Can I go walking in Switzerland? Walking and trekking in 2020

4 minute read

Walking, trekking and other outdoor activity holidays in Switzerland – travel, accommodation and other facilities are open and possible, but with certain restrictions. This page will help you find up-to-date information for walking, trekking and other outdoor activities during 2020.

Mont Blanc range seen from Cab. Mont Fort
Mont Blanc range seen from Cab. Mont Fort

Updated 17th July

Latest news:

Quarantine mandatory for visitors from some countries, but not currently the UK.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/bag/en/home/krankheiten/ausbrueche-epidemien-pandemien/aktuelle-ausbrueche-epidemien/novel-cov.html

General travel requirements and restrictions

It is no longer necessary to demonstrate that your journey is essential, and no additional form of authorisation is required to enter Switzerland from the UK or European Union, transport options permitting.

Non-UK/EU/EFTA citizens will still face entry restrictions to Switzerland.

For details relating to Swiss entry regulations there is a helpful Q&A on the website of the State Secretariat for Migration

The Swiss authorities have not imposed any quarantine measures on persons entering the country. Depending on how the pandemic develops, it is possible that health-related measures at the border may be introduced for persons entering or leaving the country. From 15 June 2020, passengers arriving in Switzerland on direct flights from Sweden will undergo a temperature check at the airport. Those who have a high temperature will be given a further medical examination and, if required, will be tested for COVID-19.

Restrictions on entry continue to apply for third-country citizens, including the USA, who wish to come to Switzerland for a short stay of less than 90 days. As is currently the case, such trips will only be permitted in cases of special necessity, not holidays. If possible, Switzerland plans to lift these final entry restrictions at the same time as the other Schengen states. A gradual and coordinated approach to lifting the ban on entry is planned, in line with developments in the epidemiological situation in these third countries; for some states, restrictions may be lifted before 6 July.

Visitors from the UK can now freely visit.

How to travel to Switzerland

Eurotunnel - Le Shuttle
For full current information and links to required forms and documentation.
If you are not flying directly to Switzerland, it is possible to travel by train directly across Europe. UK train travel to Switzerland is on French railways via Paris or Lille and Geneva, then on Swiss railways from there.

Flights to Switzerland
Flights to Switzerland continue to operate, however there are restrictions, and you should check with your chosen airline to ensure you have everything you need.

Ferries from UK
P&O ferries travel advice

DFDS ferries travel advice

Brittany ferries travel advice

Covid-19 and public transport

Masks must be worn at all times when using public transport, both in the UK and in Switzerland.

Further information can be found here regarding which special trains and public transport will be operating, quarantine and self-isolation.

Think of Switzerland and it's not a surprise that you will automatically think of alpine walking. If you've never walked in the Swiss Alps, then this is the resource you need to help you decide where to start. Quieter areas of the Swiss alps for day walks include the Engadine and some of the quieter valleys of the Valais. Walking opportunities are as varied as the landscape, from lower-level walks to demanding high traverses, particularly within the Bernese Alps and Valais regions, where balcony routes can be accessed by cable car. This is especially true in the Saas valley, and the Mattertal, leading to Zermatt (for which there will be a new guidebook for 50 day walks published in spring 2021). For trekkers looking for a good, but less demanding route, the Jura Crest Trail is packed with interest, and superb views, especially to the south towards the great ranges of Mont Blanc and the Combin. More demanding trekking routes in Switzerland go up in difficulty (and distance) from the Tour of the Jungfrau Region, Chamonix to Zermatt (all but the first day is in Switzerland), and the Swiss Alpine Pass Route (Via Alpina 1). There will also be a new guide for the Giant's Trail to be published in spring 2021.

Blümlisalp hut
The Blümlisalp hut just above the Hohtürli pass, Alpine Pass Route

How will Covid-19 affect mountain huts and refuges?

Swiss mountain huts will be open during summer 2020, however various restrictions will be in force, to ensure maximum safety. The Swiss Alpine Club has this link for further information. All hikers and trekkers should follow these basic guidelines:

Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres, and provide details to your mountain leader or refuge for future tracking of possible infection. Wear a mask if it is not possible to keep your distance (for example on public transport) and wash or disinfect hands regularly. Stay at home if you have symptoms.

Reduce risk of accident by staying on marked trails and taking care when crossing snow, and when staying in a refuge, the additional requirements are;

  • Only visit huts in a healthy condition.
  • Reserve your place to sleep - no overnight stays without a reservation.
  • Bring your own: hut sleeping bag, pillow case, disinfectant hand gel. Soap, towel and protective masks. (Attention: Some SAC huts have duvets and blankets removed and you have to take your own sleeping bag with you. Find out about the appropriate SAC hut before you stay overnight.)
  • Take your rubbish back down to the valley.

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