Unlike Switzerland’s most famous chocolate bar, Toblerone, which is losing its iconic Matterhorn logo due to the fact that it is no longer totally Swiss, its landscapes are unmistakable in their uniqueness. In our list of the best hikes in Switzerland, achievable in a day and all featuring in our various Swiss walking holidays, you may not get to climb the Matterhorn but you will bite off a huge chunk of authentic Alpine ambrosia. You won’t be able to limit yourself to just one piece either, which, thankfully, you don’t have to on our walking holidays. There’s nearly always another equally delicious chunk waiting for you the next day.
Grindelwald to Wengen, Bernese Oberland
This challenging and totally uplifting day of trekking is part of our Bernese Oberland tour, also known as the Bernese Highlands or Bernese Alps. This region is home to the most masterful of Switzerland’s mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and, weather permitting, you get glimpses of them all on this hike from Grindelwald to Wengen. Your starting point is also known as the Eiger village, as it’s tucked in between the iconic mountain’s north face and the Wetterhorn.
From Grindelwald, you take on a stunning uphill trek along the base of the Eiger, to Kleine Scheidegg (2,061m), a mountain pass that hovers below the Eiger and Lauberhorn summits. Walk through a mix of forests, picture-perfect alpine farms and wildflower meadows, with views down across Grindelwald Valley, keeping an eye up on the heights to see the snowy peaks of the Eiger and tumbling glacial waterfalls. In addition, the walk here the previous day from Rosenlaui competes with this one in the beauty stakes.
Hiking time: 5.5h
Walking from Grindelwald to Wengen in the Bernese Oberland is one of the best hikes in Switzerland.
Riederalp to Fiescheralp, Aletsch Glacier Panorama Trail
You definitely won’t forget seeing the Aletsch Glacier on this Panorama Trail holiday of the 23km natural wonder, because we mustn’t ever forget the impact that the climate emergency is having on it. The largest glacier in the Alps, it has receded by over 3km since the late 19th century, speeding up its loss by a further 13km by 2100. Unlucky for everyone, not just some. This leg of the Panorama Trail feels like it’s immersing you in every bit of its glacial gorgeousness, starting in the car-free village of Riederalp, located on a sunny plateau at 1,925m, from where you walk to one of the best viewpoints of the Aletsch, as well as an array of 4,000m peaks of the Valais, including the Matterhorn and Weisshorn, on a good day. Descend down through alpine meadows and the most tranquil of terrain, past Lake Märjelensee and other small tarns to another car-free village of Fiescheralp. Not cow-free though, as its nickname is Kühboden, or cow pasture. The sound of cowbells can be deafening. Hopefully the sound of calving glaciers is less so.
Hiking time: 5-6h
Now that’s a good day of hiking, walking through cottongrass fields around the Aletsch Glacier.
Saas-Fee to Grächen, High Passes of Valais
This is a serious adventure of a day trek, starting in the car-free village of Saas Fee (1,800m), just one of four in the Saas Valley, but this one claiming ‘pearl of the Alps’ status, thanks to its 13 peaks that rise to over 4,000m all around it. It’s a mecca for skiers in winter, and a hiking haven in summer, with this hike to Grächen a particular winner. It starts off softly softly, hiking through larch, pine and spruce trees and then, as it gets more exposed and rockier, you enter no messing territory, with steel cables to support you. You’ll need nerves of steel too at certain points with the sheer drops but, once you take a deep breath, sheer beauty. Your walk takes you as far as Hannigalp (2,122m), where you take a cable car down to Grächen, with views out across the Matter Valley, to the Matterhorn and similarly pointy Bietschhorn. You can undertake this adventure on our High Passes of the Valais complete tour, or the section between Saas-Fee and Grimentz.
Hiking time: 7h
Wake up energised to start a spectacular day of hiking from the serenity of Saas-Fee.
Schwarzenburg to Fribourg, Via Jacobi
This trek is part of the Via Jacobi, or Switzerland’s Way of St. James, a 440km trail that you can walk in 21 days, on a self-guided tour between two of Europe’s most famous beauty spots: Lake Constance and Lake Geneva. The section between Schwarzenburg to Fribourg is one of the highlights for many of our adventurers, which you come to on day 14 of the complete trail, or on the second to last day of Interlaken to Romont section of the trail. It may not be as elevated as some of our other best hikes in Switzerland, but it’s a stunning historic trail, and has a very different feel to the summits of Switzerland.
Following in the footsteps of Jakobspilger, or pilgrims, you walk along a sunken lane that has been cut into the sandstone, and laid with stones from the nearby river. You can still see grooves in the stone where carts and horses would once have travelled, some stopping at sacred sites that still exist, such as St. James Chapel in Tafers and the neo-Gothic church in Heitenried, built in 1905 with a beautifully crafted wooden altar. Or the late 19th-century neo-Romanesque church in Saint-Antoine, with a pretty chapel dedicated to Saint Anthony the Hermit. You’ll feel like less of a hermit, albeit a happy hiking one, as you approach the medieval city of Fribourg, its Old Town perched on a rocky hill above the Sarine River.
Hiking time: 5.5h
Approaching Fribourg via the historic Pont de Berne.
Champex-Lac to Trient, Tour du Mont Blanc
This hike is an extraordinary finale of the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB), if you choose the route that starts and ends in Martigny in Switzerland. There are two route options on this day, both starting at the idyllic alpine village and lake after which it is named, Champex-Lac. First, a colossal climb that takes you via the Fenêtre d’Arpette, the highest point on the TMB at 2,665m, and only to be taken on if conditions are good. The reward of this final ramble is the most heartstopping views across the Trient Glacier and down into Vallée du Trient. The alternative route via Alp Bovine trail is easier, following the northern contours of the rocky spur, leading through high alpine pastures and passing a great lunch spot at Alp Bovine (1,987m). Both routes continue on to Trient where you can catch a bus back to Martigny for a celebratory, well, Martini. After such stirring landscapes, you need to shake it up a bit.
Distance via Via Fenêtre d’Arpette: 15km
Hiking time: 5-6h
Distance via Alp Bovine: 15.5km
Hiking time: 6-7h
Open the window and this is what you see. The Fenêtre d’Arpette.
If you are keen to explore more of the best hikes in Switzerland, it’s worth remembering that travelling by train in Switzerland is both eco-friendly and eco-fantastic, boasting some of the most exhilarating train journeys in the world. Many of our Switzerland tours are accessible by train, and we give details of how to get to and from each of them by train on the tour page. For more information on train travel, see our blog on How to book cheap train tickets, as well as The best train journeys in Switzerland. And if you want to know more about timing your visit to Switzerland perfectly, we have a blog for that too.