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SWITZERLAND HIKING

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Hiking in Switzerland is very popular. Walking vacations are easy to arrange, because Switzerland has more than 48,300 kilometers (30,000 miles) of marked hiking trails.

Hiking along Lake Louvie
Hiking along Lake Louvie
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Hiking package

Alex Herrmann, Director North America for Switzerland Tourism, dispels several myths about hiking in Switzerland. "Hiking in Switzerland is not boring," he says. "Hiking is a great way to discover nature and explore Swiss national parks."

The Swiss Family National Park Trail, for example, is ideal for family hiking. Located in the oldest national park in Europe, the trail from Champlönch to Il Fuorn takes 2.5 hours to hike.

Family hiking

"Hiking is not just for outdoor fanatics," states Herrmann. "It's for seniors, families and kids."

National Park Trail hiking packages include a booklet and a CD. You can rent a GPS to transform this family hike into a game.

Hikers in Swiss National Park near Ofen Pass
Hikers in Swiss National Park near Ofen Pass
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

The Swiss White Water Trail in Ticino, Switzerland, follows the Verzasca River between Sonogno and Lavertezzo. Arched Roman bridges add architectural and cultural interest. Kids love swimming in the river.

According to Alex Herrmann, hiking in Switzerland is not just for tourists. "Walking is a great way to meet the locals, many of them wearing cool hiking gear."

Because there are so many hiking trails in Switzerland, paths are not crowded. Depending on the location, hikers greet each other with Gruezi! Bonjour! Buon giorno! or Allegra!

Switzerland hiking tours

Hikers can walk at their own pace and as long as they want, stopping to swim in a lake, river or a heated pool. Switzerland hikes are also accessible by road, train, cable car and postal bus.

The Swiss William Tell Path, for example, is a scenic three-hour hiking trail between Ruetli and Bauen. Hikers walk around the Lake of Uri and climb 850 steps to Seelisberg.

After the William Tell hike, they can swim in the clean mountain lake. The micro-climate is so warm that locals grow banana and kiwis in Bauen.

Wine tasting in the vineyards at Plan Cerisier near Martigny
Wine tasting in the vineyards at Plan Cerisier near Martigny
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Swiss wine

Alex Herrmann also dispels the myth that hiking in Switzerland means a diet of power bars and water from mountain streams (even though the water is clean enough to drink). "Hikers can eat fabulous meals in restaurants and huts and sample wonderful Swiss wines."

During walking holidays in Switzerland, hikers can sample Swiss wines and foods. On the Swiss Wine Route, between St. Saphorin and Lutry in the Lake Geneva Region, hikers explore the UNESCO Lauvaux Vineyard Terraces. The three-hour vineyard hike offers many opportunities to visit wine cellars and sample local wines.

On the Valais Wine Trail, you can hike 50 kilometers (31 miles) through winegrowing areas between Martigny and Leuk. The well-signed hiking trail and parallel cycling and driving routes make it easy to taste Valais wines in up to 180 wine cellars.

Swiss chocolate

The Swiss Chocolate and Cheese Trail appeals to children and adults. On the three-hour Chemin du Gruyere, between Charmey and Gruyères/Pringy, hikers enjoy chocolate at Maison Cailler in Broc and Swiss cheese in Gruyeres.

Good Swiss food is available, even when alpine hiking. A mountain restaurant on the Swiss Cableway Experience Trail serves hikers goat cheese, yogurt and meat.

To access the trail, you ride a gondola to the Bannalp. After hiking for four hours, through alpine meadows on the Walen Trail, another cable car brings you down to Engelberg.

Hikers cross a bridge over the Geltenbach above Lauenen in the Gstaad - Saanenland region, Bernese Oberland.
Hikers cross a bridge over the Geltenbach above Lauenen in the Gstaad - Saanenland region, Bernese Oberland.
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Rhine Gorge

If you're looking for walking holidays with spectacular scenery, consider the Swiss Rhein Gorge Route. During this easy hike in the Swiss Alps, you view the rushing river, steep walls and forests of the Rhine Gorge from the Il Spir lookout in Conn and Lake Cauma.

The Swiss Alpine Experience Trail, below the Eiger North Face, is one of the most scenic Switzerland walking tours. The Eiger Trail begins at the Eigergletscher Jungfrau railway station and continues to Alpiglen.

Another hiking trip with beautiful views is the Aletsch Panorama Hike on the Swiss Glacier Trail. The Alps hike begins at Bettmerhorn mountain station and continues to Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site. After resting by the glacial Lake Maerjelen, you end the hike in Fiescheralp.

Switzerland walking tours

Alex Herrmann dispels the myth that hiking in Switzerland is expensive. "Hiking in Switzerland is free," he says, "even in Swiss national parks."

The events section of the Switzerland Tourism web site lists hiking events, such as the Villars Rando in June. The three-day walking festival includes more than 100 guided hiking tours, free movies, exhibits and conferences.

Swiss maps

The dozen best hikes in Switzerland, selected by Switzerland Tourism, SwitzerlandMobility, the Swiss Hiking Association, PostBus Switzerland, Swiss Alpine Club SAC, Swiss Railway SBB and Swiss Cableways, illustrate the diversity, accessibility, affordability and fun of taking a walking holiday in Switzerland.

You won't get lost on a walking holiday in Switzerland. Along the top 12 hiking routes, you'll see Swiss Hiking and SwitzerlandMobility yellow signs specifying how many hours or minutes to the next location on the hiking trails.

Switzerland Tourism publishes detailed hiking trail maps for the 12 top hikes and 20 additional Switzerland hikes. Maps include information on altitude and places to eat and drink.

Family picnics on Wiesner Alp above Wiesen, Canton Graubuenden.
Family picnics on Wiesner Alp above Wiesen, Canton Graubuenden.
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Hiking trips

Planning a hiking vacation in Switzerland is easy with online hiking maps from the hiking section of the Switzerland Tourism website.

The hike finder has zoomable maps, with Google Earth links for 250 Swiss hikes. It also provides hiking information for national, regional, local, single-day and night hikes in Switzerland.

You can also download free iPhone apps for 32 Swiss hikes from the multimedia section of the web site. Besides detailed hiking trail maps, the apps feature hiking information on trail altitudes and restaurants.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Switzerland Hiking: MySwitzerland.com

More things to see & do in Switzerland:

Valais Switzerland Battle of the Queens

Switzerland Lakeside Hotels, Cruises, Spas and Water Sports

Alphorns - Alpine Music from Switzerland

Best Attractions to Visit on Matterhorn and Lake Geneva Region Trip

Inexpensive Way to Tour Switzerland - Swiss Travel Pass Train and Hotel Packages