Lago di Saoseo, Engadin, Switzerland in the Fall

Ever since I moved to Europe a few years ago, I’ve made it a tradition to drive through various parts of Europe during the fall and experience all the wonderful things this season has to offer. Colorful fall leaves, fewer crowds, cheaper accommodation, and cooler temperatures – these are just a few reasons why fall is my favorite season to plan a roadtrip through Europe.

This fall, Volvo Switzerland let me take one of their new Volvo XC40’s on a roadtrip to wherever I wanted for two weeks. That’s why I decided to stick with my tradition and drive through Europe, rediscovering locations I’ve been to in the past and stumbling upon new beautiful locations along the way.

Based on my experiences over the years and my most recent roadtrip, I’ve put together the ultimate 2 week fall European roadtrip itinerary featuring all my favorite fall destinations. Below you can find all the information to help you plan the perfect fall roadtrip through Europe including what to see, where to stay and the best time to see fall colors.


You can also refer to my previous blog post about The Best Destinations in Europe to See Fall Colors” if you’re looking for additional inspiration to help plan the perfect European fall roadtrip.


A few notes about this itinerary

This itinerary goes through 5 countries: Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. I’ve broken this trip up by days so you can easily add on or remove locations based on your desired route and the time you have available.

Based on the route I’ve taken the past two years, this itinerary starts and ends in Zurich, which is a great option if you’re flying to Europe from the states. Both of my friends happened to snag a flight from Seattle to Zurich for under $500 which is an incredible deal if you’re wanting to visit Europe this time of year. Another alternative for this route is flying from Zurich and flying out of Milan or Venice, which is also an affordable airport if you’re flying back to the states.

Golden larch trees around Lake Sils in Engadin, Switzerland

When is the best time to visit?

We started this roadtrip at the beginning of October which gave us an opportunity to see the fall colors at their peak. The time at which the leaves change always varies from year to year based on the temperatures and location, but we felt like within this timeframe we were able to see the best of the colors in each location. However, we did find that regions that have larches like the Dolomites or Engadin tended to change later than areas like Salzkammergut or Lake Bled which have more Oak and Maple trees.

Maloja Pass in the fall

Driving Maloja Pass in our Volvo XC40

Getting around Europe

The best way to get around Europe is preferably by car, especially if you’re short on time and want to get around less accessible places like the Dolomites. You can take the train or a Flix bus but since fall is the offseason, public transportation tends to be less reliable and very limited. The weather this time of year can also be unpredictable, with rain or snow likely to happen at any moment, so it’s important to have a warm and safe place to go in case the weather does happen to change. We opted to rent our car from Zurich Airport and return it back to the same location since it can cost quite a bit more for your car rental if you drop it off in a different location than you picked it up from.

Before hitting the road it’s also important to familiarize yourself with the driving rules of each country. Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia require a vignette if you are using the motorways and if you’re caught without it, you’ll have to pay a large fine. Most rental cars already come with one, but make sure to double check before departing. You can also easily purchase a vignette at gas stations or road side stands for a small fee of $10.00 for 10 days. More information about vignettes can be found here.

Throughout Europe, especially Switzerland, Austria, and Italy there are speed cameras that you need to watch out for. If you’re caught speeding, you’ll have to face heavy fines which will be sent to you in the mail a few months later. It’s important to remember that the speed limit in villages is usually 50 km/hr and on the motorways, it is between 120 to 130 km/hr in most countries. Italy and some parts of Austria are notorious for having tolls along the motorways, which you are required to pay. Most of these tolls accept both cash and card, however, I would keep some extra euros on you just in case.

Pastel colored clouds over the Dolomites, Italy

Tips to know before you go

  • It’s important to always keep some cash on hand since occasionally some cafes and restaurants refuse to take credit cards. You should note that Switzerland uses Swiss Francs and Austria, Slovenia, Germany, and Italy use the Euro so make sure to have both
  • Bathrooms are hard to come across in Europe and usually require a small fee to enter. Generally, this fee is around .50 – 1 Euro, but sometimes if you purchase something you can also receive a ticket to enter
  • Fall is considered the offseason, so many lifts, restaurants, and mountain huts are closed this time of year. Make sure to check online and even call ahead of time before visiting
  • While Europe has some of the best water in the world, most restaurants will charge you for water, even if it comes from the tap. I always keep a refillable water bottle on me and fill it up in bathrooms or ask ahead of time if they charge for tap water
  • Most grocery stores and restaurants are closed on Sunday, so make sure to load up on food on Saturday if you need any supplies for Sunday. If you are in a bind though, most gas stations have enough groceries for you to get by
  • While most people generally speak enough English to communicate with, make sure to learn a few words out of respect and to have Google Translate downloaded. Aside from Slovenia, most of these countries speak German and/or Italian.

Our 2 Week Roadtrip

Day 1 – Zurich, Switzerland (start) to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

Day 2 – Grindelwald, Switzerland

Day 3 – Aletsch Glacier, Switzerland

Day 4 – Zermatt, Switzerland

Day 5 – Engadin, Switzerland

Day 6 – Engadin, Switzerland

Day 7 – Berchtesgaden, Germany

Day 8 – Salzkammergut, Austria

Day 9 – Lake Bled, Slovenia

Day 10 – Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy

Day 11 – Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy

Day 12 – Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy

Day 13 – Ortisei, Italy

Day 14 – Ortisei, Italy to Zurich, Switzerland (end)

While this route doesn’t perfectly loop, I’ve created this route in this particular way because of the timing of when the leaves change in certain areas, which only adds an extra hour compared to a loop. You can do this route though in a loop, driving to Ortisei after Engadin and then driving to the following locations in a counterclockwise direction. 

 

Two friends sitting in a field in Wengen, Switzerland

Day 1: Drive From Zurich to Lauterbrunnen

Arrive in Zurich Airport, pick up your rental car and drive a little over 2 hours to the village of Lauterbrunnen. I recommend grabbing lunch and a coffee at Airtime Cafe (cash only) in town if you’re looking to burn some extra time before checking into your accommodation. We opted to stay at the beautiful Hotel Silberhorn, which offers incredible views of the valley and several waterfalls. For sunset, head to the train station, just 150m from the hotel and take the train up to idyllic hillside town of Wengen. Here, you’ll find incredible views of the entire valley of Lauterbrunnen and the famous Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch mountains in the distance.

The Ultimate 2 Week Fall European Roadtrip Itinerary - Lake Bachalpsee

Bachalpsee

Day 2: Grindelwald

Spend the morning wandering the streets and pathways of Lauterbrunnen, before heading to Grindelwald. For a scenic train ride, I highly recommend leaving your car in Lauterbrunnen and taking the train to Grindelwald via Kleine Scheidegg. Once you’ve arrived, leave your luggage at your accommodation and head to the First Gondola. Just make sure to check the timetable first here.

First is the perfect starting point for a short and easy 45-minute hike to Lake Bachalpsee, which offers incredible reflections of the Bernese Alps. You can also reserve a mountain cart or a spot on the popular First Glider, if you’re looking for some fun activities to do while you’re here. We chose to continue hiking past the lake and spend the night in the Berghotel Faulhorn, located at the top of the mountain. If you’re feeling adventurous, I’d recommend staying here since the experience of staying in a Swiss mountain hut is unlike any other!

Aletsch glacier with a girl standing in front of the view

Aletsch Glacier

Day 3: Aletsch Glacier

Take the train back to Lauterbrunnen to pick up your car and drive 2 hours towards Aletsch Glacier. Make a quick stop at the Goms suspension bridge in Bellwald before reaching the town of Mörel.  If you want to stay close to the glacier, then it’s important to note that all the villages are car-free and require you to take a cable car to reach them. We opted to stay in the village of Riederalp since we wanted to visit the Moosfluh lookout. To get here, you must leave your car in the town of Mörel and then take the cable car to Riederalp. Make sure to check ahead of time which Riederalp cable car is closer to your accommodation. There are also other cable cars you can take in this area which are equally as scenic such as Eggishorn or Bettmerhorn.

For sunset, we chose to visit the Moosfluh lookout, which can easily be accessed by taking the Moosfluh cable car from Riederalp. Since the cable car closes at 4:30 pm, we decided to hike down in the dark. However, there are a lot of trails up here and it can be quite easy to get lost in the dark if you don’t have a map downloaded with you. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of Rösti and Tortellini at Berghaus Toni, which is also a great hotel if you need accommodation.

Reflection of the Matterhorn in Riffelsee

Riffelsee, Zermatt

Day 4: Zermatt

Take the cable car back down to Mörel and drive towards the town of Täsch. Zermatt is also car-free, so you’ll need to take a train from Täsch to the village of Zermatt ( train info here). Once you’ve arrived in the village, I suggest leaving your bags at your hotel and putting your hiking boots on. One of the best hikes you can do this time of year is the 5 Lakes Hike, which offers stunning views of larches and the Matterhorn in the distance. To get here, you’ll need to take the cogwheel train from Zermatt Village to Sunnegga and then a gondola to Blauherd where you can start the loop. More information about the route can be found here.

Since Zermatt is very touristy, it can be pretty expensive when it comes to accommodation and food. Because it’s the shoulder season, most restaurants are closed this time of year. However, I recommend trying out The Brown Cow Pub since it’s casual and affordable.

Lake Sils at sunset surrounded by golden larches

Lake Sils at sunset

Day 5: Engadin

Before departing Zermatt, I recommend taking the Gornergratbahn up to the Rotenboden stop to watch the sunrise at Riffelsee. Once you’re here, wander over to the Gorner Gletscher to witness sweeping views of the second largest glacier in Switzerland. Since Engadin is over a 5-hour drive, you’ll want to leave Zermatt before it gets too late since the drive is very beautiful. Engadin is by far one of the best places to see larches in Switzerland and fall colors in general. I suggest taking a walk or hike alongside Lake Sils to see the larches and their brilliant shades of yellow and orange.

Morteratsch Glacier surrounded by fall colors

Morteratsch Glacier

Lago di Saoseo at sunset with fall colors and a girl sitting on a rock

Lago di Saoseo

Day 6: Engadin

After enjoying an incredible (and free!) breakfast buffet at our hotel, we headed out to Laj de Staz for sunrise, just a few minutes from our hotel. This lake is very popular with photographers since the lake’s warm water creates a layer of fog just above the surface, making for beautiful photos. The fog this morning was particularly strong so we continued on towards the edge of Lake Sils to see if we could capture some views of the lake and fog above. You can also take a scenic drive down the nearby Maloja Pass, which is one of my favorite mountain passes in Switzerland.

During the day, make sure to drive towards Bernina Pass and check out the roadside viewpoints of the Morteratsch Glacier. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can also hike out to the glacier and admire its beauty from up close. For sunset, make sure to check out Lago di Saoseo and Lagh da Val Viola. The road to these lakes is closed to locals, so make sure to leave your car at the designated parking place, called Parking SfazúTo get the lakes you can either hike 1.5 hours up the road or take a small bus that runs a few times in the afternoon. The bus takes you up to the stop Rifugio Saoseo and from there it’s just a short 20-minute hike.

Please note: If you plan to take the bus, you need to call at least one hour ahead of time to schedule it. You can find more information about it here.

Day 7: Berchtesgaden, Germany

Before leaving Engadin, make sure to stop in the town of St. Moritz at the local bakery, Bäckerei-Konditorei Bad, and try an Engadin specialty called the Nusstorten. Then make your way towards Berchtesgaden, which is about a 4-hour drive from Engadin. There are plenty of things to do in the Bavarian Alps of Germany, but I recommend taking a boat ride on Lake Königssee. Here, you can board onto one of the iconic electric wooden boats and listen to the boatman play the trumpet as it echoes against the steep rock faces that surround the lake. Treat yourself to a night in the beautiful, Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden, which offers an amazing spa to refresh after a long week on the road. For a more affordable option, stay at the Fewo Watzmann Apartments, which comfortably sleeps 4 people.

Hallstatt at sunrise

Hallstatt

Steirersee surrounded by fall larches and cabins

Steirersee

Day 8: Salzkammergut, Austria

Before departing to Austria, make sure to check out the suspension bridge in Klausbachtal, which is surrounded by a lush forest of fall colors. Then drive a little under 2 hours to Lake Grundlsee, where you’ll check into the beautiful hotel along the lake called, MONDI Resort Grundlsee. We happened to stay in one of their newly built chalets, which even had a built-in sauna and hot tub.

For sunset check out either Gosausee or take an easy 1 hour hike up to Steirersee. While this hike is beautiful and full of larches, you should note that it does cost 12 euros to take the road up to the starting point of the lake. For dinner, we found that most options were closed in the towns so we opted to have dinner at our hotel, which was delicious.

Lake Bled in the Fall

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Day 9: Lake Bled, Slovenia

For sunrise check out the charming village of Hallstatt or head to Gosausee if you didn’t have a chance to see it the evening before. If you want to have an easy morning, you can also head directly out of your hotel and take a short stroll around the beautiful Lake Grundlsee. Make sure to enjoy the delicious breakfast buffet at your hotel before making your way towards Lake Bled in Slovenia.

Once you’ve arrived in Slovenia, take a short hike up to the Ojstrica viewpoint that overlooks Lake Bled and the beautiful fall trees that surround it. We found this lookout to be extremely popular during the fall, but that shouldn’t detract you from visiting it. For dinner, grab a pizza from Gostilna In Pizzeria Grajska Preža and try the famous Lake Bled Cream Cake for dessert. 


If you’re looking for additional inspiration for things to see and do in Slovenia, then check out this guide I made here.


Hiking at Gardena Pass

Hiking at Gardena Pass

Passo Giau in the Fall

Driving through Passo Giau in our Volvo XC40

Day 10: Cortina D’Ampezzo, Dolomites

If there’s one thing you should do in Lake Bled, it’s wake up early and watch the sunrise at the lake. The emerald blue lake is surrounded by towering green mountains in the distance with a “fairy tale” like church nestled on a tiny island in the center of it, all framed by the fall trees that line its shore. It’s by far one of the most iconic (and busy) places in Slovenia, but for good reason!

Next, make your way to the Dolomites, to the charming little town of Cortina d’Ampezzo where you’ll want to base yourself for a few nights. Stop by Lago di Dobbiaco on the way in and enjoy lunch at the lakeside restaurant, Seeschupfe. Once you’ve reached Cortina, head up to the nearby Passo Giau if you have enough time before sunset. There are plenty of great hikes in this area, but the views from the drive alone are worth checking out. We found that most restaurants in the town were closed, but one of our favorites was the restaurant at Hotel Ciasa Lorenzi. To finish off the night, we enjoyed gelato at Rizzati Shop Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The Ultimate 2 Week Fall European Roadtrip Itinerary - Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Wandering around the trails of Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Girl hiking at Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites, Italy

Day 11: Cortina D’Ampezzo, Dolomites

Like dinner, breakfast in town is pretty limited, but we happened to stumble upon an adorable cafe called Pasticceria Panificio Alvera. Make sure to grab a croissant and coffee, and one of their focaccia pizzas to go – one of our favorite food finds of the trip! Then drive an hour to Gardena Pass, enjoying the endless sea of golden larches you’ll find along the way. We stopped at the top of the pass and took a short walk along one of the paths leading towards the mountains in the distance. There’s plenty of photo opportunities here, so make sure to take the time to wander around and check out the endless views that surround you.

In the afternoon, leave plenty of time to drive the road up to Tre Cime di Laverado since there are plenty of scenic stops along the way. Some of our favorites were Lago di Antorno and Lago di Misurina, which both offer incredible reflections of the Dolomites. One thing to note is that the Tre Cime road costs 30 Euros to enter, but we were able to split this among our group of 5 friends so it was pretty affordable. Take the road up to Refugio Auronzo, where you can leave your car in the car park before beginning your hike.

There are plenty of trails that you can take in this area, but one of the most popular is the Tre Cime di Laverado loop hike, which winds around the towering Tre Cime mountains. In total, the hike is about 6 miles (10km) and can be completed by almost everyone since there is relatively little uphill and the trail is well maintained. On the hike, make sure to check out the old tunnels from World War II, which you can enter, and the Rifugio Locatelli, for incredible views of the backside of Tre Cime.

On your way back to Cortina, grab a bite to eat along Lago di Misurina at either Quinz -Ristorante Della Locanda, which had endless pizza options, or Pizzeria Edelweiss, where we enjoyed a delicious gnocchi dish with smoked cheese.

Lago di Braies at Sunrise in the Dolomites, Italy

Lago di Braies

Day 12: Ortisei, Dolomites

For sunrise, be sure to check out the famous Lago di Braies, which is just a 50-minute drive from Cortina. While this lake gets incredibly busy, I recommend you to see it at least once in your life since the emerald blue waters and golden larches that surround the shore are simply breathtaking. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds you can wander around the lake on one of the trails and get lost in the forest of larches. After 10 am, You can also rent a boat here for 18 Euros per 30 minutes, which is a great way to experience the lake and see it from a different perspective.

Next, check out of your accommodation and make your way to the town of Ortisei or feel free to explore any other destinations you might have missed in the area. Some other options include Lago di Federa or Lago di Sorapis.


For additional Dolimites inspiration, check out another guide I’ve made here.


Check into your hotel in Ortisei before heading back out. We opted to stay in a large apartment called Apartmenthotel Residence Elvis, which could have easily slept over 6 people. In the afternoon drive to the town of Val di Funes, where you should stop for photos at the iconic Chiesetta di San Giovanni (Church of St. Johann). There’s a platform here designated for photos, so make sure to respect the farmer’s land and not enter the pastures here. Afterwards, leave your car somewhere in town and walk up to the road to get a vantage point of the St. Magdalena Church underneath the soaring spires of the Puez-Odle massifTrust me, it’s a spot you won’t want to miss out on for sunset! For dinner, head back to the town of Ortisei and eat at Restaurant Pizzeria Cascade, one of the very few options open in town.

Girls standing looking towards Seceda, Dolomites, Italy

Seceda

Day 13: Ortisei, Dolomites

While it requires you to wake up quite early, I suggest hiking up to Seceda to watch the sunrise over the mountains. The hike itself is quite steep since most of the time you’re walking up a hill that functions as a ski slope in the winter, but I promise it’s worth it. It’s also important to note that this time of year, the cable car from Ortisei to Seceda is not running so your only option will be to hike. The hike takes about 2.5 hours to complete and should only be done if the weather is good since it can be quite easy to get lost. Make sure to do plenty of research and know your route before doing this hike, especially if you attempt it in the dark. Once you’ve watched the sunrise, head back to your car, making sure to stop and check out some of the little wooden cabins on the way.

Take the afternoon easy and rest up since the next day requires quite a bit of driving to get back to Zurich. For sunset, check out St. Valentin Church in the nearby town of Suisi, which is set beneath the dramatic Sciliar Massif. It’s important to note that you can’t park next to the church since it’s private property, so make sure to leave your car in the town and walk up to the church.

Cabins underneath the mountains of Alpe di Suisi

Alpe di Suisi in the fall at sunrise

Alpe di Suisi

Day 14: Drive from Ortisei to Zurich

The last day of your trip requires you to also wake up early to reach the idyllic meadows of Alpe di Suisi. To get here, drive 30 minutes from the town of Ortisei and leave your car in the Compatsch parking lot. Since the meadows are protected and access is limited to locals and hotel guests, make sure to leave your car here or else you’ll have to pay hefty fines if caught. By foot, you can reach the ideal photo spots in a little under an hour, following the footpath as far as you’d like. Take your time to wander the fields and admire the charming little cabins that are dotted amongst the meadow, while taking in the amazing mountain views.

Then make your way back to your car, check out of your hotel and start the drive back to Zurich or the airport you’ll be flying out of. If you’d like to extend your trip, on your way back to Zurich you can check out Eibsee in Germany, or Innsbruck and Plansee in Austria.

 

I hope you found this road trip itinerary helpful to plan your very own fall roadtrip to Europe. If you have any fall destinations in Europe that you loved and would like to share, let me know in the comments below!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Best Destinations in Europe for Fall Colors

The 10 Best Hikes in Switzerland

Backcountry Camping: A Guide for Beginners

Disclaimer: I wanted to give you a big thank you to Volvo Switzerland for partnering with me and making this trip possible with their XC40. All opinions, thoughts, and experiences I share are completely honest and my own. Thanks for reading!

hiking in Switzerland grassy ridgeline

Whether you’re looking to see towering peaks and massive glaciers or emerald blue lakes and charming valleys, the number of possibilities for hiking in Switzerland are endless. In fact, the main reason why I moved here over 2 years ago from the states was not because of the cheese or chocolate, but because the mountains were so accessible and a major part of the lifestyle here in Switzerland. Within just an hour or two by train, you can be hiking in the mountains with hundreds of kilometers of well-maintained trails to explore.

With so many great options, you can’t really go wrong with any hike that you choose. However, based on my own personal experiences, I’ve to put together a list of  “the 10 best hikes in Switzerland” to help you plan the perfect hiking trip while visiting including helpful tips and information about the hikes. I’ve tried to cover a wide range of locations ranging from the North to the South and the West to the East to show you some of the most amazing scenery this country has to offer.

hiking in the swiss alps on a grassy ridgeline

What to know before hiking in Switzerland?

Like anywhere in the world, hiking in the mountains can be potentially dangerous since the weather in the mountains can change in an instant. I’ve had days where I’ve started my hike with blue skies and it’s ended in a full-blown snowstorm in the middle of August. So it’s important to always be prepared whenever you’re venturing into the mountains. Make sure you always keep additional warm clothing and supplies if you know you’ll be out on the trail for more than a few hours.

When is the best time to visit?

In Switzerland, hiking season usually begins in June after the snow has melted enough and lasts until late September or sometimes even October depending on the weather. It’s important to keep in mind that this is also peak tourism season in Switzerland so it’s best to plan things like accommodation ahead of time, especially in places like Lucerne, Interlaken, or Zermatt. The fall season is also particularly nice for hiking here since there are usually fewer tourists and the leaves begin to change. However, you should be prepared for all types of weather, especially snow and colder temps during this season.

What to wear hiking?

The best advice I can give when it comes to choosing what hiking clothing to wear is to layer! If you’ve ever spent time in the mountains, you know that the temperatures can fluctuate drastically, which is why it’s always important to be prepared. You should have clothing that will protect you from the elements and help you regulate your body temperature. You can read more about what I wear and take hiking with me, as well as additional hiking tips, in this blog post here.

1. Pizol Lake (5 Lake Hike)

girls standing in front of a blue lake with mountains behind it

Photo by Alex Strohl

Just over an hour from Zurich, the Pizol 5 Lake Hike is a great option for hikers that can easily be done in a day. This hike features some of the bluest alpine lakes and spectacular views of the Alps of Eastern Switzerland.

How to get there: Start at the Pizol Gondola in Wangs and take it to the Pizolhütte at the top. From here, the hike begins, climbing for about an hour to the first lake, Wildsee. After that, you can continue on to see the other 4 lakes as the trail ascends and descends before returning to Station Gaffia. For more information read here.

Hike Time: 4 Hours

Distance: 10km

Altitude Gain/Loss: 750m/1100m

Start/End Point: Pizolhütte/Graffia

2. Oeschinensee

oescheninsee lake surrounded by the swiss alps

Photo by Errin Casano

Nestled away in the Bernese Alps, high above the charming town of Kandersteg is the crystal clear waters of Oeschenin Lake. There are miles of trails that loop around the lake and into the mountains, but of course, you can also relax at the waterfront restaurant or rent a boat and paddle around the lake.

My favorite hiking loop you can do here is from Oeschinensee – Oberbärgli – Heuberg, which takes about 3.5 hours without stops. I love this hike because you can wander high above the lake and see it from so many different perspectives while being surrounded by the alps. This hike does have some steep sections and the trail does narrow a bit along the cliffsides, so I would only suggest this hike if you have aren’t afraid of heights.

How to get there: You can either hike from the town of Kandersteg (this is very steep though) or take the cable car to the top of the mountain. From the cable car, it is only a 30-minute walk to reach the edge of the lake. For more information read here.

Hike Time: 3.5 Hours (depending on route you take)

Distance: 8km

Elevation Gain: 480m

Starting point: Kandersteg Cable Car

3. Seealpsee (Alpstein)

Seealpsee reflection with a man in a yellow boat

Photo by Robin Uthe

Seealpsee is one of the most popular lakes in Switzerland and is an easy day trip from Zurich. The lake itself is located in one of my favorite regions known as Alpstein, which is home to one of the densest networks of hiking trails in all of Switzerland. If you’re not a very experienced hiker, then the hike to Seealpsee is a great option for you since it can be reached by simply walking up a service road. Or if walking uphill isn’t for you, then I suggest taking the cable car up to Ebenalp, where you can add on a visit to the Äscher Restaurant as you make your way down to the lake.

The Äscher Restaurant is probably one of the most famous and most photographed places in Switzerland because it’s literally built into the side of a cliff. I highly recommend checking it out and grabbing a bite to eat here, although I suggest going as early as you can since it gets incredibly busy and it can be hard to get a table.

How to get there: There are two ways to reach the lake. The first option is to walk up the service road from Wasserauen. The second option is to take the Ebenalp cable car to the top of the mountain then walk down to the lake, stopping by Ascher hut on the way down. For more hiking information, read here.

Hike Time: 1 hour from Wasserauen or 1.5 hours from Ebenalp

Distance: 2.5km from Wasserauen or 2.6km from Ebenalp

Elevation Gain: 266m from Wasserauen

Starting point: Wasserauen

4. Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail

Switzerland is home to many amazing glaciers, but I highly recommend checking out Aletsch Glacier, the largest glacier in Switzerland. The Aletsch Glacier is located in the southern region of Switzerland, in Wallis, and is a great place to stop off at if you’re on your way to Zermatt.

The size and scale of the glacier is pretty remarkable, running over 23 km (14 mi) all the way to Jungfraujoch and almost 900m (2950 ft) deep. There are a few hikes you can do here, but I recommend the Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail which runs alongside the lower part of the glacier. The whole trail offers remarkable views of not only the glacier but also the 32 4,000m peaks that flank its entire length.

How to get here: Start in the town of Riederalp and take the Musfluh Cable Car to the top of the mountain. Once at the top, you’ll find the trail which meanders along the side of the glacier for most of the hike until you reach Märjelenseen, where you can either stop for a bite to eat at the hut or continue on to the Fiescheralp cable car station. For more information, read here.

Hike Time: 3.5 hours

Distance: 12km

Elevation Gain: 510m

Starting Point/End Point: Musfluh Cable Car Station/Fiescheralp Cable Car Station

5. Bachalpsee

Bachalpsee with Schreckhorn reflecting in the lake

If you’re staying near the Interlaken area, then it’s definitely worth checking out the nearby town of Grindelwald. From here, there are plenty of great hikes that offer panoramic views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains, which each stand over 4000m high. However, my favorite hike here is from First Gondola to Bachalpseewhich is a perfect trail for novice hikers looking for stunning views.

The trail itself is easily accessible and you can reach the lake in less than an hour’s walk. Once at the lake, you’ll be able to see the sharp jagged peaks of the Wetterhorn, Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn reflecting in the emerald blue waters. There’s plenty of benches here that are perfect for resting on and enjoying a picnic before heading back down. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can also continue another hour onto the Berghotel Faulhorn located at the top of the mountain.

How to get here: Start in the town of Grindelwald and go to the Grindelwald First Cable Car Station. From here, take the cable car to the top, where you can start the hike just by following the signs once you exit the station. For more information, read here.

Hike Time: 1.45 hours return

Distance: 5.88km return

Elevation Gain/Loss: 188m/188m

Starting Point/End Point: Grindelwald First Gondola

6. Zermatt 5 Lakes Hike

Zermatt 5 Lakes Hike in the fall with yellow larches

Photo by Matt Massa

If you happen to be staying in Zermatt, the 5 lakes hike, also known as the 5 Seenweg Hike, is one of the best and most popular hikes you can do in the area. The hike offers incredible views of snowcapped mountains, emerald blue lakes, green hills, and of course the mighty Matterhorn in the distance. As the name suggests, during this hike you’ll pass by 5 lakes (Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee), 3 of which offer reflections of the Matterhorn. Each of the lakes features their own unique characteristics and landscapes, and you can even stop to swim in a few of them after working up a sweat while hiking. There’s also plenty of places to grab a bite to eat along the way, including the wonderful Chez Vrony hut.

How to get here: Take the cable car from Zermatt Village to the top of the Blauherd Cable Car Station. From here, you can start the hike by following the signs after exiting the station. After passing by the lakes, your final destination will be the Sunnegga Upper Cable Car Station. For more information, read here.

Hike Time: 2.5 hours

Distance: 9 km

Elevation Gain: 241m

Starting Point/End Point: Blauherd/Sunnegga

7. Rigi Panoramic Trail

Sunset over Mount Rigi with Lucerne Lake

Photo by Sylvia Michel

Visiting Mount Rigi is a great option if you’re staying in Lucerne or want to take a short day trip from Zurich (40mins.). Once at the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Lucerne and north towards Zurich. There are plenty of hikes you can do here, depending on how long you wish to make it. You can either take the cog-railway from Vitznau or Arth Goldau to Rigi Kulm at the top or get off at any stop along the way. Once at the top you can admire the view and then walk down to Rigi First, where you can join the Rigi Panoramic Trail. The whole trail itself is 7.5km and takes over 2 hours to complete, but there are shorter versions as well. This hike is a great option if you have kids or if you’re looking for an easy and accessible hike since the trail is wide and well-groomed. I also recommend combining this trip with a ferry ride from Luzern, which is a great way to see the lake on your way to or from Rigi.

How to get here: Take the cog-railway from either Vitznau or Arth Goldau all the way to the top at the Rigi Kulm station. From here hike down to the Rigi First station where the trail joins up with the Rigi Panoramic Trail. Follow the trail all the way to the Rigi Scheideg station, where you can take the cog-railway down. For more information, read here.

Hike Time: 2 hr 10 minutes from Rigi First

Distance: 6.9km

Elevation Gain: 245m

Starting Point/End Point: Rigi First/Rigi Scheidegg

rigi-map2.jpg

8. The Hardergrat Trail

Hardergrat Trail with a man hiking on the grassy ridgeline

Photo by Unknown

Arguably one of the most beautiful alpine ridges, the Hardergrat trail is the perfect trail for hikers looking to challenge themselves. Along the way, you can witness incredible views of Lake Brienz below you and the towering Bernese Alps in the distance. The trail is steep and is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for those who are inexperienced, as it runs directly along the ridgeline with drops on both sides for 18km of the 27km long trail. Maybe that’s why they call it one of the most dangerous hikes in Switzerland.

Hiking Tip: If you choose to do this hike, I highly suggest taking hiking poles with you, having proper footwear, and to not attempt this trail if conditions are wet or muddy on the trail. You should also start the hike early enough to allow for enough time to reach Brienzer Rothorn before the last cable car goes down.

How to get here: Take the funicular to Harder Kulm from the valley all the way to the top where the trail begins. Follow the trail for 27km along the ridgeline until you reach Brienzer Rothorn. You can also do this trail the opposite way, starting at Brienzer Rothorn and ending at Harder Kulm.

Hike Time: 10 hours

Distance: 27km

Elevation Gain: 3000m

Starting Point/End Point: Harder Kulm/Brienzer Rothorn Station

9. Triftbrücke

Triftbrucke Suspension bridge at sunrise with a man standing on the suspension bridge over the turquoise lake

Photo by: Joni Hedinger

If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, then how does walking on a suspension bridge that is 170m long and 100m high surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and a glacier sound?

The Trift Bridge, located in the Bernese Oberland, is one of the longest and highest suspension bridges in the Alps. The hike takes you through grassy meadows and alongside glacial rivers and waterfalls until you eventually reach the suspension bridge. Here you can cross the turquoise blue glacier lake fed by the glacier tongue at its end. Witnessing this place in person is a bold reminder of just how fast our glaciers are melting due to global warming. Only just a few years ago, the Trift Hut further down the trail could be reached on foot via the glacier tongue. Since it has receded so much, the suspension bridge was built to maintain access for hikers.

How to get here: Take the Triftbahn from Nessental (Bus Stop) which will take you from the Gamden Valley to the Trift Valley. This cable car can only hold 8 people and runs every 12 minutes. So be sure to book your ticket ahead of time online here to reserve a spot because it can get very busy, especially on weekends. You’ll also be asked to reserve a time that you would like to return on the cable car so make sure to allow for ample time to enjoy the scenery and for getting back down. For additional information, you can read here.

Hike Time: 1.5 hours

Distance: 6km

Elevation Gain: 695m

Starting Point/End Point: Trift Gondola Upper Station

10. Tour du Lac de Moiry

Lac de Moiry drone photo

Photo by Kai Grossmann

Located in the Valais region of Switzerland, the Lac de Moiry circuit loops around the stunning turquoise waters of the lake at a height of 2500m. Once at the far end of the lake, you’ll cross the river La Gourga, which feeds the reservoir below. You’ll also pass another lake, Lac de Châteaupré, before having the chance to scale the massive glacial moraine. This is great hiking option if you’re visiting the nearby Zermatt region and offers plenty of spectacular mountain views throughout the hike.

How to get there: Start at the bus stop/car park at the crest of the dam, near the restaurant. This hike can be done in either direction since the starting point and ending point is the same. For more information, read here.

Hike Time: 4:45m

Distance: 13.4km

Elevation Gain: 567m

Starting Point/End Point: Moiry Dam

Now it’s time to book your trip to Switzerland!

I hope you can find my Swiss hiking list and hiking tips of use when you plan your very own trip to Switzerland. If you’ve ever been hiking in Switzerland and have any tips or fun hikes you’ve done that you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!

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