Hut To Hut Hiking In Switzerland: All You Need To Know

hut to hut hiking switzerland

The hut-to-hut hiking Switzerland has to offer is some of the best in the world and if you have ever felt like a simple day hike doesn’t quite cut it, hut-to-hut hiking will be right up your street.

With over 150 Swiss mountain huts to choose from, making your way around the Swiss alps for days at a time is very possible. But, this isn’t a journey you should undertake without some planning and preparation.

I always tend to dive right in and just go, as being in nature for extended times is my favorite thing. But, being unprepared is no way to behave in the Swiss alps and I have got you covered.

Below, you will find everything you need to know about hut-to-hut hiking in Switzerland from what it is to how to find a hiking hut, when to go, what you will need, and more.

Hut To Hut Hiking in Switzerland: Overview

Hut to hut hiking
Hut to hut hiking

So, what is hut-to-hut hiking? Such a trip entails using hiking trails to go to a mountain hut where you stay overnight and continue your hike the next day. You can either hut hike to another hut or head back down the mountain.

The advantage of a hut tour is that you don’t have to carry all the extra gear for camping out at night on a long hike as most huts come with food and bedding. Also, there is no better way of staying in the mountains for a few days at a time instead of doing one day hike after the next.

Where To Find The Swiss Hiking Huts

There are a lot of mountain huts to choose from in Switzerland and they are all listed on the Swiss Alpine Club website which you can find here.

The club website shows you a map of the different mountain huts in the Swiss Alps and other parts of Switzerland along with details about each hut too. But if you want to know the best and most popular mountain huts in Switzerland, you can check out this post.

Some of the Swiss huts can be booked online but the website isn’t always kept up to date and it is worth calling the hut to see if they are in operation before you do anything else.

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Best Time To Do Hut-to-Hut Hiking in Switzerland

The best time of year to go hut hiking in Switzerland is when the weather plays ball and isn’t liable to change in a hurry.

Between the beginning of June and the end of September is when the Swiss Alps is drenched in sunshine and the weather stays stable. All the hiking trails passes, and huts are open at this time of year which makes things a little easier too.

May is also a stunning time as all the meadows are filled with wildflowers in bloom. October is another cool time to hike in the alps as the snow-capped peaks make for amazing views and great pictures. But, the weather can be a little changeable so best to plan ahead.

Essential Gear for Hut To Hut Hiking

essential hiking gear
A man with essential hiking gear

Going hiking from hut to hut is a stunning adventure that everyone should do once in their lives. But, it is still an adventure you need to be prepared for and that involves bringing the right gear with you.

Getting cold and wet in the mountains is not an option, nor is getting sunburnt, here is what you will need on the hiking trail:

  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Trekking Poles
  • Merino wool hiking socks
  • Merino wool base layers (pants and t-shirt)
  • Polyester fleece
  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof breathable hiking pants
  • Waterproof breathable jacket
  • Wooly hat
  • Baseball cap
  • Wool neck buff
  • Fingerless gloves
  • Zinc oxide
  • Suncream
  • Polarized Sunglass with mirror lenses
  • Pajamas
  • Casual T-shirts and trousers for evenings
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Waterproof hut slippers
  • Extra socks and underwear
  • Micro travel towel
  • First aid kit
  • Toothbrush and cosmetics
  • Large water bottle
  • Camera
  • Hiking backpack
  • Snacks for the hiking path
  • Maps, GPS, or GPS Communicator
  • Ear plugs

This is a basic list for a single overnight hiking experience but it includes all the essentials. If you are planning on going on multi-day tours, you may need to up the quantities of some of them. Let common sense take over with those decisions!

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Swiss Mountain Hut Cost

Swiss mountain huts cost less than staying in a hotel but more than sleeping in a campsite. You should expect to pay around CHF 70 per night and this includes a bed with linen, and a big dinner and breakfast included too.

This might sound like quite a lot for some of you when you will be sleeping in a simple bed in a dorm-style room, but it is Switzerland and you’d be spending double or triple at a hotel.

How to Book Mountain Huts in Switzerland

You can book some mountain huts on the Swiss Alpine Club’s website, you just have to click on the filter “reservable online” but it is best not to trust this in my eyes. The last thing you want is to have booked and paid online, to arrive at the hut and it is fully booked.

I would always recommend getting the hut’s phone number off the website and calling them. You will then know if they are in operation and be able to make a reservation over the phone which is guaranteed.

Be sure to bring cash to the hut to pay, as credit cards are rarely accepted. You may also want to tip, or maybe drink a beer or two in the evenings. Especially if you have hiked all day!

Bad Weather in The Swiss Alps

Swiss Alps
Swiss Alps

Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. You can go from hiking in a t-shirt in blazing sunshine to suddenly being in wind and rain within a few minutes. Fog and random snowfall are possible too so being prepared are key.

Now, if you are hiking between June and September, the chances of sudden weather changes are much lower. But, you still need to be prepared.

You will have noticed that the packing list includes clothing for all weather types, from freezing to sunshine, which is step one. Step two is always having an exit route that takes you safely to civilization.

Check your route and plan a few check-out routes that take you to safety if the conditions do get that bad, that way you always have options.

I also recommend you take a GPS-capable device and a compass in case it goes flat. It also pays to have a paper map and be able to read it. Most Swiss hikes are very well signed, but in bad weather, that may not help you at all.

Most Popular Hut To Hut Hikes in Switzerland

There are many huts to choose from in Switzerland and therefore there are lots of hut hikes to choose from too.

Below you will find the most popular options, now these might not be up your street as chances are they involve quite a few other people on the trail, but they are a great starting point!

Haute Route

Zermatt town

The Haute Route is one of the most challenging but most beautiful hut hikes you can do in the alps as it starts and ends at two of the most iconic mountains in the alps.

You will begin your journey at Chamonix at the bottom of stunning Mont Blanc in the French alps and traverse your way all the way to the Matterhorn, the most iconic peak in the Swiss alps.

Along the way, you will see the wildest side of the alps with rugged peaks, glaciers, valleys, lakes, rivers, and lots more. You stay at more huts than you might want to choose to count along the way, taking in a little slice of alpine culture at each.

Considering this hike takes 2 weeks to complete, it is no joke and requires physical and mental strength. It is also quite a dangerous multi-day trek and should be done without professional mountain guides if you don’t know what you are doing.

There is also an alternative to this route called the Walker’s Haute Route which follows a similar trail but at a much lower altitude making it a lot easier and safer for less experienced people.

  • Start: Chamonix
  • Finish: Zermatt
  • Distance: 200 km
  • Time: 14 days
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Via Alpina

Cliff Walk at First above Grindelwald
Cliff Walk at First above Grindelwald

The Via Alpina trail is magical as it takes you through the best of the Bernese Alps from the Lauterbrunnen Valley of 72 waterfalls and up to some of the greatest views of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks.

Now, this route usually takes 20 days to complete but there is a way to make it much shorter and still see the best of it. Not many of us have the time to spend 20 days hiking in the mountains but we can certainly do 3 or 4.

Start your journey at Lauterbrunnen but instead of hiking take the bus to Stechelberg and then hop on the cable car up to Mürren where you will start your hike.

From Mürren you will hike up to Gasthaus Golderli hut at Griesalp. The hike is stunning as are the views from the hut are awesome too! The next morning, hike down to Lake Oeschinen with its magical waters, have a swim, and then take the cable car down to Kandersteg.

Using this short route, you will see the best of the region and save a few vacation days at the same time!

  • Start: Lauterbrunnen Valley
  • Finish: Kandersteg
  • Distance: 24 miles
  • Time: 20 days (or 2 with shortcuts)
  • Difficulty: Hard or Moderate

Four Source Trail

Image courtesy of Wikimedia – Oberalpsee

The Four Source Trail, also referred to as Vier Quellen Weg gets its name as it goes through the Gotthard massif, the source of the 4 major rivers in Switzerland: Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone.

This is a long trail of 85 km or 53 miles that take 5 days of intense hiking to complete. It is an easy trail to follow as it is very well marked and labeled as an official route, number 49, in case you were wondering.

There is nothing technical about the route, but you will need to be fit and able to do long hikes at altitude with some steep ascents.

You will stay at mountain huts and hotels along the way, and believe me, you will love hitting the bed every night!

You’ll see some of the greatest parts of the alps along the way walking past meadows, lakes, glaciers, peaks, and more. Plus, you should be able to spot some alpine wildlife on the route too. Marmots and chamois are residents along the route so don’t forget to look out for them!

  • Start: Oberalpsee
  • Finish: Rhone Glacier
  • Distance: 53 miles
  • Time: 5 days
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Hut To Hut Hiking Tips

  • Carry cash with you as it can be very useful and if you haven’t already paid for the hut, most of them won’t let you pay with a card
  • Always reserve your hut at least 2 days in advance as you don’t want to miss your slot
  • Check the weather and plan accordingly, don’t go if it is looking dicey, plan it for another day and change your reservation at the hut
  • Plan your route well and have bail-out routes just in case. The better you know your route the easier it will be
  • Pack all the essentials for all conditions so you are safe no matter what the conditions throw at you
  • Carrying a GPS communicator is never a bad idea as you can follow your route and communicate with loved ones and with rescue services
  • Be careful with sun exposure, it is serious at altitude so hats, suncream, and mirrored sunglasses should always be on
  • Don’t make noise at night as other hikers are trying to get some rest before the next day of adventuring
  • Don’t do a route beyond your abilities as this puts you at risk as well as rescue services who might have to come and save you
  • Join a tour if you aren’t confident as you will have a professional alpinist guide with you that will ensure you have a great time
  • Go with friends if you are not experienced as solo hiking in the mountains should always be reserved for the pros
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Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes Hut To Hut Hiking Special?

Have you ever felt like a day hike was great but simply not enough to appreciate it all? Hut-to-hut hiking gives you the chance to stay in nature for close to 48 hours or longer, giving you that reconnection to nature and the disconnect from home life we all need. Not to mention, doing it in Switzerland is about as beautiful as it gets.

Does hiking in Switzerland cost money?

In most cases hiking in Switzerland is free. The things you do have to pay for are mountain railways or gondolas and staying overnight in a Swiss mountain hut (paying for your accommodation and food).

How to book mountain huts in Switzerland?

You can book mountain huts in Switzerland either via their website or by phone. The best place to find all of their contact details is on the SAC website.

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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