ABOVE: Hiking trail near Lenk, Switzerland.
Where to go
It's hard to give a definitive answer to the question, "Where should I hike in
Switzerland?" Still, here are a few suggestions to help you make a decision:
The Berner Oberland is one of Switzerland's most popular
regions. Most hikers gravitate to the Jungfrau district around Interlaken, and with good
reason: The area's resorts offer hotels and hostels in every price range, hiking distances
are short, and an excellent network of cogwheel trains, funiculars, cable cars, and other
lifts make it easy to reach spectacular scenery.
For more information, see my articles on Interlaken,
Mürren, and Grindelwald-First. If you're coming early or late
in the season, or if you aren't comfortable at high altitudes, you may enjoy the hiking
paths near Thun and Brienz.
The Valais (Wallis in German) tends to be
drier than the Oberland, so it may be a good bet if your vacation is short and
you can't afford to lose a day or two to rain. For more information with Web
links, see my articles on Zermatt (including the Matterhorn) and Leukerbad.
Graubünden (and especially the Engadine
district near St. Moritz) is justifiably
popular for its beautiful scenery and accessible mountain trails. The Swiss National Park
is worth a visit if you'd like to see ibex, chamois, and other wild animals in their
Eastern Switzerland is the perfect destination if you
consider yourself a "walker" rather than a "hiker." Although the
region has a few mountains like the Säntis, most paths lead through green hills and
valleys where miniature cows are more common than mountain goats. Distances are short and
public transportation is excellent, whether you make your base in a small city like St. Gallen or (preferably) in a cozy town like
Trogen or Appenzell.
Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton on the south side of the
Alps, is a good place to hike in spring and fall.
Finally, cities like Zürich, Geneva, Bern,
Lausanne, and Lucerne offer plenty of hiking opportunities
nearby--especially if you combine your hiking with local excursions by train, postal
bus, or lake steamer.
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