Top 10 Spring Hikes in Switzerland

The best hikes for spring in Switzerland, when most mountain resorts and trails are still covered in snow.

If you visit Switzerland in spring, most mountain resorts and trails aren’t open for summer hiking yet. There are a lot of mountain tops you can visit (see my list here), but it’s a little tricky finding hikes that are open. But don’t worry! After many years hiking here and lots of research, here are my top suggestions for hiking in Switzerland in spring, all suitable for families.

I’ve focused here on the regions most popular with tourists. I have another post with our favorite spring hikes in lesser known areas: Spring Outings for Zurich Families.

Note: Of course, weather is unpredictable and conditions can change quickly. So always check the current conditions before heading out and have a back up plan.

1. Mount Rigi panorama trail – Central Switzerland

The Lucerne area is a great choice for spring as there are many lower elevation areas to explore. Our favorite spring hike here is the panorama trail at Mount Rigi, which can vary in length depending on your schedule and ability. You can combine this with a lake cruise to see even more mountains around each corner. The trains up Rigi run year round without a break. The cable cars take breaks in spring and fall, but these are not required for a visit.

Get the details for the Mount Rigi Panorama trail …

2. Ebenalp Wildkirchli – Eastern Switzerland

The Ebenalp cable car opens in mid-May, taking you to the top of these cliffs (1600m). It’s an easy walk down to this restaurant built into the side of the cliff, a nice place for lunch with a view. You can optionally take the longer, tougher hike down to the beautiful Lake Seealp and have lakeside picnic and row across the lake. As one of the only lifts open in mid-May, it can be crowded on sunny weekends, but you should go anyway. It’s so worth it. You can also hike to the lake year round without using the cable car.

Get the details for the Ebenalp Wildkirchli hike

3. Berner Oberland – Lake Oeschinen

In mid-May, the Kandersteg cable car starts running for summer season, taking you up to an easy trail to this beautiful alpine lake. The higher elevation trails here won’t be open yet. But this is a wonderful place to enjoy a lakeside picnic, admiring the impressive mountain peaks above. In 2019, the cable car starts running 11.May. Before that, you could hike up to the lake from Kandersteg, about 1hr.

Get details for Lake Oeschinen …

4. Lauterbrunnen Valley – Jungfrau Region

In this popular region, most trails aren’t ready for hiking until late June, when the snow is finally melted. Some mountain transport does opens in May (Männlichen and Schynige Platte), but depending on the weather, the trails might still be under snow or still in disrepair.

So in spring, most tourists will spend their time visiting the observation decks at Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn (2970m), both of which are spectacular and worth visiting. Both of these are open year round with short maintenance breaks in spring and fall. This year, Schlithorn is closed 20.–24. April 2020.

If you want to walk, your best bet is a stroll down the Lauterbrunnen valley, with tons of waterfalls falling down both sides of the cliff walls and view of the mountains above. I’d recommend making the Trummelbach falls your destination, where you can walk into a crevice carved into the mountain by a series of roaring waterfalls. Trummelbach falls opens in early April.

Get details for the Lauterbrunnen valley walk and Trummelbach falls …

5. Giessbach falls – Berner Oberland

One of our favorite waterfalls to visit in this area is the lovely Giessbach falls, which spill into Lake Brienz below. You can take a ferry to the base, then either hike up or take a short funicular ride up to the main falls. We usually splurge on lunch at the yummy restaurant there, with lots of outdoor seating with a view of the falls and the lake below. You can optionally hike higher up along the falls, for more views and drama. The funicular starts running beginning of April. The ferry starts running daily service mid-May, but check the schedule before heading out.

Get details for Giessbach falls

6. Fürenalp Engelberg – Central Switzerland

The Engelberg valley west of Lucerne is classic Switzerland, exactly how you imagined Switzerland would look like, speckled with mountain huts on green hills, surrounded by towering peaks. The Fürenalp hike here (1800m), which opens in May, is one of the nicest (and most affordable) spring hikes we’ve done. It has big views and a roaring waterfall and river in the middle of the hike.

If you want even bigger views, you can combine this with a ride up to Mount Titlis, where you can stand on the glacier and soak in 360 views from one of the highest peaks in the region. The cable cars to Titlis run year round, with a short maintenance break in November.

Get more details about the Fürenalp hike and Mount Titlis

7. Walensee – Eastern Switzerland

If you’re staying in the Zurich area, there are lots of beautiful lakes to hike around. We love spring hiking at the Walensee, not only for the fantastic views, but also the impressive waterfalls bursting out of the cliff walls. There’s a treasure hunt trail for the kids, picnic areas, and a restaurant with outdoor seating. These trails are accessible year round depending on the weather. The ferry runs very infrequently in spring and fall, so check the schedule before heading out.

Get the details for the Walensee hike …

8. Ticino – Valle Verzasca

This river is famous for summer swimming in its crystal clear pools. But hiking along this river is just as satisfying. Spring comes earlier to Ticino, the southern part of Switzerland south of the alps, so it can be warmer and greener at this time of year. These trails are accessible year round depending on the weather.

For big views, you can ride up the cable cars at nearby Cardada in Locarno and even do mountain hiking if the weather permits. The Cardada cable car starts its summer schedule mid-March.

Get the details for the Valle Verzasca hike and Cardada mountain 

9. Creux du Van – Western Switzerland

Spring gives an opportunity to explore the lesser known charms of Switzerland, like this amazing 1 km long natural amphitheatre in northwest Switzerland. Since this area is bit far from the mountains, it tends to have a different climate, so sometimes you can escape the mountain storms and enjoy the outdoors here instead. Another great hike in this area is the Areuse Gorge. This area is accessible year round.

Get the details for Creux du Van and Areuse Gorge

10. Ballenberg Open Air Museum – Berner Oberland

While trails are still under snow, this open-air “museum” is a good alternative for the classic Swiss alps experience. They have traditional Swiss buildings and artisan trades from all parts of Switzerland spread across a huge alpine park, with gorgeous mountain views. You’ll feel like you’ve hiked all over this country after your visit. Ballenberg opens in mid-April, specifically this year on 13.April 2019.

Get details for Ballenberg …

Not recommended for spring…

Some parts of Switzerland are at such high elevations, that spring comes late and you will have a hard time finding things to do there. Don’t misunderstand: we love these areas in summer! But in spring, you will probably enjoy your time more in the parts of Switzerland mentioned above.

> The Zermatt village, in the valley below the Matterhorn, is already at a high elevation (1620m) and the mountains above much higher. So spring comes very late to this region. The only hikes open in spring are in the valley, with limited views. So I wouldn’t recommend this area for spring hiking. But the views of the Matterhorn are nice to admire any time of year.  See Zermatt spring activities here.

> St. Moritz in the Engadin valley is very high at 1856m, as high as mountain tops in other regions. We’ve been skiing in this region as late as mid-May! If you do go to this area in spring, probably best to do walks in the valley, along the lakes, maybe rent bikes and do a long valley ride.

> Davos, Lenzerheide, Arosa – These areas are also higher elevations (valley stations around 1400 to 1600m) and don’t open for hiking until June. On holiday weekends in May, the cable cars will take you to the top for pretty views and a meal but don’t expect to hike.

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9 Responses

  1. Hi,
    Thanks so much for all the information you have put up on the web and all your hikes on YouTube etc, they have been very helpful and beautiful to watch! I have been looking at this post Top (10 Spring Hikes in Switzerland
    17 Mar 2018) and would love to know where the photo was taken that is right up the very top, above the title of this article. I am planning a holiday as soon as the COVID situation allows and would love to visit this spot.
    Thanks.
    Kind regards,
    Virginia

    1. That photo is from the Fürenalp hike. https://swissfamilyfun.com/furenalp-hike/ I think that was near the end of April when I took that pic. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Hi, thanks for the article. I would like to go camping for one weekend in this month. It’s gonna be the first time we will do it with some friends. We don’t have too much experience hiking and doing this, so I would prefer a medium/easy hiking and then to camp for just a night. What places do you suggest? I would really appreciate your answer.

    1. I suppose you mean wild camping? It’s not super popular in Switzerland, but in general, you are allowed to bivouack above the treeline in many areas unless specifically forbidden (check the local regulations). You can’t do it in nature reserves. You can do it on private land with permission, which is somewhat common and we’ve done that a few times. You ask the farmer that works that land or at the nearby hut. There’s this document provided by SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) that explains the guidelines: https://www.ticino.ch/dam/jcr:65ec8a47-1717-4db5-ae56-6012f22fc663 I don’t have a particular area to suggest at the moment, that would take some time to research. Good luck!

  3. Thank you so much for such a great article. I’m finding it challenging to find information on hiking outside of the main season so this was super helpful. I am coming to Switzerland (from Australia) in early June and reading this has just increased my excitement for the experience!

    1. Yay, so happy you found this post helpful! Wishing you the best on your upcoming trip.

  4. Thank you so much for scribbling the road map for hiking in Switzerland. I really liked the way you explained each hiking trail in your blog. I am a professional hiker and climber, I really liked your article.

    1. Thank you. Being a professional hiker sounds dreamy!

  5. Hi!

    Thank you for a great blog! We will be visiting Switzerland four weeks in June with our two year old. We love nature and hiking! We are planning to stay nine nights at each of the following destinations; Ticino, Luzern (area) and BO/Grindelwald. Would you be able to recommend the best place to base ourselves in Central Switzerland/Luzern for hiking and great views? Maybe Engelberg? Other places that are more off the beaten track?

    We are also doing two more weeks in the start of September, planning to visit Engadine and Zermatt. Hopefully we have covered much of the best sights in the country by then 🙂

    Thank you!

    Chris

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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