Swiss Alp Hiking Guide: Best Hikes of the Region
January 1, 1970
by Joe Enea
The Swiss Alps are a hiker’s dream. The Alps are one of the most diverse and beautiful regions in the world, and they are covered with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. There are dozens of potential hikes between the multiple towns and mountains of the region, and deciding which trails to take can be overwhelming. This Swiss Alp Hiking guide will cover the best trails from Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, along with some other favorites, and some tips on saving time and money.
Before you get going be sure to familiarize yourself with a map of the region. You can view one here, or grab one from any information center, restaurant, or hotel.
Must Do Hikes
Trail through Lauterbrunnen valley – This hike wasn’t on our radar before the trip but it ended up being a very pleasant surprise. The valley is flat and paved the entire way. The hike passes by the Trummelbach falls along with countless adorable farms. We did this hike with all of our luggage before we hiked up to Wegen and I would highly recommend it if you find yourself in Lauterbrunnen for the afternoon. Difficulty (1/5) Views (4/5) Duration (2hrs).
Hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg – Located just above Wengen, this is arguably the most famous hike in the region. The views of Eiger and Monch are absolutely breathtaking as you walk along the ridge taking in the valley below and mountains above. A gondola ticket up to Manlichen costs $25, one way, but the alternative hike takes nearly 3 hours so plan accordingly. Difficulty (2/5) Views (5/5) Duration (1hr 45min).
Trek from Grindelwald through First to Buchalpsee lake – This was definitely our favorite hike out of Grindelwald. If you’re going to make it a round trip hike be sure to leave early as it will take just over 3 hours one way. It costs $30 to take the gondola one way, but I think the views are well worth the time spent on the trail. We came up through Waldspitz and went down through Bort for a different view on the way down. Difficulty (3/5) View (4/5) Duration (3hr 15min).
Off The Beaten Path
Hike from Lauterbrunnen to Murren – This was the most difficult hike we made during our week trip. However, it was also the least travel. We didn’t see a single other tourist while on the trail. The hike takes you through a beautiful pine forest with over a dozen small waterfalls and plenty of lookout points across the valley at Jungfrau. Difficulty (4/5) Views (3/5) Duration (3hrs).
Gross Scheidegg to First – Starting just outside Grindelwald, this hike is along another ridge and has excellent views of the valley below. However the walk up to Gross Scheidegg is another 2 hours. But you could take a bus for about $20. Difficulty (2/5) View (3/5)Duration (1hr 30min).
Hike back to Wengen from Kleine Scheidegg – After making your way to Kleine Scheidegg you’ll need to find your back to Wengen. This less travelled path offers amazing views of Jungfrau while passing through a small pine forest. Difficulty (3/5) Views (4/5) Duration (2hrs 45min).
Walk to Pfingstegg – This hike also starts just outside of Grindelwald, and is a nice little walk up to a lookout of the glacier. It’s a perfect half day hike, or if you really enjoy looking at gigantic ice cubes. Difficulty (2/5) View (3/5) Duration (1hr 30min).
Which town should you stay in?
As you may be noticing there are multiple towns and possible starting locations to these hikes. Each town offers slightly different advantages. If are in the region for more than 2-3 nights I would recommend staying in more than one town.
Grindelwald is the largest of these towns, but unfortunately the most expensive and touristy as well. Grindelwald has dozens of potential hiking options out of the town, although I would argue they are less varied or diverse than some of the other hikes.
Lauterbrunnen is an excellent starting point as it is one of the two towns you can access directly by train from Interlaken. Lauterbrunnen sits at the entrance of the valley. This provides some great views looking up, but most of your hikes from here will start with a steady incline.
Wegen is the most central of the town of this area, and is also very easy to get to. If you are arriving by train to Lauterbrunnen, which I recommend, you can take a quick 15 minute local train up to Wegen.
Quick Tips to Save Time and Money
Despite the beauty of the Alps, Switzerland can be quite expensive. Below are a few quick tips to save some time and money on your trip.
- Gondola and train tickets can be really expensive ($50 round trip). You can save a lot of money if you are willing to hike the trails instead. In additional, you will enjoy some extra views along they way.
- Most paths are marked quite clearly with signs. You shouldn’t have any issues getting lost unless you go off trail or are out too late.
- Hike home a different way. There is such a large variety of trails to and from every location. Try to hike home a different way than you came to make the most of your time.
- Hike markers use hours rather than distance to mark a hike. A 3 mile hike can vary greatly in time if it’s all up hill compared to flat ground.
- Feel free to mix and match hikes based off your hiking skill and preferences. The labyrinth of trails connect in nearly an unlimited number of hiking possibilities.
There are no Bad Hikes
Don’t let all of the options and possibilities overwhelm you. Any hike in this region will be well worth it. Often times the less planned or travel route can offer the best views and experiences.
I hope this guide helps you plan a trip to the Swiss Alps. If you have any questions regarding these hikes or others feel free to reach out. I’d be more than happy to expand on our experience in Switzerland!