Switzerland: Suggested Itinerary

A summer and winter sports paradise

Day 1: Start your Swiss journey in Zurich. Hit the town as early in the morning as possible to get in a full round of the city's attractions. After checking into a hotel, take a walking tour of Bahnhofstrasse, which is lined with some of the world's most elegant shops. Window-shop for some luxury merchandise, especially the Swiss watches and jewelry. Follow this with a boat trip along Lake Zurich, departing from the lake end of Bahnhofstrasse. In the afternoon, take the city's best walk by promenading along the quays of Zurichi. As afternoon fades, check out the stained-glass windows at the church, Fraumünster.

Day 2: Start Day 2 with a walking tour of Zurich's Altstadt (Old Town). Check out the Romanesque and Gothic cathedral of Grossmünster as you continue the walk. Before lunch, head for Swiss National Museum, which is a history of the culture of the Swiss people. After lunch head to the Kunsthaus Zürich to see some fine art. Take another tour, this one by boat and aerial cableway to Felsenegg at 795m. You can view one of the greatest panoramas in this part of Switzerland here, a fitting ending for your last day of Zurich sightseeing.

Days 3-4: Head south of Zurich to the city most favored by American visitors, lying on the western edge of Lake Lucerne. Check in to a hotel for 2 nights. Begin by taking a walking tour of Lucerne. After lunch, visit the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz (Swiss Transport Museum), one of the finest museums of its kind in the world. With time remaining, take in one or two of the minor sites that interest you, such as the Picasso Museum, the Glacier Garden, or the Neues Kunstmuseum (Modern Art Museum). For atmosphere and good food, dine that night at the Old Swiss House. While based in Lucerne, Day 4 can be one of mountain excursions, each among the most important attractions in all of Switzerland. First, head to Mount Pilatus south of Lucerne via steamer from Lucerne to Alpnachstad, where you transfer to a cog railway. You can also visit Rigi, east of Lucerne.

Day 5: Leave Lucerne early and travel by train or car west to Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Check in to a hotel for the night and set out to discover a city declared a World Treasure by UNESCO in 1983 because of its medieval architecture. Take a tour of historic Altstadt (Old Town), finishing at the Swiss Parliament (Bundeshaus). After which, head for Mount Gurten for the grandest panoramic vista in the area. In the afternoon, visit the Kunstmuseum and the famousBärengraben (Bear Pits). Spend the better part of the evening enjoying the regional food and plenty of wine at Klötzlikeller, the oldest wine tavern in Bern.

Day 6: From Bern, travel southwest to the lakeside city of Lausanne, where you can enjoy not only boat trips but also wander the medieval labyrinth of its Vieille Ville (Old Town). After checking in to a hotel for the night, wander for 2 hours or so around Haute Ville, the Upper Town, visiting the Cathedral of Lausanne, and other sights before lunch. Spend the afternoon exploring Ouchy, the port and resort area of Lausanne, opening onto Lake Geneva. You can enjoy 2 or 3 leisurely hours exploring the quayside flower gardens, which stretch for half a mile. The lakeside promenades of quai de Belgique and quai d'Ouchy are of particular interest. You can also rent pedal boats in the lake itself.

Days 7-8: Geneva is very different from Lausanne and your final destination. The city will fill up one very busy day of sightseeing, so arrive as early in the day as you can. Spend the morning exploring Vieille Ville (the highlight is the Cathédrale de St. Pierre). View the famous fountain, Jet d'Eau, and the Flower Clock in the Jardin Anglais. At some point before the afternoon fades, consider one of the boat tours of Lac Léman itself. Stay overnight in Geneva and you can easily fly home in the morning.