Switzerland is home to some of the best hiking trails in the world, making it an ideal destination for a hiking trip. In September I went on a girls’ wellness getaway in Switzerland where we spent eight blissful days hiking through the breathtaking Bernese Alps.
The Bernese Alps are a mountain range of the alps made up of three peaks (Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau), located in Western Switzerland, in the canton of Bern. This area of Switzerland offers excellent skiing in the winter and incredible hiking in the summer.
If you want to plan a Switzerland hiking trip, this guide has everything you need to know to make it an unforgettable experience!
Where To Stay In Switzerland
The Bernese Alps are stunning and very accessible, making them an ideal destination for a Switzerland hiking trip. We chose the small village of Wengen (population 1,300), as our home base here for the duration of our getaway. Wengen is a car-free mountain town in the Interlaken area that is at the heart of summer hiking, sightseeing, and outdoor activities.
In winter, Wengen transforms into a world-class ski resort famous for the Lauberhorn World Cup Alpine ski races and has excellent skiing terrain suitable for all abilities. The picturesque town of Wengen exudes Swiss mountain charm and offers an array of great hiking trails, as well as good restaurants and upscale rentals and hotels.
We rented our chalet from Wengen Apartments and could not be more pleased with our accommodations. Julie Doyle, the owner, is wonderful and quickly responded to our requests and questions.
We stayed in the Chalet Bärgsunna Penthouse which sits on a hillside overlooking Wengen, just a short walk from the Wengen–Männlichen aerial cableway. This penthouse offered the perfect mix of chic alpine decor with modern amenities and was an excellent home base for our hiking getaway.
We loved the loft where we could do morning yoga and watch movies in the evenings, that three bedrooms had en suite bathrooms, and that every room had an amazing view of the beautiful snow-capped Alps!
If you are planning a group trip to Switzerland, renting a chalet is the way to go, but if you prefer to stay in a hotel, here are some good hotel options in Wengen:
- Sunstar Hotel Wengen – Cute, four-star hotel in the heart of town, with a great breakfast and top-notch service.
- Maya Caprice Boutique Hotel – Four-star boutique hotel in the city center, with incredible views of the Alps.
- Beausite Park Hotel – Guests give this Wengen hotel five stars, it has an indoor pool and incredible views.
- Hotel Edelweiss – Two-star, affordable, highly rated Wengen chalet hotel with a spa.
- Hotel Alpenrose Wengen – Three-star hotel, alpine-style rooms, and suites with beautiful mountain views.
How To Get To Wengen
The closest airport to Wengen is Zurich International Airport (ZRH). I flew Swiss Air direct from Los Angeles to Zurich. From Zurich, it is a two-hour (beautiful!) drive to Lauterbrunnen. Wengen is a car-free town so when you arrive in Lauterbrunnen you can leave your car there at the multi-level parking garage at the Lauterbrunnen Railway Station. Parking is about $20 per day.
Then you take the train up the mountain to Wengen. It is a quick ride and takes less than twenty minutes, and is about $8 for a one-way ticket. The train stops briefly at Wengwald on the way up and then the next stop is Wengen.
The train runs back and forth from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen every thirty minutes so it is very easy to get back and forth to your car if you end up wanting to drive to a different area. From Wengen, you can access a multitude of hikes and you can take the train and cable cars all around the area so you won’t need your car often. We only used our car a couple of times.
What You’ll Need For A Hiking Trip In Switzerland
Before we get to our hiking itinerary we need to discuss the basics of what you need to know and what you will need for a hiking trip in the Bernese Alps.
8 Day Switzerland Hiking Trip Itinerary
Now for the fun part of the guide. Below is the exact itinerary we used for our eight-day hiking trip in Switzerland, which I have to say was by far my favorite trip I have ever done!
I have been travel blogging for 10 years and have visited almost 60 countries, so this is a big claim, but the Bernese Alps stole my heart, and I plan to return for many more hiking (and skiing trips) in Wengen.
Day 1: Wengen – Männlichen Trail
On our first day in Switzerland, we went on a jog to explore Wengen, had a delicious buffet breakfast (with lots of cheese!) at Sunstar Hotel Wengen, went grocery shopping, then returned to our chalet to get ready for our hike up to Männlichen. (The trailhead for this hike is literally right out the back door of Chalet Bärgsunna Penthouse so it could not have been more convenient).
Männlichen is a 7,687-foot mountain in the Swiss Alps. The town of Wengen sits at the base of Männlichen and its peak can be reached from Wengen by the Wengen–Männlichen aerial cable car, or from the Grindelwald Terminal station using the Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola cableway.
Or you can hike from Wengen to Männlichen which is what we did since this was a hiking trip, after all. The Wengen to Männlichen trail is a 3.6 mile, lightly trafficked, point-to-point hike with a 3,441ft elevation gain. It took us about 2.5 hours.
This hike is rated as moderate but it should definitely be rated as difficult. This was by far the hardest hike we did during our trip, not because it was long or technical, but because you are literally hiking straight up a ski hill with an intense elevation gain.
You can watch my Instagram stories @VanessaRivers where I share our experience climbing this trail, which was challenging but very rewarding. The hike is beautiful, with incredible views looking down at Wengen, and well worth the effort.
When you reach the top of Männlichen you will be exhausted and need a break. Luckily there are a couple of restaurants at the top where you can get food, rest, get warm (if the weather is chilly), and enjoy a much-earned beer before you take the cable car back down to Wengen.
TIP: The last cable car from Männlichen to Wengen is around 5pm so plan your hike accordingly otherwise you will be walking back down the mountain. Also, bring a power bar with you for this hike. The altitude makes you feel weak so it is helpful to refuel halfway, with some carbs and protein.
For dinner we went out to Maya Caprice Boutique Hotel, an upscale (white tablecloth) restaurant with great vegetarian options and an amazing view of the Swiss Alps. I had their pumpkin squash soup and a (giant) vegetable salad with mountain cheese. Both were delicious.
Day 2: Mürren – Gimmelwald Trail & The Mürren Flower Trail
After our intense first day hike, we wanted to have a mellow hiking day so we decided to take a day trip to explore the nearby town of Mürren. From Wengen, you take the train down to Lauterbrunnen, then take the cable car to Grütschalp Railway Station, and from there you take another train up the small mountain village of Mürren (population 450), which costs about $20 each way.
Mürren is incredible! The town is so cute and the landscape around Mürren is breathtaking. It was the most picturesque area we visited in Switzerland and possibly the most charming place I have seen on all my travels.
I think Wengen is a better place to stay for a hiking trip, purely from an accessibility standpoint, but if you don’t mind the trek, spending a few nights in Mürren would be idyllic. If you don’t stay in Mürren, I suggest at least doing a full day trip here.
We arrived in Mürren in the late morning and had breakfast at Cafe Liv which has excellent coffee and yummy vegan pastries. Then we started off on our “hike” from Mürrento to Gimmelwald. I put hike in parenthesis because this trail is more of a walk than an actual hike.
The trail from Mürren to Gimmelwald is a 1.7 mile (mostly downhill) point-to-point trail that is accurately rated as easy. But even though this trail is easy it was still one of my favorite hikes. This walk could not be more beautiful. It was hard not to stop every few seconds to take yet another photo.
During our walk, we passed through the small village of Mürren dotted with flower gardens, cute wood homes, and boutique hotels with colorful shutters, cows and sheep grazing against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, flower fields, paragliders soaring through the air, meadows, hillsides dotted with chalets and so much green in every direction.
It’s hard to explain how beautiful this walk is. It was so picturesque, so charming, so quintessential Swiss Alps that it honestly didn’t seem real. At the end of the trail, we stopped to have a beer at the Mountain Hostel which is right next to the Gimmelwald cable car, and of course, has an incredible view.
We then took the cable car from Gimmelwald back up to Mürren and did the Mürren Flower Trail which was another easy 1.4 mile point-to-point hike. The flower trail is stunning as well, with mesmerizing views of the Alps in every direction.
One thing I especially loved was all of the playgrounds in this area. Switzerland is a very family-friendly destination. I can’t wait to return with my daughter.
Day 3: Schynige Platte – First
On our third day in Switzerland, we did our longest hike, a 10-mile point-to-point hike from Schynige Platte to First. Schynige Platte is a small mountain ridge and a viewpoint in the Bernese Highlands.
We took the train from Wengen down to Wilderswil Railway Station where we changed trains and then headed up the mountain to Schynige Platte. The journey takes about an hour from Wengen but is well worth it. This was by far my favorite hike I have ever done!
The train drops you off at the base of Berghotel Schynige Platte where you can have breakfast with an incredible view (check out my Instagram Reel). After breakfast, you’ll head out on the hike which takes you through meadows and across mountain ranges where you will see: wildflowers, meandering streams, cows grazing, snow-capped mountains, and sparkling blue lakes.
This hike is rated as hard (because of the length) but I felt like a moderate hike. The elevation gain is about 3,200 ft over the course of the hike, but the trail itself is not very steep or strenuous, especially compared to the Wengen to Männlichen hike (which was much shorter but exhausting).
What I love about this trail is that you are in the middle of nowhere, hiking along mountain ranges and it is so surreal and peaceful that it makes you grateful to just be alive. I actually had several very stressful things on my plate during this trip and this hike was like medicine for my soul.
I don’t remember feeling anything but pure gratefulness on this trail. It is much easier to live in the moment when you are out in nature, surrounded by raw natural beauty (at least for me). We also only saw a handful of other hikers the entire day which added to the magic of this special trail.
At the halfway point on this hike, you will find yourself at a chalet called Berghaus Männdlenen which is a great spot to stop and use the bathroom and enjoy a cold beer with an amazing view. This chalet is literally in the middle of nowhere, so much so that they have to fly supplies and water for the toilets up to it with a helicopter!
Towards the end of this hike, you will come around a bend and see beautiful lakes with towering, snow-capped mountains as their backdrop. It is such a magical spot and an ideal place to stop and take photos.
This hike ends at the First Cliff Walk, which is a walkway suspended from a rocky mountainside, with incredible peak and valley views, that can also be accessed by gondola from the town of Grindewald.
It’s free to do the cliff walk, which I highly recommend, and then you simply take the gondola down to Grindewald. From Grindewald you have to take a train to Zweilütschinen Railway Station, and from there you take another train back up to Wengen.
Day 4: Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg – Wengen
On our fourth day in Switzerland, we woke up, went on a jog, did a yoga session, and then set out on an easy hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg, and then back down to Wengen.
We took the gondola up to the top of Männlichen for this hike and did the Panorama Trail, making our way over to Kleine Scheidegg which is a mountain range that has a small railway station, a couple of shops, and a few cute chalets where you can get drinks and food.
This is a 5-mile hike that is rated as moderate but it is all either flat or downhill and should be rated easy in my opinion. From Kleine Scheidegg you can continue on and hike all the way back down the mountain to Wengen which is a few more miles and a very easy walk on a wide dirt road.
When you are almost back in Wengen you can stop for a celebratory beer and food at Bergrestaurant Allmend which is right along the trail and serves up delicioous cheese raclette (a must-have when you are in Switzerland!) along with gorgeous views of Wengen.
Day 5: Kandersteg – Oeschinensee
On our fifth day in Swizterland, we did the Kandersteg – Oeschinensee Trail around Oeschinen Lake.
Oeschinen Lake is about an hour’s drive from Lauterbrunnen so we took the train from Wengen down to Lauterbrunnen Railway Station then hopped in our rental car for the scenic drive over. At the base of the mountain, you have to take a cable car up to the lake and hiking trails.
Oeschinen Lake is such a beautiful, bright, sparkling blue color that it almost looks fake! The lake is fed through a series of mountain creeks and is rounded by snow-capped mountains, trees, and greenery in every direction.
This hike is a 4.8 mile heavily trafficked, loop trail that is accurately rated as moderate. At the end of the hike, you can stop at the Berghotel Oeschinen which has a restaurant with delicious, healthy options and a large outdoor patio overlooking the lake.
Day 6: Rest/Work Day + Cheese Festival
On our sixth day in Wengen, we took a much-needed rest/work day, caught up on emails, did yoga, and relaxed in our chalet.
In the afternoon we met up with Julie the founder of Wengen Apartments and she took us to the Wengen Cheese Festival, which is held every September in Wengen. It was a small gathering in the heart of the village and it seemed like all the locals were there.
We ate tons of cheese (of course!), drank beer, and listened to a local band play, which was a very fun way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the Swiss Alps!
Speaking of cheese, for an amazing authentic dinner experience in Wengen try Waldhuttli (Forest Hut Wengen). We didn’t get a chance to dine here on our trip, but I heard from locals that it is amazing for raclette and fondue!
Day 7: Männlichen – Kleine Scheidegg – Wengen
On our last day in Wengen, we wanted to do an easy, relaxing hike and we didn’t feel like traveling to get there so we decided to do the Panorama Trail again from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and then on down to Wengen.
It was the perfect way to end the trip because it is such a beautiful, easy hike. It is also a great trail to take photos on, with the late afternoon sunshine perfectly lighting the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Wengen stole my heart on this trip and I have to admit by this point I was feeling a little sad that it was our last day in the Bernese Alps.
Day 8: Zurich
On our last day in Switzerland, we spent the morning in Wengen, said goodbye to our chalet, then took the train down to Lauterbrunnen where we picked up our rental car from the car park and headed back to Zurich.
In the city, we stayed at the Storchin Zurich Hotel in Old Town. This hotel is in a great location on the water and has a nice rooftop bar with beautiful views.
For dinner, we ate nearby at Hilt, which claims to be “the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. You can easily walk to Hilt from Storchin Zurich Hotel. The only problem (for me) was that this restaurant is buffet style and after seven days of hiking and non-stop working out I wanted to eat every single thing I saw (and I pretty much did)!
Since this was a wellness getaway we ended our Switzerland trip with a run around Zurich. This was such a magical trip (honestly my favorite trip to date) so I spent most of the run plotting my return to the Swiss Alps!
When Should I Visit The Swiss Alps?
If you are planning a ski trip to the Swiss Alps the ideal time to go is obviously the winter and spring months, December through March, when there is good snow coverage.
The most popular time for hiking in Switzerland is the warm summer months, but I suggest visiting in the fall when it is less crowded and more affordable. The beginning of September is arguably the best time to do a hiking trip in Switzerland because the weather is still good and most of the tourists have dispersed.
We went on our girls’ wellness and hiking getaway in Wengen during the second week of September. At first, the weather called for rain all week but we lucked out and got mostly sunny days, and it was actually quite warm. There was one day that it rained while we were staying in Wengen, but we used that as a much-needed rest and workday.
Traveling Internationally As A Vaccinated American
Traveling as a vaccinated American in Europe was actually a great experience. This was my first international trip since the pandemic began so I have to admit I was quite nervous leading up to our departure. I was especially nervous about entry into Switzerland and re-entry into the US, but everything went smoothly.
Switzerland officially re-opened its borders to vaccinated Americans in July 2021, so we planned our hiking trip for September 2021. Leading up to our departure I was worried they would re-instate a 10-day quarantine which would have made our trip impossible but luckily this did not happen.
If you are planning a trip to Switzerland, somewhere else in Europe, or anywhere in the world, be sure to check that the country you want to visit is open to vaccinated travelers from your country and that they do not have a quarantine in place. You also need to check up on this daily leading up to your trip because if we have learned anything about traveling during a pandemic, it is that things change constantly and what is true one day might not be true the next.
It’s important to note that most places in Europe require you to be fully vaccinated. I had to present my vaccination card to board my flight to Switzerland and I had to present it at every restaurant we dined at during our trip.
Switzerland did not require a negative COVID test to enter at the time of our trip, but to re-enter the US I had to present a negative COVID test and my vaccination card. For this trip, I ordered at-home COVID tests from eMed.com. This is the test I used, which (at the time) was approved for re-entry into the US for international travelers.
This at-home test was very simple. You call an eMed doctor and do the test in front of them on your computer, and then in 15 minutes, you have the results. It was $75 for 6 tests and I took two tests with me in case I received a false positive.
It is important to note that the requirements for every country are different and the tests that are accepted seem to change constantly so it is imperative that you do your own research before your trip and ensure you choose a test that is approved based on where you are traveling from and to.
And you must do your own research to understand all the requirements for entry into the country you want to visit and re-entry into the US or wherever you are traveling home to. It’s up to all of us to slow the spread of COVID so please wear a mask and travel responsibly.
Switzerland Hiking Trip Guide Wrap Up
As I bring this guide to a close, I think it is helpful to mention that there is pretty good cell service in the Bernese Alps. I have an international plan with T-Mobile and I had at least a few bars almost everywhere we hiked. So even if you are “out in the middle of nowhere” it still feels very safe. Also, there are chalets along every hiking trail so there are always places to stop if you want to rest and get food or drinks.
Switzerland is a very safe country. Our little group consisted of just three girls for this trip and there was not one time that I didn’t feel safe. There was also not one time that I was “over it” and wanted to go home. Of course, I missed my four-year-old daughter who was at home with her dad, but I was honestly having the time of my life on this trip, thoroughly enjoying some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, and a part of me wished it would never end.
I hope you’ve found my Switzerland hiking trip guide helpful and I hope it has inspired you to plan a trip to the Bernese Alps! It is an incredible destination and I highly suggest staying in Wengen. If you have questions please let me know in the comments below. Happy travels!
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