Switzerland is, of course, a renowned winter sports destination, but it’s equally worth visiting in the summer, when you can appreciate the country’s many mountains at a slower pace – and without all the layers of warm clothing and snow drifts!
So, dig out your walking boots, pick up your rucksack and head off for a walking holiday in among Switzerland’s mountains – here are five of the best places to head to if you want to be surrounded by peaks.
Top of the list is the Bernese Oberland, which is home to mountains including the Eiger, Jungfrau and Moench. If you want to take it easy, plan to spend the majority of your break admiring the peaks from the valleys, which are dotted with villages that look as though they’ve come straight out of a fairytale.
Don’t miss the Grindelwald Glacier off your itinerary, either, and as if the sight of this vast expanse of ice wasn’t enough, it’s surrounded by mountains like the Finsteraar and Lauteraar. A journey on the Jungfrau Railway is another must, as it will take you to the highest train station in Europe from where you’ll have unrivalled views of the nearby peaks.
Another iconic Swiss alpine destination is Zermatt, which is famous for its proximity to the stunning Matterhorn – easily the most recognisable mountain in the country. There are around 400 km of walking trails in the area, most of which boast views of the pyramid-shaped peak.
Don’t think the Matterhorn is the only mountain in the area worth seeing, though, as there are 30 peaks that stand at more than 4,000 m. If you’re feeling energetic, walk up Oberrothorn, one of the tallest peaks that’s easily accessible on foot. From the 3,414 m high summit you’ll have amazing views of the valleys.
Nestled on the eastern edge of Lake Geneva are the Vaudoise Alps, home to Les Diablerets Glacier (and the Glacier 3000 region) and many vantage points that promise stunning panoramic views of some of Switzerland’s most iconic mountains. From the top of le Chamossaire, for example, you can see the Matterhorn and Jungfrau-Eiger in one direction and France’s Mont Blanc in the other.
For something a bit more exhilarating than walking, try canyoning, dirt monster biking (a combination of mountain biking and motorcycling) or paragliding in the Glacier 3000 area.
If you want to get out and about on foot in the high mountain regions without the effort of having to climb all the way, walking around Lake Lucerne is ideal, as there are several cable cars and cog railways you can board to reach the high-altitude walking trails. From Engelberg, for instance, you can hop in a cable car to take you halfway up the 3,329 m high Mount Titlis. Another option is to board the cable car in Niederrickenbach that ascends to some of the high mountain pastures that are dotted with flowers in the summer.
This is cheating a little bit as this area straddles the Swiss-French border, so you could spend some of your time walking in France, as well as in Switzerland. On the Swiss side of the border, you’ve got Lakes Geneva and Neuchatel, as well as over 500 km of clearly-marked trails on the slopes of the Jura Alps and along the edge of Lake Geneva.
The Joux Valley – and its lake which is the largest in the region – is well worth exploring on foot thanks to its varied scenery. You can ascend to various vantage points for beautiful views, while the walking trails will lead you through the forests and pastureland that surround the lake.