Home to over 65’000km of marked trails, Switzerland is indisputably one of the best nature hiking destinations in the world. But with so many options and limited holiday time, how do you choose which one to take?
As avid hikers ourselves, we’ve put together a list of the five best hikes for your personal insider tour of Switzerland. Not only are these some of the most scenic trails we’ve enjoyed, but they will also lead you off the beaten path (because who wants to hike with the crowds anyway, right?). They’re effectively you’re first class ticket to the perfect nature holiday in Switzerland. Happy hiking!
Hidden Gem Hikes of Switzerland:
1. Gastlosen Trail, Pays d’Enhaut
This is one of our absolute favorite Swiss hiking trails that we’ve ever done and that can be easily reached as a day trip from the Montreux Riviera, Gruyères, Bern or even the Saanenland. The main draw is that you hike around the Gastlosen mountain range, which is very reminiscent of the Dolomites (as you can see from the photo above). It is a 11km long, so it’s not a quickie, but you honestly don’t see the time go by with the variety of scenery you’ll encounter as you hike through post-card perfect mountain views, forests and pastures.
It is not a difficult hike either, with the slight exception of the first 30 minutes which are mainly uphill…. But it’s nothing that can’t be done. Plus after hard work, there is always a reward, and this reward comes in the shape of a family-mountain hut that serves excellent Swiss cuisine and boasts stunning views. And if you’re lucky, the owner may even play a tune on his alphorn for you!
Where to Stay: the Montreux Riviera, Gruyères, Bern or the Saanenland (Gstaad)
Distance: 11 km
Time: 4 hours
Lunch Stop: Buvette de Sattels
2. Niederbauen, Lake Luzern
Lake Luzern is the heart of Switzerland, and one of our favorite regions in the country. But it’s unfortunately also a very touristy one… which is why we were SO happy when we found this little gem of a mountain that for the most part only the locals know of. The adventure starts as you hop aboard a self-controlled cable car, that will take you up to Niederbauen from Emetten. There are many possibilities that you can choose from once you’re there, but we chose to do the circular trail through Hundschopf and up to the Niederbauen view point. Throughout the trail you’ll enjoy jaw-dropping 360° views over the mountains and the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Luzern, also passing by local farms. We took about twice as much time as announced because we stopped every two minutes to take a photo!
Again, the hike is not particularly difficult, with the exception of the uphill climb to the view point – but it’s a very short part of the hike and we promise you that the views are absolutely worthwhile.
Where to Stay: Lake Luzern region
Distance: 5.3 km
Time: 2.5 hours
Lunch Stop: The Berggasthaus Niederbauen Restaurant, just next to the cable car
3. Horneggli, Gstaad – Saanenland
We’re big fans of the region of Gstaad in the summer, as it is the typical Swiss postcard people imagine: traditional well-maintained chalets, roaming cows, chocolate-box villages, lots of traditions and know-hows to be discovered and beautiful alpine scenery waiting for you at every turn. In addition, the ambiance is very low-key and nature-oriented in the summer, versus the winter when it’s a little more “glitz and glam”.
So you can imagine how happy we were when we had another thing to add to our “Why we love Gstaad list”: this beautiful hiking trail that links the Horneggli and Rinderberg mountain peaks. You basically walk along a mountain ridge the whole duration of the hike, enjoying stunning views over an endless ocean of alps. On the way, you come across lots of cows and a small family-owned farm where you can stop for a bite of their homemade ice cream. And once you’ve reached Rinderberg, the cherry on top of the cake awaits you: a ride down the valley on a mountain scooter. This is what Swiss dreams are made of…
Where to Stay: Gstaad
Distance: 5.8 km
Time: 2.5 hours
Lunch Stop: We honestly recommend asking the hotel to prepare you a picnic to enjoy wherever you love the views the most!
4. Mayens de Breona, Val d’Herens
The Valais region on its own boasts over 8’000 kilometers of hiking trails making it the ideal base for your Swiss nature holidays. The diversity of scenery is stunning, ranging from pristine meadows to mountain peaks higher than 4’000m in altitude. In the Valais, you have the usual suspects of renowned alpine resorts such as Zermatt and Verbier, and then you have the smaller, lesser-known gems such as the authentically beautiful Val d’Herens.
There is no glitz and glam here – this is nature at its raw, best genuine self. You can sometimes even like you’ve travelled back in time.
There are many beautiful places to enjoy the unique alpine scenery, but we particularly loved our hike up to the Mayens de Breona. You start in the village of La Forclaz, and take a bucolic trail uphill through the forest for about 45 minutes/1 hour, before you arrive at a small hamlet of historic “mayen” chalets. There, you’ll find breath-taking views over the iconic Dent Blanche and the other snow-capped peaks. We literally stayed an hour up there taking photos and drooling over the views, before taking the circular trail back down. The hike itself is not too difficult, but you do need to be in somewhat good condition for the first uphill slice.
We can’t think of a better way to spend time in the Swiss Alps…
Where to Stay: Val d’Herens or as a day trip from the Val d’Anniviers
Lunch Stop: Our biggest regret is that we didn’t bring a picnic – it would’ve been the best “lunch with a view”!
5. Isenfluh, Berner Oberland
The Berner Oberland is honestly one of our favorite slices of Switzerland. Simply put, it’s the postcard-perfect image of what you expect when you travel here: the mountain peaks, the grazing cows, the dreamy chalet villages, the turquoise-colored lakes and the Swiss flag reigning at every turn. But fame is (unfortunately) often synonymous with crowds, and it’s indeed one of the most visited regions of Switzerland. There are many parts which are incredible, but that we don’t believe are worthy of your time just because you’ll find yourself behind one tour bus after another. And what’s the fun in that?
Luckily though, there are still some gems that have successfully kept their names off the mass tourist map, such as the little alpine resort of Isenfluh.
It’s so much off the tourist map, that they’ve even kept their original cable car that is self-operated! Don’t worry though, it’s very easy to pilot, and once at the top, you’ll find yourself with front row seats to the majestic Monch, Eiger and Jungfrau mountain peaks!
From there, you can either stop at the small mountain restaurant owned by a lovely young couple for a coffee, or you can continue on for a two hour hike to the Lobhorn. You’ll find the trail to be very bucolic as you pass through the forest, flowing streams, through romantic flower-filled pastures and even a family-owned cheese farm where you can stop by.
Once you reach the top, you’ll find the Lobohrnhütte mountain hut that serves all sorts of well-deserved refreshments (including craft local beers), and simple bites to eat. Or if you’re hungry for more, just take the trail back down to the Sulwald Stübli for a typical Swiss meal. To go back down to the car park, you can either hike down via an easy scenic trail, or you can hop on a mountain scooter which offers twice the fun!
Where to Stay: Berner Oberland region
Time: 2.1 hours
Lunch Stop: We very much recommend the Sulwald Stübli by the cable car – the food is homemade and delicious!
About Chantal & Max Switzerland Travel Design
Time is indisputably one of our most valuable assets and your life is too short to give it away searching the daunting internet without any guarantee of what you’ll find. That’s why we’re here to save peace of mind by giving you insider access to the heart of Switzerland with a custom “off the beaten track” tour you’ll never forget. Our services include bespoke itinerary design, uniquely-crafted insider experiences and guided private tours. Just contact us at email@example.com, or visit our homepage for more information. A bientôt!