GETTING AROUND SWITZERLAND
I rented a small Fiat hatchback for 2 weeks to explore all four corners of Switzerland. I flew into Geneva to pick up my rental car and set off to find a camping outlet store. My plan was to buy a blow-up mattress, a portable gas stove, some basic cooking utensils, and a bunch of groceries. And I did just that! The idea was to sleep in the car and cook all my own meals as I knew that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. I hit the open road bound for the Jungfrau Region!
CAMPING IN THE CAR AT GENEVA LAKE
I drove east in search of a spot to park up for the night as it was getting late. I found a public park on the water’s edge overlooking the shimmering Lake Geneva. The sun was setting and I was definitely a little sleep-deprived so I pumped up the mattress, squeezed it into the back of the car, and tried to doze off.
I either had to sleep curled up in a ball or stretched out with my feet touching the front windscreen, just so you have an idea of how much space I had. As funny as that was, there happened to be a large camper van parked up beside me and I was quite envious of their spacious home on wheels. Hey neighbors! I have to admit it wasn’t the most comfortable sleep I’ve had but it was all worth it the next morning to see a magnificent sunrise reflecting off the ever so still Lake Geneva.
I swam out to a floating pontoon and admired a flock of birds on their morning flight. I couldn’t have pictured a better way to spend my first morning here in Switzerland!
BREAKFAST BY LAKE GENEVA
I put my gas stove to the test and cooked up a hot batch of scrambled eggs and vegetables to fuel my body for the day’s journey ahead. It was my first time driving a left-hand steer vehicle on the road and it took some getting used to. Lucky for me it was early and there weren’t so many cars on the road.
I hadn’t even been driving for 15 mins and my jaw was already hitting the floor, in awe of the beautiful scenery that surrounded me. I hit the brakes hard when I spotted a large sunflower field and I spent a good part of an hour here wandering through the bright yellow plantation, with a grin from ear to ear! The sunflowers stood tall and their heads were bigger than mine as they gently lifted with the sun, reminding me why they are my favorite flowers.
ON THE WAY TO THE JUNGFRAU REGION
The road towards Jungfrau led me up and over snow-capped mountains and through some very long and dark tunnels. I discovered a glowing blue lake amongst a small farming village, too enticing to not go for a swim. I was in no rush whatsoever so I spent the afternoon swimming in the lake, grazing in the grass, and watching the world go by feeling very content.
ARRIVING TO THE JUNGFRAU REGION
A couple of hours’ drive the next morning brought me to the town of Interlaken, which is smack bang in the middle of two beautiful lakes and the gateway to the Jungfrau Region. It is also known as The Valley of 72 Waterfalls.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN LAUTERBRUNNEN, VALLEY OF 72 WATERFALLS
I followed the river upstream to Lauterbrunnen, a stunning hillside village home to the impressive Staubbach Falls that thunders down from the high peaks and flows right through the center of town.
I walked up the stairs and via a man-made grotto that leads me behind the powerful falls. It looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park, without the dinosaurs of course. The view of the distant glacier-filled valley was mesmerizing and looked far too good to be true. I spotted several paragliders and base jumpers soaring around above and countless waterfalls flowing heavily off the towering cliffs into the wooden villages below.
I actually felt like I was standing in the picture of a postcard! There is an easy walking trail between each village that will take you past numerous waterfalls and vast meadows.
As I drove deeper into the valley I discovered a dirt track that led me away from the main road and to a hidden spot amongst the trees and a running stream. A perfect place to camp out in the car! I made a small fire and cooked up a nice hot meal on the gas cooker. I love the simple things in life and being in nature is one of my favorites!
HEADING AWAY FROM LAUTERBRUNNEN
I spent a few very cruisy days waterfall hopping before making tracks to Valley Verzasca via the infamous Gotthard Pass. I was left speechless with the alpine views and the thrilling hairpin turns, taking it slow trying to soak it all in! I spent a few hours in the small city of Bellinzona to stock up on food supplies. I noticed the change in the language here, being so close to the Italian border. Switzerland actually has 4 national languages; German, French, Italian, and Romansh.
ARRIVING TO VALLE VERZASCA, SWITZERLAND
The magical jade-green waters of the Verzasca river are next level! This place is a fairytale and by far my favorite spot I’ve been to this summer. I spent hours in Lavertezzo where the river flows beneath a double-arched bridge made from stone, polishing the rocks as it flows down the valley.
I found natural jacuzzis to swim in and waterfalls to jump off, a playground formed by mother nature! The winding road eventually comes to a dead-end but it is well worth driving and spending a night out here under the stars. The swim spots were super crowded as it was the middle of summer and it happened to be the Swiss National Day, though the next morning I was up at sparrows and practically had the whole place to myself!
I was unsure of where to continue my road trip next, so I closed my eyes and put my finger down on the map to reveal the next destination!
CONTINUING ON TO ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND
My journey continued east towards St. Moritz, constantly stopping to photograph the wonderful landscapes. The main highway winds through deep valleys where the melting glaciers from scenic waterfalls. I am in disbelief at how ridiculously beautiful Switzerland is!
I decided to stop in a small town, not too far from Savognin, for the night and found a really unique caravan park. The property has container homes to rent or powered sites for camper vans. The gentleman who owns the park was kind enough to let me sleep in his house when he saw that I was sleeping in the back of the rental car hahaha! It makes me smile knowing that there are some really kind and caring people out there, willing to help out a stranger.
ARRIVING TO ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND
I set off on the open road once again. The locals around here drive like mad, exceeding speed limits and overtaking me on blind corners, it was freaky! Also, every second car is a Mercedes, Porsche, or BMW, a bold statement that the Swiss citizens are definitely not short of money.
Coming down the mountain range into St. Moritz was dreamy! It is here where the notion of winter holidays was born and its stunning imagery is jaw-dropping. This place is as good as it gets!! I am impressed by how active all the locals are here, mountain bike riding, hang gliding, kite surfing, and sailing on the lake. I would love to come snowboarding in winter with spoiling of mountains to choose from.
I followed the lakeside road to find another epic spot to camp for the night and I was lucky to find a spot on the edge of a pinewood forest with stunning views of the lake. Ask and you shall receive!
THE BIG DRIVE TO SOUTH OF GERMANY
I still had a few more days up my sleeve before I was to return the rental car, so I asked a friend of mine Jordy for some inspiration on where to explore. He told me that he has spent some time in the Black Forest, South Germany, and recommended I should check it out. It meant backtracking north which didn’t bother me because the countryside is magnificent.
RHINE FALLS, SWITZERLAND
It was half a day’s drive so to break it up I made a stop into Rhine Falls just north of Zurich. I guess you could say I have a thing for waterfalls haha. The thundering falls attract floods of tourists but the natural beauty is overwhelming and well worth the visit.
CROSSING THE BORDER INTO GERMANY
The mountains grew smaller as I crossed the border into Germany on my way to the Black Forest, known for the black fir trees that densely cover the region. Funny enough, this region is also known for where the cuckoo clock first originated.
I spent a few days hiking around parts of the forest in search of some waterfalls! I stumbled across an overgrown cabin in the woods and there was a family having some breakfast by a crackling fire. It was a little bit strange finding people way out here in the middle of nowhere. I approached one of the guys and asked if he knew where a waterfall was and he pointed me in the right direction. Still curious, I asked him about the hidden cabin, he said it belonged to his grandfather who was a known hunter in the area and used to live out here back in the ’40s and ’50s! The waterfall was very refreshing after a long hike to find it.
ARRIVING TO FREIBURG GERMANY
I kept moving to the vibrant university city of Freiburg. I was definitely getting over sleeping in the hatchback so I splashed out and booked a nice hotel for the night. I strolled the streets taking photos of the wonderful architecture before heading to a beer garden for a stein and pretzel.
I lost a few hours here I must say and decided to go back to the hotel to enjoy a hot shower and a king-size bed which was a luxury after spending so many nights in the back of the car.
DRIVING BACK TO ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
Not surprisingly, I slept for 13 hours haha. I checked out of the hotel on the dot at 12pm and started tracking south back towards Zurich. I stopped into a small town called Bad Bellingen, only because there is a rural town back home called Bellingen and it is one of my favorite places.
This town is beautiful and it was here that I learned that the word ‘Bad’ in German means a place with rich mineral water or hot springs. There is a big center in the town that has indoor and outdoor hot spring pools, so I spent 3 hours here floating around in the mineral-filled waters that made my skin feel very cleansed.
ARRIVING TO ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
The following day I set off to Zurich to spend the day and a night before flying out. The weather was terrible unfortunately so I wasn’t able to see much of the city without getting wet. I went to Subway for lunch and it ended up costing me equivalent to AUD $20 for a footlong sub. I was shocked! I definitely didn’t go out for dinner this night haha.
I was lucky enough to have a friend, that lives in Zurich, let me stay the night in her apartment. Another reason why making friendships and connections on the road is fantastic!
Well, I must say that Switzerland is by far the most beautiful country I have ever traveled to and I will definitely do it all again in the winter months!
If you have any questions about my time spent in Switzerland, drop me a line below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Happy Adventuring 🙂