Six can’t-miss hiking trails in Switzerland

Hiking trails: Oeschinensee

There’s a reason that Switzerland is known for its mountains. The Swiss have been blessed with a beautiful natural environment, but they’ve also done their part making the terrain explore-able. Their hiking trails range from scenic walks to technical treks, and each is impressive in its own right.

At Alpenwild, our guides and office staff have traversed the Alps many, many times. But certain hiking trails never fail to take our breath away. Here are just a few of them.

6. The Planet Path

If you’ve ever wanted to explore outer space, then here’s your chance. Beginning at the top of the funicular in Tignousa, the Planet Path is a to-scale representation of our solar system.

On this trail, each meter represents one million kilometers. (So if you can cover one meter in 3.34 seconds, you’re traveling three times faster than the speed of light — at least for the sake of this trail.)

Along the way, you’ll pass models of the planets, spaced out according to their actual distance from each other. And although it’s technically a dwarf planet, even Pluto has a model about 1.5 kilometers (0.93 miles) past another landmark, the Hotel Weisshorn.

If you love hiking or still esteem Pluto as a planet, then you can walk all the way out to the last model. But if you’re tired or don’t think that demoting Pluto was a big deal, then you can turn around at any time.

The Planet Path is an easy walk and a great way to visualize our solar system.

We visit the area surrounding the Hotel Weisshorn on the Haute Route and the Swiss Alps Winter Hiking Adventure. We’d love to see you there, so take a walk on the Planet Path with us!

Hiking trails: up to Berghotel Obersteinberg
The trail to Obersteinberg. Photo by Tom Dempsey.

5. Obersteinberg Trail

The Jungfrau region is home to spectacular scenery, and it’s at its best on the hiking trails that go up to the Berghotel Obersteinberg. If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path views, you’ll find them here.

This hike begins in Stechelberg. Although the trail is only three miles long, you’ll need about three hours to make it to the berghotel.

This trail is challenging, but the views are matchless, so you’ll spot plenty of cascading waterfalls and towering peaks along the way. Be grateful for the pretty scenery, since you’ll need it to keep your mind off the switchbacks and ascent!

When you arrive at the Berghotel Obersteinberg, you’ll immediately notice that it’s set in another era. The hotel is charming and quaint, and it’s illuminated by candlelight after nightfall. And when you go outside, you’ll be able to see Schmadri Falls — a stunning waterfall that’s nearly 1,000 feet tall.

Remember to take lots of photos, even though it’s hard to do justice to jaw-dropping scenery like this.

Want to hike up to the Berghotel Obersteinberg? Check out our Exploring the Jungfrau trip to spend more than a week hiking through the Bernese Alps.

Hiking trails: reflection in the Bachalpsee on the way from Faulhorn to First
Reflection in Bachalpsee on the way from Faulhorn to First. Photo by Tom Dempsey.

4. Faulhorn trail to First

One of the most scenic hiking trails in the Bernese Alps takes explorers from Faulhorn to First. Located in the picture-perfect mountains near Grindelwald, these two peaks are a sight for sore eyes.

But the real highlight on this trail is Bachalpsee, a glacial lake that reflects a crystal-clear image of the surrounding mountains. It’s an ideal picnic location and a glorious photo op.

If your muscles feel too tired for a lengthy hike from Faulhorn, take the cable car from Grindelwald to First. From First, Bachalpsee is an easy 50-minute hike away, so you can enjoy the views without pushing yourself too far.

We love this area in the Alps! In fact, we stop by Bachalpsee on several of our trips, such as Exploring the Jungfrau, Swiss BlissAlps Photo Workshop, Plein Air Painting in the Alps, and Best of the Swiss Alps. The only thing that would make this beautiful hike better? Seeing you on the trail!

3. Swiss Path

There are no hiking trails more Swiss than this one! This 35-kilometer (22-mile) route opened on Switzerland’s 700th birthday, and it represents the nation’s past.

On the path, every five-millimeter stretch represents one Swiss citizen (based on the country’s 1991 population). Each canton has its own section too, although that length varies (based on the canton’s 1991 population).

The cantons’ sections crop up in the order that the individual cantons joined Switzerland. So since Cantons Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden banded together first, those cantons’ sections are the first ones on the Swiss Path.

According to legend, Switzerland was born when three men — one from Uri, one from Schwyz, one from Unterwalden — met in a meadow and made an alliance. That version of history might be legendary rather than factual, but we know that those three cantons really did have a pact. The Federal Charter of 1291 exists to this day, and it’s on display at a museum in Schwyz.

Fittingly, the Swiss Path begins in the meadow where the alliance allegedly began. To get there, just take a boat across Lake Lucerne, and disembark in Rütli. Enjoy your time on the Swiss Path, but remember to wear good shoes and bring water. After all, this hike is steep and long!

Explore the Lake Lucerne region with us! We visit on our Scenic Alps by Rail tours. 

Hiking trails: Five Lakes Walk, Zermatt
A lake on the Five Lakes Walk, a hike near Zermatt. Photo by Tom Dempsey.

2. Five Lakes Walk (5-Seenweg)

If you’re looking for an easy hike, head to the Five Lakes Walk near Zermatt. It’s a great option for worn-out hikers who want to continue exploring Switzerland, as well as families with young children.

Like this outing’s name implies, you’ll pass five lakes along the way. You’ll catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn in three of those lakes, so you might want to bring a camera, in addition to your snacks and water bottle.

You can even take a dip in a couple of the lakes — we’d recommend stopping at the fifth one, Leisee. Not only is it a great swimming hole, it also reflects the Matterhorn and includes a picnic site and playground.

The Five Lakes Walk is 5.8 miles (9.3 kilometers) long, and it’s mostly downhill. The hike takes two and a half hours, but you should give yourself extra time if you’d like to stop along the way.

To get to this trailhead, take a funicular from Zermatt to Sunnegga, then take a gondola to Blauherd.

We go on this hike as often as possible. Check it out on our Best of the Swiss Alps, Eiger to the Matterhorn tours. You’ll love the Five Lakes Walk as much as we do!

The beautiful Oeschinensee. Photo by Scholz.

1. Oescheninsee hiking trails

Even on a list of Switzerland’s finest hiking trails, this one is a real showstopper.

There are a couple of ways to reach the stunning Oescheninsee, which many people call Switzerland’s most beautiful lake. First, you could descend to the lake from the Bluemlisalp massif. This option is a great choice for anyone who’s been in Switzerland long enough to acclimate fully.

If you’d prefer a more convenient route, set out from Kandersteg and hike up to the lake. Alternatively, if you’d like to glide your way up to Oescheninsee, you could also take the tram.

The lake is accessible during both the winter and summer, but it’s not open from mid-March to mid-May. When the lake is open, hikers can opt to stay there overnight, which gives them beautiful sunrise views of Oescheninsee before the day-trippers arrive. So if you’d like to visit Oescheninsee, make sure to plan accordingly!

Dying to see this lake up close and personal? We hike to it on several of our tours, such as the Bernese Oberland Traverse and Eiger to the Matterhorn. Join us on the trail!

Cover photo by Geerk

Whitney Brown

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