The 12 Best Hikes in Switzerland

The Eiger Trail

MySwitzerland.com

Hiking in Switzerland is practically a required part of a vacation there, especially in the spring, summer, and fall, when most trails are accessible. The scenery is epic, as trails run through lush valleys, around clear lakes, and over rushing streams, climb looming mountains and offer gasp-worthy views of the Alpine terrain. And the Swiss love to hike as much as visitors do—there are 65,000 kilometers of hiking trails in the small country, and the Swiss constitution actually requires that the trails be kept clean and well-maintained.

No matter what your physical ability, you'll find Swiss hiking trails that match it. There are even some trails that are safe and accessible for wheelchair users.

Here's our list of the top hikes in Switzerland, ranked by degree of difficulty from easiest to most challenging. We've also included some information about what you'll see along the way.

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Wageti-Rundweg

Wageti-Rundweg trail

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This easy trail begins and ends at Kandersteg station in the Bernese Oberland. It's suitable for walkers of all fitness levels, as well as for wheelchairs, and takes in some big Swiss scenery, including the imposing Blüemlisalp massif, from which waterfalls cascade, depending on the time of year. The paved, flat trail has minimal elevation change as it winds along the Kander River and past historic, colorful farmhouses to reach a small lake. The loop trail is 2.4 miles long and takes one hour at a leisurely pace, and there are shops and restaurants near the station.

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Chemin du Gruyère (Easy)

Chemin du Gruyere

MySwitzerland.com

This family-friendly hike takes in some of the most wonderful offerings of Switzerland—iconic mountain scenery, charming towns, castles, and a bonus of chocolate and cheese. Start at the Charmey train station and hike towards Gruyère, passing over a suspension bridge, through a canyon-like river gorge, and stopping in Broc for chocolate at Maison Cailler. The mostly flat, 7.5-mile trail continues to Gruyère, where Gruyère Castle and the Maison du Gruyère cheese factory await. After the three-hour hike, take a bus back to Charmey.

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The Planet Trail at Üetliberg (Easy)

Uetliberg Trail above Zurich

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Manageably-sized Üetliberg Mountain is practically in Zurich's backyard, and the recreation area at its summit is a popular year-round destination for Zurichers. Join them by taking a 30-minute train ride to Üetliberg from Zurich's main station, then head out on the 3.7-mile Planet Trail (sometimes called the Panorama Trail), which follows the Üetliberg ridge. There are gorgeous views of Zurich, Lake Zurich, and the Alps beyond, and fun activities along the family-friendly trail, which can be knocked out in less than two hours. Take the gondola at Felsenegg down to Adliswil, where regular trains will whisk you back to Zurich.

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Appenzell Alpine Trail (Easy)

Appenzell Alpine Trail

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With an elevation change of just about 450 meters, this hike is just challenging enough to feel like you'll have earned a nice big lunch afterward. The two-hour, 3.4-mile trail begins at Schwägalp, and skirts the base of Säntis mountain all the way to the Jakobsbad gondola lift station. This is pastoral Switzerland at its best, as the trail crosses lush green fields and passes by charming farmhouses and the occasional Swiss cow. You can return back to Schwägalp on foot, or get there via train and bus from Jakobsbad.

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Nendaz Water Route (Easy)

Bisse du Milieu / Nendaz Water Route

MySwitzerland.com

The terraced farms and vineyards of the Valais canton are laced with a network of human-made irrigation channels, called "bissef." The Historic Water Route from Nendaz takes in 8 miles of the nearly 62 miles of hiking trails among the waterways. The loop hike begins and ends near the Haut-Nendaz ski gondola station and is a 3.5-hour route, mostly through woodlands, with the rushing water of the bisse never far away. At Planchouet, you can stop for lunch before continuing back to Haut-Nendaz.

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Via Albula/Bernina stage 4 (Moderate)

Via Albula / Bernina route

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The Bernina Express train ride is one of the top experiences in Switzerland, not just for the stunning lake and glacier scenery but for the engineering wonder of the Rhaetian Railway. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its bridges, tunnels, and viaducts that cross the Alps from Tirano, Italy, into St. Moritz. Observe natural and human-made wonders along the Via Albula/Bernina hike from Preda to Bergün (or reverse), a 4.3-mile trail of moderate difficulty with 1,706 feet of elevation change. The hike takes two hours, 20-minutes one way, so you can hike it in return or catch a train back to your starting point.

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Swiss William Tell Path (Moderate)

Swiss William Tell Path

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Experience some of the pivotal moments of Swiss history on this 5.6-mile hike, and enjoy a nice boat ride to boot. The three-hour hike begins at the Rütli meadow, where the forming of the Swiss Confederacy and the legend of William Tell combine. To reach the meadow, take a steamboat across Lake Lucerne from Brunnen. The trail climbs, including on 860 steps, to reach sweeping panoramas and a mountain lake before descending back down to Bauen, on the lakefront. From there, take a steamer back to where you started in Brunnen.

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Aletsch Glacier Trail (Moderate)

Aletsch Glacier Trail

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It takes some effort to get to this high altitude hike, but the chance to walk across an immense, slow-moving river of glacial ice and soak in vistas of numerous 13,000-foot peaks is worth it. From Riederalp, take the Moosfluh cable car to the top, where you'll find the trailhead for this four-hour, 7.4-mile hike. Along the way, Alpine huts offer hearty food and pit stops, before the trail ends at the top of the Fiescheralp cable car, where you can descend to find transport back to Riederalp. Hikers should be sure-footed and in good physical shape for this one.

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Zermatt Five-Lake Trail (Moderate)

Matterhorn viewed from the Zermatt 5-Lake Trail

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You might not expect a trail at the base of the Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in Europe, to be relatively flat. Yet once you reach the Zermatt Five-Lake Trail (also called the 5 Seenweg), via a series of funiculars and cable cars, the rest is fairly easy, albeit high altitude hiking. The trail starts at the top of the Sunnegga cable car and ends at the top of the Blauherd cable car (or can be done in reverse) and passes five pristine Alpine lakes, many with views of the mighty Matterhorn herself. The 5.5-mile hike takes about 2.5 hours, and yet another cable car connects the start and endpoints.

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Eiger Trail (Moderate)

Eiger Trail

MySwitzerland.com

The nearly-13,000-foot Eiger mountain in the Bernese Alps offers big thrills to experienced climbers. But hikers can also get close to the face of the mountain on the Eiger Trail, a moderately difficult, 3.7-mile hike that takes about two hours. To reach the starting point, hikers take the Jungfrau Railway—itself a thrilling experience—to Eigergletscher station and set off from there. Along the way, you'll see climbers on the famous north face of the Eiger. The trail is mostly level all the way to the Brandegg cog railway station, and there's at least one alpine hut restaurant along the way.

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Rosenlaui Glacier to Innertkirchen (Difficult)

Rosenlaui Glacier to Interlaken hike

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Start your day on an easy note with a quick (1,968-foot) hike through the spectacular Rosenlaui Glacier Gorge. Then pick up the nearby trailhead for the Dossen Hut, 4,000 feet above. After a pitstop here, it's mostly level or downhill to Innertkirchen, where you can catch transport to Interlaken or Meiringen. The rugged 11-mile path passes along rivers and glacier-carved moonscapes, and hikers must use ladders and iron rungs in certain sections. Allow about eight hours.

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Via Ferrata from Mürren to Gimmelwald (Difficult)

Via Ferrata near Murren

Murren Tourismus

A harness, a helmet, plenty of hiking and climbing experience, and no fear of heights are prerequisites for this bucket-list hike from Mürren to Gimmelwald. Mürren, at the base of the Schilthorn peak, is reached by a mountain train. From there, hikers make the 1.36-mile trek to Gimmelwald via a daunting series of iron rungs, cables (to which they attach carabiners), ladders, and a swinging bridge over a deep gorge. The one-way journey takes about three hours. While the trail can be tackled by those in moderately good shape, experts recommend going with a guide if you've never done a Via Ferrata before. From Gimmelwald, you can return by ski gondola to Mürren.

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