Switzerland is without a doubt one of the top hiking locations in the world. It’s why I traveled there. I spent three months hiking almost every single day in Switzerland during the summer and on each hike, I documented the hike information and tips you need to know aswell as capturing photos of the journey and of course at the summit. Throughout my hiking trip, I visited many different regions around Switzerland such as Interlaken, Zermatt, Grindelwald, Engelberg, Chur, Murren, Fribourg, Appenzell and many more as I attempted see all of the best hiking trails in Switzerland. In this blog post I have chosen my favorite 50 hikes in Switzerland so that you can pick a couple that stand out to you and go explore the Swiss Alps and trails around this incredibly picturesque country!
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS ’50 BEST HIKES IN SWITZERLAND’ BLOG POST
Before you dive into this epic list of the best hikes in Switzerland there are a couple of things to know about this blog post. I’ve included a huge ‘Things to know when hiking in Switzerland‘ section at the bottom of the blog post with lots of information and tips but these are a few pieces of information you need to know before looking at the list of my favorite 50 hikes in Switzerland
- Switzerland has a SAC difficulty scale, which labels hikes with a technical score such as T2 or T5 etc. All of the hikes in this blog post are T4 with a few T5 exceptions. I have included the full table/difficulty scale at the bottom of the blog post so you can see what level suits you and the explanation of each level. Therefore there are some other very epic hikes in Switzerland not on this list that are a higher degree of difficulty (beyond T5) that require alpine gear and climbing experience. This guide is about the hikes your average fitness hiker can attempt so Matterhorn and all of the 4000m+ climbs are not on this list.
- Each of the hiking trails in Switzerland on this list has a description and a link to a more detailed individual post I have created with instructions, directions lots of photos and everything you need to know about that hike. So, if you see a hike you like then go ahead and click on the link for all the details about the hike and my full review/experience of the hike.
- The guide will be broke up by region so it is easy to skim through to a section you are visiting or interested in. There is no particular order to the hikes. There were no hikes on this list I wouldn’t do them again although some were a bit more epic than others as you will see.
- The best app for navigating on the Switzerland hiking trails is the free Switzerland Mobility App, which works offline (usually) and the Alltrails App. I used both depending on their availability on a specific trail, along with Google Maps and Maps.me if it is a basic hike.
- I backpacked around Switzerland by using the trains and buses. They are very efficient, have good coverage and are also very damn expensive. What I did is bought the Swiss Half-Fare Card, which gives you half price off any ticket (except some cable cars) It basically pays itself off within five days so if you are there for a week you NEED it. Trust me. If you are looking to move across the country quickly and doing some big train journeys they will be more than $100 USD sometimes. Many people get the Swiss Travel Pass, which is pretty expensive about $100 USD a day but gives you unlimited free travel and half price on many cable cars. I’d say get the Swiss Half-Fare Pass for sure but don’t rush into the full Swiss Travel Pass until you have mapped out your route.
- I’ve written an extensive guide about Where to Stay in Switzerland for all budgets including top luxury picks, family/value and budget backpackers. There will be tips at the bottom of the post but the main blog post if you are looking at which region to base in and where to stay is here.
Okay let’s get into it. I dedicated a lot of time and effort to creating this guide and to doing these hikes over a 85-day period in Switzerland. Blood was shed, many ‘last trains’ were missed, several hiking shoes perished and a significant amount of chocolate and cheese were consumed. I hope you enjoy my Switzerland Hiking Guide: 50 Best Hikes in Switzerland.
50 BEST HIKES IN SWITZERLAND
As I mentioned earlier. This guide will be broken up into regions to make it easier to digest and you can scroll through to the region you are interested about. Each hike has a short description and a link to a more detailed individual post I have created with instructions, directions lots of photos and everything you need to know about that hike. So, if you see a hike you like then go ahead and click on the link for all the details about the hike and my full review/experience of that particular Switzerland hiking trail.
I stayed in the town of Interlaken for more than two weeks and actually re-visited twice. In my opinion, it is the best place to base yourself for hiking in Switzerland and also the cheapest town to base in with a bit of a backpacker vibe compared to most Swiss towns. You have Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen and more all within 1-hour on the train from Interlaken. It’s perfect for 2-3 weeks of adventure if you value keeping the same home-base throughout. You can check out my in-depth Interlaken guide here: 15 AWESOME HIKES NEAR INTERLAKEN
The Hardergrat ridge-hike has to be somewhere at the top of this list. It’s known as one of the toughest hikes day-hikes in Switzerland and also one of the most dangerous. The trail begins at Brienz and runs along the Brienzersee (Brienz Lake) all the way to Harder Kulm Station.
It takes fit hikers about six hours to complete and there are many parts with very, very steep drop-offs. It is for experienced hikers and to be avoided on wet days is the steep cliffs can be unforgiving. It’s possible to get the train up to Brienz and then down from Harder Kulm so you just hike along the ridge but you will need to hike fast and with determination, because if you miss the last train you will be hiking down another 800m of incline. The best route is to get the early train (it’s also half price) at Brienz and then work your way along the ridge to Harder-Kulm Station and make sure you catch the last train down. Alternatively, if you are a hiking machine, you can hike up to Brienzer Rothorn, along the ridge to Harder Kulm Station and then down to Interlaken for a total of almost 30-kilometers and 3000m+ of incline throughout the day. Good luck with the journey on what is one of the most epic point-to-point hiking trails in Switzerland.
SCHYNIGE PLATTE TO FIRST HIKE
The hike from Schynige Platte to First via Faulhorn is among the top hikes in Interlaken with an epic view around every turn. Expect a long day on the legs with 16km of the trail ahead of you and nearly 1000m of incline. The soup and coffee at Faulhorn with magical views make it all worthwhile.
This hike is quite special because it has views of Brienzersee along the way before heading up past alpine lakes to the Fualhorn Mountain Hut. I did this iconic hike near Interlaken after the first snow of the season and it was just stunning. It’s also a great hike for the middle for the spring when the alpine flowers are in full bloom.
This epic hike near Interlaken is not extremely difficult with very few areas of concern for moderately experienced hikers. While 1000m of incline is substantial, there are no points where the trail is overly exposed. Many parts of the trail are rocky and involve a tiny bit of clambering but you never need to use your hands or climb.
The hike took me a total time of 5 hours. It could be done in a little less time, especially if you don’t summit Oberberg and Faulhorn but that is the whole point of the hike! I’d bargain for 5-7 hours for the total trip and you will enjoy a coffee and soup at Faulhorn and have lots of spare time to enjoy your hike. The main point to remember is that (at least during summer) the last cable car down from First to Grindelwald is at 5:30 so you need to leave from Schynige Platte before midday to make that. If you miss it, there is a 2-hour trail down to Grindelwald that you will have to take on tired legs.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: SCHYNIGE PLATTE HIKE TO FAULHORN & FIRST
MOUNT NIESEN HIKE ‘THE SWISS PYRAMID’
Mount Niesen was a hike I hadn’t heard too much about but it delivered in so many different ways! The cable car is so steep it’s an exciting ride in itself, the views on the panorama trail to the summit were incredible, and then to be above the clouds at Niesen Kulm Berghaus enjoying the sunset was out of this world.
Because of its distinct pyramid shape, this peak sticks out above the clouds when the conditions are right and with a fancy mountain hut restaurant on top of the peak, it is one of the sights to behold in Thun, which is just one town down the line from Interlaken. Below, in the photos, you will see the pyramid shadow it casts at sunset. This was by far one of my favorite solo hikes in Switzerland as I got lucky with the clouds and an epic sunset on my adventure.
The distance from Mulenen to Niesen Kulm is 7.7km or you can do as I did and catch the cable car to Schwandegg station, which is halfway up and then hikes from Schwandegg to Niesen Kulm, which took me 1 hour and 13 minutes to complete the 4.8 kilometers with an incline of 646 meters. The recommended time is 2-3 hours if you are coasting.
The trail is quite easy and there are no moments of serious exposure. The incline is the hardest part about this hike and if you aren’t confident, starting halfway at Schwandegg is advised because from Mulenen it is 1700m of climbing, which is a bit too much for a beginner but fine for regular hikers. Definitely add tis one to your Swiss hiking itinerary!
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING MOUNT NIESEN ‘THE SWISS PYRAMID’
MORGENBERGHORN HIKE: BEST VIEW OF LAKE THUN
The Morgenberghorn Hike is a challenging trail with 1300m of incline but the panorama point has the best view in the region view on Lake Thun! This hike is quite close to Interlaken and as you will see, I actually walked all the way back to Interlaken, that’s just how near it is.
It’s a fun little trail up to a viewpoint that overlooks Lake Thun and even has views of ‘The Big Three’ when the clouds clear. Those are Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.
The total hike distance was 19km kilometers, which includes the summit of Morgenberghorn and then continuing on all the way to Wilderswil. That is the route I took but you can make it shorter in distance by returning to Aescherid or other nearby descents. You then add on 1.5 hours of transit back to Interlaken if you are staying there so timewise it is similar. It just depends if you want to walk back to Interlaken or take the train. If you are staying in Interlaken this is definitely a great day-hike option.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: MORGENBERGHORN HIKE: BEST VIEW OF LAKE THUN
AUGSTMATTHORN HIKE FROM HARDER KULM
Augstmatthorn is one of the most spectacular summits along the Hardergrat Ridge. It’s famous not only for the stunning views but for the Ibex colony that calls Augstmatthorn home. There are several ways to reach Augstmatthorn but the most popular route is to begin at Harder Kulm and walk along the ridge to the summit.
The view up at Augstmatthorn with the clouds beneath us was just incredible. We could see all the way down the Hardergrat ridge, had epic views of Brienzersee and across to the Swiss Alps. The Ibex colony was hanging around without too much care for us as hikers and it was pretty magical to watch these amazing creatures in such an epic location. This Swiss hiking trail is up there as one of the top hikes in Interlaken for me!
The hike distance from Harder Kulm to Augstmatthorn and then down to Habkern is 16-kilometers. From Habkern you then catch the bus back to your destination. If you plan to do an out and back from Harder Kulm, you should leave quite early in the day to make sure you catch the last train down from Harder Kulm to Interlaken.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: AUGSTMATTHORN HIKE FROM HARDER KULM
HIKING TO DOSSEN HUT VIA ROSENLAUI GLACIER
The Dossen Hut hike is an epic 19km T4 Difficulty route that starts off at Rosenlaui Glacier, leads you up to the mountain hut and down to Innertkirchen. This one requires a train and a bus from Interlaken but I made it all work as an Interlaken day-hike.
The hike begins by taking you through a canyon and a number of waterfalls before you begin the T4 route up the rocky slopes. Ladders, ropes, and pegs lead you up the scramble to the mountain hut where you have an epic view of the Rosenlaui Glacier. You then return through the canyon on the other side of the ridge before catching the train back to Interlaken.
The suggested duration is about 8 hours from Rosenlaui Hotel to Dossen Hut and down to Innertkirchen. However, as you will see in this blog post, I did the hike in 5 hours but also had to run an extra 5km from Innertkirchen to Meiringen Train Station. So it is possible in less than 5 hours but likely it will take 5-10 hours for most hikers. I absolutely loved this one and would put it up there as one of the most unique day-hikes in Switzerland with lots to offer throughout the trail.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING TO DOSSEN HUT VIA ROSENLAUI GLACIER
THE NIEDERHORN HIKE: A BEAUTIFUL RIDGE WALK
The Niederhorn is a popular summit with lots of action at the time, highlighted by incredible views of Lake Thun, which is very close to Interlaken. It’s possible to ride up or down with the cable car but exploring the Niederhorn ridge hike at the summit is a must!
At the summit, we hung out on the ridge that overlooks the western end of Lake Thun and was all by ourselves the entire time. We watched as paragliders took off (I watched that one from my drone, which was a little scary), scoped out Lake Thun, and looked at the small huts in the valley below.
The way we did the hike was to take a cable car to the summit and then hike along the ridge and then down to Beatenberg Station. This was 7 kilometers. It can be done in reverse or as an entire loop for 14kms. A lot of families who enjoy walking in Switzerland rather than strenuous hikes will take the cable car to the top, walk along the ridge where they won’t encounter too much incline and then catch the cable car down. This is a popular strategy for those hiking in Switzerland with kids.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE NIEDERHORN HIKE: A BEAUTIFUL RIDGE WALK
Murren is one of my favorite regions in Switzerland with some of the best balcony views in the world, which look down over Lauterbrunnen Valley with the ‘Big 3’ in the distance (Eiger, Jungfrau, Monch). I visited this region for a 5 days and barely had enough time to see all of the amazing hikes in Murren. You can check out my in-depth guide to hiking in Murren: 7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR MURREN
MURREN TO GIMMELWALD VIA FERRATA
The Via Ferrata from Murren to Gimmelwald is one of the most epic adventures in Switzerland. Traverse ladders and steps on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lauterbrunnen, but don’t worry you are strapped in with a harness!
For those who don’t know what a Via Ferrata is, it’s basically a series of ladders, steps, and rock climbing that leads you up a wall. You are wearing a harness and clip into a strong wire at the start of the Via Ferrata. From that point, you are always clipped in with at least one clip.
I wrote a post you might be interested that includes all of the Via Ferrates I did while in in Switzerland: 4 AWESOME VIA FERRATA ROUTES IN SWITZERLAND
This is one of the most exhilarating hiking experiences you can have while based in Interlaken. You will literally be hanging off the wall over a 500-meter drop down into Lauterbrunnen Valley. You up for it? You NEED to add atleast one Via Ferrata to your Swiss hiking itinerary as it is quite unique and something most countries don’t have.
I’ve added the instructions to get to the start of the Murren Via Ferrata below.
- From Interlaken, you will need to catch the train Lauterbrunnen
- Once in Lauterbrunnen take the Grutschalp cable car, which is right next to the train station. This will take you all the way up to Grutschalp station where you can switch onto the historic, Murren Railway.
- The Murren Railway is one of the most scenic rides in Switzerland with views of Eiger and the surrounding peaks along the journey.
- Once you arrive at the Murren Train Station turn left out of the station and walk for 10-minutes past Hotel Edelweiss and you will arrive at the sports chalet on your right and Intersport on your left for the hiring of the gear.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE MURREN TO GIMMELWALD VIA FERRATA
MURREN TO SCHILTHORN HIKE (PIZ GLORIA)
The hike from Murren to Schilthorn is challenging with 1600m of altitude climbed throughout the trail to the Piz Gloria summit where James Bond ‘007’ was filmed. At the summit, you can reward yourself after the long hike with a warm bowl of soup at the revolving restaurant, which lets you take in the 360-degree panoramic views as you enjoy your meal. From Interlaken, you will want to leave quite early to give yourself enough time to do the hike and get back for what is a very possible day-hike from Interlaken.
The trail from Murren to Rotstockhutte is relatively easy. Most of the way is a dirt path although there are some sections that are a mixture of rock and path. Most families will easily navigate their way to Rotstockhutte with only 300-400m of elevation.
Rotstockhutte to Schilthorn is very steep. You collect over 1000-meters of an incline in just a few kilometers, which means it is just straight up the mountain. Here you clamber over rocks and are constantly heading uphill. However, it is quite safe and there are no drop-offs. If you can manage the steep incline there isn’t much more to worry about.
It’s 12.9km Total distance from Murren to Schilthorn mountain summit. If you want to hike down you will need to add a few more kilometers but we caught the Schilthornbahn down to Murren, which was a nice way to return after a long day on the legs. When you consider the view at the end of this trail, it has to go up as one of the top day-hikes in Switzerland.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: MURREN TO SCHILTHORN HIKE
TANZBODELI & OBERSTEINBERG HIKE: THE BEST VIEW OF LAUTERBRUNNEN
Tanzbodeli is one of my favorite hikes in the Lauterbrunnen region because it provides the best 360 degrees of the entire mountainscape. On a clear day, it feels as though you are at the center of the Jungfrau region and you can see all of the glacier-laden peaks. On a gloomy, cloudy day, it is equally impressive as you are seemingly inside a cloud, on top of the world. We had bits of both on our journey to Tanzbodeli and Obersteinberg from Gimmelwald. If you are looking for a great view of the Swiss Alps, hike up to Tanzbodeli on a clear day as the plateau at the summit is known as one of the best places to hike in the Jungfrau region for views of the Swiss Alps.
Hike Distance: 13.9km Total distance from Gimmelwald to Tanzbodeli to Obersteinberg to Stechelberg. The total distance from Gimmelwald to Tanzbodeli was 6 steep kilometers in 2 hours.
Hike Duration: 4 hours of moving time but total time was 7 hours including an hour at the summit, an hour at the Obersteinberg Hotel, and other stops.
Hike Difficulty: The trail is not technically difficult although there are parts where you will clamber up rocks. No drop-offs are ever apparent on either side of the trail. Dirt path most of the way. Relatively simple hiking although the incline is quite steep and air does get thin. Physically challenging but relatively safe.
Hike Incline: Total elevation throughout the hike 1100-meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: TANZBODELI & OBERSTEINBERG HIKE: THE BEST VIEW OF LAUTERBRUNNEN
Grindelwald is everything that makes Switzerland so incredible. You have the quintessential chalets with flowes perfectly pruned on the balconies, the snowcapped mountains loom over the top of the town, the sound of cowbells can be heard around many corners and you have some amazing hikes. You have the famous Eiger Wall but also the tallest train station in Europe with Jungfraujoch but many beautiful alpine lakes and other peaks to explore. There’s lots of great overnight mountain hut hikes in this region and it’s just one of the best places to hike in Switzerland. You can check out my in-depth hiking guide for Grindelwald here: 12 EPIC HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD
BAREGG HUT HIKE WITH OVERNIGHT STAY & HIKE TO SCHRECKHORN HUT
Baregg Hut (Bareghutte) is perched on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the lower Grindelwald Glacier. It’s just a 3km walk from Pfingstegg and is a great place for an overnight stay and a basecamp to hiking to the Schreckhorn Hut (Schreckhornhutte). I caught the train from Interlaken to Grindelwald and began from there and returned the next day. My hostel let me leave my bags in their lockers for free.
The trail follows along the edge of the cliff, alongside the Lower Grindelwald Glacier… or at least where the glacier used to be. This hike shows you exactly how much the glacier has receded in the last century and a half. I arrived at the hut in the late afternoon and dropped my gear off in the dormitory, got changed, and went outside to enjoy the scenery. The dormitory-style rooms have nice bunk beds with comfortable mattresses and brilliant views even from the bunks themselves. Inside the mountain hut, you will find showers, bathrooms, a dining room, and lots of areas to hang out, play cards, and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.
The hike from Baregg Hut to Schreckhorn Hut is a bit more challenging than the route from Pfingstegg to Baregg Hut. It’s a 12km round-trip hike back to Baregg with over 1000m of incline. This is what trekking in Switzerland is all about!
Aside from the ladders and cables, you do have to climb 1000+ meters, which is a challenge in itself so definitely gear up for an adventure! The views of the glacier that are within touching distance throughout the trail make it all worth it!
The distance from Pfingstegg to Baregg Hut is just 2.75km. However, the next day the hike to Schreckhorn and return to Baregg Hut is 11.8 kilometers and then the 2.75km return to Pfingstegg. So all up for this expedition it is 17.3km.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: BAREGG HUT HIKE WITH OVERNIGHT STAY & HIKE TO SCHRECKHORN HUT
THE EIGER TRAIL HIKE: EIGERGLETSCHER TO ALPIGLEN
The Eiger Trail hike is one of the most popular routes in Switzerland because the path leads hikers directly under the world-famous Eiger North Face Wall, which is renowned as one of the toughest climbs in the world.
The trail starts off with 200m of incline, although it is spread over a couple of kilometers and is nothing too strenuous. At this point, you cannot see Eiger, but the views across the valley and the towering glacial mountains are incredible and there is something to gawk at in every direction. I was hiking in Switzerland in July when I did this hike and it was perfect!
It isn’t long before you will reach the Eiger viewing area. It’s about 2km into the trail and there will likely be a little gathering of people and possibly some local cows. Here you will look up towards Eiger Mountain and if you read the signs, you can even identify the path the climbers use to scale the North Face wall of Eiger.
The distance from Eigergletscher Train Station to Alpiglen along the Eiger Trail is 6.5km. The hike takes about 2.5 hours although if you went straight through without taking photos or stopping it would be well under two hours. It could be run in well under an hour.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE EIGER TRAIL HIKE: EIGERGLETSCHER TO ALPIGLEN
HIKING TO FAULHORN SUMMIT VIA FIRST & BACHALPSEE
Bachalpsee is one of the most stunning alpine lakes in Switzerland, surrounded by wildflowers and adorned with an incredible backdrop of glacial mountains. The beauty of the Bachalpsee Lake is that because there is a cable car to First, it just a one-hour trek from the First station to the lake, despite being located at 2,265m in altitude. In terms of having it all… this is up there as one of the most all-round impressive hikes near Interlaken! This is easily one of the best hikes in Switzerland and I say that because the lake is incredible and the mountain hut was one of my favorites.
Hike Distance: After the cable car to First the hike from First to Bachalpsee was 3km one way and you will need to hike back so 6km in total.
Hike Duration: 2-hours of moving time. With breaks, swim and photos, total time was 3 hours return.
Hike Difficulty: Very easy. Dirt trail the whole way. Some incline but nothing too major just 188m up and 188m down.
Hike Incline: 188m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING TO FAULHORN SUMMIT VIA FIRST & BACHALPSEE
THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA AT EIGER, GRINDELWALD
The Rotstock Via Ferrata is an epic climb right next to the famous North Face Wall of Eiger. Using a harness, stairs and metal stairs you can climb 400m of incline to the 360-degree panoramic viewpoint. This is one of the more adventours hiking trails in Switzerland but it’s actually not too long!
For those who don’t know what a Via Ferrata is, it’s basically a series of ladders, steps, and rock climbing that leads you up a wall. You are wearing a harness and clip into a strong wire at the start of the Via Ferrata. From that point, you are always clipped in with at least one clip.
The total hike distance was 5km from the start of the Eiger Trail and up to the summit and then back down to Eigergletscher Station.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE ROTSTOCK VIA FERRATA AT EIGER, GRINDELWALD
HIKING TO GLECKSTEIN HUT AND CHRINNENHORN PEAK
Gleckstein Hut (Glecksteinhutte) sits above Grindelwald with incredible views down into the valley, while dramatic glaciers loom behind in the mountains. It’s an incredible place to stay the night and enjoy the sunrise and sunset. A few hundred meters above the Gleckstein Hut is the Chrinnerhorn summit, a peak accessible without mountaineering experience but with epic views down towards Gleckstein Hut and over Grindelwald. Some of the best hut-to-hut hiking can be done near Grindelwald and a stop of at the Gleckstein Hut has to be on the itinerary!
The suggested duration is 3 hours and 50 minutes according to the sign but I went up in 1 hour and 34 minutes and came down the next day in 58 minutes. The path is a red and white trail rating but has a few exposed areas. There is cable wherever the trail is exposed. 1,100m of incline will challenge many but there were quite a few older hikers making it up the hut so a slow and steady approach will mean most are capable.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING TO GLECKSTEIN HUT AND CHRINNENHORN PEAK
HIKING TO LAKE BACHALPSEE FROM GRINDELWALD/FIRST
Bachalpsee is one of the most stunning alpine lakes in Switzerland, surrounded by wildflowers and adorned with an incredible backdrop of glacial mountains. The beauty of the Bachalpsee Lake is that because there is a cable car to First, it just a one-hour trek from the First station to the lake, despite being located at 2,265m in altitude.
Bachalpsee is one of the most spectacular lakes in Switzerland and probably one of the most incredible lakes you will find on a hike near Interlaken. It’s relatively easy to get there with the cable car or you can refer to an earlier hike on this list: Schynige Platte to First if you want to take the long adventurous route. When you are exploring around Bachalpsee, it will become clear why this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Switzerland.
After the cable car to First, the hike from First to Bachalpsee was 3km one way and you will need to hike back so 6km in total.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING TO LAKE BACHALPSEE FROM GRINDELWALD/FIRST
Zermatt is probably the most popular region in Switzerland and with good reason. In the summer it is one of the best places for hiking in Switzerland and in the winter it is a skiing mecca. I visited in the late summer and marveled at the might Matterhorn peak from a number of different trails. For those looking to delve into some more diffuclt trekking in Switzerland or even some climbing, Zermatt is the place. This is one of the most popular spot for climbers to go hiking in the Swiss Alps with more than 40 4000-meter peaks to summit in the region. In this guide we will stick to the more moderate hiking trails, but it’s still good to be in part of an atmosphere where that sort of adventuring is going on.
The car-less town of Zermatt has kept much of it’s original charm although it is very expensive and slightly overrun by eager tourists so it loses a few points there. Overall though, it was definitely worth the week I spent hiking some truly incredible trails. You can check out my in-depth hiking guide to Zermatt here: 6 AWESOME HIKES IN ZERMATT
HORNLIHUTTE HIKE ‘MATTERHORN BASE CAMP’ IN ZERMATT
The Hornlihutte (Hornli Hut) is the most common base camp for the Matterhorn climb. However, hiking to Hornlihutte is a great hike in its own right as I found out. I took the cable car to Schwarzsee and hiked up to Hornlihutte for sunset and then hiked all the way back down to Zermatt town in the dusk and then the dark for a total journey of 16 kilometers. At an altitude of 3,260 meters, the hut is a base camp for some and a summit for others.
Hike Distance: Schwarzsee to Hornlihutte is 4km with 715 meters of incline. Obviously you have to come back down to Schwarzsee so that is a minimum of 8km. However, if you go for sunset or miss the last 4:30 pm cable car, you will need to walk all the way back to Zermatt. My total hike distance with the walk back to Zermatt main street was 16.68km.
Hike Duration: Schwarzsee to Honlihutte should take about 1.5 hours maximum. My entire journey came out to 4 hours with the walk back to Zermatt main street.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Hornlihutte was medium. From Schwarzsee to the start of the ridge you are on a red and white marked trail that is quite simple, although even on that trail there are rocky sections and a few drop-offs although nothing dramatic. Once upon the ridge it is a blue and white alpine trail. This means stop walking if you aren’t up for a bit of a challenge. There was nothing extreme on the trail but you can expect drop-offs, a few ladders, and a little bit of clambering up rocks. Any time the rocks were hard to climb, there were metal pegs, ropes, or chains to guide you.
I didn’t find any moments on this trail to be very dangerous if you are calm with heights and use the helping chains and ropes provided. I hope that helps you decide if this hike is for you. Refer to my photos below for examples of the drop-offs and ladders.
Hike Incline: 967m total climb with over 1500m of decline (if you go back down to Zermatt main street)
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HORNLIHUTTE HIKE ‘MATTERHORN BASE CAMP’ IN ZERMATT
THE 5 LAKES HIKE IN ZERMATT (MATTERHORN VIEWS)
The 5 Lakes hike is one of the most popular walking trails in Zermatt because it is accessible to everyone and has minimal steep climbing. Along the route are five stunning lakes where you can create reflections of the Matterhorn at the right angle. It’s a great day out and relatively one of the best hikes in Switzerland for families.
From Zermatt town, you catch a train up the plateau (you do most of the incline in the train) and then complete the loop walk checking out each of the lakes on the trail. On a clear day, the Matterhorn reflects in several of the lakes, which is always a great crowd-pleaser. This is a much less intense hike than many due to the lower incline although there are still a few hills to contend with so don’t expect a complete walk in the park. It’s the perfect summer hike in Zermatt.
Hike Distance: The entire loop is 6km
Hike Duration: The hike should take about 3-hours if you stop at each lake and wander around a bit. Total walking time should be no more than 2 hours.
Hike Difficulty: Very low difficulty. Suitable for families.
Hike Incline: 241 meters
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE 5 LAKES HIKE IN ZERMATT (MATTERHORN VIEWS)
THE GORNERGRAT HIKE FROM RIFFELALP IN ZERMATT
The hike from Riffelalp to Gornergrat takes you along one of the most scenic routes in Zermatt. The Matterhorn is in your sights for most of the journey as you pass by several lakes with perfect reflections of the mighty Matterhorn. There are two highlights of this hike in Zermatt. The first is the reflections of the Matterhorn in the Riffelsee (lake). Many come all the way to Zermatt and spend big bucks on the train up here to see this very reflection. You can hike your way up if you prefer the challenge and it’s one of the best day-hikes in Zermatt. The second highlight is looking out over the incredible Gornergrat Glacier, which is mindblowing in size and you really get an idea of the evolution of the glacier over time. This is truly one of the top hikes in Switzerland.
When you reach the Gornergrat Hotel you can relax, enjoy lunch and take in the views of the epic Gorner Glacier (Gornergletscher), which is located directly below the hotel.
Hike Distance: The total distance from the Riffelalp train station to Gornergrat Hotel via Riffelsee is 6 kilometers. You can then catch the Gornergratbahn back down to Zermatt. My total loop was 20km from Riffelalp to Riffelsee to Gornergrat to Hohtalli to Zermatt.
Hike Duration: From Riffelalp to Gornergrat you are expecting it to take about 2 to 2.5 hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Riffelsee from Riffelalp was very low. There was some incline but the path was always very clear and quite flat. Suitable for children. From Riffelsee to Gornergrat the trail is quite steep but there are no sections with any real danger. From Gornergrat to Hohtalli (I’ll explain later in the blog), there was some exposure and rock scrambling.
Hike Incline: From Riffelalp to Hotel Gornergrat Kulm the incline is 900m. The altitude at Hotel Gornergrat Kulm is 3,100 meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE GORNERGRAT HIKE FROM RIFFELALP IN ZERMATT
THE MATTERHORN GLACIER TRAIL HIKE IN ZERMATT
The Matterhorn Glacier Trail hike in Zermatt is a great walking trail that winds underneath the Matterhorn. It is one of the best day-hikes in Zermatt and definitely one of the top places to see the Matterhorn from a very close distance without having to do any crazy incline or hiking. For an epic view of the Matterhorn with lots of lake reflection shots, this is my top recommendation for a hiking trail in Zermatt.
This hiking trail is one of the top picks for families and tourists who would like to experience the Matterhorn but aren’t looking for a huge adventure. With just 150m of the total incline, it’s one of the best easy hikes in Zermatt. By taking the cable car all the way up to the top, you actually do a point-to-point route instead of a loop so a lot of the trail is downhill and you finish at a different cable car station to get back to Zermatt town. It’s 500m downhill and 150m of uphill work so you can see it is less challenging the many other hikes in Zermatt.
Hike Distance: 6.4km from Trockener Steg to Schwarzsee
Hike Duration: 2-3 hours
Hike Difficulty: Very low. The total incline is 150m and decline 500m Sometimes rocky trail but never any danger or exposed trail.
Hike Incline: 150m total climb with 500m of decline.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE MATTERHORN GLACIER TRAIL HIKE IN ZERMATT
HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE IN ZERMATT – MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT
The Hohbalmen sunrise hike in Zermatt is an aggressive way to start your day with a 1,100m climb to a beautiful viewpoint with clear views of Matterhorn. It isn’t the most popular hike in Zermatt, which is because it is a very aggressive hike and you can get similar views with much less effort on other trails. However, this is a beautiful viewpoint for sunrise and you won’t share this trail with many others. I really loved the early wake-up and the adventure up to this viewpoint and it was one hell of a workout.
Hike Distance: The hike from Zermatt to Hohbalmen viewpoint and to return is 10km. However, there are lots of routes that continue from Hohbalmen that can make it a 20km loop. I just went up to the viewpoint and down and it was 10km.
Hike Duration: The hike took me 2 hours and 50 minutes although it would be more likely to take 3-5 hours round-trip for an average pace of hiking.
Hike Difficulty: The hike is not exposed and there are no dangers. The incline to the viewpoint is very aggressive with 1000m of incline within the first 4km, which is a lot to handle for many people…, especially before a coffee!
Hike Incline: Starting point at Zermatt Town: 1608m – Hohbalmen Viewpoint: 2,673m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE IN ZERMATT – MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT
RIFFELSEE LAKE HIKE IN ZERMATT WITH MATTERHORN REFLECTION
The Riffelsee (Riffel Lake) Hike may just be the best spot in Zermatt to find the perfect reflection photo of the mighty Matterhorn. A train takes you to Riffelalp before you hike around the mountain with constant views of the Matterhorn until you end up at Riffelsee and witness the amazing reflection.
The Riffelsee is amazing at sunset or sunrise but quite difficult to get to at those hours as the train is usually finished. Therefore it is quite a mission to hike in the dark before sunrise or after sunset. Adventurers love this challenge to see the alpenglow on the Matterhorn reflecting in the lake. There are usually some diehard photographers at the lake who have made the effort. Once you are up there at the lake it is one of the nicest walks in Zermatt in my opinion.
Hike Distance: The total distance from Riffelalp train station to Riffelsee via the Riffelseeweg is just 4.1km. You can then catch the Gornergratbahn back down to Zermatt. However, I suggest you continue hiking up to Gornergrat and keep exploring. My total loop was 20km from Riffelalp to Riffelsee to Gornergrat to Hohtalli to Zermatt.
Hike Duration: From Riffelalp to Riffelsee you are expecting it to take about 1.5 hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike difficulty for Riffelsee from Riffelalp was very low. There was some incline but the path was always very clear and quite flat. Suitable for children.
Hike Incline: From Riffelalp to Riffelsee the incline is just under 600m of climbing. Riffelsee is at 2,762 meters above sea level.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: RIFFELSEE LAKE HIKE IN ZERMATT WITH MATTERHORN REFLECTION
Chur was a bit of a surprise packet for me. No-one recommended me to visit Chur, to be honest, but I found it a great little base to explore a number of hikes in the region. While the best hiking trails seemed to be just outside of the town of Chur itself (but still nearby) the town was quite lovely and quiet and its central location made it easy to navigate the region by train on lots of day-hikes. I wouldn’t recommend Chur if you just had a short amount of time in Switzerland (and your main focus was hiking) but if you are doing a long hiking tour like myself or don’t mind getting off the beaten path and away from the hotspots you will find some gems near Chur so it is worth adding to your Switzerland hiking itinerary. You can view my in-depth hiking guide to Chur here: 7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR
RHINE GORGE RIVER HIKE & VIEWPOINT ‘SWISS GRAND CANYON’
The Rhine Gorge is often referred to as the ‘Swiss Grand Canyon’, and while that may be a bit of a stretch in terms of comparison, it is an impressive gorge and a great location for hiking. The strange rock formations, cliffs, and blue-tinted water make the Rhine River and the gorge one of the most unique attractions in Switzerland.
There are multiple hiking routes through the gorge but with lots of entry and exit points, as well as a train running through the gorge itself, you have lots of options for your adventure. The hikes can range from a few kilometers to a huge 21-kilometer journey. Many visitors prefer to take a train ride through the gorge or a great option for non-hikers is to enjoy the viewing platform overlooking the Rhine Gorge.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: RHINE GORGE RIVER HIKE & VIEWPOINT ‘SWISS GRAND CANYON’
PINUT VIA FERRATA (KLETTERSTEIG) IN FLIMS – EPIC CLIFFSIDE STAIRWAY
The Via Ferrata (Klettersteig) in Flims is an epic series of staircases and ladders on the edge of a cliff that winds up hundreds of meters above the valley. From the summit, you have incredible views of Crestasee, Caumasee and the entire region of Flims
The Pinut Via Ferrata is actually the oldest of it’s kind in all of Switzerland and was opened in 1907. For those who are nervous hearing about climbing a century-old ladder, fear not. This Via Ferrata is maintained by the tourism board and was fully renovated in 2007.
The first part of the Pinut Via Ferrata is, in my opinion, the most spectacular. There is a huge spire that you pass by on the boardwalks in between scaling the ladders up the cliffside. It is a really unique rock formation and by walking upon the cliffside you get a close-up inspection. The route then continues up the wall and actually leads you inside some caves and small tunnels, all the while connected to the strong cable, which keeps you safe throughout the hike. From within the tunnels and caves, you can see out the gaps all the way down to Flims and the lakes.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: PINUT VIA FERRATA (KLETTERSTEIG) IN FLIMS – EPIC CLIFFSIDE STAIRWAY
MUTTSEE HUT HIKE VIA LIMERENSEE LAKE
The hike to the Muttsee Hut (Muttseehutte) is one of the stranger journeys I’ve made in Switzerland but the end result is incredible. The adventure begins in Linthal where you need to walk 6.7km’s to the Tierfehd cable car and then 3-kilometers through a dark, wet tunnel before emerging at the Limerensee. The trail then winds up a very steep mountain until you reach some epic viewpoints of the Limerensee and, of course, the Muttsee Hut. I was hiking in Switzerland in September when I did this hike but you need to do it over the summer as it closes during the winter.
Hike Distance: The hike distance from the top of the Tierfehd Cable car through the tunnel and to the Muttsee Hut is 5.8 kilometers. However, if you are using public transport, you will need to walk from the Linthal train station to Tierfehd cable car station, which is an extra 6.7km and a total of 12.5 kilometers. As of 2019, there is no bus or transport service just one taxi available in the town. If you have a car you can park at the cable car station. The hike is a round-trip hike so you will need to make the entire 10.6 kilometers without the walk from Linthal or 25 kilometers including the journey to and from Linthal.
Hike Duration: As mentioned above, it depends on whether you have to make the journey from Linthal or you are starting at the Tierfehd cable car station. If you begin at Linthal, you can expect the entire journey to take about 4-5 hours. If you begin at Tierfehd the journey will take 2-3 hours.
Hike Difficulty: The hike is a red and white marked trail and quite simple. I did the hike in October on the last week of opening for Muttsee Hut and even with a bit of snow around it was quite simple. The areas of difficulty are a few narrow paths with exposure on one side but these narrow paths are still at least one meter wide and there are chains in these sections.
The incline is challenging from the end of the tunnel to the Muttsee Hut and is non-stop ascent although it is only 5-600m of incline so if you are prepared to take a few breaks you will make it eventually, no matter your physical ability.
Hike Incline: From Linthal the total incline is 900-1000m but from the Tierfehd cable car station the total hiking incline (once getting off the cable car at the start of the tunnel) is 600m.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: MUTTSEE HUT HIKE VIA LIMERENSEE LAKE
CRESTASEE AND CAUMASEE LAKE LOOP WALK
Crestasee and Caumasee are two stunning lakes near Chur. You can catch the public bus from Chur city center out to Crestasee and then do a circle of that lake before following the circuit path through the forest to reach Caumasee, which is the second lake.
Crestasee is a beautiful lake surrounded by a forest with a backdrop of mountain ridges. I visited in the fall so the trees were changing colors and create some stunning reflections on the steaming lake in the early morning. Caumasee, on the other hand, is a huge lake, where many tourists come to visit the cafe, take a walk and even have a swim in the summer.
The entire circuit takes about two hours with a stop at each lake but you can extend the route by hiking down to the Rhine Gorge viewpoint called ‘Il Spir’. We even hiked down into the gorge after visiting the two lakes and this made the entire day a 21km hike but if you just want a small adventure to the lakes it is just a few kilometers between the Crestasee and Caumasee.
LUNERSEE HIKE – LOVE HEART LAKE VIEWPOINT AT GAMSLUGGEN
While the Lunersee (lake) is actually in Austria, the viewing point we went to is right on the Swiss side of the border. Funnily enough, you could actually walk down to the lake from where we were and be crossing the border into Austria.
The hike to Lunersee Lake is quite an interesting adventure because although we were in Switzerland and hiked all the way to the viewpoint above the lake, it is actually in Austria. If you went down to walk around the Lunersee Lake, you would have crossed the border and entered Austria. The hike itself is long and full of adventure with some chains and exposure towards the end. The shape of the lake is a love-heart but only when viewed from certain angles such as the Gamsluggen viewpoint in Switzerland.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LUNERSEE HIKE – LOVE HEART LAKE VIEWPOINT AT GAMSLUGGEN
JORISEEN LAKE & JORIHORN SUMMIT HIKE IN DAVOS
This hike near Chur epic 12km loop trail that takes you to multiple lakes and then to the summit of Jorihorn where you have epic views of Joriseen and the Swiss Alps. The trail takes you past each of the lakes in the valley before summitting the Jorihorn for the sunset view of a lifetime.
Hike Distance: The entire loop was 12.75km but if you don’t summit Jorihorn the loop is just 11km.
Hike Duration: The whole loop including Jorihorn will take 5-6 hours including rest times but you could bargain for an extra hour if you take lunch down by the lakes. The incline sections and Jorihorn climb are not quick parts of the trail. Our actual moving time or hiking time was just over three hours but we made a lot of photo stops and had a 1-hour lunch and drone-stop.
Hike Difficulty: The incline is what makes this hike a little challenging although it is spread out in different sections so it isn’t one big block of climbing. There are no dangerous spots on this trail with high exposure although many spots do have a big drop on one side a chain is offered. Usual care needs to be taken. Children can do this hike but with many drop-offs, close supervision would be advised. The climb to Jorihorn is more difficult than the regular loop with exposure on both sides, steep slippery slopes and rock clambering required. Keep in mind, I did this hike in October so it would be much safer all around if there was no snow.
Hike Incline: 1002 meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: JORISEEN LAKE & JORIHORN SUMMIT HIKE IN DAVOS
HIKING TO THE SPITZMEILEN HUT AND SPITZMEILEN PEAK
Now this one isn’t right in Appenzell and took about two hours by train to reach there. We left our luggage at our hotel in Chur for one night and returned the next day after our overnight at the Spitzmeilen Hut. Why not hike to the Spitzmeilen Hut (Spitzmeilenhutte) for a beautiful overnight stay before climbing the Spitzmeilen Peak and the Wissmeilen Peak in the morning!? We did this hike after the first snowfall of the year in October and while a little dangerous, the views were magical from Spitzmeilen Peak!
Hike Distance: The hike from Tannenboden to Spitzmeilen Hut (after catch the cable car from Unterterzen) was 11.6 kilometers. The next day the hike from Spitzmeilen Hut to Spitzmeilen Peak to Wissmeilen Peak and then down to Engi was 14.17 kilometers. You could take a cable car up further and walk a shorter distance to Spitzmeilen Hut and Engi is not the shortest route down. Therefore there are many ways to make it shorter but this is definitely one of the most scenic routes totaling just over 25km over two days.
Hike Duration: We did the hike over two days. Day one from Tannenboden to Spitzmeilen Hut took just under 3 hours of moving time but 4.5 hours including stops, photos. Day two from Spitzmeilen Hut to Spitzmeilen Peak to Wissmeilen Peak to Engi took 3.5 hours of moving time but 6-7 hours in total including a lot of photos, hanging out at the summit and many stops along the way.
Hike Difficulty: The hike from Tannenboden to Spitzmeilen Hut is very low difficulty and is mostly through vast valleys once you are up the initial incline.
The climb to Spitzmeilen was quite difficult in the snow with some exposure and then, of course, the climb up Spitzmeilen summit is not easy. There are chains in place to help you climb but you will need to be in pretty good shape despite the chains. There is no technical rock climbing required but the worst-case scenario is losing grip of the chain or slipping and you will have a 20m drop onto rocks. Not being dramatic, just trying to prepare you for that last little climb. If you are comfortable climbing on a slight angle with a chain to help it shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve included photos below to help you decide if it is beyond your ability or worth attempting. It is advised to wear a helmet in case of falling rocks.
From Spitzmeilen to Wissmeilen and Wissmeilen Pass the trail is quite exposed and is not always a great path. Again, I did this trail in the snow so I imagine it is much easier in the summer as it is marked as a red and white trail, although for us it felt like an alpine route!
Hike Incline: Tannenboden to Spitzmeilen Hut: 854m Spitzmeilen Hut to Spitzmeilen to Wissmeilen to Engi: 453m incline (Decline: 1657m)
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: HIKING TO THE SPITZMEILEN HUT AND SPITZMEILEN PEAK
I’m actually a little dissapointed this region is so low in the blog post but they can’t all be at the top. It’s actually up there as one of my favoite regions in Switzerland. The town of Appenzell is quite small and nothing too much is going on although it is quite traditional and picturesque. All of the good hiking happens in the Alpstein region, where you can do some of the best hut-to-hut hikes in Switzerland on a multi-day tour or individual day hikes. I tried to reach every peak in this region and made a pretty good effort and even stayed overnight in the huts. For a full, in-depth guide to the hikers near Appenzell and in the Alpstein region you can click here: 9 AWESOME HIKES IN APPENZELL
SCHÄFLER RIDGE HIKE AND MOUNTAIN HUT
The Schäfler Hut (Schäflerhutte) is perched up above the incredible Schäfler Ridge, which is one of the most dramatic sections of the Alpstein region in Appenzellerland. If there is one hike you should do while in Appenzell it is this. You get so much along the way and then the finishing viewpoint is this incredible ridge, which will blow your mind.
The hike starts in Wasserauen and then takes you up the mountain to the world-famous Aescher Cliff Restaurant, before passing through Ebenalp and then up to Schäflerhutte and Schäfler Ridge. I advise staying overnight at the mountain hut so you can enjoy the sunset and the sunrise at this amazing spot. For me, this is one of the top hikes in Appenzell easily!
Hike Distance: The hike distance from Wasserauen to Schäfler Hut is 7.5km. However, I suggest walking and exploring along the Schäfler Ridge, which will add an extra kilometer or two onto your tally. Bargain for about 8.5 kilometers one-way.
Hike Duration: The total hiking time from Wasserauen to Schäfler Hut will be about three hours but depends a lot on your pace up 1200m of incline. I did the trail in just over 2 hours but was on quite a mission for pace. 3-4 hours will be enough time to reach the Schäfler Hut at a modest pace.
Hike Difficulty: The hike is a red and white marked trail and quite simple. The incline will get a lot of people but there are no dangerous drop-offs or moments of high exposure. It is a trail that is very possible for children and the family dog.
Hike Incline: From Wasserauen to Schäfler Hut the total incline is: 1,230m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: SCHÄFLER RIDGE HIKE AND MOUNTAIN HUT
SAXER LÜCKE HIKE FROM HOHER KASTEN
The Saxer Lücke hike from Hoher Kasten takes you along a stunning ridge looking over Samtisersee until you reach the epic Saxer Lücke Ridgeline! It can be started from either Hoher Kasten or Staubern. I did it from Hoher Kasten and it was a 17km hike for the whole route.
This hike near Appenzell really gives you a lot throughout the whole way as you peer down into the valley on your left throughout the trail until you reach the sharp cliffs of Saxer Lücke at the end of the trail before making your way down to Falensee to finish the hiking trail.
Hike Distance: The entire loop is 17km
Hike Duration: The hike should take about 5 hours depending on how long you stop at Staubern and Saxer Lücke
Hike Difficulty: The majority of the trail is flat or downhill. There aren’t many points at all with much exposure so I definitely would say this is possible for families, especially the fact that you can start at Staubern and cut some of the distance off. There was a trail the whole way, mostly dirt, gravel, and sometimes a little rocky.
Hike Incline: 450 meters
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: SAXER LÜCKE HIKE FROM HOHER KASTEN
ASCHER, EBENALP & SEEALPSEE HIKE FROM WASSERAUEN
Wasserauen is quite simply a remarkable hiking hub for some of the best peaks in Switzerland. The regional mountain map is overflowing with options for trails that all seemingly intertwine, allowing you to plan your own route depending on your desired time and difficulty. We decided to begin our hike in Wasserauen and climb up through the forest to Ascher Restaurant and Ebenalp peak before descending down through the forest below the restaurant to reach Seaalpsee, which is the stunning Alpine lake that sits in the valley below all of the formidable peaks above).
The hike up to Ascher Cliff Restaurant can also be done by a cable car but that wouldn’t be much of a hike. You can also link this hike with other points of interest in the Alpstein Mountain Range such as Schäfler Ridge
Hike Duration: 4 hours
Hike Difficulty: Some steep climbs. No technical climbing or rock climbing. The path the whole way. Moderate overall. Kids were on the trail.
Hike Incline: Wasserauen 876m to Ebenalp 1644m.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ASCHER, EBENALP & SEEALPSEE HIKE FROM WASSERAUEN
THREE LAKES HIKE IN THE ALPSTEIN REGION, APPENZELL
The Three Lakes Hike in Alpstein takes you on a scenic, but challenging walk to the Seealpsee, Fallensee, and Samtisersee. The route. The 17.3km trail has 1100+ meters of incline and while the trail is quite safe, the incline can be challenging and this is definitely no walk around the lake. Each of the three lakes is incredible in their own way and will blow you away.
Hike Distance: The entire route is 17.34 kilometers
Hike Duration: The hike should take around 6-8 hours in total depending on how long you spend at each lake.
Hike Difficulty: The incline is what makes this hike a little challenging although it is spread out in different sections so it isn’t one big block of climbing. There are no dangerous spots on this trail with high exposure although many spots do have a big drop on one side. Usual care needs to be taken. Children can do this hike but with many drop-offs, close supervision would be advised.
Hike Incline: 1150 meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THREE LAKES HIKE IN THE ALPSTEIN REGION
LISENGRAT: EPIC RIDGE HIKE BETWEEN SÄNTIS AND ALTMANN
The Lisengrat ridge hike is one of the most epic sections of trail I encountered on my adventures throughout Switzerland. Between Säntis peak and Altmann, this narrow ridge is known as the toughest part of the Alpstein Loop. I attempted the Lisengrat ridge while completing the entire Alpstein Loop, which is up there with my favorite hiking trails in Switzerland.
Hike Distance: This depends on where you enter and exit along the Alpstein Mountain Range but the journey from Santis to Altmann is only a few kilometers.
Hike Duration: The hike should take around 1-2 hours in total.
Hike Difficulty: This was a very technical section of the Alpstein Mountain Range and I would say that you need to be experienced and exercise a high degree of caution. It is also recommended to only do this route on a dry day.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LISENGRAT: EPIC RIDGE HIKE BETWEEN SÄNTIS AND ALTMANN
SEEALPSEE HIKE IN APPENZELL
Seealpsee is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Switzerland and can be found in the Alpstein region of Appenzell. The lake can be reached in under an hour from Wasserauen Train Station or with more strenuous hiking routes throughout Alpstein. This ease of accessibility and moderate incline make it one of the most popular attractions in the Alpstein and Appenzell regions.
- My first visit was in the summer when I hiked up to Ascher, Ebenalp and then down through the forest to Seealpsee. You can read that blog post here.
- The second visit was part of the ‘Alpstein 3 Lakes Hike’, which includes Samtisersee and Falensee. You can read that blog post here.
- The final visit was the final stop on my Alpstein Loop hike, which was a great way to finish my favorite overnight adventure in Switzerland.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: SEEALPSEE HIKE IN APPENZELL – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
MOUNT SÄNTIS HIKE IN ALPSTEIN, SWITZERLAND
The Mount Säntis hike is one in the Alpstein region is one of the most spectacular trails in Switzerland. It’s possible to trek to the top of Mount Säntis as part of the Alpstein loop or as a straight ascent. Once you reach the top you will find incredible viewing platforms and a large restaurant. There is also a cable car servicing Mount Säntis so you can choose to hike just one way and catch the cable-car either up or down. No matter how you reach the Säntis Peak, the view of the Alpstein region from the summit is magical.
There are quite a few different ways to reach Mount Säntis, so it is difficult to share the one defined route. What I will do is tell you your options and then share with you the route I took, which in general is the most epic and complete hike called the Alpstein Loop.
- The first option (which I did) is the Alpstein Loop. You begin at Wasserauen and hiked up to Ebenalp, onto Schäfler Hut and then up to Ohrli then finally onto Mount Säntis. From here you begin the descent down Lisengrat to Rotsteinpass, to Meglisalp, to Seebergsee, and finally back to Wasserauen station. Generally, you will spend at least one night at one of the mountain huts. Schäfler Hut is a good place to stay overnight or if you come in the other direction Rostein Hut is a good choice. This route is best done over 2-3 days.
- The second option is to hike up to Mount Säntis from either of those directions. Essentially, you will take half of the Alpstein Loop and then catch the cable car down. This makes the summit and descent possible in one day.
- The third option is to head up via Seebergsee and then Mesmer. I’ve never done this route so I cannot comment on its difficulty level but it is listed on the map below.
- The fourth option is to hike up from Meglisalp up to Säntis via Wagenlucke but again this is not an average route and I cannot comment on the difficulty. It is also listed on the map below.
- The fifth option is to hike up from Schwagalp. This is where the cable car is so many park their car here and then either hike up or down taking the cable car either up or down to make the hike more manageable.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: MOUNT SÄNTIS HIKE IN ALPSTEIN, SWITZERLAND
FALENSEE (FALEN LAKE) HIKE – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Falensee (Falen Lake) is an incredible alpine lake situated next to the Bollenwees Mountain Hut in the Alpstein region of Appenzell. It can be an adventure in itself or part of several hikes nearby. The Bollenwees Mountain Hut, which is right next to the Falensee, is a great overnight stay and base camp for sunset and sunrise missions in the surrounding lakes and peaks.
I visited the Falensee on two occasions. The first visit was part of the ‘Alpstein Three Lakes Hike‘ and the second occasion was at the end of the Hoher Kasten to Saxer Lucke Hike. However, you can also hike in from Brulisau just to stay overnight at Bollenwees and visit the Falensee. In this blog post, I will detail all of the options to visit the Falensee and what other hikes you could do when using Falensee and Bollenwees as a base camp.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: FALENSEE (FALEN LAKE) HIKE – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Engelberg is one of the most underrated regions in Switzerland. It’s home to the famous Mount Titlis but most visitors just take the cable car up Mount Titlis then move on with their short Switzerland vacation. However, there are a number of great hikes and mountain huts to explore in this region, which I actually visited twice. For an in-depth guide to hiking in Engleberg you can check this out: 5 AWESOME HIKES IN ENGELBERG
THE FOUR LAKES HIKE IN ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
The Four Lakes hike in Engelberg takes you on a high-altitude mountain trail as you visit four lakes on this stunning one-way hike. The trail can be walked in either direction with endpoints being Truebsee Lake and Melchsee Lake. There is also an optional (very epic) sunset viewpoint on this trail we visited by accident.
This beautiful hiking trail near Engelberg leads you through a valley of lakes, farmhouses, and thriving cow populations before finishing at one of the most spectacular viewpoints in Engelberg. We finished at the viewpoint with a great sunset while overlooking Titlis Mountain.
Hike Distance: 16.95km total distance from Melchsee to Truebsee (including a slight detour up towards Schafberg).
Hike Duration: 6 hours of elapsed time for us from Melchsee to Truebsee and 4 hours and 15 minutes of total moving time.
Hike Difficulty: The trail from Melchsee to Truebsee is relatively easy. There is nothing technical along the way and you almost always have a path, albeit a dirt trail. There is minimal rock scrambling but it does get steep if you add in the viewpoint close to Schafberggraus. Most of the way is a dirt path although there are some sections that are a mixture of rock and path. Most families will easily navigate their way to Truebsee from Melchsee despite the length of the journey.
Hike Incline: Total elevation was 1242m from Melchsee to Truebsee as we recorded. The hike starts in Melchsee at 1,891 meters of altitude and finishes at the Truebsee, which has an altitude of 1,764 meters.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE FOUR LAKES HIKE IN ENGELBERG
‘RUGGHUBELHUTTE’ MOUNTAIN HUT HIKE IN ENGELBERG
The hike to and from Rugghubelhutte is the adventure but dropping your bag down, enjoying a good meal in the mountains, and witnessing sunrise and sunset from the patio of the mountain hut is an experience I will never forget. I hiked up from Engelberg and was gifted an incredible, fiery red sunset and then after a great dinner and night of rest, the sunset produced another glowing display in the sky. Of all the hikes in Switzerland that I ventured out on, I think this was my best sunset.
The trail winds up along the hills from Engelberg before merging into the mountains where you will forge your way towards the Rugghubelhutte, which is the mountain hut where you can stay the night and eat dinner and breakfast. The next day you can return down the mountain or venture over the ridge to Bannalpsee or other peaks in the region.
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike depends on, which route you choose. I’ve listed the three most popular options below. Note that you will need a cable car to get to Ristis and Bannalpsee but not from Engelberg. I chose to hike up from Engelberg and then on the way down I went up to Rotgratli and continued on down to Bannalpsee, effectively seeing all the spots on the route (except Engelberger Rostock summit).
Engelberg to Rugghubelhutte: 10km
Ristis to Rughubelhutte: 6km
Bannalpsee to Rughubelhutte: 10km
Hike Duration: Again it depends on where you start from. My journey from Engelberg to Rugghubelhutte took 3 hours at a medium pace. The journey -through knee-deep snow- back to Bannalpsee took 3.5 hours but would be much, much quicker on a dry day.
Hike Difficulty: In the summer the hike difficulty is quite low. On the way up there are no exposed sections. The incline is quite a bit from Engelberg with 1200m of ascent to contend with but other than that a lot of the trail is actually a road so I would put this one at a low difficulty level.
Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike from Engelberg to Rugghubelhutte was 1,320m and elevation up to Rotgratli and down to Bannalpsee was 450m of climbing.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ‘RUGGHUBELHUTTE’ MOUNTAIN HUT HIKE IN ENGELBERG
WALENPFAD HIKE IN ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
The Walenpfad hike in Engelberg starts off with a bang by circling Lake Harzli before pushing you into a steep ascent to overlook the lake. The trail then has a beautiful downhill segment towards Engelberg before rounding to the corner, through the forest, as you make your way to the finish point, the Brunnihutte. It’s a great hike for a slow-paced adventure to take in multiple vistas in the Engelberg region and one of the most underrated hikes in Switzerland.
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 10.6km starting at the Bannalpsee Lake and finishing at the Brunnihutte. However, we hiked down from the Brunnihutte as we stayed for sunset so the cable cars had definitely finished by then. That meant our total hike from Bannalpsee to Brunnihutte to Engelberg Town was 16.3km.
Hike Duration: Our total elapsed time from Bannalpsee to Engelberg Town was 5 hours and 41 minutes but the total moving time was only 3 hours and 41 minutes. We take lots of photos and stop to take in the scenery often.
Hike Difficulty: The Walenpfad hike is one of the easier hikes we’ve done out here in Switzerland. There were some moments of incline but the trail itself was always quite safe and there was no scrambling or rock bouldering necessary. This is a good hike for anyone who can handle the distance. I could imagine families, young children and dogs managing this hike fine especially with the cable car down from Brunnihutte.
Hike Incline: Total elevation from Bannalpsee to Brunnihute was 834m. We also grabbed about a kilometer of decline as well, which is often just as hard!
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: WALENPFAD HIKE IN ENGELBERG
EPIC VIA FERRATA AT FÜRENALP IN ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND
Hiking in Switzerland is an incredible experience with some of the most amazing mountain views and summits in the world. However, you can take it to the next level and actually get off the hiking trail and climb directly up the mountain face on a ladder. It’s called Via Ferrata and you are clipped into a wire so it’s totally safe but also an adrenaline rush as you scale hundreds of meters up the rock face. The Via Ferrata in Fürenalp, Engelberg is known as one of the best routes in the country. It’s challenging but such an adventure!
Hike Distance: The total hike distance was 6.54 kilometers, which includes the 1km walk from the shop/ticket office to the start of the Via Ferrata. Not sure how accurate that was considering the ups and downs but that is how my Garmin watch recorded the day.
Hike Duration: Our total time from the shop to the wall to the summit was 4 hours and 12 minutes. Our total moving time was 2 hours and 17 minutes. We let a lot of other climbers pass us and went very slowly as always to take photos and just sit around and enjoy the views. It’s not the kind of activity to rush. It could be easily done from top to bottom in under two hours. You do need to catch the cable car down at the top or hike down, which adds a little extra time also.
Hike Difficulty: This route is rated K4 difficulty. I haven’t done too many Via Ferrata’s but I was told this is one of the more challenging ones out there. It was actually my first time ever and was a pretty simple concept of clicking in and out so don’t worry if you have little to no experience. We climbed 773 meters of an incline in total and a lot of it was ladders and metal pegs out of the wall. If you have any fears of heights don’t do this. If you aren’t in good shape… don’t do this. If you like adventure and want a challenge then go for it. There were several families doing it and a young boy so it’s nothing crazy but definitely not for everyone.
Hike Incline: The total incline for the day was 773m from the shop to Fürenalp. The hike starts in at the ticket-shop/Fürenalp cable car office and finished at an altitude of 1811m.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: EPIC VIA FERRATA AT FÜRENALP IN ENGELBERG
THE AA GORGE TRAIL – BEAUTIFUL FOREST WALK IN ENGELBERG
The Aa Gorge Trail (Aaschlucht) is a mystical trail that leads you through a dense forest. 10+ bridge crossings over the river make it an exciting journey! The trail begins in the heart of Engelberg, arching around the lake before descending into the forest. From there you follow the trail alongside the river, making a number of crossings back and forth until the trail emerges from the forest.
I loved the mossy tree trunks, the smell of the forest and the beautiful waterfalls and rockpools on this trail. Watch out for the tree tunnel as well!
Hike Distance: The total distance of the Aa Gorge Trail is 8.9 kilometers from Engelberg Train Station to Grafenort Train Station.
Hike Duration: The hike should take about two hours.
Hike Difficulty: Difficulty is very low. Suitable for children, families, and dogs. It can be a bit slippery but other than that there are no dangers. Some parts of the trail are exposed down to the river but the path is wide and relatively flat.
Hike Incline: The trail has 435 meters of incline if you begin at Grafenort and finish at Engelberg. In reverse, you only have 9 meters of incline if you start at Engelberg and it is mostly a downhill walk.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: THE AA GORGE TRAIL – BEAUTIFUL FOREST WALK IN ENGELBERG
Throughout my three months in Switzerland I moved around quite a bit and sometimes only did one hike in a specific region rather than base there for a couple of weeks. These hikes in the ‘Other’ section are actually some of the best hikes in Switzerland but they just don’t quite fit into one of the regions above although you can reach many from the regions listed earlier. For example I visited Trift Hut from Interlaken but it was a 2-hour transit so I prefer not to suggest that in the Interlaken section of this hiking guide. So don’t be put off by the ‘Other’ tag, some of these are up there with the best hikes in Switzerland like the Trift Hut and Oeschinensee Hike.
TRIFT HUT AND TRIFT SUSPENSION BRIDGE HIKE
The Trift Bridge and Trift Hut hike is an incredible 12km journey from Nessental Station or a shorter version of just 6km can be hiked from Triftbahn Station. Along the route you will pass the Trift Suspension Bridge that crosses the Triftsee, which was amazing! You can also visit Windegg Hut and of course enjoy the Trift Glacier views at the Trift Hut where it’s great to stay overnight.
*The Trift Hut and Trift Bridge may also be referred to as the Trifthutte and Triftbrucke.
Hike Distance: The hike from Nessental Station to Trift Hut is 12km, which is what I did. The return route would also be the same unless you detour to Windegg Hut for an extra couple of kilometers. Making it a 24km return trip approximately. However, if you prefer a shorter route, you can take the Triftbahn from Nessental Station to Triftbahn Station, which will cut off 500m of incline and 6km of hiking. You still get to see the Trift Suspension Bridge if you take the cable car.
Hike Duration: The suggested durations are:
- 7 hours from Nessental to Trift Hut
- 5 hours from Triftbahn Station to Trift Hut
- 3 hours from Trift Suspension Bridge to Trift Hut.
It took me 3 hours and 23 minutes from Nessental to Trift Hut going at a quick pace and breathing pretty hard up the hills.
Hike Difficulty: From Nessental all the way to the Trift Suspension Bridge, the path is classified as a red and white hiking trail. This means that it is quite ‘doable’ for most hikers although there is quite a bit of incline. The path is a blue and white alpine rating from Trift Bridge to Trift Hut and has ladders, interesting river crossings and a number of exposed areas. There are cables and ladders wherever the trail is exposed.
Hike Incline: Starting point at Nessental Station: 1,356m – Triftbahn Station: 2,663m – Trift Hut: 630m
GASTLOSEN HIKING TRAIL
A Sunday morning on the Gastlosen hiking trail was a quintessential Swiss experience. There was epic, panoramic mountain views, friendly hikers of all ages on the trail, ‘bonjour’ being thrown around every few steps, coffee and cake back at the cabin restaurant and it was all topped off by the owner playing the Fribourg anthem on the Alpine Horn. It was a morning not to be forgotten.
The regular way to hike at Gastlosen is to do the circular, panoramic route. However, we did the much more entertaining and challenging summit of Wandflue. With some serious incline over a short-period, some rock scrambling long the ridge and some decent drop-offs this was quite an exhilerating hike with vast views in all directions.
Hike Distance: From the parking lot to the summit and return the hike is almost 10 kilometers exactly.
Hike Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours of moving time.
Hike Difficulty: Trail begins on a wide, steep path. Then progresses to dirt and rocky path, which is still steep. Progresses again to rock, grass, gravel where some hands may be required but it is not extremely technical. 700m of the incline in 5km so it is quite steep.
Hike Incline: Total elevation throughout the hike 800m total incline on the out and back loop.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: GASTLOSEN HIKING TRAIL: THE DOLOMITES OF SWITZERLAND
ROCHERS DE NAYE HIKE FROM MONTREUX
Rochers de Naye hike takes you to a summit near above Montreux that has arguably the best view of Lake Geneva. Depending on the weather you may also be above the clouds, which is always an incredible experience. It is possible to hike up or take the train to the summit or if you are feeling adventurous there is even a Via Ferrata option.
Like many hikes in Switzerland, you can take the train up and down or just one-way and hike the other. We caught the train up and hiked down and had an amazing time winding down the mountain. At the summit there is a caldera like formation with a mountain hut on top at the train station. It’s often above the clouds and has great views over Lake Geneva so there is a lot to see from the summit.
Hike Distance: 13km one-way. Probably best to choose either to hike up or down otherwise prepare for 7+ hours of hiking.
Hike Duration: This depends on whether you hike up, down or both. It can range from 3-10 hours depending on what you choose. To hike down from Rochers de Naye should take no more than 3 hours.
Hike Difficulty: Steep but safe and not technical. Some walking through the forest on a dirt trail.
Hike Incline: Starting point at Montreux: 396m – Rochers de Naye: 2,042m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: ROCHERS DE NAYE HIKE FROM MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND
Stockhorn is a beautiful peak that overlooks two stunning alpine lakes, Oberstockensee and Hinterstockensee. At 2,190m the panorama viewpoint and restaurant atop the Stockhorn provides 360-degree views of the Erlenbach region and beyond. The adventure began with a cable car up to the Stockhorn Summit. You can hike up but it will be a long adventure to hike up and down so maybe choose to either go up or down on the cable car unless you are keen for a huge day.
Once at the summit we explored the peaks, which overlook several of the lakes in the area before descending down during sunset to enjoy the reflections at lake-level. It was a beautiful hike and pretty low-key. Most tourists just visit the viewpoint with the cable car so the hiking routes weren’t too busy!
Hike Distance: Depends on the route taken as there are many on offer. We clocked 11.2kms from the top down including our stop at Oberstockensee.
Hike Duration: 5 hours (Again this depends on whether you hike up, down or both. It can range from 3-10 hours depending on what you choose.
Hike Difficulty: Steep but safe and not technical. Some walking through the forest on a dirt trail and steep descent through farm fields.
Hike Incline: Starting point at Erlenbach: 700m – Stockhorn: 2,190
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: STOCKHORN & OBERSTOCKENSEE HIKE IN SWITZERLAND
Seebergsee is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by beautiful grass hills and a couple of steep viewpoint cliffs for adventurers. This lake can be reached almost all the way by car with a parking lot nearby although there are a few hiking options nearby. This would be a great location for a picnic, chill-out day with friends in the summer as you can actually swim and cool-off in the lake.
While we made our Seebergsee adventure into a pretty interesting little hike, many families just do the short trail to the lake. We hiked up onto the cliffs above the lake and chilled up there before trekking down to swim in the icy water.
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: SEEBERGSEE LAKE & EPIC VIEWPOINT HIKE IN SWITZERLAND
LE MOLESON TO TEYSACHAUX HIKE
Le Moleson to Teysachaux is a fun but challenging day-hike that involves a little bit of rock-scrambling to reach epic panoramic views of Gruyeres in the Fribourg region. The hike can be done in its entirety or by using a cable car to head up and down the majority of the incline, meaning you can enjoy the variable ups and downs of the ridge between Le Moleson and Teysachaux without having to work too hard!
Hike Distance: Without cable car from Le Moleson Summit to Teysachaux Summit and Return was 13km
Hike Duration: 3-hours of moving time. With breaks and photos, total time was 5 hours.
Hike Difficulty: Steep in parts. Parking lot to Moleson was very safe with no drop-offs or climbing. The final climb up to Teysachaux was technical with moderate rock-clambering required but no moments of exposure as it was climbing up a linear incline. Minimal chance of falling off of the cliff face. That section of trail was rocky but only lasted for 15-20 minutes.
Hike Incline: Total elevation throughout the hike 719m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: LE MOLESON TO TEYSACHAUX HIKING TRAIL IN SWITZERLAND
MOUNT PILATUS HIKE
Mount Pilatus is a 2073m summit, which you can reach with a 2-hour hike or by using the worlds steepest cogwheel train to the summit where you will find a hotel, restaurant and of course amazing views. From the summit, you can venture a little higher to Mount Tomlishorn, which is another stunning view and the highest peak in the region at 2,128 meters.
Mount Pilatus is one of the most popular hikes in Switzerland but for many, they take the cable car up or down… or both. We hiked up and down and it was a huge day, which you can read about in the link below. However, it was all worth it as we enjoyed the sunset at the summit, well after the last cable car and all the tourists were gone. It meant we had to hike down in the dark but that is often the way in Switzerland if you sacrifice the last cable car for the good sunset you will rarely regret it.
Hike Distance: Alpnachstad to Mount Pilatus: 8km – Alpnachstad to Tomlishorn: 1km – Tomlishorn to Kriens 13km
Hike Duration: Alpnachstad to Mount Pilatus 3.5 hours + 30 minutes to Tomlishorn + 3 hours to Kriens.
Hike Difficulty: Steep but safe and not technical. Moderately tough because of the incline but a path the whole way.
Hike Incline: Starting point at Alpnachstad: 464m – Mount Pilatus height: 2,073m – Mount Tomlishorn height: 2,128m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: MOUNT PILATUS HIKE IN SWITZERLAND
RIGI HOCHFLUE HIKE
Rigi Hochflue is an very challenging hike up a very steep incline that leads you to a panoramic viewpoint, marked by a cross looking out over Vierwaldstattersee, which is the huge Lake Lucerne. The hike is not for the faint-hearted with a vertical ladder climb on the way up and a rocky descent on the way down. While the hike is quite short, it will separate the amateurs from the fit hikers with some steep descent that really burns the legs. We did this hike in late June in the summer and it was scorching so it made it very tough!
From the summit you have amazing views in all directions but looking out over Lake Lucerne in the summer was just incredible. The giant cross at the top marks the peak of the hike before you need to descend back down the steep slopes. We finished with a dip in Lake Lucerne, which I can’t recommend enough as a post-hike activity.
Hike Duration: 5 hours
Hike Difficulty: Consistent steep climbs. Vertical ladder up rock-face (not hard but if you fall it won’t be pretty). The descent is with chains bolted in for hand-holds and steep rocks. Very steep decline. I would rate this with up there as very physically challenging and attack with caution
Hike Incline: Starting point at Goldau Arth: 510m – Rigi Hochflue height: 1698m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: RIGI HOCHFLUE HIKE NEAR BRUNNEN
OESCHINENSEE LAKE HIKE
Oeschinensee (Oeschinin Lake) is one of the premier alpine lake destinations in Switzerland. The azure blue water is surrounded by towering ridges, which are covered in snow in the winter and melt into waterfalls into the summer. It’s truly a magical amphitheater, which was almost too beautiful to believe. This was one of the first hikes in Switzerland for me and it was actually in my first week that I headed out on this trail.
The hike up to Oeschinensee is pretty but it’s when you actually reach the lake that the epic hiking views begin. You can trek all the way up to the top of the mountains behind the lake and look back down over the lake. Many tourists just take the cable car up and down but we enjoyed hiking around the lake and having lunch and coffee at one of the huts overlooking the entire region.
Hike Duration: 1 hour to Oeschinen Lake from Kandersteg (Additional for hiking around the lake)
Hike Distance: 4km
Hike Difficulty: Easy. Children on the trail. Short but steep. Hiking to the cabins is steeper but still safe.
Hike Incline: Starting point at Kandersteg: 1,174m – Oeschinensee height: 1,578m
Want more details and photos? View the full blog post here: OESCHINENSEE HIKE IN SWITZERLAND (ALPINE LAKE)
So after three months, those were 50 favorite hikes in Switzerland that made the list! In this section below, I’ll share some tips and resources with you that I think are hand to know before planning a Switzerland hiking tour. I really knew nothing before I entered Switzerland and had to learn everything from scratch so hopefully these help you be a bit more prepared.
GENERAL INFORMATION TO KNOW FOR ALL HIKES IN SWITZERLAND
- Red and white markers on the trail mean it is a Swiss walking trail and you won’t need any expertise in climbing. It doesn’t mean it’s easy though as it could be 20-kilometers of hiking trails with 2000m of consistent incline but it won’t be technical so you will still need to look into the hike first to know what you are up against. Blue and white markers will be painted when they are indicating a technical or alpine route. Sometimes they are still quite tame but again, this is a warning sign that it is not going to be a leisurely walk on a trail and you can expect some kind of rock scrambling or climbing to be involved.
- Swiss locals have years of experience on the trails so never compare yourself to a local and assume you can do it. I saw some local children on hikes that were far more experienced than me so you are better off comparing yourself to your previous efforts when deciding if you can take a certain route or make a certain climb.
- Always check when the last cable car or the last train comes down on that day otherwise you will have a dark run home. I missed many cable cars by choice so I could enjoy the late sunset in the summer but i’ve seen some poor people stuck and have tom hike 10km down and for some it can be a bit rattling.
- It’s courtesy on the trails to say hello as you pass people and you will find the Swiss are quite polite and this is just common behavior on the trail. Depending where you are in Switzerland it may be a French, German or even Italian-speaking region so make sure to know a basic hello in the local language so you can greet people on the trail.
- The yellow signs in Switzerland are your best friend and are pretty accurate. They are correct so often, that you stop questioning them and put full faith into their accuracy even during a storm or an important decision. Often they have time markers on them as well so you know how far til you reach a safe spot or a mountain hut.
- Many trails and summits in Switzerland have a webcam at the top. This isn’t to ruin the surprise of the view for yourself but to check the weather. Remember in some cases you may be at accommodation several thousand meters below the summit you are hiking up so there can be a big difference and you may want to check that there isn’t a huge layer of fog and maybe wait for a more appropriate day. I used the webcams as a guide but sometimes the weather can change quickly. Simply search webcam+name of hike and you will find if there is one. One site that has many of them is Bergfex, which I used regularly.
ESSENTIAL HIKING GEAR FOR SWITZERLAND
Hiking in Switzerland is very different in the summer to the winter, which will obviously make a huge impact on what type of clothes and gear are necessary. However, for this little section on essential gear, I will just point out a few key items that you should have for basic hiking in average conditions. You’ll need hiking boots or trail running shoes, beanies, hiking socks and more but I’ll write a more detailed post about that another time. This is just a quick round-up of three essentials but for a full run down of all the hiking gear and camera gear I use you can check out this post: MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR: WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK
- Hiking Poles: Not everyone will use them but the Swiss are religious about them unlike many Australians or Americans. You will learn to love them too as they take the strain off your knees and quads on both the uphill and the downhill. I used them to power up hills and help as a shock absorber on the way down. You can get them quite cheap but I found that there were two components to my hiking poles that I really liked. They were foldable down to a small size so I can put them in my backpack side pocket and they were the carbon fiber/lightweight style. They are a bit more expensive but I used them a lot and they became a necessity in the end. I’ll link you here to the carbon-fiber LEKI foldable hiking poles that I bought. I purchased them in Switzerland so they were very expensive but you can get them online much cheaper.
Hiking Poles: Leki Micro Vario Carbon Fiber Hiking Poles
- Down Jacket: The next key item to have is a down jacket. Even in the summer when it might be hot at lower altitude, once you reach the summit it gets that much colder. If it’s a sunrise or a sunset, I always had a lightweight but very warm down jacket with me. I chose one that I could stuff into my backpack when it was too hot but could always afford to carry it size-wise in case it was colder than I expected and I used it too many times to count. I’ll link you here to the Patagonia lightweight down-jacket that I bought online before heading to Switzerland.
Down-Jacket: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
- Hiking Gloves: They might seem like a small-item but your hands are the first things to go when it gets cold. They don’t have to be amazing gloves but you want something. I chose gloves that still let me operate my camera and phone but had a decent amount of warmth too. Once you start doing sub-zero hikes in Switzerland, you will want a more heavy-duty type of glove. I’ll link here to the gloves I used in Switzerland that let me still operate my camera.
Hiking Gloves: North Face E-tip Gloves
HOW DOES IT WORK HIKING TO MOUNTAIN HUTS IN SWITZERLAND
While you are hiking in Switzerland, it is inevitable you will come across some incredible mountain huts. I didn’t know much about the hut culture in Switzerland but once I was in on it, I loved it. Basically, the mountain huts are kind of like mountain cabin hotels. They usually have a restaurant and also a number of dormitory style rooms.
For average sized huts, it is common for a family to live up in the hut on the mountain during the summer and hiking season and visitors can book a night or more up at the hut. When they arive they have dinner and breakfast included in their nightly fee. I stayed overnight at five different huts (which were listed above) and most ranged from about $60 a night to $100 a night per person including breakfast and dinner.
The ‘huts’ are actually pretty fancy and have heating, nice restaurants, balcony, alcohol, games, books and much more. All you need to bring is a sleeping bag liner and your hiking gear and you are set. You can also shower at most of the huts (usually included in the price also). I always did a one-night stay so I would hike up, watch sunset and stay the night. I would then hike at sunrise and explore further on before hiking back down.
Many hikers like to do hut-to-hut mountain hiking, which means you map out several huts that are within hiking distance of each other and you do a multi-day trek where each night you will make it to a new mountain hut on the connecting trails throughout the Swiss Alps. It’s a great way to hike because you don’t need to carry all of your food, heavy camping gear or warmer clothes for the cold nights outside. You do all your eating at the hut restaurants and carry a few snacks with you and sleep in the comfort of the cabin dormitories. If you are in Switzerland in the summer, I can’t recommend it enough.
The other key point to remember is that most meals in Switzerland are $20-$40 at least so when you consider you are getting two meals included, the accommodation is really only $30-40 per night, which will be the cheapest accommodation you find in Switzerland but the best view!
If you are planning to stay at a lot of mountain huts you can buy a Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) membership, which also involves a rescue service if you get stuck on the mountain. This membership gives you a discount of usually 40-50% off the regular price of the hut price. It costs about $80 USD for the yearly membership so after three overnight stays you have made your money back and you are supporting the mountain hut owners of Switzerland, who you will see are all really nice families.
SAC HIKING SCALE -DIFFICULTY RATING GUIDE
Below you can see the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) difficulty rating scale I mentioned earlier in the article. Each level from T1 to T6 is explained in detail so you can understand what to expect when you see that terminology during your time in Switzerland.
|Well developed, signposted and marked. Somewhat exposed places very well secured.||Flat or slightly inclined. No danger of falling with appropriate behaviour.||No steady footing necessary. Can be walked in trainers. Navigation without a map possible.|
|Continuous route and passage marking.||Steep in parts. Danger of falling not excluded.||Some steady footing Trekking shoes recommended. Basic navigation skills.|
Challenging mountain hiking
|A footpath is usually available. Exposed places mostly secured with ropes or chains.||Partially exposed areas with danger of falling, gravel plains, pathless steep terrain.||Good steady footing Good trekking shoes. Average navigation skills. Basic Alpine experience.|
|Path not necessarily available. Sometimes need to use hands to keep going.||Mostly exposed. Tricky grass heaps, rocky slopes, simple firn fields and snow covered glacier passages.||Familiarity in exposed terrain. Stable trekking shoes. Terrain assessment and good navigation skills. Alpine experience.|
Challenging Alpine walking
|Often without a path. Individual, simple climbing sections.||Exposed. Challenging terrain, steep rocky slopes, snow covered glaciers and firn fields with danger of slipping.||Mountaineering boots. Secure terrain assessment and very good navigation skills. Good Alpine experience also in high Alpine terrain. Elementary knowledge in handling a pickaxe and rope.|
Difficult Alpine walking
|Mostly without a path and unmarked. Climbing sections up to II.||Often very exposed. Tricky rocky slopes, snow covered glaciers with increased danger of slipping.||Excellent navigation skills. Proven alpine experience and familiarity with alpine equipment.|
Well that’s it. Some have called it a book and it may as well be. I hope you have enjoyed my Switzerland Hiking Guide and apprecite the effort that has gone into the documentation of all of the featured hikes. I had an amazing time creating this guide and attempting all of the hikes in Switzerland look forward to returning to attempt some more technical hikes and some beginner climbing! Stay safe and adventure hard!