Hiking Switzerland

The Ultimate Guide to Hiking in Switzerland

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Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and beloved for its dramatic alpine scenery. From its snowy peaks to crystal-clear lakes, Switzerland’s landscapes are a nature lover’s paradise. Even better, well-groomed hiking trails across the country make Switzerland the ultimate trekking destination in Europe. 

Whether you’re looking for one-day hikes or grueling multi-day expeditions, Switzerland is the place to do it. Many trails traverse through scenic mountain ranges, and remote huts allow hikers to rest their legs at high altitudes. When hiking in Switzerland, you’ll trek through epic mountain passes, alpine meadows, glacial valleys, and witness jaw-dropping vistas. 

Preparing for a Switzerland hiking trip can be a daunting task considering all your options. That’s why we’ve listed many of our favorite Switzerland hiking destinations and provided lots of ideas for you. We also outlined the supplies you need, and when you should schedule your trekking adventure. After reviewing our Switzerland hiking guide, you’ll have a solid foundation to plan your Swiss vacation.

Best time to go hiking in Switzerland

Although it may depend on your exact destination, July to September is generally said the best time for hiking in Switzerland. The warm summer months provide more suitable conditions for alpine trekking and other areas of high elevation. However, always prepare yourself to face snowy conditions when hiking in Switzerland’s alpine terrain. Even during summer, the temperature will never get hot at high altitudes, and you should dress appropriately. 

If you’d rather hike at lower altitudes, you can widen the ideal months of your walking holiday in Switzerland. You can trek in the foothills from May to October, and many lakeside trails become accessible during spring. Some of the highest paths may still be closed in June and are covered by snow again by October. That’s why we recommend visiting at the height of summer to have the most hiking opportunities in Switzerland. 

What to bring when hiking in Switzerland

Walking holidays in Switzerland bring you to the heart of the Alps and some of Europe’s most challenging hikes. Before starting your journey, it’s imperative to have the critical supplies to counter any tricky situation. Here’s what we recommend you pack before hiking in Switzerland:

  • Backpack. A 20 to 30 liter backpack should be enough room to carry all your supplies. We recommend choosing one with a hip belt for extra support.
  • Water Bottle. Bring a 1-2 little bottle that can be filtered. 
  • Navigational Tools. Pack a paper map, compass, GPS, or combination of the three.
  • First Aid Kit. Stock your kit with bandages, anti-inflammatories, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes, medications, adhesive tape, and anything else specific to your needs.
  • Mobile Phone. Save important phone numbers even though you won’t have service in remote areas.
  • Multifunction Knife. A knife comes in handy for a variety of utility purposes to quickly get out of tricky situations. 
  • Whistle. For emergencies, you want to be able to warn people that you’re in danger. 
  • Headlamp. If you’re in the wilderness at night, never go without a light to observe your surroundings. 
  • Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, and anything you need to refresh between hikes.
  • Spare Food & Water. Only to be used for emergencies in case your hike takes longer than expected. 
  • Trekking Poles – Not everyone requires them but they help provide stability on difficult trails.
  • Camera. To capture breathtaking photos to show your loved ones. 
  • A little bag for your trash, always make sure you don’t leave anything out there in nature.

What to wear when hiking in Switzerland

Bringing the proper attire is equally important and inadequate clothing can turn a hiking expedition into a disaster. Weather in the Swiss Alps can be unpredictable, and you must prepare yourself for all conditions. Here’s a list of what you need to wear while hiking in Switzerland:

  • Several Thin Layers – Give yourself the ability to adjust your outfit based on the current weather conditions. For more information how to apply this well, check out our guide on the layer system.
  • Hiking Boots – Make sure you have ankle support on rugged trails and solid traction for unstable surfaces. 
  • Waterproof Jacket – Getting soaked at high altitudes is a recipe for becoming sick or risking hypothermia, so keep yourself dry by bringing a waterproof jacket, like the Fjällräven Keb Eco Shell jacket
  • Hiking Socks – Bring socks that keep your feet comfortable, warm, dry, and blister-free. Merino wool socks are a great option for any Switzerland hiking trip.
  • Zip-off Pants – Packs trousers that provide comfort, warmth, and freedom of movement while on the trail.
  • Gloves – Prevent your hands from being exposed to frigid temperatures.
  • Hat – Protect your head, face, ears, and neck from the intense sunlight at high altitudes.
  • Sunglasses – Shield your eyes from the sun’s rays. 

Hut to hut hiking in Switzerland

If you’re looking for a multi-day hiking expedition in Switzerland, hut to hut hiking is a fantastic option. Switzerland’s mountain huts are placed on remote trails to offer hikers simple accommodations to relax before continuing their journeys. You can reenergize without making a detour to the nearest town for supplies. There are over 150 Swiss mountain huts and shelters that give dozens of multi-day trekkers refuge on their alpine adventures. 

Starting at the San Bernardino Pass, the Sentiero Alpino Calanca is a life-changing route that courses through the remote alpine wilderness and passes several cozy mountain huts. The Tour des Muverans forms a 52 km loop that tackles mountain passes, alpine lakes, and lets you sleep above the treeline. You can also trek sections of the world-renowned Via Alpina and turn them into thrilling hut to hut hikes.  

Via Ferrata 

The Via Ferrata is such a thrilling hiking adventure that it deserved a section by itself. Commonly found within the Swiss Alps, the Via Ferrata is a climbing route that allows you to ascend ladders and staircases from a cliff face. You’ll wear a harness and always clip yourself into a wire for safety while dangling above the valley. Although other countries might have one Via Ferrata route, Switzerland has several routes that provide an exhilarating challenge. 

The Mürren to Gimmelwald Via Ferrata is one of the most daring hiking expeditions in Switzerland. High above the Lauterbrunnen Valley, you walk across tightropes, ascend steep ladders, and hike with your heads in the clouds. Crank up the adrenaline on the Via Ferrata Fürenalp and climb up the rugged mountain face. Surrounded by serrated peaks, you conquer the steep incline with hanging ladders, crosswalks, and metal rungs. 

Do you want a break from hiking? Check out our cycling guide for Switzerland.

9 best areas in Switzerland to go hiking

1. Appenzell

Situated in northeast Switzerland, the Appenzell District lets you escape the more crowded hiking hotspots. Since the Appenzell Alps are separated from the busier subranges, you’re more likely to hike amongst the locals. The authentic region enchants visitors with its classic Swiss chalets and reveals some of Switzerland’s most rugged mountain vistas. 

The Lisengrat ridge route spans the region’s two highest mountain peaks and offers stunning views of the Alpstein range. For lakeside vistas, tackle the 17 km Alpstein Three Lakes Hike that includes multiple challenging climbs. To fully capture Appenzell’s beauty, hike to the Saxer Lücke viewpoint and marvel at the geologic wonder. You can reach Saxer Lücke by trekking roughly 16 km or hitching a ride on the Staubern cable car to save time. 

2. Swiss National Park

Located in the Western Rhaetian Alps and on the Swiss-Italian border, Swiss National Park is a trekker’s utopia. The mountainous, high-altitude park has a 100 km network of hiking trails that includes 21 different routes. Much of the protected landscape lies at altitudes above 2,000 meters and hiking in this part of Switzerland lets you view stunning wildlife. Be aware that camping and picnics aren’t allowed on park grounds, and accommodations are limited to protect the endemic species. 

At 14 km, Val Trupchun is a popular hike suitable for most skill levels that’s fantastic for wildlife viewing and fall foliage. The Il Fuorn to Buffalora Hike cuts through a gorgeous valley and offers incredible vistas of Lake Livigno. For seasoned trekkers, the Lais da Macun Hike spans 22 km and features sapphire lakes, blooming wildflowers, and epic snow-capped peak views. 

3. Mürren

Overlooking the Lauterbrunnen Valley, Mürren is the quintessential Swiss mountain village and hiking destination. The magical, car-free town sits in the Bernese Oberland and faces serrated peaks in all directions. Surrounded by wildflowers and tranquil cascades, Mürren is a popular launching pad for some of Switzerland’s most thrilling hikes.  

We’ve already mentioned the spine-tingling Via Ferrata, but there are many more hiking adventures in this area. The Tanzbodeli Hike is a trekker’s favorite to capture jaw-dropping 360° views of the Bernese Alps. From the grassy plateau, you’ll have a front-row seat to famous peaks such as Jungfrau, Gletscherhorn, and Mittaghorn. And if you are a James Bond fanatic, the climb from Mürren to Schilthorn takes you to the ‘007’ filming location at Piz Gloria.  

4. Zermatt

Nestled in southern Switzerland’s Valais canton, Zermatt is one of the country’s most famous ski resorts. The mountain town faces the pyramid-shaped Matterhorn, one of Europe’s tallest and most iconic peaks. During the summer, Zermatt provides stunning options for hiking in Switzerland to embark on trails that showcase the Matterhorn’s surreal beauty. 

The Gornergrat Hike offers mind-blowing vistas of the Matterhorn, dozens of other 4,000-meter peaks, and the Gorner Glacier. Tackle Zermatt’s Five Lakes Trail to gaze at the Matterhorn’s image reflecting on the surface of crystalline lakes. For an energizing hike to start the day, the Hohbalmen Hike features a ruthless climb that rewards you with unbelievable sunrise views of the Matterhorn. 

5. Interlaken

Nestled between turquoise Lake Thun and Lake Brienz in the Bernese Oberland, Interlaken might be Switzerland’s best hiking base. There are dozens of nearby trails, and train rides give you access to other beautiful hiking areas. The resort town offers boat trips and funicular rides to the snow-capped peaks towering above the landscape. 

Only the most experienced hikers dare attempt the 24 km Hardergrat Hike that includes over 3,000 meters elevation gain. Combine a cable car ride and Mount Niesen Hike to stand amongst the clouds and rugged mountaintops. For a thrilling climb directly from Interlaken, the Morgenberghorn Hike transports you to a breathtaking viewpoint over Lake Thun. 

6. Bernese Oberland

Just south of the Swiss capital of Bern, the Bernese Oberland always ranks high among the best places to go hiking in Switzerland. Many of the country’s hiking gems are in this magical region, and we’ve already mentioned a few. The alpine wonderland showcases snow-capped peaks, enormous glaciers, peaceful meadows, radiant wildflowers, and sparkling lakes. Its beautiful landscape alone attracts trekkers from all over the globe on Switzerland hiking expeditions. 

We could go on forever listing hikes in the Bernese Oberland, but the Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is a must-see for its panoramic views of Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Near Mürren, the North Face Trail features classic Swiss scenery such as alpine meadows, snowy mountaintops, and authentic chalets. For a lengthier trek, the 16 km Schynige Platte to First via Faulhorn Hike offers unimaginable views of alpine lakes, exposed ridgelines, and snow-covered peaks. 

7. Grindelwald

The fairytale village of Grindelwald is a world-class ski resort in winter but transforms into a hiking paradise during summer. Nestled in the Bernese Alps, Grindelwald provides a convenient hiking base for the Jungfrau region. The hiking trails in and around Grindelwald bring you face to face with many of Switzerland’s famous 4,000-meter summits.  

Experience the thrills of mountain hut hiking by tackling the Baregg Hut to Schreckhorn Hut alpine trail. For heart-racing views of the Eiger North Face, the Eiger Trail is an alpine adventure from the Jungfrau Railway. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, First to the Bachsee showcases a lakeside setting backdropped by sharp mountaintops. 

8. Zurich

Zurich may be the most populated canton in Switzerland, but don’t think there aren’t exciting hiking trails. The mountains are only a quick ride away on public transport and let you connect with nature. Even if you’re staying in Switzerland’s urban center, you can still have an unforgettable Swiss walking holiday. 

For magnificent views of Lake Lucerne and Lake Zug, the Rigi Panoramic Trail is a popular recreational site in the Zurich region. The Crest Hike Stoos follows a ridge and gives you a bird’s eye view of several turquoise lakes. Just north of Zurich, Rheinfall-Rundweg brings you face to face with Rhine Falls, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. 

9. Geneva

Geneva is one of Switzerland’s busiest city destinations, but the surrounding area has many worthy hiking trails. The famous metropolis sits on Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. With the Alps and Jura Mountains at your fingertips, Geneva offers a stellar base for a Switzerland walking holiday. 

The nearby Lac de Taney Hike greets you with breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, turquoise lakes, and lush forests. Take the Jura Crest Trail for spectacular vistas of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains. The 23 km Tour du Lac de Joux explores the dense forests, sparkling lakes, and sandy beaches of the Joux Valley. 

We love to hear from you

Thanks for checking out our guide on hiking in Switzerland. Hopefully, this has provided the information you need to plan an exhilarating trekking adventure in Switzerland. If you have hiking experiences from Switzerland or other tips to recommend, please leave a comment below.

For more information about Switzerland, please visit this Switzerland Travel Page. Or check our travel tips for more general travel information! 

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