With the Swiss Alps, the Aletsch Glacier, and stunning meadows, hiking in Switzerland is a buffet of possibilities. Wherever you go in Switzerland, you will hear the mountains calling. Skyscraping peaks surround you, coated by snow and ancient glaciers. All paths lead to spellbinding alpine lakes that reflect intimidating summits above.
Home to almost 40,000 miles of carefully planned trails, enough to circumnavigate the world, Switzerland knows how to put a smile on a hiker’s face. Have your choice of high mountain treks or the rolling hills that make you feel tiny. To inspire and get your trip planning started here are our favorite hikes in Switzerland.
Hiking in Switzerland
We have hiked all over the world, but hiking in Switzerland was by far one of the best experiences we have ever had. From well-marked and laid out trails for beginner hikers, to the more advanced multi-day hikes, Switzerland is a hikers paradise. With the Swiss Alps as your backdrop, we can guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Arrived in the winter? Check out our guide to St. Moritz, the birthplace of winter tourism.
1. Zermatt 5 Lakes Hike
In the southern region of Switzerland, Zermatt is a wonderful starting point for a number of memorable hiking trails. If you have time for just one, then you can’t go wrong with the picturesque 5 Lake Trail. The hike combines all the best aspects of hiking in Switzerland, from glacial lakes, alpine meadows, and snowcapped peaks.
But as you wander along the 5 Lake Trail, you’ll be able to capture the mighty Matterhorn looming ominously further afield. It’s the perfect complement to this hike as you pass a series of gorgeous high-altitude lakes. Although chilly, the lakes are great for a swim after you’ve worked up a sweat, while all three offer amazing reflections of the iconic Matterhorn. Before reaching Sunnegga Upper Cable Car Station, stop by the Chez Vrony Hut for a treat.
Trailhead: Blauherd Cable Car StationDistance: 5.6 milesDifficulty: Easy/ModerateElevation Gain: 790ft
2. Maanlichen to Kleinsheidegg
Descending through the enchanting Jungfrau region is one of the best family-friendly hikes in Switzerland. Beginning in Maanlichen, the easy trail mostly comprises downhill hiking with gorgeous views of the iconic Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Beginning at almost 8000ft from Maanlichen, a ridge separating Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald valleys, soak in the vistas of snowcapped mountains as you start hiking down. Flanked by the Wetterhorn and the ominous north wall of Eiger Mountain, watch the peaks grow larger and larger as you continue to lose elevation.
Before arriving in Kleinsheidegg, take a quick detour to Restaurant Grindelwaldblick for some of the best views of the day, all while treating yourself to a well-earned feast. From Kleinsheidegg, you can take the train to Grindelwald or on to Wengen. Expect the hike time to be within 2 hours, making it a great option for those with young kids. Read more: Things to do in Grindelwald, Switzerland – Complete 4 Day Itinerary
Trailhead: Maanlichen Gondola StationDistance: 2.8 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: -531ft
3. 5 Lakes Hike, Pizol
We start our journey into the best hikes in Switzerland, with one that showcases stunning nature and vistas without being overly strenuous. The moderate hike begins just out of Zurich in the alpine lakes around Pizol.
From the base, your adventure begins with a scenic cable car ride to the high alpine region where you’ll arrive at Pizolhutte (Pizol Hut). Strap on your boots with an immediate climb to the first of five lakes. The trail takes on the personality of a rollercoaster rising and falling between each lake but is never anything short of jaw-dropping.
For this reason, it’s one of the most popular hiking trails for photographers. The 5 Lakes Hike is accessible year-round, providing ample opportunity to capture the reflection of towering peaks on the turquoise lakes.
Because all the lakes are different, you can expect a variety of amazing photos and views from each one. Although there is some climbing, you’ll find more descent than ascent. So combined with the scenery, it’s easy to see why this trek is one of the best hikes in Switzerland.
Trailhead: PizolhutteDistance: 6.2 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 2460ft
4. Bachalpsee (Lake Balchap)
From Grindelwald, you’ll be greeted with amazing scenery of soaring glacial peaks as rugged as they are beautiful. From town, you’ll have the pleasure of seeing all three of the Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger mountains all in one. The former is the destination of one of the best beginner hikes in Switzerland.
The hike begins at the base of the Grindelwald First Cable Car Station. The gondola will take you high into the Jungfrau Region for a day hike you won’t soon forget. By skipping the major climb, you’ll have fresh legs for when the trail begins.
The simple trek to Lake Balchap will take about an hour, where you’ll have envious views of the Wetterhorn reflecting on the sapphire lake. Be sure to bring some goods for a picnic as there are several benches to relax on, perfect for lunch with a view.
If you’re feeling fresh, you can continue on for the two-hour round trip to the stunning Burghotel Faulhorn, a mountain station on the summit. Read more: The Complete Guide to Grindelwald-First in Switzerland
Trailhead: Grindelwald First Cable Car StationDistance: 3.7 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 616ft
Keen to see what else there is to Grindelwald? Read our guide to the magical town.
5. The Eiger Trail
You can witness the enormous summit of Eiger from many of the top hikes on this list. But it would be remiss of you not to get a firsthand experience. With a close-up view of the breathtaking north wall of Eiger, along with jaw-dropping vistas of the valley below, the Eiger Trail is one of the most rewarding hikes in Switzerland.
Standing at around 13,000ft, the mountain invites an array of fearless climbers who wish to achieve climbing the enormous wall. Unlike the rock climb itself, this trek is not one of the most dangerous hikes in the Bernese Alps.
The trek begins at altitude, guiding you back down the valley allowing you to capture all the best views with none of the heart-pounding efforts. Now that sounds like a great trade-off to me. Read more: Spectacular Switzerland, a Visit to Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe
Trailhead: EigergletscherDistance: 3.7 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: -2330ft
The scenery in Switzerland refuses to quit. This trek offers some of the most incredible panoramic views in the country. I probably sound like a broken record, but with clear views of 20 13,000ft peaks from a plateau that connects to Matterhorn, you get what I’m saying.
From Zermatt follow the ridge, leading you to a viewpoint on the Riffelalp plateau. You’ll be faced with a strong climb, but it’s easy to forget the struggle when surrounded by such scenery. After gaining over 3000ft in elevation, you’ll bear witness to a stunning skyline packed with iconic peaks.
From there, you can take the Gornergrat Cog railway back to town. For those who love downhill, then yes, you can begin at the plateau for an easy hike to Zermatt.
Trailhead: ZermattDistance: 4.4 miles (one way)Difficulty: Moderate/HardElevation Gain: 3004ft
7. Lauterbrunnental Glacial Valley
The Valley with the 72 Waterfalls is home to one of the most famous alpine villages in the world and a must-do hiking trail. Lauterbrunnental (Lauterbrunnen Valley) offers a flurry of easy hikes.
But if you want to see the top sights within the valley, then this is the hike for you. Beginner-friendly, grab your hiking poles, and get ready for a great hike that guides you past dozens of sparkling waterfalls on your way from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg. With minimal incline, the hike takes you past fairytale Swiss villages, enveloped by the most amazing scenery.
Many of the waterfalls have amenities set up for visitors, allowing you to take your time enjoying the thunderous tumbling water. The hike takes less than 2 hours, giving you plenty of time to trek the side trails on a sunny day.
From Stechelburg, catch a Swiss Postbus back to the beginning, or turn around for a memorable 5-mile journey.
Trailhead: LauterbrunnenDistance: 2.5 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 328ft
8. The Hardergrat Trail
If you’re like me and nothing beats ridge hiking by alpine flowers and endless panoramic views, then put the Hardergrat hike on your Swiss itinerary. The challenging but glorious trail brings incredible views of Lake Brienz beneath your feet and the immense Bernese Alps in the distance.
With the ridge dropping sharply to either side, it’s not the best hike for those with a fear of heights. In fact, for 2/3 of the 17-mile journey, you’ll be walking along the precipice.
For this reason, trade in your leisurely sneakers, wear hiking boots and have the aid of hiking poles to help keep your balance along the razor-sharp ridge. Beginning at Harder Kulm, start early to give yourself plenty of time to catch the last cable car from Brienzer Rothorn.
Trailhead: Harder KulmDistance: 16.7 milesDifficulty: HardElevation Gain: 9850ft
9. Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail
Hiking in Switzerland offers a smorgasbord of spectacular scenery. The veritable buffet of views can almost be overwhelming. But even if you’ve completed some hikes on this list, the Aletsch Glacier trail will still leave you with your jaw on the floor.
The Aletsch Glacier stretches for 14 miles, cutting by some of the most renowned summits in the Swiss Alps. The sheer scale of the glacier is hard to fathom, but thankfully you’ll have plenty of time to wrap your mind around it as the trail follows the immense ice field.
Beyond the glacier, prepare to be amazed at the 30+ 13,000ft peaks that tower in every direction. Soon you’ll reach a high meadow, Moosfluh, where you can sit and admire the vistas now containing Blausee Lake.
Trailhead: Fiescheralp Cable Car StationDistance: 7.7 milesDifficulty: Moderate/HardElevation Gain: 1673ft
10. Hohbalmen Alpine Meadows
For your chance to live out your “Sound of Music” dreams, then make sure you complete the hike to the Hohbalmen Alpine Meadows. Like a scene out of that famous movie, roam the lush plateau packed with wildflowers and the north face of Matterhorn. Read more: Incredible Zermatt, Switzerland – 23 Exciting Things to See and Do
One of the most beautiful hikes in Switzerland, the Hohbalmen Alpine Meadows, will make you work for the views. The challenging hike covers 11 miles with an immediate sharp ascent. The trail begins through a forest with the trees quickly dissipating, making way for sheep-grazed fields, with views over the town of Zermatt. Soon pass a waterfall before stopping at the alpine restaurant for a well-earned rest.
Trailhead: ZermattDistance: 11 milesDifficulty: HardElevation Gain: 3980ft
11. Muottas Muragl – Segantini Hütte – Alp Languard Hike
This classic hike is about a 2 1/2 hour climb and if you are going to do just one hike in St. Moritz, make it this one. It’s a good challenging hike that is steep in sections, but not too difficult. It’s the perfect hike for intermediate hikers that will take you to a fantastic lookout at the Segantini Hut.
The hike begins at the Punt Muragl train station where we took the funicular railway up to Muottas Muagl for the start of our hike. The trip up the funicular is an activity unto itself offering beautiful views of St. Moritz, the St. Moritz Lake, and the panoramic views of Upper Engadin from 2,456m (8,057ft). Read more: Stunning St. Moritz – Summer fun in Switzerland
Trailhead: Punt Muragle Train StationDistance: 4 milesDifficulty: ModerateElevation Gain: 1270-ft.
12. Mount Rigi Panorama Trail
Gazing down at the immense Lake Lucerne, the views from the Mount Rigi Panorama Trail are some of the best in our list of Switzerland hikes. Rigi has long been held in high esteem, being the focus of countless works of art, especially at dawn and dusk. The relatively flat nature of the trail, as it follows the old Scheidegg Railway, makes it an accessible hike for wheelchair users and strollers.
Following the ridgeline between Rigi First and Rigi Scheidegg, the trail showcases flowering meadows, and vast lakes enveloped by craggy mountains. Along the way, you’ll find benches to appreciate the spectacular views with space to spread out and lay down the picnic rug.
The length of the hike, being just over 4 miles, means you have all the time in the world to make sense of just how such a beautiful place came to be. Arrive early for sunrise, or stick around for golden hour to capture the pink hues bouncing off the fjord-like lake.
Trailhead: Rigi Kulm Train StationDistance: 4.3 milesDifficulty: EasyElevation Gain: 803ft
13. Via Alpina
There can be no doubt that Switzerland has some of the most spectacular day hikes going around. But if you have a little more time on your hands, then why not tackle the best multi-day hiking trail in the country?
The challenging hike isn’t just a menace to your thighs and calves, it will test your navigational skills as you cross an incredible 14 alpine passes. Covering over 240 miles, the trek is generally completed over three weeks. The trail starts in Liechtenstein in the east and ends on the beguiling shores of Lake Geneva.
The tallest of the alpine passes, Hohturtli, will place you high in the Bernese Oberland with stunning views before a dramatic descent to Oeschinensee Lake. One of the most memorable parts of the three-week journey is the lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, its water icy blue thanks to the glacial streams. An intense wilderness adventure, the Via Alpina is not for the faint of heart.
Trailhead: VaduzDistance: 242.3 milesDifficulty: HardElevation Gain: ,270-ft. to Alp Languard
Frequently Asked Questions
With the best hikes in Switzerland covered, let’s explore some important information.
When is the best time to hike in Switzerland?
Generally, the hiking season begins in late spring (May) and runs until the end of summer (August). If you trek too early in the spring, some trails will be muddy from the snowmelt, but soon they’ll make way for lush meadows teeming with wildflowers and the odd mountain goat.
Hiking in Switzerland in the summer will give you the full range of services and amenities, including mountain huts. Thanks to the number of hikes, especially moderate to challenging treks, it’s easy to escape the crowds.
During the fall and winter, it becomes much harder to hike in Switzerland. A lot of trails close and accessing the high alpine will require proper gear and experience. Having said that, picking a good weather window and hiking within your limitations can unlock a new side to the spectacular country.
What’s an easy hike to do in Switzerland?
Out of the hikes mentioned above, the Maanlichen to Kleisheidegg and Lauderbrunnental Glacial Valley hikes are the best easy hikes in Switzerland. Both are family-friendly and the perfect option for those with younger kids. The downhill and flat nature of the trails means you won’t be spending massive amounts of energy. Leaving you with time to appreciate the views with no rush to get off the mountain.
You can access both trails easily from town by walking out of Lauterbrunnen or taking the cable car from Maanlichen. With help within proximity along with the popularity of the trail, you won’t need a lot of alpine experience to venture along these trails.
What’s a hard hike to do in Switzerland?
The hardest day hike that we’ve mentioned is the Hardergrat. Walking on a knife’s edge is enough to slow down the pace of most hikers. The lengthy 16.7-mile trek will require a sustained effort, especially if you want to get to the cable car in time. But for all its difficulties, you can’t deny the trail opens up a stunning world of glacial-fed lakes and towering peaks. If you want to challenge yourself, then this will be the trek for you.
If you’re coming to Switzerland and have the time to do nothing but hike, then switch your attention to the Via Alpina. The Swiss section of the incredible trail (the entire trail is 3000+ miles long) shows off the full breadth of the local scenery allowing you to capture it all over 3 weeks on one single trail.
Final Thoughts on the Best Hiking Trails in Switzerland
For those who love hiking, Switzerland is a dream. Thanks to easy access, an abundance of helpful cable cars, fantastic amenities, and, of course, immense glacial-carved peaks, there are few better countries in which to put on your hiking boots.
Hiking in Switzerland can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. The many cable cars can carry you to the high alpine regions, allowing for simple elevation gain as you stroll between heavenly lakes. Or an easy trek from the summit down to the base. The well-maintained trails often make navigation easy and help show off Switzerland’s envious landscapes for solo travelers, friends, and family.
However you choose to approach your time here, the itinerary won’t be complete without a few of the best hikes in Switzerland.
With the best hiking covered, see how to best explore Switzerland with this ultimate road trip guide.