Switzerland’s Grand Tour: Food and Drink Itinerary
Taste the cross-cultural flavors, tour vineyards and farms, and meet chefs and chocolatiers on this six-day trip from Geneva to Zurich.
By Maryellen Kennedy Duckett
GATEWAY AIRPORT Geneva Airport, Geneva
DEPARTURE AIRPORT Zurich Airport, Zurich
Swiss cuisine is an intoxicating blend of German, French, and Italian fare, plus local specialties such as fondue and älplermagronen (a Swiss version of mac and cheese). Taste the cross-cultural flavors, tour vineyards and farms, and meet chefs and chocolatiers on this seven-day trip from Geneva to Zurich. Daily overviews showcase some of the top food- and wine-related activities available nearby. Pick and choose among the activities and eateries featured here based on your interests and the time allotted for your trip. This route is completely accessible by public transportation, leaving you free to focus on the food and wine. Buy a Swiss Travel Pass for travel throughout Switzerland. (Tip: Kids under 16 travel for free with a parent who has a Swiss Travel Pass.)
DAY ONE: GENEVA TO LAUSANNE TO VEVEY
GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSIT In Geneva, use the Geneva Transport Card (free to all hotel, hostel, and campground guests) to ride city buses, trams, trains, and taxi boats for free. IR (InterRegio) train > Lausanne; RE (RegioExpress) train > Vevey
ON THE VINE Walking and biking trails, cellar tours, wine tastings, and open-cellar weekends await in the vineyards of Vaud. Easily accessible by car or train from Geneva are two of Lake Geneva’s premier wine regions: the steeply terraced Lavaux vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the gently sloped La Côte vineyards. Check operating hours before visiting local vintners and tasting rooms such as the Cave Joly family vineyard in Grandvaux, Blaise Duboux in the hillside village of Epesses, the Vins Potterat outdoor tasting room and caveau (cellar) in Cully, Pierre-Luc Leyvraz in Chexbres, and the Lavaux Vinorama wine museum and tasting room.
CHEESE TRAILS Download the free Cheese Trails app to explore bucolic Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Regional Nature Park, the cradle of Swiss cheesemaking. Used to carry cheese to French markets in the 17th and 18th centuries, the historic Cheese Trails of Le Gruyère AOP and L’Etivaz AOP link Les Avants, Charmey, L’Etivaz, and Rougemont. Use the app to learn the history and to locate cheesemakers, restaurants, and other sights along the route.
CULINARY STARS When in the Lausanne region, step up and pay the price for extraordinary cuisine at these three-star restaurants according to Gault & Millau and Michellin: Le Cerf in Cossonay, featuring chef Carlo Crisci; L’Ermitage in Vufflens-le-Chateau led by chef Bernard Ravet; and La Table d’Edgard at Lausanne Palace in Lausanne, hosted by chef Edgard Bovier.
LOCAL FLAVORS As you make your way from Geneva to Vevey, sample local sweets and treats such as Philippe Pascoët chocolates (three Geneva locations); Geneva’s Rohr Chocolates, a storied Swiss chocolatier since 1936; and Lausanne’s Moutarlier tearoom, showcasing the artistry of celebrated Swiss father and son pastry chefs Lucien and Damien Moutarlier. Save room for one splurge-worthy meal at an historic auberge such as Auberge du Raisin in Cully; a cozy venue like Au Bon Vin in Chardonne, where the specialties include traditional Swiss fondue.
EAT Le Deck (summer only) or Le Baron at Le Baron Taverier, Chexbres
STAY Hotel des Trois Couronnes, Vevey
DAY TWO: VEVEY TO ZERMATT
GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSIT IR (InterRegio) train > Visp; R (Regio) train > Zermatt
VALAIS VINTAGES About an hour outside Vevey (by car or train) stop in Sierre to visit the Château de Villa restaurant and wine cellar. The 16th-century villa, which also serves as the starting point for the 3.7-mile (one way) Wine Trail, is the ideal place to sample the specialties of Valais. Try raclette (bubbly, melted cheese artfully scraped over roasted potatoes) served with five different cheeses, and brisolée (roasted chestnuts). The château’s wine cellar features wines from more than 110 producers.
DAIRY HIKE Mid-July to the end of August hike to Alpsennerei Stafel, a quintessential Swiss Alpine cheese dairy located in the Zmutt valley between Furi and Schwarzsee. Watch the cheesemakers at work and the dairy cows grazing in the surrounding mountain meadows. The dairy’s Ziger soft cheese is sold on-site.
HUT CUISINE Enjoy superb mountain farmhouse cuisine with a side of breathtaking Matterhorn views at the award-winning Chez Vrony. Located above Zermatt in Findeln (elevation 6,890 feet), the slope-side restaurant is a Zermatt culinary treasure, lovingly owned and operated by members of the Julen family for more than a century. The vibe is après-ski casual, and the menu features organic produce; homemade sausage; traditional Swiss favorites like rösti and raclette; and juicy, grass-fed-beef burgers. Make breakfast or lunch reservations well in advance of your visit, and sit outside on the sun-drenched terrace.
SWEET SPOT The Fuchs family has been handcrafting baked goods and chocolates in Zermatt since 1965. Visit one of the three Zermatt locations to purchase signature selections such as Matterhörnli nougat cubes, bite-size Matterhorn-shaped chocolates filled with crunchy nougat. For an added dose of decadence, indulge in traditional afternoon (or “low”) tea served in the cozy Ruden Bar at the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof.
EAT Zum See, Zermatt
STAY Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermatt
DAY THREE: ZERMATT TO INTERLAKEN TO BLAUSEE
GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSIT R train > Visp; IC train > Spiez; IC (InterCity) train > Interlaken Ost. Interlaken to Blausee: (InterCity) train > Spiez; RE train > Frutigen; Bus 230 > Kandergrund; walk > Blausee
WALK AND TASTE TOURS Go on a Swiss food-and-culture tour or a rowdier pub crawl with the young, local guides from Interlaken Free Walking Tour. There’s a nominal fee for the tours (the company’s basic city tour is free), which include samples—shots on the pub crawl and cheese, milk, and chocolate on the food tour.
EIGER EATS From Interlaken, it’s about 90 minutes by train to Eigergletscher, starting point of the Jungfrau Eiger Walk. Foodies make the detour here to buy house-made Eiger spitzli chocolates (shaped like the iconic jagged peak) and eat lunch on the terrace at Restaurant Eigergletscher (elevation 7,618 feet), the highest mountain restaurant in the Kleine Scheidegg area. The small cover charge (includes fresh bread and butter) for table service is worth every franc for the breathtaking views of the Eiger Glacier and the Mönch and Jungfrau mountains.
ROOM FOR MERINGUE For a scenic snack excursion outside of Interlaken, take a train 30 minutes east (along the shores of Lake Brienz) to the village of Meiringen. The village is considered by some to be the birthplace and namesake of meringue. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t really matter when savoring a melt-in-your-mouth meringue pastry at Frutal.
FRESH CATCH Fed by subterranean springs, the small mountain lake Blausee (Blue Lake) is crystal clear and mineral rich. This combination helps make conditions ideal for raising flavorful fish (the only swimmers allowed in the lake). Take a short boat trip to visit the Blausee Alpine organic fish farm. Then head back to the hotel to taste fresh rainbow trout or salmon trout barbecued on the outdoor grill and served with organic vegetables and other fresh sides.
EAT Gourmetstübli at the Hotel Alpenblick, Interlaken
STAY Hotel Blausee, Blausee
DAY FOUR: BLAUSEE TO BERN TO LUCERNE
GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSIT Walk > Kandergrund; Bus 230 > Frutigen; IC train > Thun: R train > Heimberg; R train > Thun; IC train > Bern; IR train > Lucerne
SWEET STOP On the ride from Blausee to Bern stop in Heimberg (north of Thun) to visit the Chocolat Ammann factory store. Since 1949, Ammann has reigned as Switzerland’s unofficial “chocolate marshmallow king” due to the popularity of the confectionary’s Choco-Köpfli (chocolate and marshmallow) treats. Buy factory-direct Ammann Choco-Köpfli in various flavors and sizes at the store, closed Saturdays and Sundays.
CAPITAL TASTES Sample next-generation Swiss dishes and drinks from young Bern entrepreneurs such as Philippe “Peppe” Jenzer and Simon Borchardt, producers of Peppes Ingwerer ginger liqueur. Handmade in the Swiss capital city area from organic ginger, apple juice, sugar, and spices, the liqueur is available at bars throughout Switzerland and can be sipped solo, mixed in a cocktail, or used to add the zing in a glass of sparkling wine or beer.
BISCUIT BREAK See how Switzerland’s best known biscuits, or cookies, are made at the Kambly Experience at Trubschachen. Special Kambly trains run year-round (Tuesday to Sunday) between Bern and Lucerne to the biscuit maker’s headquarters in the Emmental Valley. Purchase tickets at any railway station. Kambly Experience activity options include tours, samples, shopping, a café, and children’s classes (registration required).
CHEESE ROUTES April to October, pedal the Emmental Cheese Route, a free, app-based, themed biking and hiking path designed to introduce travelers to the tradition and taste of the world-renowned Swiss, or Emmentaler, cheese. The route begins in Burgdorf (a short train ride from Bern) and includes a stop at the Emmentaler Showdairy in Affoltern. Rent an e-bike online and your ride will be ready when you arrive in Burgdorf. In the Lake Lucerne region, try the all-natural Sbrinz AOP (an aromatic, hard grating cheese made in central Switzerland for centuries) produced at 32 selected cheese dairies.
EAT Restaurant Terrasse, Bern
- Nat Geo Expeditions
STAY Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern, Lucerne
DAY FIVE: LUCERNE TO ST. MORITZ
GET THERE BY PUBLIC TRANSIT IR train > Zurich; IC > Landquart; RE > St. Moritz
FOOD WITH A VIEW The Engadin Valley/St. Moritz has a bounty of ski-in, ski-out restaurants and other mountainside or mountaintop dining options. In Corviglia, follow the glitterati to celebrity chef Reto Mathis’s buzzy hot spot La Marmite. Located more than 8,000 feet up at the base of the Piz Nair cable car, the ultraposh restaurant serves inventive haute comfort food such as Corviglia-Snow, caviar atop mashed potatoes. On Muottas Muragl, ride the funicular up to the refurbished Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl (elevation 8,058 feet) to have lunch outdoors at the Panorama terrace.
FOODIE FEST St. Moritz hosts the Upper Engadin’s top culinary event, the five-day St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, held annually in late January. The program includes more than 40 events featuring gourmet dinners; chauffeured gourmet “safaris;” presentations by Swiss and international master chefs; and wine, cheese, and chocolate tastings.
EAT Schauenstein Schloss, Fürstenau
STAY Badrutt’s Palace, St. Moritz
DAY SIX: ST. MORITZ
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED Spend a second day in St. Moritz exploring the city. Or for an excursion, from summer through early fall, take a bus south from St. Moritz to Maloja and the remote hamlet of Isola. Located on the shores of Lake Sils, Isola is home to the Cadurisch Family farm. The family raises goats and produces organic goat cheese, sausage, and fresh and dried meats. Visit the farm to watch the cheesemaking operation and buy the creamy Ziegenkäse Mascarpin goat cheese.
EAT Restaurant Dal Mulin, St. Moritz
STAY Hauser Hotel St. Moritz, St. Moritz
DAY SEVEN: ST. MORITZ TO ZURICH AIRPORT
GET THERE (this is a travel day devoted to the ride from St. Moritz to the end point of the road trip in Zurich) BY PUBLIC TRANSIT RE train > Bahnhof Chur; ICE (InterCity Express) train > Zurich