How To: Configure Layer 3 Routing on a Cisco Switch


Welcome to our latest blog post where we delve into the hot to Layer 3 Routing on a Cisco Switch. For network administrators and IT professionals, understanding the intricacies of network layer routing is crucial for efficient network management. Cisco, being a leading player in networking hardware, offers a range of managed switches capable of performing Layer 3 routing. L3 routing enables you to not only switch packets based on MAC addresses but also route them based on IP addresses.

In this post, we will guide you through the process of enabling and configuring Layer 3 routing on a Cisco switch. Whether you are setting up a new network or upgrading an existing one. Mastering these configurations can significantly enhance your network’s performance and scalability. From basic setup to advanced routing protocols, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the world of Layer 3 routing and unlock the full potential of your Cisco managed switch!

Layer 3 routing requires a Cisco 3560 or newer or a Cisco Small Business 300 Series Switch or higher. The configuration I created for layer 3 routing is on a Cisco 3750 Switch. But should work on a 3560 or 300 series switch. The process is similar on other vendors but double check with their documentation before you begin.


Rename the switch

Make your life easier and rename the switch to makes sense to you.

Switch(config)#hostname L3Router

Create VLANS

On the Switch, create the VLANs that you want the Switch to be able to route between.

L3Router(config)# vlan 10
L3Router(config-vlan)# name Sales
L3Router(config-vlan)# exit
L3Router(config)# vlan 20
L3Router(config-vlan)#name Marketing
L3Router(config-vlan)# exit 
L3Router(config)# vlan 30
L3Router(config-vlan)# name Research
L3Router(config-vlan)# exit

Switch Virtual Interfaces (SVI)

Give the vlan(s) an IP Address. This allows the switch at as a router. The IP Addresses are what is used to route traffic from network to network or VLAN to VLAN.

L3Router(config)# interface vlan 10
L3Router(config-if)# ip address
L3Router(config-if)# no shutdown
L3Router(config-if)# exit 
L3Router(config)# interface vlan 20
L3Router(config-if)# ip address
L3Router(config-if)# no shutdown
L3Router(config-if)# exit 
L3Router(config)# interface vlan 30
L3Router(config-if)# ip address
L3Router(config-if)# no shutdown
L3Router(config-if)# exit

Enable Layer 3 Routing on the Cisco Switch.

You might have to reboot the switch depending on model

L3Router(config)# IP Routing

Configure the Default Gateway for the Switch

L3Router(config)# ip default-gateway

Add static routes from your router/firewall to the Layer 3 switch.


The network traffic will have to know how to get back to the switch. To fix this requirement, create static routes for each of your networks stating. “From the firewall to get to network X.X.X.X/XX go to the Layer 3 Switch.” Granted that will have to be translated into your Firewall/Router’s syntax but that is the information the Firewall/Router will require.

Optional Steps depending on your configuration

Change DHCP Pools and statically assigned devices to the SVI of the VLAN.

Updating DHCP pools while implementing routing on a Layer 3 Cisco switch is a crucial step in ensuring seamless network performance and connectivity. As routing is configured, the network topology often changes, necessitating adjustments in DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) settings to align with the new routing paths and subnets. This process involves modifying DHCP scopes to reflect the updated IP address ranges and gateway configurations that correspond with the routed interfaces on the switch.

These updates are vital for maintaining a coherent network address structure, ensuring that devices connected to different subnets are appropriately assigned IP addresses that align with their respective gateway and routing paths. This harmonization between DHCP configurations and routing setup is key to achieving a robust, efficient, and well-organized network, enabling seamless communication across different segments of the infrastructure while optimizing the management and distribution of IP addresses.

Configure Routing Protocols

In the realm of network engineering, the implementation of routing protocols on a Layer 3 Cisco switch stands as a pivotal aspect of efficient network design and management. These protocols, which include OSPF, EIGRP, and BGP, serve as the backbone for dynamic routing decisions, enabling the switch to intelligently determine the most effective paths for data packets across a complex network topology.

By leveraging such protocols, a Layer 3 Cisco switch transcends its traditional role as a mere packet-forwarding device, evolving into a sophisticated entity capable of adapting to changing network conditions, load balancing, and ensuring optimal path selection for traffic. This level of routing intelligence not only enhances the network’s resilience and performance but also simplifies the management of larger, more intricate network infrastructures, making it an indispensable tool in the arsenal of modern network administrators.


In conclusion, configuring Layer 3 routing on a Cisco managed switch is a powerful skill that elevates your network management capabilities. Throughout this guide, we have explored the fundamental steps and considerations necessary for successful configuration, from basic IP routing to the implementation of dynamic routing protocols. The ability to manage traffic at the network layer adds versatility and efficiency, enhancing the overall performance of your network infrastructure.

Remember, while the process can be technical, the benefits of a well-configured Layer 3 environment are substantial. It facilitates better resource utilization, improved security, and greater scalability. As you apply these configurations to your Cisco switches, always consider your specific network requirements and future expansion plans.

We hope this guide has provided you with practical knowledge to configure Layer 3 routing on your Cisco managed switches. As you continue to expand your networking expertise, remember that continuous learning is key to mastering the art of network management. Happy routing!