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What to Pack for Switzerland

What to Pack for Switzerland: 31 Essentials

SmarterTravel

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 Lync rolling 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

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

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.
  • Pacsafe Stylesafe Anti-Theft Crossbody Bag: When I wasn’t carrying my big camera, I downsized to this smaller bag, which is lightweight, water-resistant, and protects against pick-pockets.

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

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 Fahrenheit (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.

Look Switzerland-Chic for Your Trip

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse was hosted by Switzerland Tourism. Check out their website for lots of great Switzerland travel tips, and be sure to follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from her adventures in Switzerland and around the world.

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