What to Pack for Switzerland: 31 Essentials

I traveled to Switzerland on a ten-day trip to Solothurn, Biel, Thun, and Zermatt in August 2017. Traveling in Switzerland means packing for different temperatures and terrains. From urban walks to alpine treks, here’s what to pack to be prepared, comfortable, and fashionable on a trip to Switzerland.

What to Pack for Switzerland: The Suitcase

Eagle Creek Lync—my Switzerland trip involved lots of public transportation, including trains, buses, and ferries, so I needed to pack light. Eagle Creek’s Lyncrolling suitcase was perfect—the suitcase itself was lightweight (4.6 pounds) and easy to roll or carry. I chose this bag for my trip because it converts to a backpack (weighing 1.12 pounds), which I could use for day hiking trips without having to bring a separate backpack.

What to Pack for Switzerland: The Personal Item

The Eagle Creek Lync was a tight fit for 10 days, so I brought a larger “personal item” to go under my seat on the plane. I used Aide de Camp’s Nadine bag, which comfortably held my camera bag, purse, toiletry kit, and in-flight essentials.

What to Pack for Switzerland: In-flight Essentials

  • Travel wrap: I always bring a wrap when I travel, and I like this one because it has pockets. On this trip it got used as a blanket on the plane, an extra layer over a dress, and as a towel after a dip in a lake.
  • Inflatable neck pillow: This one by Eagle Creek is my favorite as it cinches in the front so that my neck doesn’t fall forward and wake me up.
  • Eyemask and earplugs set: No overnight flight is complete without them.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Shoes

  • Running Sneakers: I opted to bring my running sneakers instead of hiking boots, as these were more versatile. I was able to get runs in along some of Switzerland’s gorgeous urban jogging paths, and these sneakers were more than adequate for the well-maintained trails of the Swiss Alps.
  • Allbirds: Lightweight, packable, washable, stylish, and can be worn without socks—these sneakers were comfortable for long walks and paired well with both my dresses and pants.
  • Flip flops: For visiting saunas/pools/beaches and simply wearing around the hotel room.
  • Born Izzabella: These ballet flats were super packable and comfortable—I wore them when my feet needed a break from sneakers and for evenings out.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Jacket

  • Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie: Despite heading to Switzerland in the summer, I packed a jacket and was so glad I did. Patagonia’s Nano Puff hoodie was perfect because it was water-resistant and had a hood (which came in handy when it rained). It was lightweight and packed down small, so I didn’t mind carrying it in my backpack during hiking, and it was warm enough at most of the higher summits.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Clothing

  • Comfortable pants/jeans: I brought one pair of pants but regretted not bringing two pairs—it can get cold on the trains as well as in the mountains, so definitely pack a few pairs.
  • Shirts/Sweaters: Layers are key for Switzerland’s quick-changing weather. I brought a good mix of shirts, sweaters, and workout tanks.
  • Dresses: Dresses were a great option for days when I was just walking around cities, as well as for dinners out. The Swiss tend to dress up a little bit, so you’ll fit in more if you dress up a bit.
  • Hiking clothes: I packed my regular workout clothes for hiking in Switzerland and they were great—look for something moisture-wicking if you’re going in summer as it can get really hot.
  • Swimsuit: You can swim in most lakes and rivers in Switzerland, so don’t forget to pack your swimsuit if you’re visiting in the summer.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Toiletries

  • Sunscreen: you’ll burn faster at high altitudes, so don’t skimp on this. Sunscreen was pretty expensive in the stores.
  • Refillable bottles for hair conditioner, body wash, and body lotion: I used Eagle Creek’s refillable bottles to bring my own hair conditioner, body wash, and body lotion and was glad I did. Switzerland as a whole is very eco-conscious, and most of the hotels that I stayed in did not provide small bottles of free shampoo, conditioner, and lotion as is usually standard. Most hotels just had a large bottle of shampoo (no conditioner) in the shower and that was it for toiletries.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is a recommended cure if you get headaches at high altitude, and it also comes in handy if you get sore after hiking.
  • Probiotics and antacids: I found the food in Switzerland to be delicious and rich, so if you have a sensitive stomach and no willpower, you might want to bring some medicine to help with indigestion.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Purses

  • Lo & Sons The Claremont Crossbody Camera Bag: I had a DSLR camera with me, and needed a camera bag to protect it. I liked Lo & Sons because it looks like a normal purse, is lightweight, and fit all my daytime essentials as well as my camera.
  • Biaggi Reversible Cross-body Bag: When I wasn’t carrying my big camera, I downsized to this smaller bag, which is not only lightweight and water-resistant, but reversible to match different outfits.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Gadgets

  • USB cable: I took Swiss Rail between all of my destinations, and most of the trains were outfitted with USB ports to charge all my gadgets.
  • Kindle: I brought a Kindle thinking I would read on the train rides, but the scenery outside was way too distracting. However, if you get bored easily, you may want one.
  • Waterproof pouch: Switzerland has lots of pristine lakes and rivers for public swimming—I found this waterproof pouch to be a good way to keep my valuables with me and dry.

What to Pack for Switzerland: Accessories

  • Umbrella: weather in Switzerland can be unpredictable. A good travel umbrella is a must.
  • Sunglasses: Especially at higher altitudes, you’ll need eye protection from the strong sun.
  • Running armband: If you’re a runner, Switzerland has some great urban jogging paths that you should take advantage of. I used Otterbox’s armbandto carry my phone so I wouldn’t get lost (and could snap some photos on my route).

What to Pack for Switzerland (That I Didn’t)

  • Water bottle: Water is safe to drink from public fountains and taps (and even some streams) all over Switzerland. I should have brought a refillable bottle and taken advantage.
  • Hat: I wasn’t prepared for how strong the sun can be at higher altitudes.
  • Gloves and warmer layers to wear under my jacket: When I visited the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, the temperature at the top (in August) was 29 degrees farenheit (at the bottom, in Zermatt village where my hotel was, it was in the 70s). I couldn’t stay outside on the observation platform for long as I was too cold. If you’re planning a visit here, make sure you pack something warm.

What Not to Pack for Switzerland

  • Noise-cancelling headphones: I was surprised that Swiss Air used the two-prong headphone jacks with its seatback entertainment system, so I could have left my noise-cancelling headphones behind, as I had to use the freebie airline ones in-flight.
  • Hiking boots: I debated whether or not to bring hiking boots as I did some day hikes in the Swiss Alps. If you’re going in the summer, you should be fine with regular sneakers, even on longer trails.