The Via Alpina18 Days & 17 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
- Complete the classic Alpine hike from east to west Switzerland
- Walk in the shadow of the mighty Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger peaks
- Conquer 14 alpine passes and enjoy spectacular mountain views
- Wander through meadows alive with the sound of cow bells and marmots
- Stay in comfortable hotels and enjoy Swiss specialties like Potato Rösti
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active holiday.
Inn to Inn Walking | A classic point to point walking trip, staying in a different location each night
Ideal if you have an interest in:
Personal Growth, Mountains
Grade & Terrain
This trip is graded moderate to strenuous with the average daily distance being 18km. Although almost every day there is the option to shorten it by using some form of public transport. Each day has significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, grassy paths, moraine, scree, and paved country roads. There is some light scrambling involved in places and there are cables, ropes, and chains to aid ascent/descent in some places. Please be aware that on the highest passes, there may be some residual snow lying in patches, but this will not require any special equipment or skills; just a steady foot, walking experience and a head for heights. Walking poles are essential. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape.
All trails are very well way-marked, and together with access to our GPS-following app, route notes and maps, you will have no problem finding your way on our suggested walks.
Stay 14 nights comfortable 3* hotels in private en-suite rooms and 3 nights in mountain hotels in private rooms with shared bathroom facilities. An example of the accommodation we use in some of the towns along the way can be found below. If these accommodations are not available, a hotel of the same or better standard will be used. Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Switzerland are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.
This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the difficulty of the terrain. Single rooms are on request and a supplement is payable for this.
Why not upgrade your hotel in Grindelwald in Montreux at the end of the trail? Contact us for more information.
Breakfasts are included each day and tends to be a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like pastries, home made jams, fruit and cereals. Savoury tastes are also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs usually available. Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local bakery. If you are staying in a small town without these facilities, order a packed lunch with your accommodation upon arrival. Dinner is included at each overnight location with the exception of Grindelwald, Gstaad and Montreux, where there are plenty of dining options to choose from. Meal times are a real highlight, and you can enjoy homemade Swiss specialties. If you have any dietary requirements, please tell us upon booking and we can arrange this with the accommodations.Swiss specialities are mostly based on cheese and potatoes, such as raclette and potato roesti. Once you are in French speaking Switzerland and over the so-called ‘Roesti-graben’ (Roesti ditch) which refers to the cultural, linguistic and gastronomic divide between French and German speaking Switzerland, you will notice the food becomes much more ‘French’. One popular Vaudois speciality is Papet Vaudois, a dish made from slow cooked potato, leek and succulent local sausage.
- 14 Nights in 3* hotels, 3 nights in mountain hotels and guesthouses
- 17 Breakfasts
- 13 Dinners
- Daily bag transfer
- Detailed pre-departure information pack
- Route notes, maps, GPX tracks and access to our Macs Adventure Navigation App
- 24-hour emergency telephone assistance
- Flights to and from Switzerland
- Travel to starting point/from finish point
- Public transport such as cable cars
- Travel Insurance
- Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned in the program
- Additional nights
When To Go
This trip is available to start any day of the week, from the start of July to early September.
Getting to the Start
Fly into Zurich, Geneva or Bern then continue by train to Zurich (10 mins, 3 or 1 hours). For general travel planning and information in Switzerland, please go to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/transport-travel/getting-around
Getting from the End
Take a train from Montreux to Geneva (1.5 hours) , Zurich (3hours) or Bern (2 hours) airports. Train timetables and details of public transportation in Switzerland are available via the excellent travel planner at www.sbb.ch.
Baggage TransferBaggage transfers are included in the price of your trip. We ask you to keep your baggage to a maximum of 1 bag per person with a maximum weight of 20 kg.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.
This trip is graded moderate to strenuous with the average daily distance being 18km. Although almost every day has an option to shorten it by using some form of public transport. Each day has significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, grassy paths, moraine, scree and paved country roads. There is some light scrambling involved in places and there are cables, ropes and chains to aid ascent/descent in some places. Please be aware that on the highest passes, there may be some residual snow lying in patches, but this will not require any special equipment or skills; just a steady foot, walking experience and a head for heights. Walking poles are highly recommended. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape.
Bag transfer is included in this trip. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg per person. Leave your bag at the reception before 9am and it will be transferred to your next accommodation by 6pm each day.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this area is extremely popular with a relatively short season. Please note you can start this holiday on any day of the week.
You will need good walking boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers and warm layers just to mention a few of the items required. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive Zurich
Zurich is easily accessible by train from Zurich airport (10 mins), Geneva (3 hours) or Bern (1.5 hours).
Zurich is the biggest city in Switzerland yet despite this, it is compact and easily navigable on foot. The city is home to many important museums like the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. If museums aren’t your thing, take a wander down to the picturesque Zurichsee with an ice-cream and watch the world go by.
A warm welcome awaits from the friendly service team at Hotel Montana. Recently renovated, rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable. Dinner is a real treat with some fine Swiss specialties on offer.
All rooms are fitted with private bath or shower, toilet, hairdryer, telephone with own number, cable colour TV, wireless internet or wired high-speed internet connection free of charge, radio, safe and mini-bar.
Start the day with a scenic train journey (approx. 1 hour) to the small town of Sargans and the official start of the Via Alpina. Today is a gentle day and a great introduction to the trek. Heading out of Sargans, walk through a couple of small towns and hamlets before breaking free of the road. As you start to ascend, you will soon find yourself above vineyards with views to Sargans and Mels and to the mountains of Liechtenstein. Re-join the country road at the town of Schwendi and follow it to Weisstannen; a peaceful, traditional alpine village.
The Hotel Gemse is nestled in the quiet Weisstannen valley. A warm welcome awaits from the friendly service team. Recently renovated, rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable. Dinner is a real treat with some fine Swiss specialties on offer.
Warm up with an easy going 9km walk on country road, before starting the ascent to the first pass of the trail, the Foopass (2223m). This is an exciting day of walking as you get into the true mountainous arena of the Via Alpina. The ascent is steady and surrounded by alpine farmland, fields, waterfalls and marmots. The Foopass also marks the border between St Gallen and Glarus, and you will notice a definite change in the character of the terrain from here on. Descend to the attractive town of Elm, home to a 15th century church with a backdrop of Piz Sardona and Piz Segnas.
Susanna and Werner are ready to welcome you to this cosy guesthouse with just 10 rooms. Enjoy a refreshing drink on their sunny terrace and take in the mountain views. In the restaurant, homemade regional specialities are served.
Today is a long but rewarding day. There are two passes to cross, although the first is unnamed and fairly insignificant. The second is the Richetlipass at 2261m. The ascent is on steep zig zags, becoming even steeper just before arriving at the pass. From the top, enjoy views over the deep Durnachtal valley before beginning the sharp descent into it! The path down is narrow and can be tricky in wet weather, so take your time. There is a short section of descent with a fixed chain over a particularly craggy area. Arrive in Linthal, a small village framed by ’Toedi’, a 3614m peak also known as the ’King of Little Mountains’. Take the funicular (10 mins) to the traffic free hamlet of Braunwald, 600m above Linthal.
A wonderfully typical chalet style mountain hotel set in yet another beautiful location. Warm up after a long day of walking with some Swiss fondue in the restaurant while enjoying the stunning surroundings through the window.
From Braunwald, take the high balcony path to the resort of Urnerboden. The Urnerboden valley is one of the most dramatic in the alps, with a large flat bottom covered in typical pasture and farm land, with impressively tall walls on both sides.
A simple but comfortable guesthouse with homemade dishes and a large sunny terrace.
Asimple but comfortable guesthouse in the quiet hamlet of Urnerboden.
Today’s objective is the Klausenpass at 1948m. Although not particularly high for an alpine pass, it is historically significant as it has acted as the main crossing point between the cantons of Glarus and Uri for centuries. It is also the first pass in Switzerland which was made accessible to motorized traffic. The descent is a pleasant one, through fields and forests, passing the hamlet of Aesch and its breath-taking Staeubifall waterfall. Arrive at Unterschaechen, and take the bus to Altdorf (30 mins)., the capital of Uri.
This historical hotel was founded in 1768 and it is one of the few buildings that escaped damage from the village fire which occurred in 1799. This 3* hotel has all the amenities you may need for a comfortable stay. Dinner is served in the on-site restaurant; specialising in Swiss and Italian dishes.
Today’s walk is considered one of the finest stages of the Via Alpina. Start by taking the bus to Attinghausen (10 mins), and then hop on the cable car to Bruesti at 1525m. Steadily ascend to Surenenpass (2291m), passing small houses, huts and farms. In the distance, catch a glimpse of the turquoise waters of Lake Lucerne. Offering a spectacular mountain vista; dominated by the slanted jagged peak of Mount Titlis (3238m), the pass is the perfect place for a break. When you are ready, begin the descent to the town of Engelberg, a popular mountain resort.
The Schweizerhof Hotel offers a sauna and a fitness room. A spacious garden with sunbeds is also at guests’ disposal. Every room is soundproofed and features a modern bathroom with a hairdryer. All rooms are equipped with cable TV, a minibar , a seating area and free WiFi access. An electric kettle is available on request and for a surcharge at the reception.
Arrive at the Jochpass at 2207m and start a gentle descent to Engstlensee, a large alpine lake. The snowy peak of the Wetterhorn appears up ahead– a taste of the Bernese Oberland which is still to come. From Engstlenalp, take a balcony path high above the Gental valley. Wetterhorn views continue to dominate, and waterfalls cascade down the east wall of the valley. Arrive at the small village of Reuti, from where you can descend to Meiringen on foot or by cable car. Meiringen is a small but busy town, most well known for being where Sherlock Holmes met his maker in the popular Conan-Doyle stories.
Franziska, Simon and their friendly team are waiting to welcome you to the Hotel Victoria. With just 18 rooms, the hotel has a cosy atmosphere and rooms are designed in modern style with a traditional alpine twist.
In the heart of the Bernese Oberland, this area is popular with tourists and locals alike. It can feel like it’s lacking a certain ‘wilderness’ that is found with other sections of the trail. However the extensive infrastructure enables flexibility when it comes to walking distances. Walk through the wooded Reichenbachtal and begin a steady ascent to Grosse Scheidegg (1962m); a large mountain pass offering splendid views. On a clear day, catch a first glimpse of the mighty Eiger standing tall at 3,967m. Descend steeply to the hotel Wetterhorn, and from here the going gets a bit easier. Arrive in the bustling town of Grindelwald, a famous mountaineering centre. Exactly half way through the trail, this is the perfect place to have a rest day, or even upgrade your hotel to a 4* spa hotel for a bit of rest and relaxation.
Chalet Hotel Gletschergarten has been family-run since 1899, and is in the 4th generation of the Michel-Breitenstein family. There is a sauna, steam bath and relaxation room. All rooms have a balcony or terrace. Chef François Rollot prepares 4-course dining at the restaurant. Packed lunches are available if required, they are charged at CHF 12.- per person, alternatively there is a bakery shop located across from the hotel.
Belvedere Swiss Quality Hote is a 4-star superior hotel dating from 1907, with unrivalled direct views of the Eiger. Your hosts are the Hauser family, now in their third generation of running the hotel. Relax in the small but attractive spa area with its large indoor pool, ‘Experience’ shower, Finnish sauna and glacier steam bath, or take a dip in the outdoor salt water Jacuzzi. You can book the sauna for private use in the evening – please ask at reception. The fine dining Restaurant Français showcases inventive cuisine featuring fresh, home-grown ingredients; classic Swiss specialities as well as light fusion food with a Mediterranean or Asian influence. The restaurant is a member of the French gourmet association ‘Chaîne des Rôtisseurs’. On Monday evenings you have the chance to take a peek behind the scenes, with a visit to the kitchen with Markus Berger and his crew. All rooms have a large balcony with mountain views, and there’s even a choice of pillows for a truly refreshing sleep! If you would like to dine on the terrace we recommend making a reservation, especially during July and August (as this is very popular).
Start with a short descent from the centre of Grindelwald to Grund, before tackling the steep climb to Alpiglen; where many climbers start their attempts on the Eiger’s menacing north face. Follow the path as it snakes around the base of the north face. Continue ascending to reach Klein Scheidegg at 2061m. Offering spectacular views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, Kleine Scheidegg tends to be busy. Easily accessible by cog railway, its popularity does not make the views any less breath-taking. Continue via Wengern and Mettlenalp before arriving at the car-free resort of Wengen, well placed high above the Lauterbrunnen valley.
Hotel Schönegg dates from 1903, and was fully renovated in 2012. Although not strictly a chalet-hotel, the interior and furnishings, with their rich wooden patina, are typical of a Swiss chalet. Your hosts are Caroline & Sylvain Stefanazzi Ogi. Restaurant 1903, with its cosy wooden decor, is inspired by Sylvain's Italian roots. Rooms have charming wooden touches and guests can enjoy the sauna and massage bed (fee payable for the latter). If you have chosen to take the half board option, then this is a set 4-course menu (however can be changed due to preferences/dietary requirements). Packed lunches are available for CHF 15 per person.
Take the train from Wengen to Muerren via Lauterbrunnen (aprrox 1 hour). Leaving the busy Bernese Oberland behind, ascend Schiltalp at 1948m, which consists of a handful of traditional cheese-makers huts. The ascent to today’s pass, the Seifenfurke, is over rough and rocky ground, with the very final section over gritty black shale and scree. At 2612m, this is the highest pass so far. At the pass, say goodbye to the Eiger and Mönch and look forward for views of the glaciated Bluemlisalp massif. The descent from the pass is steep and tricky, and chains and steps have been put in place to help you cover the scree and shale.
A collection of five hotels, all huddled together at the foot of the stunning Bluemlisalp. As well as the usual comforts, there is also a sauna and small wellness area available to relax those tired legs (use of sauna payable locally).
A tough, varied and rewarding day awaits. Ascend to the Hohtuerli pass, the highest point on the Via Alpina at 2778m. Walk through woodland, pastures and across streams before turning onto a steep slope over moraine and grass. The slog is tough going but rewarded with a wonderfully wild panorama at the pass. The Schilthorn, Wetterhorn and Bluemlisalp are all visible. The descent to Kandersteg is long but steady. Pass the Oeschinensee; one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in Switzerland. From here continue to descend steeply on foot or take the chair lift into Kandersteg.
The Bernerhof hotel boasts panoramic mountain views and all rooms have a balcony. There is also a small spa area including a sauna, ‘experience’ showers and an ice-grotto.
This family run hotel has 15 rooms, all of which have a view of the wonderful Bernese Alps. There are plenty of facilities onsite including a restaurant and a gym.
Today’s objective is the Bunderchrinde pass. At 2385m, it’s the last of the classic mountain passes on the Via Alpina. From here the landscape becomes increasingly gentle but no less beautiful. On the ascent, come to Alpschele, a small collection of huts belonging to cheese makers and you may well see some locals going about their work. The final push to the pass is on a narrow path on a scree covered mountain side. As always, enjoy the views before starting the steep descent on more scree, which eventually turns into a gentle woodland, pasture and country road walking. There is one final ascent to reach the town of Adelboden, your overnight for this evening.
The Hotel Adler stays true to its traditional Alpine chalet exterior with a quaint alpine-style interior. Relax in the sauna or jacuzzi after a few lengths in the indoor or outdoor pool. The views from the spa are not to be missed!
Compared to previous days, today is quite easy-going with no major ascents or descents, and gentle underfoot terrain. Walk alongside riverside paths and through peaceful meadows and woodland. The highest point today is the Hahnenmoos pass at 1956m; a broad grassy saddle which is popular with locals and visitors due to its accessibility and idyllic surrounds. Descend to Lenk through scenic green countryside, dotted with traditional wooden chalets.
Relax with a drink on the sunny terrace of the 4* Simmenhof hotel. Alternatively take advantage of the extensive spa facilities, float in the outdoor or indoor pool and relax your muscles in the sauna.
You are assured the warmest of welcomes at this splendid hotel, designed with comfort in mind. The hotel fits in perfectly within the Alpine setting, with views of the surrounding mountains and Oberland. The en suite rooms come complete with all that one would expect for a most comfortable and enjoyable stay, with satellite TV, minibar, vanity mirror, safe, writing desk, hairdryer and Wi-Fi. There is an indoor swimming pool in which to relax after your day’s adventure plus a wellness centre with Finnish sauna, steam bath, solarium and massage therapy. Please enquire at reception with regard to using the facilities and booking any treatments (all paid locally).
Follow the Walbach upstream as you ascend out of Lenk. The going gets steeper and steel ladders and stone steps have been put in place to help progress over the smooth rocks of the Walbach gorge. About an hour after setting off, you will come to Wallegg, where you can stop for a breather and a refreshing drink. Mountainous views accompany you all the way to the Trüttlisberg pass at 2038m. Start the pleasant descent to Lauenen over pastures and woodland and arrive in the centre of the small village, where you can catch a bus to bustling and glamorous Gstaad.
Dating back to the 19th Century, the Posthotel Roessli is the oldest hotel in Gstaad and they have certainly perfected the art of hospitality over this time! Situated in the pedestrianised centre, the hotel is a firm favourite with visitors.
Located just a 10 minute walk from the pedestrianised centre of Gstaad, this is the perfect place from which to explore the town while being away from the hustle and bustle.
Follow a panoramic high-level trail out of Gstaad past Eggli, to the Col de Jable at 1,884m. The hike from Gstaad to Eggli is steep, and although this area is filled with ski lifts and chairs, don’t count on them operating in Summer. However, the panoramic view from Eggli makes the effort worthwhile. The Col de Jable marks the border between the cantons of Bern and Vaud, and also the linguistic border between German and French speaking Switzerland. Keep an eye out for traditional wooden chalets with shingle roofs, so close to Gruyère, they are most definitely cheese-makers huts. Descend to L’Etivaz; a cheese-making hamlet of about 150 people.
The Hotel du Chamois is a basic yet comfortable mountain hotel that has been run by the same family since 1881. The local gathering places of the small village of L’Etivaz, which has just 150 inhabitants, there is a charming and authentic atmosphere to this quaint hotel.
You are assured the warmest of welcomes at this very central hotel in the village of Château-d'Oex. The Hotel de Ville provides comfortable beds and private bathrooms either with showers or bathtubs which will give you a feeling of relaxation and well-being. All rooms are equipped with televisions and Wifi.
This bed and breakfast is wonderfully located on the edge of a thick Alpine forest. It offers en suite rooms each with a seating area with 2 chairs and views of the surrounding forest. There is a small shop on site that sells soap made by the owners. This is handmade using water from the sulphur water spring in L'Etivaz.
The last day of hiking is a long one but there is the option to take a train for the last 10km or so. Although not as dramatic as other sections, the scenery is no less lovely, and walking towards Lake Geneva just adds to the variety of the trail. The objective today is the Col de Chaude at 1621m. Enjoy the views down to the Lake about 1000m below and congratulate yourself on your 14th and final mountain pass of the Via Alpina! A steady descent follows which inevitably becomes more and more urbanised.
Montreux is considered the capital of the Swiss Riviera due to its favourable micro-climate. Surrounded by vineyards, adjacent to the Lake and with views to the French Alps, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with visitors. You may want to take an extra day here to relax and reflect on the epic trek you have just undertaken. We can also organise a well-deserved upgrade to a 4* hotel & spa so you can celebrate in style.
Having one of the best locations in Montreux being a 5 minute walk to the train station, it also boasts wonderful views of the lake (views with lake view subject to availability). An historical family run hotel, it was built in 1904 and is still a firm favourite with visitors. Breakfast is plentiful with yoghurt, fruit, croissants, rolls, meat and chesses as well as freshly cooked eggs.
Having one of the best locations in Montreux being a 5 minute walk to the train station, it also boasts wonderful views of the lake (rooms with a lake view subject to availability). The onsite restaurant serves classic Italian cuisine, or why not choose from one of the many nearby restaurants for your evening meal.
Upgrade Option: This hotel is peacefully located on the hills above Montreux and offers fantastic views of Lake Geneva and the surrounding alps. This hotel is truly of a different era– historical and grand, the pace of life here is relaxed. Wander the extensive gardens, take a dip in the outdoor pool or relax your muscles in the sauna. This is a special hotel and a great way to end your trip in style and luxury!
Check out of your hotel after breakfast. Montreux is served by railway and frequent trains to Geneva airport which take about 1 hour 30 mins. If you would like even more hiking, after a few days relaxing, you may want to consider our GR5: Lake Geneva to Chamonix trip which starts in Montreux!
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