Day Hiking the Swiss Alps

Destination: Grindelwald and Zermatt, Switzerland

| Activities: Hiking and Culture

The Swiss Alps, with their jagged peaks and myriad trails, have long been a magnet for hikers. On this trip we'll hike some of the premiere trails in both the Berner Oberland and the Valais, returning each night to a hearty dinner and warm bed. We'll take advantage of the excellent Swiss transport system and you will definitely get all the hiking you want on this trip! The towns of Grindelwald and Zermatt offer lots of other possibilities too, so your most difficult decisions may be just how to spend your time. Maximum group size: 14


  • Hiking a diversity of the Swiss Alpine trails
  • Staying in two lovely and quite different Swiss villages in 3 star hotels
  • Sampling local specialties, including Alpkase (mountain cheese) and chocolate
  • Hiking to the base of two legendary Swiss Mountains, the Eiger and the Matterhorn
  • Taking advantage of the excellent Swiss transport system

Departures and Prices

August 13 to August 22, 2022
$3950.00 - FULL
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  • 1 experienced AGC guides and 1 in country guide based on group size
  • Nine nights double occupancy accommodation
  • All breakfasts and dinners, from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on the last day
  • A 30-day Half Fare Card and all other transportation required for hikes on the itinerary

What's not included: Travel to and from Switzerland, beverages, lunches, guide gratuities, travel insurance, and additional activities

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

This trip is rated a Level 4. On some dates, there are options that allow for Level 3/4 hikes. There is very little flat hiking so you must exercise regularly to fully enjoy the trip. You should also be free of serious knee problems and significant fear of heights. To have the option of participating in all activities offered, you should prepare for a Level 4 trip. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning for at least 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week. Additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2-hour hike once a week) and/or strength training is usually required.
Rating: 1 2 3 [4] 5.

The primary activity on this trip is hiking, which we will do between 4 and 6 hours on most days. In both towns our hotels are located right near the center, so after hiking there is interesting wandering, shopping, and sitting in local cafes to sip coffee or wine. In addition there will be time for other things you may want to try, such as exploring the towns, taking the Jungfrau Express to the highest rail station in Europe, and visiting the Alpine Mountaineering museum in Zurich.

In Grindelwald and Zermatt our hotels are small 3 star family run hotels, that offer great meals and warm hospitality. Both are well located near the center of town. Our hotel in Zurich is near the airport, a short train ride from central Zurich, and offers an airport shuttle so you can depart at your convenience. We will spend 4 nights at the Jungfrau Lodge in Grindelwald, 4 nights at the Hotel Bristol in Zermatt, and one night at a hotel close to the airport in Zurich.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Plan to arrive Zurich not later than 8:30 a.m. on the first day of the trip for an on-time group meeting of 9:30 a.m. We will meet in the airport train station (connected to and directly across from the airport arrival hall) and take the train, about a 3-hour ride, to Grindelwald.

We'll go through Interlaken and past the magnificent lakes of Thun and Brienz, where we change onto the mountain railroad that takes us up the Grindelwald Valley. Our hotel is near the train station and after checking in (or dropping our luggage off if it's too early), we'll start getting to know each other. We'll then have a couple of hours to explore this small town. We'll gather in the evening for a trip orientation before enjoying a four-course dinner and what will likely be an early bedtime for most of us (D).
We spend much of today with nonstop views of the trio for which this region is known: the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. We start the day with a cable car ride up to Mannlichen, the obvious peak across the Grindelwald Valley and known for its panoramic views of the area. We'll first walk to the top of Mannlichen Peak, about a 30-minute hike with stunning views in all directions. From there we return to a well-maintained path that follows the ridge with gentle ups and downs to Kleine Scheidegg, the pass between the Grindelwald and Wengen Valleys. At this point we'll be ready to stop for lunch and consider our options, of which there are many.

If it's a clear day and taking the Jungfrau Railway up to the highest train station in Europe is on your list, this is a perfect afternoon to do it. If you've had enough for the day, you can return by train to Grindelwald. Alternatively, you can hike the path that climbs the moraine ridge up to Eigergletscher (the name of the glacier on the Eiger), about 850 feet in an hour. With the Eiger always in front of you, and the glacier above and valleys below coming into view with every step, frequent stops are a must. Returning to the Kleine Scheidegg we'll take the train back down to Grindelwald for that wonderful hot shower and dinner in town (B, D).

Walking: 3 - 6 hours, 850 feet elevation gain, 850 - 3,500 feet elevation loss
Today we continue to experience the many options provided by the excellent Swiss Transport system. We'll start with taking the train down to Lauterbrunnen, a cable car to Grutschalp, and a train to Murren. We'll walk through the car free village of Murren, which is perched on the opposite wall of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, to the Allmendhubel funicular. At the top is an Alpine Flower garden (and the flowers will be abundant in July) and the start of the North Face Trail. The trail follows a contour around the valleys and meadows at the base of the Schilthorn with placards that describe the history and show the climbing routes of each of the north faces of the mountains.

We'll stop at the Schiltalp to enjoy homemade hot soup and the local alpkase (cheese made from the milk of cows that graze in mountain meadows) for lunch. The trail loops back down to Murren, where we catch a different cable car that takes us down into the magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley, so named because of the many waterfalls that cascade off its steep cliffs. From there we'll visit Truemmelbach waterfalls, the only waterfalls in Europe actually located inside a mountain. Those who have had enough can take the bus back to Lauterbrunnen and spend some time exploring that town before returning to Grindelwald by train.

Alternatively, the 2-mile walk back through the Valley is quite lovely and it is fun to watch the paragliders perform aerial tricks as they ride the updrafts. Although it may sound like we are forever on transport, the coordination of the system assures that we are quickly whisked wherever we are going - and the non-stop views along the way never stop enchanting (B, D).
Both hikes today start with taking the slow and scenic cog railway up to Schynigge Platte, one of the single most scenic spots in the Jungfrau region. Those wanting a shorter hike will head uphill from the train station, climbing about 500 feet up to great views first of Interlaken and Lake Thun. As the path climbs, we see Lake Brienz and the mountains rising from the Lake. The path then continues along the ridge to Oberberghorn, where we can choose whether to scramble to the summit with the aid of ladders. The reward for this is a 360-degree panorama with views that include the Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch and many other peaks. From the Oberberghorn the path descends gently to the base of Loucherhorn and then returns through alpine meadows, passing the alpine farm of Oberberg, to Schynigge Platte. There is an alpine garden and restaurant that can be visited before returning on the cog railway. This hike is about 3 hours with a 500-foot elevation ascent and descent.

Those wanting a longer hike can hike along the ridge to First, by way of Faulhorn. At first the path is moderately up and down, and then starts gradually up until it reaches Berghaus Männdlenen, a mountain hotel in a beautiful setting where lunch or refreshments are available. From here the trail climbs more steeply onto a rocky plateau and then traverses over to the Faulhorn. The Faulhorn is home to the oldest mountain hotel in Switzerland and if we have time and energy we can climb the additional 100 feet to enjoy its views and refreshments. From here the trail descends steadily all the way to First, passing the beautiful small glacial lake of Bachalpsee. Although we could choose to complete the trail down to Grindelwald on foot, the gondolas at First will save our knees and serve up fantastic views as we are whisked down in three stages (B, D).

Hiking: 6 hours, 3,200 feet elevation gain, 2,500 feet elevation loss
Today we bid farewell to the Berner Oberland as we take the train to the canton of Valais and the town of Zermatt, one of the most beautiful villages in Europe. Zermatt is nestled at the base of the Matterhorn, unarguably the most easily recognized of all mountains. This car free mountain town has a unique personality that offers a great base for hiking.

Arriving in early afternoon, we can either take today as a rest day from hiking or take a short, steep, and spectacular hike. For those wanting a rest day, you can explore the town and/or visit the Alpine Museum in the center of town, to help you get acquainted with alpine history as well as the history of the area. For those who want to hike today, we can hike to the Edelweiss Hotel. Built in 1898, it has the distinction of being the only building in the Trift valley that is visible from Zermatt. The lack of cable cars makes it only accessible by foot. From Zermatt it is steep uphill for about an hour to the restaurant: it's fabled carrot cake and location (it sits exposed on a rock face with a fantastic view over the town) make it well worth it. We'll return by a steep path and then all meet up to share our first dinner in Zermatt (B, D).

Hiking : 0 - 3 hours, elevation gain and loss 0 to 1,100 feet
We begin this morning with a ride up the Sunnegga Tunnel and then to the Blauherd platform where we'll take the Seenweg trail. This trail will take us past three beautiful high mountain lakes famous for not only their beauty but for the reflection of the Matterhorn in their clear waters. The 3rd lake, Grindjisee is perfectly situated for a late lunch with plenty of opportunity for foot soaking. After lunch the trail continues through a beautiful old growth forest and on to the Gornergrat Railway –the highest cogwheel railway in Europe.

We will be entering the railway at one of its stations as it ascends/descends to a height of nearly 10,000 feet. Here we'll have to make one of those dreaded decisions – up or down? Up will take us to the viewing platform at almost 10,000 feet which offers one of the finest panorama views to be had in Europe: The Monte Rosa Massif and a view over the second-largest glacier in the Alps, the Gornergletscher, as well as 29 peaks higher than 10,000 feet. There is also a restaurant, an observatory and even a shopping mall – hard to believe! Down takes you back to Zermatt and maybe ice cream? Either way is an excellent choice (B, D).

Hiking: 3 - 6 hours, 1,000 feet elevation gain, 1,000 – 6,000 feet elevation loss
Today we head back to the Sunnega lift but his time we go all the way to the top! Up to the Rothorn Paradise platform where the views are once more amazing: down to Zermatt, over to the Matterhorn, and up to the Findelen Glacier. We continue from the top of the Rothorn to the trailhead for the Oberrothorn, the highest point that a hiker can achieve without mountaineering. The trail is short and steep, and the view of the surrounding peaks and glaciers is well worth our effort. Lunch at the top will be hard to leave but as always, more beautiful vistas await us.

Returning to the beginning of the trailhead we will once again have the opportunity to choose our afternoon adventure. You can return to the valley via the lift system and have a free afternoon to wander the streets, sit in the sun along the river in town, visit the museum, take the Schwarzee lift up to the Kliene Matterhorn where the Ice Palace awaits and skiers and snowboarders are playing (there's a zip line there too!) or whatever looks appealing.

This afternoon just cries out for relaxation and exploration. Or, you can join your AGC guides in hiking down from the Paradise platform to the Baluherd platform and enjoying the continuous views of the Matterhorn (where you'll be hiking to tomorrow) and watching for marmots. Again, no bad choices here! (B, D)

Hiking : 3 - 6 hours depending on your choices
Today we head for the magnificent Matterhorn with a choice of two wonderful hikes, both of which bring us up close to this stunning mountain. We will take the Schwarzsee lift to the lake of the same name where we begin our hike to the Hornlihutte, the highest you can get on the Matterhorn before donning mountaineering gear. (Note: The hike to the Hornlihutte can only be undertaken in good weather and when the trail is in suitable condition.) The hut is where climbers will spend the night before leaving in the early morning to make their summit bid. Here we can enjoy a drink while watching the climbers arriving after the challenge of one of the world’s most famous mountains.

Or, if you prefer a hike that is a bit more relaxed, you might choose the Matterhorn Glacier trail. For this trail, we take the lift even higher to the Trockener Steg. This loop hike passes through the dramatic “moonscape” by the side of the Furgg and Theodole glaciers and offers a fascinating insight into how the landscape has been shaped by snow and ice. It also gives the most incredible views of the Matterhorn as you are right underneath the mountain with the chance for spectacular photographs. A wonderful end to your trip to Switzerland whichever hike you choose on this your final day in Zermatt (B, D).

Hornlihutte hike: Hiking 5 - 6 hours (to hut and back), 2,250 feet elevation gain, 2,250 feet elevation loss (to the lift)

Matterhorn Glacier trail: Hiking 3 - 3.5 hours, 1,200 feet elevation loss
This morning we have to say goodbye to Zermatt and journey back to Zurich by train. We will arrive in time to drop our baggage off at the hotel and then return to the Zurich Old Town for an afternoon stroll with a short orientation to Zurich, and our final farewell dinner (B, D).
DAY 10
Our hotel is quite close to the airport and has an airport shuttle, and you are free to leave any time (B).


(25 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.7 Lodging
4.8 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Frances G.
2 years ago

Yes, it lived up to my expectations and then some! I'm afraid of heights but when I realized I could paraglide I went for it! Checked off a lifetime wish in the Swiss Alps! Thank-you AGC!!!

Mary H.
2 years ago

Wow, yes! Everything was a highlight! This trip was never on my radar until a friend posted pics from her trip summer 2018, and then I said "I have to go!" I loved the whole trip, but if pressed, I would say taking the gondolas and the cog railways high, high, high up into the mountains was absolutely spectacular. For anyone who loves mountains, this is IT.

Renee E.
2 years ago

Hike up to Horli Hut was the best hike - exertion level, adventure, view

Renee E.
3 years ago

Highlights: love traveling by trains, the scenic hikes, hotels with awesome views, well organized, and super helpful guides who made the trip the success it was.

Amber T.
3 years ago

From beginning to end, Laurie and Lindsay were a wonderful team. The execution of the trip was fantastic. Hotels, food, itinerary - everything. I have nothing but praise. Already shared the info with a few friends (by request ) who are considering the trip for next year.

Mary R.
3 years ago

Trip exceeded my expectations. I loved riding on the very efficient Swiss trains. The hiking at high altitude was a first for me but I enjoyed it very much. Spectacular views, beautiful wildflowers.

Debra R.
3 years ago

Accommodations were very comfortable, conveniently located, clean and friendly. Loved learning the transit system and the multitude of ways to get easy! The hikes were stunning, how could you go wrong in a such a beautiful place! Guides were fantastic. Lindsay was knowledgable and easy going, and firm when she needed to be. Loved her! Laurie was on her toes and quick to get things done in order to keep us on our timeline. She kept a great attitude, communicated clearly, and friendly with everyone. I would travel with her anywhere!

Michelle M.
3 years ago

Amazing scenery. Fun group of people. Guides Laurie and Linsay exceeded expectations. Played well off each other. Only one tiny stressor was alcohol unmentioned in a few of the deserts- European style! I’m a recovering alcoholic and bit into desert one night and was horrified to taste Kailua. I guess I should have mentioned it on my medical form? Anyway, didn’t want to announce it to the group...

Kaye O.
3 years ago

The itinerary and the majestic landscapes—wow! This was a very well planned trip that allowed us to see the highlights of the area with some down time added in.

Susan J.
3 years ago

Astounding beauty of the Alps. Appropriate level of challenge. Laurie Priest as guide. Paragliding. Hotel in Zermatt. Food.

Pam C.
3 years ago

very well organized and beautiful. i just didn't realize how crowded with people it would be....not an issue, just didn't expect it!

Vivien A.
3 years ago

There were so, so many highlights, that it is hard to choose.......

Mary B.
4 years ago

The Alps were just spectacular. Having great guides made the trip. Laurie and Lindsay were both so positive and encouraging and knowledgeable. I appreciated having a few days of options, which helped this 3 hiker enjoy the trip without stressing about a 4 Hike. I also really like staying in one place for 4 nights at a time. It’s nice to be able to explore the towns a bit.

Shari D.
4 years ago

Switzerland was amazing and the trip was very well run. The activities followed the printed itinerary very closely with changes due to weather.

Anne S.
4 years ago

Amazing location for hikes, and excellent guides.

Jennifer B.
4 years ago

The hotel room I spent the first night in was bad. There was no elevator, coffee available before 7:00, no bus pass offered, and no air conditioning. The whole experience started my trip off on a terrible note. To be fair, the room I was allowed to move in to on the second day was much better.

Taneka J.
4 years ago

Guides Laurie and Lindsay were amazing! Group of travelers was awesome too. Alps were more beautiful than imagined. Hiking was challenging and fun.

Claudia P.
5 years ago

Walking in the Alps with ringing cow bells around us. Hiking on trails overlooking Matterhorn Scenery Variety in experiences and locations

Cathy M.
5 years ago

People, scenery, hiking trails, meals. lodging . It was all wonderful.

Kathi B.
5 years ago

Hiking in the Grindlewald area was amazing! The villages of Switzerland were what I had always imagined them.

Anne S.
5 years ago

This was my third AGC trip. All three lived up to and exceeded my expectations (which are high to begin with). Of course that means my expectations remain very high for you all for future trips (LOL). The amount of planning and consideration of the needs of the travelers is evident in how well the trips are conducted and how pleasant the experience seems to be for all. As someone who always planned her own trips when travelling with my partner I never thought I'd want to travel with a group. Now that I am on my own, I am so thrilled to have found a way to continue my world travels, safely, full of fun and adventure, comfortably with so little effort on my part. Thank you for making that possible.

Christine C.
6 years ago

Maxanne W.
6 years ago

Janet L.
6 years ago

The alps were amazing. I was in awe of the beauty- really!

Frances B.
6 years ago

2 superb guides Fantastic weather conditions Flexibility in hikes offered Comfortable accommodations and great food

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is either at your hotel with a limited menu choice or in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
  4. Is this a good trip for a novice hiker?

    As long as you have the requisite level of fitness, it's a great trip for novice hikers. The trails are in good condition and you have a choice of shorter and longer hikes on most days. You'll also get some basic instruction in foot care, how to use trekking poles, layering etc.