Best Base For Hiking In Switzerland: Your Ultimate Guide

best hikes grindelwald

It’s no secret that Switzerland has some of the prettiest nature in the world. With countless waterfalls, tall mountain summits, and stunning forests, a good chunk of the country is just a vast playground for hikers and mountain bikers. 

Some regions feature better hiking opportunities than others, which is precisely why we need to talk about where you should base yourself during your stay in Switzerland. I’ll cover all the top towns that are famous for the hiking trails in their surroundings, and which are perfect bases for exploring the beauty of Switzerland’s nature.


Wengen village

The car-free village of Wengen is an excellent base for exploring the hiking trails in the Swiss Alps. A great thing about staying in this village is that you’re very close to both Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, so you can easily explore the other two tourist destinations as well. 

The Eiger trail passes directly through the village of Wengen, so you can begin exploring the hiking trails the moment you step out of your hotel. One of the most popular trails close to Wengen is the panorama trail from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, which is easily accessible by a short cable car ride from Wengen. Männlichen can also be reached by hiking trails directly from Wengen. 


Grindelwald village

Grindelwald is another excellent base for a hiking trip in Switzerland. The village is actually really close to Wengen, so you can still explore many of the same trails. It’s one of the best bases for hikers who want to explore the trails in the Swiss Alps since many of the best hiking trails in the mountains are easily accessible from the car-free village. 

Cable cars will take you from Grindelwald to First, a scenic mountain peak that boasts dramatic views and mountain lakes. The area’s best hiking trails will take you to Bachalpsee, Schwarzhorn, and Faulhorn, although it’s important to note that there are countless other trails to be explored in the region. Whether you’re looking to do an easy day hike or a challenging hike that can take several days, Grindelwald won’t disappoint. 



Murren is a lovely village in the Lauterbrunnen valley. It’s situated south of Lauterbrunnen proper, and the two villages are connected by public transport so you can easily travel between them. Murren is much closer to Trummelbachfaflle, which is the region’s most spectacular cascade. The waterfall is inside a cave, and a short hiking path allows you to discover its beauty. 

There’s a hiking trail that leads through the entire valley and allows you to discover dozens of the region’s waterfalls. It’s a path from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg, and the entire hike can be completed in approximately one hour. Other popular trails near Murren are the Flower Trail, Eiger Mountain North Face trail, and the hike to Schilthorn, among others. 


Interlaken from above
Aerial view of Interlaken

Interlaken is a great base for hiking in Switzerland because the city features easy access to both lakes and mountains. You can ascend mountain summits, hike along ridges, or go on round-trip hikes along the lake shore, and you’ll do it all with a smile on your face because the views before your eyes are just too good. 

The Hardergrat Trail is a very popular hike in the region. The trail leads hikers from Brienz to Harder Kulm along a mountain ridge, and it’s considered one of the best ridge hikes in the entire world. Trails along the shores of Lake Brienz and Lake Thun are also very popular, as are hikes to St. Beatus Caves, Giessbach Waterfalls via Iseltwald, and Augstmatthorn. 

Additionally, Interlaken is very close to Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, so you have the option of exploring those regions as well during longer stays.  


Staubbach waterfall in Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen is situated in the center of the namesake valley and it’s a very popular destination for hiking in Switzerland. The village boasts some of the prettiest landscapes in this part of the country and it’s famous for the Staubbach Waterfalls, which runs down the cliffs in the backdrop of the village. 

Lauterbrunnen is also very close to Murren, Wengen, Grindelwald, and Stechelberg, which makes it a great base for travelers who want to explore as much of Switzerland as possible. If you’re planning a longer hiking trip in Switzerland, this is without a doubt one of the best places to base yourself because you will have easy access to all the best hikes in the area. 

Some of the most popular hikes that are accessible directly in Lauterbrunnen are the path to Staubbach Falls, the valley hike from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg, and the Obersteinberg Loop, among others. 

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Zermatt town

Situated at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is by far the best destination for exploring the hiking trails of southern Switzerland. Countless hiking routes will be easily accessible if you choose to stay at this resort village, including the iconic hike to the Matterhorn summit. 

The Matterhorn ascent is a long hike that involves a lot of rock climbing and it can only be done with mountain guides. The good news is that there are plenty of other trails that you can explore on your own, including hikes to the ​​Gorner Gorge, Unterrothorn, and the Edelweisweg. 

The Five Lakes trail is another popular hike in this region. It’s a loop trail that will let you discover five beautiful lakes in the mountains, some of which are even suitable for swimming in the summer! 



Kandersteg is a resort village in the Bernese Alps, best known for its excellent skiing opportunities. When the snow melts in April, most of the region’s best ski trails become hiking trails, and you’re free to explore as many as you want. 

Kandersteg boasts stunning panoramas of the Swiss Alps and some of the country’s prettiest mountain lakes. Oeschinensee is one of the lakes that you can easily hike to from the resort village, plus there are several SAC mountain huts nearby where you could spend the night if you wanted to go on multi-day hikes. 

There are also several hiking trails near the lake shore, as well as a bunch of others with trailheads near Kandersteg. The hike to Allmenalp is one of the easier options, and there are dozens of mountain summits you can ascend if you’re looking for more challenging routes. 


Sherlock Holmes statue in Meiringen
Sherlock Holmes statue in Meiringen

Meiringen is situated northeast of the Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen areas, and it’s a good place to stay if you want to have easy access to multiple hiking regions in Switzerland. You’re equally close to Grindelwald and Interlaken, so you can easily go on hiking day trips. 

On the other hand, you’ll also have an abundance of exciting hiking trails in your backyard. Gorges, waterfalls, and tall mountain summits are all in close proximity to the village and can be reached via various hiking trails. Some of Meiringen’s most popular hikes include the trail to Schrawzwaldalp, Reichenbach Falls, the Aare Gorge, and Grosse Scheidegg. 

Also, Meiringen is perfectly situated for mountain biking and multi-day hiking. Several long-distance trails pass through this gorgeous village, including the Via Alpina Green Trail. The segment that passes through Meiringen takes you to Grindelwald, which is certainly a long-distance hike worth attempting if you enjoy the challenge. Even if you can’t make it to Grindelwald, you’ll pass next to at least one mountain hut where you can get some rest. 

St. Moritz

St. Moritz
St. Moritz

St. Moritz is a luxury resort village in southern Switzerland that’s most famous for the White Turf horse races. The fabulous destination is often the choice of the rich and famous in Switzerland, so it’s no surprise that the village is home to many luxury and high-end designer stores and expensive hotels. 

On the other hand, St. Moritz also boasts exceptionally beautiful nature, and it’s just as often frequented by avid hikers. There are plenty of more affordable places for stays in St. Moritz, as well as campsites where you can get the cheapest possible accommodation in the area. 

It’s worth it to spend a little more on accommodation and base yourself in this resort village because you will get the opportunity to discover some truly mesmerizing landscapes. Lake Silvaplana is easily accessed by hikes from the village, and it’s one of the best mountain lakes for swimming in Switzerland. A loop hike around Lake St. Moritz is also a popular trail in the region, as are the trails to Lake Alv, Lake Marsch, and Val Roseg. 

St. Moritz is also surrounded by many tall mountain summits, so there are numerous opportunities for challenging peak ascents. Piz Suvretta, Muottas Muragl, and Piz Rosatsch are some of the top options for experienced hikers. 


Saas Fee Valley
Saas Fee Valley

Saas-Fee is another stunning resort village in southern Switzerland close to the Matterhorn. If you want to explore this region but you’re not a huge fan of Zermatt, this is the next best place to stay. 

The hike from Hannig to Mällig is short but challenging enough to get your blood running. Also, it takes longer to hike from Saas-Fee to Hannig for the first leg, but the second leg is much more technically demanding. Ascents to Nadelhorn are also popular with expert mountaineers; the ascent includes following an icy route, but the views along the way are simply unbeatable. 

Mountain lakes are also accessible by various routes in the region, but they are a bit further away from Saas-Fee so you might need to rely on public transport a little more. Mattmarksee, Weingartensee, and Schalisee can all be reached by a combination of train rides and hiking routes. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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