Switzerland really is a hiking paradise. Not only is the landscape impossibly beautiful but it’s also amazingly accessible, thanks to the Swiss network of well-maintained hiking paths. With over 68,000km of paths in Switzerland (ie greater than the road network), you can reach places you might otherwise never see. And every path is perfectly signposted so you’ll never get lost.
With so many hikes to choose from, the biggest dilemma is where to start. Many routes won’t take you up into the Alps, while others are only for experienced hikers, so we’ve picked six of the best short Alpine hikes for beginners. Each offers superb mountain scenery without you having to be a mountaineer to enjoy it, and all can be reached by public transport.
But this is Switzerland, so none of these walks is flat. Some are easier than others – we show the distance, time and total height difference involved – but all require good footwear and a small degree of fitness. And a camera!
Related: Swiss hiking trails: Lake Lucerne
So get your boots on and put your best foot forward. In the last instalment: Bernese Oberland.
Grosse Scheidegg to Bachalpsee
Bachalpsee lake (2265 m) above Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland. In centre of the picture the Schreckhorn (4078 m) © Switzerland Tourism/Max Schmid
Beginners can’t ask for a much better hike than this, with amazing views but without too much effort. A bus from Grindelwald takes you up to the Grosse Scheidegg pass at the foot of the Wetterhorn. Hop off here and set off along the undulating path with sweeping vistas of both sides of the ridge, before curving round towards the summit at First. Here you can finish and take the cable car down, but much better to carry on for the round trip out to Bachalpsee. The views of the achingly blue water backed by snowy peaks are worth the additional time and effort, and this path is largely wide and paved, so is the easiest part. Return back to First for the cable car home.
Start: Grosse Scheidegg, accessible by bus
Total height difference: 400m
Hiking time: 4 hours
End: First, accessible by cable car
Männlichen to Wengernalp
Path to Wengernalp © Diccon Bewes
This stunningly beautiful walk is very popular so try to come during the week to avoid the crowds. A cable car from Wengen whisks you up to Männlichen, and then it’s gently downhill on a wide easy path. The views stretch down to Grindelwald, across to almost all the Bernese Alps, and usually include quite a few cows grazing at altitude. The further you go, the bigger the Eiger gets, with its brooding North Face nearly always in sight. A stop at the restaurant in Kleine Scheidegg (try the apple pie) is a must before the last bit down to Wengernalp. This stretch gives you a great view of the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley before catching the train home.
Start: Männlichen, accessible by cable car
Total height difference: 360m
Hiking time: 2.5 hours
End: Wengernalp, accessible by train