The Via Alpina West
- 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
ItineraryDay 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.
Chalet Hotel Gletschergarten has been family-run since 1899, and is currently run by the 4th generation of the Michel-Breitenstein family. There is a sauna, steam bath and relaxation room. All rooms have a balcony or terrace.
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.
In the quiet part of the village behind the church in Grindelwald, just opposite the picturesque white church. Personality, sustainability and regionality are their motto. The 19 rooms with the best view of the Grindelwald mountains are designed in Nordic simplicity. In hotel there is a small but fine à la carte restaurant, where the kitchen team use products from local agriculture.
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. The have a restaurant on site, Restaurant 1903, with a cosy wooden decor. The rooms have charming wooden touches and guests can enjoy the sauna and massage bed (fee payable for the latter).
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.
Griesalp Hotels is 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.
Hotel Bernerhof is located in the centre of Kandersteg and boasts panoramic mountain views. The hotel has a small spa area including a sauna, multi-sensory 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!
Surrounded by the Alps, green meadows and towering cliffs, this luxury boutique hotel has 36 rooms, a beautiful restaurant with traditional cuisine, and a spa and fitness area. This hotel offers a special combination of traditional chalet spirit and modern comforts of a four-star country house style.
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.
Hotel Simmenhof offers 40 rooms decorated with an alpine style, giving off a homely atmosphere. Relax with a drink on the sunny terrace or 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.
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!
Other InformationIs it for me?
This tour is perfect for experienced long-distance walkers who like their creature comforts. Rated moderate to strenuous with significant ascent and descent each day; on average 1000m. There are some long days; on average 18km a day. The terrain is varied and includes short sections of aided ascent/descent in the form of cables. Daily bag transfer is included meaning you need only walk with a light bag each day. Accommodation is in comfy 3* hotels and atmospheric mountain hotels, always in private rooms.
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
Long-Distance Trails, Alpine Walking
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.
Stay 7 nights in comfortable 3* hotels in private en-suite rooms and 2 nights in mountain hotels in private rooms with, depending on availability ensuite bathrooms or 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.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
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 and Montreux? Please see below our standard upgrade hotel options.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
This trip is available to start any day of the week from the start of July to early September.
Grindelwald hosting the famous Eiger Ultra Trail race (12th to the 16th of July). We recommend avoiding the Via Alpina at this time as the area is extremely busy and most accommodations are full.
Fly into Zurich, Geneva or Bern then continue by train to Grindelwald (4, 3 or 2 hours). For general travel planning and information in Switzerland, please go to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/transport-travel/getting-around
Take a train from Montreux to Geneva (1.5 hours) , Zurich (3hours) or Bern (2 hours) airports.; please see SBB’s website for timetable planning.
Baggage 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.
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- Enjoy views of Dents Blanches and Mont Blanc
- Summit Le Brévent for superlative views
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