Solo Travel in Switzerland
Switzerland is so ridiculously safe. There is virtually no crime and the only problems you’ll run into here is avoiding a random cow upon a morning stroll. The transport system is fantastic, and you can hike in the most remote areas with no problems at all. In fact, if you are in need of some solitude, Switzerland is perfect for those wanting some alone time.
We love Switzerland with its alpine peaks, waterfalls and mountain vistas. Known as one of the more expensive countries in Europe, Switzerland can be a bit pricey but don’t let the costs put you off. You can still find reasonable accommodation and get by on a modest budget. For such a small country there are four main languages with only 10,000 people speaking the traditional Swiss language.
With more than half of the country in the alpine region, Switzerland is ideal for hiking with its stunning scenery. Visit in the summer for the walking trails – there are 60,000 kms to chose from. Visit in the winter for skiing and relaxing in thermal spas on the slopes.
With many flights into Zurich, you may not get a chance to visit the country’s capital – Bern (not Zurich as you may have thought). This historical city has so many museums. Take your pick from the Art Museum, History Museum, and many more or take a peek inside Albert Einstein’s old residence at Einstein House. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and here you’ll find locals and tourists enjoying the bars and cafes. Spend an evening at Marians Jazzroom which is perfect for a solo (from Tuesday to Sundays). If Berne is on your itinerary, make sure you go to the Rose Garden where you can get the best view of the city from the cathedral tower. Another popular attraction here is the Bearpark.
If you do spend time in Zurich, this city is ideal for a shopping spree. Head to Bahnhofstrasse for the famous shopping mile. Known as a banking and finance hub, the city also offers river cruises which are a different way to see the city. You can even jump on an old steam ship. Bikes here are free so grab yourself one and cycle around the city for some sightseeing and exercise rolled into one, or join the free walking tour to meet others. In the summer you'll find people hanging out by the lake so take your bikini and blanket to join them. If you prefer the solitude, head to the east side of the lake to lose yourself in a picturesque garden of roses.
Zurich is just one of the cities with a lake. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in western Europe. This Lavaux landscape is a Unesco World Heritage site and is said to produce the finest wine in the region. Just west are plenty of hiking trails in the Jura Mountains to explore. The whole region is great for historic castles, and lake shores and offers spectacular views over the French Alps.
Then there’s Lake Lucerne; an alpine playground with a beautiful city, lake and mountains (our favourite place in Switzerland). It is a city of culture with museums, theatres and festivals, and you can easily spend a couple of days here meandering around the churches, small streets, and plazas. Not to mention the lake and the bridges. Check out the big clock and water tower, and ‘The Dying Lion of Lucerne’ – one of the world’s most famous monuments which is situated near the oldest gift shop in town (according to the sign).
Everything Swiss is here from watches, chocolateries, to Swiss army knives but you have to try the Swiss fondue too – another one of Switzerland’s treasures. Pick up a museum pass for €27 if you are intending to see a few museums during your stay.
Adventure junkies head to Interlaken for every type of adventure you imagine. From paragliding, rafting, tandem sky diving, bungy jumping, hand gliding, canyon jumping, and ice climbing. If this all sounds a bit exhausting then take a leisurely horse ride or stroll instead along the several walking trails, or view this resort town from above with a heli-sightseeing tour. Interlaken sits between two lakes and is in the heart of the Junfrau region.
For the best views in Europe, take the Jungfrau Railway to the highest-altitude railway station in Europe (3454 metres). The Jungfraujoch is situated in the middle of the UNESCO-World Heritage Site Swiss Alps and is called the ‘Top of Europe,’ because it literally is. You have to venture inside Jungfraufirn – the Ice Palace. It’s open all year round too.
Lauterbrunnen is a gorgeous place with mountain peaks and cliffs and waterfalls everywhere (there are 72!) Staubbach Falls is a free-falling waterfall which is visible in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Our favourite is Trummelbach Falls nestled in a canyon with a corkscrew waterfall – just part of the valley’s waterfalls (there are 72!). You can only see this waterfall in the summer but visit in the winter for hiking trails, shoe-skiing, and cross-country skiing. With Lauterbrunnen being the starting point for most of the spectacular mountain railways, you can take a train trip to the Christmas markets.
Learn about Swiss cultures at Ballenberg, a living open-air museum with buildings a century old. Experience Switzerland as it was back then with craftsmen and women demonstrate old crafts and trades from wood carving, basket weaving, spinning, weaving, cheese and bread making.
Other places to visit in Switzerland are; Biel which is great for shopping and has a really nice old town (different to others in Europe), Beatenberg which boasts one of the best ringside seats for views of the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau mountains; Bonigen – a village alive with tradition, and the mountain-farming village of Habkern with a 17th century church where time-honoured Habkern traditions are still cultivated.
Shop in Zurich, paraglide in Interlaken, and go to the top of Europe at Jungfrau, Switzerland has more than mouth-watering Swiss chocolate to offer women travelling alone.
How long do I need?
A week is a good amount of time to see the capital – Bern, Lucerne, and Lauterbrunnen. Add an extra two days for shopping in Zurich afterwards.
Accommodation in Switzerland
Whether you want to stay in an apartment, a cosy bed and breakfast or a traditional wooden Swiss chalet, there are many different options for accommodation in Switzerland. You can choose a farm stay or stay overnight in a Benedictine Monastery. There are camping options here as well.
For those on a budget, there are so many hostels around the country to stay at. Balmers is our solo female friendly choice with a great social vibe. here’s also Airbnb which isn’t just limited to staying in a local’s spare room. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
GatG Favourite – Mona Rosa Boutique, Zermatt
Cosy, friendly and boutique, this hotel was the first to be built in Zermatt and is an excellent choice if you are willing to splurge. In a great location, you can also spend time in the pool, sauna and spa. Mona Rosa is a sociable place full of Swiss charm and has tea and cake in the afternoon – great for us Brits! Prices from £210 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – The Flag Zurich, Zurich
With an arty concept in each room, you’ll also find art exhibitions in the reception area. If you are planning to shop in Zurich, the Flag Zurich is close to luxury brand shopping so you can shop til you drop. Perfect for arty, shopaholic solos. Prices from £112 p/n. Find out more…
GatG Favourite – Hotel Schutzen Lauterbrunnen
I love this Swiss chalet hotel which feels really cosy with the fireplace in the winter especially with the live music they sometimes have here. The rooms are so homely and you can see the waterfall from the hotel. There is a bus stop outside making it easy to get around, and some great walks nearby through alpine meadows. Prices from £66 p/n. Find out more…
Because Switzerland is so easy to get around, tours with G Adventures and Intrepid Travel generally include more than just Switzerland. You can do Switzerland independently but if you need an organised tour before you go the Switzerland Travel Centre are a UK based travel company. Even their website will give you a few ideas of the types of holiday that you can have here.
Local Tour Companies
- Outdoor Interlaken – A Swiss company offering outdoor tours in the summer and winter months. If you love adventure, they will have a tour for you.
- Echo Trails – Offers hiking, hiking with a boat cruise, and hiking with cooking. If you’re heading to Switzerland to hike, check out this local company with a great reputation for solos.
- Veltra – Offers an hour long night sled tour in the Swiss Alps. A fun activity and the guarantee of meeting others too.
Travelling Around Switzerland
Switzerland has a fantastic travel system but the trains are quite costly so consider a Swiss Pass if you’re staying a while which includes unlimited travel by train, bus and boat for the whole of Switzerland (within a time span). Passes can just be brought for regions. For example from Biel to Bern is €12 and takes 25 minutes.
The Swiss panorama rail routes are the best in the world and you can train travel whilst looking through the panoramic roofs. The train journey from Interlaken to Bern is stunning. An example of price is a 20 minute journey from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken for CHF 14. Swiss Travel System is a great resource to help plan your trip.
From the Airport
From Zurich Airport – Taxis cost approx CHF 60 for the 20 minute drive from the airport to Zurich city centre. Buses leave from the top level of the Airport building and there are night buses if you arrive after dark.
From Bern Airport – It’s a 20 minute ride from the airport to Bern city centre and costs CHF 40 for a taxi which you can find opposite the airport terminal. Buses also run from the airport from 8.25am until 21.00 during the week and until 17.00 on Saturdays. The bus costs CHF 15.
From Geneva Airport – To take the bus you can buy your ticket at the ticket machine (near customs) which lasts for 1 hour 20 minutes and can be used on all Geneva’s public transport. You may be asked for your boarding pass. The number 5 and number 10 buses run to the city centre frequently. A taxi will cost 45 CHF for the 15 minute ride.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travel onwards (check visas before you travel)
To France – Trains and buses operate daily (see above).
To Germany – Trains and buses operate daily (see above).
To Italy – Trains and buses operate daily (see above).
To Liechtenstein – Take the train to Sargans. From there take either the express bus (number 12) or bus number 11 across the border to Vaduz.
Where can I go from here?
Paris – 1.5 hrs
Berlin – 1.5 hrs
Vienna – 1 hr 15 mins
All flying from Zurich
- Can I drink the water? Yes.
- Is tipping expected? Tips are generally included in the bill in restaurants. It’s not expected to tip taxi drivers but you can tip your tour guide 10-15%
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed Price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? The right-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Zurich has a plethora of vegetarian restaurants and you’ll find vegetarian restaurants in the rest of the country.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No but you can go to Jungfrau, the top of Europe.
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Capital – Bern
Population – 7.7 million
Language Spoken – German, French, English, Italian
Local Currency – Swiss Franc
The Best Time to Go – July.
Serve the City partners with organisations which help the homeless, refugees, disabled and victims of abuse.
Join a communication, journalism, IT or conference placements with ICV
Visit Candlelight Hotel Obersteinberg where the locals are in traditional dress, and there is no electricity or running water but lots of candles. Mules transport food supplies here.
Switzerland has lots of cultural festivals as well as Winter and Spring customs
Mind Body & Soul
Oshadi Yoga holds yoga, meditation, and Qigong retreats from weekends to week long. You can take part in a stress, burnout retreat or a sweat lodge too.
Dhamma Sumeru holds meditation courses in the Swiss mountains
Treat yourself to spa treatments at Mineralbad & Spa Rigi-Kaltbad with an amazing view of the Alps.