Best Winter Hikes from Zurich

Best Winter Hikes from Zurich
  • Post last modified:February 23, 2021
  • Post category:Switzerland / Zurich
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Winter is coming! It can be pretty grey in the cities in Switzerland, especially at this time of the year. In fact, when we moved to Switzerland, I imagined winter would mean me getting out of my apartment and having to shovel away heaps of snow that had fallen overnight. Suffice to say I’ve never had to do that, one because it doesn’t snow as much in the flat lands and two because we live in an apartment complex! Nonetheless, the winter in the mountains can be breathtaking and so we’ve put together a couple of posts with some of our favorite winter and snowshoe hiking spots not too far away from Zurich. 

This post is winter hiking (no snowshoes needed!) and we’ve put together a companion post on snowshoe hiking here.

Amden – The Walensee & A Snow Bar

H0003 Amden Winter Hike with Snow Bar
View from the snowbar in Amden.

Amden is one the closest spots to Zurich with snow and winter activities. From Amden village you can take a cable car up to Niederschlag, which is the start of winter walking path route number 190. The route takes you to Hinter Höhi, giving you views of the Walensee lake 1000 meters below and of the snow-covered peaks on the opposite mountain side. Halfway up there’s also a short detour to a snow bar, which is where we took this picture of colorful lounge chairs in the snow. We’ve actually never been all the way to the end of this winter walk as you’ll notice in our post here. Instead, we hiked all the way up from Amden village to the snow bar and back. That’s the beauty of this area – there are many options to make it energetic or easy depending on how much energy you have!

Check here as well for more details about this trail.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 10 mins (plus the chairlift)
Time from Zurich by car – 45 mins (plus the chairlift)
Start & Finish point –Niederschlag Cable Car Station (above Amden)
High point –1415m Hinter Höhi
Popularity – 3/5 (fairly popular)
Highlights – Alpine views & a snow bar
Snowy Season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time – 1h 15 min 
Distance – ~4 km
Altitude difference – ~ 130 m ↑ 130 m ↓
Difficulty – T1 (easy)

Flumserberg

Flumserberg Winter Hike near Zurich
The Walensee from Flumserberg.

Flumserberg is famous for being one of the closest ski resorts to Zurich and it’s not just skiers that can have a good time here. Along with all those ski runs, there’s a very picturesque winter walking path that’s patted down every year for hikers and walkers too! It’s a fairly easy walk with about 280m up and down and a restaurant at the midway point to treat yourself with something warm! Hiking on snow is always more effort so if you’re new to hiking in winter don’t discount the effort it may require ☺. The views from this hike are a panorama of the the Churfirsten mountain range, the Walensee lake and some of the flatter green lands towards Zurich. There’s just something about standing there in the snow, sweating and soaking in the views that’s worth every bit of the effort! Hope you enjoy it too. 

You can find our post on this walk here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 40 mins
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 15 mins
Start & Finish point – Flumserberg Tannenboden
High point – 1650m near Seebenalp
Popularity – 3/5 (fairly popular)
Snowy Season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time –  3h
Distance – ~8 km
Altitude difference – ~ 350m ↑ 350m ↓
Difficulty – T1/T2 (easy/medium)

Schwänzelegg – A winter walk near Grusch

Switzerland_Snowshoe Hiking Guide

Heading further afield to Graubünden, this isn’t the closest winter walk to Zurich but it’s certainly a beautiful one. It follows a circular panoramic path called route 329 which offers panoramic views of the local mountains from a 1700-meter vantage point. The walk is signposted, not too long and really one of the easiest winter walks in the area. So, what are you waiting for?

For more information, check our post on this walk here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 30 min to the bottom Grüsch-Danusa gondola station.
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 15 min to the bottom Grüsch-Danusa gondola station.
Start & Finish point – Schwänzelegg (Cavadura) gondola station
High point – about 1780m
Popularity – 3/5 (fairly popular)
Highlights – Alpine views 
Snowy Season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time – 1h 30 min 
Distance – ~4 km
Altitude difference – about 140 m ↑ 140 m ↓
Difficulty – T1 (easy)

Braunwald – hiking with some sledging thrown in as well

Braunwald_Winter Hiking Glarus

Braunwald is a ski resort in Glarus with a very panoramic winter walking path, route 471, from Grotzenbüel to Seblengrat. On a sunny day the views of the Glarner Alps are breathtaking. The trail is well signposted and the whole loop takes just under 4 hours, though part of the path was closed due to avalanche risks the day we were there. On our way back down, we noticed a toboggan run and made a spur of the moment decision to give it a shot! We’d never tobogganed before and boy was this fun! In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we took the cable car back up and repeated the toboggan run down until it was near closing time. Our inner kids certainly had fun that day. 

During our visit and from the safety of the ski resort we also heard and saw an impressive avalanche come down in one of the steep empty valleys on the opposite side of the mountain – a good reminder to always stick to the marked paths! 

For more information, check our post on this walk here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 30 mins to Linthal Braunwaldbahn Train Station (allow at least 30 mins more to the start of the hike, via a funicular and 2 cable cars!)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 10 min to Linthal Braunwaldbahn Train Station (allow at least 30 mins more to the start of the hike, via a funicular and 2 cable cars)
Start point – Grotzenbüel (Hüttenberg) Cable Car Station
High point – 1880 m
Finish point – Seblengrat Cable Car Station
Popularity – 4/5
Highlights – Tobogganing down from Seblengrat to Grotzenbüel Seblengrat
Snowy season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time – 1h 40 min
Distance – ~4 km
Altitude difference – about 370 m ↑ 50 m ↓
Difficulty – T2 (medium)

Engelberg Trübsee

Trubsee_Engelberg_Winter Hiking
Looking across snow-covered Trübsee

Engelberg is famous for Titlis and for skiing, but like many ski resorts they also have winter hiking and snowshoe hiking options. For an easy option you can simply walk around the lake on a winter walking path. When we were there the lake was completely frozen and covered in snow. It’s a short and easy one-hour hike with fantastic views of the mountains! 

For more information on this walk, check our post here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 45 min to Engelberg train station (plus gondola to Trübsee)
Time from Zurich by car – 1h 15 min to Engelberg train station (plus gondola to Trübsee)
Start & Finish point – Engelberg, Trübsee cable car station
High point – ~1800 m
Popularity – 4/5
Snowy season – Dec to Apr
Winter hiking time – 1h
Distance – ~3.5 km
Altitude difference – ~ 50 m ↑ 50 m ↓
Difficulty – T1 (easy)

Zugerberg

Zugerberg_Winter_Hiking

This is another relatively close peak to Zurich with a lovely winter walking path on top. Zug is 20 minutes from Zurich and after a short bus and funicular ride from the center of Zug you’re transported to the top of Zugerberg. From here on a clear day you’ll see lake Zug below you, along with Rigi and Pilatus. 

We’ve walked most parts of this winter walk over the years as we’ve climbed up Zugerberg from the bottom or up some of the peaks around it. But I remember there being lots of snow – enough for us to make a 3 person igloo once! At some point, we’ll have to properly do the entire panorama walk – hopefully on a snowy but sunny winter day.

There’s more information on the trail here.

Time from Zurich by public transport – 55 mins to Zugerberg funicular station
Time from Zurich by car – 45 min (though apparently it’s crowded by car – you might find it easier to park at the bottom, at Schönegg, and get the funicular up to Zugerberg) 
Start & FInish point – Zugerberg cable car station
High point – 1020 m
Popularity – 4/5
Snowy season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time – 3 h
Distance – ~10 km
Altitude difference – ~ 250 m ↑ 250 m ↓
Difficulty – T1/T2 (easy/medium)

Rigi

Rigi Winter Hiking Switzerland_2
The Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) glistening below Rigi.

If you’re feeling energetic then a trip to one of Switzerland’s most famous peaks – Mount Rigi – is worth it. Whether it’s summer or winter, that view from the top with the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) sparkling below you and snowy Alps all around you is hard to beat. 

There are two winter walking paths on Rigi (routes 570 and 571, see here and here), which can be lumped together for a 4-hour hike starting at the top of Rigi, Rigi Kulm. From here you start with 4 km mostly down to Rigi Kaltbad which if you’ve already had enough has a spa with thermal baths overlooking the Alps. If you’re energetic, then you can continue for another 7 km and 260 m up towards Rigi Scheidegg. The path itself is very broad with the snow well patted down. So, all that’s really left to do is enjoy the panoramic views from one Rigi peak to the other. It really makes for a wonderful day in the snow!

Time from Zurich by public transport – 1h 40 min to Rigi Kulm station  
Time from Zurich by car – 1hr to Arth Goldau train station + 45 min train up to Rigi Kulm station
Start point – Rigi Kulm station
High point – 1749 m (Rigi Kulm station)
Finish point – Rigi Kaltbad or Rigi Scheidegg
Popularity – 4/5
Snowy season – Dec to Mar
Winter hiking time – 1h 40 mins to Rigi Kaltbad or 4h to Rigi Scheidegg
Distance – ~4 km to Rigi Kaltbad or ~11 km to Rigi Scheidegg
Altitude difference – about 20 m ↑ 340m ↓ to Rigi Kaltbad, or about 280 m ↑ 390 m ↓ to Rigi Scheidegg
Difficulty – T1/T2 (easy/medium)

Honorable mentions

In Switzerland there are always more hikes to do than can be done. So here’s some other hikes that nearly made it to this list 🙂

  • Andermatt – Whilst this isn’t the closest hike to Zurich, it is a beautiful one that takes you from Andermatt to Realp along the valley nestled between snow covered peaks! More info here.  
  • Klewenalp to Stockhütte – For a one-way hike that involves views of the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne), this is a good option. Depending on which one of these two cable car stations you start you can make the hike a breeze or one with some leg burn! More info here.
  • Stoos – This place isn’t only worth visiting in summer! In winter it offers a short and easy winter walking path for those of you looking for a laidback weekend walk to take in the views and stretch those legs! More info here.
  • Finally, we also mention several other options in the Lucerne area here, which should generally also be doable in a day trip from Zurich.

Practical note: this post uses the new 2020-2021 SBB timetable for public transport times.