Adventure of the Week: Ultimate Swiss Alps
Every country has opportunities to hike. From the rugged highlands of Scotland to the wizened deserts of Australia, there is always somewhere to head out and experience the wilds on foot. In some places it is all about maps and compasses, navigating your way along the path and in others, it is so incredibly well laid out, made for all levels of walker to experience. The country that exemplifies this ideal the most is Switzerland and we have put together the very best walking, views and cultural experiences to bring you the Ultimate Swiss Alps tour.
In a Nutshell:
Where: This trip takes you through the south of Switzerland, visiting the very best regions of the Swiss Alps, showcasing vistas of some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. You will start off in Murren and Grindelwald, before heading south to Zermatt and then finish off the trip by taking the Glacier Express over to the glorious St Moritz and Pontresina.
Distance: This trip has a variety of options on it, so you can choose to take rest days and cut out some walking, or choose to shorten or lengthen your days walks. Generally, you will be walking around 66 - 125 km during the whole trip. You will cover a greater distance, however, using Switzerland's outstanding rail network.
Grade: We have graded this trip Moderate. Our routes follow wide tracks, paths and sometimes narrower mountain paths occasionally with steep slopes above and below—as with most Alpine walking a good head for heights and sure-footedness is required. The incorporation of cable cars avoids most steep ascents and descents, but some steep sections are unavoidable—walking poles are highly recommended.
Why Walk Here?
Let's start here with the scenery. Picture postcard is the order of the day in Switzerland. Everything in Switzerland looks perfect, like the rocks have been washed and the trees brushed straight every day. Their mountains have perfect looking triangular shapes (see Toblerone) and the air is as clean and fresh as you are ever going to get. This trip is built around stunning views of the Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau and of course, the Matterhorn.
While the Alps might scream out, tall, snow-capped mountains, there is so much diversity of scenery on this trip. There are the fairytale forests of the Bernese Oberland, the lush green Engadine Valley, as well as balcony walks amongst the high mountain peaks. The panoramas are dotted with traditional Swiss wooden houses and the gentle clanging of cowbells accompanies you wherever you go. At times, walking out here genuinely feels too good to be true.
Murren is where the fairytale dream begins. Only accessible by train, you glide through mountains that seem too big and close to be real, arriving at a cute little wooden town nestled in the foothills. This is the Swiss stereotype village, the dream village, but it is a fully functioning, place full of friendly locals and delicious local restaurants. On, then to Grindelwald, which does nothing to wake you from the fairytale. Flower-laden wooden cabins, framed my such dramatic peaks and glaciers that you will already be worried about filling the memory card in your camera.
Kandersteg is for true hikers, everything about it dedicated to walking in the mountains, which is then followed by Leukerbad, replete with thermal spas to soothe the exertions of the last couple of days. Both towns ringed by towering peaks and verdant alpine meadows. Zermatt is more cosmopolitan, the big smoke around here, but still, sitting in the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn, you couldn't ask for a more relaxing and beautiful city to spend some time in.
Next up is a trip on the Glacier Express, a misnomer if ever there was one. An eight-hour train journey designed to be the most relaxing journey in the world. The scenery is spectacular, the food is outstanding and it really gives you the chance to watch Switzerland roll by at a 'glacial' pace. There are a few rail journeys dotted throughout the trip, with this being the highlight, but it is worth mentioning that Swiss rail travel is by far the best I have ever experienced. Silent, super clean trains that are never late, glide you to your next destination. A real highlight.
Finish off your exploration of Switzerland in the luxurious town of Pontresina, ten minutes away from St Moritz. Take the UNESCO listed Bernina Bahn, a train line which equals the Glacier Express for stunning views, which opens up the lush Engadine Valley for you to discover on the usual perfectly marked trails.
Planning and Preparation
Getting to and from the Ultimate Swiss Alps trip is really straight forward and there are several different options. Flying into Zurich is probably your best all-round airport, with Murren and Pontresina a 3.5-hour train journey away.
If you have any questions about the route, don't hesitate to contact one of our Destination Specialists, who will be more than happy to help.