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Hiking in the alps is at the top of many people’s bucket lists, and for good reason. The alps stretch across eight countries in Europe, and you’ll find stunning vistas throughout the mountain range. With so many options, narrowing down which trails in the alps to tackle can be difficult. That’s why I’m sharing my top 11 day hikes in the alps. These are the ones you can’t miss. I’ve done them all and will do them over and over again. Whether you’re hiking in the French or Swiss Alps, Germany, Austria’s mountains, or through the Italian Dolomites, you’re sure to find the perfect trail.
The Best Day Hikes in the Swiss Alps
Here are my top three picks for the best day hikes in the Swiss Alps.
Appenzell Geological Trail (Geologischer Wanderweg Alpstein)
The Appenzell Geological Trail (Geologischer Wanderweg Alpstein) is one of my favorite day hikes in Switzerland. Along the path, you’ll get incredible panoramic views, beautiful ridge hiking, dramatic peaks, and blue alpine lakes. In late spring, you’ll also pass through abundant wildflower meadows. This trail has everything you could ask for, all in one beautiful loop.
Distance (round-trip): 16.2 km (10.1 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 626 meters elevation gain (2,053 feet); 1,521 meters elevation loss (4,990 feet)
Duration: 5.5 hours - I’d highly recommend allotting the entire day for the trail - trust me, you’ll want to stop every few steps to soak up the view!
Heuberg Loop Trail Oeschinensee
I’ve hiked the Heuberg Loop Trail three times now and made countless trips to the Oeschinensee. No matter how often I go, this area doesn’t get old. For this reason, it’s one of my favorite day hikes in Switzerland. The Heuberg Loop trail at the Oeschinensee lets you experience some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the Swiss Alps. Along the path, you’ll get to hike above, and alongside the glittering blue Oeschinensee, hike through steep grassy meadows, and look up at the towering, glacier-covered mountains that surround the lake.
Distance (round-trip): 8.37 km (5.2 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 492 meters elevation gain and loss (1,614 feet)
Duration: 3.5 hours
Looking for a hike that allows you to easily experience a high alpine environment? Then look no further than hiking to Munt Pers, a 3,200-meter peak in Engadin, Switzerland. My favorite part about Munt Pers is the unbelievable views of the Morteratsch Glacier. It’s massive. Munt Pers is an easy hike that can be accessed by taking a cable car to Diavolezza Station. For a longer tour, you can also start from the valley. While this hike can be easily done as a day hike, I’d suggest staying overnight at Berghaus Diavolezza. That way, you can catch sunrise or sunset on the mountain. It’s a trip you’ll remember for years to come!
Distance (round-trip): 3.9 km (2.4 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 240 meters (787 feet)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Jaw-Dropping Day Hike in Chamonix, French Alps
Planning on hiking in the French Alps? Here’s the perfect, jaw-dropping day hike to do in Chamonix.
If there’s only one trail you had time to hike in the French Alps, Lac Blanc, in Chamonix, is one you *have* to do. I’ve hiked all over the alps, but this trail truly blew my mind. The lakes along this trail aren’t the most beautiful in the alps, but the mountain reflections they show off definitely are. My favorite part of the Lac Blanc trail is the non-stop views of jaw-dropping spires and glaciers. We did this trail in late July, and also enjoyed that there were plentiful wild blueberries growing along the path.
The trail to Lac Blanc is extremely popular but worth it! If you want to avoid some of the crowds, consider turning this day trip into an overnight at the Refuge du Lac Blanc. You can also bivouac at the nearby Lacs des Chéserys. If you bivouac, please remember to adhere to Leave No Trace principles, and don’t set up your tent right next to the lake.
Distance (round-trip) 6.1 km (3.8 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 360 meters (787 feet)
Duration: 3-4 hours
*this route info is based on taking the easiest trail to Lac Blanc, which is an out-and-back trail via the L’index chair lift. The route we took didn’t involve the cable car or chairlift and followed a 13 km loop, and 1,100 meters of elevation gain.
Stunning Day Hikes in the Austrian Alps
Austria’s mountains stretch across most of the country, but some of my favorite stunning day hikes in the Austrian Alps are located in Tirol. Tirol is a state in the western part of the country, bordering most of the German Alps.
I do the Seebensee/Drachensee hike at least once a year, making it one of my favorite hikes in the Austrian Alps. This hike has waterfalls, brilliant blue alpine lakes located in a cirque, and great views overlooking an alpine valley. On a hot summer’s day, both lakes are perfect for cooling off. In autumn, the golden larches show off their bright yellow and orange needles.
The Seebensee/Drachensee hike has a variety of routes to access these lakes, ranging from family-friendly to challenging. Below, you’ll find the stats on the easiest way to hike this trail.
Distance (round-trip): 14 km (8.7 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 564 meters (1,850 feet)
Duration: 4 hours
*You can shorten this hike and just do the Seebensee (still well worth a visit), which cuts down the elevation gain significantly.
The Gamsjoch is one of Austria’s most stunning day hikes, hands down. Located in the NaturPark Karwendel, this part of the Austrian Alps is unspoiled. Jagged peaks loom in every direction, the meadows are lush with wildflowers, there’s ibex (a beautiful type of mountain goat), and you may even have a chance to see elusive Edelweiss flowers. The Gamsjoch is a strenuous peak and is only recommended for experienced hikers. The route up this loop trail has sections that aren’t well-marked, with lots of loose rock, and eroded sections. A few short sections of the trail are exposed, so you need to have a head for heights.
Distance (round-trip): 15.8 km (9.8 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 1,250 meters (4,100 feet)
Duration: 6 hours
Another trail that has a bit of everything, the Schochenspitze is the perfect summer day hike in the Austrian Alps. This hike offers sweeping mountain views and three beautiful alpine lakes which are great for swimming in. Waterfalls cascade down steep cliffsides and thick fields of wildflowers cover the grassy mountainsides. All of this is located within the pristine protection of the Vilsalpsee Nature Reserve. In wet conditions, there is a cabled section of trail that can be hazardous as you navigate smooth rock on a steep rock face.
Distance (round-trip): 11.3 km (7 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 470 meters (1,545 feet) elevation gain; 1,058 meters (3,474 feet) elevation loss
Duration: 5 hours
This outlines the primary way most people hike to the Schochenspitze. The trail can also be done as an out-and-back, sans cable car though, for those who prefer to do all the elevation gain on foot.
Beautiful Day Hikes in the German Alps
For the most beautiful day hikes in the German Alps, don’t miss these two trails. I’ve done them (seriously) countless times. Part of their appeal is that they’re accessible for the majority of the year, as long as avalanche conditions are stable.
The Teufelstättkopf is a fairly easy hike, that offers some of the most beautiful views of the German Alps. The first ¾ of the hike takes place on a wide gravel path, up until you reach the August Schuster Haus (mountain hut), making it a family-friendly destination. If you want to add a short detour, don’t miss the Schleifmühlklamm, which is at the start of the trail. You’ll pass by a few waterfalls if you take this section of the trail. In winter, you’ll see many people tobogganing this trail. After the hut, you have an additional 25-minute hike up the summit of the Teufelstättkopf. Here, the trail narrows. The last 10 meters to the summit are cable secured and should only be done if you have a head for heights. Even if you don’t scramble the last ten minutes to the summit, I’d highly recommend following the path to the base of the cabled section. The best views are experienced at this spot!
Distance (round-trip): 10.7 km (6.65 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 855 meters (2,854 feet) elevation gain
Duration: 4.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Jochberg is a must-do hike in the German Alps, and is probably one of Bavaria’s most popular trails. I can also say, it’s 110% worth it. The mountain is small but rewards you with incredible views. The Jochberg is uniquely positioned, straddling two lakes, the Walchensee and the Kochelsee. This is just one of the features that give it such a stunning panorama. Looking south, much larger peaks rise up from the valley and stretch onto the horizon. Due to Jochberg’s popularity, you’ll want to arrive early, since parking is limited. For a trail description of the Jochberg, check out this post on Outdooractive.
Distance (round-trip): 5.6 km (3.5 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 697 meters (2,290 feet) elevation gain
Duration: 4.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Epic Day Hikes in the Italian Dolomites
The Italian Alps are home to the Dolomites, which is a one-of-a-kind range full of unique-looking mountains. While there are plenty of epic day hikes in the Italian Alps, if you want to have a new kind of adventure, you should also check out one of the numerous via ferratas in the Dolomites. A via ferrata is a type of mixed hiking and climbing route made possible by fixed steel cables bolted into the mountainside. Below, you’ll find my two favorite hikes in the Italian Alps.
Lagazuoi, located atop Passo Falzarego (about 30 minutes from Cortina d’Ampezzo) boasts one of the most dramatic vantage points in the Italian Dolomites. In every direction, you’ll find your jaw dropping at the view! Whether it’s the craggy spires, sweeping green meadows below, or glaciated views on the horizon, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world! Lagazuoi can be accessed via a moderate hike from the pass, or by taking a cable car to the summit and walking around on the plateau (less than 1.5 miles walking). Below, I’ve outlined the distance if you want to hike up and down the mountain.
Distance (round-trip): 12.8 km (8 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 1,053 meters (3,455 feet) elevation gain
Duration: 4.5 hours
Torre di Toblin
Torre di Toblin is a moderate via ferrata in the Dolomites you should do at least once! Located around the famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen), you get an unbeatable view of the three peaks, without nearly as many crowds. To access this via ferrata, you also get to hike a section of the Drei Zinnen circuit trail. This route lets you take in the region’s most iconic panoramas, and also find some solitude along the way.
The Torre di Toblin via ferrata is intermediate level, and I wouldn’t recommend doing if you haven’t had previous via ferrata experience.
Distance (round-trip): 11.2 km (7 miles)
Elevation Gain (and loss): 516 meters (1,693 feet) elevation gain
Duration: 4.5 hours
*the via ferrata itself is only 200 meters (650 feet) of elevation gain and a small section of this overall loop
Want More Inspiration for Hikes in the Alps You Can’t Miss?
If you want more ideas for hiking in the alps, follow along on Instagram @madudesinthemountains.