With its diverse landscapes, Switzerland is one of the best places on the planet for admiring the masterpieces created by nature. In addition to the majestic peaks of the Alps, glaciers, lakes, rivers, and alpine meadows, don’t overlook Switzerland’s amazing gorges.
Carved by glaciers and rivers over millions of years, the gorges in Switzerland are some of the most impressive ones on Earth. Some are paid tourist attractions while others require a hike through the wilderness to reach them. Many are easy enough for almost anyone to explore from late spring to early fall.
Let’s take a look at 10 stunning gorges to visit in Switzerland.
Areuse Gorge (Gorges de l’Areuse)
The Areuse Gorge is one of the best gorges to visit combined with a hike through the Swiss countryside. It runs along the Areuse River in the French-speaking canton of Neuchâtel.
On the floor of the valley, you’ll find an easy walking path that leads through a picturesque landscape. The walk along the Areuse is steady and calming with signage to guide the way.
Following the path by the river, you’ll pass through both wide and rocky narrow openings and steep rock walls. You’ll cross impressive stone bridges, stairways, and catwalks as the river transform back and forth from a babbling brook to a thundering river.
Once you reach Champ-du-Moulin, a mountain camp near the National Park of Les Ecrins, you can refuel on a meal of fresh trout at the Hôtel de la Truite restaurant.
You can get to Areuse Gorge by car from Noiraigue or Boudry or by public transport.
The Aare Gorge is located in a valley known as Haslital in Central Switzerland between Lake Brienz and Grimsel Pass. The Aare River carved the 200-meter-deep gorge that stretches for 1,400 meters. It’s basically a huge piece of bedrock with limestone formations. A rock formation called Kirchet separates the mostly flat Lower Hasital from the Upper Hasital.
The gorge has been accessible for over a century and opened to the public in 1888. Today, most visitors combine a visit to Aare Gorge with one to the nearby Reichenbach waterfalls.
The walk through the gorge is safe and easy thanks to its system of paths and tunnels. You can navigate through the entire gorge in about 40 minutes.
The Aare is a good gorge to visit for families. Have the kids keep an eye out for the “tunnel worm” mascot hidden in the walls along the river. And there’s a playground for them outside the west entrance.
Get to the Aare Gorge via the Meiringen-Innertkirchen train with stops at the western and eastern entrances.
Glacier Gorge Grindelwald
The Glacier Gorge Grindelwald is an especially picturesque glacier that is basically an amusement adventure experience that you pay a fee to visit. It’s a narrow glacier ravine with 300-meter-tall walls and a small river running through it. Once covered in glacial ice, it has a series of tunnels and rock galleries. Inside, your senses will be heightened by the roaring waters of the Lütschine river, sunlight playing on the walls, and a drop in the temperature.
You’ll walk down 870 meters on an elevated walkway where, inside, you can bounce around on a huge “spiderweb” net stretched across the gorge and do the “canyon swing” where you freefall from above and then swing through the canyon.
This adventure is a 35-minute walk from Grindelwald village. You can also go by bus or car.
Tamina Gorge is a scenic gorge that was created by the power of the Tamina River. It’s located in the municipality of Bad Ragaz in the canton of St. Gallen, home to a natural spring and spa resort. Popular for its healing properties, the narrow rock gorge is about 750 meters long and 70 meters deep.
The entrance to the gorge is near a restaurant called Altes Bad Pfäfers. Once inside, you’ll be impressed by the power of the water. As much as 8,000 liters of water gush through the springs per minute for a total of 7-10 million liters per day.
The jagged cleft in the rock is very narrow. To get to the spring-fed water grotto, you’ll walk through the 450-meter- long Santa Barbara Tunnel.
An hour-long hike from the village of Adelboden through Ausserschwand takes you to the beautiful Choleren Gorge. Filled with rocky cliffs, it has lots of steps and bridges that cross cascading waters for an impressive visit. The stairways and bridges were added to the 100-meter-long gorge to enjoy the twisting turns, waterfalls, water mills, and polished rock faces.
The safest way to explore the gorge is to enter at the bottom and work your way up. Combine your excursion with a trip to the Pochtenkessel, a deep, rocky cauldron where the waters of the Engstlige and Otterebach Rivers meet. Then end your hike with a dip in the Jungbrunnen (fountain of youth.)
You can get to Adelboden by car or public transport.
Located in the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland, Viamala Gorge is the deepest and most impressive one in the area. Steep, rocky cliffs that tower down through the gorge to the roaring waters of the Rhine make it especially picturesque. Around 360 steps lead down into the gorge where you can admire the gorge bridges.
The gorge has a significant history as well as being scenic. The Romans used it thousands of years ago as an access point to reach Splügen and San Bernardino. Viamala means the “bad way,” and 15th-century traders used the route to transport cattle. Although its confines were narrow and the waters were dangerous, it provided access to the Alpine passes of Splügen and San Bernardino.
The Viamala Gorge has a visitor center open from March 29th to November 1st. A fee is charged to enter the gorge. To get there, take the PostBus from Thusis to “Zillis, Viamala Schlucht.”
Tüfels Gorge (Devil’s Gorge)
One of the most beautiful gorges in the Jura, Tüfels Gorge is named after a legend about a demon who made his home here after getting lost. After the demon was driven away, he left behind grottoes, caves, steep rock faces, and waterfalls.
The entrance to the 2.2-kilometer-long gorge is located in the village of Hägendorf. It runs along the Cholersbach Stream and is connected by numerous bridges and catwalks.
The path is easily walkable, and beautiful vistas are around each bend. The Cholersbach stream cascades over rough boulders and smooth stones down into the village of Kappel where it eventually flows into the River Dünnern.
Get to the Devil’s Gorge by train or car to Hängendorf in the canton of Solothurn. You can explore the gorge by joining a tour or on your own.
Located in the canton of Graubünden in eastern Switzerland, the Rhine Gorge is part of Geopark Sardona. The geopark offers both adventure and education opportunities. The Tamina Gorge, Seerenbach Falls, and the Berglistüber waterfall are nearby.
Formed after the Flims landslide about 10,000 years ago, the Rhine gorge is 400 meters deep and 13 kilometers long. This was the largest landslide in the Alps, and after years and years, the deep rift in the mammoth rock was carved by the Rhine River. Today, it’s known as “The Swiss Grand Canyon.”
You can get to the Rhine Gorge via the Rhaetian Railway or the Postauto buses.
The waters of the glacier river Gornervispe have been carving out the Gorner Gorge since the last ice age. Walls of greenish serpentinite around 220 million years old surround the river. Special light conditions in mid-September between 3 pm and 4 pm cause the water to turn a shiny turquoise blue.
This natural spectacle makes the Gorner Gorge one of the most interesting attractions in the village of Zermatt. Get there via a 20-minute walk from the south end of the village. It can be crossed by foot on a secured path that passes through galleries and over wooden walkways. An admission fee is charged.
The Chauderon Gorge is located in a natural wilderness right outside the old town of Montreux. It is here at the foot of the Swiss mountain Rochers-de-Naye that the waters of La Baye de Montreux River flow into Lake Geneva.
The entrance to the gorge is a short walk from the train station. As you follow the trail, the city is left behind as the scent of wild garlic fills the air and the river gurgles. The beginning of the gorge is narrow with areas that are similar to a rainforest. As you get closer to Les Avant, the gorge gradually widens.
You can opt to continue on the signposted Sentier des Narcisses trail along forests, meadows, and viewpoints overlooking Lake Geneva. In May, the meadows are covered with creeping phlox and narcissus.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the gorge near Zurich?
The closest gorge to Zurich is either the Tüfelsschlucht located less than an hour away or the Aare Gorge, which is 1 hour and 37 minutes drive.
How do I get to Aare Gorge in Switzerland?
To get to the Aare Gorge you can take the train to the Meiringen-Innertkirchen stop and swap to the regional train to either the eastern or western end of the Gorge. If you are driving, head towards Meiringen and then follow the road 6 south until you see the signs for the Aareschlucht (Aare Gorge).
What is the biggest canyon in Switzerland?
The Rhine Gorge is Switzerland’s largest canyon., and is known as the “Swiss Grand Canyon. It is part of the upper Rhine where the river starts its long journey towards the German border and eventually the sea.