With nearly 30,000 miles of well-marked and maintained trails, Switzerland is a mecca for hikers. From late June to early September, walkers can explore alpine peaks, wildflower meadows, and crystalline lakes. Although day hikes abound, it’s also possible to string inn-to-inn treks into multi-day, budget-friendly trips. Although routes are graded for difficulty, Americans used to switchback trails might find Swiss paths, which take the shortest route not the easiest, a challenge. Here are three routes to consider:
This region stretches the length of the Inn River Valley from Austria to Italy, offering lower—gentler—or higher—more challenging—routes. For the lower route, begin in the spa-town of Scuol, from which a cable car ride (transport often needed to connect point-to-point hikes) and a walk leads to the romantic village of Guarda. Then head to Zernez, the entry point to Swiss National Park, the country’s only true wilderness area. Evening in Zuoz, from which you can set out on day hikes or continue to Pontresina, Sils Maria, and Sils. Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures, which guides and outfits trips, offers a more challenging itinerary.
Considered one of the world’s classic hikes, this route crosses the Pennine Alps, the highest range in Western Europe, from Chamonix, France, beneath Mont Blanc, to Zermatt, Switzerland, beneath the iconic Matterhorn. Milestones along the trek include the villages of Trient, Verbier, St. Luc, and Gruben. Once in Zermatt, you can continue with day hikes, or, if day trips are your focus, this town is a perfect base. This strenuous trek takes nearly two weeks to complete in its entirety, but it can also be completed in sections. Alipine Hikers offers one of several possible routes.
Begin in Interlaken, the gateway to this region. En route to Grindelwald, you’ll take in views of the Interlaken lakes and pass beneath the massifs of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. Follow the Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen, from which you can take in views of the entire Lauterbrunnen valley, known for its waterfalls. From here proceed to Murren, a carless village, and on to the charming Wilderswil. Alpenwild, a trip leader, offers an alternate route from Grindelwald.
For more options, the Swiss Alpine Club supports a searchable database of its mountain huts, as well as private huts.