Hiking in Switzerland: Our 7 Favourite Routes

By Sierd van der Bij

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Hiking in Switzerland: Our 7 Favourite Routes
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Switzerland stands as a premier destination for hiking enthusiasts, offering an array of trails that meander through its stunning alpine scenery. The country's diverse terrain, from the majestic peaks of the Alps to the serene beauty of its lakes and valleys, provides a perfect backdrop for unforgettable hiking adventures. Whether you're seeking a leisurely walk or a challenging trek, Switzerland's trails cater to every level of hiker.

The Swiss Alps, occupying a significant portion of the country, are renowned for their rugged beauty and panoramic vistas. Hiking in Switzerland allows you to explore this magnificent range, with trails like the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Kesch Trek, and Via Alpina 1 offering a glimpse into the heart of alpine wilderness. Each step on these trails promises an encounter with nature's finest, from alpine pastures dotted with wildflowers to ancient glaciers and emerald lakes that reflect the sky's azure hue.

1. Via Alpina in Switzerland: The Bärentrek

In a unique area and against one of the most beautiful backdrops of the Alps, the long-distance hiking trail Hintere Gasse, also known as the Bärentrek, leads from Meiringen over 8 Alpine passes to Gsteig. Like almost no other pass route it is as varied as the mountains themselves: Hiking trails, mountain paths, valleys, lush meadows, chalk slopes, tourist resorts, lonely alpine meadows, idyllic mountain huts, mountain huts, hotels, cable cars and rack railways loosely alternate.

The Bärentrek is part of the Via Alpina 1. The Via Alpina is actually a network of five long-distance walking routes through the Alpine regions of Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, France and Monaco. The Swiss section of the Via Alpina is 390 kilometres long and is divided into 20 stages. You can choose to cover the whole route or only part of it. The Bärentrek is the most popular part of the Via Alpina 1 and very suitable for a walking holiday. Here you can read more about the Bärentrek and here you can find a suitable package for a walking holiday

1. Via Alpina in Switzerland: The Bärentrek

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2. Walking Holidays for Beginners: Kesch Trek

During this hike in the middle of the mountains around Graubünden you can forget everyday life completely. Experience the spectacular high alpine area between the Flüela-pass and the Albula-pass. The Kesch Trek offers four days of spectacular hikes in the Graubünden. Beautiful mountain landscapes with wild valleys, rugged mountain peaks and impressive glacier landscapes.

The Kesch Trek is normally done in six days, but can also be done in four days. Due to the relatively small distance and 'only' 2800 altimeters in total, the Kesch Trek is also seen as the perfect option for a hiking holiday for beginners. For more information, you can also read this blog post about the Kesch Trek. Arrangements for the Kesch Trek can be found here.

2. Walking Holidays for Beginners: Kesch Trek

3. Tour du Mont Blanc: Europe's Finest

If Switzerland did not share Mont Blanc with its French and Italian neighbours, the Tour du Mont Blanc would be on this list. It is one of the most famous hiking adventures in Europe and the route is even running today. Hikers normally do the 170 kilometres of the Tour du Mont Blanc in 9 days. The traditional starting point is in Chamonix, on the French side of Mont Blanc. However, you can also start in Vall Ferrett, on the Swiss side.

The best time to finish the Tour du Mont Blanc is during the summer months, July and August, when the route has little snow and the weather is usually good. Outside these months, the logistics become more complicated because many of the hostels and mountain huts on the route are closed. If we had to recommend a more specific period, it would be the second half of August. During these 2 weeks the number of hikers and mountaineers is lower and the weather is usually quite pleasant. Read more about the Tour du Mont Blanc or take a look at one of our packages.

3. Tour du Mont Blanc: Europe's Finest

At Bookatrekking.com, we not only book your huts, we also send you on your way with a comprehensive hiking guide with the most important information for your Switzerland, including interactive Komoot maps. Browse all our options here and turn your dreams into reality.

4. Walker's Haute Route: Arguably Better than The Tour du Mont Blanc

The Walker's Haute Route connects two of the most well-known mountain towns in the Alps - Chamonix, France, and Zermatt, Switzerland. Typically starting from Mont Blanc and finishing at Matterhorn, it crosses 11 mountain passes, covering about 200 kilometers - offering a multitude of variations and route options. Chamonix is also known as a starting point for the Tour du Mont Blanc. Unlike the Tour du Mont Blanc, the Walker's Haute Route doesn't go round. It does feature a part of the route of the TMB. Up until Swiss Champex and via Trient, the route follows some stages of the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The route then continues further into Switzerland, via Le Chable, Mont Fort, Prafleuri, Arolla, and La Sage. Along the way, the trek offers an unprecedented world of contrasts. Glaciers and snow-capped peaks are guaranteed, but you can also expect beautifully lush green valleys,s alpine meadows, and the most picturesque Alpine villages. Cross the Rösti curtain, the symbolic border between French and German-speaking Switzerland between Zinal and Gruben. The final stages via St. Niklaus and the Europa Hütte bring you to one of the most iconic peaks of the Alps, the Matterhorn, and to that other mountaineering capital: Zermatt. Want to hike to Zermatt? Check our offers here.

4. Walker's Haute Route: Arguably Better than The Tour du Mont Blanc

5. Tour des Muverans: Off The Beaten Trail

Experience the breathtaking Tour des Muverans , a captivating circular trek in Valais offering a variety of walking options. The official trail spans 54 km, featuring a total ascent and descent of 4300m, requiring approximately 23 hours of walking. The route primarily traverses altitudes above 2000m, reaching a peak of over 2600m and descending to a lowest point of 1230m.

Embark on the Tour des Muverans and encircle the majestic Grand Muveran peak, towering above 3000m and straddling the border between Vaud and Valais in Switzerland. The hike can commence from three starting points: Pont de Nant, Derborence, or Ovronnaz, and can be undertaken in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. Ovronnaz, a charming holiday and spa town renowned for its three 32- to 35-degree hot springs, serves as the most convenient base for this remarkable journey. Your Tour des Muverans journey starts right here..

5. Tour des Muverans:  Off The Beaten Trail

6. Tour Des Combins: Switerland and Italy in the Mix

The Tour des Combins offers a quieter alternative to the popular Tour du Mont Blanc, which typically ranks among the most crowded hikes in the Alps. If you long for a more peaceful experience without compromising on stunning vistas and challenging hikes, then the Tour des Combins might be your choice. This trek begins and ends in Bourg Saint Pierre, a picturesque town near the Swiss-Italian border.

During the Tour des Combins , you'll encircle the impressive Massif des Combins, pass by vast lakes, and traverse open fields between the mountains, with the highest point at Col des Otanes (2,863m / 9,393ft). The journey is divided into 7 stages, but for experienced hikers, there's also an intensive 6-day option available. Although the trails are generally well-maintained, don't underestimate this trek. Almost daily, you'll encounter ascents and descents of up to 1000 meters, and some sections of the route are quite narrow. In the evenings, you'll stay in cozy cabanes (in Switzerland) and rifugios (in Italy), where a warm meal awaits you after a day filled with hiking adventures. Start your Tour des Combins memories here.

6. Tour Des Combins: Switerland and Italy in the Mix

7. Vier-Quellen-Weg: The Source of Great Rivers

TheVier-Quellen-Weg, or the Four Springs Trail was introduced in Switzerland in 2012. This route crosses as many as four cantons: Uri, Graubünden, Ticino and Valais. Compared to established tours such as the Tour du Mont Blanc, the route markings are excellent, making it almost effortless to follow. Andermatt serves as the starting point, easily accessible by car or public transport.

During the Vier Quellen Weg you will discover the sources of four rivers, the most famous of which is the Rhine. The Rhône is also well known, mainly for its wine, of course. The Ticino merges into the Po and the Reuss eventually rejoins the Rhine via the Aare near Koblenz. But you don't notice much of that at the springs. You pass enchanting blue lakes and pass the Gotthard Pass and Furka Pass. With 5 stages, this trek is challenging. Although children walk these trails, some sections contain technical sections and longer stages. Accommodations range from mountain huts to local hotels, allowing you to both enjoy the authentic hut-trekking experience and occasionally experience more comfort. You can book your Vier-Quellen-Weg huts here.

7. Vier-Quellen-Weg: The Source of Great Rivers

Solo Walking Holidays in Switzerland, Possible?

Yes, it is certainly possible to walk an individual hut-to-hut tour. Finding a place to stay as an individual is often also much easier, in the shared rooms there is often still one bed left which you can claim. Individual walking is often done by the Swiss themselves. In the huts you often have a quick conversation with fellow hikers, so you don't have to spend your evenings alone.

Walking Holidays in Switzerland and the Weather

The most important rule on hut tours and on hikes in the Alps or other high mountains is that the weather changes much faster in areas above 2,000 metres and that there are different climatic conditions than at the altitudes where we normally travel. When planning a hut tour and mountain hikes, the weather forecasts must always be taken into account. Even in the high summer, when the temperature in the valley is over 30 degrees, it can snow in the high mountains. The reason for this is that the temperature can drop by 5-6 degrees per 1000 altimeters. Because cold air can also store less moisture, it rains or snows more often in the high mountains than in the lowlands. In the high mountains a thunderstorm can be particularly dangerous, in principle the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon increases and the weather can change very quickly due to the altitude.

A possible thunderstorm can be recognised by lightning, or small cumulus clouds, which are piling up more and more. A sharp drop in air pressure is also a sure sign of an upcoming thunderstorm. In case of thunderstorms you should always avoid the via ferrata and other metal objects. Look for shelter in a cave or under a ledge as soon as possible. Nevertheless, good protection from the sun is essential. The tree line in the Alps runs at an altitude of 1,800 to 2,200 metres - above that you are exposed to the burning sun, which is always thick in the high mountains.

Walking Holidays in Switzerland and the Weather

Did you know that we can book all huts and refuges for the Switzerland for you? Check out all our options here.

Packing List for Walking Holidays in Switzerland

Packing the right equipment is key for any multi-day trekking adventure in Switzerland. Below you will find the equipment recommended for hiking in the Alps.

Essentials

  • Medium-sized backpack (up to 40 liters gear capacity), including rain cover
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Hiking boots
  • Rain jacket
  • Rain pants
  • Two pairs of socks
  • Two sets of wicking underwear
  • Two wicking shirts
  • Insulation long-sleeve jacket (fleece, synthetic, down, merino wool)
  • Trekking pants
  • Water bottle/hydration reservoirs
  • Knife
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Garbage bag (to carry out trash)
  • Hat or cap and thin gloves (liners)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Topographic map
  • Toiletry kit
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Snacks (e. g. fruit, energy bars)
  • Cell phone

Optional

  • Trekking poles
  • Windproof jacket (e. g. softshell)
  • Emergency shelter/bivy
  • Lightweight stuff sacks to keep everything organized
  • Earplugs
  • Alpinist Association Membership Card (if you are a member)
  • Blister treatments, tape
  • Slippers
  • Bandana or buff
  • Camera

How do I Prepare for my Walking Holidays in Switzerland?

A hut tour can be done by anyone in normal health. However, if you want to get the most out of your hut trip, it is wise to prepare yourself physically. You don't have the Alps by the back door, so you will have to be creative when it comes to your preparation. For adequate preparation you can pay attention to the following five things.

Cardio

It's best to get moving as soon as you think about your hiking holiday in Switzerland. With the right aerobic fitness you will have a better heart rate, healthy muscles and a large lung capacity. Running, walking, even more walking and and cycling or swimming are excellent training methods. One hour, 3 to 4 times a week is sufficient.

Endurance

Building up your endurance is also important. The best thing you can do is walk long distances, at least once a week. If you can walk comfortably for a longer period of time, you are ready to go.

Train with gear

Use the backpack and shoes you want to use for your cabin trip and add this to your workout as you work on your cardio and stamina.

Altitude

If you can, you can mimic the altitude by walking and hiking in the hills and mountains. If you don't live in the right area, don't panic. The first two points are the most important.

Know your body

This is perhaps the most important part. If you are questioning your physical abilities, it is wise to have a check-up carried out by your GP.

There is no fixed method for preparing for your walking holidays. Your preparation may depend on the duration, the surroundings and what you want to achieve. Not everyone is a mountain goat. Don't think about your preparation. Take it easy and enjoy your time in the mountains.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Switzerland with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Safe Hiking Tips for Switzerland

When you go on walking holidays, it is wise to be aware of a few points. Even if this is not your first time, you should never underestimate the mountains. Good tour planning and compliance with the regulations on the mountains will significantly increase safety. To ensure that your hiking holiday is a safe and enjoyable experience, here below you can find a list of 8 recommendations for safe hiking in the mountains:

Know your limits

Hiking in Switzerland is the perfect outlet to escape from daily life. It is an endurance sport along with a beautiful nature experience with a positive effect on body and mind — as long as one is in good shape and has a realistic picture of one's possibilities and limits. Never overestimate yourself or underestimate the route. Don't overdo it! Always choose the slower variant and take more time for your plans. Hiking under time pressure is not fun and at too fast a pace it can be dangerous. Be wise!

Plan Carefully

Good planning is half the work! Hiking maps, literature, the Internet, and expert advice are invaluable when planning the route in Switzerland and enable you to determine the length, altitude difference, difficulty, and conditions of the hike. When planning group treks, the itinerary should always be planned for the weakest member of the group! The weather in the mountains can change incredibly quickly, and rain, wind, and cold all increase the risk factor. For this reason, always check the weather forecast beforehand and contact our trekking experts to find your way around before you start.

Be Fully Equipped

Equipment is everything. In the most extreme case, it makes the difference between life and death, and in any case, it definitely makes the difference between having fun and having a bad time. Food and water, sunscreen, and waterproof and warm clothes must always be in your backpack, as well as a first aid kit and a mobile phone with a full battery (in case there is an emergency). However, packing light makes walking easier, so don't take too much extra luggage with you. Your equipment should always be suitable for the terrain you'll be hiking on in Switzerland.

Wear Suitable Footwear

Good walking shoes protect your feet and provide a better fit. Shoes with a good fit, with non-slip soles, water-resistant and lightweight are a must for additional walking pleasure during the Switzerland. Trail running shoes are great for a weekend in the mountains, but on longer hikes or more technical trails, you'll want at least A/B hiking boots. That means it is recommended wearing high mountain shoes that are water-repellent with extra ankle support to prevent sprains.

Stay on Marked Trails

Switzerland has endless marked hiking trails, which are controlled and maintained and should not be deviated from. It may be tempting, but it's not a good idea to take shortcuts or alternative routes through unmarked terrain. It increases the risk of disorientation and you're more likely to get lost and have accidents or fall in the mountains. Even steep slopes of packed old snow are often underestimated and dangerous. Are you in doubt? Better don't do it. For easy navigation, we work with our trusted partner Komoot, whose interactive maps, also available offline, provide you with the necessary digital means to get from A to B. As a backup, make sure to bring a hiking guide or a paper map with you. FYI, 75% of stumbles occur due to carelessness on marked paths or roads, not in open terrain!

Take Regular Breaks

Remember you're on a hiking holiday. Timely and regular breaks not only provide welcome relaxation but also make it possible to enjoy Switzerland. The body needs a regular food and drink intake to maintain performance and concentration. Our advice is that if you have little time, it's better to follow the short itinerary than to speed up the long one.

Stay Reachable

If you are hiking solo or in small groups, it is advisable to inform people back home about your plans, what route you are taking, and when you plan to return. Even small incidents can lead to unpleasant emergencies, so make sure you are available at all times. Bring a charged phone containing at least the phone numbers of immediate family members, your accommodations en route, and the emergency phone numbers operating in Switzerland.

Respect Nature

Leave no rubbish behind, prevent noise, stay on the marked trails, do not disturb wildlife or grazing animals, and respect protected areas.

Where can I book my walking holiday in Switzerland?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in Switzerland. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for Switzerland here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in Switzerland not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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