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Eastern Switzerland And Liechtenstein: One-week Trip Route

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By Author: Alyona Air
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3. Eastern Switzerland and Liechtenstein: one-week trip route
Switzerland today is one of Europe’s richest and most developed countries. It can boast the largest number of scientific inventions, best quality education and one of the highest teacher pays.
On top of that, the country has unforgettable nature and wonderful infrastructure. It is small in size, so travelling around is very convenient.
This article will tell you how to better plan your trip on a budget.
Although Switzerland is small, it has lots and lots of interesting spots to see.
If you have 5-7 days for your trip, like in my case, I would recommend splitting it in two parts—East and West. Today, we’ll travel around Eastern Switzerland and drop by the microstate of Liechtenstein.

Days 1 & 2: Lucerne and Mount Pilatus
‘Go to Lucerne!’ - everyone said. It’s a medieval city sitting on a lakeshore amid mountains. They call cities like that ‘gingerbread’ in Switzerland.

What is there to see in Lucerne?
The Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrucke) is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe. I walked this bridge to enter the old town. It features a series of paintings with the city’s history and medieval scenes. As I walked, it seemed as if it was a historical film and I happened to get in the shot.
The old Musegg fortress wall surrounds the city. Today, you can walk these formerly defensive walls, and it’s indeed breathtaking! Climb up the steep narrow stairs and the whole city spreads before your eyes. The wall is connected with ancient towers, which you can also enter. One of them is the clock tower, where you can closely examine the clock mechanism. The last tower by the river was my favourite, with an amazing view of the city and mountains. Entrance to the wall and towers is free.
Pilatus (2,128.5m) is a mountain with an incredible landscape view. The top can be reached with the cableways (costing CHF 60 ($60), cogwheel railway or by foot. The latter is what I, as a trekking fan, was looking for. Unluckily for me, I was not able to make it to the mountain top during my visit—it was raining, the top was surrounded with dense grey clouds, no visibility at all.
Lucerne’s historical centre itself charmed me. I haven’t seen something like that before, I must admit. Many houses there are painted with various historical and contemporary scenes. As if the old architecture and stone streets were not enough to make it enthralling. On the windows and balconies, under the roofs—paintings and ornaments may be everywhere. What’s important that it doesn’t look flashy, rather interesting and creating the vibe.
A day or two would be enough for Lucerne, depending on how you plan to go to Pilatus. Hopefully, I’ll be luckier with the weather next time.

Days 3 & 4: Zurich
I’d imagined Zurich completely different. I used to think there would be high-risers and tons of glass buildings hosting banks and office premises. I was wrong. The city is very ancient instead. Now, when somebody says ‘get lost amid narrow streets’, I will imagine Zurich. This is exactly the way it is.
The city centre gets empty after close of business. It surprised me. You can endlessly roam its streets and never meet a soul.
Also, Zurich has some really beautiful ancient architecture. Street lamps, window shutters, roofs, balconies—they all looked different, unlike everything else I’d seen before Zurich.
Sitting by the lake in the evening was a pleasurable experience. Lots of street musicians turn up and start performing, while you can choose whom to listen to, then change spots to enjoy something different and sing along to your favourite song.
Zurich became very special to me. Some may argue, but I liked it better than Lucerne. That is why I’d recommend visiting both cities to have your own verdict.

What is there to see and do in Zurich?
Take a free walking tour. You can find one on freewalk.ch. These tours are often conducted by locals and encouraged with tips at the end. So the guides try to tell you everything in the most interesting and enthusiastic way to earn a tip. There are various tours in Zurich, lasting up to 2 hours. Therefore, you can take several different ones, if you’re in town for a few days.
Visit a viewpoint or climb a tower of any cathedral to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. I recommend going to Lindenhof viewpoint. It’s a garden on a hill overlooking the river. The story goes that Zurich was born on this hill.
Enjoy arts at Kunsthaus Museum. I suggest going there on Wednesday. It’s an open day, which means that Kunsthaus is working for the public free of charge. Regular entrance fee is CHF 16 ($16). The museum’s exposition is highly appraised, so why not go and see Van Gogh, Monet or maybe Manet?
Visit a chocolate shop. Chocolate is number one export article of Switzerland. It was here where milk chocolate was invented back in 19th century. Chocolate shops are paradise for those of us with a sweet tooth. You can find literally whatever you can and couldn’t imagine here—chocolate with nuts, with berries, white, black etc. My only advice, if you like plain black or milk chocolate with no additives, it would cost much cheaper in a regular supermarket.
Take a boat ride on Lake Zurich. There is no way you can miss the lake, the old town lies right on its shore. A walk, a bicycle ride along the shore or a boat trip — all ideas are nice.

Day 5. Rhine Falls in Switzerland
I had a to-do list for my Swiss trip: to see the mountains, lakes, Zurich and a waterfall.
The Rhine Falls are just 60 km away from Zurich, so I couldn’t miss the chance.
Rarely can you see more boisterous river waters than here on the Rhine. The turquoise colour of the water is so bright, that it seems hundreds of jewels form the current of the river.
You can come to the waters really close thanks to platforms specifically built for that purpose. You can also come up close to a little rock situated right in the middle of the waterfall splitting it in half. Entrance fee is $5.

Day 6. Glarus Alps in Switzerland
Once you pull off the road into the mountains, you immediately start noticing country houses and smelling cow muck. From wherever you stop, you can see the beautiful greenery of the hills and hear the bells hung on cows’ necks so they won’t get lost.
Traditional country houses in Switzerland date back to 17th-19th centuries. Those are three-storey wooden structures with low ceilings and still original beams covered with old cracks and family memories. These houses used to be inhabited by farmers, and some of them still are. The ground floor was occupied by a stable, and the upper three by the family—from grandparents lower to grandchildren higher. Nowadays, floors and rooms are for rent.
In my ideal plan, we would go the Glarus Alps to have a couple of daytime hikes. However, even though we were there in the height of the summer—in August, the weather in the mountains was terrible: it was windy, heavily raining, with temperature down to +7. We were not prepared for that.
The Glarus Alps are relatively close to Zurich. There is a road going through the range. You can get there by car and then do radial treks to several peaks and lakes. We’re definitely doing it next time.

Day 7. Liechtenstein
I did not expect much of Liechtenstein, to be honest. The sixth smallest country in the world with an area of just 160 sq. km. What do we know about it? I knew little.. and went to know more.
Liechtenstein is ruled by the Prince, who lives in an ancient castle. The country’s official currency is Swiss franc. Some spots also accept Euro. The principality does not have its own army and calls upon the Swiss, when in need. Crime rates are extremely low in the country. If a criminal is sentenced to more than two years in prison, they serve time… in Austria.
The country’s biggest export is, surprisingly, overdentures. Who knows, you granny might have had a set of teeth ‘Made in Liechtenstein’? :)
Once a year, all residents are invited to the castle for the Prince’s birthday celebration. The country’s population numbers 37,000 people. I can imagine, even if a tenth of them come, setting the table must be one hell of a job.

Should you stop by Liechtenstein?
To tell you the truth, the country is indeed small. You won’t tell it from Switzerland in terms of nature—mountains and rivers all around. But the capital Vaduz impressed me deeply. I’d say, it is the most modern capital I have ever been lucky to visit. It is in the pavements, building faces, architectural materials and colours chosen. Vaduz combines the past and present in public places so seamlessly. Contemporary art sculptures are scattered all across the city, and they ideally fit even the old streets.
Finally, there were so many tourists in Liechtenstein, that I’m still convinced it’s more popular than Zurich.
My impression in a nutshell: Vaduz became to me an example of impossible—a modern city in an ancient country.

What to see in Liechtenstein?
Walk the streets of Vaduz, it’s mandatory. The city is small and very cosy.
Climb up the hill with the Prince’s castle.
Visit a contemporary art museum. I believe, the future is with the cities where culture flourishes.
Visit the postal museum. Liechtenstein has a factory manufacturing postal stamps.
Go to the mountains.

Prices in Switzerland and trip budget
We stayed partly at our friend’s, and partly—in Zurich.
Prices on Airbnb looked more attractive than on Booking, so I chose it to book a room in Zurich. There were options for $860 and $815 per night; but my husband and I stayed in a pretty apartment in a hipsterish district 30 min walk from the centre for only $58 per night. It’s a very good value for money, and I was lucky to stumble upon it. Average accommodation prices outside of the city centre range from $70 to $130 per night.

Even though Switzerland is fairly small, you don’t want to miss all of its mountains, lakes and cities. Hence, you need to move a lot.
Railway is developed here, but train tickets are expensive (prices below are roundtrip):
Airport - Zurich = $7.20$
Zurich - Lucerne ~ $50
Zurich - Rhine Falls ~ $46
Zurich - Vaduz ~ $80

Once I saw these prices, renting a car became an obvious solution.
A car for 4 days cost me $164 + $63 fuel. It’s $54 a day. Likewise, if you travel with a friend, it would be twice as cheap as taking a train from Zurich to Lucerne.
We found our car on Rentalcars.com, and opted for the basic insurance only.
I did not buy tickets for public transport in cities, as I deliberately searched for accommodation within walking distance from the centre.

Restaurant prices start at $16 for a vegetarian dish and $20 for a meat one. Even German sausages, which in Berlin cost €2.5, here will be €10.
On the other hand, prices in supermarkets surprised me to the upside. I would recommend going grocery shopping to ALDI chain stores.
Milk - starting at $1.2. Milk in Switzerland is non-pasteurised, like home-made
Eggs - starting at $2 for a dozen
Cheese - starting at $1.5-2 for 350-400g
Muesli - starting at $1.5 for 1kg
Meat - starting at $7-9 for 300-500g
Swiss bread is a must-try! It is so rich and crusty.

Flight tickets
Flight tickets to Switzerland are pricy. You can always find the cheapest options available on Skyscanner. Should you wish for a business class travel, head to https://airbusinessclass.com/.

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