The big Alps hiking thread

Old Aug 18th, 2022, 03:12 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The big Alps hiking thread

The last decade I've been a dozen times hiking in the Alps and in 10 different villages/regions, and I've done extensive research on several other places. I therefore want to share some of my experiences and give some advice (or recieve some) regarding hiking in this fantastic region. Since I'm most about hiking, I will also focus on that, and not just taking the gondola up the mountains to enjoy the views. I will give advice both for good places for medium level hiking (let's say typically 600-800 height meters a day) and high level hiking (1000+ meters a day), which is what I do. In addition to hiking opportunities, I will also make recommondations based on views and scenery, both from the village and higher up in the mountains, price level, accessability with public transport and how crowded and touristy the area is. Below and in the following posts, I summarize some of what I've experinced, what I've found out through research and list some pros and cons for different places and areas.

"The big 3" - Zermatt, Chamonix and Berner Oberland (Grindelwald, Wengen and Mürren)
I've nicknamed these three places/areas as the "big 3" since these are IMO the most popular, the most touristy, probably the most renowned and also possibly the most spectaular areas in the Alps. I've been both to Chamonix and two times in Zermatt, but not to Berner Oberland yet. All these areas have in common spectacular scenery and views to some of the highest and most faomus mountains in the Alps. Mont Blanc for Chamonix, Matterhorn for Zermatt and Jungfrau/Eiger/Mönch for Berner Oberland. These villages probably have the most spectacular views from the village, and are also some of the few places in the Alps where you get good glacier views directly from the village itself, and it gets even better up in the mountains.

Since they are very popular, there is also a lot of people, and especially Zermatt feels fairly crowed since it's pretty crammed in between the mountains. Chamonix is also touristy, but the area on the valley floor is bigger, so it felt a bit less crowded. All places have good infrastructure to get around, buy buses/trains and gondolas/cable cars, and you will get high into the mountains. One big negative aspect, if your not loaded with money, is that these are the only places I've been to in the Alps where all the cable cars and gondolas cost money, and are not included in the guest card for the area. The gondolas in Chamonix are fairly expensive, but the two places in Switzerland are REALLY expensive, although use of the Swiss Travel Pass would reduce the cost. For hiking I found Chamonix good, but not great for high level hiking. Zermatt on the other hand is great for all levels, and especially the hikes on the vest side of the valley where there are none gondolas or furniculars, very just really good. The 1800 height meter hike to Mettelhorn is one of the best I've ever done.

+ Great views the whole time, even from the village. Not been in Berner Oberland and Mürren, but from pictures the views from that village seems absolutely stunning.
+ Extensive hiking network, especially for medium level hikes. Chamonix and Berner Oberland are though not the best for high level hikes.
+ Especially Chamonix is really accessible, probably the place in the high Alps closest to a bigger airport with public transport.
+ Zermatt and surrounding usually have very good weather, better than further north (Berner Oberland) and east (Austria).
- Crowded and touristy. The village Zermatt is quiet charming, but the number of people are just really high.
- Expensive, especially Zermatt and Berner Oberland. A week or more with hiking here, staying in a decent hotel, eating out and using cable cars/gondolas each day, will cost you a lot.

Graubünden - Davos and St.Moritz/Engadin
I've spent a week in Davos, but not been in Engadin so far. That is one of my top alternatives for next summer. Davos is basically a small town in the mountains, not very charming. But it has a good range of accomondation, and is cheaper than Zermatt and Berner Oberland. The area is fairly accessible with train from Zurich, above the same time as the other mentioned places in Switzerland. Also, the guest card gives you an unlimited number of tours with cable cars and gondolas, which is great especially if you do downhill cycling. It will also save you a lot of money for hiking, since you usually want to get a bit higher up in the mountain than the village. Davos, although not very charming, offers very good multi sports opportunities and are also a good area for both medium and high level hiking.

+ Less expensive, at least Davos, and all cable cars and gondolas are included in the guest card.
+ Davos is a very good area for multi sport activities, hiking, cycling both road and MTB, etc.,
+ Engadin seems to have a very good choice of hikes, possibly one of the very best places in the Alps both for medium and high level hikes.
+ Engadin has good glacier views just south of the valley, but not from the villages itself. Engadin valley is also the highest lying valley in Europe with a certain population, and it's length and size is an attraction in itself.
- Davos is not very charming, and there is also little glacier views from the surrounding mountains.
- St-Moritz is a high end resort, both expensive and (as far as I understand) visited by not the most typical hiking or sports enthusiasts. But quite possibly good opportunities to stay in the other villages in the vally.

Rest of Valais - Val d'Anniviers and Saastal
My trips in Valais also brought me to the neighbouring valleys to Mattertal where Zermatt lies. In Val d'Anniviers, I've stayed in several places and I spent some days in Saastal this summer, hiking in the mountains there. And since these areas are also lying just by some of the 4000m peaks in the Alps, the views are great and the hiking opportunities likewise. And also since the big crowds go to Zermatt, these villages are significantly less populated by tourists. Expecially Zinal seemed like a quiet place, only with a handful of hotels, where Zermatt have dozens. Saastal and Saas-Fee have more tourists, but also offer some great views and some of the best high level hiking in the Alps. I stayed in Saas Grund where I found a fairly cheap pension, but it was on short notice and next time I will certainly stay in Saas-Fee.

+ Grimentz is probably the most charming of the Swiss alpine villages because of the old wooden housing.
+ Both valleys have very good selection of hikes. Especially Saastall offers some great high level hikes to peaks, passes and huts above 3000m.
+ Great glacier views from Saas Fee. Almost on par with Chamonix and Zermatt.
+ Especially Zinal and Grimentz, but also Saastal are A LOT less touristy and crowded than Mattertal and Zermatt.
+ Less expensive than Zermatt and Berner Oberland. In both valleys cable cars are included in the guest card.
+ As for Zermatt, the weather is generally good.
- It's actually difficult to find negative things about these places. It is possibly not THAT spectacular as the places mentioned above, but that's marginal. And you don't get glacier views from Zinal and Grimentz, but have to go further into the mountains.

Tomorrow, I will cover Austria and Italy.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2022, 10:55 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Austria - Mayrhofen, Neustift im Stubaital and Sölden:
I've been to both Mayrhofen and Neustift, and thoroughly researched Sölden, but not been there yet. The main thing about Austria, is that the price level is much lower than Switzerland and partially Chamonix. The accommondation is cheaper, the food and transport is somewhat cheaper and cable cars/gondolas are always included in the guest card for the area. The two first places are also fairly easily accessible with train and bus from Munich (Sölden is a bit longer). And it's from some to a lot less touristy. The non-German speaking tourists seem to go to Switzerland, Chamonix and perhaps Dolomites, especially non-Europeans, and the Tyrolan villages are mainly visited by German and Austrian tourists. Mayrhofen was a bit bustling, perhaps mainly by being the main hub for the area and Zillertal valley, but Neustift as a quite and relaxing village without the big crowds. Alle areas also offer a very good variety of both medium and high level hikes.

Actually I found all these better than a much more famous place like Chamonix if you want to do different 1000 height meters hikes for at least a week or more. In Sölden you can easily do close to ten 3000m peaks without climbing, and Mayrhofen has very good connections with buses going deeper and higher into the mountains, towards the Italia border. Neustift is not that good, but still has one of the best hikes I've done, the Wilde Wasser Weg to Sulzenaualm and Blaue Lacke.

+ Much cheaper than especially Switzerland.
+ Very good high level hiking for alle three areas. Especially Sölden and Ötztal are probably one of the 3-4 best areas in the Alps for high level hikes.
+ Neustift is close to Innsbruck which can be visited on bad weather days.
+ Less touristy and more quiet, especially Neustift was really nice.
- No glacier views from villages, but there are some great views when getting higher up in the mountains.
- Mayrhofen and partly Neustift is at a lower altitudes, which can make them very hot in midday in the high summer. Also makes cable cars or buses a necessity to get higher into the mountains.
- The weather is generally more unstable than some of the other places in the Alps. If you stay for something like 10 days, you more likely than not will have one or more days with rain and/or low hanging clouds.

Italy - Dolomites, Aosta and south side of Monte Rosa:

I haven’t done any dedicated hiking trips only to Italy, but I’ve done a combined Alpe Martime/Mercantour hiking trip, stopped by for least a couple of days on hiking trips around Chamonix/Mont Blanc and on the Tour of Matterhorn, and done extensive research on areas like Aosta and the Dolomites. The latter is a big area, much bigger than the single vllages or smaller regions I described for Switzerland over, but I will concentrate on the higher and central parts, like the Sella group and Marmolada. The main and best-known village is probably Cortina, but when I go there, I plan to stay in villages like Selva In Gardena and Corvara in Badia. Other possibilities could be Canazei or Arabba. All these four are also on the famous cycling route, Sella Ronda.

The Dolomites are much cheaper when Switzerland, and I had no problem finding good B&B’s for just over 50 euros per night, or 70-80 euros for decent 3 star hotels. The are also seems excellent for both medium and high level hikes and other kind of sporting activities. The area is the origin of the Via Ferratas, and have very good possibilities for both road and MTB biking. Actually, I believe it’s possibly the best area in Europe for high mountain road biking.

Aosta is also a big region, the northeastern post part of Italy. Here you have Mont Blanc on the west side of the valley, Matterhorn and Monte Rosa in north and the Gran Paradise in the south. Actually, I think it’s probably one of the very best regions for hiking in the Alps. The area could be divided into two parts, south of the Aosta valley you find Gran Paradiso, both the mountain and the national park with the same name. Here you can use the region capital Aosta as a starting point for some hikes, but the higher altitude village Cogne is probably the best base for hikes. Coermayeur could also be an option. The hiking options are really good, and the scenery seems stunning. Especially the hikes in or close to the national park area, Gran Paradiso, is high on my list of trips that I have not yet done. These villages are also fairly easily reached from bigger airports, either in Geneva or Torino.

The other area in Aosta (it actually extends a bit further west into Piemonte) is the small villages on the southern slopes of the Monte Rosa group. Here you find Macugnaga, Alagna Valsesia, Gressoney and Champluc. They have a good hiking network, although not as good as the best areas in the Alps. Also, they seem much more quiet and less touristy, based on number of hotels, size of villages and extent of infrastructure in the surrounding valleys. It’s also probably the least accessible area I’ve found in the Alps. There are connections, but the options for public transport seems to be limited. Since the villages are small, there aren’t that much happening besides outdoors activities. So this is a area that is probably better if you don’t travel solo, but like a couple, can afford to rent a car and have each other as company on rainy days.

+ As for Austria, the Italian part and especially the Dolomites are much cheaper than Switzerland.
+ The Dolomites are possibly the most beautiful mountains in the Alps that don't have bigger glaciers.
+ The Dolomites are seem really good for multi sport activities. Hiking, road and terrain biking, Via Ferratas, etc.
+ The small villages on the southern slopes of Monte Rosa (Macugnaga, Alagna, Gressoney) seems much more quiet than on the northern side in Switzerland.
+ Aosta is probably on par with Engadin and Valais for the best selection of high level hikes. Especially from Cogne the possibilities seems massive. Also good opportunity to do a "easy" 4000m peak in Grand Paradiso.
+ Partially glacier views from some of the villages. And still stunning views without glaciers in the Dolomites. Also many high altitude villages, typically around 1600m, is a plus.
- Less accessible. The public transport from the bigger airports to the mountains in Italy is far worse than especially Switzerland and Chamonix, but also Austria. Without a car, a longer stay in one or two places is probably smart.
- Probably better weather than Austria, but not as good as Valais. Bigger chance of afternoon rain and thunderstorms due to being closer to the Mediterranean.

Rest of French Alps besides Chamonix:
When I've researched, I haven't been able to find some good and easily accessible other bases for hiking in the French Alps than Chamonix. The most high altitude resorts in France seem really tuned for skiing, and not hiking, and the options that exist do have very tricky travel routes when using public transport. Possibly Briancon could be an option, but otherwise I had problem finding good alternatives for my trips. That is for high level hiking, there may be some good options for lower and medium level hiking.

But what the French Alps do have are really good options for multi-day hut to hut trips in the regional nature parks and national parks. Here you can easily do week long or more trips in the Vanoise, Ecrins or Mercantour national parks or in the Queyras regional nature park. Both Vanoise and Mercantour on the French side are connected to national parks on the Italian side, Gran Paradiso and Alpe Maritime respectively. Here it's probably possible to hike from hut to hut for something like 10-14 days and meeting a LOT LESS people than in the places above I've already covered. Most of these areas seems not very accessible, so you either have to spend some time getting there, renting a car, or doing a group tour including transport. Mercantour is a bit more reachable than the other, with a two hour train ride from Nice. It could also be a nice option to combine a 4-5 day hut to hut in Mercantour with some days on the French riviera.

These kinds of trips is if you are a more advanced hiker and/or book yourself into a group tour. I think many of us that have done a lot of hiking want to get away from the crowds and more touristy places, and then a trip to one of the national parks (in France) is a good option. There are also good national park areas that can be hiked in Austria (especially Hohe Tauern) and Italy (the already mentioned Gran Paradiso and Stelvio), while Switzerland have more limited options with only one and rather small park.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 12:21 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Summary and recommondations:
The recommendations below are, as stated in the first part of the opening post, mainly if you have hiking as your main activity, and not just taking a cable car up the mountains to enjoy the view. Usually when people ask for advice for which places to visit in the Alps, the first answers are Berner Oberland (Wengen/Grindelwald) and Zermatt. And while both of these places are spectacular and have some great hiking, IMO there are significant disadvantages with price level and the big crowds. Good for staying a couple of days and enjoy the view, and/or if you don't mind crowds and not afraid to spend money. But there are so many other great places that can be visited. And almost all the places I've been to are worth revisting. So for some general recommondations:

For the first time to Alps and intermediate hiker: Chamonix:
Chamonix has several advantages to make me recommend it for first timers. It's very easy to get there from Geneva airport. Only 1,5 hour bus drive and a lot of departures each day. There will be a lot of people, but it feels less crowded than Zermatt. There are good infrastructure (bus, train, godolas) to get higher into the mountains and do a very good selection of medium and some high level hikes. Tours just above Chamonix and the valley on the west side are probably the very best, since the views from here to the Mont Blanc massive are just amazing. But also from nearby villages like Les Houches, Le Tour, Argentiere, there are very nice hikes. And for just about every hike close to Chamonix you will have great views of the Mont Blanc. Or you can combine parts of the Tour of Mont Blanc with using Chamonix as a base. For instance, hiking the southern part of ToMB takes 3-4 days to Courmayeur on the Italian side, and from here there is a short bus ride bike to Chmonix. The village is also quite big and can offer some activites for rainy days. Due to the popularity, Chamonix is a bit expensive, but not a bad as the most popular places in Switzerland like Zermatt, Grindelwald, Wengen, etc.

For the more experienced high level hiker: Grimentz and/or Zinal and Saas-Fee:
This trip will provide you with almost all the pros as a trip to Zermatt and Berner Oberland, but none of the cons (or at least to lesser degree). As stated above, I don't think Chamonix offer the very best selection of high level hikes, and it is also quite touristy. For that, I would highly recommend the villages in the neighbouring valleys to Zermatt. Grimentz is extremly charming and offers a decent selection of hikes. Zinal is quiet and tranquil and does the same. The hiking network isn't as extensive here as other places in the Alps, but you can do 3-4 days of medium/high level hikes in each place. Then continue to Saas-Fee for even better, tougher and higher hikes at the same time as having great glacier views from the village. I also found some very nice options for good accommodation at a fairly reasonable price in Saas-Fee. And cable cars in both valleys are free if you stay at a hotel and get the guest card. There are more tourists here than in the area around Zinal, but nothing too bad compared to Zermatt and Chamonix. Very nice hikes to mountains and passes like Mittaghorn, Monte Moro and Jazzilücke. And if you want to do a multi day hike, the Tour of Monte Rosa passes through Saastal, and it is a common starting point for that trip. Okay, you don't get the Matterhorn view, but in every other way these areas are just as good or superior to Zermatt and Matterhorn.

For the more price-conscious and multi sport performer: Dolomites (Badia and Gardena):
The Dolomites don't offer the same 4000m peaks and glacier views as in Switerzland or around Mont Blanc, but in every other way the area is just as good as the other areas. I would have stayed 4-5-6 days in each of the valleys of Gardena and Badia, and done hikes and cycling tours from there. Peaks like Sassongher from Corvara and Seceda from Selva should be high on the shortlist. Same for a cycling tour around Sella Ronda, either on road bike or MTB. And hikes in the Selle Group and towards the Marmolada. In totalt there seem to be great options for medium and high level hikes, and also for cycling. And Via Ferratas if you want to do something different and more challenging. The prices are low too. 50-60 euros for a single room on a good B&B is much lower than in especially Switzerland. The main issue, if you don't HAVE to have glacier views, is that the area is less accessible from bigger airports than Chamonix and the most popular places in Switzerland. Verona is probably the best option, but otherwise possibly Munich which would mean a longer journey to get there. But for longer stays, it would definitely be worth it.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 06:01 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,205
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you! We are headed to Switzerland next week and staying in Saastal part of the time. Glad to see your feedback. We are perhaps medium-level hikers but can manage a more difficult hike now and then.
ms_go is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 07:03 AM
  #5  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 11,380
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Excellent post. This is exactly the type of detail I look for when I plan my own travels, whether in the US or abroad. You have listed your hikes as medium level vs high level, which I get. In addition to elevation gain, I often think of my hikes in terms of either a) distance, or better yet, b) duration. So for me an easy hike would be around 2 hrs, a medium hike maybe 4 hrs, and a high level hike 6-8 (or more) hours on the trail.

So could you rate your med/high level hikes a similar way? I gladly enjoy many hikes with 1000+ elevation gain, but more often than not I'm just as happy to be out all day walking even on flatter land or downhill.

Some of my more memorable long hikes (eg in the Garmisch area, or Innsbruck area) have been to take a gondola UP to the top, but still get a high level hike in with distance and time, but hiknig down the mountain. I get the benefit of a long hike, amazing views, but don't push myself too far by including the climb. I've also found downhill mountain biking to be similarly enjoyable - get a ride up, then spend a few hours riding down.

Thank you for all this detail.



J62 is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 11:11 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ms_go View Post
Thank you! We are headed to Switzerland next week and staying in Saastal part of the time. Glad to see your feedback. We are perhaps medium-level hikers but can manage a more difficult hike now and then.
Yeah, Saastal is great. If you haven't been there before, or already have your hiking plans ready, I could highly recommend at least one hike. Take the bus to Mattmarksee and hike to Monte Moro pass at the Italian border and back. The lake is hikeable on both sides, so you could partially make it a circular hike.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 12:41 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by J62 View Post
Excellent post. This is exactly the type of detail I look for when I plan my own travels, whether in the US or abroad. You have listed your hikes as medium level vs high level, which I get. In addition to elevation gain, I often think of my hikes in terms of either a) distance, or better yet, b) duration. So for me an easy hike would be around 2 hrs, a medium hike maybe 4 hrs, and a high level hike 6-8 (or more) hours on the trail.

So could you rate your med/high level hikes a similar way? I gladly enjoy many hikes with 1000+ elevation gain, but more often than not I'm just as happy to be out all day walking even on flatter land or downhill.

Some of my more memorable long hikes (eg in the Garmisch area, or Innsbruck area) have been to take a gondola UP to the top, but still get a high level hike in with distance and time, but hiknig down the mountain. I get the benefit of a long hike, amazing views, but don't push myself too far by including the climb. I've also found downhill mountain biking to be similarly enjoyable - get a ride up, then spend a few hours riding down.
I actually do the opposite some times. Hike up and take the gondola down. For one of my hikes in Saastal I hiked from Saas-Fee to Mittaghorn, from 1800 to about 3100m, down to 2600, along the mountain side, up to 3000 and then down to 2900 before taking the gondola back to Saas-Fee. I think it was something like 1700m up and 600m descent. I'm fairly young and in good shape, so for me it's no problem doing a lot of meters up each day. The main issue could be knees, or actually the top of mye toes if I do a lot of meters downhill each day for many consecutive days.

And I agree on the definition of level of hikes. In addition to height meters, distance and technical difficulty is also relevant. If I were to characterize specific hikes, I would use all these factors. A hike of 20+ km with "only" 500 height meters would probably take longer time and be more difficult than a hike of 10km and 1000 height meters (given no special technical difficulty of the latter). Since I'm mostly writing on centre based hiking, the most common thing to do on that kind of hiking is either to a peak, a pass and back down or a pass and down at the other side. Usually it's more up and down than flat, and height meters are therefore the easiest way to characterize a hike.

Also when I'm hiking, I think it's fairly boring hiking up and down in the forest, and forest line in the Alps is quite high, close to or over 2000 meters. Therefore I prefer to start not too far below 2000m, at least at 1600-1700m. When I hike to peaks or passes then, an area where all the peaks or highest point of the hikes is around 2500m, typically 700-800meters up and down, would mean fairly short, perhaps only half-day hikes, if there aren't a lot of flat in addition. Therefore all the areas I've designated as good for high level hikes have a lot of opportunities for hiking and light scrambling close to and over 3000 meters. That is not the case for the area around Chamonix, but Engadin, Zermatt, Saastal, Sölden/Ötztal have a lot of options. Of course, you could make the hikes in Chamonix (ot similar areas) much harder by walking all the way from the valley each time, but I would much rather walk from 1900m to 3100m than from 1300m to 2500m.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 01:00 PM
  #8  
J62
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 11,380
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I like your plans. 40 years ago I'd do 1000+ meters on successive days, but now I find it best to limit that kind of climb to every 3rd or 4th day, and do more medium walks other days.
J62 is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 01:22 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,637
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
What a timely thread! We're regular visitors to Switzerland and have been hiking in many of the places on your list, although we're no longer high level hikers.

We're headed back next month and will be returning to Grimentz for five nights, primarily for the hike to Moiry Glacier, the hike from Tignosa to Hotel Weisshorn, and the hike to the Bhutan Bridge from Leuk.

We've also just booked a winter hiking trip to Mayherhofen, Fulpmes, St Cristina and San Candido.

You definitely need to get your boots to the Engadine - one of our favorite areas and hiking nirvana.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 01:47 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
You definitely need to get your boots to the Engadine - one of our favorite areas and hiking nirvana.
Thx, do you have any specific recommondations where to stay if I go to Engadin? St.Moritz is the centre of the valley, but was thinking of one of the nearby villages like Pontresina, Sils or Celerina.

The main alternatives for next year is:
1. Dolomites - staying a few days each in Corvara and Selva
2. Engadin - staying in one place for at least 10 days and hike all over the valley.
3. Consecutive week long hikes in French Alps (Ecrins and Queyras). I found a company with guided trips with start and finish from the same town and start on consecutive weeks.

The last option is tempting, but also really expensive, so it will most probably be one of the two first.

Last edited by OlavE; Aug 19th, 2022 at 01:53 PM.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 02:34 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,637
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
We've stayed in Scuol, Zuoz, Celerina and Samaden. Of these, our favorite is Scuol - we've stayed there many times. Easy access to Samnaun from there too.

Celernia is very close to St Moritz and makes a good base - it's convenient to Sils, Maloja, and a trip to Soglio, without paying St Moritz prices - it's a lot more down to earth too. Some people love Pontresina, but I'm not one of them. Too built up for my tastes.

I have several Engadine trip reports posted here if they might help. I get the impression you're more hard core than we are when it comes to hiking though - we suffer from old age and bad knees
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 02:56 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 10,672
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Nepali Highway: Furka Pass, Switzerland

My favourite hike in Switzerland has to be something called the Nepali Highway. It starts in Canton Uri near Andermatt. Drive to Realp (or take the train and bus) and then take the bus up to the Furka Pass. Start the hike which will pass two SAC alphuts (Sidelenhütte and Albert Heim Hütte) and then ends up again in Realp. It's a 6-hour hike that requires good footing and fitness but offers views of glaciers, meadows and valleys. I did this twice with hiking boots and a backpack.

+Iconic mountain hike
+glaciers and lakes
+streams and meadows
+SAC alphuts
+varied scenery
+stunning views
+"in the alps" atmosphere
-requires good fitness
-requires hiking over large rocks
- long downhill trail towards Realp (this could be done in reverse)
- 6 hour hike

The hike details: Nepali Highway: vom Furkapass nach Realp [hikr.org]
Photos: Nepali Highway/Furkapass (Alpenkranz) - laufend-unterwegs - Wanderblog

Last edited by kleeblatt; Aug 19th, 2022 at 03:55 PM.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 03:16 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 10,672
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Stoos near Lucerne

For an easier but utterly breathtaking hike, I highly recommend the Stoos with its ridge hike. You get panorama views of the alps, the Vierwaldstättersee and of the Central Switzerland mountains. You take the funicular up to the town of Stoos, proceed to the Klingenstock. Take the chair lift up and then walk about 2 hours along the ridge until you get to the Fronalpstock restaurant. From there, you can take the chairlift back into the town or you can walk down.

Stoos is located above Brunnen on the Lake of Lucerne.

+Stunning scenery
+cute town
+funicular and two chair lifts
+good trail
+gorgeous views of lakes and mountains
+views are better than from the Rigi or Pilatus (imo)
+views of the lake on 90% of the trail
+can be done in good tennis shoes
+easily accessible from Lucerne (train & bus to Schlättli/Stoos funicular through Schwyz)
- goes up and down hill so some physical condition is required
- no water available during the two hour hike
- no shade
- sometimes crowded at the weekend

Stoos: Gratwanderung Klingenstock – Fronalpstock | WegWandern.ch

Last edited by kleeblatt; Aug 19th, 2022 at 03:54 PM.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 11:03 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
We've stayed in Scuol, Zuoz, Celerina and Samaden. Of these, our favorite is Scuol - we've stayed there many times. Easy access to Samnaun from there too.

Celernia is very close to St Moritz and makes a good base - it's convenient to Sils, Maloja, and a trip to Soglio, without paying St Moritz prices - it's a lot more down to earth too. Some people love Pontresina, but I'm not one of them. Too built up for my tastes.

I have several Engadine trip reports posted here if they might help. I get the impression you're more hard core than we are when it comes to hiking though - we suffer from old age and bad knees
Okay, I see that Scuol is about in the middle of Lower Engadine. I plan to hike in Upper Engadine since the area from Samedan to Maloja seem to have the most extensive network of trails and it's also here you find the hikeable 3000m peaks. Celerina seems like a good base yeah. It's a big advantage that it is in the central part of the valley so I could easily get around with train or bus.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2022, 11:21 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,886
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Olav, we live on the other side of the world so don't get to do a lot of hiking in the Alps but really appreciate you posting this information and starting a conversation. We've really enjoyed the hikes that we have managed to do over the years. It's wonderful to dream and plan (I've stashed this post away to bring out again in a year or two).
dreamon is online now  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 01:29 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,803
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I always appreciate and enjoy postings about hiking, the Alps and Switzerland in particular. Unfortunately you come to conclusions from extensive research and not visits of the places you talk about - best example is the Engadin. For example, you say that "St-Moritz is a high end resort, both expensive and (as far as I understand) visited by not the most typical hiking or sports enthusiasts. But quite possibly good opportunities to stay in the other villages in the vally." St. Moritz in summer is not very high end, far from glamourous. The Rich and Famous are in their resorts at the Cote d'Azur or wherever and the hotels and (especially) the rental apartments are full of hikers, cyclers, athletes and artsy folks. (But of course I'll always suggest to stay in one of the other villages nearby - and if only for the reason that St. Moritz is overbuilt with often ugly architecture from the late 20th century.)

A factual error: > Less expensive, at least Davos, and all cable cars and gondolas are included in the guest card.
Not true anymore. You pay 10 CHF for a cable car ticket, 15 CHF for a day ticket. Bus rides to side valleys were never included.
(See, St. Moritz is cheaper here: Most hotels participate in the "free public transport plus cable car rides" offer, many even include trips to neighbouring valley Bregaglia. And the Lower Engadin introduced a similar offer recently.)


I can only strongly encourage you to head to the Engadin soon and explore this region. Don't forget the neighbouring villages, Bregaglia, Poschiavo, Müstair. Btw, I have stayed in Scuol, Vulpera, Guarda, Zuoz, Celerina, Pontresina, St. Moritz, Silvaplana and Sils. Frankly, you cannot do the whole Engadin justice from one place but if you plan to get a first impression of all the different areas there then Pontresina, Samedan, Zuoz might be your best options.
Ingo is online now  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 02:00 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Ingo View Post
I always appreciate and enjoy postings about hiking, the Alps and Switzerland in particular. Unfortunately you come to conclusions from extensive research and not visits of the places you talk about - best example is the Engadin. For example, you say that "St-Moritz is a high end resort, both expensive and (as far as I understand) visited by not the most typical hiking or sports enthusiasts. But quite possibly good opportunities to stay in the other villages in the vally." St. Moritz in summer is not very high end, far from glamourous. The Rich and Famous are in their resorts at the Cote d'Azur or wherever and the hotels and (especially) the rental apartments are full of hikers, cyclers, athletes and artsy folks. (But of course I'll always suggest to stay in one of the other villages nearby - and if only for the reason that St. Moritz is overbuilt with often ugly architecture from the late 20th century.)

A factual error: > Less expensive, at least Davos, and all cable cars and gondolas are included in the guest card.
Not true anymore. You pay 10 CHF for a cable car ticket, 15 CHF for a day ticket. Bus rides to side valleys were never included.
(See, St. Moritz is cheaper here: Most hotels participate in the "free public transport plus cable car rides" offer, many even include trips to neighbouring valley Bregaglia. And the Lower Engadin introduced a similar offer recently.)


I can only strongly encourage you to head to the Engadin soon and explore this region. Don't forget the neighbouring villages, Bregaglia, Poschiavo, Müstair. Btw, I have stayed in Scuol, Vulpera, Guarda, Zuoz, Celerina, Pontresina, St. Moritz, Silvaplana and Sils. Frankly, you cannot do the whole Engadin justice from one place but if you plan to get a first impression of all the different areas there then Pontresina, Samedan, Zuoz might be your best options.
St.Moritz have a bunch of 4 and 5 star resorts where it's difficult to stay for less than 200 CHF per night. In my world that is high end, and something a very small percentage of people can afford. Also the price level seems fairly high even for lower end hotels. In almost every other place I've either been or researched, I managed to find for example a 3 star hotel or a good B&B for less than 100 CHF per night. This summer I spent a few nights in Saas-Grund for 75 CHF on a 2 star B&B. In Saas-Fee I found a couple of 3 star hotels for less than 100 CHF. In St.Moritz the typical rate seemed to be 120-140 CHF for single rooms. The only option for a 70-80 CHF/night I've found had shared bathroom and shower in the hallway.

My statement that St.Moritz is not frequented by typical sporting or hiking enthusiasts might have been misleading and wrong, but I would still rate it at the high end of the scale for mountain villages.

Okay about Davos, I was there in 2019 and then the cable cars and gondolas were free.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 08:16 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,637
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Okay, I see that Scuol is about in the middle of Lower Engadine

Scuol is at the very end of the train line. Zernez is the gateway to the Swiss National Park.

And while I agree that the Upper Engadine probably has the most "hikeable 3000m peaks" there's no shortage of hiking in the Lower Engadine. To get a true sense of the Engadine, I recommend selecting two bases - one in the Upper and one in the Lower.

And the St Moritz I've seen is full of hiking and sports enthusiasts. Yes, it's a concrete jungle and less 'quaint' than other towns and villages in the Engadine. Yes, it's full of posh hotels, restaurants and shops. And although we aren't the least bit posh, we still find ourselves visiting St Mortiz at least once when we're in the area. It has a lot to offer, but is not a place I've chosen to say - I've considered doing so and have looked at accommodation there several times, but always opt for elsewhere. The Engadin Card offered by hotels in the area would definitely offset the prices of accommodation though.

Keep in mind that if you book an apartment - as we do - you will not have access to the Engadine Card. It's a trade off - pay more for a hotel and get breakfast and the card, or pay less for an apartment, get more space and privacy and the ability to self-cater meals, but don't get the card. Which works best for you will depend on your personal preferences and how may of those cable cars you plan to take.

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 20th, 2022 at 08:32 AM.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 09:15 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 25
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Melnq8 View Post
And the St Moritz I've seen is full of hiking and sports enthusiasts. Yes, it's a concrete jungle and less 'quaint' than other towns and villages in the Engadine. Yes, it's full of posh hotels, restaurants and shops. And although we aren't the least bit posh, we still find ourselves visiting St Mortiz at least once when we're in the area. It has a lot to offer, but is not a place I've chosen to say - I've considered doing so and have looked at accommodation there several times, but always opt for elsewhere. The Engadin Card offered by hotels in the area would definitely offset the prices of accommodation though.

Keep in mind that if you book an apartment - as we do - you will not have access to the Engadine Card. It's a trade off - pay more for a hotel and get breakfast and the card, or pay less for an apartment, get more space and privacy and the ability to self-cater meals, but don't get the card. Which works best for you will depend on your personal preferences and how may of those cable cars you plan to take.
Good point about apartment vs hotel and the Engadine card. And I almost always stay in a hotel or B&B. A bit more chance to meet people, and I don't have to buy food and make breakfast, not to mention that the breakfast will be more varied than if I had to make my own. The biggest disadvantage I find with (Upper) Engadine is the hotel prices and that almost no rooms have balconys (perhaps due to the stone housing and not the Tyrolean style houses you often find elsewhere in the Alps). I like to sit on a hotel balcony and have a beer after hiking, and hang my clothes out to dry. And the prices of course. The price level in St.Moritz seem to have rubbed of the immediate surroundings. I have trouble finding a single room in a decent hotel or B&B for less than 100 CHF per night. The more standard prices seem to be something like 120-140 CHF.
OlavE is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2022, 10:09 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,637
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I had the same problem when I last looked for apartments in St Mortiz - couldn't find one of a decent size with a balcony and a kitchen one could actually cook in, just a lot of basic studios with little afterthought type kitchens, if you know what I mean. I'm sure they exist, but not at a price I'm willing to pay.

Perhaps I missed it, but what time of year are you planning to go? The Engadine card that comes with hotel stays is valid May-October, although I see they now offer one for sale that is good 365 days a year...for a mere 1,160 chf!
Melnq8 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -