Backpacking in Switzerland: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Ultralight Backpacking in Switzerland: A hiker looking at a snowy Swiss mountain

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Backpacking in Switzerland‘s majestic Alpine setting offers immense variety for outdoor enthusiasts. From the rugged granite peaks of the Bernese Oberland to the rolling green hills and lakes of the countryside, the diversity of landscapes is stunning.

Popular trails lead through wildflower-filled meadows in the Valais and past dramatic glaciers and 13,000-foot peaks in the Pennine Alps.

Whether you want to traverse high ridges or explore scenic valleys, Switzerland’s excellent trail network provides spectacular settings. The mountains offer an idyllic backdrop for a memorable backpacking adventure.

Interested? Let the majesty of the Alps rejuvenate your spirit.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Switzerland

  • What to expect: The dramatic mountain landscapes of the Swiss Alps provide stunning scenery for backpacking but also require proper preparation and precautions for the challenging alpine terrain. Getting around mountain huts operated by the Swiss Alpine Club allows backpackers to travel light between multi-day trekking stages. Advance reservations are required. Travel with Swiss Francs and credit cards as ATMs may not be available in remote mountain areas.
  • Essential gear: Be prepared for rapid weather changes in the mountains by packing layers, waterproof gear, extra food, first-aid, map/compass, and emergency shelter. Consider hiking poles, gaiters and good lightweight hiking shoes that provide stability, ankle support and weather protection in rugged alpine terrain.
  • Wildlife: Brown bears are sometimes seen in Grisons. Switzerland has two venomous snakes – the adder and the asps viper. Insect stings can harm allergic people. Surprisingly, Switzerland also has scorpions, water scorpions, backswimmers and ants that can cause discomfort from their bites.
  • Wild camping: In Switzerland, camping in the wild is usually accepted above the tree line, but there are some rules to follow. However, it’s important to note that wild camping is strictly prohibited in protected areas like nature preserves, game rest zones, hunting grounds, or the Swiss National Park.
  • Best times to go: June to September is the best season for backpacking when snow has melted from the higher mountain passes. But unpredictable weather is still common.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in Switzerland

Switzerland features excellent multi-day trails:

1. Scuol – Il Fuorn

A group of hikers trek through the breathtaking mountain landscape of the Swiss Alps, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and green valleys

Length: 50.8 mi / 81.75 km
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 8438 ft / 2572 m
Location: Swiss National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 15 357 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This moderately challenging 50-mile out-and-back trail near Scuol, Switzerland winds through forest, offering hikers solitude amidst natural splendor. Though popular for mountain biking as well, the trail can be peaceful during quieter times. Traversing the trail in 23 hours on average, the route is best May through September. While not as famous as some Swiss treks, the recently renovated path and surrounding natural beauty make for an enjoyable hiking adventure.

2. Le Grand Tour des Dents du Midi

A beautiful alpine lake surrounded by steep mountain peaks reflects the clouds overhead in the dramatic landscape of Lac de Salanfe in Switzerland

Length: 41.4 mi / 66.6 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 15 180 ft / 4627 m
Location: Champéry
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 21 537 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This challenging 41-mile loop trail near Champéry, Switzerland winds around the iconic Dents du Midi mountain range, offering hikers stunning alpine scenery and mountain cabins amidst solitude. Though popular for backpacking and hiking from June through September, the trail can be peaceful during quieter times. Traversing the route in about 28 hours on average, the path features beautiful mountain vistas of the Valais region. While once an annual mountain race, the trail has evolved into a multi-day hike suitable for backpackers seeking their first alpine trekking experience.

3. Panorama Rundweg Thunersee

From a lofty vantage point, the jagged, snow-dusted peaks of the Bernese Oberland stretch across the horizon, revealing the full grandeur of the mountain range in Switzerland's dramatic Justistal valley landscape

Length: 40.4 mi / 65 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 5173 ft / 1577 m
Location: Thunerlake Hohgant Nature Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 12 423 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This moderately challenging 40-mile loop trail near Hilterfingen encircles picturesque Lake Thun in the Bernese canton, offering hikers panoramic views between two nature parks. The popular trail from May through September takes about 17 hours to complete, with opportunities for breaks along the route. Starting in Thun, it passes Interlaken and Spiez on the lake’s opposite shore. Despite the area’s popularity for backpacking and hiking, the unique lakeshore path provides a scenic experience away from crowds during quieter times. Following the entire perimeter reveals the beauty of Lake Thun from all angles.

4. Sierre – Lac de Moiry – Zinal – Ayer

The jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps stand majestically under the blue sky and glowing sun, creating a magical winter wonderland scene in the mountain landscape near Tracuit

Length: 44.7 mi / 71.94 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 11 807 ft / 3599 m
Location: Pfyn-Finges Nature Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 20 946 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This challenging 44-mile loop trail near Chalais in Switzerland’s Valais region offers spectacular mountain scenery with continuous views of over 13,000-foot peaks, despite the difficulty. The route from Sierre towards Val d’Anniviers passes Lake Moiry and Zinal, taking about 25 hours to complete with significant elevation changes. Though a popular route for backpacking and camping from May through September, the stunning high alpine vistas and landscapes can be enjoyed in solitude during quieter times. The trail highlights the beauty of the Alps while providing a rigorous hiking experience.

5. Tour of the Jungfrau Region

A crystal blue lake nestled amidst steep, snow-capped peaks reflects the breathtaking mountain landscape, showcasing the majestic natural beauty of Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps

Length: 70.1 mi / 112.8 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 24 028 ft / 7324 m
Location: Gsteigwiler
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 36 858 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

This challenging 70-mile point-to-point trail through Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland region offers hikers stunning views of glaciers, waterfalls, and famous sights like the 13,000-foot Eiger North Face. Taking about 48 hours to complete from June to September, the route from Gsteigwiler passes landmarks of the Jungfrau region over ten segments. Though popular, solitude can be found during quieter times. The diverse mountain scenery makes this a favorite Swiss trek. Lodging is available in villages along the way. Despite some snow at higher elevations, the trail reveals the majestic beauty of the Alps.

Annual Weather Averages

Being prepared with the proper gear and clothing makes backpacking feasible year-round in most areas:

  • Spring (March-May): Increasing temperatures (50s-60s°F) and precipitation bring muddy trails. Snowmelt opens high elevation routes but be prepared for thunderstorms and emerging insects.
  • Summer (June-August): The hottest temperatures of the year (70s-80s°F) with afternoon mountain thunderstorms likely. Humidity rises moving east. Peak bug season.
  • Fall (September-November): Cooling temperatures (50s-60s°F) with less rain. Be ready for freezing nights and snow at high elevations. Bug activity decreases.
  • Winter (December-February): Frigid temperatures (20s-30s°F) and heavy snowfall limit access. More precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and North. Minimal bugs.

Before choosing your gear, check the weather forecast for Switzerland (Bern).

High °F394351596673777667584739
Low °F272732374552555548423429
Rain/Snow (D*)1091010121111119101010
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if Switzerland is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for France and Italy.


Can I have a campfire while backpacking in Switzerland? 

Lighting campfires while backpacking in Switzerland is heavily restricted and requires advance planning and permits. Fires are generally prohibited near forests, meadows, river banks, and alpine areas due to high risk of uncontrolled spread. Research regulations on campfires which vary by canton and municipality. Obtain required permits well in advance of your trip if fires are conditionally allowed in designated areas. Fires may be permitted only with an established fire ring or grill. Camp stoves are a safer alternative for cooking while minimizing impacts on the environment.

What are some safety tips for backpacking in Switzerland?

When exploring the outdoors in Switzerland, get ready for changing mountain weather by packing proper gear for your wilderness adventure. Bring insulation, rainwear, navigation tools, sun protection, and emergency supplies when hiking the mountainsides. Check conditions and avoid dangerous storms or avalanche risks. Stick to marked trails, especially above treeline in alpine regions. Be considerate when passing livestock in mountain pastures. Learn some basic German, French, or Italian phrases for your exploration. Look into permits needed for protected or private lands. Let someone know your plans and hike with a partner if possible. Stay away from risky terrain near steep ledges and glaciers. Being prepared allows you to enjoy Switzerland’s majestic mountain wilderness safely.

How to deal with wildlife encounters while backpacking in Switzerland?

Give animals like ibex, chamois, marmots, and alpine salamanders plenty of space. Do not approach, feed, or touch wild animals. Wear insect repellent and check for ticks after hiking to prevent disease. Watch your step around marmot burrows on trails. If you encounter cows or sheep in mountain pastures, give them a wide berth and yield the right of way. Back away slowly if approached by free-roaming dogs protecting livestock.

Do U.S. citizens need a visa to visit Switzerland?

U.S. citizens don’t need a visa for tourist or business trips of up to 90 days in Switzerland. You must have a valid passport to enter the country. Make sure it has at least 3 months validity remaining beyond your planned exit from Europe’s Schengen area. There is no required minimum time you must wait between visits. Some rules vary for minors traveling alone or citizens with criminal records.

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Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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