With snow-capped mountains, alpine meadows and picturesque river valleys – not to mention more than 65,000 kilometres of waymarked hiking trails linking them all together – hiking Switzerland should be at the top of every keen walker’s bucket list.
This diverse country offers countless hiking opportunities, from family-friendly one-day hikes to challenging multi-day adventures. There are National Parks to explore, trails that wind through the Swiss Alps or routes that clamber over glaciers, leisurely walks in Swiss wine country and starting points that can be reached by boat across postcard-perfect lakes.
Here are five of the best destinations to add to your Swiss bucket list if you’re thinking about hiking Switzerland:
The best hikes in Switzerland: The Swiss National Park
Searching for a hidden gem? The Swiss National Park is a hiking Switzerland paradise. Located in the Western Rhaetian Alps, the Swiss National Park has 80 kilometres of marked hiking trails, with a choice of 21 different routes to follow.
There’s the popular Munt la Schera trail, which is considered one of the most enjoyable one-day hikes in the National Park. Offering incredible views to the southeast of Stelvio National Park, it leads through an unusual steppe landscape.
Meanwhile, those looking for a family-friendly hike will love the interactive Champlönch-Il Fuorn route. A perfect introduction to the Swiss National Park for hikers of all ages, an added detour will allow children to spot the famous marmots at Alp Grimmels.
For more experienced hikers and those looking to extend their trip, the Swiss National Park offers an incredible multi-day circular hike through some of Switzerland’s least-visited landscapes. The 9-day Nationalpark-Panoramaweg winds through breathtaking Alpine scenes, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed St. Johann Zu Müstair Monastery and postcard-perfect Engadine villages.
Hiking in the Swiss Alps: Via Alpina
Looking for a longer trip? The 20-day Via Alpina route is known as one of Switzerland’s most beautiful hiking trails. Passing through no less than 14 of the country’s jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain passes, the Via Alpina starts in Gaflei, Vaduz, and ends in Montreux, on the spectacular shores of Lake Geneva. On the way, the hiking trail follows wide roads and dizzying mountain tracks, passing by Alpine villages and stylish resorts.
Want to experience Switzerland’s classic long-distance hiking route but only have a day or two to spare? Stage 11 runs for 20 kilometres from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen and can be completed in less than 7 hours. Highlights include seeing the impressive north face of the Eiger up close and the panorama down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Unique hiking experience: The Aletsch Glacier Trail
Hoping to book a hiking Switzerland trip with a difference? The Aletsch Glacier Trail in Valais could be the perfect route for you. The glacier is the biggest and most powerful in the Alps. As Europe’s largest ice flow, it comprises some 27 billion metric tonnes of ice.
The starting point is accessed from Bettmerhorn’s upper station. The route then crosses the Grosses Gufer Glacier and continues down to Rote Chumma and Märjelensee lake. Hikers need to be surefooted on the 14-kilometre trail. But don’t worry, there are plenty of places to stop, enjoy local food, and catch your breath along the way.
Hike through the cradle of Switzerland: Lake Lucerne, Ennetbüergen
Trying to find a Switzerland hiking route that has it all? Consider the Waldstätterweg and Swiss Path trails around Lake Lucerne over 9 or 10 days. This hike allows walkers to enjoy some of the country’s finest scenery, historical sites and charming towns in one place. Following along the shore of the lake, the route covers mountain trails and the historical Felsenweg at the Bürgenstock paths.
Otherwise, those with less time or hiking with children can choose from some of the shorter parts of the trail. One good example is Stage 3. This runs from Küssnacht through the nature reserves in Wagenmoos and to the historic city of Lucerne.
Hiking in Switzerland’s wine region: Lavaux, Lake Geneva
How does a stunning hiking trail combining a UNESCO World Heritage site, incredible scenery and some of the best wine in Switzerland sound? The route through the terraced vineyards of Lavaux should not be missed.
Spanning more than 800 hectares, Lavaux is the largest contiguous wine-growing region in Switzerland. The 11-kilometre hiking trail leads uphill and downhill through the vineyards from St-Saphorin to Lutry, with plenty of sights to enjoy along the way.
Start in medieval St-Saphorin, with its maze of narrow alleys and historic houses to explore. Look out for the town’s pretty church steeple. You may recognise it later on the labels of many of the region’s famous wines.
For hikers who end up lingering over a local vintage longer than planned, there’s another way to see the region. The Lavaux-Panoramic train takes you around the area, without the need for sturdy, sober legs.
Sustainable Switzerland: Hike the Swisstainable way
Hiking Switzerland is one of the best ways to experience this spectacularly diverse country. Not only does it give hikers the chance to get up close with nature, it also helps visitors to travel the Swisstainable way.
What exactly is Swisstainable travel? It’s all about encouraging those visiting Switzerland to travel in a deeper, connected and more aware way. Consider staying for longer in one region. Perhaps buying and consuming local products. Or authentically experiencing the local culture by getting to know the people who live there.
When it comes to hiking through Switzerland’s incredible National Parks and stunning landscapes, visitors are asked to help protect and preserve the country’s natural beauty for generations to come.
This article was produced in partnership with Switzerland Tourism. Find out more about how to travel Swisstainably by visiting myswitzerland.com
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