The beautiful nature of Switzerland is known as a hiker’s paradise. With too many hiking trails to count, it’s no secret that the stunning country boasts a plethora of paths waiting to be discovered.
In addition to countless day hikes, Switzerland is also home to many long-distance treks. Whether you want to hike across the country or discover the best natural landmarks on a single journey, this guide to multi-day hikes in Switzerland covers all the best long-distance trails in the country!
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Via Alpina is a long-distance hike through Switzerland that crosses 14 mountain passes. The trail will take you through six Switzerland cantons, so it’s one of the best long-distance hikes for travelers who want to discover as much of the country as possible.
The starting point of this multi-day hike is in Lichtenstein and hikers should enter Switzerland on the second day. This long-distance trail is divided into 20 one-day stages, and it’s generally considered challenging due to difficult terrain, rock climbing, and high elevation gain. Good hiking equipment is necessary for this trail, including rugged boots, hiking poles, warm clothing, etc.
Via Alpina is also one of the most rewarding long-distance hiking trails in Switzerland. You’re traveling through the country for some 20 days, discovering the unique flora and fauna, beautiful villages, and countless natural landmarks. Hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps, which make all the effort entirely worth it.
- Distance: 390 kilometers
- Starting Point: Vaduz (Gaflei, FL)
- Destination: Montreux
- Ascent: 23600 m
- Descent: 24800 m
- Stages: 20
There are a few different versions of the Haute Route for skiers, mountaineers, and cyclists – the one for hikers is known as the Walker’s Haute Route. It’s a long-distance hiking trail from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland, and it usually takes hikers some 14 days to complete the hike.
This challenging long-distance hike is suitable only for experienced and fit trekkers. It requires hikers to walk for at least 6-8 hours every day, and some days are much more difficult than others. One stage of the hike includes an elevation gain of some 900 meters in just one day, but the mesmerizing nature and spectacular views eventually make it all worth it.
It’s worth noting that there is no single route that will take you from the starting point to the final destination. Haute Route is a system of 10+ walking trails that are connected to one another, and you can always switch things up if you want. Take the cable car instead of climbing the mountain, opt for a different trail because the views are better – in any case, you can expect to cover between 170 km and 230 km hiking through the wonderful Swiss nature.
- Distance: 174 – 227 kilometers
- Starting Point: Chamonix, France
- Destination: Zermatt, Switzerland
- Elevation Change: 21,000 m – 28,000 m
- Stages: 14
Strada Alta Leventina
Strada Alta Leventina is one of the shorter multi-day hiking trails in Switzerland. If you want to discover the beautiful Alpine nature of the country but you don’t want to hike for 20 days straight, this trail is an excellent option.
It’s a 47-kilometer trek through the Leventina Valley. The trail is divided into three one-day stages and it is generally considered an easy hiking trail, suitable even for newbies. The total hiking time is around 15 hours, so approximately five hours per each stage of the hike.
The Levantine Valley is full of rural mountain landscapes, charming villages, old churches, and spectacular views. It’s not a difficult trail but it’s extremely rewarding nonetheless, particularly for hikers who are truly interested in the history and culture of Ticino.
- Distance: 48 km
- Starting Point: Airolo
- Destination: Biasca
- Ascent: 1417 m
- Descent: 1762 m
- Stages: 3
Sentiero Lago di Lugano
Sentiero Lago di Lugano is a long-distance hiking trail near Lake Lugano. The total length of the trail is 130 kilometers, which is usually divided into nine hiking stages. This trail is suitable only for experienced hikers in great physical conditions, due to large elevation changes and difficult terrain.
It’s worth noting that more than half of the stages include only 4-5 hours of hiking per day, so you could complete this hike earlier if you wanted to. But there’s no reason to be in any rush – the landscapes along the trail are so wonderful that it’s worth it to go slow and take in the views as much as possible.
Some highlights of this beautiful long-distance hike include the famous ridge-hike from Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro, the amazing Monte Boglia vantage point, the astonishing Muggio Valley, and Monte Generoso, to name just a few.
- Distance: 130 km
- Starting Point: Lugano
- Destination: Mendrisio
- Ascent: 9000 m
- Descent: 9700 m
- Stages: 9
Waldstätterweg is a multi-day hike around Lake Lucerne in central Switzerland. Lake Lucerne is one of the largest lakes in Switzerland, known for several sharp bends and four arms. This long-distance trail takes you along the shore of the lake, allowing you to discover it in its entirety.
The total length of the multi-day trail is 115 kilometers from Brunnen to Rütli Meadow (where Switzerland was founded). The hike is divided into seven stages, and it usually takes trekkers about a week to complete this long-distance Switzerland hike.
If you’re just getting into long-distance hiking, this is definitely a trail you should consider doing. It’s one of the least technically challenging hikes since the vast majority of lakeshore trails are along a pedestrian promenade or a well-marked walking path. The total ascent and descent during the hike are around 4800 meters, which seems like nothing compared to the 24-kilometer ascent of Via Alpina.
Stages five and six are the most challenging because they include hiking in the Burgenstock area. There’s a lot of climbing to be done, but this is also the most rewarding stage of the hike because of the impressive panoramic views of Lake Lucerne!
- Distance: 115 kilometers
- Starting Point: Brunnen
- Destination: Rütli
- Ascent: 4800 meters
- Descent: 4800 meters
- Stages: 7
Aletsch Panoramaweg is one of the shortest multi-day hikes in Switzerland. The long-distance trail is around 30 kilometers long, and it’s separated into three 10-kilometer stages that most trekkers can complete within three days.
Just because it’s a short trail doesn’t mean that it’s easy. The trail explores two of the longest glaciers in the Alps – Fiescher Glacier and the Aletsch Glacier. This region has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, so you can expect some truly incredible views along the way.
This multi-day hike in Switzerland starts in Belalp and goes on until Bellwald. Once upon a time, this hike used to cross the Aletsch Glacier, but that is no longer possible due to the effects of climate change. The slowly melting moraine slopes of the glacier are no longer stable and the trail now avoids them.
Panoramic viewpoints, a 124-meter suspension bridge, and stunning views of the Swiss Alps are just some of the highlights of this long-distance hike. In general, the trail is considered to be of medium difficulty – the terrain is challenging and it’s quite cold, but that’s nothing sturdy winter hiking gear won’t help you handle.
- Distance: 30 kilometers
- Starting Point: Belalp
- Destination: Bellwald
- Ascent: 1900 meters
- Descent: 2800 meters
- Stages: 3
Nationalpark-Panoramaweg is a long-distance hiking trail through the only national park in Switzerland. Located in the Swiss National Park, this hike allows you to discover all the top sights in the NP during the six days it takes to complete the six stages of the trail. It’s best to attempt this hike in the summer months because several stages are inaccessible in the winter due to large amounts of snow in the mountains.
The starting point of the hike is the town of Scuol, and immediately during the first stage, you’re climbing the mountains and discovering an old smuggler’s route. Beautiful valleys, larch forests, and turquoise mountain lakes are all highlights of the trail you can look forward to.
Hikers will also get to discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites along this route, as well as pretty villages, mountain huts, and picture-perfect Swiss landscapes. In general, if you’re looking for the best possible way to explore the only national park in the country, this multi-day hike is absolutely the best option.
- Distance: 105 kilometers
- Starting Point: Scuol
- Destination: Zernez
- Ascent: 6500 meters
- Descent: 6300 meters
- Stages: 6
Vier-Quellen-Weg translates to “The Four Springs Trail” which immediately gives you an idea of what to expect from the trail. The hiking path is in the Gotthard Massif, and it allows hikers who attempt it to discover the springs of four different rivers that run through Switzerland – Rhine, Reuss, Ticino, and Rhone.
The starting point of the hike is in Andermatt, and on the first day, you get to discover the source of the river Rhine and the Tomasee lake. On day two you’re already at the highest point of the entire hike – Piz Giübin with an elevation of 2776 meters. It’s also the best view of the entire trail.
Day three takes hikers to the source of the River Reuss, while on day four you get to cross an Alpine meadow and admire the views of a stunning valley from a hanging bridge.
Day five takes hikers up the Furka Pass, which is best known for its role in a James Bond movie. The source of River Rhone is one of the last landmarks along this trail.
- Distance: 81 kilometers
- Starting Point: Andermatt
- Destination: Furka Pass
- Ascent: 4600 meters
- Descent: 4400 meters
- Stages: 5
Via Spluga is a multi-day hiking trail in southern Switzerland. This is a historic route that has long been used to connect the towns in Switzerland and Italy, and this is evident from the mule tracks you’ll notice along the route.
The hike begins in Thusis in Switzerland and takes you all the way to Chiavenna in Italy. The route is around 66 kilometers long and it can usually be completed in five stages – even less if you’re okay putting in an extra couple of hours every day.
The Viamala Gorge is the first highlight of this trail and it is absolutely stunning. Glacial ice and water carved the gorge into the huge rocks years ago, and today it’s one of the most popular natural landmarks in this part of Switzerland.
But the imposing gorge is hardly the only highlight of this long-distance hike. Roflaschlucht gorge, lakes, pine forests, and alpine passes are all encountered along the way, and they’re some of the most beautiful sights you can experience while hiking in Switzerland.
- Distance: 66 kilometers
- Starting Point: Thusis
- Destination: Chiavenna (Italy)
- Ascent: 2180 meters
- Descent: 2530 meters
- Stages: 5
Jacobsweg / Way of St James
The Way of St. James is a famous network of pilgrimage paths in Europe. All the paths lead to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain. The paths in Switzerland are known as Jacobsweg and they’re popular multi-day hikes.
Switzerland has several of these pilgrimage paths, but by far the most popular one is the 645-kilometer trail from Rorschach to Einsiedeln. It’s worth noting that this route is the longest iteration of Jacobsweg in Switzerland. The trail explores different parts of the country, sometimes going back and forth for days.
If you’d like to attempt Switzerland’s version of Jacobsweg but 645 kilometers is a bit much, consider doing a shorter route. Konstanz to Geneva is another popular iteration of this pilgrim path, and it’s just around 350 kilometers long, so it can be completed in some 20 days.
The path is well-marked for the most part with Schwabenweg signposts. The terrain is easy for the most part, but certain stages of the hike include ascending tall mountain passes, so it’s considered physically challenging overall. This multi-day hike in Switzerland is divided into 35 stages, so you should be able to complete it in a little over a month, provided you don’t continue hiking all the way to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
- Distance: 645 kilometers
- Starting Point: Rorschach
- Desitnation: Einsiedeln
- Ascent: 17000 meters
- Descent: 17500 meters
- Stages: 35
Via Columbani is a long-distance hike through Europe that passes through nine different countries. The total length of the hiking trail is more than 6,000 kilometers and it follows the pilgrim paths of Irish monks Columban and Gallus. We’ll focus on just the Swiss segment of the hike in this guide.
The Swiss part of Via Columbani is around 520 kilometers long. Hikers will travel from Basel to Castasegna, usually in 21 one-day stages. The trail takes you on a journey through central Switzerland, allowing you to discover some truly incredible landscapes along the way. Stunning towns, beautiful villages, exquisite nature, and fabulous views of the Swiss Alps are all part of the Via Columbiani hike.
It goes without saying that this is a challenging hiking trail suitable only for experienced trekkers. Hiking for 20+ days straight is no joke, and you shouldn’t even attempt this hike if you don’t have sufficient experience with long-distance treks.
- Distance: 522 kilometers
- Starting Point: Basel
- Destination: Castasegna
- Ascent: 8126 m
- Descent: 7635 m
- Stages: 21