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  • Day6

    Bernina Express

    Despite being extremely thrilled about going on the Bernina Express today, it was difficult to leave Nonna and Tosca House. In fact, we almost missed our train as I thought Grace said that we leave the house at 8.25am, not that the train for Tirano where we start our journey on the Bernina Express, leaves the station at 8.25am. After breakfast, Grace quickly got all her layers of jumper, jacket and gor-tex coat on, and her face very quickly got very red as the house was very well heated. Red faced, she waited ever so patiently only for me to announce that I needed a last bano (bathroom) stop. When I saw her all bundled up, now scarlet face with sweat beads on her nose, I collapsed on the bed in fits of giggles for another minute, before staggering to the bano. As I was folding our wet towels to take downstairs in an attempt to be helpful to Nonna, I heard from downstairs a rather anxious "Hurry up. Even Nonna is getting worried." I slowly made my way downstairs with my nicely folded bundle of towels and did the long Italian goodbye of hugs and kisses, and even photo taking, until Grace told me very urgently that we only have 5 minutes before the train leaves. With a last gracia miele (which I thought meant thanks apple but it means thanks a million), and a very heartfelt arrivedeche (see you again), we ran to the station. Thank goodness that Italian trains are usually late as we just made our train. Ironically, soon after we boarded, our train was delayed even further as it had to wait on the tracks for an approaching train. That logic escaped me as I thought that in the case of an approaching train, one should get out of the way, and not wait on the tracks. Even if one was another train. Anyway, we still arrived in Tirano in plenty of time to have a look around the pretty town and it's Basilica where Virgin Mary appeared in 1504 and promised to end the plague if a church was built.

    Bernina Express is one of three UNESCO listed railway lines. It is an engineering marvel that crosses the Alps from Tirano, Italy to Chur, Switzerland. It negotiats 55 tunnels, 196 bridges and inclines of up to 7%, with a total height difference of 1,824m on the 4 hour journey. The highest point of 2,253m above sea level is at Ospizio Bernina. All this enjoyed through panoramic windows and at a speed that allowed one time to marvel at the scenery.

    The Bernina express terminated at the Swiss town of Chur at 6.25pm. We had to get back to Milan that evening to get to the truffle festival in Alba the next day. That meant going to Zurich to begin the long journey to Milan. At any other time of the day or evening, there is a direct and express train from Zurich to Milan Central Station. However, at the time that we needed to travel, we had 2 train changes, and a third change to a bus in Chiasso. The train changes went smoothly. We found the correct platforms on time and without much ado. Finding the bus was another matter. It was past 11pm at that time and freezing in Chiasso streets. A lovely Italian man took us out of the station and with Italian hands, illustrated the route. We had to walk down the street and around the corner of the train station. There we found bright lights and lots of people and cars. It was the border crossing from Switzerland to Italy. We walked across the border like walking across a road, avoiding traffic. We asked the border security where the bus for Milano Centrale stopped, and he pointed vaguely IBM the direction of a side street. That's where things got interesting. We walked down this rather dark alley of nightclubs and pubs, thronging with youths of interesting coloured hair and piercings, smoking something that smelt sweet. Certainly not the cigarette smell one is used to. We walked about 100 metres to the end of the alley and still saw nothing that looked liked a bus stop. We asked the only pair of old men there, and they pointed to back up the alley. So again we passed sideshow youths, getting rather anxious as it was almost time to catch the bus and we still had not found the stop. Almost at the end of the alley, we saw a bus pass along the main road ahead and stop. We ran. Cold air of sub zero temperatures hit my lungs. I start to wheeze, but I needed to catch the bus. There is no way I wanted to be stuck there all night if I missed the bus. So we ran about 200 metres to the bus. Wrong bus! The bus driver tried to tell us where to go with more Italian hands, but we were then in minor panic, panting, wheezing, and we could not understand. The kindly bus driver commands a passenger, and the passenger alights the bus and points to the side of the road just in front of the border crossing and said "bus wait". That's where we went wrong. We were looking for a bus stop, not a bus wait, whatever that was. A bus pulls up as we approached the bus wait. The correct bus. It was going to Milano Centrale. Grace, another nice young man and I were the only passengers on the bus. Feeling safe again, I was settling into sleep for the 2 hour journey, when the bus stopped and picked up a group of even more suspicious looking youths, probably the black skin scary cousins of sideshow alley youths. Grace told me to wake her if I was going to sleep. She wanted one of us to stay vigilant. Knowing that she would be travel sick if awake, I decided to do watch duty. To demonstrate to the whole bus that I was not someone to mess with, and to send the message that I was vigilant, I regularly stood up to pretend stretch and pretend look out the window whilst trying to look tough. Whenever the bus stopped and people would walk pass our bags, I would look alert and tough, but without eye contact. I don't know if it was because I actually succeeded in looking tough and alert, or they thought I was mad, or at least very strange, but we had a very uneventful bus ride. I felt bad being so suspicious and reacting so strongly to stereotypes.

    All this midnight adventures just to get to the Alba truffle festival the next day.

    Fortunately we knew where to go when we arrived in Milan as we dropped our suitcases off there 2 days prior. Our hosts were very welcoming of their midnight guests, and our bedroom was invitingly warm. Fnally safe, we had a hot shower and tumbled into bed.
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  • Day84

    Raining today! But even so driving further north in Switzerland was green and lush with the odd cow with a cow bell! Spent an afternoon in Lucerne. I had forgotten what a beautiful town it is. The bridges are amazing.

  • Day86

    Such an amazing day! Wonderful weather! Today we drove through green Swiss pastures with beautiful wooden chalets to Grindelwald to catch 2 trains to the 'Top Of Europe' - Jungfraujoch- 3454 metres up- The snow capped peak of Jungfrau is right there! The train travelled almost vertically at times! At the top there is the High Altitude Research Station, the the Ice Palace- ice carvings (freezing) and amazing views including over the glacier. We walked out onto the snow to see breathtaking views. The weather was perfect- apparently such clear views don't happen very often so we were so, so lucky. Problem- altitude sickness! Not pleasant but so worth it!!!!Read more

  • Day99

    Mürren is perched on the edge of an 800 m high cliff, rising up from the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Jungfrau region. You can see the Eiger, Mönch, Breithorn, most of the Jungfrau, and many other mountains from here. There are no cars, mountains all around, green slopes and forests and many hiking trails. Oh the serenity 😊!

  • Day100

    Not a great day for hiking today but we jumped right in and gave it an shot! Caught the funicular to the Allmendhubel (1,932 m), a hill above Mürren. A restaurant is located near the top as well as a Flower Park for the kids and a Flower Trail (in Summer) leads past 150 different alpine flowers including gentians, alpine roses and edelweiss and some interesting medicinal herbs. However, in September, and in the pouring rain, there is not so much to see. The clear mountain air, and fantastic views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau combined with the 'dampened' tranquillity of the Alps made up for lack of blooms. We then got on with the intended nature hike back down the hill to our home base of Mürren. The paved path wound its way down the hill turning into a grass path and finally into a rocky/dirt/tree roots path but all quite easy to traverse. It was a good hike in mostly light persistent rain. The rain has now set in for the afternoon but is predicted to clear for our cable-car ride to Schilthorn tomorrow morning. Let's hope!Read more

  • Day88

    We are now staying for 2 nights up in the Swiss Alps. To reach Murren we travelled first by cablecar then mountain train. Not possible to take the car so we've left it in Lauterbrunnen car park. We then walked to the close by village of Gimmelwald. Neither Murren or Gimmelwald have cars (except for a couple of locals) and are everything you would expect to see in a Swiss Alpine village. Surrounded by snow capped mountains, chilly fresh air, goats & cows ringing their bells and amazing views! to the big 3 peaks- Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau! Snow is forecast for tomorrow! Murren is also where you catch the cable car to Schilthorn- the mountain peak with the restaurant where they filmed James Bond's 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. Maybe some 007 action awaits us at the top of the Schilthorn??Read more

  • Day99

    About 30-40 minutes walk (give or take a 100 photos) from Mürren is the quiet village of Gimmelwald. A lovely nature walk with cows, goats, sheep, chickens, vegetable gardens, and mountains all around. Beautiful clean air!
    Population (2016) is 130. We ate at the only restaurant/pub, Pension Gimmelwald, and had a wonderful view and a delicious bowl of vegetable soup with fresh bread. Perfect!
    Farming and tourism are the main source of income today. Farmers raise hay on tiny plots of land to feed small herds of cows.
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  • Day101

    Today was our last chance to go to Schilthorn, (2,970 metres (9,744 ft)), which lies above the village of Mürren. It featured in the 1969 James Bond movie 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. It was the hideout of Bond's enemy Blofeld, and the place was called Piz Gloria for that occassion. That name is still being used for the Schilthorn. From Mürren a cable car leads to its summit where you get the most amazing 360-degree panoramic view of the “Swiss skyline” including Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. We had a cuppa in the revolving restaurant Piz Gloria and watched the world go round - the top of the world that is.
    We stopped off at Birg - where you get a bottomless perspective from its “Skyline Walk” and the “Thrill Walk” - by this time the clouds came rolling in so it was 10 second glimpses of the mountains from here. Not to worry - we could not have asked for better views from the Schilthorn. Enjoyed the whole 007 experience too. We now leave Mürren and head to Schaffhausen, on the upper Rhine River, in a wine-growing area near the German border.
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  • Day102

    WOW! WOW! !WOW! The falls are amazing! Easy to see, easy to access, hard to forget!
    The falls are located on the High Rhine on the border between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zürich.
    They are 150 metres wide and 23 metres high. We took a boat to "the rock" in the middle of the falls where we walked to the top to enjoy 360 degree view of the falls and feel the spray on your face. There are also viewing platforms with a spectacular view of the falls built on both sides of the Rhine.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Switzerland, Schweiz, Switserland, Swetzaland, ስዊዘርላንድ, سويسرا, isveçriya, Швейцарыя, Швейцария, Suwisi, সুইজারল্যান্ড, ཧྲུད་ཧྲི།, Suis, Švajcarska, Suïssa, Švýcarsko, Y Swistir, སུའིཊ་ཛར་ལེན, Switzerland nutome, Ελβετία, Svisujo, Suiza, Ĩveits, Suitza, سوئیس, Suwiis, Sveitsi, Sveis, Suisse, An Eilvéis, Suíza, સ્વિટ્ઝર્લૅન્ડ, Suwizalan, שוויץ, स्विटज़रलैंड, Švicarska, Svájc, Շվեյցարիա, Suissa, Swiss, Sviss, Svizzera, スイス連邦, შვეიცარია, Uswisi, Schweizi, ស្វីស, ಸ್ವಿಡ್ಜರ್‌ಲ್ಯಾಂಡ್, 스위스, سویسرا, Confoederatio Helvetica, Switizirandi, Swisɛ, ສະວິດເຊີແລນ, Šveicarija, Swise, Šveice, Soisa, Швајцарија, സ്വിറ്റ്സര്‍ലാന്‍ഡ്, स्वित्झर्लंड, ဆွစ်ဇလန်, Sveits, स्विजरल्याण्ड, Zwitserland, Soïssa, ସ୍ବିଜରଲ୍ୟାଣ୍ଡ, Szwajcaria, سویس, Suíça, Svizra, Ubusuwisi, Elveția, Šveica, Sûîsi, ස්විස්ටර්ලන්තය, Švajčiarsko, Švica, Swiiserlaand, Zvicër, Швајцарска, ஸ்விட்சர்லாந்து, స్విట్జర్లేండ్, สวิตเซอร์แลนด์, Suisilani, İsviçre, Швейцарія, سوئٹزر لینڈ, Thụy Sĩ, Orílẹ́ède switiṣilandi, 瑞士, i-Switzerland

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