Viking River Cruises Zurich and the Swiss Alps

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Viking River Cruises Zurich and the Swiss Alps is my travel adventure that I’m sharing today. It’s the beginning of a Viking River Cruise that I went on back in October/November. Read on!

bridge and river in Zurich with buildings in background

You’ve seen the Viking River Cruise commercials, I’m sure. There are so many incredible destinations to choose from for their river cruises. This is the Swiss Alps to Paris itinerary (12 days):

  • Days 1 to 3: Zurich, Switzerland
  • Day 3: Basel, Switzerland
  • Day 4: Strasbourg, France
  • Day 5: Speyer, Germany
  • Day 6: Mainz, Germany
  • Day 7: Koblenz, Germany and cruising along the Rhine
  • Day 8: Cochem, Germany
  • Day 9: Bernkastel, Germany
  • Days 9/10: Trier, Germany and Luxembourg
  • Days 10 to 12: Paris, France

My husband and I flew to Europe a little early for this trip. We spent a couple of nights in Paris, and then we caught a short, cheap flight to Zurich for the beginning of this itinerary with Viking. Today, I’m writing about our experience in Zurich, Switzerland and the activities/excursions that we did. You don’t board the river boat in Zurich. Instead, it’s a pre-boat experience in Zurich… and then you take a motor coach to Basel on day 3 to board the boat for the river cruise. So, here’s Viking River Cruises Zurich.

lobby of the Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel with colorful art dog piece and lobby bar and tables

Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel

All of the Viking cruisers stayed at the Renaissance Zurich Tower Hotel. It was easy to fly in to the airport in Zurich because there was a Viking person at the airport there to greet us and bring us to the hotel. Upon arrival, Viking had a table set up in the lobby to check you in and give you all of the informational docs needed for the trip. That afternoon there was a little tour of downtown Zurich available. We opted to explore on our own. The hotel is a bit of a walk from the “cute” part of Zurich. It’s a nice, long walk or a quick Uber or taxi ride. Plenty of restaurants are located near the hotel, so we grabbed some local fare for dinner and called it a night.

plate of breakfast- eggs, fruit and sausages on a white plate with place setting and orange juice

The hotel offers quite an extensive buffet breakfast. So on Day 2 of our stay in Zurich we grabbed breakfast and then went on the (Viking included) Zurich Walking Tour and Lake Cruise.

Zurich walking over bridge showing people riding bikes and taking photos

Zurich Walking Tour

On Viking River Cruises, Viking offers optional excursions in each city. There is always a “free” excursion that is included with the cost of the cruise. And then there are other excursions that you can pay for. This walking tour is one of the free ones. We got a good overview of Zurich on the tour. It’s a neat city with a lot of charm. Check out the photos ahead from our walk.

streets of Zurich, Switzerland: city street with cars parked on side and hotel with flags displayed. Church spier in background.

Looking up at a church spier in Zurich through the trees

Lake Zurich with a sailboat in view

Zurich Lake Cruise:

The cruise was also included. It’s a nice cruise around the lake- a good one to go on if it’s a nice day. We loved looking at the little towns and homes nestled along the shore. If you go on the walking tour and cruise, I suggest you sign up for an early time so you have plenty of time to explore Zurich after the cruise.

Oktoberfest in Zurich, Switzerland- musicians on stage and people toasting with beer

Oktoberfest in Zurich

On our own time in Zurich, we happened upon an Oktoberfest celebration (which we found out happens pretty much every weekend in October in all of Germany in Switzerland). I’m pretty sure we were the only tourists at this Oktoberfest, and there were a ton of locals. Right away, we knew we were going to have a great time. The music on stage was exactly what you’d expect- festive Oktoberfest celebration music. Plenty of beer was flowing. Everyone was dressed in traditional Oktoberfest outfits. Huge platters of turkey legs and schniztel were being delivered to tables. People stood up and sang along with the band. Long tables of people joined arms and did “dances” to go along with the music. People aged 18 to 80 were doing shots of Jägermeister. And everyone was happy and having a blast!

The locals at our table took us in and included us in their celebration. Super friendly people. They bought us drinks, and the grandmother at the table bought us cookies too. It was an amazing, local experience!

Schnitzel, potato salad, egg and pickle on a white plate

We opted to try a plate of pork schnitzel with potato salad.

Oktoberfest in Zurich, Switzerland: RecipeGirl and husband with big mugs of beer

My husband likes his beer, but I don’t normally drink beer much at all. It seemed like the right thing to do at Oktoberfest though (I did see people drinking white wine too). These were giant mugs! We had only been in Zurich for 24 hours, and this was already a highlight of our trip!

Two couples eating Fondue at a table at Swiss Chuchi in Zurich, Switzerland

After Oktoberfest, we had to experience trying fondue in Switzerland. So we stopped by one of the local places and ordered a giant pot of warm cheese and wine too. Pictured here are me and my husband (on the left) and our friends Sandy ( and her husband Paul. Sandy and Paul are good friends of ours and great travel companions!

Beet Salad on a white plate

We had to balance out the cheese with a nice beet salad.

Eating chunks of bread dipped in a pot of cheese fondue

Doesn’t that gooey cheese look so amazing??!!!

Two couples drinking hot chocolate at a restaurant table in Zurich, Switzerland

After fondue, we went to a local coffee shop and got hot chocolate. 

trees along a path in Zurich, Switzerland

Since the day was so decadent, we skipped taking an Uber and walked the 30-minutes back to the hotel. It turned out to be a very nice walk. We went to bed that night with smiles on our faces. What a perfect day we’d had in Zurich, Switzerland.

Driving in the Swiss Alps along a highway. Green countryside in view with trees and a house.

Highlights of the Alps

On Day 2, we chose an optional all-day excursion venturing in a motor coach up the mountain to see the Swiss Alps. It was kind of a dreary, cloudy day so we were taking our chances with how much we’d be able to see. The drive up the mountains was very pretty.

Fall scenery in the Swiss Alps with green grass field and changing colors of trees on hillside

Since we were there in the fall, the trees were changing color. 

Looking down the main street of the Village of Brienz, Switzerland. Storefronts and flags hanging

Village of Brienz

The motor coach made a 30-minute stop in the darling Swiss village of Brienz. We walked around the town and took photos of the houses, the hillsides and Lake Brienz. Check out the photos below.

Scenery in Brienz, Switzerland: house with green landscape. Mountains in background.

house in Brienz, Switzerland with greenery and flowers growing on it and displayed around it

window box with pink flowers in the village of Brienz, Switzerland

View over Lake Brienz in Switzerland with stone wall and tree in view too.

view of the front of the Huggler Woodcarvings shop.

Before we left Brienz, we wandered into this woodcarving shop and were able to watch the local woodcarvers do their thing. I bought a wood carved Christmas ornament as a souvenir. There were a lot of neat things to buy in the shop!

View of the highway to the Swiss Alps with large rock formation hanging over the road

Back on the road again up to the Swiss Alps!

Green grass Valley under the Swiss Alps with a couple of houses in view and trees too

Everyone was green and gorgeous along the way.

Two girls with red ski hats posing for a photo Below the Swiss Alps


This is the spot where we stopped to catch a train up the mountain. You can “sort of” see the Swiss Alps behind us… but the weather was not ideal. I can only imagine what it would be like on a bright, sunny, blue-sky day!

Blue Tissot Train to the Swiss Alps sitting at station. Green hills in the background.

This is the train we boarded to take us to Kleine Scheidegg, a breathtaking mountain pass with (usually) stunning mountain views.

Green Valley with houses below the clouded Swiss Alps

On our way up the mountain, it was beautiful scenery. All of these homes sitting just under the Swiss Alps have amazing views out their windows every day!

Red train At the top of the mountain under the clouded Swiss Alps

Unfortunately, this is what we were able to see when we got to the pass. Not much! We had a delightful lunch at a restaurant up there and shopped in the gift shops, but the views just weren’t there because of the clouds. So sad.

Two couples Standing under the clouded Swiss Alps for a photo

The Swiss Alps is definitely a place to return and explore. I’d love to go on a hike or even rent a house up on the mountain somewhere one of these days!  Viking River Cruises Zurich was a great start to our Viking River Cruise adventure.

Next, we take the motor coach to Basel, Switzerland… where we board the Viking Hild River Boat for eight nights on the Rhine and Moselle rivers! More to come…

For more about this Viking River Cruise itinerary, visit

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  • Sharon D wrote:

    I love the descriptions and pictures of the sights. We are doing the trip in reverse in June. It’s our first cruise ever! Please tell us more! Yours is the only review that is nicely done that I can find. Thanks!

    Yum, yum! Your recipes look delicious!!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thanks, Sharon! I will be reviewing the rest of the cruise too. Check my blog on Fridays (except for Super Bowl week!) I’ll be writing about 4 more posts. Enjoy your trip!

  • Gina B. wrote:

    Love all the picture of Switzerland. I love to go on a Viking River cruise but I think it is expensive. It looks like you had a wonderful time. Food looked wonderful. I don’t drink beer so I do not know what I would drink. So love your adventures. Keep letting us know about your trips. Also, your good recipes.

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thank you!

  • JOANNE wrote:


    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Thank you!

  • Vicki Cannizzaro wrote:

    Thanks. For sharing the Great Pictures! And Recipes! You and your Husband would Probaly also like UNIWORLD Cruise!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      I’m sure we would!

  • claudia davis wrote:

    I cant wait to read more. I have always dreamed of doing a river cruise. This river cruise seems like a good choice of city variety. Were you considering any other Viking river cruises or was this the only one?

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Yes! We’ve done a river cruise in southern France (it was great), and we did a Viking ocean cruise through Denmark and Norway (also awesome!)