Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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The picturesque Lauterbrunnen valley
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Highlights

  • Complete the west section of the classic Alpine hike across Switzerland
  • Walk in the shadow of the mighty Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger peaks
  • Conquer 7 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 Papet Vaudois

Walk the western section of the Via Alpina and explore Alpine Switzerland on this inn to inn trail. Start in the buzzing mountaineering town of Grindelwald and walk to the glistening shores of Lake Geneva.

Hike below countless peaks such as the famous Bernese Oberland trio; the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. Expect peaceful alpine meadows and quaint towns with wooden chalets bursting with colourful flower-filled balconies.

Finish each day in comfortable 3* hotels or mountain hotels in private rooms. Daily bag transfer is included giving you the freedom to walk each day with just a light bag each day. With well-maintained and signposted trails, Switzerland is a self-guided walker’s paradise. Combine this with mountainous scenery, fresh Alpine air and seamless public transport, you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic adventure along the Via Alpina.

Day 1 Arrive Grindelwald

Grindelwald is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland and this area is popular with tourists and locals alike. Nestled at the foot of the famous peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Depending on your arrival time, you may wish to ride the Jungfraubahn all the way to the Jungfraujoch at 3,466m for stunning glacier views and an unforgettable experience! Alternatively just wander the village and pick up any last minute requirements at one of the many outdoor shops found in the centre.




Overnight: Grindelwald


Day 2 Walk to Wengen

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. 


Walking: 17km, ascent/descent:  1150m/890m


Dinner and Overnight: Wengen


Day 3 Train to Muerren and walk to Griesalp

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.


Walking: 16km, ascent/descent: 1390m/1600m


Dinner and Overnight: Griesalp


Day 4 Walk to Kandersteg

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.


Walking: 16km, ascent/descent: 1390m/1600m


Dinner and Overnight: Kandersteg


Day 5 Walk to Adelboden

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.


Walking: 15km, ascent/descent: 1280m/1150m


Dinner and Overnight: Adelboden


Day 6 Walk to Lenk

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.


Walking: 14km, ascent/descent: 700m/890m


Dinner and Overnight: Lenk


Day 7 Walk to Lauenen and bus to Gstaad

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.


Walking: 14 km, ascent/descent: 970m/820m


Overnight: Gstaad


Day 8 Walk to L’Etivaz

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.


Walking:16 km, ascent/descent: 1000m/920m


Dinner and Overnight: L’Etivaz


Day 9 Walk to Montreux

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.


Walking: 30 or 20 km, ascent/descent: 1300m/2000m


Overnight: Montreux


Day 10 Onward Travel

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!

Accommodation

Stay 7 nights in comfortable 3* hotels in private en-suite rooms and 2 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.


Single Rooms

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.


Hotel Upgrades

Why not upgrade your hotel in Grindelwald in Montreux at the end of the trail? Please see below our standard upgrade hotels.


Meals

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.



 

 

 




Chalet-Hotel Gletschergarten - Grindelwald

This hotel 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.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hotel du Chamois



Hotel du Chamois – L’Etivaz

The Hotel du Chamois is a basic yet comfortable mountain hotel that has been run by the same family since 1881. The local gathering place of the small village of L’Etivaz, which has just 150 inhabitants, there is a charming and authentic atmosphere to this quaint hotel.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Splendid - Montreux

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 lake view subject to availability). An historical family run hotel, it was built in 1904 and is still a firm favourite with visitors.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hotel Victoria- Glion



Hotel Victoria Glion - Montreux

Hotel Glion is peacefully located on the hills above Montreux (accessible by funicular) 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! p>


 

 

 

Availability

This trip is available to start any day of the week, from the end of June to the middle of September. In 2018 only, this tour will only be available from the beginning of August. 


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.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

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. 




Travel Insurance

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.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items,for example, proper rain gear (jackets and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking shoes or boots, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer and a day pack.


 

 

Getting to Grindelwald

For general travel planning and information in Switzerland, please go to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/transport-travel/getting-around 


Fly into Zurich, Geneva or Bern then continue by train to Grindelwald. (4, 3 or 2 hours)


Getting from Montreux

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.

Included

  • 7 Nights in 3* hotels, 2 nights in mountain hotels and guesthouses
  • 9 Breakfasts
  • 6 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

Excluded

  • Flights to and from Switzerland
  • Travel to Grindelwald and from Montreux
  • 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

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable
  • Extra nights

How fit do I need to be?

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.

How does the bag transfer work?

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.

How far in advance do I need to book?

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.

What personal equipment do I need?

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.



A terrific 7 days on the Via Alpina West

5

This is a first rate tour through the Western Swiss Alps, with some challenging but really rewarding climbs up to high mountain passes, but no specialist equipment required. The level of comfort and standard of food in hotels and restaurants really impressed us, and the public transport links at beginning and end really do live up to the SBB's high reputation for reliability. The welcome we received everywhere was really warm - just try not to think about the exchange rate.

Roger

Surrey, UK

true

Wonderful Hike!

5

Great hike on well-marked trails. Hotels were fantastic and the food was excellent, although the trails are well-traveled in the heart of ski country the hikes were challenging and the views are majestic.

Pete

USA

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The Via Alpina West

5.0 2

100.0

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