10 Stunning Forests In Switzerland You Should Explore

forests switzerland

Switzerland is famous around the world for its spectacular nature. Its tall mountain peaks and fabulous Alpine lakes are talked about the most, but the forests of Switzerland are equally special and worth exploring. Especially since many of them are threatened by various natural hazards and climate change, and it’s not guaranteed they’ll still be there in a few decades or so.

There are forests in virtually every Swiss region, so whether you’re staying busy in Zurich or relaxing at Lake Geneva, there will be a beautiful Swiss forest just a short train ride away. Here’s everything you know about Switzerland’s forests, so you can decide which ones are worth your time!

Sihlwald Forest

Sihlwald Forest
Sihlwald Forest

Sihlwald Forest is the largest forest in Switzerland, spanning an area of approximately 10 square kilometers. It is situated in the Sihl Valley in Zurich canton, and it is easily accessible by public transportation from the city of Zurich.

The forest boasts beech trees that are hundreds of years old, a variety of hiking trails, plenty of sports activities for visitors, and even a museum dedicated to the history and importance of this forest. The museum is a good place to visit if you want to learn more about Sihlwald Forest’s history and its many inhabitants.

It’s worth noting that there is an entrance fee of 10 CHF for visitors to the museum. There’s no entrance fee for visitors to the forest and wildlife park grounds, and you’re free to walk and explore the area as much as you want. There are even camping sites for travelers who wish to spend a night or more exploring the depths of Sihlwald Forest.

Aletsch Forest

Aletsch Forest
Aletsch Forest

Aletsch Forest is special because it is situated at the edge of the largest glacier in Central Europe. The forest is part of a large nature reserve and it’s one of the best destinations in the region for travelers who wish to explore the wonderful nature of Switzerland.

In addition to being one of the most special Swiss forests, Aletsch Forest also boasts a variety of very rewarding hiking trails. Enjoy spectacular views of Aletsch glacier, the Matterhorn, and other surrounding mountains, while walking between large trees of pine and larch. The forest has been a protected area since 1933, and in the following decades that status extended to the entirety of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area.

UNESCO Biosphere Entlebuch

UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch
UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch

Situated at the foot of the Alps in central Switzerland, the UNESCO Biosphäre Entlebuch is an area encompassing some 395 square kilometers of varied terrain. The biosphere includes moorland, vast Alpine pastures, karst landscapes, tall mountains, and scattered forest patches throughout the area.

The area is also known as the Wild West of Lucerne since it’s less than half an hour west of the popular Swiss city. It’s an excellent destination for day trips from Lucerne, but also works well as a standalone destination for travelers who want to explore the varied landscapes of one of the world’s best biospheres.

Forest in Creux Du Van

Creux du Van 5
Creux Du Van

Creux Du Van is one of the most famous regions in Switzerland, aptly nicknamed the Swiss Grand Canyon. Situated in the Jura Mountains, on the border between Vaud and Neuchatel cantons, it’s the oldest nature preserve in Switzerland, as well as a fantastic rock arena that attracts avid climbers from all over the world.

The flora of the region is special, with both forests and arctic-alpine flora. The Jura Crest Trail, which links the cantons of Geneva and Zurich, passes through most of the forested area in this region.

Creux Du Van also features many hiking trails on mountain ridges and along the cliffs, plus it’s absolutely perfect for Alpinists. The forest isn’t the most spectacular feature of the area, but if you’re already there it’s certainly worth checking out.

God da Tamangur

God da Tamangur
God da Tamangur – © Tourismus Engadin Scuol Samnaun Val Müstair AG

God da Tamangur is a Swiss stone pine forest in Scuol in eastern Switzerland. Located at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level, Tamangur is the highest stone pine forest in the entire Europe. It’s also one of the most accessible Swiss forests, thanks to hiking and MTB trails that allow for easy exploration.

The local tourism office even offers guided tours of the forest along these trails, so you can easily discover it even if you’re not an avid hiker or MTB rider. The guided tours are available only in the summer, and they’re a great way of learning about the history and ecological importance of this forest.

At one point, the Tamangur forest was on the verge of disappearing. Many of its trees were dying, and the ones that weren’t were being felled. Once the consequences of such heavy felling became obvious, the forest management put an end to it, Tamangur forest became part of a larger nature reserve, and the stone pine trees have been thriving ever since.

Valle di Lodano

Valle di Lodano
Valle di Lodano

Just some 15 kilometers north of Locarno you will find one of the most impressive forest reserves in Switzerland. With 766 hectares of beech forest, it’s very easy to see why the Valle di Lodano area is so popular with outdoor lovers.

This forest reserve has officially been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2021. Even though the area is protected, there are many kilometers of hiking trails that will allow you to discover the stunning landscapes, waterfalls, and thriving flora and fauna of the area.

The hikes in Valle di Lodano range from easy trails that are suitable for families to multi-day trails that will take you on a loop hike throughout the entire forest reserve.

Risoud Forest

Risoud Forest
Risoud Forest

Risoud is Europe’s largest forest, spanning an area of 2,200 hectares. It’s in the Vaud canton on the border between France and Switzerland and it’s full of beautiful spruce trees, some of which are several hundred years old. However, the recent effects of climate change have posed a threat to the trees of Risoud Forest, mostly due to the increasingly warmer weather and many dry periods that are changing the wood’s tonal quality.

There are many myths, legends, and stories surrounding Risoud Forest, many of them dating back to World War II. It’s said that the forest was frequented by Passeurs du Risoud, a group of activists in WWII who helped pass information to the Swiss and British intelligence agencies and helped fugitives escape to Switzerland through the dense cover of the spruce forest.

In addition to many amazing stories, Risoud Forest is also known for excellent hiking and mountain biking. Parts of the forest are even reserved for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails in the winter, so there’s plenty of fun to be had here in the Jura Mountains regardless of the season.

Bödmeren Forest

Bödmeren Forest
Bödmeren Forest – Image courtesy of Uwe Häntsch

The Bödmeren Forest is special because it hasn’t been influenced by human activity a lot and it is still very much in its original shape. It’s situated towards the end of the Muota Valley and it is easily accessible by car from Vitznau.

This forest is on a karst area and it’s got a rather unique ecosystem. Spruce, birch, and slim pine trees are scattered throughout the 550 hectares of this forest, and some of those trees are more than half a century old. There are many rifts, sinkholes, and fissures throughout the Bödmeren Forest, leaving its central area mostly intact.

Hiking trails throughout the forest will allow you to discover some of its best parts, and I have to urge you to look up every now and then while traversing the Bödmeren Forest. You’ll notice that most of the spruce trees are columnar in shape, which is because the trees have adapted to survive heavy snowfall every season.

Arboretum du Vallon de l’Aubonne

Situated between Morges and Nyon on the northern shore of Lake Geneva, Arboretum du Vallon de l’Aubonne includes about 200 hectares of meadows and forests that anyone can explore. The area of the forest is part of the Parc naturel régional Jura vaudois, which is Switzerland’s only regional park.

With countless walking and hiking trails throughout the arboretum, you could spend hours just wandering around and discovering all the different trees and plants in this massive botanical garden.

Arboretum du Vallon de l’Aubonne is also home to the Wood Museum, which pays homage to the many ways in which wood has been used throughout human history. The museum’s collection includes more than 6,000 pieces, only a quarter of which are exhibited and can be viewed by visitors.

Swiss National Park Forest

Swiss National Park
Swiss National Park

The Swiss National Park was founded in 1914, and it was one of the first national parks in Europe. Situated in eastern Switzerland, the country’s only national park is a gorgeous region known for countless hiking trails, Alpine meadows, mixed forests, and rich wildlife.

The forests of Swiss National Park largely consist of pine, larch, and spruce. The spread of forests within the park is restricted because of altitude, and only the regions below the forest limit are densely forested. It’s worth noting that the Swiss National Park has even seen growth in its forests over the years, mostly because of the decrease in the overall timber exploitation in Switzerland.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of forests does Switzerland have?

The most common forest types in Switzerland are pure conifer forests. Approximately 62% of all forests in Switzerland are pure conifer, whereas deciduous forests account for the remaining 38%. The most common types of trees in Swiss forests are spruce, fir, beech, and maple, although there are many other, less common trees such as oak, Douglas fir, and cedar. 

What is the biggest forest in Switzerland?

Sihlwald Forest Zurich is the biggest forest entirely in Switzerland. It stretches over an area of ten square kilometers. Risoud Forest is the largest forest in Europe covering an area of 2,200 hectares, but it is shared by Switzerland and France. 

Does Switzerland have deforestation?

Yes, Switzerland has deforestation but it is at a fairly low level. Fire is the main factor of deforestation in Swiss forests, although the Swiss timber industry accounts for part of the removed trees as well. 

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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