Hiking the Swiss Alps

With the fall season in full bloom, now is your best chance to hit the open trails before they convert to ski slopes. The fall is also a perfect time to study abroad or travel through Switzerland. The country offers some of the world’s most stunning hiking opportunities. A little advice: keep an eye on your surroundings as trails often disappear right before your eyes.

Zermatt & The Matterhorn

Matterhorn Provides a Sweet Backdrop

Matterhorn Provides a Sweet Backdrop

No, we’re not talking about Disneyland. The majestic Mount Matterhorn or Monte Cervino (in Italian) is one of Switzerland’s most popular alpine peaks. Standing at 4,478 meter (14,692 ft) it attracts thousands of professional and novice mountaineers each year. Climbing to the peak requires mountaineering experience. Consult a professional guide if you’re not familiar with the routes.

Another option is hiking to Gornergrat from the town of Zermatt. Gornergrat can be reached by foot or on a 40 minute cogwheel railway. Built in 1898, Gornergratbahn was Switzerland’s first electrically operated railroad. The ride is not the cheapest, but the views of neighboring Matterhorn are breathtaking. There are several scenic hiking paths. You will need good shoes, but no special mountaineering equipment. The altitude difference between the village and Gornergrat is extreme, so don’t be surprised to get a bloody nose. Scale the mountain early, because once the clouds roll in, your visibility will disappear. When hiking back to Zermatt- locals recommend keeping an eye on the railway. You never know when you’ll abruptly lose sight of your trail.

Gimmelwald, Murren & Beyond

Gondolas Provide Impeccable Views of the Alps

Gondolas Provide Impeccable Views of the Alps

A less extreme, yet just as rigorous day hike takes you through Gimmelwald, the quaint town of Murren, and if you have time, the peak of the Schilthorn. If you want an easy walk, take a gondola to Murren, relish in the alpine views, and then hike down to Gimmelwald. Murren is a beautiful, car free, mountain village, which offers fun exploration. The best route, though, is to hike from the base of Stechelberg, to Gimmelwald and Murren, and then climb to the Schilthorn. It’s not an easy task. Why Schilthorn? It’s home to a world famous revolving restaurant, “Piz Gloria.” The Piz Gloria Restaurant sits 3,000 meters high, and turns itself 360° each hour. On a clear day, visitors will see 200 mountain peaks, 40 glaciers, the Black Forest, Jura and the Mont Blanc. It’s so famous, the Schilthorn was named ‘James Bond’ mountain, after serving as the set for several scenes in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

If your short on time and don’t want to break a sweat, then hop onto a gondola. Take one from Stechelberg to the peak of the Schilthorn. Do this early in the day, because once the clouds roll in you won’t be able to see anything.


Often called the “Top of Europe,” Jungfraujoch is a col (or saddle) between the Mönch and the Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps.  Overlooking Gimmelwald and Murren, Jungfraujoch is one of Switzerland’s most incredible viewpoints. Standing at 4,158 meters (13,638 ft) the Jungfrau is the westernmost and highest of the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau trio.  Its North Face towers nearly 10,000 feet over the valley below. Jungfrau and its neighboring peak Mönch (4,099 meters) are separated by the Jungfraujoch, which houses an observatory, railway station, and hotel. At 3,478 meters (11,412 ft), Jungfraujoch is the highest point in Europe reachable by railway. From there, Jungfrau’s summit is a short, icy climb up the northeast ridge. Similar to other alpine mountains, always check the weather beforehand. If any clouds are forecast, cancel your hike/climb, because they will spoil the trip.

While all of these alpine adventures are stunning during the summer and fall months, they turn into great ski slopes come winter. Any time of year you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience!

2 Responses to “Hiking the Swiss Alps”

  1. 1 Polprav October 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  1. 1 Tweets that mention Hiking the Swiss Alps -- Topsy.com Trackback on October 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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