The BEST of Switzerland – hikes from gentle to gigantic!
"We have traveled with Ryder-Walker in the past, based on the recommendations of my brother Leonard Bloom. The front-end service is excellent. The hikes give us the rigor and interest we want during the day and a quality experience in the evenings."- David B.
"The accommodations and food were great, the trek itself was the right level of strenuousness, and there was a good amount of time to rest and recuperate. And the guides were wonderful -- fun, informative and very helpful. We liked our fellow hikers as well, and the size (7 hikers, 2 guides) was perfect, as far as we were concerned. We've been on other, similar, guided hikes. But yours was the best, and we not only are thinking about signing up for another one, but would highly recommend your company to others."- Pam Fessler
"This was out seventh Ryder Walker trip; we know you are a top notch operation. Why mess with success!"- Diane A.
Visit Sils Maria, one of the most peaceful towns in Swizerland.
Travel on the Palm Express through the Italian Lakes District.
Snap photos of the Iconic Matterhorn from the window of your plush room in Zermatt.
The Highlights of Switzerland is designed to provide exceptional hiking with a broad range of physical challenge. This makes it perfect for families and parties with different interests and abilities. It is also designed to please those who prefer to unpack and stay unpacked for a few days at a time.
We begin in Sils Maria, one of the loveliest mountain towns on the planet. Nestled between two lakes at 1800 m/5900 ft and dominated by high peaks all around, Sils Maria may be the Alps’ most peaceful mountain town.
Take a private transfer over the Julier Pass, an ancient trade route named for its benefactor, Emperor Ceasar! Next we get a look at the little known, but very impressive upper Rhine Valley before arriving in the Canton of Ticino, the heart of Italian speaking Switzerland. One of the great charms of the Ticino is the region’s culture, Locarno is a blend of Italian passion with a hint of Germanic influence. We spend three nights in this bustling, yet charming lake resort town, with its lake front promenade, arcaded shops, Piazza Grande, and winding cobbled streets; home to many artisans shops and ateliers. Explore ancient, time forgotten hill towns and historic pathways from our superb lakeside accommodations.
The final stage has us transfer to Zermatt, the quintessential mountain town nestled at the base of the iconic Matterhorn. Explore the wild expanses of this heavily glaciated pocket of the Alps, and each day return to the comforts of our fantastic hotel in a quiet neighborhood and park-like setting beneath the magnificent Matterhorn.
Travel independently to Sils Maria, Switzerland and meet your group and guide(s) for orientation and dinner in our outstanding hotel in the heart of this tiny and quiet village. Note that the hikes on this trip are options only. The guide(s) will tailor each day to the interests and abilities of all individuals in the group.
Experience the fascinating interplay of colors as we hike around the most beautiful lake in the Engadine. Cross to the far side of the lake to a path through larch forest, which ascends to the pastoral hamlets of Grevasalvas (Heidi’s village) and Blaunca. Picnic by the farmhouse with views of the Bregaglia Valley. Descend to Maloja pass, where a lakeshore ramble or a boat ride returns us to Sils. You may also choose to summit the Piz Lunghin if seeking a bigger day.
Distance: up to 7 miles. Elevation gain: 1100 ft with more strenuous options.
Explore the mystical Val Fex and Muott‘Ota, a charming valley that is still the same as it is portrayed on the old engravings. There are two ways of visiting it, by foot following the extensive network of hiking trails, or on a horse-driven carriage up through the broad valley floor. Old villages, topped by glaciated peaks and the immense detail of home and garden decoration, make Val Fex one of the most idyllic places in Switzerland. A deep, narrow gorge descends back into Sils.
Distance: up to 7 miles. Elevation gain/loss: up to 2200 ft.
We transfer privately over the Julier Pass, an ancient trade route named for its benefactor, Emperor Caesar! Next we get a look at the little known but very impressive upper Rhine valley before arriving in Locarno on the shores of Lake Maggiore in the Canton of Ticino. This ancient town boasts a vibrant lakeside vibe with colorful cafes and pubs. Intoxicating trails connect antique hill villages offering stunning glimpses into life in times long past. A short afternoon hike will be offered.
Distance: 4 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 600 ft.
Begin with a short transfer to an idyllic hilltop village of Mergoscia. Visit the serpentine, glacial, and waterworn granite valley of the Verzasca. The waters of the river that snake down this glistening valley are alternately emerald green and ultramarine. It is truly visually stunning. Walk across a medieval bridge into the charming village of Corripo, tucked away on the lush green slopes of the valley. Lunch at the local Trattoria and meet maybe all of the 15 residents that still inhabit the village. Finish at Lavartezzo for a short bus transfer back to your superb hotel in Locarno.
Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain: 1200 ft with more strenuous options.
Ascend by funicular, cable car, and chairlift to the Cimetta, where a delightful ridge walk ensues, with endless views in all directions. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the summit and spectate the glide of lightweight free-flying paragliders and aircraft. Finish the loop at the top of the funicular to transfer back to Locarno.
Distance: 6 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1100/3000 ft with both easier and harder options.
What a fun transfer day! The slow journey through the Valle Maggia to the Italian border town of Domodossola could not be more memorable. In the afternoon, take a funicular up to Sunnega and explore Findeln, a cluster of hamlets where not so long-ago alpine farming dominated the landscape. Authentic Walser houses built of larch timber offer renowned cuisine and spectacular views of the Mattertal Valley and Matterhorn.
Distance: 4 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 600/1000 ft.
Start with the spectacular cog rail crawl up to the Gornergrat for the most inspiring views in the Alps. It is an outing that takes us to the base of the vast and mighty Monte Rosa glacier. Learn more about the alpine glaciers and discover the collection of the highest summits in Switzerland and the Alps.
Distance: 5 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1000 ft.
Wander to the remote hamlet of Zmutt, or hike to the legendary Hörnli Hut at the base of the most popular route up the Matterhorn (for those in need of a touch more adrenaline). Both challenging and gentle options are offered to explore the vast terrain on the flanks of the North Face of the Matterhorn. Descend back to Zermatt by visiting traditional wooden hamlets built on lush alpine pastures.
Distance: 5 – 12 miles. Elevation gain/loss: 1400 – 3300 ft with gentler and harder options.
Awake to a delicious breakfast, then depart.