The Via Alpina, Europe’s first trans-Alps trail, links a network of age-old footpaths along the backbone of Europe’s greatest mountain range. We’ve chosen the most spectacular section—a 75-mile stretch across Switzerland’s legendary mountains—for a true “hiker’s hike” from lakeside Lucerne to the alpine village of Kandersteg. You’ll follow airy balcony trails below ice-crowned peaks, stay in welcoming inns in historic hamlets, savor hearty meals (raclette, anyone?), and enjoy up-close views of the big massifs of the Swiss Alps, including the Eiger (13,025'), the Monch (13,401'), and the Jungfrau (11,401')—the celebrated North Face of the Alps.
Great trip, with an excellent variety of experiences. Hikes were all interesting, challenging enough and beautiful. Hotels varied nicely from simple to more luxurious, each appropriate for the time and place. GREAT trail snacks and the meals were delicious.
— Marilyn H., Barnstable, MA
Lucerne / Meiringen / Grindelwald / Kleine Scheidegg
Beginning in lakeside Lucerne, our trails explore classic Swiss Alps as we hike the slopes of Mt. Rigi and ice-crowned Mt. Titlis (10,684') and into the picturesque village of Engelberg. We follow a balcony trail along the Gental Valley and descend to lovely Meiringen, home to Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame. From Grindelwald, set beneath the Eiger, we head up to the dramatic Eiger Nordwand trail for amazing views of the Eiger’s sheer North Face.
Lauterbrunnen / Murren
Our riverside hike in the otherworldly Lauterbrunnen Valley, inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle Earth outpost of Rivendell, takes us past dozens of lacy waterfalls. In the mountain village of Murren (5,413'), enjoy a day to explore, with optional hikes including a route into a beautiful hanging valley dotted with hay barns and chalets.
Sefinenfurke Pass / Kandersteg
Views of the rocky ramparts of the Swiss Alps from Sefinenfurke (8,600'), the highest pass on the Via Alpina, are breathtaking, and we make a spectacular descent into the hamlet of Griesalp. From Hohturli Pass (9,120'), hike past icefalls and glaciers to mountain-ringed Lake Oeschinensee. Depart on Day 11.