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The Ultimate Hiking Guide to the Swiss National Park
"Swiss National Park? We have a national park named after us?" was a response I often got when I told my Swiss friends that I went and hiked in the Swiss National Park. The Swiss National Park lies within the Western Rhaetian Alps in the eastern part of Switzerland. Not many people know about this place, not even the locals hence the reason why I was there.
The Swiss national park has everything the country has to offer but without any tourists. As part of my hiking trip in Switzerland, I and my friend hiked around the Swiss national park for 3 days. During those 3 days, the national park gave us the impression that we may have stumbled upon a true hidden gem in Switzerland. The hikers you will meet here is the real deal.. crazy and awesome. If you love hiking and nature, you should put this on top of your itinerary when you are in Switzerland.
Switzerland Travel Video
Who is this for: A regular Backpacker who loves nature and is in good shape.
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
Duration: From 2 - 6 hrs per trail
When: Summer (I was there early September)
Closest City: Zermatt
Zernez is surrounded by mountains and so the weather can be unpredictable. Appropriate gears are essential to make your trip the best one possible.
- A Tent: If you are a budget traveler, camping is the only budget option you have. Zernez is a small town with limited number of hotels and no hostel at all so a tent is required.
- Sleeping Bag: It could get rainy and cold due to the location of Zernez so a warm sleeping bag is recommended.
- Good Walking Shoes: The trails we are going to tackle are not too difficult so a regular walking/hiking shoes are more than enough.
- Weather-proof Clothings: It can rain a lot up there and that, combine with rain can be unpleasant.
- A Hiking Map: You can get a not-so-detail map for free at the camping ground or the Tourist Info. If you want to do more hikes in the park, I would suggest you buy a complete hiking booklet from the Tourist Info. For me and the trails mentioned here, a not-so-detail map was more than enough. You can also download our maps from the links under Hikes Overview below.
- Food and water supply: There are a few supermarkets with food and fresh fruits in Zernez so you can buy them there. Each trail mentioned here will take only a few hours so no need to prepare a whole day of supply when you are hiking.
Where to Stay in the Swiss National Park
The Filli Andris campsite is the only campsite in Zernez which put you right at the entrance of the national park. It is located near the train station and as you got off from the train and out on the street, you will see a clear sign (with a tent iconography on it) directing you to the campsite.
For once, this camping ground actually exceeded my expectation. Camping in Filli Andris campsite is almost as comfortable as staying in a hotel. They have a dedicated kitchen with power outlets, wifi, a small bar, and a restaurant. The campground is spacious and well located. The bathrooms are in its own building equipped with heaters and enough showers for everyone. The reception can provide you with information, hiking tips, and maps. You can also buy cooking ingredients and energy bars from the reception.
The price is the cheapest in town at around 18 - 20 CHF per night.
How to get to the Swiss National Park
The best way to get here is to fly into Zurich or cities nearby and take a train or a bus from there. I would recommend you browse through Skyscanner or Momondo to find all the cheap flights from where you live to Switzerland and compare them so that you can find the one best fit for your itinerary.
If you are traveling in Switzerland for more than a week, I would suggest you buy a 4-days pass train ticket. It should cost around 260 CHF. This is a no-brainer especially if you are 26 or under. Transportation is crazy expensive here and if you want to cover a lot of areas, the cost will accumulate fast and this ticket will save you a fortune.
Zernez is the closest town to the national park. It is also the nearest town to the entrance. The easiest way to get to Zernez is by train.
You can also go with FlixBus as they are cheap, reliable and run widely throughout Europe.
If you are looking for a travel insurance to go along with your trip to Switzerland, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need a travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.
For this article, we will focus on the 2 trails that I did, the Alp da Munt and the Munt la Schera. The map above shows the overview geography of Zernez and the surrounding highlighting those 2 trails.
Fun Trails to Hike in the Swiss National Park
Alp da Munt
This is a small hike located right behind the campsite. The hike can be done in 2 - 3 hours with ease. I did this trail right after I arrived in Zernez on that same day. You can do this trail if you have at least 3 - 4 hours of daylight left that day.
The trail begins from the plain behind the campsite. You can start the trail by exiting the campsite from the entrance, follow the road until you hit the river. Cross it and walk toward the mountain.
Right at the foot of the mountain, you will see a trail leading up north along the side of the mountain. Follow that trail until you reach an opening. It should take around 45 minutes to get to the opening. You will know when you've reached this point when you see the yellow sign shown above.
On top of that hill, you should see a farmhouse with plenty of sheep and cows announcing their presence with the bell around their necks. Rest there for a bit and head west toward the house, go through it and follow the trail behind that house. You might have to climb fence here.
From here on the trail should be straightforward. It will take you through many openings with beautiful sceneries from the mountainside.
Once you hit an intersection with the option to go back to Zernez, follow it down until you are back in Zernez safe and sound. This should end our hike for the day.
Munt la Schela
As the weather was pouring on us the day before and we did absolutely nothing that day, we mutually decided and agreed to go deeper into the national park and summit something the next day. We ended up summitting the Munt la Schela due to its close proximity to Zernez but with enough elevation (2587m) to give us a great view of the whole area.
For this trail, you will have to take a bus from a bus stop near the Tourist Information center (ask them and they will show you where it is) to Buffalora, a 30 minutes ride away from the town. From there, follow the yellow sign labeled Munt la Schela and off you go.
The trail starts off from what looks like a river bed toward a hill, through people's farm and a gradual climb around it. Along the way, you should see plenty of sheep and cows chipping the vegetation away.
As you follow the path, you will see so many mountains that might make you wonder which one is Munt la Schela. None of them.. not until you see a yellow sign directing you to the way up to the summit.
Once you see the sign to go to the summit, take it. The climb is rough, steep and long and as you go higher and higher, it will get colder and colder. Once on top of the summit, the wind can be unbearably strong. Thankfully, there were plenty of big rocks up there so you can use them as a shelter.
Walk around the summit for a bit before heading down so that you can see the national park in its full glory. Trust me, no matter which direction you set your eyes upon, you will be amazed by it. Expect to see a lot of beautiful valleys with gorgeous blue rivers surrounded by snowy mountains when you are up there.
To go down, walk a little bit west from the summit and find the yellow direction sign. Once you find it, follow the way down to Il Fuorn, our final stop.
The trail from the summit going down is a lot more easy-going so use this luxurious time to enjoy the scenery as much as you can. The way down will take you through a variety of Instagram-worthy sceneries so get you camera ready.
From the summit, it should take you around 2 hours to reach Il Fuorn, where you will have to find a bus stop and catch a bus back to Zernez. The bus runs every hour and it can fill up fast due to the number of day hikers that scattered around the park.
With this information, you should be able to hike the Swiss National Park with no issues. If you did the hike, let us know in the comments below how it went. Good luck!
Note: The trails I chose are not, by all means, the best trails in the national park. There are so many trails you can do there. If you have more time, you can mix it up a little and create your own set of trails and it will still be amazing.
Further Reading for Switzerland
I hope you found this guide helpful in your trip planning. If you want to read more about Switzerland, I have written a few more travel guides, all listed here:
- Are you traveling to Switzerland as part of a bigger Europe trip? Be sure to check out my 3 months itinerary for Europe from Portugal all the way to Sweden.
- Switzerland is best seen on foot especially in Zermatt and the Matterhorn area. Here’s the ultimate one-day hiking guide to the Matterhorn Trails in Zermatt, Switzerland.
- Not convinced by my words? Here are 125 photos that will inspire you to visit Europe.
- You can also watch my Switzerland travel video here: "Helvetia - The Great Switzerland" travel video.
- To see all the articles about Switzerland, visit Switzerland Travel Guide page.
- Looking for a place to go after Switzerland? How about Germany or Switzerland? Visit our Germany travel guide page, and France travel guide page for more.
- Looking for more travel guides for Europe? You can find more on my Europe Travel Guide page.
- Or if you want something more specific to the region, visit our Western Europe Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides like this, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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