Switzerland boasts a wealth of hiking opportunities that cater to all levels of experience, making it an idyllic destination for both seasoned hikers and those just starting out.
The best hikes in Switzerland for beginners are diverse. At Skyhook Adventure, we offer both single and multi-day experiences. From summiting mountains to leisurely walks along lakes, beginner hiking trails are always rewarding.
Let’s explore some of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners, as well as all the essential information you need to know before going out on your first hike in this country.
Best Hikes in Switzerland for Beginners
Whether you want to explore Switzerland's mountains, lakes, cliffs, or valleys, hiking through Switzerland offers many amazing opportunities.
Here are the 18 best hikes in Switzerland for beginners, covering a range of different hiking styles and trails.
1. Lake Geneva Promenade (Montreux)
This leisurely hike showcases the serene beauty of Lake Geneva. It’s certainly one of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners, as you don’t have to worry about steep hills or challenging alpine conditions.
Beginning in the charming town of Montreux, the path gently winds along the lake's shores, providing a perfect introduction to Swiss hiking.
You'll be treated to stunning views of the lake's deep blue waters, the picturesque vineyards that line the shore, and the majestic backdrop of the Swiss Alps. The terrain remains mostly flat, making it an ideal choice for beginners looking to enjoy a tranquil lakeside stroll.
2. Grindelwald First Cliff Walk
Nestled near the idyllic village of Grindelwald, this trail offers a combination of adventure and natural beauty.
The highlight is the suspended cliff walk, a thrilling feature for beginners looking to challenge themselves slightly.
After the cliff walk, the path opens up to a gentle trail with awe-inspiring vistas of the iconic Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains. While the cliff walk adds a touch of excitement, the overall hike is manageable for those new to the Swiss Alps.
3. Lauterbrunnen Valley
The Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the best places for hiking in Switzerland. It also offers some of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners thanks to its wide range of easy trails.
Known for its enchanting waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen Valley is a haven for beginners. The valley is dotted with several easy-to-moderate hiking trails.
You can amble through lush meadows while being serenaded by the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls. The walk from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg is a particular favourite among beginners, offering a glimpse of the valley's natural wonders.
4. Zermatt - Sunnegga Flower Trail
The journey begins in the iconic mountain resort town of Zermatt. From there, a cable car whisks you up the mountain, making the hike accessible for beginners.
The Sunnegga Flower Trail meanders through alpine meadows adorned with a vibrant tapestry of wildflowers.
Throughout the hike, the Matterhorn, Switzerland, one of the nation's most famous peaks, remains in view, making this a picturesque and relatively easy hiking experience.
You still get the feeling of solitude you’d have while trekking Switzerland’s Alps, but you have the ease and convenience of a cable car trip covering the difficult ascent.
5. Oeschinensee Lake (Kandersteg)
Located near Kandersteg, the Oeschinensee is a postcard-perfect mountain lake surrounded by dramatic cliffs.
To make the hike more approachable, you can take a cable car ride from Kandersteg to the lake. A leisurely stroll around the lake offers breathtaking vistas and ample spots for picnicking, allowing beginners to savour the stunning scenery without strenuous effort.
6. Lucerne - Lake Lucerne Promenade
The city of Lucerne is renowned for its beauty, and this lakeside promenade lets beginners explore its surroundings.
The walk starts in the heart of Lucerne, where Lake Lucerne glistens under the watchful gaze of the Swiss Alps. The trail is flat and easy, making it an excellent choice for those new to hiking.
The juxtaposition of urban amenities and natural splendour is a unique aspect of this route. The easy access to Lucerne’s urban area is also something that makes this one of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners.
7. Rigi Panoramic Trail
Often referred to as the "Queen of the Mountains," Rigi is easily accessible from Lucerne or Zug.
The panoramic trail showcases sweeping views of the Swiss Plateau and the majestic Alps. Although this hike isn't entirely flat, it remains relatively gentle and provides a captivating introduction to the Swiss mountain landscape.
8. Appenzell - Seealpsee
Located in the Appenzell region, this hike leads to Seealpsee, a crystal-clear mountain lake nestled amid lush green meadows.
The Alpstein mountain range forms a dramatic backdrop. While this hike is more moderate, you can shorten the journey by taking a cable car part of the way.
Seealpsee's natural beauty and the alpine landscape offer an immersive experience for those eager to explore Switzerland's outdoors.
9. Gruyères - La Gruyère Loop
The journey commences in the medieval town of Gruyères, known for its enchanting castle. The La Gruyère Loop is an easy, scenic hike that winds through rolling hills, revealing captivating views of the Gruyères Castle.
It's a perfect choice for beginners to enjoy a historical and picturesque hike without excessive exertion.
10. Thun - Oberhofen Castle
This easy-going walk along the shores of Lake Thun allows beginners to appreciate the serene atmosphere of the lake, with the added charm of Thun's cityscape.
Starting in Thun, the path leads to the fairy-tale Oberhofen Castle, perched on the lake's edge. As you stroll along the water's edge, you'll be greeted by breathtaking lake vistas and the tranquillity that defines Switzerland.
Multi-Day Hikes in Switzerland for Beginners
Switzerland is a hiking paradise not only for day trips but also for multi-day adventures. While some trails are quite challenging, there are also options suitable for beginners who want to experience the Swiss wilderness over several days.
This iconic trek is a classic long-distance hike that circles the Mont Blanc massif, passing through Switzerland, France, and Italy.
While the entire loop is challenging, beginners can opt for the Swiss section, which is more manageable. The altitude on Tour Du Mont Blanc is also not too high, making it suitable for beginner mountaineers. It typically takes about 4-6 days to complete the Swiss part, and you'll be treated to breathtaking views of glaciers, alpine meadows, and charming Swiss villages.
12. Matterhorn Circuit
Hiking the Matterhorn in Switzerland is extremely challenging if you want to reach the summit. However, walking the many hiking trails around the base of the mountain is absolutely one of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners.
The main Matterhorn circuit takes nine days, which is certainly a challenge. However, you can break this route down into more manageable sections that are ideal for beginners.
For example, you could take a guided four-day Matterhorn highlights hike with us at Skyhook that lets you experience the best of this area. The route is not too challenging and can be enjoyed by hikers of all levels.
13. Engadine Panorama Trail
Located in the Engadine Valley, this trail offers a scenic journey through the Swiss National Park.
The 4–5-day hike provides a mix of easy and moderate paths, offering diverse landscapes, from lush valleys to rugged mountain terrain. You can also spot wildlife like ibex and chamois in the area.
14. Jura Crest Trail
The Jura Mountains provide a different Swiss hiking experience. The Jura Crest Trail is a long-distance hike that can be broken into sections, with each section taking around 2-3 days to complete.
You'll wander through rolling hills and forests, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of this lesser-visited region.
15. Via Alpina (Swiss sections)
The Via Alpina is a long-distance trail that traverses the entire Alpine arc, and the Swiss sections offer a variety of routes suitable for beginners.
Depending on the segment, you can enjoy alpine lakes, lush valleys, and quaint Swiss villages. You can choose shorter sections that align with your skill level and available time.
16. Glarus Panorama Trail
Located in the Glarus Alps, this trail offers a diverse landscape with stunning mountain scenery, serene lakes, and charming alpine huts. The complete trail can take around 4-6 days, but you can also opt for shorter sections that are suitable for beginners.
17. Bernese Oberland Traverse
While the full traverse is a more challenging route, beginners can tackle specific sections, like the Jungfrau Region or the Lauterbrunnen Valley, which offer breathtaking views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains. These sections can be completed in 2-4 days, and there are cable cars and train options to make the hiking more accessible.
18. Val d'Hérens Circuit
This circular route in the Valais region takes you through charming villages, and alpine pastures, and offers splendid views of the Matterhorn. The complete circuit can be hiked in around 5 days, but you can choose shorter sections according to your preferences and hiking experience.
Hiking in Switzerland for Beginners: What You Need to Know
Hiking in Switzerland is a fantastic way to experience the country's stunning natural beauty, even if you're a beginner.
Here's what you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
Choose Beginner-Friendly Trails
Switzerland offers a wide range of hiking trails suitable for beginners. Look for trails marked as "easy" or "family-friendly". Local tourism offices or hiking guidebooks can provide information on suitable options.
Some trails may require the use of cable cars or funiculars to reach the starting point, which can make your hike more manageable.
Check Trail Conditions
Before setting out, check trail conditions and weather forecasts. Even the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners can get tough if the weather is bad.
The Swiss weather can change rapidly, so it's essential to be prepared for sudden shifts in temperature or precipitation. You can find trail information and conditions on local tourism websites or at information centres.
Proper Footwear and Gear
Invest in a good pair of hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes with good grip. Comfortable and supportive footwear is essential for a pleasant hiking experience, especially on uneven terrain.
Start by layering your clothing to adjust to changing conditions. This means wearing a moisture-wicking base layer, adding insulation for warmth, and finishing with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.
Carry Essential Supplies
Pack essentials, including water, snacks, a first-aid kit, a map, a compass or GPS device, sunblock, a hat, and insect repellent.
Swiss tap water is generally safe to drink, so you can refill your water bottle at mountain huts and streams. If you plan to stay overnight, carry a sleeping bag and any additional supplies recommended for your specific hike.
Hiking poles can provide stability and reduce strain on your knees, especially on downhill sections. They can be particularly useful for beginners on longer hikes.
Familiarize yourself with the trail before starting and consider using a map or a GPS app like SwissTopo or SwitzerlandMobility for navigation. Trail signage is generally excellent in Switzerland, but it's wise to be self-sufficient in case of any unexpected detours.
Many hiking routes in Switzerland have mountain huts or restaurants where you can rest, eat, and even spend the night. These huts can be a great resource for beginners, but make sure to check their opening hours and reservation policies in advance.
Switzerland is home to various wildlife, including ibex, chamois, and marmots. While it's exciting to encounter these animals, maintain a safe distance and avoid feeding them. Keep wildlife wild.
Hiking in Switzerland for beginners offers a chance to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
By being well-prepared and following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the Swiss countryside.
If you’re new to hiking in Switzerland, then start small and gradually work your way up to the more demanding trails.
The 18 trails listed above are some of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners. So, choose the best time to hike in Switzerland, prepare yourself with the right gear, and head out to explore the natural beauty that this country has to offer with us at Skyhook.