The Swiss Alps are bursting with things to do, from thrilling snow sports to relaxing with an exquisite glass of wine. But one of the most rewarding things to do in the Alps taking some time to explore on foot. There are hundreds of hiking trails and treks to discover, with a total of over 65,000km of walking and hiking trails tracing their way through the Alps – 22,000km of which are mountain trails. Unsurprisingly, these incredible statistics make Switzerland the number one hiking and walking destination in the world. Today we are going to look at some of the best hiking & trekking routes, and how to make the most of a hike in the Swiss Alps.
What Do I Need to Hike in Switzerland?
Hiking is one of the best ways to explore the Swiss Alps, giving you time to take in the breathtaking scenery around you as you make your way along specially created hiking routes. Due to the extreme terrain in the Alps, you will often find the best places to visit will only be accessible on foot. Trails are marked out and well-maintained, but it is important to prepare yourself and anything you will need to take with you during your hike.
If you are not used to mountainous areas, you should take some time to familiarise yourself with the route you are taking and try to pick a route that matches your hiking ability. Be sure to wear suitable clothing, including boots, trousers, a coat, and gloves. Always try to take water with you in case the hike goes in longer than you anticipate, even if you are travelling on a busy route.
When you go hiking in Switzerland you should carefully consider your hiking capacity. Some of the routes in the Alps can be extremely challenging, so accidents can occur if you overestimate your ability. Though hiking is not an extreme sport it still carries risks, perhaps the most dangerous of which is the weather. The sometimes-unpredictable nature of the weather can leave hikers in unexpected conditions. For this reason, you should always thoroughly study the weather conditions for the time you intend to hike – always allow for a minimum of a few hours on either side of your hiking timeframe in case you experience hold-ups.
Safety Tips for Hikers and Walkers in the Alps
Staying safe while on your hike should be your number one priority. By following the correct safety procedures during your hike, you should be able to fully enjoy the experience at minimum risk. The following safety tips are provided by the Swiss National Hiking Association:
- Follow the Signposted Paths – There are thousands of miles of hiking routes in the Swiss Alps which are meticulously maintained to keep hikers as safe as possible. You must stick to the marked routes and avoid those that are closed.
- Always Close Gates & Fences – The meadows and pastures in the Alps are used by farmers to graze their cattle and other animals. It is important to make sure you close any gates after passing through them to stop these animals from escaping.
- Taking Regular Breaks – Be sure to take regular breaks when you are hiking. Hiking can be hard work, so taking time to rehydrate and fuel up is very important to maintain your energy levels.
- Tell Someone Where You’re Going – Before you leave make sure you tell someone who isn’t coming on the hike where you are going and when you plan to be back. This adds an extra level of safety to your hike and can prove invaluable if there are problems during your hike.
Hikes You Might Like
With so many hikes to choose from you are sure to find one with everything you love, here are a couple of our favourites that you might like to try.
The Matterhorn Trek
Possibly one of the most recognisable mountains in the world thanks to its unique and imposing shape, the Matterhorn has to be seen to be truly appreciated. This five-day trek takes you up close and personal to this goliath natural masterpiece. The trails are adorned with rare flowers on either side, with fantastic views throughout.
As you explore Zermatt’s mountain paradise you are sure to be shocked by the terrifying North Wall of the Matterhorn. Be sure to bring a camera, and carefully prepare for this once in a lifetime mountain trek!
- Hike Duration – 5 Days
- Distance – 46.5km
- Maximum Altitude – 3260m
- Minimum Altitude – 1620m
More about The Matterhorn Trek.
Tour Du Mont Blanc
This truly spectacular trek takes you on a 170km journey through the Mont Blanc mountain range. There is an endless number of stunning views to take in as you accumulate 10,000m of altitude changes throughout your trek. This trek can be fully guided or self-guided depending on your level of skill and takes place over 10 days.
Every day of the hike is sure to be as breathtaking as the last as you circumnavigate the might Mont Blanc which towers above you at 4810 metres. This trek is world renown, and sure to leave you with some incredible memories which will last a lifetime!
- Hike Duration – 10 Days (6 Day Shorter Route)
- Distance – 170km
- Maximum Altitude – 2665m
- Minimum Altitude – 1802m
More about Tour Du Mont Blanc.