When it comes to breathtaking natural beauty, hiking in Switzerland is in a league of its own. The country is renowned for its pristine landscapes, majestic mountains and well-maintained hiking trails.
You might ask why is Switzerland a top vacation spot for hiking enthusiasts? Actually, the allure of hiking in Switzerland is captivated by over 65,000 kilometers of unsurpassed marked trails.
There are also tons of exhilarating high-altitude trails and tranquil mountainside hikes perfect for families. Switzerland offers a spectrum of hiking experiences tailored to every passion and proficiency level.
According to the US News best countries report, Switzerland remains the top country for the second consecutive year and number thirteen spot for Adventure Vacation in the world (at this point of writing).
If hiking is your thing, let your fingers do the walking and book a flight to any of these 6 best hikes in Switzerland for your next adventure vacation.
1. Grindelwald Hikes
When it comes to hiking in Switzerland, the picturesque village of Grindelwald stands out as a trailblazer. Known as the “Glacier Village,” Grindelwald is a gateway to some of the most breathtaking hikes in the Swiss Alps.
Explore the famous Eiger Trail, take in the panoramic views from First Cliff Walk, or venture to the stunning Bachalpsee Lake for a truly unforgettable experience.
Fans Of Via Ferrata (a type of hiking that uses fixed ropes and ladders to help you ascend a mountain) would like it here.
The Via Ferrata in Grindelwald is relatively easy and is a great way to experience the thrill of climbing without the risk of falling.
Easy: If a more leisurely pace suits your fancy, consider the Bachalpsee Trail. This serene route guides you through lush meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers, leading to the crystal-clear Bachalpsee Lake.
Thrilling: For the ultimate Swiss experience, don’t miss the First Cliff Walk. This thrilling suspension bridge offers heart-pounding views of Grindelwald and the surrounding landscape.
Challenging: For those seeking exhilarating challenges, the Eiger Trail is a must-try. It follows the north face of the legendary Eiger Mountain, providing a gripping experience that’s not for the faint-hearted.
2. Interlaken Hikes
Nestled between Lake Thun and River Aare, this picturesque park serves as the gateway to some of the most mesmerizing hikes in Switzerland.
The Interlaken region boasts a diverse range of trails, catering to both casual hikers and seasoned adventurers. One of the standout options is the Eiger Trail, a route that offers unparalleled views of the iconic Eiger North Face.
Easy: Männlichen Hike is an easy hike that takes you up to the Männlichen mountain, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. The hike is about 3 km long and has an elevation gain of about 300 meters.
Moderate: Harder Kulm Hike is a moderate hike that takes you up to the Harder Kulm viewpoint, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, including the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. The hike is about 4 km long and has an elevation gain of about 400 meters.
Challenging: First Hike is a challenging hike that takes you up to the First mountain station, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The hike is about 8 km long and has an elevation gain of about 1,000 meters.
3. Oeschinensee Hike
The Oeschinensee Hike is a popular hiking trail in the Swiss Alps, located in the Bernese Oberland above the village of Kandersteg and takes you to the stunning Oeschinen lake, which is nestled in a Kander valley.
It’s a pretty moderate hike, with an ascent of about 466 meters. The trail is well-maintained, easy to follow and takes about 3 hours to complete (8.5km loop).
The trail starts at the Kandersteg valley station and follows the Kander River upstream. After about an hour, you will reach the Oeschinen lake which is turquoise in color and surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
You can also hike around the lake, which is about 4 km long. The trail takes you through forests, meadows and scenic view of the Swiss Alps.
Along the way, you’ll discover charming wooden chalets, guesthouses and camping grounds. There are also restaurants in Kandersteg where you can enjoy a meal after your hike.
Elevation range: 2000 meters.
Difficulty: Moderate level ensures accessibility for a wide range of adventurers. Families can relish a day out in nature, while seasoned hikers can satisfy their thirst for exploration.
4. Lauterbrunnen Hikes
Having laid the groundwork, let’s take a hike to the enchanting region of Lauterbrunnen, a town in the Swiss Alps that is known for its stunning scenery and unique hiking trails.
Known as the “Valley of 72 Waterfalls”, it boasts a collection of awe-inspiring hiking routes that cater to all levels of hikers. You can opt for a leisurely stroll along the valley floor, where sounds of cascading waterfalls provides a constant companion.
Or, if you’re seeking a more challenging adventure, ascend to higher altitudes to witness breathtaking vistas of the Swiss Alps. There are many great hikes to choose from in Lauterbrunnen, ranging from easy to difficult.
Unique Hike: Trummelbach Falls Hike is a captivating hike that takes you inside the Trummelbach Falls, a series of waterfalls that flow through a series of tunnels and caverns. The hike is about 1.5 km long and has an elevation gain of about 100 meters.
Iconic: Panoramaweg is a moderate hike that takes you past some of the most iconic peaks in the Swiss Alps, including the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. The hike is about 4.5 km long and has an elevation gain of about 500 meters.
Challenging: Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg Hike is a tough 8 km hike that takes you past the Eiger North Face and to the top of the Kleine Scheidegg, a mountain pass with stunning views of the surrounding peaks (elevation 1,000 meters).
5. Zurich Hiking
Even in the bustling city of Zurich, hiking trails are not far away. Escape the urban buzz and venture into the nearby Zurich Oberland region, where a variety of trails await.
From leisurely walks along Lake Zurich to more challenging hikes in the picturesque Swiss countryside, you can find a trail that suits your preferences just a short distance from the city.
Head to the Uetliberg Mountain for panoramic views of the city and Lake Zurich, or explore the picturesque landscapes of the Zurich Oberland region, where charming villages and rolling hills await.
Short Hike: Bachtel Kulm hike (3km) is an exploration of scenic trails and panoramic viewpoints. If you choose to drive, you can conveniently park near Bachtel and embark on the short loop.
However, if you opt for public transportation, be prepared for a more extended hike since there is no bus stop in close proximity. (elevation 250 meters)
Moderate: Mülitobel Sihlweg trail takes you through serene Swiss woodlands, across farmlands and tracing the path of the picturesque Sihl River. (ascend 150meters/descent 460meters)
This tranquil 13.5km trail offers a refreshing 4 hours escape and also offer short versions for family hikes (3km and 6.3km)
Challenging: Speerstock Peak Hike is an exhilarating 7.8km Swiss alpine hiking adventure. This 4 hours challenging hike rewards you with awe-inspiring mountain vistas, pristine alpine lakes, and a sense of accomplishment that’s second to none. (elevation 720 meters)
6. Zermatt Hiking
Switzerland offers an abundance of hiking options that will leave you in awe. In the region around Zermatt you can enjoy a hike to the iconic Matterhorn mountain.
Zermatt is not only known for its iconic Matterhorn, but also for its incredible hiking opportunities. Explore the region’s network of trails that take you through alpine meadows, past glacial lakes, and up to panoramic viewpoints.
Don’t miss the Gornergrat Ridge hike for sweeping vistas of the surrounding peaks or the Five Lakes Trail for a scenic adventure.
Moderate: The Matterhorn Glacier Trail commences at Trockener Steg and leads through a rocky terrain beneath the Furg glacier and Matterhorn, ending at the Schwarzsee cable car station. From there, you can conveniently descend back to Zermatt. (map)
Family: The Gornergrat Riffelsee 3km trail treats you or your family hike with a pretty picturesque journey. This 1.5 hours hike unfolds stunning vistas, including the iconic Riffelsee lake, offering a delightful hiking experience in the heart of Switzerland.
This trail offers the flexibility to tailor the distance according to your family’s energy and skill level, making it an ideal choice for hikers of all abilities.(ascend 10 meters/descent 590 meters)
How to do it
The cost of hiking in Switzerland varies depending on the trail you choose. The cost of transportation, food, and accommodation will also need to be factored in.
Visitors may also take guided hikes, which are typically conducted in German, although individual guides in other languages can be arranged.
Picnics and camping are prohibited (only campground available), and visitors are not permitted to spend the night on the park grounds.
However, you can generally expect to spend around $110-180 USD per day on hiking in Switzerland.
Spring, starting in March, provides a pleasant walking experience, although the paths may still be muddy. Keep in mind that spring is considered the low season in Switzerland, so extra preparation is needed to ensure availability of hotels and train schedules.
The best thing is, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of snow-capped mountains, stunning scenery and lush highlands.
Summer beginning in June is the most popular season as the paths are usually free of snow. This is an ideal time to explore the park and enjoy the pleasant weather.
As October approaches, the weather starts to warm up, but the days can become colder, especially in November which is also considered the low season.
Best Day Hikes in Switzerland
If you’re short on time but still want to experience the beauty of Switzerland’s hiking trails, don’t worry. The country offers a range of day hikes that pack a punch in terms of scenery and adventure.
Begin your journey by boarding a train to Lucerne. Just outside the station, you’ll discover the pier, where you can board a boat bound for Vitznau.
From there, hop onto a cogwheel mountain train that will take you to the summit of Rigi Kulm, offering breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Lake Lucerne region.
If you prefer, you can embark on a scenic hike partway down the mountain. Finally, return to the lakeside via cable car and catch a boat back to Lucerne.
Actually, the Saver Day Pass offers a full day of limitless travel across Switzerland’s public transportation system, encompassing trains, trams, buses and boats.
Budget-conscious hikers can get substantial savings with this pass, particularly when organizing Swiss day trips that are entirely covered by the pass.
Plan Your Hikes In Switzerland
Before you embark on your hiking adventure in Switzerland, it’s essential to plan and prepare accordingly. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the trail maps and regulations.
You might also like to try its Swiss standard transportations. Also a good idea to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak hiking seasons.
Plan Ahead: Research the hiking trails you’re interested in and make a plan based on your fitness level and preferences. Take into consideration the duration, difficulty, and elevation gain of each trail to ensure an enjoyable experience.
Check the Weather: Before heading out, check Meteo weather forecast for the region you’ll be hiking in. Switzerland’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared for changing conditions.
Stay Hydrated and Fuel Up: Hiking requires energy, so make sure to carry an adequate supply of water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated and fueled throughout the hike. Consider packing energy bars, nuts, fruits, and other lightweight snacks that provide sustained energy.
Follow Trail Etiquette: When hiking in Switzerland, it’s important to respect the environment and other hikers. Stay on designated trails, follow any posted rules or regulations, and avoid littering.
Safety First: Prioritize your safety while hiking by being prepared and informed. Let someone know about your hiking plans, carry a map or GPS device, and be aware of any potential hazards or risks. If you’re hiking alone, exercise caution and consider joining a guided hike or hiking with a group.
Observing Wildlife: A wildlife trip is especially worthwhile, since this is one of the top locations to view a variety of Swiss animal species, including those that are seldom seen anywhere else. Here are some of them:
- Red deer
- Snow vole is a kind of vole that lives in
- Hare of the mountains
The reintroduced Bearded Vulture is one of the most difficult to observe elsewhere, although it is often seen in the National Park.
Respect Nature: Switzerland’s natural beauty is a treasure that should be preserved. As you hike, avoid disturbing plants and animals, stay on marked trails, and leave no trace of your visit.
By practicing responsible hiking, you contribute to the conservation efforts and ensure the preservation of these natural landscapes for future generations.
With its breathtaking landscapes, well-marked trails, and a commitment to preserving its natural heritage, Switzerland is a hiker’s dream come true.