We have been talking + dreaming about a European vacation for years – Switzerland to be specific. Hiking in the Swiss Alps + eating all the cheese + visiting our relatives. I put together our (me + my sister + my dad + my bestie) itinerary along with a few stories + tips from our European adventure.
Starting Point: Frankfurt
The first day was flying to Frankfurt and then we hit the ground running. We headed about an hour west to our first stop – Burg Eltz Castle.
(photo – castle + my little sister, Leisa + my bestie, Keeli)
We took the guided tour and learned the castle is still owned by a branch of the same family that lived there in the 12th century. So cool!
Just a magical place in the Eltz forest!
Day 2 – Bacharach, Germany
Castles on the Rhine! We continued our trip to Bacharach + stayed in an old castle hostel. The view from our room, we could see four different castles, it was amazing!
We wandered the town for a while + checking out all of the cute buildings. One of my favorite parts about this, was it was not “touristy.” We only saw a handful of people during our stay in Bacharach.
Travel Tip: Wherever you are traveling to – do research about the high + low seasons. Our trip (May 1 – 14) was in a lull between the winter ski season + tourist summer season. This meant things were cheaper + less crowded…and I’m all for that!
After our slow morning in Bacharach, we continued our trip south to France! We had to make one more castle stop though…
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg was built in the 12th century! The photo above was one of my favorite views on the entire trip! We could see the entire surrounding countryside of the alsace region.
Speaking of the alsace region…turns out it is one of the top regions for wine in the world! We heard there are over 5,000 wineries in the region! My dream. So of course, we stopped at a couple + stayed in a town right in the middle of it all – Ribeauville.
My favorite winery (you should add to your bucket list) was Trimbach. It was very welcoming + the tasting was free + they had the best wine – the Muscat. (drool emoji)
Day 3 – France + Swiss Relatives
Ribeauville was the most quintessential French town. We started our morning off with some exploring, basically looking for the best french croissant…we found it.
We continued onto another cute French town – Colmar. Definitely the most touristy place we visited thus far.
Knowing we would be in (expensive) Switzerland for the next week, we decided to do a bit of grocery shopping. Colmar has an amazing Market Hall with fresh cheese + meats + produce. I was so happy we found a french farmers market. 🙂
With our car full of fresh french food, we moved onto Switzerland! We drove through the beautiful Swiss countryside + made it to our Swiss relative’s home. My dad visited them as a kid and now he was taking me + my sister to carry on the tradition. We sat around their table + learned how they lived + drank local kirsch + ate traditional raclette cheese. By far my favorite experience of our entire trip!
Day 4 – Thun, Switzerland
After meeting our Swiss relatives, we briefly stopped in Bern, then stayed in Thun. To our surprise, it was snowing! Thun was basically a sleeping spot for us before heading into the Swiss Alps.
Travel Tip: Schedule in a couple days of relaxing throughout your trip. It was nice to slow down in Thun + get some good sleep + reset.
We made our way to the Lauterbrunnen valley + hopped on a cable car up the mountain!
The snow ending up being a pleasant surprise. It was beautiful!
Our home for the next few days – Murren. A car-free Swiss Alp town.
Day 5 – Murren + Schilthorn
Photo above – this was our view waking up on day five! We checked a couple sky webcams and decided to take a cable car to the very top of the mountain – Schilthorn.
There is a restaurant at the top with windows on all sides + slowly rotates so you get all the views. We felt like we were in heaven.
Day 6 – Gimmelwald
My favorite day of the trip – we walked from Murren to Gimmelwald. We lucked out with the weather – the sun was shining + melting the snow.
We saw lots of animals on this hike – cats (the best) + dogs + horses + sheep + cows + chamois + chickens + goats. We also stumbled across a cute + little store with local goods. The lady who owned it made several different teas from the flowers + plants on the mountain side. It took restraint to only buy two bags.
We continued on the path, down to the car-free mountain town of Gimmelwald.
We basically just roamed around this small town + alpine trails. It was breathtaking.
Day 7 – Wengen + Grindelwald
Sadly, we had to leave Murren – I could have stayed there at least a week! We took the cable car back down the mountain to our car + headed for the train station. My dad is the best + volunteered to drive the car to Grindelwald, while the three of us took the train to Wengen + the Eiger + Grindelwald.
This is a must do! We had amazing views of the Lauterbrunnen valley! Then we stopped to explore another car-free mountain town – Wengen.
The views in the valley seemed like a dream. I read that it was the inspiration for the Lord of the Rings books – makes total sense.
The train continued up the mountain to the biggest north face in the Alps – the Eiger. Then down to our home for the night – Grindelwald. We roamed around + stumbled across the best mini golf course. So of course, we bought a bottle of wine + putted around for a couple of hours. Keeli beat me by one point (78 to 77).
Day 8 – Lucerne
We started the day with one of our favorite breakfast at Hotel Wolter. Again, another great croissant. Good work Europe!
On the agenda for today, take our time + make our way to Lucerne. My favorite stop along the way…
We finally made it to Lucerne – a really cool town, right on a aqua blue lake. We walked along the Musegg Wall which form a crown around the older part of the town. Lucerne is also known for their beautiful bridges…
We spent a good chunk of our day exploring the streets + eating the local food.
My little sister Leisa was always superb at ordering. In Lucerne she got a bowl full of fresh noodles + cheeses + bacon.
Lesson I Learned: Just order whatever Leisa does.
Day 9 – Appenzell
We made our way to our next home – the Appenzell region (northeast) of Switzerland. They are known for their cheese so we saved our “fondue day” for when we were here! Didn’t disappoint.
We got several different cheeses in Appenzell. My favorite – emmental – with lots of chewy bread to dip in it!
Day 10 – Appenzell Region
We needed some movement + fresh air after all of the cheese so we decided to take a cable car up to a top of a mountain to hike. We planned to hike to the Saxer Lucke flats, but it was closed due to snow. 😦
So what else was there to do…well there is a restaurant on top – Berggasthaus Staubern – so we stopped in for a drink before heading back down.
We made our way to try another hike – Lake Sealspee. Well the weather got us again – down pouring rain. So we tossed it in, decided to go back to our VRBO + played games + cracked open a few bottles on wine.
Lesson we Learned: It can be fun to just chill indoors with your travel mates.
Day 11 – Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The final leg of our trip was back to north to Germany. We made a stop in Ulm, then arrive at our last destination – Rothenburg!
We ate at Altfränkische Weinstube – my favorite meal of all. Pork loin + gravy + spaetzle . If you are ever in Rothenburg – GO!
We walked the wall surrounding the town + stopped in cute shops to get a couple souvenirs + watch the sunset. It was the perfect way to wrap up our trip.
Day 12 – Frankfurt
We stayed in an Airbnb right by the airport since we flew early the next morning. Nothing exciting. 🙂
And that wraps our two week European adventure! My top three favorites from this trip:
- Swiss Alp car-free towns – so simple + beautiful.
- The coffee was legit the best I’ve ever had – I have to get an espresso machine at home!
- Our Swiss relatives are the best – I’m so grateful to have met them.