Hiking In Switzerland
If you are an avid skier or boarder, you have probably discovered Switzerland in the snow, but you should try taking the pace a little slower and on foot for a whole new experience; We are telling you, hiking in Switzerland, is the new skiing in Switzerland. We have put together some of Switzerland’s best hiking trails to get you excited for visiting Switzerland in the summer just as much as the winter.
As you have probably already discovered, Switzerland is a magical country with a unique culture, crossed between authentic, rustic Alpine charm with efficiency and glamour. Taking both aspects of Switzerland into consideration, the trails that are on offer allow you to experience both, with high altitude and steep ascents in the Alps and winding your way through vineyards next to the great city of Geneva.
There is a wide range of hikes from short day hikes to waterfalls and long epic multi-day routes which take you across hundreds of KM through the country. Whichever takes your fancy or suits your expertise, either way exploring Switzerland by foot allows you to appreciate all the tiny details that make this country so special.
Weather In Switzerland
Switzerland is blessed with having very distinct seasons, cold in the winter and warm in the summer. Due to this, however, it is recommended that the hiking trails in the winter, especially the high altitude ones, will be subject to snow and potential closures. Average temperatures in the Swiss Alps in the winter can be around -5 degrees celsius, so not particularly pleasant. The summer in the Alps, however, is beautiful, lush and green with average temperatures of 17 degrees celsius, which is a lot more agreeable.
If you are embarking on the trails through the vineyards and lakes, then most of the year from March to November will probably be good temperatures. With temperatures in the cities, around 2 degrees celsius in November and 26 degrees celsius in August.
Hiking In Switzerland - Quick Find Navigation
Riffelsee to Sunnegga
Trail Length: 13km
Best For: An introduction to high altitude hiking
For those who love Zermatt in the winter, will love it just as much in the summer with plenty of hiking trails on offer. The Rifelsee, in particular, is a great family-friendly hike and offers you to see all the best bits of the area. You can start by taking the famous Gonergrat train and head towards the Riffelsee Lake, which is a beautiful spot for viewing the entire valley. You will be watched over by the impressive Matterhorn that is iconic to the area. This is a high altitude trail that has you passing by lakes, forests and many snowcapped mountain peaks all within an easy 4-5 hours.
This trail is customisable and can be made longer or shorter depending on how low in the valley you start and how high you push yourself up.
Trail Length: 10km
Best For: hikers who like to have breaks in villages
If you are looking for a fairytale hike with streams, waterfalls and rustic alpine villages, then this is the one for you. Starting in Lauterbrunnen you head in a loop of around 3-4 hours and in that short time, you will experience a lot. This beautiful day hike will have you rambling through forest paths, crossing little streams winding your way to the village of Murren. From there, you make your way leisurely to Grimmelwald, which we will be the perfect timing to have some wholesome mountain Swiss cuisine. Make sure to take the longer route back to Lauterbrunnen, as you will pass waterfalls, hamlets and farms.
Stay in the area around Murren for a few days as there are many more easy-going day hikes to enjoy.
Lavaux Vineyard Terraces
Trail Length: up to 35km
Best For: Wine enthusiasts
The Laveux terraced Vineyards are surprisingly good for more than just winemaking, but in fact, provide an interesting and fruity terrain for hiking. With views of the Alps in the distance, Lake Geneva and the aroma of wine, what more could you want? There are many routes to take, some of which guide you along the North shore of Lake Geneva and some which have you high up on the winding paths. There is one epic trail which is 35km and can take around 8 to 9 hours and goes by the name Grand Traversée de Lavaux, passing all the major vineyards and the Chateau de Chillon Castle. Of course, whatever route you take, you can stop off at the wineries for some tasting.
The beauty of the area comes alive during the Autumn months
Trail Length: 7.5km
Best For: Active friend groups
A trip to Lake Walensee can be a whole thing on its own, with plenty to do and explore in the area with the lake itself and the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. As a great day hike option, you can travel an easy breezy 7.5 km route along the North shoreline. You start in the very cute hamlet of Quinten, which is only accessible by ferry and end in Betlis, where you must take another ferry to wherever you started from. Along the way, the path is relatively easy through forests and villages, but there is also a steep point in the middle where you will need some scrambling skills and stamina to tackle the ascent. There is plenty to see on the way, with streams and the lake, but the main attraction is Switzerland’s tallest free-flowing waterfall.
There are plenty of campsites that sit on the shore of the lake for some real down to earth and outdoorsy experiences.
Alpine Panorama Trail
Trail Length: 510km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Expert
Best For: Hiking enthusiasts
If you are an avid hiker and charmed by the alps, then this is the trail for you. The Alpine Panorama Trail is no walk in the park but an epic 30 day 540km adventure taking you from Bodensee to Lake Geneva. Embark upon your multi-day trek through the foothills of the Alps, farmland and traditional Swiss villages, ending in the big city of Geneva- its a true Swiss story. Of course, the views of this hike are epic, with snow-capped peaks and miles and miles of meadows but the culinary treats along the way will keep you going. You pass the villages such as Gruyere and Emmental, so you can snack on some tasty dairy delights and then through Laveux and La Cote, to taste the fruity local wines.
This whole route is 29 stages, so it can be broken down into smaller more manageable stages quite simply.
Trail Length: 390km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Expert
Best For: Ticking the Via Alpina off your bucket list
The Via Alpina is 5 famous international trails across 8 countries and a whopping 342 stages on the high altitude trails through the Alps. This epic journey is rarely tackled in one go, so instead you can take it in manageable chunks, one of these is in the beautiful and charming Swiss Alps. Instead of 5000km, you can take on 390km from Vaduz to Montreaux which takes around 20 days to complete. Along the way, you will experience the very best of Swiss Alpine culture, passing farms, mountain huts and the odd glitz and glam of the ski resorts. This is a true Swiss adventure that is an absolute must if you are doing the Via Alpina trail.
Book yourself into a spa hotel when you are in the ski resorts to allow your muscles to rest and restore.
Trans swiss trail
Trail Length: 488km
Best For: Not altitude trained hikers
This is another epic Swiss long-distance adventure, but not as you would expect, this route is a great alternative to the classic Alpine routes. The trail is perfect for those who are wanting to explore more of this awesome country on foot. Starting in Porrenttruy and finishing in Mendrisio you will experience lakes, rolling hills, rivers and forests all of which create this magical feel to the hike. It is a relatively easy route, without the intensity of some of the high altitude trails of the Alps. As you pass through both cities and villages alike, you can spend your evenings or days in somewhere more vibrant than the usual mountain huts.
If you have the time, take a day to explore the towns and villages you stay as you will miss out on some great destinations in a 1-night layover.
Trail Length: 160km
Best For: Larger groups
You follow this riverside trail from the Wildhaus lake to the river source through the Thur valley. The Thurweg trails offer you the opportunity to experience the Thur river and its natural Geography of wetlands and meanders. Along 8 stages, there is the chance to swim in the lake and pass through the vineyards on the flanks of the river in the wine-growing region near Zurich. After a steady ramble through the Thur valley and most likely, lots of wine tasting, you will pick up the pace slightly as you head for the river source on Mount Santis.
This is the ideal trail to do in Spring, as the high altitude trails may be shut due to snow and it is the ideal time to the see river gushing with meltwater.
Swiss Tour Monte Rosa
Trail Length: 56km
Best For: High altitude mountaineers
Across 3 days you will cover 56km of the incredible Swiss Alps in the Monte Rosa region, starting in Saas-Fee and ending in Zermatt. This high altitude hike will test even the fittest hikers due to the steep ascents but also with the obstacles such as tunnels, bridges and sections that require mountaineering equipment. But the more effort and training you put into this trail, the more you can appreciate the amazing spectacle that is the Saastal and Matteral mountains towering over 4000m high.
Spend some in the glacier village Saas-Fee and take part in activities such as mountain biking and tree obstacle courses.
Giessbach Falls, Lake Brienz
Trail Length: 2km
Best For: Families and children
Visiting the Geissbach Falls is a fun day out for the whole family and a great way to get back to nature with a short, easy walk and an epic waterfall. You start the day off by getting the ferry from Brienz across the lake to Geissbach. You can take the old-timey funicular to the hotel or alternatively, stretch your legs and walk. The hotel itself is, of course, a tourist hub but rightly so, as its castle-like features give it a fairytale feel. The actual hike is simply walking up the gravelly steps through the trees alongside the gushing waterfall. Make sure to stop off at each point to check out the bridges that sit over the fall, making for some great photo opportunities, as you get up close and personal to the water. Once you get to the top, there is a bridge built behind the fall, so you can actually walk behind it, which is a crowd-pleaser, especially for kids.
This will only take around half a day, so spend the rest of the day hanging out by the lake and try the fairytale hotel for a spot of lunch with a view.
So there we have it, the top 10 hiking trails in Switzerland. There really is something for everyone, for the long-distance experts to the first-timers to the families with kids. For those who know how awesome Switzerland is in the winter, you will definitely enjoy switching the skis for walking boots and experiencing this country at a slower pace and in a new light.
Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All information was correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge and experience. However, things change during different periods in the season and some websites offer out of date information and links may change.
Maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can consider adding them in! Let me know. . .