4 Days UNESCO Itinerary In Switzerland

4 Days UNESCO Itinerary For Traveling in Switzerland

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We travelled to Switzerland twice. As Switzerland is one of the most expensive places in the world, it would be a good idea for tourists and travellers to plan the trip in advance. We summarized an itinerary and travel tips on how we visited 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 4 days in Switzerland by car. This was very nice driving experience among our road trips.

Travel itinerary in Switzerland

Our recommended general travel itinerary starting from Italy is below:

Bellinzona – Lucerne – Bern – Zürich – Tamins – Thusis – Albula Railway – St. Moritz – Meride

(At the end of the article, we also mentioned a separate one-day trip from Italy to Switzerland.)

Day 1 Bellinzona                                                                

Starting from Italy by car, we reached Bellinzona that is the capital of Canton Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Here, we visited the three castles that entered in UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000. The castles are Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, those are very special because of their architecture value.

At the entrance of one of the castles, we bought the Bellinzona Pass. It is a special ticket that allowed us to enter all the three castles. Bellinzona Pass costs 28 CHF and it also includes the entrance of the museum Villa Cedri and a 20% discount for both the Cable Car Monte Carasso – Mornera and the Fossil Museum of the Monte San Giorgio. We recommend buying the Bellinzona Pass and using it as much as you can.

The three castles are stunning and they can be visited easily in one afternoon, especially if you drive a car. After visiting Castelgrande, we recommend visiting the historical center of Bellinzona.

In summer 2022 (2nd April – 9th December) the castles open from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. In winter, Sasso Corbaro and Montebello Castles are closed, whereas Castelgrande opens from 10.30 A.M. to 4 P.M.

Our accommodation was in an Airbnb in the periphery of Bellinzona.

Day 2 Bellinzona  – Lucerne – Bern

Bellinzona  – Lucerne

In the morning, we reach Lucerne by car.

Lucerne is a splendid medieval German-speaking town. It is located on the shores of lake Lucerne and Reuss river crosses the city. In Lucerne you can just lost yourself on the streets and enjoy the atmosphere.

There are three main sights that you cannot miss:

1) The Chapel bridge (Kapellbrücke) is a covered wooden footbridge that contains 17th century paintings. This is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and it is the symbol of the city. The bridge crosses the Reuss river just before the river enters the lake Lucerne.

2) The Spreuer bridge is another covered wooden bridge. Inside it, you can find beautiful paintings that depict a Dance of Death.

3) The Lion monument is a rock relief designed by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Lucerne – Bern

In the afternoon, we reach Bern by car.

Bern is probably the most beautiful city that we have visited in Switzerland. It is one of the smallest capitals in Europe. Bern historical centre is extremely easy to visit. The shape of historical center is long and narrow because the river Aare makes a curve that encloses the main streets. The old town became a UNESCO World heritage site in 1983.

We started to visit the city centre form the main Bern Train Station. Just going ahead from the station, you can enjoy the main sightseeing. Among the sightseeing, the most beautiful one is the time bell (Zytglogge) that contains an astronomical clock. Continuing in the same path, you can reach the Albert Einstein house. Just a bit on the right, you can see the Cathedral of Bern called Minster that has a beautiful gothic tower. 

After visiting the historical centre, we recommend crossing the bridge Nydeggbrücke where the Aare River curves. In the other side of the river, you can enjoy watching the four bears that live in the bear pit. The bear is the symbol of the Swiss capital so the administration built an open-air zoo for them.

We spend the night in an Airbnb in the periphery of Bern.

Day 3 Bern – Zurich – Tamins

Zurich West

We reached Zurich by car in the morning to start our city trip and we spent there the whole day. Zurich is the biggest Swiss city and it is worth seeing carefully. We started our visit from the church Fraumünster that is decorated by the beautiful windows designed by the famous French-Belarusian painter Marc Chagall. The entrance costs 5 CHF. In summer (1st of March – 31st October) the church opens from 10 A.M. to 18 P.M., whereas in winter the church opens from 10 A.M. to 17 P.M.

We crossed the church Saint Peter and walked through the nice park in the Lindenhof hill. Then we crossed the river Limmat from the huge Rathaus footbridge, in front of the town hall. Here, we ate a kebab in one of the tiny kiosks on the bridge.

Zurich East

We recommend climbing the Karlsturm, the bell tower of the church Grossmünster. The entrance fee costs 5 CHF and you need walking 187 stairs. Up there, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city and the Zurich lake. In summer (1st of March – 31st October) the church opens from 10 A.M. to 18 P.M., whereas in winter the church opens from 10 A.M. to 17 P.M.

Later, you can visit the Kunsthaus, the main Swiss art gallery. The ticket for entering the main collection costs 15 CHF but you can get a discount by showing the ticket of Karlsturm. Here, you can enjoy seeing painting by international painters as well as by swiss artists such as Alberto Giacometti and Johann Heinrich Füssli.

The Kunsthaus museum opens on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. On Wednesday and Thursday, the schedule of museum is from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. As many other museums, Kunsthaus closes on Monday. Be aware that there can be additional costs to enter the temporary exhibitions.

We finally recommend walking along the lake Zurich until the Opera house. In front of the Opera and next to the huge walking square, there is the Kleiner Hafner. The Kleiner Hafner is one of the locations of the UNESCO World Heritage “Prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps” though nothing is currently visible of the Kleiner Hafner.

We spend the night in an Airbnb in the village of Tamins, in Canton Grisons.

Day 4 Tamins – Thusis – Albula Railway – St. Moritz – Meride

Albula railway

We started in the early morning to reach the small station of Thusis by car. Here, we bought the tickets to Sankt Moritz that is the main ski resort in the Alps. The trip completely covers the Albula railway, which became UNESCO World heritage site in 2008. The nature views along the railway is amazing.

As of May 2022, same-day return tickets cost 62 Swiss francs. If you know the travel date, you can purchase tickets in advance on the Rhaetian Railway official website . One-way trip takes one hour and half.

The one-way route is 62 km long and it leads the travelers from 697 meters above sea level at Thusis to 1775 meters above sea level at Sankt Moritz. The route crosses the Alpine valleys of Albula and Engadin passing through 55 bridges and 39 tunnels. The views of mountains and villages are breathtaking.

Fossil Museum of the Monte San Giorgio

We started from Thusis around lunch time and we reached the village of Meride just before the closing time of the museum. The trip by car supposed to take around two hours that allow travelers to reach the museum on time. Unluckily, on that day one tunnel on the highway was closed. Thus, we traveled on a longer path. Luckily, the museum personnel were extremely kind. She allowed us to visit the fossils after the closing time while she was organizing for the next day.

The museum costs 12 CHF but you can have a discount of 20% by showing the Bellinzona pass. The museum opens from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. from Tuesday to Sunday. Here you can enjoy watching ancient fossils in a modern and comfortable environment. Most of the fossils are fishes and other water creatures before Jurassic time.

Monte San Giorgio is one of the most important fossil site in the world regarding the middle Triassic epoch, which dates back around 240 million years ago. Monte San Giorgio was enlisted as UNESCO World heritage site in 2003. The museum opened in 2012 and the famous Swiss architect Mario Botta designed the building.

Meride is next to the Italian border. You can come back to Italy to spend the night.

Bonus: A day trip to Lugano in Switzerland

Another way to visit Switzerland from Italy is a day trip from Milan to Lugano. Lugano is a nice town on the homonymous lake. You can enjoy visiting the historical centre and Park Ciani.

From Milano Centrale to Lugano, it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes by train,. The train costs 28 € round trip by using the company Trenord. Instead, the same trip costs 48 € by using the company Trenitalia.

Note: Schedules and prices reference time mentioned in the article is 19 May, 2022

We summarized some useful travel tips for Switzerland in order to help tourists and travellers save time, money and energy. Please check the link below:

Switzerland Travel Tips: Transportation, Accommodation And Food

Written by Enrico and edited by Hua

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