Summer is the perfect time to visit Switzerland, particularly if you enjoy the great outdoors.
In the summer months, Switzerland is a glorious symphony of wildflowers and shimmering lakes, sunny days and long, warm evenings. Whether you’re keen to travel from hotspring to mountaintop, or prefer to explore the cultural hotspots of Zurich and Basel, or have your heart set on smaller lakeside towns, summer is the perfect time of year for you to take the slow approach to travel, on one of the country’s many walking paths or cycling routes.
With almost 65,000km (40,000 miles) of waymarked trails, amblers and serious hikers alike will have plenty of opportunity to ascend peaks, walk the shores of turquoise alpine lakes, or take on one of the famous passes with their epic, widescreen views. You will find the Swiss making good use of their cycling paths, whether on the mountains or roads, in pursuit of adventure or simply pootling from cave to cave on an open cellar wine tasting.
Here are the best hiking routes for:
When the Albula/Bernina railway was opened in 1904 in the central Alps, it brought major and lasting socio-economic changes to this isolated mountain region, and it’s not hard to see why. Its 55 tunnels and covered galleries, 196 viaducts and bridges covering the 122km from Thusis to Tirano comprise a spectacular Unesco World Heritage site.
Today, visitors can hike the Via Albula/Bernina trail alongside the railway track (130km, 5,100m ascent), enjoying the route’s spectacular views.
The eight stages of Lake Lucerne
The favourite lake for many visitors is visible from the new long-distance Tell-Trail path through the Lucerne region, wending its way, in eight stages, through 156km (7,126m ascent), via small alpine villages, and taking in central Switzerland’s “Big Six” mountains: Fronalpstock (Stoos), Rigi, Pilatus, Stanserhorn, Titlis and Brienzer Rothorn.
Modernity among the peaks
For something completely different, climb up to the swirling red stone church by Mario Botta on Monte Tamaro, built in the mid-1990s, above Lugano. Views take in Lake Maggiore, the snow-capped alps, and green fields in every direction.
Ascending the Matterhorn (4,478m summit) is a grand challenge – 3,000 people climb the peak overlooking Zermatt each year. Be prepared for between nine and 12 hours of Grade 2 or 3 scrambling terrain. But the views will be worth it.
Alternatively, slightly less intrepid hikers who are keen to reach a summit could consider Grosser Mythen, which offers stunning panoramas and the option of a ride in the Rotenflue gondola above Schwyz.
And here are the best cycling routes for:
Slow travel through the alpine foothills
The full range of Swiss life
Cycle the North-South Route from Basel to Chiasso (380km, 4600m ascent) and you will traverse all of the major landscape regions, including the Jura range, Mittelland, Central Switzerland, the Alps, and then the south. Start in the cultural hub of Basel, with its unmissable museums, take a swim in Lake Lucerne, and feast in the Old Town of Lugano.