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Discovering Switzerland's best hiking trails: From the Swiss Alps to the Jura Mountains

Switzerland is a hiker's dream, with the Alps, gorgeous wooden bridges and chalets, snow capped summits, and the deepest blue lakes. Epic routes crisscross the nation, ranging from easy paths for solitary travellers and families to hard tracks that take you to the tops of mountains for the greatest Alpine vistas.

Here are a few of the top hiking paths in Switzerland, ranging from short hikes to multi-day expeditions.

Mount Rigi Panorama Trail


The Rigi Panorama Trail is a seven-kilometre walk that is generally level (except for a few small steep spots) and offers some of the greatest views in Switzerland. The majority of the route is dirt and gravel, but it is well-maintained and simple to navigate at any time of year.The walk begins at the top of Rigi Kulm, just at the mountain railway station line. The views from here are already breathtaking, with green and blue valleys and clouds in the distance. Find a bench, have a cup of coffee, or just take photographs until you're ready to depart.Begin by following the signs indicating Rigi. For a while, you'll be going near the railroad tracks until the route splits; at that point, follow the left trail and continue walking. It's difficult to choose between the green blossoming valleys, the Goldau mountain in the backdrop, and the blueish peaks in the distance as the nicest view along the journey. As you continue travelling, you'll notice smaller pathways branching out to the sides. Most of these are short enough that you may deviate off the main road, explore for a while, and then return to the main path. Continue on to Rigi Scheidegg and look for an empty bench when you reach the Felsenweg area - the view directly over the sea and the peaks in the distance is spectacular and the perfect site for a short lunch or simply a stop. As you approach closer to Scheidegg, the route divides in two, with one being significantly bumpier and steeper than the other. Both routes eventually go to the same location, so if possible, pick the one with the greater elevation - the views are clearer and more open on that one. The route comes to an end just before the Rigi Scheidegg cable car. You may spend some time at the station visiting the restaurant before taking the cable car back down to the valley and catching a train to wherever you're heading next.

Engelberg Valley


The Engelberg Valley has so many paths that you could spend weeks trekking through it and still discover new areas. The Brunni Trail is a panoramic walk that will let you learn about the valley and the blossoming fields surrounded by high peaks. This seven-kilometre walk has little elevation gain and should only take around two and a half hours to finish.To get started on this trek, take the Brunni cable car to the Ristis station. When you depart the station, look for signs for the Brunni Trail and begin walking in the direction of Rigidalalp. Because this is an educational path, there will be panels with information on the surrounding plant species that blanket the meadows. Follow the path until you reach the Brunnihütte sanctuary. The views of Mount Titlis and Lake Härzli are spectacular from here, making it an ideal site for a stop. The refuge also has a small restaurant serving Swiss delicacies such as local sweets and cheeses.

Try the BrunniTickle trail, a customised path that is around the entire lake and is designed to be experienced without shoes. The route has a variety of textures, including sand, gravel, and wood chips. There is soft soil, then water-covered land, and finally thorny earth.

Return to Ristis through the same route you came up, then take the cable car back to the village.



The Matterhorn is one of the tallest Alps peaks. It doesn't get much more difficult for hikers who want to put themselves to the test than climbing up a portion of the 4,478-metre-high mountain that stands exactly on the boundary between Switzerland and Italy. Technically a moderate trek, ascending the Matterhorn will take eight to twelve hours, depending on fitness, pauses, and a few route modifications along the way. The greatest starting location for Matterhorn hiking is Zermatt. If you want to restrict this trip to a single day, leave as soon as the sun rises, find the cable car queue and begin climbing up following it. After three hours of hiking on an extremely high and straight trail with breathtaking views of blue mountains, you'll arrive at Schwarzsee Paradise, a hotel/restaurant where you may eat before carrying on. Although you are not yet on the Matterhorn, this is the shortest method to get you high enough to connect to the next path.It's a remarkably flat one-hour walk down the Matterhorn side from here. At this height, the weather begins to change, but it's also the final part of "easy" trekking, so it's a nice opportunity to take in the scenery. After roughly an hour (if no breaks are taken), the terrain becomes more tough - expect plenty of slick rocks, very steep boulders that demand some manoeuvring, and lots of strong balance. After 90 minutes, you'll arrive at the Hörnli cabin, the sleeping cabin for the Matterhorn Base Camp, where multi-day hikers spend the night before going on. Take a pause here to have a closer look at the cloud-covered peaks and the Matterhorn - on clear days, you can practically touch the summit.From here, the route descends for a little break until you reach the Glacier track, which provides a straight, open view of the snow-kissed Matterhorn and the surrounding mountains. This path is rough and slippery, but it is level; if you walk at a steady pace, it should take you two hours to reach the end, where there is a cable car station. Unless you wish to spend the night on the mountain, terminate the climb here and take the cable car back to Zermatt.

Lauterbrunnental Glacial Valley


Lauterbrunnental is known as the valley of the 12 waterfalls, so a walk here will provide you with breathtaking views no matter which way you go. The valley dips gently, and the verdant meadows provide good traction and make the terrain suitable for treks, making this a wonderful site for fast, simple climbs. Begin your walk at the Lauterbrunnental railway station. You'll notice signs pointing to the trails; simply go on the cement walkway and proceed south. The paved road stops after approximately 15 minutes, and you'll be walking on a sandy road with little elevation. The following 45 minutes are filled with waterfalls cascading down steep snow-covered cliffs, rivers and streams, and cows grazing in the distance. Ignore the road split (approximately an hour after leaving the railway station) with a sign directing to the town of Stechelberg and take the second path. This will take you on a somewhat steeper track towards Gimmelwald. The initial portion of the walk is primarily through shady woodland and along rivers before opening out to floral meadows flanked by mountains and some of the valley's famed waterfalls.Follow the signs to Gimmelwald, which is one to two hours distant depending with how frequently you stop to snap photos or dip your toes in the river. The little mountain community of Gimmelwald will finally appear among the snow-covered peaks - there are a few eateries, a hostel, and some sheltered spaces for a stop here.

You may either carry on to Murren to take the train back or turn around and return to Lauterbrunnental.

Höhbalmen Alpine Meadows


The Höhbalmen Alpine meadow, a wildflower-covered balcony with a direct view of the Valais Alps, is just minutes outside Zermatt, one of the most famous mountain resort towns in southern Switzerland. If you're up for the effort, the Höhbalmen-Höhenweg climb, which takes you directly past the northern face of the majestic Matterhorn, is one of the most spectacular hikes in the area. This challenging 18-kilometre walk begins at 1,605 metres and ascends to 2,740 metres at one point, passing through scant woods, meadows where sheep graze, a water reservoir and views down over Zermatt.The route winds through valleys and hillsides before beginning a descent towards Schwarzlager, passing past a thundering waterfall before arriving at a restaurant where you may stop for lunch or an early dinner before carrying on for another 45 minutes to Zermatt.

Mount Titlis


If trekking the Matterhorn sounds too difficult, Mount Titlis in the Uri Alps is a far more manageable choice. Even better, the mountain has a variety of paths ranging from basic one-hour walks to harder level climbs that may take you to the summit of the 3,000-metre-tall peak - all while taking in the gorgeous landscape of Alpine flowers and sloping, green meadows. The one-hour-long Trubsee Circular Trail takes less than an hour to complete and includes multiple fire pits along the route (bring a picnic) and a lakeside rest spot for an easy stroll without compromising vistas. The Marmot path, which begins at the Trübsee mountain station and needs a chairlift up a hill to reach the start of the path, is another simple (but much longer) walk that takes approximately five hours and provides a direct view of the deep-blue waters of Engstlensee lake. The Lake Trüb path at the base of Mount Titlis is an excellent winter walk. It comprises a three-kilometre round around Trübsee lake on well-groomed pathways, even when covered with snow. It's a simple, straightforward walk with a backdrop of jagged mountains and gently rolling slopes.

Parc Ela


Parc Ela is a significant area of pristine wilderness in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland's easternmost province. Although there are other hiking trails in the area, the Hängebrücke Val Meltzer path is a good location to start. This walk provides wonderful open views over the Oberhalb Stein valley on an eight-kilometre, partly gravel trail with a total elevation of over 400 metres.The track begins in the town of Lantsch and ascends steeply through dense, lovely woodlands. Following the trail leads to the Val Meltger hanging bridge, which was erected to replace one that was damaged by an avalanche. Cross the bridge and continue on your journey until you come upon a solitary Alpine chalet - this is a popular photo location with stunning views of the Engadin Alpine valley region and Julier Pass, a mountain pass noted for its serpentine route. You may begin your descent from here, passing through lush green woods and crossing springs and a little scenic lake along the route. You'll return to Lantsch village, not far from where you started your walk.


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Lalit Kumar
Lalit Kumar
Aug 04, 2023


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