Three days in the Swiss Alps are just enough time to take in the highlights of this scenic part of Europe. Interlaken and Lucerne make convenient basecamps from which you can hike or ski, savor the views from some of Europe’s highest peaks, and enjoy an epic train ride through the mountains. Here’s how to do it.
Day 1: Lucerne and Mt. Pilatus
Against a backdrop of lush valleys, snowcapped peaks, and glittering lakes, Lucerne is an ideal starting point for your Swiss Alps explorations. Head out on the popular Golden Round Trip, which includes a boat cruise, a ride on Europe’s steepest cogwheel railway to the summit of Mt. Pilatus, and a cable car ride back down. Then, spend the evening strolling around the atmospheric Old Town before dining on a traditional cheese fondue at one of the lakeside restaurants.
Day 2: The GoldenPass Panoramic
Running all the way from Lucerne to Montreux, the GoldenPass Panoramic is considered one of Switzerland’s most beautiful train journeys. With limited time, opt to ride the short section between Lucerne and Interlaken—a route full of photo ops as the train climbs over the Brünig Pass, offering views over Lake Lungern, Lake Brienz, and the Bernese Alps.
After you arrive in Interlaken, spend the rest of the day outdoors. A boat cruise across Lake Brienz or Lake Thun is a must, but you’ll also find ample opportunities for hiking, skiing, and water sports. Adrenaline junkies can even try their hand at skydiving or paragliding.
Day 3: Europe’s highest railway
On your final day, take a voyage to the “Top of Europe”—the 11,332-foot (3,454-meter) summit of Jungfrau mountain, where an observatory affords panoramic views over the Aletsch Glacier as well as the French and German Alps. Getting to the Jungfrau involves taking multiple trains, so book a day trip from Interlaken to ensure a hassle-free experience. Look for a tour that includes entrance to the Sphinx Observatory and stops in mountain towns such as Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen along the way.