Switzerland is a bucket list location for good reason—there is some of the best hiking in the world in the country! This blog post will go through the must-do hikes that I have done to date and that you see on my Instagram. Please keep in mind there are so many more incredible hikes that I haven’t mentioned here, so I encourage you to continue to research for your trip after you give this post a read.
First things first, I want to encourage you to use the Leave No Trace principles when hiking in Switzerland (and anywhere else you may explore). If you’re unfamiliar, they are a set of guidelines that will help minimize our impact on the outdoors. It’s important to pack out what you pack in and never leave any garbage behind, stay on the trails, follow campfire rules, respect wildlife, and more. Let’s be stewards of the land so that it can stay pristine for generations to come.
Tips on Traveling on a Budget
Switzerland can be expensive to visit so here are some tips on how to travel on a budget. The more you save, the longer you can travel—which means you have more time to crush all these must-do hikes in Switzerland.
- Purchase food from supermarkets and avoid eating at restuarants. You want to of course try local cusine when travelling to a new country, but that doesn’t mean every lunch and dinner you have to go out. I loved Migros and Coop supermarkets.
- There are gondolas everywhere in Switzerland—which is great but they are not-so good on your wallet. If you want to save money, there’s usually a way up (and down) the mountain via a hiking trail.
- Travel in a group and split the costs of accomodation—or camp!
- Buy an AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press and save money on coffee. I drink two cups a day so this saved me from buying two $8 coffees a day.
- Bring your own water bottle and fill it up with tap water. It’s super safe, tastes great, saves you money and saves the planet from plastic waste.
- Try to avoid travelling to Switzerland in their high season, July, August and late December to March, as hotels are usually cheaper in the off season.
Gear You’ll Need
Hiking Boots: The Mountain 600s by Danner are my all-time, favorite hiking boots. My male friends also wear the men’s version and can testify that they are a 10/10 boot. They’re comfortable, look great, waterproof, and have a great warranty.
Backpack: I suggest either investing in the Osprey Tempest 24 Pack or the Osprey Kyte 36L Backpack if you need more space. I like to bring the 36L on most hikes because I hike with photography equipment and like space for extra layers and snacks.
Headlamp: If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to catch a sunrise or sunset while in Switzerland. For that, you’ll need a powerful and trusty headlamp. I use the BioLite HeadLamp 330 and couldn’t recommend it enough—it’s bright, lightweight, and affordable.
Electrolytes: NUUN Sport Hydration Tablets are my favorite to bring on the trail and when traveling in general.
Camp stove: Even if you aren’t camping, having a camp stove like the MSR WindBurner Stove System is really useful. I used mine in Switzerland to boil hot water for my coffee (brewed by my AreoPress) and to eat freeze-dried meals on longer day hikes.
For more gear recommendations, check out this gear guide.
Must-do Hikes in Switzerland
Now, for what you’ve been waiting for… the details to my list of the must-do hikes in Switzerland (that I’ve done so far). Have fun, stay safe and leave only footprints.
The Aletsch Glacier is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, is the largest glacier in the Alps, and is incredibly popular due to its beauty and accessibility. I took a gondola up to Fiescheralp and checked into Hotel Eggishorn. From there, I took a gondola up to Eggishorn and that’s where you’ll see the Aletsch Glacier. After a mind-blowing sunset, my friends and I hiked back down to Fiescheralp (via this trail) as the gondola had closed.
In the morning, I got up early and hiked to a viewpoint called Moosfluh—which shows a different view of the glacier. My friends and I asked the hotel for directions to this viewpoint and followed signs so I suggest doing the same. We also used MapsMe as an offline map to ensure we were on the right trail.
You could absolutely go to any of these viewpoints as a day trip and not stay the night at Fiescheralp, but I wanted to see sunset and sunrise so this was the best way to do that. These trails are some of the must-do hikes in Switzerland because it was great to see the glacier from two different vantage points.
Lej Da Staz
While Lej Da Staz is more of a walk than a hike and can be quite crowded with groups of photographers at sunrise, it still is a must-do hike in Switzerland. It’s one of those trails that takes minimal effort but is incredibly rewarding—especially in the fall season. This lake is close to St. Moritz and is very accessible. I parked at the nearby train station and walked over. Enter Lej Da Staz into Google Maps and you should be directed there.
This lake was one of my favorite spots on my Switzerland trip because of the vivid, luminescent cobalt-blue water. I regretted not bringing my bathing suit the moment I laid eyes on it. From here, you can keep hiking to other trails or the next lake, Lago di Viola.
To get to Saoseo Lake, there is a road that goes right to it, but cars are not allowed to drive on it. In the summer and early fall, you can catch a bus to drive you up this road to the lake. When I visited, in late October, the buses had stopped running so I had to hike up the road. There’s a parking lot at the bottom of the road in Sfazu. Just pay the security guard a small parking fee before making your way up the road. Check this out for the trail map we used and keep in mind we just followed this trail from Sfazu to Saoseo Lake (and didn’t continue on to Lago di Viola and Val di Camp like it shows on the map).
To get to Fronalpstock, you’ll need to take the world’s steepest funicular railway from Schwyz from the base valley up to Stoos (a car-free mountain town) and then two chairlifts to the top. It takes a while to get up, but it is so worth it—and really fun as, I for one, had never done anything like this before. Make sure to check the weather and when the chairflits open/close. My friends and I stayed in the hotel at Fronalpstock and caught the sunset just outside the hotel because we were blessed with a cloud inversion—which was the highlight of my entire Switzerland trip. For sunrise, we hiked toward Klingenstock. The trail goes along a ridge and it’s beautiful. You can find more details of the trail I took here. There are loads of hikes around the area (you can also hike up instead of taking the gondola) which is why this area is one of the must-do hikes in Switzerland.
This trail is a must-do hike in Switzerland because the mountains blew my mind. They tower over you and the lake below, which is a beautiful, vivid blue. I felt like I was in Peru! I recommend hiking the loop trail because you walk along a ridge that has stunning views the entire way. Check out the trail details here. To get to the trailhead, you’ll need to either take the gondola up and down (or you can hike it).
This little lake is stunning and is a must-do hike in Switzerland due to it’s emerald blue water. It is nestled in an area of Switzerland called Arolla that is mainly French-speaking. The lake is fed by fast-flowing water from a spring up the hillside. It can get busy so make sure to head up early. The hike should take you about 45-60 minutes to get up. Don’t forget your bathing suit! The water is frigid but it felt wonderful on this summer-like fall day. Check out the trail details here.
This lake is nestled in the mountains in the Appenzell region of Switzerland. Park at Wasserauen Train Station and start your hike to Seealpsee Lake. The trail is on a mostly paved path that is moderately easy but with a few steep sections. You can find trail info here. Feel free to continue hiking around the lake, swim, rent a rowboat, or grab a snack or beer at the restaurant.
This was one of my favorite spots in all of Switzerland because of the unique jagged peaks that were seemingly endless. I’ve never seen anything like it before. My friends and I took the gondola up from Wasserauen Train Station and stayed the night at the hotel at the top. We did this because we wanted to catch the sunset at Schäfler and not hike down the whole way back down to the car in the dark. You can absolutely do this as a day hike instead and skip sunset. Because I was staying the night at the hotel, I started the hike from there so it was only about 45 minutes to the top. If you’d like to start the hike from the bottom, Wasserauen Train Station, check out this post for all the trail details. Either way, you’re going to be mindblown and realize why I added it to my list of the must-do hikes in Switzerland.