHF 40 (valid for 12 months).

📍 The maximum speed permitted on Switzerland’s motorways is 120 kilometres per hour.

📍 > Click here to check prices for car rental in Switzerland

Ready to hit the road? You can read my full guide to driving in Switzerland > here.

Switzerland Travel Essentials