Hiking and Mountaineering
Information about how to enjoy the great outdoors in the Swiss mountains...
The alpine hiking seasons generally runs from mid-June through mid-September. Snow may still be lying at the higher elevations earlier in the year and early snowstorms being possible when hiking later in the season.
At lower elevations and on the south side of the Alps, the hiking season begins in May and continues through October. Many winter resorts keep a few hiking trails open for walkers throughout winter.
Signposts on hiking trails are divided into three categories:
- yellow for normal hiking routes,
- white/red for routes in the mountains and
- white/blue for alpine routes
Hiking areas include:
- The Berner Oberland (one of Switzerland's most popular regions): Most hikers gravitate to the Jungfrau district around Interlaken. There are hotels and hostels in every price range, hiking distances are short, and there is an excellent network of cogwheel trains, funiculars, cable cars, and other transport make it easy to reach spectacular scenery
- The Valais (Wallis in German): Tends to be drier than the Oberland
- Graubünden and the Engadine district: Popular for its beautiful scenery and accessible mountain trails. Ibex, chamois, and other wild animals can be seen in the Swiss National Park
- Eastern Switzerland: Good for easy walks. Paths lead through pretty hills and valleys, distances are short and there is public transport in the area
- Ticino (the Italian-speaking canton): Many hiking trails
- The Federation of Swiss Hiking Trails (Schweizer Wanderwege or Federation Suisse de Tourisme Pedestre) (In German and French)
At: Im Hirshalm 49, CH-4125 Riehen.
Tel: +41 (0)61 606 93 40
- The Walking Switzerland website provides information on walks in Switzerland with descriptions, maps and photos
- See also websites Switzerland Flexi Tours, Slowtrav.com and AGAS
- MySwitzerland.com provides descriptions of many hikes, with all necessary information, maps, and photos
Mountaineering and rock climbing information is available from the Swiss Alpine Club (Schweizer Alpen-Club or Club Alpin Suisse/SAC)
- Swiss Alpine Club
At: MonbijouStr 61, Postfach, CG-3000, Berne 23
Tel: +41 (0)31 370 18 18
Rega (Swiss Air-Rescue) provides 24 hour emergency medical assistance via helicopter throughout Switzerland and its mountainous areas.
In the event of a mountain emergency: Contact the rescue services. Provide clear information on accident/emergency location. If there is no telephone reception for a mobile cellular phone, help may be available at the nearest mountain hut.
Do not wave to helicopters unless help is needed. If help is needed, raise both arms so that the body forms a "Y" shape.
- Rega: emergencies
Tel: 1414 (from a mobile phone from a Swiss network provider)
Tel: +41 333 333 333 (with a mobile from a non-Swiss network provider)
Rega's emergency numbers page
- By radio on 161.300 MHz
- Calling from a mobile cellular phone, it is also possible to use the Pan-European emergency number Tel: 112
Swisstopo (Swiss Federal Office of Topography) produce topographical maps on seven different scales. Hiking maps are published on the scale 1:50.000 and include information about which routes are good to walk. They also have information on public transport.
They are published in collaboration with Swisshiking.
- Swisstopo website (in English). Maps can be bought online
Skiing and Snowboarding
The ski season generally runs between December and April in most resorts and from November to May in more high-altitude resorts (over 2000m).