The Hills are alive with the sound of music… Well, no, not quite right. The singing nun was not in Switzerland, but there were alps and brilliantly white wildflowers, much like the Swiss scenery.
In Switzerland, nature has a way of changing so completely from season to season that it may well be regarded as an entirely different experience depending on when in the year you visit.
No matter when in the year, ETIAS Switzerland provides one and all with interesting information on the country. Uncertain whether you need a visa to holiday in Switzerland? No problem, ETIAS requirements answers all the niggling questions.
Walk the Vineyard Trail
While France and Italy are the first to come to mind when thinking vineyards, winemaking is not a new activity in Switzerland. The 4-mile (6km) vineyard trail from Sierre to Salgesch provides a good introduction to the Swiss wine region. Hiking in Switzerland can be done with a glass of wine – or two. Not only does the trail offer an opportunity to experience Switzerland nature, trail hikers get to sample and learn about many wines as well as absorb themselves in the many miles of vineyards.
Hike the Creux du Van
Mother Nature gets all the credit for sculpting this amphitheater or cirque out of the natural rock. The Creux du Van is a curved masterpiece sheltered by foliage and punctuated with natural springs. When hiking in Switzerland along the cirque, care should be taken to keep to the marked paths, treading mindfully over the steps and bridges on the way to the outlook points. Ibex camouflage themselves along the way, so watch out for these elusive beauties.
Cycle Through Switzerland
Switzerland nature lends itself to trails. The country offers 5600 miles (9000 kilometers) of cycling trails. Cycling enthusiasts are therefore quite spoiled for choice.
Lake and river paths, from which one has thousands to choose, ranging from short rides around smaller lakes to trails that take many days. The “Lakes Trail by Bike takes 8 days and encompasses 16 lakes between Lake Geneva in the south and Lake Constance in the north. The weary get to complete the trail by train, taking their bike along for the trip, if they so decide. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Across Switzerland, cyclists can rent bikes on an hourly, half-day, or full-day basis. eBikes are also available to rent in many cities. The ‘rolling Switzerland’ program is well worth considering and offers cyclists the hire of a city bike or eBike free of charge in Zürich, Geneva, Bern, Neuchâtel, Thun, and Valais.
The use of bicycle helmets is not mandatory in Switzerland, so bear this in mind if you cannot contemplate riding bare-headed. Helmets are available.
Wash Gold on the Simplon
In the canton of Valais, the intrepid can wade into the river to pan for gold in Simplon which also boasts a gold mine over a century old. Enthusiasts can take a trip through the gold mine as well as pan in the river.
Trek the Aare Gorge
Hiking the Aare Gorge, at times as high as 165 feet above the Aare River is a great way to experience Switzerland nature from a unique perspective. The oft-narrow gorge boasts a walkway, present since the 19th century, to guide hikers safely between the steep cliffsides. A way to get out and about in nature that is both impressive and intimidating.
Walk the Gletsch Nature Trail
Gletsch is a small village boasting dozens of trails that twist and wind along the valley. The nature trail is signposted, interestingly informing visitors of the regional history. Unusual plants and animals endemic to the area can be spotted by the attentive hiker.
Get High in Valais
Switzerland is synonymous with the Matterhorn which is a mountain of the Swiss Alps. In 1865, British climber, Edward Whymper, was the first to successfully reach the summit of the Matterhorn. Zermatt has proven to be the Holy Grail for mountaineers ever since. Mountaineers can enjoy the great outdoors with a skill-required ascent accompanied by an Alpine Center guide of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa
If hiking in Switzerland is more the aim, it will take around two hours to complete the Matterhorn Glacier Trail. The resort in the shadow of the Matterhorn offers winter visitors 224 miles (360km) of ski runs, some crossing the border into Italy.
What better way to get up close and personal than on the train that travels between Täsch and Zermatt, which is an outdoor resort? Up against 13434 feet (4478 meters) of rock gives one a unique perspective.
As far as European cogwheel railways go, the Gornergratbahn tops the others. For well over a century now, since 1898, it has completed the almost 2-mile (3089 meters) climb to Gornergrat. Dufourspitze and the Gorner Glacier add to the almost 30 awe-inspiring peaks that are the highest in Switzerland that you can view from the summit of Gornergrat.
Matterhorn Glacier Paradise on the Klein Matterhorn has a cable car station noted for being the highest in Europe. Hiking in Switzerland has never been more exciting than this for the hardcore hiker. Skiers and mountaineers are equally put through their paces, enjoying the impressive views extending deep into the French, Italian, and Swiss Alps.
In the Alpine Giants
East along the Rhône River leads to Valais which boasts a remote valley in which a whole new world unexpectedly materializes: the Goms. Tiny hamlets resplendent with their churches in baroque style and authentically Swiss chalets, lie miniaturized against the Swiss Alps that form their backdrop.
The cable car runs to Fiescheralp from Fiesch. The skies around Fiescheralp are alive with paragliders riding the thermals. At Eggishorn, Aletsch Glacier can be viewed, and it is a sight never to be forgotten in Switzerland nature.
The Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area is officially referred to as the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch and it incorporates the Aletsch Glacier. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area is the first such site to be recognized in the Alps. Throughout the Alps, this glacier has the honor of being the longest as well as the most capacious. It extends over 14 miles, past waterfalls, rock spires, and Aletschhorn’s summit.
Hiking in Switzerland affords the best views, however. Hiking from Fiescheralp to Bettmeralp, over 11 miles or 17kms and requiring endurance for up to six hours, allows nature lovers the chance to merge as one with incredible views. Crossing the Aletschji–Grünsee Suspension Bridge at a height of 262,5 feet (80 meters) above the untamed Massa Gorge is a feat to be proud of, too.
In the summertime, hiking in Switzerland takes on a new sheen here with hiking trails threading for miles. Mountain bikers enjoy their own unique perspective of the 250 miles of terrain with the classic single trail that is the Suvretta Loop among the best. Windsurfers and kite-surfers take in Silvaplana’s turquoise lakes from high above.
Whether hiking in Switzerland calls to you or experiencing the Swiss Alps, there is no denying that Switzerland nature has an allure all its own. ETIAS explains the visa and authorization waiver. Find out all there is to know about the ETIAS application before embarking on your travels.