Switzerland epitomizes what Alpine hiking means in Europe; dairy cows laze in lush green fields, snow-capped, jagged peaks dominate ancient villages and meandering trails bring hikers to some of the most memorable mountain vistas in the world. With world-class infrastructure, from hotels to high-speed trains, to gourmet dining and breath-taking cable cars and funiculars, Switzerland embodies what Europe is so famous for; tourism.
Our guided and self-guided hiking tours will take you to some of the best hikes in Switzerland along with hut-to-hut hikes, day-hikes and cultural journeys all expertly customized to fit your needs. All of our hiking and IFMGA mountain guides are international certified to the highest standards, leading you safely through some of Europe’s most sought after terrain.
With 48 of its mountains over 4000m, ( there are 82, 4000m peaks in the Alps) Switzerland is by default an Alpine country but also one steeped in traditions and with a diversity of languages, culture and religions. Dairy farming and cheese making are core elements to the Swiss identity, despite Switzerland being known for luxury watches and a music festival on a lake. Heavily subsidized by both federal and regional governments, agriculture is everywhere in Switzerland and its very landscape we come to know was in part shaped by centuries of agriculture.
Four languages are considered official. Swiss German, French and Italian are the primary languages spoken but a fourth, Romansh is also an official language. Made up of 26 Cantons, with direct vote from its citizens, Switzerland is considered a bastion of democracy, where the United Nations and other organizations are based such as the Red Cross. With a population of only roughly 8 million people, cities are generally small, with many easily visited on foot. Public transportation and cycling paths are what stand out in Swiss cities as citizens are happy to walk and cycle rather than drive. Flying into Zurich or Geneva allow for easy access to all of our walking journeys. Our Swiss Alpine adventures take place in several regions of Switzerland:
One of the most visited areas of Switzerland is the Bernese Oberland, in the Canton of Bern, made famous to North Americans by the movie in which Clint Eastwood defied gravity and scaled the walls of the Eiger North Face in the film, The Eiger Sanction. The North Face of the Eiger was also considered the last great problem of Alpine climbing and was finally attempted successfully in 1938. The book by Heinrich Herrer, the White Spider, is an excellent introduction to the region and climbing lore or the region.
Luckily, the Bernese Oberland is not just a backdrop for stunning cinematography, but a lush landscape of huge mountain faces, waterfalls, tiny hamlets clinging to limestone cliffs and plump cows enjoying the abundant grass that grows here. Located just south of Interlaken, the Bernese Oberland is mainly known for two peaks, the Jungfrau and the Eiger which tower above the tourist town of Grindelwald. Our Bernese Oberland Traverse begins in the town of Mierengen, famous for the death of Sherlock Holmes in Sir Conan Doyles’ novel and finishing in the equally charming town of Kandersteg. Easily reached from either Zurich or Geneva, a few hours on fast trains can get you to pretty much anywhere in Switzerland.
Small family farms are abundant, run for generations by passionate mountain folks equally comfortable hiking steep mountain trails to tending their animals in the lower valleys and running mountain inns. Our accommodation range from rustic mountain refuges, know as hutte or cabanes, to 4-star hotels with all of the amenities one would expect from the Swiss hospitality industry. Our Bernese Oberland Traverse visits such iconic towns as Grindelwald, Wengen- home to one of the most famous alpine downhill ski races in the world- Murren and it’s hotels clinging to steep cliffs and of course Kandersteg, located just below the stunning Oeschinensee lake with turquoise waters and endless Kodak moments.
Valais / Wallis
The Haute Route, or high level route in French, is the term used to describe high level traverses, either on skis or on foot. If you are a strong hiker, and enjoy multi-day challenges, then the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is for you. Although the Haute Route starts in Chamonix, which is in France, the remainder of the hike takes place in the Valais Canton of Switzerland, so we have placed it under the Swiss section of this website.
First completed in the early 1900s on skis, it has since become the most coveted ski traverse in the Alps. Beginning in one of the alpine capitals, Chamonix, at the foot of Europe’s highest peak, the Mont Blanc and surrounding peaks set the stage for one of the most memorable walks in the world. The walk finishes in the other alpine capital, Zermatt, possible the most iconic mountain town in the world.
General quieter than most alpine hikes due to the nature of the terrain, the Haute Route stays high above the trees in the alpine, bringing you as close to the mountains as possible without having to put on crampons. Spectacular villages such as Grimentz with 16th Century homes are the main attraction along with views of the alpine giants such as the Dent Blanche, Matterhorn, Weisshorn and the mighty Monte Rosa, the second highest peak in the Alps. Days can be long, so this hike is truly for the experienced hiker, but the rewards are many. Accommodation on the Haute Route varies from elegant 3-star hotels in most of the villages, to majestic, 19th century buildings such as the Kurhaus in Arolla, a throwback to the Golden Age of Mountaineering. Huts, called cabanes, in the Valais, are extremely comfortable, with hot showers, duvet comforters and all-you-can-eat meals.