When we were presented with a last minute opportunity to travel to Zürich for a business trip during the middle of the prime holiday season,, we knew that we had to make the most of it. 7 days, 5 cities and 2 countries later we knew that we had accomplished exactly that. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and the perfect balance of indulgence, exploration and magic in some of Europe's top destinations. The trip went off without a hitch (aside from our expensive film camera plummeting eleven stories to its death) and we'll be sharing all of the details that made it so special below to hopefully inspire and guide a European trip of your own.
As always, the content below is a genuine, non-sponsored account of our adventures from the first-hand experience of a detail-oriented planner with the goal of inspiring others to live their best life . Our hope is that through our own well thought out + intentional planning, we'll be able to help others live presently by "putting a little disco in the details of life". We hope that you find our guides + site useful to your own journey through this crazy thing we call life. To keep up to date with all things Disco Frank subscribe to our blog and follow us on Pinterest + Instagram.
As previously mentioned, our trip was centered around a work event in Zürich, which naturally impacted how we planned our travel itinerary. Thankfully, due to the nature of the work event, we had a great deal of flexibility and were able to explore the city during our first couple of days leading up to the event, and then travel around Switzerland + Paris afterwards. Our itinerary was perfect for our situation and made for a great opportunity to explore with Zürich as our starting point. For those planning a trip to Switzerland without any of the time or location confinements that we faced, there isn't much that we would advise to do differently aside from what we detail below. That being said, we present to you, our day-by-day itinerary (traveling from New York):
[Unofficial] Day 1 - Travel:
Red Eye Flight to Zürich
Leaving at 10PM and arriving at 11:30AM the following day (local time)
[Official] Day 1 - Zürich
Land around 11:30AM - Uber to Hotel
(we actually mistakenly took a taxi and it ended up costing about double what Ubering would have. There is easy + accessible public transportation from ZRH airport as well for the most cost efficient option)
Check-In to Hotel | Drop Bags Off: AMERON Zürich Bellerive au Lac
Quick Lunch: Pumpstation
Walk around + explore Zürich and neighborhood around hotel:
Christmas Market at Opernhaus Zürich
Stroll the streets of Old Town / Alstadt
Climb the Clock Tower at Grossmünster (5 Euro or CHF - cash only)
Back to hotel for quick coffee + refuel
Dinner at Razzia
Explore the holiday decorations of the city
Day 2 - Zürich
Expect to sleep in - set alarms to catch the [delicious] hotel breakfast
Explore the City
Walk around + explore Christmas Markets of Niederdorf
Check out the views from Lindenhof
See the Fraumünster Church
Visit the Swiss National Museum
Christmas Market at Zurich Main Station
Quick bite at Markthalle im Viadukt
Grab a drink at Frau Gerolds Garten
Visit the Office
B2 Hotel + Spa Baths
Catch a Singing Christmas Tree Performance at Zurich Werdmühleplatz
Dinner at Raclette Factory
Finish with seeing holiday decor around town
Day 3 - Lucerne + Zürich
Head to Zuerich HB to catch train to Lucerne
Visit the Lion Monument
Souvenir Stop: Aree's Souvenir House + Edelweiss Souvenir GmbH
Walk around the charming streets of Lucerne
Take in the beauty around Hofkirche St. Leodegar + Zur Hofstube
Walk along the water
Stroll across the Chapel Bridge
Explore the Christmas Market at Franziskanerplatz (our best souvenir stop of the trip)
Back to the train station to head back to Zürich
Day 4 - Zermatt
Get up early + begin the 3.5 hour train journey to Zermatt, switching trains in Visp
Check in to hotel | drop bags off: Le Mirabeau Hotel + Spa
Take the Riffelalp to Alphitta for Fondue overlooking the Matterhorn (due to the weather, we weren't able to do this and instead had to pivot to lunch in town)
Trek to Chalet Hotel Schönegg for lunch with a view of town
Stroll around town
Quick drink at Harry's Ski Bar
Back to hotel for some spa time + relaxation
Fondue dinner at Pinte
Tiramisu dessert from Restaurant Vieux-Valais da Nico
Paragliding + Snow tobogganing would have been perfect activities for Zermatt if we had visited at a different time. Skiing is of course the number one activity for visitors.
Day 5 - Zermatt + Montreux
Take in the views of the Matterhorn at the hotel breakfast
Stroll around town + souvenir shop
Pay a visit to the Matterhorn Museum
Due to inclement weather + our time constraints, we decided to head out to our next stop. With more time in Zermatt we would have loved to pay a visit to the restaurants at Hotel Alex, the spa at Riffelhaus, tour the black nose sheep at Hotel Julen, traveled on the Gornergrat Cog Railway, dined at Blue Lounge, Paradise or Chez Vrony. hiked to Riffelsee or the 5 Seenweg hike.
Begin 2.5 hour train journey to Montreux
Check in to hotel: Eurotel
Explore the waterfront + Montreux's Christmas market, Montreux Noel
Grab a burger at Rando Burger
Enjoy music + a cocktail at Funky Claude's Bar
Early to bed for a big travel day tomorrow
Day 6 - Paris
Take the train from Montreux to GVA
Fly from GVA to CDG, landing at 10AM in Paris
Uber to Hotel: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel
Drop off bags + change
Trocadéro Gardens + Christmas Market
Walk along Av. Montaigne / Champs-Élysées and explore designer stores + holiday decorations
Lunch at Pink Mamma
Walk passed Moulin Rouge
Catch sunset at the terrace of Galeries Lafayette + explore the holiday decor
Back to hotel to change + prep for dinner
Watch the Eiffel Tower twinkle from hotel balcony
Dinner at Monsieur Bleu
Walk back to hotel along the Seine + pass through the Eiffel Tower
Day 7 - Paris + Home
Check out + leave bags with the hotel
Breakfast at Café Fleur
Bus to Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Walk passed the Pantheon, Notre Dame + Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
Visit the grounds of Musée du Louvre
Christmas Market at Jardin des Tuileries
Walk along Seine back to Eiffel Tower + Hotel
Check out + head to airport + HOME (7PM flight departure)
There is SO much more that we would have done given the time, energy and money, but for basically 24 hours in Paris, we couldn't have asked for more!
What We Would've Done Differently
As mentioned, there is not much that we would have done differently in planning our trip, especially given our constraints with a work event, but there's ALWAYS something to be learned. That being said, the few things that we would've done differently so that you can learn from our mistakes + plan accordingly:
We mistakenly opted for taxis instead of Ubers (or whichever local ride share app) a number of times being duped by their convenience for often double + triple the cost of calling for a ride via app.
We traveled with a few hundred euros that were leftover from a previous trip. Switzerland primarily takes francs so it was not of massive help to us until we got to Paris. Though using our credit cards never posed as an issue, we would have likely saved on some fees had we had the cash to pay with instead. Devil's advocate? It was nice not to worry about losing or getting our cash stolen + it did not actively prevent us from doing anything that we wanted to do. Climbing the clock tower at the Grossmünster was the only activity we did in Switzerland that was cash-only, and they happily accepted our euros.
Swiss Train Tickets
Aside from the trams in Zurich which mostly act on honor system, you'll without a doubt need to purchase train tickets to use the rail system throughout Switzerland & be prepared to show proof of identity with your passport. This was not an issue as we easily purchased our tickets within the Swiss SBB app, however, our mistake was in not purchasing our tickets far enough in advance. There are a number of discounts and reduced fare options available, as well as Swiss travel pass options that could have saved us hundreds of dollars with adequate planning.
Stopping in Montreux
Though Montreux was beautiful and had one of the best Christmas Markets of the trip, it was unpleasantly packed with tourists + not what we needed at that point of our trip. We had booked a night there to help break up our travel from Zermatt to GVA to Paris, but it acted as more of a hindrance than anything and was only made more tainted by the dropping of our film camera off of our hotel balcony. Though our hotel (Eurotel) was fine and not worthy of any hate, it was certainly outdated, difficult to get to with luggage and no car and not worth the price that we paid for it in our opinion. Instead, we should have opted for one of the following options:
1) Skipped Montreux altogether and have stayed near GVA airport at a cheap, no-frills option (or have a late night flight to Paris that would have allowed two nights there)
2) Stayed in Lausanne instead and taken the non-stop train from Lausanne to Paris instead of flying from GVA to Paris. Total travel time + cost would have been about the same.
3) Done the same trip but visited Montreux during the warmer weather months to enjoy the beauty of the lake + alps
We wouldn't be Disco Frank if we didn't meticulously + strategically plan out our wardrobe for this trip. Not only did we [obviously] want to look chic, but we also needed to somehow manage to pack a week's worth of bulky winter clothes into only a carry-on bag. Therefore, there was a method to our madness in how we planned for this kind of puzzle and the key was Pinterest. We began creating Pinterest boards filled with outfit inspiration long before this trip was official - whispers of its possibility had just hardly begun and we were already deep into scouring the internet for outfit ideas. It was the best thing that we could have done for ourselves because when it came time to pack our bags, a task which is typically the most daunting part of our travel journey, we were instead met with a quick + effortless check off our to-do list.
Step 1: Create a Board with General Inspiration
Save outfit ideas + fashion finds that inspire you to a general board made for the trip. This can be far in advance and an on-going effort - the more inspiration that you have to work with, the better. Don't restrict your searches solely to Pinterest either - we'll often pin clothing items we find online and images from Instagram and other social media to come back to later (the Disco Frank style library is a great place to start ;) ).
Step 2: Identify Similarities and Overlaps
Give a look at your board and identify similarities, overlaps and places where you can easily recreate the looks with things already in your closet.. Look for color palettes, articles of clothing and features that overlap - the more common threads that you can find, the better luck that you'll have when it comes time to actually pack.
example: identified that neutral colors, black boots and beige jacket were common themes + already in my closet
Step 3: Create Sections Within Your General Inspiration Board For Each Day/Night of the Trip + One For Your Suitcase
Now that you've identified your favorite looks, you'll want to create a section in your board for each outfit that you'll need. For us, this looked like an outfit for each day and a different outfit for each night, but you'll have to plan for your own trip accordingly. Sort each outfit inspiration into the section that would fit best and create an additional section for everything that will have to go into your suitcase. Pin individual items from each outfit into the suitcase section to essentially make a packing list for your use - pay attention to accessories, outerwear + shoes and adjust as needed.
Step 4: Use Your Board as a Packing List + Get Packing
Use your suitcase section to help you pack your bag - having earlier found as many clothing overlaps as possible, this should help when it comes time to fit a weeks worth of clothing into a tiny bag. Plan to wear your bulkiest items + layers on the plane to make extra space. Voila - packing made easy with the power of planning!
We truly had the trip of a lifetime exploring Switzerland + Paris. We hope that wherever your travels take you, this guide helps to serve as a planning resource + a way to help you put a little disco in the details of your journey.