The Via Alpina, Europe’s first trans-Alps trail, links a network of ancient footpaths through seven countries along the backbone of Europe’s greatest mountain range. We’ve chosen the most spectacular section—a 75-mile stretch across Switzerland’s legendary mountain landscapes, a true “hiker’s hike” that brings you from lovely lakeside Lucerne to the alpine village of Kandersteg, set in an amphitheater of snowy mountains. You’ll follow airy balcony trails below ice-crowned peaks, cross a series of gorgeous passes, stay in welcoming inns in historic mountain hamlets, enjoy hearty meals (raclette, anyone?), and enjoy up-close views of the major massifs of the Alps including the Eiger (13,025'), the Monch (13,401'), and the Jungfrau (11,401')—the venerated 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.
— Michelle J., Irvine, CA
Lucerne / Meiringen From
Lucerne, we hike across passes with views of icy mountains, then down to Engelberg, set beneath Mt. Titlis and surrounded by a huge sweep of craggy peaks. Heading through isolated valleys, follow a scenic trail through alpine meadows that leads to Meiringen, with its Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame, and an ideal spot for a rest day or optional hikes.
Grosse Scheidegg Pass / Grindelwald / Kleine Scheidegg
Head to Grosse Scheidegg Pass (6,500'), with its marvelous views of a wall of glaciated mountains, then along a dramatic trail lined with waterfalls close to the infamous North Face of the Eiger.
Lauterbrunnen / Murren
A gorgeous hike brings you to the Lauterbrunnen Valley (2,640'), graced by some 72 cascading waterfalls including thundering, glacier-fed Trummelbach Falls. In car-free 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
The dramatic Sefinenfurke Pass (8,600') is a highlight of the Via Alpina, with a magnificent panorama of the giants of the Alps. From the Hohturli Pass (9,120'), descend past icefalls and glaciers to Oeschinensee (5,250'), a glacial lake of impossibly turquoise hue set in an amphitheater of snowy peaks. Depart on Day 11 via Kandersteg.