A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Hiking in Switzerland

If you’re looking for the best hiking in Switzerland, don’t miss these 7 great hikes!

Hiking In Switzerland

In a country almost covered in towering peaks and glistening glaciers it is no surprise that there are a few spectacular hikes tucked away in Switzerland.

In fact, the Swiss are so well organised that the country is almost covered with well-maintained hiking trails that you could walk from one end to another.

I have lived here for over 15 years and have done at least 100 of the best hikes in Switzerland in that time, so I want to share some of the most amazing scenery this country has to offer with you.

From the North to the South, no matter where you go, there is a hike that will blow your mind, or at the very least, fill your memory card with photos.

7 Trails For Hiking In Switzerland

Let’s start with some of the best trails for hiking in Switzerland.

1) The Eiger Trail

The Eiger Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in Switzerland. If you happen to be in the Interlaken/Grindelwald area, and most of you will probably make a stop here, then this is the hike for you.

While it is not a very challenging hike, the trail takes you along the foot of one of Europe’s most renowned mountains tucked in the Bernese Alps- the Eiger.

This peak is over nearly 4000m high and its north face is a menacing shear wall that climbers love to throw themselves up.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult climbs in the alps and has killed over 100 people over the years, often while people are watching from Grindelwald.

To start this hike you need to get up to Kleine Scheidegg by train (or a little further to the Eigergletscher stop) and then all you have to do is hike down!

Yes down. So, if you don’t enjoy the hard slog of hiking up mountains, this is a great option as the hike is a breeze. It’s a way to get great views while not expending a terrible amount of energy.

The Eiger Trail takes you along a meandering trail below the Eiger so that you can see exactly what the climbers have to face. They also start from this trail, so it really gives you a climber’s perspective.

You also get a sweeping view of the whole Grindelwald valley as you descend, which is another great reason to do this trail.

  • Hike Time: 2.5 hours
  • Distance: 6km
  • Altitude Gain/Loss: 90m / 800m
  • Starting Point: Eigergletscher station or Kleine Scheidegg
Eiger Trail Hiking In Switzerland
The Eiger Trail.

2) Hornliweg

Another popular stop on any tour of Switzerland is Zermatt. Nestled amongst some of the highest peaks in the country, who could pass up this charming and car-less village that is also home to a massive ski resort and some of the best scenery in the country.

On top of its faultless location, Zermatt is also home to one of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains, the Matterhorn.

This triangular wedge jutting into the sky is hard to miss. Many have claimed it was also the inspiration for the renowned Swiss Toblerone chocolate’s triangular shape, although the founder’s children have said it was not.

If you are in Zermatt, it makes sense to get up close and personal with the Matterhorn. Especially since it is also another peak that climbers scale en mass each year.

The easiest and most spectacular way to do that is to follow the trail to where the hike begins at the base of the mountain, where the mountaineers stay overnight at the Hornlihutte.

From here, you can get out your binoculars and mountaineer-spot for hours, watching them tackle the steep path to the top.

This is a great option as well because it only takes a few hours to complete leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the views.

  • Hike Time: approx 2 hours
  • Distance: 4.3km return
  • Altitude Gain: 743m
  • Starting Point: Schwarzsee Gondola Station

READ MORE: Looking for other places to go trekking in Europe? Check out the options for hiking in Norway.

Matterhorn Hiking In Switzerland
Views of the Matterhorn.

3) Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail

Switzerland hiking is at its best when it takes you to a remarkable view. And looking at a glacier is one of the most rewarding views at the end of a trial.

However, most glaciers in Switzerland are melting at an astonishing rate. But one is still impressively large and intact but often missed by visitors.

The Aletsch Glacier is in Wallis in the southern part of Switzerland, not too far from Zermatt. And hiking around here is a great option if you would like to get up close and personal with the glacier.

The glacier is a sight to behold, running over 23 km (14 mi) and some 900m (2950 ft) deep. It sweeps in a majestic curve from the back of Jungfraujoch (another place that might be on your agenda) slowly but surely down to the valley below.

The panorama trail runs along a part of its length at the lower end, giving you a stunning view all along the way.

There are also options to take the cable car to the top of Riederalp for magnificent views of the glacier as well.

  • Hike Time: approx 3.5 hours
  • Distance: 12.4km
  • Starting Point: Mosfluh
  • End Point: Fieschalp
Aletsch Glacier Hiking In Switzerland
The Aletsch Glacier.

4) Burgenstock Felsenweg

If you are spending any time in Lucerne, this is an easy, but worthwhile trail for hiking in Switzerland. Burgenstock is a small mountain jutting out of Lake Lucerne like a sleeping lion.

It makes a great day trip from Lucerne giving you stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountain, as well as a ride you won’t forget.

The highlights of this hiking trail come in two parts.

First, is the cliff walk along the side of the mountain. Carved out of the wall, from the trail it is straight down to the lake below if you fall. It is well protected, however, so that should not be on your agenda for the day.

Second, at the end of the hike, you come to the famous Hammerschwand glass elevator that runs from the lake to the hotel at the top. This is a great place to enjoy a few hours.

It is Europe’s highest outside elevator and was also took Sean Connery for a ride in James Bond – Her Majesty’s Secret Service. So, you get twice your money’s worth on this one.

You should also combine it with a boat ride from Lucerne, which is a great way to start and end the hike as this lake is absolutely beautiful.

  • Hike Time: approx 2 hours
  • Distance: 5km
  • Altitude Gain/Loss: 130/130m
  • Starting Point: Burgenstock

READ MORE: Want to try trekking somewhere unique? Have a look at this guide for hiking in Rom

Hammetschwand Lift Hiking In Switzerland
The Hammetschwand lift. By Leiju (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

5) Pizol Lake Hike

Not too far from Zurich, the 5 lake loop in Pizol showcases some of the most stunning blue alpine lakes in the northern part of the Swiss Alps. You can easily do this in a day from Zurich, or if you are anywhere east of there (towards Chur).

You will begin the day at the Pizol gondola, where you will take the cable car to the Pizol hut at the top. From there the trail starts, climbing to the first lake, then more ascents and descents await with 4 more lakes to enjoy on the way.

This is alpine hiking in Switzerland at its best, high above the tree line, with amazing views all around.

  • Hike Time: approx 4-5 hours
  • Altitude Gain/Loss: 750m/1100m
  • Starting Point: Pizolhutte / Gaffia
Pizol Lake Hiking In Switzerland
Pizol Lake.

6) Creux du Van

In the French part of Switzerland, not far from Neuchatel, there is a fantastic day hike you can do to see this breathtaking natural wonder. It’s a huge rock cirque (rock wall in a crescent shape) that has to be seen to be believed.

Although the hike is quite a climb at nearly 1000m, you can take your time along the way walking through the forest and stop for a long break at the top.

When I did this hike we sat for an hour and enjoyed our lunch at the top, taking in the full cirque view as it curved away from us. Quite a sight I can tell you.

  • Hike Time: approx 4.5 hours
  • Distance: 14km
  • Altitude Gain/Loss: 950/950m
  • Starting Point: Noiraige

READ MORE; Once you’re done with hiking in Switzerland, head to the Czech Republic! Here’s a guide to hiking in Bohemian Switzerland National Park.

Creux Du Van Hiking In Switzerland
Creux Du Van.

7) Uina Gorge

Switzerland hiking can be found in even the most off-beat places. The Uina Gorge is not a well-known hike if you are not a resident of Switzerland.

But for me, this is one of the most amazing hiking trails in Switzerland I have done in all my years here.

This gorge has also been made famous locally because the local head of McDonald’s Switzerland toppled to his death while trying to mountain bike here.

As a hike, it is definitely quite safe, but I would never try to ride my bike here. The drops are sheer and sometimes unprotected, but don’t let that stop you coming giving it a go.

The best way to enjoy this hike is to start in Scuol where the trail starts by hiking up to the Chamonna Lischana hut for an overnight experience at a Swiss mountain hut.

Then you continue along the way through the moon-like rocky terrain along the top of the plateau until you finally come to the Uina Gorge. This is the highlight.

The path is carved out of the wall of this narrow gorge all the way along. You wind your way down and along the gorge popping in and out of tunnels and paths carved in the wall itself.

Note: If you don’t have the time to do the whole 2 day hike, you can do a shorter alternative from Sur En and back up to the Uina Gorge only.

  • Hike Time: Day 1 – 4 hours, Day 2 – 6 hours
  • Altitude Gain/Loss: Day 1 – 1235m up, Day 2 – 435m up / 1800m down
  • Starting Point: Scuol
  • End Point: Sent, Sur En bus
Uina Gorge Hiking In Switzerland
The Uina Gorge.

So, there you have it. At least seven hikes in Switzerland that you are sure to enjoy! Switzerland is a place filled with jaw-dropping scenery and mountains galore, and now you have no excuse but to come to visit!

Have you ever been hiking in Switzerland? Let us know what your favourite hiking trails are in the comments below!

About the Author - Roger Timbrook

Roger is a mad traveler and lover of the outdoors. Originally from Australia, he is now living in Switzerland where he spends most of his time traveling around, hiking, mountain biking or flying his Mavic Pro drone. You can find him online here or on Twitter.

18 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Hiking in Switzerland”

  1. Hi Roger,
    I am planning our next year trip to Switzerland and would like to check with you if all the above hikes show one way or round trip distance and duration? For instance, we want to hike Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail that has distance listed as 12.4km and duration 3.5 hours. Does this info refer to one way or round trip?
    I appreciate your help.
    Alex

    Reply
  2. Hi Roger. Great hiking trip! Switzerland is one of travelers’ destination. Me too! I have never been there so a beginner’s guide to the best hiking in Switzerland is very helpful. You made me envious with post and inspire me to be there soon. Could you please suggest me some more about hiking items I need to have? Thank you in advance for your suggestion.

    Reply
    • Hi Alice, Our biggest advice is do not buy hiking shoes online. Best thing is to go into the store and try them on. You shoe needs to fit your foot perfect. Make sure you have enough water, let someone know where you are going and take layer just in case. Weather could change quickly and least you are prepared. Don’t forget the snacks, hat and sunscreen. Have a great time

      Reply
  3. Hi Roger, thank you for this post. We stayed in Engelberg for 4 nights last May and absolutely loved the hiking and cable cars. We are looking to do the same this year but would like to try a different area. What would be your top recommendation for a base to stay for 4 nights for varied hiking, scenery & access to restaurants? Many thanks, Alice

    Reply
  4. I am looking to hut to hut hike in Switzerland in July 2019. I would like a 5-6 night route. Thinking of the Interlaken area. Do you have any guidance to help with hut reservations, transportation and route suggestions? Appreciate your help

    Reply
  5. Some lovely trails right there! Some reasonable distances which I would love to try! The Matterhorn in Zermatt is a winner walk!

    Reply
  6. I Haven’t go to Switzerland yet, but I have heard a lot about it.Switzerland is the best place to enjoy and is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.I love Hiking and in Switzerland, it will be hell fun for sure.And this guide is the best for a beginner.

    Reply

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