Hiking in Switzerland rightfully makes many travelers’ bucket lists. Switzerland has plenty to draw in hikers and mountaineers with its high Alpine lakes, flowering meadows, and glacier-capped peaks.
Switzerland is one of the most visually stunning countries in Europe, and you might be wondering why that is? Picture this – lush meadows, creeks flowing with crystal clear glacial water, and native forests backed by snow-capped peaks – that’s Switzerland.
Getting around the backcountry of Switzerland is a lot easier than you think, with an endless amount of trails that lead to some pretty incredible summits. The list I have compiled is a mix of the best hikes in Switzerland, walking trails, and viewpoints to the top of incredible Swiss Peaks. You have some spectacular glacier hikes and everything in between.
The hardest thing you have to do is choose which hike in Switzerland to do! Here are the best mountains for hiking in Switzerland.
The Best Hikes in Switzerland
- Location: Jungfrau
- Difficulty: Easy
- Time: 2.5-hour train from Interlaken
One of the most expensive and popular mountains to summit in Switzerland is Jungfraujoch. You don’t even have to climb it as a tourist. It’s most well known for the wild train ride that departs from Kleine Scheidegg, possibly Switzerland’s prettiest train station, and takes tourists up to a futuristic building/research station with restaurants, chocolate, and shops.
There are many Swiss mountains to hike on, but Jungfraujoch provides the opportunity for the less able bodies to experience standing on a Swiss Alpine summit. It might not be the same feeling as if you were to hike or climb another peak like Monch and you’re pretty much guaranteed to run into people at the summit. It’s a spectacular view nonetheless and an incredible experience year-round as it operates in winter and summer.
Not far from Jungfraujoch is the Aletsch Glacier, which you should definitely check out. They open up a marked trail on the glacier in the summer months, but traversing the Glacier in the winter months is a grave affair that requires an experienced local guide with mountaineering experience.
- Location: Jungfrau Region
- Difficulty: Medium
- Length: 6 kilometers
The Jungfrau Region of Switzerland is figuratively heaven on earth! The Jungfrau region attracts some of the world’s best photographers, adventurers, mountaineers, and skiers. It also happens to be one of the most popular regions for visitors to Switzerland, and all of this is for a good reason, it’s stunning.
There are many trails to choose from in Jungfrau that range from easy to difficult, but one, in particular, stands out from the rest, Bachalpsee. This majestic two-hour hike overlooks a series of rugged, snowy peaks that stretch across a breathtaking alpine valley.
Bachalpsee is only a six-kilometer hike and is graded as easy if you start from the top of the Grindewald First Gondola. This gives you more time at the top of the mountain rather than on the trail. It’s great for those looking to get amazing views without having to leave for a hike at 03:00 in the morning.
A large lake often reflects the peaks that lay across the valley on its surface, making it the reason why so many photographers come from across the world to see it.
The most popular bases for exploring the Jungfrau region are Interlaken, Grindelwald, and Lauterbrunnen. If we had to take our pick go for the small town of Lauterbrunnen, it’s almost impossible to beat its charm in the summer months.
- Location: Uri Alps
- Difficulty: Easy
- Length: Various depending on which trail you embark on
Mount Titlis is one of those hiking trails in Switzerland where it’s recommended hiking in winter. Titlis being a 3,000-metre mountain means there are plenty of routes to take and all levels of difficulties, but in general, it’s one of the best hikes in Switzerland.
Hikes range from a short half-hour walk to a three-hour hike which during the winter months is even better with gorgeous backdrops of native pine covered from head to toe in the snow while cabins perch themselves amongst the vast ridges of Mount Titlis. The shorter is one of, the more easy hikes in Switzerland.
Mount Titlis is a classic peak in the Swiss Alps, and its views are some of the best in Switzerland, especially during summer and spring.
- Location: Lucerne
- Difficulty: Medium to Hard
- Distance: 4 to 5 kilometers
Mount Pilatus is an amazing hike in Switzerland and was the first Swiss mountain I had the pleasure of going up; in fact, it was the first-ever real and sizeable mountain I had set foot on!
Mount Pilatus is your classic Swiss peak with lush green meadows trailing into a rocky alpine zone overlooking the city of Lucerne.
Pilatus can be hiked, or if you want to take the easy way up, opt for cogwheel lift, which runs a 48-degree track, making it scarier going up than hiking it by foot!
- Location: Valais Region
- Difficulty: Hard
- Distance: 20.5 kilometers
Edelweiss isn’t a mountain but a famed flower that grows at high elevations in the mountains of Switzerland and the Alps. However, to see one of these flowers, you’ll need to strap on your hiking boots and get your hiking poles ready because it’s one of the most rewarding hikes in Switzerland.
Starting in the town of Zermatt, the loop trail weaves and winds through meadows, alpine zones, and stunning ridgelines that offer views of the Matterhorn. The hike also finishes in the town of Zermatt, where you can sit back after a long but rewarding day on the trail.
This hike is one of the longest on this best hikes in Switzerland list and can be completed in a day even though it takes 7.5 hours to complete and spans over 20.5 kilometers of ups and downs.
The highest point is a staggering 2751 meters meaning that you’re going to be in for some spectacular views no matter which way you look, so whatever you do, don’t forget to charge your camera batteries and wipe your SD cards. It’s a true photographer’s heaven!
- Location: Bernese Alps, Jungfrau
- Difficulty: Hard
- Distance: Varies
Monch is one of the biggest mountains in Switzerland, soaring to an impressive 4,107 meters above sea level. Monch is wonderful, nestled among other peaks that should have made this list, but I have put it on here for a reason.
Over the past decade, Monch has become a place for ice climbers, rock climbers, and avid mountaineers, all keen to enjoy themselves in the Swiss Alps.
There are around 5 different routes to the top of Monch, but all require some technical mountaineering skill.
Switzerland is known for having pretty awesome huts and cabins throughout the Alps, but the hut at Monch, particularly Monchsjoch Hut, is a house built on stilts (on the side of a cliff). There are many huts to bunker down in on Monch if you love that sort of thing.
One of Monch’s most breathtaking and older huts is The Guggi Hut, which, like Monchsjoch Hut, finds itself perched precariously on the edge of a cliff, a typical scene in the Swiss Alps.
Guggi Hut is a place that can be accessed with some mountaineering skills and is opened all year round.
Hiking long days on the trail, especially in the mountains, can be tiring, so always prepare extra food and water and carry warm gear for the nights.
If you think you won’t make it back to your start point in time, huts are a great option, and they are generally serviced with a fireplace, beds, and good company.
- Location: Bernese Alps
- Difficulty: Medium
- Distance: 8.5 kilometers
Schwarzhorn is the highest point above the town of Grindelwald and is another challenging hike but fairly straightforward. Schwarzhorn is guaranteed to give you exceptional 360-degree views if you get good weather at the top.
Schwarzhorn requires a decent level of fitness and proper mountaineering gear but don’t worry if you don’t have the right equipment, as you can hire gear along with a mountain guide in the town of Grindelwald.
Expect to be on the mountain for 6 to 7 hours, covering close to 8.5 kilometers. It is also best to check weather forecasts before going up Schwarzhorn, as it wouldn’t be great getting to the top to be blanketed in by cloud!
Santis to Altmann
- Location: Alpstein Region
- Difficulty: Medium
- Distance: 13.7 kilometers
Santis is a classic Swiss peak again with breathtaking views as you reach a decent 2,502 meters above sea level. Like most places in the Swiss Alps, you are surrounded by the most breathtaking views, not because of the altitude but the sheer scale and beauty that you get to witness!
Most mountains in Switzerland have multiple routes depending on difficulty, but most mountains are quite far away from one another or the route getting from one mountain to another is too long or too far.
With Mount Santis, you can hike from one mountain to another with relative ease on a trail called The Lisen Ridge Trail, which can be attempted with perfect weather i.e., no snow or ice. The main part of the hike is a narrow ridgeline that weaves and winds its way along one of the most precariously looking trails you will ever see, but it really isn’t as bad as it looks.
The trail has been modified with steel cables attached in some sections so you can grab on when things start getting a bit scary. Mount Santis to Altmann is seriously one of the most special hikes in the Alps. It requires a general level of fitness and can be challenging in sections.
The total length of the rail is 13.7 kilometers and takes around 4.5 hours but will take longer as the chances of you just stopping every 3 minutes from taking in the views is very likely. The Lisen Ridge Trail begins at St. Gallen, a few hours’ drive from Zurich.
Pizol’s 5 Lakes Classic
- Location: St. Gallen – Glarus Alps
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium
- Distance: Depends on how many lakes you decide to visit
Pizol is one of the most laid-back places to go hiking in Switzerland, with a nice variety of short walks all the way up hikes for the more avid adventurer. Pizol can be explored during the colder months and the warmer months. It doesn’t really matter what time you hike in Pizol. It’s always amazing with its stunning pristine lakes bordered by meadows, alpine flowers, and wildlife.
The best of the best in Pizol is the 5 Lakes Classic, classed as one of the best in the region and for many reasons. As an avid photographer, a reflection of a mountain on a still, crystal blue lake is just the best, and what is even better than a series of 5 different lakes with a huge variation of reflections!
The hike begins in Wangs and takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete a stunning hike. There is more down than up on this particular hike which is strange considering you are high in the mountains of Switzerland, which is a hiker’s dream!
All of the lakes are quite different, so don’t expect to see the same thing over and over as the landscape drops in and out of the alpine zone while each corner you take, a new mountain top will appear in the distance.
- Location: Valais Region – Eastern Bernese Alps
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium
- Distance: 14.5 kilometers
Hiking near the Aletsch Glacier is a different change of scenery despite still being in the mountains of Switzerland. Having lived and worked in New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier, I have always loved the natural wonders of a glacier. Still, there are some glaciers like the Aletsch, which are truly incredible natural wonders!
The Aletsch Glacier itself is a staggering 22 kilometers long. Like most glaciers today, it is retreating due to climate change, but don’t let that put you off walking alongside this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Swiss Glacier Trail is a moderately rated trek spanning a nice 14.5 kilometers and is expected to take 4.5 hours but as usual, take your time in the Swiss Alps. The scenery is majestic.
At the end of the trail lay Lake Marjelen, where the occasional chunk of ice lay bobbing in the melted glacial waters. It is recommended that the hike be done during the month of spring as flowers pop their petals out of the lush meadows that can be found higher along the edges of the Aletsch glacier.
- Location: Sorenberg
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium
- Distance: 21 kilometers
I am not sure how many times I have mentioned so and so hike in Switzerland being the best, but the Brienzergrat Ridge takes the win…by a long shot, and that’s why I have left it to last.
Officially called the Sorenberg Brienzergrat Loop takes you on a hair-raising hike along with one of the most stunning ridgelines in the world, complete with your typical Swiss meadows dotted with wildflowers of sorts to rundown farmhouses built amongst the mountains.
The Brienzergrat Loop is the equivalent of running a half marathon or 21 kilometers, reaching a maximum altitude of 2,293 meters which means you’ll get stunning elevated views basically from start to finish.
Location: Canton of Bern
Time: 3-6 hours
One of our favorite regions in Switzerland is around Kandersteg. We traveled here for the Mountain Coaster Oeschinensee Kandersteg, but truly fell in love with bright blue Lake Oeschinen.
Lake Oeschinen is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lakes in Switzerland and to get to it either requires a quick gondola ride, or a hike up. To hike up from Kandersteg will take you 3km (one way) and about 400 meters of climbing. However once you reach the lake you’ll be able to take a cool refresh in the water.
Once at Oeschinensee you can embark on a longer hike around the lake, have lunch or stay overnight at Oberbärgli Hütte, or just rent a boat and chill on the lake!
Time: All day
This Switzerland hike begins with a panoramic gondola ride up to the Alpine tower. The fantastic 360° panoramic view far beyond the Bernese Oberland and Central Swiss Alps never fails to
impress. From Planplatten via Balmeregghorn, the Horizon trail winds its way along the mountain to the Tannensee lake with views on all sides.
The trail eventually leads to Engstlenalp and Lake Engstlen where you can relax before taking the bus back to the town of Meiringen.
Guraletschsee, Ampervreilsee, and Selvasee
Time: 4-6 hours
This is far from most of these well known hikes in Switzerland. As the hike starts near the small village of Vals, in the canton of Grisons.
A popular hike starts at Zervreila, passes the three remote lakes Guraletschsee, Amperveilsee and Selvasee and descends via Selva Alp to Vals, provided astonishing views the entire way. This is a beautiful circuit that takes hikers past three lakes, and plenty of cows. It’s unlikely you’ll find many others on this hike as it’s rather remote.
If you are visiting the Vals famous Thermal Hot Springs, this is one of the best things to do after or before your soak.
Murren Via Ferrata
Location: Valais Region
Difficulty: Easy Via Ferrata
Time: 2-5 hours
Mürren – The car-free mountain village at Mt. Schilthorn above Lauterbrunnen. This quaint old mountain village at 1634m altitude offers a wide range of hikes and excursions to visitors seeking active enjoyment of a peaceful, natural environment.
One of our favorite things to do in the alps besides hiking is get out a via ferrata. A Via Ferrata is a climbing route that employs iron rods, steel cables, ladders, fixed to the rock. Climbers are fixed to the rock with a harness and a set of via ferrata clips. There are via ferratas all over the world, but they are most common in Europe where you can enjoy them by yourself without a guide (experience in the mountains and non fear of heights needed).
The Murren Via Ferrata is one of the most popular ones in the whole region. It’s a fairly easy Via Ferrata, except for one long section that will definitely test your fear of heights. The Via Ferrata Murren starts in Murren and ends in Gimmelwald, where you can hike or take the cable car back up to Murren or down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
After about 15 minutes on the Via Ferrata you’ll see what I’m referring to when I say it will test your fear of heights. For a large portion, you will be walking a sheer cliff face with only the iron rod steps beneath you.
The grand finale of this via ferrata is the long suspension bridge over a canyon that you’ll have to cross. We had an absolute blast on this via ferrata route, but it’s not for the faint of heart!
Tanzbödeli and Obersteinburg Hike
Time: 4-7 hours
This hike offers some of the most staggering 360 vistas of the surrounding Alps in the entire Lauterbrunnen region. On a clear day, it offers glacier-laden peaks as far as the eye can see, and even on a cloudy day you’ll feel totally immersed in the floating white fluffy fixtures.
Either way you’re in for a tremendous top-of-the-world sensation. In total, it’s just over 12 miles on this path that goes from Gimmelwald to Tanzbödeli to Obersteingburg to Stechelberg. It can be quite a steep ascension at parts so prepare accordingly, though there are plenty of beautiful stops to make along the way. It’s mostly a dirt path and the total elevation gain is about 3,600 feet.
Skyline Walk at Birg
Time: 1 hour
Halfway to Schilthorn in the Jungfrau Region, there’s an essential stop off at Birg that you don’t want to miss. It’s accessible via cable car and stands tall at over 1,600 feet high. It’s a super unique stop that has a bit more to offer than just breathtaking vistas, and it’s ideal for anyone seeking a little adrenaline rush, but is still an incredibly easy hike in Switzerland.
The Skyline Walk offers a viewpoint built on a clear floor, below which is a vertical drop of hundreds of feet down. Over 500 feet of walkway traverses along the cliffside, and is actually built right into it. It’s sometimes aptly referred to as the Thrill Walk, as it contains mesh metal tunnels to crawl through and netted tightropes to tenderly cross. It’s a jaw-dropping journey that you’ll never forget.
Eiger Trail Hike
Location: Jungfrau Region
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Eiger Trail Hike is one of the most popular routes to navigate in the country. It takes adventurers straight under the famous north face wall of Eiger Mountain, which is known for being one of the toughest climbs in the entire world.
On this path there is always something spectacular to take in in every direction as it’s totally surrounded by towering glacial mountains. After a little over a 2 km, you’ll come to the Eiger Mountain viewing area, and it’s a breathtaking sight to behold.
Starting from Eigergletscher and ending at Alpigen, the total trail is about 6 km long, and though there’s some incline it’s super manageable for most skill levels.
Location: Valais Region
Difficulty: Moderate depending on where you start from
Time: 4-6 hours
The Hörnli hut is where you’ll find many climbers and alpinists gearing up for their ascent of the Matterhorn. However you don’t have to be a climber to hike up to the Hörnli hut as anyone can visit and take in the views.
The hike up to the Hörnli hut is difficult and requires a bit of scrambling. There are points of exposure but nothing too serious. Anyone with a few hikes under their belt should be able to get to the hut. We loved this hike and getting up close to the Matterhorn without actually summiting it!
- Location: Valais Region
- Difficulty: Hard climb
- Time: 9 to 12 hours
The Matterhorn tops the list of best hikes in Switzerland to do and is definitely some of the best hiking in Europe. However, don’t be fooled by the views as it’s no walk in the park and is not a hike, but a climb. Though, I figured we would mention it as many people wonder about summitting The Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn is one of the most iconic peaks globally, just behind Mount Everest due to its pointed peak.
Even though the Matterhorn is classed as a serious peak to climb, it’s more than doable with a bit of training and knowledge of the mountains along with climbing experience. With the help of an experienced guide, many with a reasonable amount of fitness choose to summit the mountain. That being said, it is one of the deadliest mountains to summit as many climbers decide they can attempt The Matterhorn without a guide, and unless you know the mountains very well, we advise against this. It is estimated that over 500 alpinists have died on the Matterhorn, making it one of the deadliest peaks in the world
Climbing the Matterhorn takes 9 to 12 hours and is very steep in sections, with hands being required in most sections along with a helmet, attachment to a harness and rope, mountaineering boots (crampons) as well as an experienced guide.
The Matterhorn isn’t for the faint of heart, but the experience of being on such a majestic mountain and the views from the top are completely worth the effort!
What to Know Before Hiking in Switzerland?
Hiking in the mountains anywhere around the world can potentially be dangerous as mountains have their own climate and tend to change instantly.
One moment it can be sunny, birds chirping ,away and the ,next it can be snowing or a blanket of fog or cloud engulfs the mountain. Trekking in Switzerland is no exception at any time of the year.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Switzerland?
Hiking season in Switzerland officially begins in June in the Alps and lasts until September. This is also peak season, and finding accommodation in the most popular destinations such as Lucerne, Interlaken, and Zermatt can be difficult.
Autumn would be the next period when hiking in the Alps can be wonderful. It lasts from late September to November. The weather is generally cool and dry wonderful for hiking, but you should be prepared to possibly see some of the first signs of snow as it gets later in the season. Read all about the best time to visit Switzerland here.
How to Cope with the Altitude in the Swiss Alps?
The Swiss Alps are not the tallest mountains in the world, but that does not mean altitude sickness or altitude-related problems won’t exist. When hiking at altitude or anything over 3,500 meters, take some easier hikes when you first arrive and work your way up to larger hikes.
If you ascend too quickly, you don’t give your body enough time to acclimate to the change in atmospheric pressure and the amount of oxygen available, so take it easy, sit down every 30 minutes to an hour, and drink water to remain hydrated and enjoy the views!
Altitude sickness is hard to pick and can only be diagnosed properly by another person i.e. hiking partner. If you feel funny at any point, let them know immediately.
What to Wear Hiking in Switzerland?
The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in the wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike.
The clothing goal is to help regulate your body temperature, element protection, and moisture management. Temperature management is best done through a layering system. You can see ours if you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike.
Best Tips for Hiking in Switzerland
- You can never be too prepared for a hike. Leaving a note or telling someone where you are going is the best thing you can do, even if it is just with the front desk at the hotel.
- Make sure you are carrying a sufficient amount of water and food with you. In Switzerland, the water is some of the finest in the world, so if you need to, refill your bottle from a running creek or waterfall. Having cash is always helpful as there are plenty of mountain huts to buy lunch in Switzerland.
- Enjoy! Hiking long distances can be tough, but fun and rewarding to do it with a smile!
- Taking it all in has to be my best tip. I have hiked through some pretty special places on earth, and the worst thing you can do is have headphones plugged in with the music. Immerse yourself in your surroundings and sounds.
How to Travel Around Switzerland
Train travel doesn’t get any easier than in Switzerland. The country has an incredibly efficient rail network that can get you pretty much anywhere – even in the mountain towns. This is the only way we have ever traveled to Switzerland, and it’s very enjoyable. Eurail passes work well in Switzerland, as you can purchase a Swiss Rail Pass for extensive travel. Without these passes, you’ll want to book all your train travel in advance or you could pay a premium on the train. Make sure to be on time – punctuality is key in Switzerland!
Where the train can’t go – the bus can. Bus travel is also easy in Switzerland and your Swiss Travel Pass will work on them too!
If you want freedom and flexibility, you’ll need to get you’re own rental car in Switzerland. Some car rental comparison sites are:
Food in Switzerland
Have we mentioned that Switzerland is expensive? The easiest way to save money on food is by shopping at grocery stores and cooking your own meals. Co-Op and Migros are the main grocery stores, but be forewarned, prices even at the grocery store are more than you’re probably used to seeing. I can’t even count on my hand the amount of time PB&J served as my lunch and dinner in Switzerland while I was on a budget.
It will be hard to find in Switzerland. Your average no-frills lunchtime meal from a cafe will run you at least 15 CHF. If you’re in mountain huts while hiking in Switzerland, expect to spend 10 CHF on french fries (we paid 1 CHF more for each ketchup packet).
Fondue and Rosti are two of the main dishes you will find in Switzerland. Expect to pay at least 25+ CHF per person for a nice meal out.
As expensive as Switzerland is, I expected alcohol to cost more money. I was surprised that a glass of local red wine could be had for 5 CHF and a pint of beer ran about 6 CHF.
Other Things to do in Switzerland
There could not be a more fitting place to try fondue than in the Swiss Alps. Fondue in Switzerland is a rite of passage and one of the most traditional forms of dining in Switzerland (where it originated). It’s possible to find fondue in the summer season for tourists, but it’s actually a winter tradition and dish.
Get into adventure sports
The Swiss town of Interlaken is dubbed “the adventure capital of the world.” It’s a backpacker’s haven and jumping-off point for adventure. A few popular things to do here are canyoneering, rafting, hang gliding, paragliding, and more!
Play the Alphorn
The alphorn used to be a way of life in Switzerland and neighboring countries. People would use their powerful voices and alphorn to communicate between mountain villages and valleys. Several Swiss villages will let you try out the alphorn on tour. We did this in Nendaz when we visited! There are also annual festivals and people who play to keep the tradition alive.
Switzerland is world-famous for its skiing. Although a ski vacation here doesn’t come at a cheap price, the views are top-notch, and the ski/snowboarding is incredible. Some notable places to get your ski on is Zermatt, Verbier, Grindelwald, Davos-Klosters, Laax, and St. Moritz. They are all arguably some of the best ski destinations in the world!
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.