Stop 1: Zürich – 1-2 Nights
If you’re renting based on my campervan tips post, you have a variety of entry options. If you’re coming from Munich as we did, Zürich is a great first stop. Zürich has a special place in my heart. It was the first place in Switzerland I ever visited while backpacking Europe in 2010. While I’ve come a long way from only being able to afford to stay in a spaghetti factory on my budget (that’s a story for another time), Zürich remains one of Europe’s most impressive urban sustainability hubs. As a modern European city with an upscale hipster vibe, my favorite thing to do when visiting the city is exploring the more grungy and artistic side, which is often overlooked.
Where to Stay in Zürich
Fischers Fritz is the closest and most popular campsite for the Zürich area. However, it can get very crowded, especially during peak season. So, I would suggest parking near Zürich to see the city for the day and then heading to Camping Sihlwald to access a beautiful nature reserve. You could also choose Camping Strandbad Turlersee, which is right on a lake with access to walking trails, lake swimming, and nature.
Of course, you can also choose to stay at a hotel in the city and park the van with them if you want to enjoy the most of your urban setting. I always stay in a recommend 25 Hours Hotel which oozes unique Zürich charm. In fact, with these campsites away from the city, you could easily spend 2 days in the area – one exploring the nature reserves near your campsite and the other seeing Zürich.
Things to do in Zürich
Alternative Tour of Zürich – In Zürich, I always recommend the alternative side of things. I suggest you visit the industrial district, the viaduct, and Rote Fabrik, which houses locally-owned boutique stores, art galleries, bars, and restaurants. Of course, the Alt Stadt can’t be missed for its authentic European charm. If you’re camping at Frischers Fitz, you can even walk along the lake into the city, stopping at some of the sights along the way.
Embrace Sustainability & Nature – Zürich is one of Europe’s sustainability hubs. A few zero waste shopping centers are a great option for filling up your campervan with packaging-free products. This helps reduce your waste while on the road and honestly makes cooking so much easier. Sihlwald Nature Reserve has some easy hikes, and Thurlersee has a fantastic walking trail that circumnavigates the entire nearby lake.
Driving: Zürich -> Lac de Neuchâtel
The drive from Zürich to my recommended campsite in Neuchâtel is pretty short, which means there is plenty of time to explore some of the surrounding nature during your drive. I do recommend leaving the Zürich area early to get a spot at the campground I recommend for Neuchâtel. If you want another city break, you can hop over to Bern, but there are three impressive nature parks on your way, and I would suggest getting out and stretching your legs in one of them.
The largest of the three, Doubs Natural Park is a great place for hiking, biking, and cultural immersion. The park is known for its impressive sustainability practices balancing traditional lifestyle with conservation. The park is home to impressive biodiversity, including the endangered checkerboard flower (Fritillaria meleagris). There are two hikes in the region and sections of a long-distance bike trail. It is recommended you stop at the visitor center for maps of the two hikes.
If you want more of a challenging hike or opportunities for wildlife viewing, then visit Thal Nature Park. Finally, in Jurapark Aargau, you’ll find some great themed walking trails for opportunities to learn about rural agriculture, biodiversity, and sustainable development in the region. You can even plan a route and drive through all three!
Stop 2: Bio Farm in Neuchâtel – 2 Nights
When we first entered the Neuchâtel region, I stuck my head out the window like a dog, gaping at the beautiful rolling vineyards. Each vineyard had an impressive château with a stunning lake view. If you are a big fan of wine, this is the place for you! After we checked into our bio farm accommodation and got the campervan set up, we offloaded the bikes and took off on a bike tour through the vineyards. There are plenty of spots to taste wine and many mountain ruins to visit along the bike trails if you don’t have a bike or don’t like wine, no worries.
On our second day, we also took time to stroll through some nature trails and poked our heads into small towns filled with museums, cobblestone streets, and boutique shops. We spent two nights here fitting in everything we wanted to do but also scratched the surface. You could easily spend three nights at a more relaxed pace and have the opportunity to see more castles and museums and enjoy long hikes. If we were to stay longer, we would have left the bio farm and checked into a campsite along the lake for a change of scenery. You get a taste of the very best of Switzerland in this hidden gem of a region. Whether you prefer to spend the day indulging in a wine tasting in a French-style wine cellar, cooling off by the lake, or have an action-packed day with hiking and biking, there is something for everyone.
Where to Camp in Neuchâtel
The Coue: One of the reasons we choose this region is because of a specific camping spot. The Coue is a family-owned bio-farm near the sleepy town of Travers. This exclusive and off-the-beaten-path spot was a highlight of our Swiss campervan road trip. They don’t take reservations, so I recommend adjusting your itinerary to visit on weekdays or arrive just after check-in (around 2:30 pm). As soon as they open their gates, you can drive in and see if they have space for your campervan. Those on a road trip without their campervan can book one of the eco-pods or treehouse accommodations, which must be booked ahead of time on AirBnB.
We loved relaxing on the farm, watching the chickens, goats, sheep, horses, rabbits, and baby cows frolicking – they legit had baby cows frolicking through the campsite. There is a small shop with local beer, cheers, wine, farm-fresh eggs, and daily bio-baguettes. You can even order some pizza and have a sit-down dinner if you need a break from camp food. The bathrooms and showers were comfortable and clean. While this campground is marketed as a great place for kids, with a play barn and farm animals, we enjoyed our time as an adult couple. The farm is located on one of the main bicycle routes, and you can easily walk to Travers, a quaint town.
The owners both spoke French. Whether they spoke much German (our second language) or English wasn’t apparent. Ganesh got by with his basic French, and they never offered to switch to another language. If The Coue is full, you can try Hotel Camping Sutz, TCS Camping Gampelen Neuenburgersee, or any of the dozens of sites available in Neuchâtel.
Things to do in Neuchâtel
Wine Tasting: As you drive along Lake Neuchatel and Lake Bieler, you’ll be tempted to stop at every vineyard you see. We visited Château d’Auvernier, which was an excellent decision. This gorgeous winery offers a fantasy wine tasting, exploring their wines from traditional Chardonnay to premium Pinot Noir. You can even tour the wine cellar or take a moment to enjoy the sweeping views.
Explore Auvernier: After (or before) your wine tasting, I recommend just wandering the charming cobblestone streets of Auvernier. This small village has cute local shops and restaurants, medieval structures, and colorful doors framed with wisteria.
Bike Tour: If you’re like us and brought your bikes, I recommend doing a bike tour in the region. From the Eco farm campsite, you can quickly access a trail that runs from Travers to Les Verrières, a hilly but relatively easy ride exploring smaller towns and farmland and runs along a scenic river. There are chances to get off and do small nature walks to add some steps to your day. You can also do the wine road, which runs along the lake and take you from the winery to the winery for a day of biking and wine tasting.
Museums and Castles: If you prefer a little more hustle and bustle, you can head into the main capital to see the impressive Neuchâtel Castle. You can book an afternoon tour of the castle for about 5 CHF. There are also dozens of castles in the region, so if you are castle obsessed, this is the place to go bananas. Before or after your castle visit, explore the capital city. There are about 25 museums and dozens of castles in theCanton, so this is an excellent place for history buffs.
Driving: Lac de Neuchatel -> La Fouly
The next stop after Neuchatel is La Fouly, a mountain town surrounded by glaciers. Of course, we took our time getting there because there is plenty to see along the way. The beauty of a Swiss road trip with your campervan is stopping wherever your heart desires, so feel free to stop as you please or follow along with our recommended stops.
Montreux is a great option to stop for lunch. We’ve been eating most of our meals in our campervan, but we liked to stop for lunch at a restaurant on transit days. There are some great lakeside options along Lake Leman, like Le Fouquet’s or more casual eats. Don’t miss Château de Chillon, which is the castle that inspired Prince Eric’s castle in the Little Mermaid. If you prefer a quieter and more relaxed lunch stop, I can recommend La Terrasse du Port in the small harbor town of Port-Valais.
Pissevache is a stunning waterfall you’ll see on the side of the road. If you want to hop out and take a look, it’s a great place to stretch your legs.
Amphithéâtre Romain: We stumbled on this hidden gem of a Roman ruin and were so excited we did – as Ganesh loves ruins! There is free parking across from the ruin, and the ruin itself is free to explore. It’s not much, but it is a reminder of the expanse of the Roman empire. If you’re into St. Bernards and kitschy tourist stops, there is a St. Bernard museum at the same stop, which honors the legacy of St. Bernards in the region. We didn’t visit the museum as it was not our cup of tea, but it looked cute.
Enjoy the last stretch on your way to La Fouly. You’ll be heading up the mountain through winding roads and alpine farmland. Be prepared for narrow and winding roads, switchbacks, and the possible cow crossing, depending on the time of year.
Stop 3: La Fouly, Camping Among Glacier – 2 Nights
La Fouly is a mountain town that operates as a ski resort in the winter. This tiny yet charming village is an excellent hub for camping among glaciers and scenic hiking in the summer. Once again, we planned this stop around a campsite. I mean, who doesn’t want to camp among glaciers? We arrived later in the afternoon after spending the day sightseeing during our drive. We checked into our campground and found the perfect spot that suited our needs. Once settled in, we took off on a very short 1km educational trail walk before hunkering down at camp. Since it was rather chilly in spring at the high elevation, we cooked a hot meal, busted out the wine and whiskey, and allowed ourselves to take in the glacier views.
The next morning we woke up and headed out to hike, taking in the 360 mountain views. We packed lunch for the hike and took our time observing the flora. After another relaxing night, we got up early before packing up and hitting the road again. You probably don’t need more than two nights here, as the activities are limited and it is a very small area.
Where to Camp in La Foley
Camping Des Glaciers: The highlight of this stop is the campsite, where you camp among glaciers. You check in, order your morning baguette, and find an available pitch that suits you. We were traveling off-season, so we got an entire field to ourselves. You can choose a plot on a grassy field or rocky terrain underneath the glaciers. Each campground section has a bathroom, dishwashing station, and laundry sinks. Not every spot has power, so ensure your cord can reach the green power supplies. The bathrooms and showers are pretty good, but they aren’t close to some pitches. We made sure to stay near one as I frequently pee at night. Reception has great tourist and activity advice to help you plan your active outdoor holiday. There’s also a nice playground and cabins for rent.
Please offset your Switzerland campervan road trip itinerary through carbon offsetting with Swiss-based MyClimate or carbon-capturing with Tomorrow’s Air so we have glaciers to continue to camp underneath.
Things to do in La Fouly
Hiking, hiking, and more hiking: La Fouly is a hiking region, so you’re in the right place if you enjoy hiking. There are a handful of trailheads starting at the visitor center. We had planned on making the Chemin du Bouquetin trail. This is a more challenging day hike where you can hike up and down the mountain in a circular route or ride the gondola up and hike down for a more accessible option. However, when we arrived, there was still quite a lot of snow in the higher elevations, and the cable car wasn’t operating, so we opted for a lower elevation, Chemin du Bisse. This was a circular 5-6k trail that allowed for great views and a bit of forest traversing. We lost the trail through and ended up making out own way. Another lower elevation option is the Chemin des Places which takes you more through the forest. The region also has longer multi-day hikes such as the St. Bernard Trail and Tour du Mont Blanc.
Mountain Biking and ‘Extreme’ Sports: The region is ripe for mountain biking, paragliding, mountaineering, and mountain climbers. If you are more of an adrenaline junkie, you will certainly get your fix in the La Fouly region.
Nature Walk and Tree Tops: For those looking for a softer adventure, there are many nature-based options, including a zipline and tree obstacle course, which is part of the campsite. Also starting at the campsite is the Charlotte the Marmot nature trail. This trail is marketed for kids, but honestly, even as adults, we enjoyed learning about the region’s ecosystem. This light walking trail meanders through the woods, and you’ll learn about the wildlife and nature in the region.
Driving: La Fouly -> Interlaken
The drive from La Fouly to your next stop in Interlaken is a bit longer, but there are many great stops along the way. I’ve provided two options, plus an overall itinerary variation so that you can tailor the drive and next stop based on when you are traveling or your interests.
St. Bernard Pass is a must-do for those on a summer campervan road trip. The pass is hailed as one of the most amazing drives in the world. The easiest way to make the drive is to navigate to St. Bernard Hospice, but make sure you take the correct route, as there is an express tunnel to Italy or a scenic drive. You want the scenic drive. The pass is only open June-October, and you’ll want to check road conditions before you head out. If you reach the hospice and lake, there are hiking opportunities with St. Bernards, lunch, and views of high alpine lakes and mountains. For tips on mountain passes with a campervan, head over to read my Swiss campervan tips.
The Cheese Trails: If you are traveling during the offseason, like us, I recommend heading straight to Gruyère Pays-d’Enhaut Nature Park. This is a lovely area known for its long history of cheese making. You’ll find plenty of great stops for cheese and scenic hikes. Better yet, you can even hike the Cheese Trails and follow in the footsteps of mountain people who used to carry cheese from village to village. I recommend hiking sections of the Via Le Gruyere AOP for more leisurely walks ranging from 4km – 10km; however, if you prefer to swing by a fromagerie and pick up some cheese for the road, then Fromagerie Bio des Moulins is the best place.
It is important to support bio-farming and agriculture in Switzerland to protect pollinators and healthy crop yields for the future.
I thought a few campsites in this nature park looked nice. You could certainly stop and camp in this region for the night if you want more time to hike the cheese trails and learn about agriculture in the region.
ALTERNATIVE ROUTE: We prefer to visit Zermatt for our skiing holidays, so we skipped the Matterhorn on this campervan itinerary for Switzerland. If you have your heart set on seeing the Matterhorn, this is the perfect spot to divert, driving from La Foley to the Zermatt region. I recommend camping at Camping Attermenzen, which views the Matterhorn for one night, before reconnecting with my itinerary in Interlaken. However, you’ll see plenty of impressive mountains and glaciers in Lauterbrunnen on my itinerary.
Stop 4: Lake Camping at Interlaken – 2 Nights
The Interlaken lake region is world-famous for its stunning lakes and scenic mountain views. After a long day of driving, we arrived at our lakeside campground in the late afternoon. We had enough time to check in, grab a spot on the water, and head out for an evening nature walk. The campground connects with the Weissenau Nature Reserve. The reserve was set up to protect rare nesting birds and restore their natural habitat. We lucked out; since we visited in May, the baby chicks had just hatched, and we spent hours bird-watching and taking photos.
Eventually, we made our way to the Weisenau Castel Ruin and the Thunersee Viewpoint. The following day we inflated the paddleboard and spent most of our time on the lake, paddling, picnicking, and exploring the nature trails connecting the camp to Interlaken. We stayed here for two nights and felt we had enough time to enjoy the region. However, you could easily stay longer and explore Interlaken.
Where to Camp in Interlaken
Camping Manor Farm is a superb location. The facilities were a bit dated, and the better spots could get grabbed up during peak season. However, we snagged a pitch right on the lakefront during the shoulder season and enjoyed a primarily crowd-free stay. The campsite has access to a nature reserve, ferry terminal, walking trails, ruins, Interlaken, observation decks, and more. The receptionist spoke English and was very helpful with tours and ideas in the region. The camp does require a J plug if you need electricity, but you can get one from reception for a deposit. There was a bar and restaurant available, but we made most of our food in our campervan, so we didn’t try it out.
Things to Do in Interlaken
Nature, Birding, and Ruins: Spring is the best time for birding, but there are opportunities for bird viewing throughout the summer. Historically the Thurnsee was an important lake for transportation, and over the years, humans built up the shores with fortresses, housing, and shipping terminals. This had an unfortunate impact on wildlife, as birds no longer had marshy areas for nesting. To rewild the region, the nature reserve was set aside to restore the marshy wetlands. Dozens of rare bird species moved back in. From your campsite, you can walk the reserve length, stopping to view birds from observation decks and with binoculars.
At the end of the nature reserve are ruins of an old fortress. It is free to enter, and you can go to the top for a stellar lake view. Make sure you go to the Thunersee View Point for the best view of the lake. It is a great spot to watch the sun begin to set before heading back to camp. The Lombach nature walk is a very easy trail that starts at the camp. The trail is flat and only runs for a few kilometers, making it a very accessible nature walk.
Lake Activities: If you brought your SUP, kayak, or any other boating activities (unfortunately, there are no rentals), then you can enjoy the proximity to the lake and spend the day SUPing. If you don’t have anything to take to the lake, picnic and spend the afternoon relaxing on the lakeshore.
Explore Interlaken: Interlaken is primarily a region but also a town nestled between two lakes. The town itself is a bit overrated, but there are a few things worth doing, most notably the funicular to the Harder Kulm observation deck.
Take the Ferry: If you want to explore more of Thunersee without your car, the ferry system is the perfect way to do so. I recommend taking the ferry from your campsite to Beatushölen Sundlauenen for a scenic viewpoint. There is then a walking trail along the cliffside that will take you to Merligen. From there, you can catch the ferry back to camp.
Driving: Interlaken -> Lauterbrunnen
If you didn’t take advantage of the ferry system to circumnavigate Thunersee, then today is a great day to drive the route. We circumnavigated the lake visiting the viewpoints and stopping in Thun. We parked for 2 hours and did a lovely walk along the river, visiting the Jakobshübeli observation deck and the Thun castle. We didn’t spend too much time meandering as we wanted to get to our next camp and explore the Lauterbrunnen region – a definite highlight of our Swiss campervan itinerary.
Stop 5: Lauterbrunnen, Camping Under Waterfalls 2-3 Nights
Lauterbrunnen is really the crem de la crem of this itinerary. The campsite we picked is literally at the base of several of the iconic waterfalls in the region. On top of that, the area is a home base for visiting Jungfrau, a towering glacier-filled mountain and Europe’s highest train ride.
We arrived in the later afternoon and geared up for a panoramic hike of the valley. After making our way through fields of wildflowers, cow pastures, and scenic compounds, all surrounded by powerful waterfalls and gigantic mountains, we ended up in downtown Lauterbrunnen. We grabbed a few drinks at the Hotel Horner and met some friendly locals before heading back to camp for the night.
The following day we walked down to the Trümmelbachfälle waterfall experience, which was mind-blowing. On the way home we picked up some local bio cheese from the cheese vending machines, so we could enjoy it with wine and nuts back home. On our final day in the region, we ventured up to Jungfrau, the top of Europe!
Where to Camp in Lauterbrunnen
Camping Jungfrau: The campsite is large and modern, with ample pitches and rentals for all campers. The front desk was so friendly and gave us tourist information, we would even buy our Jungfrau tickets from then on another day. Most amenities were still closed due to the pandemic, but the campsite had a rec room, a small store, and plenty of fun in-house activities. Once we checked in, a camp employee escorted us to our spot. They gave us additional space on our pitch to follow covid requirements, so we had a whole row to ourselves. The bathrooms and showers were some of our best on this trip. From our camp spot, we could see multiple waterfalls and often fell asleep to the sound of cowbells and water crashing against rock. The campsite was close to town, the train station, and the waterfall experience, and overall had a good vibe.
Things to Do in Lauterbrunnen
Panorama Valley Walk: When you check into your campsite make sure to ask for a little map of the area. The map will include a 5km circular route around the valley. We were able to do this in just over an hour and it was fairly easy, but offered stunning views and a quiet intimate look at life in the valley.
Trümmelbachfälle: If you love waterfalls, this is the place for you. One massively powerful waterfall has carved out a channel through the mountainside, effectively creating 12 smaller waterfalls in a unique cave system. There is an entrance fee, and kids under 4 are not allowed in, even with an adult. There are thousands of stairs, dangerous water, and steep drop-offs. Once you pay and enter, you can take an elevator up, but if you’re physically able, I suggest the stairs. After 12 waterfall views, you’ll reach the top with absolutely breathtaking views of the valley. It’s no wonder Tolkien was inspired to create Rivendell after visiting.
Jungfraujoch: Visiting Jungfrau is a full-day adventure. You can buy tickets from the camp reception and catch the train from Lauterbrunnen station. The train ride alone takes almost two hours, and you must change trains once as you climb to the top of Jungfrau. Once you arrive at the top, you can explore the ice museum and exhibits. You can enter an observation deck, learn about glaciers, drink prosecco on ice, or if you’re prepared for hiking in the snow, you can even venture out to a hut for lunch before slowly working your way back down the mountain.
Cable Cars, Hiking, and Endless Views: The Lauterbrunnen valley teems with gondolas, hiking trails, observation decks, and just views for days. You could spend an entire week or more traversing the region and taking photos. Ask your receptionist for recommended hikes and routes based on your interest to make the most of your stay.
Grindlewald: While I suggest just staying in Lauterbrunnen and soaking up the region, you can access the popular Grindlewald from Lauterbrunnen by taking some gondolas and train. Grindelwald is picturesque and offers more alpine views.
Driving: Lauterbrunnen -> UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch
Once you leave Lauterbrunnen, you’ll want to take the driving route along Brienzersee and then take the mountain pass called Panoramastrasse near Giswil to reach the UNESCO Entlebuch. The mountain drive is slow going, so take your time and use the scenic pull-outs for photos, or get out and stretch your legs at any of the countless walking and hiking trails. If any of the tourist offices are open, perhaps you can stop in and get some help planning your time in the region.