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 3 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!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Backcountry Camping: A Guide for Beginners

Weekend Winter Getaway in the Dolomites

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucketlist

Traveling during the winter months is a great idea if you’re looking to save money as well as beat the crowds. Sure, the weather is a bit colder but there are plenty of beautiful destinations to visit that each offer something special to discover. Whether it’s skiing, dog sledding, chasing the Northern Lights, wandering Christmas markets or simply cozying up by a big fireplace – the possibilities for winter activities are endless. To help give you some inspiration, I’ve created a list of “10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations” that should definitely be on your bucket list this year. I’ve also included a selection of activities that you can enjoy and recommendations on where to stay for each location.

Lapland, Finland

16465320_1674620612838217_3857144883965853696_n.jpg

Lapland, Finland is easily one of my favorite winter travel destinations. Whether it’s watching the northern lights, snowmobiling across the snowy landscape, taking a ride on a sled led by a team of reindeer or visiting Santa’s workshop, the activities in Finland are endless. I highly recommend staying in a glass igloo so that you can watch the northern lights without ever having to leave the comfort of your own bed. It’s an experience you won’t ever forget!

Where to stay

What to do

Lofoten Islands, Norway

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

No matter the season, the Lofoten Islands in Norway are always a beautiful destination to visit. However, I prefer to visit in the winter because of the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. While small and remote, the tiny red fishing cabins that dot the coast line here amongst the towering fjords will surely take your breath away.

Where to stay

What to do

Banff, Canada

10-beautiful-winter-travel-destination-bucketlist-alliemtaylor-3

If skiing or snowboarding is your thing, then Banff is the perfect winter destination for you. Regarded as one of the best ski destinations in the world, Banff is filled with endless winter sports opportunities that you can partake in all while being surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. Even if you’re not into skiing, there’s plenty of other activities and natural scenery to explore to keep you busy during your stay here.

Where to stay

What to do

Prague, Czech Republic

The winter months are an ideal time to visit the beautiful capital city of Prague because the city becomes quieter and more peaceful after the summer crowds leave. This also a great time to visit because accommodations become much more affordable, meaning you can snag a 4* hotel in the center of the city for a mere 40-50 Euro a night.  Whether it’s exploring the Christmas markets that stay open past New Years with a steaming cup of glühwein or taking in breathtaking views of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, Prague has something to offer everyone.

Where to stay

What to do

Chamonix, France

15538496_1335192156553005_7826439331194601472_n.jpg

Photo via Alex Strohl

Filled with majestic winter landscapes and beautiful ski slopes located in the heart of the French Alps is the charming village of Chamonix. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking to master the slopes on skis or cozy up next to a fireplace in a Victorian chalet. It’s also incredibly close to both Switzerland and Italy in case you’re looking to extend your trip and taste more of Europe.

Where to stay

What to do

Japan

Winter is a great time to visit Japan because you can visit popular landmarks without the crowds and because it’s low season, flights and accommodation are more affordable. Japan has grown in popularity over the years amongst skiiers, with spots like Hokkaido boasting some of the best powder in the world. Besides skiing, one of the best things to do in the winter is visit the famous Japanese snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen Kōen (Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park) located near Nagano. You can easily visit here on a day trip from Tokyo but I recommend staying in the area for a few days to explore the surrounding area.

What to do

Iceland

10-beautiful-winter-travel-destination-bucketlist-alliemtaylor-7

Photo via Jeff Sheldon

While most popular in the summer, Iceland is also an incredible destination to visit in the winter since the landscape changes completely. From black sand beaches and natural thermal baths to frozen waterfalls and valleys, there’s plenty of beautiful places to explore. And if you’re lucky and the weather is in your favor, you just might see the Northern Lights. It’s by far one of the most magical experiences that can be had while you’re here!

Where to stay

What to do

Budapest, Hungary

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via Find Us Lost

Visiting Budapest in the winter is a magical time to experience the city and all that it has to offer. The winter months give way to panoramic views of the city dusted in a beautiful blanket of snow that will easily take your breath away. When the weather gets too chilly, it’s the perfect time to head to one of the many thermal bath houses located throughout the city to soak in the warm mineral-infused waters. In fact, the city is home to 118 thermal baths, which is more than anywhere else in the world.

Where to stay

What to do

Hallstatt, Austria

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via Madeline Lu

Hallstatt, Austria is one of the most idyllic villages you’ll ever visit in Europe. Set on a hillside overlooking a beautiful blue lake with an incredible backdrop of the mountains lies the fairytale like village of Hallstatt. In the winter time Halstatt transforms into a winter wonderland and becomes even more enchanting for visitors. Stroll past the colorful shops and houses throughout the village with a glühwein in hand and admire the beautiful white swans that swim along the water’s edge.

Where to stay

What to do

  • Soak in the beauty and charm of Hallstatt’s by strolling through town
  • Take in the scenic views overlooking the church and lake from this iconic viewpoint
  • Visit Hallstatt’s local cemetery, Ossuary, which also features amazing views
  • Take a ferry across Lake Hallstatt
  • Ride the cable car up 1000ft to the nearby Hallstatt salt mines and walk across the skywalk
  • Go skiing at Dachstein West
  • Try Kaiserschmarrn, one of the most famous dessert dishes of Austrian cuisine

Zermatt, Switzerland

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via @ckanani

No matter what season it is, visiting Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most charming villages, is never a bad idea. However, the winter months are a particularly great time to visit because the mountains transform into a skiers paradise. In fact, it’s one of the few places in the world that you can ski internationally into Italy. Even if you’re not into skiing, there’s plenty of other winter activities to do as well. I suggest taking a stroll through town to admire the charming streets and buildings with the mighty Matterhorn in the distance.

Where to stay

What to do

  • Ski in one of the most beautiful resorts in the world
  • Take the train up to Gornergrat and soak up the incredible views from 3100m
  • Challenge your friends to a toboggan ride
  • Go hiking or snowshoeing to explore more of the mountain
  • Visit the famous black nose sheep in their barn – check out different tour options here
  • Enjoy fondue, a classic Swiss dish that’s perfect to enjoy when it’s cold out

Winter Packing Ideas

Packing for winter travel can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to cold weather. Here are some of my go to winter wear options when it comes to packing for winter travel. These are guaranteed to keep you cosy and comfortable in even the coldest places.

Parkas

This is the number one thing I can’t live without during the winter time. They can be a bit pricy but are so worth it. I love mine from Woolrich and also this one from Canada Goose.

Fleece Jacket

If you have room, a lightweight fleece jacket is great to wear under parkas or on days when the weather is less chilly. I like this one and this one from Patagonia.

Layers

Layering is ideal for winter because you can easily take one off if you suddenly get too warm. I recommend this breathable Merino Wool top from Icebreaker.

Leggings

I always wear leggings under my snow pants to stay cozy and keep the warmth in. You can also wear these alone or even under jeans. I recommend these leggings from Icebreaker.

Sweaters

This also falls under the category of layering, but I always pack at least 2-3 sweaters. Sometimes I’ll even wear a turtle neck under another sweater if I know it’s going to be really cold out. I love the look of this Fjallraven sweater in particular, which is made from soft wool to keep you extra warm. This turtleneck from Everlane is also great for layering.

Waterproof, windproof Pants

If you’re planning on trekking in the snow or spending a lot of time in wet conditions then I recommend packing a pair of waterproof, wind resistant pants. I like these light weight ones from Marmot.

Warm Socks

This is a pretty obvious one, but one of the first places I get cold is my toes. If you’ve ever experienced frozen toes, you know just how painful it is. Skip the pain and check out these awesome wool socks that are perfect to wear under a pair of boots to trap the heat in.

Boots

There’s nothing worse than having wet feet which is why it’s important to have waterproof boots. I recommend these and these.

Beanie

It’s important to keep your ears properly covered when you’re out in the cold, which is why I love wearing beanies so much. Not only will they keep you warm, they’re also a fashionable accessory for the winter. I love this pompom beanie from Free People.

Scarf

A necessity for keeping your neck and face warm especially if it’s windy. I love these from & Other Stories which come in a variety of beautiful colors.

Gloves

I recommend bringing two pairs since I always seem to lose one while I’m outside. I usually bring one thick pair and one thin pair of mittens depending on the activities I’m going to be doing and how cold it is. These water resistant gloves from UGG are so cozy and lined with wool!

Shop my Winter Wardrobe

Do you have any other favorite winter destinations that I haven’t mentioned above or any helpful cold weather tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Holiday Gift Guide For Travel Lovers

Sustainable Fashion From Athleta

7 Must See Places in Slovenia