The Grand Tour: Road tripping through Switzerland

From sparkling lakeshores to snow-capped mountains, from ancient villages to vibrant cities – a road trip through Switzerland promises (and delivers) an unrivaled number of sights and attractions. We’ve divided the following Grand Tour into eight convenient legs, allowing you to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey

Switzerland has long been a favorite among Israelis, not just because of its breathtaking beauty, ski resorts, or Lindt chocolates. There is something so inviting in the fact that Switzerland is compact enough to travel the country comfortably and efficiently and yet so diverse that as part of the Grand Tour, you can visit 46 top attractions, 22 lakes, five Alpine passes, and 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The following Grand Tour is a 1000-mile road trip passing through Switzerland’s main points of interest, from palm-fringed lakeshores to snow-capped mountains, from ancient villages to vibrant cities. And along the way, you will enjoy countless jaw-dropping photo ops.

We’ve divided the Grand Tour into eight legs for your convenience, allowing you to plan your trip in the best way and easily complete the journey even by driving an electric vehicle.

Zurich – Appenzell

The starting point for the most diverse leg of the tour is the fashionable city of Zurich. Then, continue to Zurich’s wine country, visit the thundering Rhine Falls, and check out the historical book and textile city of St. Gallen before finishing this leg in rural Appenzell.

Laufen Castle, Rhine Falls

Appenzell – St. Moritz

The most record-breaking leg includes Europe’s smallest town, Werdenberg, and Switzerland’s oldest city, Chur. From here, you will continue to Salginatobel Bridge, the country’s only World Monument, and finish at glitzy St. Moritz.

St. Moritz

St. Moritz – Lugano

This leg of the Grand Tour holds the most significant change in altitude – from the lovely Alpine St. Moritz, at 6,000 ft above sea level, down to the palm-lined streets of Lugano, at 885 ft above sea level.

Lugano is the starting point for excursions to several mountains. And while you’re in the neighborhood, you can also visit the old town of Locarno and onwards to Bellinzona, with its UNESCO World Heritage castles.

Rhaetian Railway, a Unesco World Heritage site

Lugano – Zermatt

On this leg, you’ll find the most hair-raising bends along the Tremola road, which snakes its way from Airolo up to the St. Gotthard Pass. At its most breathtaking point, the road climbs 1,000 ft along the length of 2.5 miles, and you’ll have to negotiate 24 hairpin bends, each with its own name.

Madonna del Sasso

Zermatt – Lausanne

Time to change your mode of transport as the world-famous Zermatt is known not only for the Matterhorn but also as a car-free village. You must leave your car in Täsch, take the train to Zermatt and back to Täsch.

The road trip continues through Valais to Lake Geneva and the cosmopolitan city known for the Jet d’Eau fountain, shooting 450 ft into the sky out of the lake. The tour continues to Nyon from Geneva before ending up in Saint-George, part of the Vaud Jura park.


Lausanne – Neuchâtel

Now is the time to get acquainted with watchmaking. In the beginning, Geneva was the hotbed of watchmaking and innovation, but the tradition soon spread across the Jura Mountain range into regions such as Le Sentier and Neuchâtel.

There are around 40 museums around the metropolis of Basel. And you can also drive around Doubs River to the towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, both well-known as watchmaking centers. The part of the journey ends in Neuchâtel.

Vallee de Joux

Neuchâtel – Bern

This leg has the most water from Lake Neuchâtel, the route meanders to Lakes Murten, Schiffenen, Gruyère, Thun, Brienz, and finally along the Aare River to the capital city of Bern.

Bern, a Unesco World Heritage site

Bern – Lucerne – Zurich

This is where you’ll learn the most about Swiss history. From Bern, the road trip leads into the Canton of Uri, home to the famous Rütli meadow, where the three original cantons swore an oath of allegiance in 1291.

Keep on driving to the beautiful Lucerne, well-known for Kapellbrücke, an old wooden footbridge adorned with flowers, and drive back to Zurich to finish the Grand Tour.


All photos courtesy of Switzerland Tourism

For further reading:

Eight best wellness towns in Switzerland

Seven most popular ski resorts in Switzerland


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