hikes in Switzerland
Hikes in Switzerland
Welcome to Switzerland, one of the best hiking destinations in all of Europe. You're guaranteed to be blown away by its jaw-dropping beauty, from the snow-capped mountains and glaciers of the Swiss Alps to verdant valleys full of cascading waterfalls, and idyllic pastures with mountain huts where cattle graze seemingly indifferent to the beauty that surrounds them.
In addition to this plethora of landscapes, Switzerland also has vibrant cities bursting with culture, history, and architecture, picturesque small towns built alongside emerald lakes, world-class ski resorts, and remote mountain huts where you can escape from the outside world.
Hiking in Switzerland is an excellent adventure holiday, with a wide variety of routes of varying difficulty and well-developed infrastructure to make getting around a breeze. You can choose from easy and family-friendly trails to challenging all-day treks that require specialized mountaineering equipment. But whichever path you choose, you're sure to be wowed by the picture-perfect panoramas of Switzerland's lush landscape.
10 Best Hikes in Switzerland
There's no better way to experience Switzerland's incredible beauty than to walk through it, soaking up its awesome scenery. With so many routes criss crossing the country, it's easy to see why Switzerland is considered an outdoor lover's paradise. Whether you want an easy walk that lets you enjoy the view or really want to test your endurance trekking on the Alpine peaks, Switzerland is a treasure trove of hiking opportunities.
To help you plan your trip, we've compiled a list of the 10 Best Hikes in Switzerland, and trust us, it was hard to narrow it down! These hikes offer a lot of variety and different levels of difficulty so you can choose the hike that's best for you. Get ready to head out there to see Switzerland's stunning scenery and marvel at those legendary mountains.
- Frudenhutte - This popular but challenging route is a lollipop walk around and above Lake Oeschinen, perhaps the most beautiful high altitude lake in all of Switzerland. The trail is typically open from June to September and takes roughly 5-7 hours. You start by taking the lift from Kandersteg to Oeschinensee and from the upper lift station, a 0.6mi walk takes you to the west end of the lake. the trail path is marked with a white-red-white symbol on tree trunks or rocks A section of the trail is protected by steel cables which you can take advantage of by bringing a via ferrata set, and conditions can be quite icy, but it's worth it for the awesome views.
- Matterhorn Glacier Trail - The Matterhorn Glacier Trail (Nr. 26) takes you close to the Furgg Glacier and right beside the east flank of Matterhorn. In good weather the Matterhorn glistens in the light, simply stunning under a perfect blue sky. Contrary to the name of the hike, you will not negotiate any glacier surface or even snow if you're hiking in the summer though you will be close enough to see the glacier's meltwater. The route is relatively easy with mostly a downhill grade and suitable for any fit adult. You'll cross rivers and walk past a lovely alpine lake. It's a relatively quick walk too, with 3.9mi to cover which should take 2-3 hours.
- Eiger Trail - The Eiger Trail skirts the north face of one of the most iconic mountains in all of Europe. The trail is easy but the view is breathtaking. Besides the imposing presence of the Eiger, you get a good look down to Kleine Sheidegg and the Grindelwald valley. The Eiger Trail takes you on a rocky and gravel trail surface and most of the trail descends, so trail runners and light hiking boots will do in summer. However the temperature is quite cold and can be brutally windy at the start of the hike so it is best to bring a good waterproof jacket when approaching the famed Eiger.
- Edelweiss Refuge Loop - The ski resort town of Zermatt is strewn with hiking trails that intersect on well signposted routes, making it a very user-friendly area. The Edelweiss Refuge Loop leads walkers to a refuge/restaurant perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking Zermatt, providing fantastic views of the town and valley. The return route takes a less steep path to some picturesque small villages, and then winds back down to Zermatt. You'll also catch glimpses of magnificent Matterhorn during your hike.
- Daubensee - Hiking around Daubensee Lake gives you a gentle work out with a great view of glaciers, the lake and the surrounding summits. The hike itself is not strenuous but you have to mind a bit of exposure on the narrow trail. A picnic along the trail will let you soak in the picturesque alpine setting. Every year, a shepherd's festival is held to mark the friendship between the Berneese Oberland and the Vallais region, when 800 sheep are herded to the banks of the lake on the last Sunday of July. If you can time your hike to coincide with this festival, you're in for a real treat.
- Aletsch Glacier - The Aletsch Glacier hike is a high altitude in-and-out route that gives you a great view of the largest glacier in the alps from an elevated vantage point. You will need to take a lift up to Bettmeralp village at 6562ft elevation and then another lift to Betmerhorn lift station (8661ft), which leads to the start of the hike. The route is relatively easy and really lets you admire the impressive 14.3mi-long Aletsch Glacier from a variety of viewpoints. There is a chance you will encounter marmots on the trail too!
- Lac Bleu - Lac Bleu, located high in the Val d'Hérens, claims to be the clearest and bluest lake in the Swiss Alps. The hike to this gem is short but steep, and it's a great idea to make a day of it with a picnic and on the banks of the lake. Surrounded by a lush forested valley and snow capped summits, it's a gorgeous place to spend the day. But be warned – the famed beauty of Lac Bleu means it attracts a lot of other tourists and locals so be prepared to share the views!
- Pizzo della Casa - This is a challenging hike that starts out at Splugen Pass in Switzerland and, as the name makes obvious, crosses the border into Italy. Along the way you'll pass two gorgeous alpine lakes, descend to Lago di Montespluga, and then loop back to the border. The trail is very rocky and challenging, and hard to navigate without GPS. But the views from the trail facing both Switzerland and Italy are absolutely superb, and lunch in a restaurant at the Italian side is a great treat before you head back to the pass.
- Bachalpsee Hike - Bachalpsee is a very easy hike with fantastic views of snow capped summits reflected in the placid waters of this high altitude alpine lake. The route starts with a lift ride to 7054ft and follows good foot paths though it is quite steep at first. You'll be rewarded with perfect scenery of snow capped peaks reflected in the calm waters, with nothing to ruin the view. You can also see the huge peaks of Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn in the far distance.
- Thermal Canyon walk - This walk is easy and is a great day out for families with kids. The Thermal Canyon Walk takes you into the beautiful Dala Gorge with amazing views of rushing waterfalls and the spectacular mountain scenery that surrounds Leukerbad. A 1969ft long steel catwalk snakes its way along the edge of the canyon wall and several flights of stairs take you over the gorge to a suspension bridge that crosses the canyon overlooking the powerful Dala River. After the hike we strong recommend soaking at the thermal springs in the spa town of Leukerbad.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Switzerland?
If you're planning to go hiking in Switzerland, a lot depends on what kind of hike you'd like to do. If your goal is to do some seriously high Alpine trekking, then July and August provide the best weather conditions. If you just want to explore the beautiful mountains, you can hike anytime in the warmers months from July and September. The lower altitude regions that get less snow can be hiked in June, and around the southern part of Switzerland, like the Swiss Riviera, the hiking season can start as early as March.
One of the best things about hiking in Switzerland is that even in July and August, it doesn't get too hot in the high altitudes, making it pleasant and comfortable in the height of summer. And winter doesn't keep hikers off the trails either – there are in fact tons of groomed winter trails and snowshoe trails. If you are planning to hike in winter conditions or at high altitude, be sure to acclimatize yourself. Joining an organized hiking tour is also a great way to see the best that Switzerland has to offer.
Best Regions to Hike in Switzerland
With a sophisticated hiking infrastructure of some 40389.1mi of trails and a range of beautiful landscapes, Switzerland is truly a paradise for hiking, walking and trekking. This isn't something that you want to rush – every region of Switzerland has its own distinct personality, character, and natural beauty, and they're all worth exploring.
There's the splendid Lake Geneva region to the west, which neighbours the gorgeous Jura mountains. You'll marvel at the idyllic splendour of the valleys and pastures of Bernese Oberland, and hike through charming towns along the border with Italy in Ticino. Of course, no trip to Switzerland would be complete without seeing the Alps, especially the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region which is home to some of Switzerland's most iconic hikes. Eastern Switzerland is a treasure trove of beautiful routes, and Graubunden is a true hidden gem. No matter which region you go hiking in, you're guaranteed to be blown away by the incredible natural beauty everywhere you look.
Other Activities in Switzerland
Switzerland has so much to offer its visitors in addition to the incredible outdoor adventures that await you. This delightful melting pot of cultures, characters and languages makes it a place full of history and character. There are many beautiful cities to explore, from the sparkling shores of Lake Geneva to the unique old Romanch villages of Graubunden. You'll get a taste of the Mediterranean in Italian-influenced Tocino or explore the bustling streets of Zurich. Switzerland boasts many notable UNESCO World Heritage Sites that showcase its natural beauty and rich historical value. Every year Switzerland hosts awesome festivals, like the fun-filled 3-day Spring Carnival in Basel. You can join walking tours of its beautiful cities to see museums, impressive castles and chateaus, or take a bike ride through scenic vineyards and enjoy some wine tasting. Oh, and talking about tasting, don't forget about the famous Swiss chocolates!
How to Plan a Trip to Switzerland
Switzerland is a country guaranteed to amaze and delight any visitor. With its incredible landscapes of lakes, canyons, towering mountains and picturesque pastures, Switzerland is a paradise for outdoor lovers. But with so many different regions to choose from, it can sometimes be hard to narrow it down. To help you prepare for your big adventure, we've put together a comprehensive guide to planning a trip to Switzerland. Chock full of advice, routes, insider tips and recommendations on where to stay and what to see, our guide is written with you in mind.Read More