The Best Multi-Day Hikes In Switzerland: Top Tips And Trails
If you’re after an unforgettable outdoor adventure, then multi-day hikes in Switzerland should be at the top of your to-do list.
Switzerland is an absolute hikers paradise, and the country offers a vast range of multi-day hiking trails. Taking your time to explore these trails over a few days is an amazing way to fully experience the natural beauty of this country.
So, let’s get into everything you need to know about multi-day hikes in Switzerland, including some of the best trails to experience.
What to Expect From Hiking in Switzerland
Hiking routes in Switzerlandoffers a diverse range of experiences that cater to hikers of all levels, from leisurely walkers to seasoned mountaineers.
The country's stunning landscapes vary from lush valleys and pristine lakes to rugged alpine terrain, making it a hiker's paradise. One of the highlights of Swiss hiking is the extensive network of well-maintained trails that span the entire country.
These trails are often marked with a standardized system of trail colours that indicate the level of difficulty and the type of path.
For instance, yellow trails are typically easy and suitable for beginners, while red trails are moderate and popular among intermediate hikers.
Blue trails are more challenging, often involving steeper ascents and descents, and white trails are reserved for experienced hikers, featuring high alpine terrain with potential snow and ice hazards.
These colour-coded paths make it easy for hikers to choose routes that match their skill level and preferences.
Switzerland's landscapes are a sight to behold, with the Swiss Alps dominating the southern regions, offering breathtaking views, towering peaks, and glaciers.
The Jura Mountains in the northwest provide a contrasting experience with gentler slopes and rolling hills. The central plateau features charming meadows, pristine lakes, and picturesque villages.
Hiking in Switzerland also grants opportunities to explore the country's cultural and historical heritage, as you may encounter traditional Swiss chalets, alpine farms, and quaint mountain villages along your journey.
The Swiss Hiking Association, also known as the Schweizer Wanderwege, plays a crucial role in maintaining these trails, providing detailed maps and trail information, and promoting responsible hiking practices, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
Best Multi-Day Hikes in Switzerland
If you really want to immerse yourself in this country’s nature, then going multi-day trekking is the best way. From hikes that take weeks to shorter overnight hikes in Switzerland, there are loads of multi-day hiking opportunities available.
To help you plan and choose the best route, here are some of the best Switzerland multi-day hikes on offer.
The Haute Route, also known as the High Route, is an iconic 180-kilometre trek that connects Chamonix, France, with Zermatt, Switzerland.
This grand expedition unfolds as an incredible odyssey, encompassing not only the challenge of covering vast distances but also the privilege of witnessing glacial valleys, dramatic mountain vistas, charming alpine villages, and the thrill of conquering high-altitude terrain.
With a duration of typically 10-14 days, it offers hikers a profound sense of accomplishment as they traverse two countries, unveiling the stunning beauty of the Mont Blanc and Matterhorn ranges along the way. It’s definitely one of the best multi-day hikes in Switzerland for anyone keen on a longer adventure.
What to Expect: Glacial valleys, dramatic mountain vistas, charming alpine villages, and challenging high-altitude terrain.
Length: Approximately 180 km
Duration: Typically 10-14 days
Trailhead: Chamonix, France
Tour du Mont Blanc
Of all the multi-day hikes Switzerland has to offer, this is the most well-known.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a classic loop trail that circles Mont Blanc, providing hikers with a constantly changing backdrop of the highest peak in the Alps. This journey is a cultural and natural odyssey that spans three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland.
Over 170 kilometres and 10-12 days, hikers can expect to pass through alpine meadows, admire pristine lakes, encounter charming villages, and savour the rich cultural diversity that characterises this cross-border experience.
The route starts in Les Houches, France, offering an ideal launch point for this epic adventure. However, hikers don't have to complete the entire trail and can choose to hike shorter sections if they only want to do a 2- or 3-day hike in Switzerland.
What to Expect: Alpine meadows, pristine lakes, charming villages, and a sense of European cultural diversity.
Length: Around 170 km
Duration: 10-12 days
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Trailhead: Les Houches, France
Engadin Panorama Trail
For a more tranquil hiking experience, the Engadin Panorama Trail in Switzerland's Engadin Valley promises breathtaking views of the Engadin lakes and the surrounding mountains. This is one of the best hikes in Switzerland for beginners.
Over approximately 55 kilometres and 4-5 days, hikers will be captivated by the serenity of rolling meadows, the glistening allure of crystal-clear lakes, and the warm embrace of traditional Engadin villages.
This relatively gentler hike serves as a delightful introduction to the Swiss hiking experience, allowing hikers to immerse themselves in nature's beauty at a comfortable pace. The trail begins in Zernez, Switzerland, and leads to a serene alpine wonderland.
What to Expect: Rolling meadows, crystal-clear lakes, traditional Engadin villages, and a relatively gentler hike.
Length: Approximately 55 km
Duration: 4-5 days
Trailhead: Zernez, Switzerland
Bernese Oberland Traverse
The Bernese Oberland Traverse invites hikers to explore the heart of the Bernese Oberland region, known for its awe-inspiring Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks.
This epic journey unfolds over roughly 110 kilometres, requiring 8-10 days to complete. As hikers traverse stunning glacial valleys, pass by snow-capped peaks, and seek refuge in remote mountain huts, they will encounter both the raw beauty and the technical challenges associated with high alpine terrain.
The trail commences in Meiringen, Switzerland, beckoning adventure-seekers to embark on an alpine odyssey that promises memories to last a lifetime.
What to Expect: Stunning glacial valleys, snow-capped peaks, remote mountain huts, and technical sections in high alpine terrain.
Length: About 110 km
Duration: 8-10 days
Trailhead: Meiringen, Switzerland
The Via Alpina is a grand adventure, a long-distance trail that spans the entirety of Switzerland from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance, providing hikers with a comprehensive experience of the country's landscapes and cultures.
Of all the multi-day hikes Switzerland has to offer, this is by far the longest. So, you can always cut it into smaller sections.
Covering approximately 390 kilometres, the Swiss portion of this route typically requires 20-30 days to complete.
Hikers can expect a dynamic journey through alpine meadows, serene lakes, charming villages, and exposure to four of Switzerland's language regions. This means you can experience all of the best places in Switzerland for hiking through this single trail.
The trail offers an insightful exploration of the nation's diversity and beauty, beginning in Montreux, Switzerland, and winding its way to the breathtaking Lake Constance.
What to Expect: Alpine meadows, pristine lakes, charming villages, and exposure to four of Switzerland's language regions.
Length: Approximately 390 km (Swiss portion)
Duration: 20-30 days
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Trailhead: Montreux, Switzerland
Zermatt to Saas Fee
This trek connects two iconic alpine towns, Zermatt and Saas Fee, and offers fantastic views of the Matterhorn in Switzerland and other surrounding peaks.
The journey spans around 60 kilometres and can be completed in 4-5 days. Hikers can anticipate a challenging yet rewarding experience as they navigate rugged terrain, encounter alpine lakes, and thrill at the sight of the iconic Matterhorn.
The route commences in Zermatt, Switzerland, and beckons adventurers to explore one of the most iconic regions in the Swiss Alps.
What to Expect: Rugged terrain, alpine lakes, the chance to see the famous Matterhorn and high-altitude passages.
These rustic alpine huts are scattered throughout the Swiss Alps, making them a popular choice for hikers. They offer dormitory-style accommodations, meals, and basic amenities. It's advisable to make reservations in advance during peak hiking seasons.
Hotels and Inns
In larger towns and villages along popular hiking routes, you can find hotels and inns that provide more comfortable and private accommodation. They typically offer various room options, dining facilities, and sometimes wellness amenities like saunas.
Swiss hostels, often called "Jugendherbergen," provide budget-friendly lodging options for hikers. They may offer dormitory-style rooms and communal facilities, making them ideal for backpackers and budget-conscious travellers.
Alpine Farms (Bergbauernhöfe)
Some Swiss farmers rent out rooms in their alpine farms, offering a unique and authentic experience. Staying on an alpine farm allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy fresh, homemade meals.
While wild camping is allowed in some areas of Switzerland, it's essential to check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits. Additionally, there are established campgrounds in certain regions with facilities such as showers and restrooms.
Lodges and Cabins
In remote areas, you might come across lodges or cabins that are available for rent. These accommodations provide a cosy and secluded retreat, often with self-catering facilities.
Luggage Transfer Services
Some long-distance hikes offer the convenience of luggage transfer services. This allows you to hike with a lighter daypack while your main luggage is transported to your next accommodation, typically a hotel or inn.
Bivouacs and Emergency Shelters
In the high alpine regions, you may encounter bivouacs or emergency shelters. These are basic and often unmanned structures designed for emergencies or unexpected weather conditions. They are not meant for extended stays, but they can provide shelter if needed.
Top Tips for Multi-Day Hikes in Switzerland
Planning multi-day hikes in Switzerland can seem intimidating, as there is so much to consider in terms of gear, weather, and local knowledge. To help you plan your trip, here are some of the most important tips and trail advice for multi-day hikes in Switzerland.
Thorough planning is essential for multi-day hikes. Research the trail you intend to tackle, including its length, difficulty, and accommodations. Understand the best time to hike in Switzerland, and make sure your chosen trail will offer the right weather.
Make reservations for mountain huts or lodges in advance, especially during the peak hiking season.
Check Trail Conditions
Stay updated on trail conditions and weather forecasts before setting out. Switzerland's mountain weather can change rapidly, so be prepared for all types of weather, including rain, snow, and sudden temperature drops.
If you're wondering what to wear when hiking in Switzerland, invest in high-quality hiking gear, including comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a reliable backpack. Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions, and carry essentials like a waterproof jacket, hat, and gloves.
Familiarize yourself with trail maps and carry a good-quality map, compass, or GPS device. While many Swiss trails are well-marked, it's important to have backup navigation tools in case you get off track.
Carry essential safety equipment such as a first aid kit, headlamp, Swiss army knife, and a whistle. These items can be invaluable in emergencies.
Hydration and Nutrition
Carry an adequate supply of water, especially in the high-altitude regions, where it's easy to become dehydrated. Plan your meals and snacks in advance to ensure you have enough sustenance throughout your hike.
Leave No Trace
Respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all your trash, stay on designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife and vegetation.
Know Your Limits
Be aware of your physical fitness and hiking abilities. Choose trails that match your experience level and fitness. Multi-day hikes can be demanding, so it's important to start with routes that match your capabilities.
If you plan to hike in high-altitude regions, such as hiking in the Alps in Switzerland, take time to acclimatize to the thinner air to prevent altitude sickness. Gradually ascend to higher elevations and allow your body to adjust.
Respect Local Customs
Swiss hiking trails often pass through rural communities and farmland. Be respectful of private property and livestock. Close the gates behind you and follow any posted instructions.
While wild camping is permitted in some areas of Switzerland, it's important to research and adhere to local regulations. Many regions require permits, so check in advance.
If you’re an avid hiker, then experiencing a multi-day hiking trip in Switzerland is a real treat. Whether you’re after an intense two-week hike or want a quick overnighter, there are plenty of trail options to choose from.
So, make sure you're prepared with the right gear and know what to expect from the trails. As soon as you get out there, you’ll experience just how magical multi-day hiking in Switzerland can be with us at Skyhook Adventure.