The Trans Swiss Trail from Porrentruy to Mendrisio is one of the most varied routes in Switzerland. You will hike through picturesque landscapes, get to know the country’s different cultures and pass many historical sights. Along the way, you will find beautiful lakes and mighty peaks, charming villages and impressive cities. During 32 official stages and 488 kilometres (303 miles) of hiking, you will experience Switzerland at its best.
This Collection guides you through three different language regions, from the French-speaking part of Switzerland to the German and on to the Italian region. You’ll also experience this wonderful diversity in the architecture and the food.
The Trans Swiss Trail starts in the small town of Porrentruy. From there, it takes you over the hilly Jura mountains and to the lake district near Bern. Next, you will walk through the idyllic Emmental and arrive at the impressive Lake Lucerne. Historic paths guide you to the Gotthardpass, the highest point of the Trans Swiss Trail.
On the southern side of the pass the landscape and climate change. You will see the Italian influence in the idyllic villages and the Mediterranean flora and fauna. Next, the route continues through the sophisticated city of Lugano to impressive vantage points over Lake Lugano. Finally, you reach the town of Mendrisio, the final destination of your adventure which is known for its historic buildings.
Each stage ends in a town or city with a good choice of accommodation. During the high season, however, you should reserve your accommodation in advance. Thanks to the extensive public transport network, you can shorten most of the routes by taking a bus or cable car. Both the starting point and the destination of the Trans Swiss Trail have a railway station. If you only want to walk a section of the trail and not the entire route, you can, for example, walk only as far as Bern or Stans on Lake Lucerne. Other stage destinations are also well connected by rail: sbb.ch/de/home.html
Your long-distance hike through Switzerland starts at the Porrentruy train station. Through the picturesque old town you walk to the natural history museum and the botanical garden there, which is one of the oldest in the country. After a tour of the remarkable garden, we continue across fields to the heights of the Jura ridge. The vast forests are repeatedly interrupted by impressive viewpoints.When you descend into the valley of the Doubs, you come to the village of Seleute, where an inn invites you to stop. The Trans Swiss Trail then zigzags down to medieval Saint-Ursanne. The small town impresses with its atmosphere, the monastery and the beautiful location on the Doubs river. You can stay in one of the hotels in the old town, but I recommend that you reserve your room in advance.
The second stage is marked by the course of the Doubs: at Saint-Ursanne you cross the river on a stone arch bridge and follow the path along the bank. At the beginning you hike almost exclusively on curved nature trails in the immediate vicinity of the blue-green shimmering water. The Trans Swiss Trail runs through the green valley without a steep incline.Gentle karst hills rise on both sides of the Doubs and numerous insect and bird species live on the banks. Your destination is Soubey, where there is only a small selection of accommodation options and a campsite. That's why I recommend that you reserve your sleeping space as early as possible.
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The first section of this stage continues along the romantic banks of the Doubs. A highlight is the red suspension bridge, which you can reach after about three kilometers. From the elevated jetty you can enjoy a completely new perspective on the natural river.At the old mill Jeannottat you turn left and climb up to the high plateau of the Franches Montagnes. The hilly expanses are characterized by quiet forests and scattered farms and you walk past horses, cows and sheep. In between are small villages with mustard-yellow houses like Les Pommerats. Before you reach today's destination, Saignelégier, you can enjoy a wonderful panorama at the Le Haut du Bémont viewpoint.
On the fourth day you leave Saignelégier heading south and hike across vast meadows and between mighty fir trees through the Parc de Doubs. Small villages and settlements are on the way and offer opportunities for refreshments. You can reach a very special place at the Relais du Roselet: Many horses and donkeys spend their retirement in the pastures of the foundation. In addition, you can fortify yourself with Jurassic specialties in the associated restaurant.The highest point of this stage is visible from afar. There are powerful wind turbines and huge solar cell panels on Mont Soleil, which form the largest plant for renewable energy in Switzerland. You can shorten the last part down to Saint-Imier with the cable car.
From Saint-Imier you can reach the granary of the Neuchâtel region via the small village of Sonvilier. It goes past wide fields and quiet forests through the hilly landscape. A climb to the ruins of the Château d'Erguel is worth it for the view alone.Then it goes through a cliff, a rocky valley, as is typical for the Jura Mountains. On the rest of the way to Chézard-Saint-Martin you can really enjoy the silence of nature, no road and no village far and wide. You will reach your milestone Chézard-Saint-Martin in the Val de Ruz after 18 kilometers.
The fertile plain of the Val de Ruz is an ideal hiking area. On the sixth stage, you initially hike through the wide valley with its colorful fields and quaint villages. In each one you can see a massive church tower that marks the center. The Trans Swiss Trail then runs along the forested and shady flank of the 1,171 meter high Chaumont.The shimmering Lac du Neuchâtel will soon appear in front of you, on the bank of which is the town of the same name, Neuchâtel, and therefore your destination today. The château from the 12th century and the elaborately designed waterfront are particularly worth seeing. The perfect place to end your hiking day in the sun.
Stage seven starts off very relaxed with a crossing to the other bank of the Lac du Neuchâtel. From the ferry you can enjoy a wonderful view back to the city and the surrounding hills. Once at the port in Cudrefin, you will explore the Grande Cariçaie nature reserve. In the BirdLife Nature Center La Sauge you can stop and inquire about the local bird life.The partly steep ascent through fantastic forest to Mont Vully is a real experience. Once at the top, you can look forward to an impressive view of the lake and the Alps. The descent from Mont Vully to Sugiez is via a sunny vineyard. On the banks of Lake Murten you hike the last part of this stage to Murten, where you can visit the magnificent castle.
You leave the historic Murten and walk south. You soon left the last settlements behind and immersed yourself in beautiful nature. Alternating between meadows and forests, the Trans Swiss Trail winds through the beautiful landscape. Numerous hiking and mountain bike trails run through the Galmwald, so keep your eyes open.Shortly after leaving the forest, you come to the Auried nature reserve, which is known for its biodiversity of birds and amphibians. You can get to know the special features of this area in various ways. On the Auriedsteg you then cross the Saane and hike along the reed bank to Laupen. Before you move into today's quarters, you can take a detour to the castle there.
The first part of today's route follows the course of the scythe. You hike from Laupen along the dark blue water and can enjoy the wonderful nature. Shortly after Thörishaus you cross the railway line and then keep left to follow the Scherlibach. In countless turns, the water finds its way through forests and meadows.Traditional farms characterize this region and you climb up the forested Mängistorfberg. On the hill you can look forward to a great view that extends to the Alps. On the descent you can already see the skyline of Bern. Through the suburban housing estates on the edge of the Könizberg forest, the path leads you to the center. The impressive old town with its historic buildings and churches is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The tenth stage starts in the picturesque old town of Bern. From the elevated Nydeggbrücke your gaze wanders over the Aare and the Bärengraben. The delightful stage leads you along the Aare: initially through the lively urban area, then through one of the most idyllic river landscapes in Switzerland. At the Dählhölzliwald you pass the zoo and continue to follow the course of the river. Again and again you come to beautiful break places where you can cool your feet in the water.After ten kilometers, the Trans Swiss Trail leaves the banks of the Aare and winds up a hill. You can see Worber Castle from a distance, but it is not accessible. We continue on hiking trails and quiet side streets to your today's destination in Worb.
You can start this stage with a detour to the fairytale Worb Castle: Unfortunately, the complex is not open to the public, but the many pointed towers are also worth seeing from the outside. The route leads from Worb over the Worbberg up to the 923 meter high Lüüseberg. The wide view over the plain to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps is breathtaking.Over elongated hills, called harrows, and valleys, it goes through the Emmental. At certain points along the way you can enjoy wonderful views of the Jura Mountains. You hike through quaint villages and vast forests to Lützelflüh, your destination today. There you can visit the small exhibition in the Gotthelf room.
This route is determined by the course of the Emme, which gave the Emmental its name. From Lützelflüh you follow the course of the river and pass elongated gravel banks and river sleepers: these are perfect for a break in the sun. The old wooden bridges that span the Emme and open up completely new perspectives are particularly beautiful.You hike through natural floodplain forests and can stop for a brew in the famous brewery pub in Zollbrück. At Emmenmatt, the Ilfis flows into the Emme and here you branch off to get to Langnau. The path runs along the Ilfis for almost three kilometers and takes you to your destination. In Langnau it is worth visiting the local museum in the so-called Chüechlihus, a wooden building from the 16th century.
This stage takes you from Langnau on the banks of the Iflis across the forested Hohwacht-Girsgrat range of hills. You walk through a mosaic of harrows, valleys and corridors typical of the Emmental. From the 1,035 meter high Hochwacht you can enjoy a wonderful panorama. Historic farms, Emmental cheese dairies and green pastures are on the way.On the mountain range, the Trans Swiss Trail takes you further south and always impresses with great viewpoints. The last section takes you back to Eggiwil on the banks of the blue-green Emme. In the small village, the range of accommodation options is limited, so you should reserve your accommodation in advance.
The Trans Swiss Trail winds from the Emmental up to the Obere Steinbodenalp. The views become more impressive with every meter of altitude and you hike through a picturesque landscape. From the summit of the Pfyffers it goes on a safe ridge to the 1,415 meter high watchtower, from which you have a breathtaking view of the Prealps like the Schrattenflue.From the highest point of this stage, the path alternately runs through quiet forests and across wide alpine meadows. On the descent to Schangnau you can meet black buffaloes that have made the place famous for its mozzarella. Schangnau is also very small and quiet and the range of hotels is small. So reserve your accommodation early enough.
Through the valley of the young Emme you walk from Schangnau through a wild and romantic landscape. Splashing brooks, wood-paneled courtyards and colorful flower meadows line the path. The steep rock faces of Hohgant and Schrattenflue are particularly impressive. In the restaurant of the former bath house in Kemmeriboden-Bad you can fortify yourself with Swiss delicacies.After a well-deserved stop, you hike up a wide path via Schneeberg to Salwiden, the highest point of this stage. The Berggasthaus Salwideli invites you to take a break with a great view. From the high plateau, the path then winds past species-rich wetlands that belong to the Entlebuch UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Your stage goal is the idyllic Sörenberg on the banks of the Waldemme.
The 16th stage takes you on a popular hiking trail from Sörenberg to the Heidberihubel. On the promising summit you will break the 1,600 meters mark and you can look forward to an alpine panorama. The Trans Swiss Trail brings you very close to the massive rock walls of the Rossflue.Every now and then you meet the serpentines on the panoramic road, which is popular with cyclists and motorcyclists. In between there are quiet sections in beautiful forests and on the descent to Giswil, impressive views of Lake Sarnen impress. Before you reach the center of town, you can visit the ruined castle Rudenz.
At just under ten kilometers, this stage is one of the shorter on the Trans Swiss Trail and is characterized by the magnificent Lake Sarnen. From Giswil you walk along the picturesque bank. Ships, sailing boats and ducks accompany you on the first section of the day and you always come to small bathing spots.At Sachseln, the sometimes steep ascent begins to the place of pilgrimage Flüeli-Ranft, which was made famous by the hermit Niklaus von Flüe. His birthplace in the center is one of the oldest wooden houses in Switzerland and well worth a visit. In the idyllic Flüeli-Ranft, for example, you can spend the night in the impressive Art Nouveau Hotel Paxmontana.
Right at the beginning of this stage you will reach the Ranftkapelle, which are located in the idyllic valley of the Grosse Melchaa. As a place of rest and reflection, the two chapels and the former hermitage of Brother Klaus ’surround a very special atmosphere. Wide hiking trails lead through the beautiful landscape: on one side the valley of the Great Melchaa, on the other side the mighty peaks of the Unterwaldner Prealps.Many detailed chapels and even a monastery lie along the way and invite you to take a break. Shortly after stopping you cross the Rufibach and can fortify yourself with coffee and snacks in the rustic pilgrim bar. On the forested flank of the Stanserhorn, the Trans Swiss Trail leads you to your today's destination in Stans. In the spacious town you will find everything a hiking heart desires.
After a good night's sleep, you leave Stans and go to Buochs on the picturesque Lake Lucerne. With the turquoise water always in view, you hike through the small towns on the lake shore. After a good nine kilometers you come to the chapel Maria im Ridli, which is the pilgrimage chapel of the boatmen of Lake Lucerne.Accompanied by colorful ships and boats, you walk along the bank to the impressive waterfall of the Rislete Gorge. Then the path rises steeply and leads you deep into the quiet forest. On the flank of the Niederbau Chulm mountain, there is a wonderful view of the lake to Seelisberg. Due to its wonderful location and the connection with the cable car to Treib, the idyllic place offers a good selection of accommodation.
The first section of this stage is characterized by impressive views high above Lake Lucerne. From Seelisberg you follow the Höhenweg, which is more than 800 meters above the shore of the deep blue water. At the most beautiful viewpoints, benches invite you to take a break.When building, you descend back to the lake and hike directly along the crystal-clear water. At Isleten there is a lido that has wide lawns and shady resting places. Here you can replenish your supplies at the kiosk or go for a swim. Picturesque castles and mansions are located along the way. The route takes you to the reed-covered Reuss delta and from there you follow the course of the Reuss to Erstfeld.
From Erstfeld you hike through the valley of the Reuss bordered by mighty mountains. Head south between the famous Gotthardstrasse and the winding river. You pass symbolic places on the old mule track such as Silenen and Amsteg. There is the possibility of taking the cable car up to the wonderful Arnisee in Amsteg.Accompanied by the murmur of the water, you follow the Reuss further upriver and the path begins to become steeper. The historic bridges that span the rocky riverbed open up completely new prospects. Not only the Gotthardstrasse but also a railway line winds through the valley and makes the importance of this north-south connection clear. The place Wassen is your today's destination and offers a small selection of accommodation and restaurants.
Even today, the Trans Swiss Trail runs along the rippling water of the Reuss, which is perfect for a short cool-down. The entire route is accompanied by the tracks of the railway line: some of them run close to the hiking trail, some through tunnels in the rocky mountain slopes.After you have passed the town of Göschenen, you come to a particularly breathtaking section. First it goes over the historic Häderlis Bridge and a little later over the Teufelsbrücke. The stone arches are great photo opportunities and give you completely new views of the valley. Between Reuss and Gotthardstrasse we continue to Andermatt, which is a popular ski resort in winter. That is why there is a good selection of accommodation and restaurants.
From Andermatt, the Trans Swiss Trail, like the Gotthardstrasse itself, continues to climb the mountain. Sometimes you walk on the old Postkutschenstrasse and the historic mule track with its paving. On the side of the path you can marvel at a colorful alpine flora that stretches up the slopes. A worthwhile detour takes you to the Lago di Lucendro reservoir.Shortly afterwards you finally reach the world-famous Gotthard Pass: the rocky peaks of the area are reflected in the lake landscape. If you are interested in the history of the pass, you can visit the Museo Forte Ospizio. Not only hikers, but also cyclists and motorists enjoy the special atmosphere of the Gotthard Pass. You can spend the night in the comfortable and newly renovated St. Gotthard Hospiz, where Goethe already spent the night.
After you have spent the night at an altitude of over 2,000 meters, you will head back down to the valley from the Gotthard Pass. You can enjoy a really impressive highlight a few hundred meters below the pass: here the famous Tremolastrasse winds its way along the mountain in 24 hairpin bends and overcomes 340 meters of altitude. Cyclists and motorcyclists love this route.Then you partly hike down the Tremola to Chiassin, where the new and old Gotthardstrasse meet. Your destination today is the village of Airolo, which already lets you feel the Italian influence. In the center, a visit to the Church of Santi Nazario e Celso is worthwhile.