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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Switzerland > From the Eiger to the Matterhorn

From the Eiger to the Matterhorn

Iconic peaks of the Bernese Oberland & Valais

Though ‘just’ 90 kilometres as the crow flies, it’s many more on foot, with substantial ascents and descents, so where possible days start and/or end with a cable car, bus or train ride. Some of these are included; for those which are not, we provide a half-fare card so that you can benefit from discounted tickets on most journeys. The distances given for each day are the walking distances, and do not include sections on public transport.

Starting point

Although your holiday ends near the Italian border, you start in the very heart of Switzerland, with two nights in Meiringen at the Hotel Victoria.

Day 1
Circular walk via the Reichenbach Falls: 13km, 3hrs; ascent 450m / descent 450m

As a warm-up for the thrilling challenge ahead, walk through the atmospheric, 200-metre-deep Aare Gorge, returning via the Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame.

Day 2
Meiringen to Grindelwald: 16km, 5.5hrs; ascent 1000m / descent 750m

To reach Grindelwald, you catch a bus (included) and then ascend through meadows, with the option of detouring into a gorge, which is very different to the Aare Gorge and offers a good insight into the scenery you will explore over the coming days. Your path continues upwards to the Grosse Scheidegg pass (1,962 metres), where you are greeted with vistas of the Eiger in all its splendour. These evolve as you descend gradually to the gondola station, where you hop aboard for the ride down to Grindelwald and the Hotel Kreuz & Post.

Day 3
Grindelwald to Wengen: 18km, 6hrs; ascent 1000m / descent 1400m

Having already been ‘introduced’ to the Eiger yesterday, you get properly acquainted on today’s walk – after you alight from the nostalgic cog railway at Alpiglen (included), the Eiger Trail takes you right under the sheer North Face, where you may see climbers high above you. If that were not enough, there are views of glaciers to admire, and two other famous peaks – the Mönch and Jungfrau – to pass beneath, before descending through moraine, meadows and forest to beautiful Wengen, where you spend two nights at the Hotel Alpenrose on the edge of the village.

Day 4
Linear walk from Männlichen: 12km, 3hrs; ascent 150m / descent 1050m

To make the most of Wengen’s spectacular surroundings, we suggest that you take the cable car to Männlichen, a superb vantage point from which to admire the soaring peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. From here, panoramic paths lead across the high slopes and through pastures back to Wengen.

Day 5
Wengen to Mürren via Grütschalp (recommended route): 9.5km, 3.5hrs; ascent 450m / descent 850m

Today’s route starts by winding downhill from Wengen through forest, past viewpoints of waterfalls, to reach the valley floor at Lauterbrunnen. From here, you ascend by gondola to Grütschalp to pick up the aptly named Mountain View Trail, which offers yet more vistas of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Alternatively you can make the substantial ascent on foot to Grütschalp via the Staubbach Falls, before continuing to Mürren and your hotel for the night, the Hotel Bellevue.

Day 6
Mürren to Griesalp (high-level route): 16km, 5hrs; ascent 1100m / descent 1250m
Mürren to Griesalp (low-level route): 13.5km, 4.5hrs; ascent 970m / descent 260m

This is the most challenging walk of the holiday so far, but is rewarded by spectacular views of the north faces of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Your target for the first leg is the Sefinenfurke Pass, which means a long ascent, gentle at first but then steeper as you ascend to an altitude of 2,612 metres. Linger at the pass to drink in the panorama before the long descent through an unspoiled valley to the settlement of Griesalp and the Berggasthaus Golderli. For a lower level option, take trains and a cable car from Mürren to Reichenbach (pay locally) and walk through the Kiental Valley, past a number of waterfalls, to Griesalp. However you arrive, you will need to carry an overnight bag with you.

Day 7
Griesalp to Kandersteg via Hohtürli Pass: 16km, 7hrs; ascent 1400m / descent 1600m
Griesalp to Kandersteg via Reichenbach (low-level route): 18km, 6.5hrs; ascent 780m / descent 1400m

To reach the Hohtürli Pass – which at 2,778 metres is even higher than the pass you walked over yesterday – you have another long, and at times steep, ascent, although the extensive panoramas which open up before you more than compensate for the effort! The ensuing descent takes you close to the Blüemlisalp Glacier, past remote farmhouses surrounded by huge boulders, and finally above the turquoise blue waters of Oeschinensee, set in an amphitheatre of mountains. Alternatively, follow the Höhenweg (high path), keeping a high contour along the Kiental Valley before descending into Reichenbach, from where you catch the train (pay locally). Whichever you take, your destination is Kandersteg, where you spend two nights at the Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria.

Day 8
Circular walk via Uschene Valley: 10km, 3.5hrs; ascent 100m / descent 650m; longer option 15.5km, 5hrs; ascent 550m / descent 1200m
Linear walk along Gastern Valley: 22km, 6.5hrs; ascent/descent 700m; or 11km, 5hrs; ascent/descent 900m

Although you may like to enjoy a rest and make the most of the hotel’s indoor pool, we do suggest a couple of possible walks for your day in Kandersteg. One option is to explore the pretty Uschene Valley, but we highly recommend exploring the tranquil and secluded Gastern Valley. Now a nature reserve, it is renowned as the  glacial valley in the Bernese Oberland. There are two ways to enjoy it: either take a bus to the entrance of the spectacular Kander Gorge and from here walk to the far reaches of the valley, passing several waterfalls, or take a bus all the way to Selden and follow the path that winds steeply uphill to the blue ice of the Kanderfirn Glacier.  

Day 9
Kandersteg to Leukerbad: 16km, 5hrs; ascent 680m / descent 1170m

Setting off from Kandersteg, you take the bus and cable car to Sunnbüel and from here ascend towards the Gemmi Pass (2,270 metres) via the Schwarenbach Hotel where Sherlock Holmes ‘stayed’ on his way to meet Moriarty. The pass has been an important trading route since Roman times, and marks the border between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. An impressive path zigzags down the mountainside to the spa town of Leukerbad or, to give you time to make the most of the thermal baths, you could take the cable car (included). Your base in Leukerbad is the Parkhotel Quellenhof.

Day 10
Leukerbad to Salgesch: 13.5km, 4hrs; ascent 400m / descent 1200m

Today you leave the heights of the Bernese Oberland for the vineyards of the Rhône Valley. As you leave Leukerbad, you climb through dramatic cliffs before gradually descending to Salgesch and the Hotel Arkanum.

Day 11
Salgesch to Gruben: 15km, 5hrs; ascent 1250m / descent 800m

Today’s walk starts with a short train ride (included) eastwards along the Rhône Valley to connect with the cable car from the picturesque village of Turtmann up into the mountains which lie to the south. You rise through forest then traverse the rock-strewn western slopes of the remote Turtmann Valley, one of the least developed valleys of the Pennine Alps, to reach the historic Hotel Schwarzhorn near Gruben. Given its isolated location, you’ll need to bring an overnight bag with you.

Day 12
Gruben to Zermatt: 17km, 7hrs; ascent 1120m / descent 1840m
Shorter option using cable car: 13km, 5hrs; ascent 1120m / descent 1100m

With Italy not far away, this demanding but thoroughly exhilarating route takes you to the highest point yet: the Augstbord Pass at 2,893 metres. As you descend, views open over the Mischabel massif of 4,000-metre peaks and glaciers, including the mighty Dom – the third-highest mountain in the Alps. You pass through a small hamlet perched high above the Matter Valley, from where you can either descend on foot or by cable car to the village of St Niklaus to catch the train (included) for the final leg up the valley to Zermatt. The vistas throughout the day have been superb, but the best is saved until last: as you make your way to the elegant Hotel la Ginabelle, you finally get to see the Matterhorn.

Day 13
Circular walk via lakes: 16.5km, 5hrs; ascent 575m /descent 1140m
Circular walk via Trockener Steg: 17.5km, 5hrs; ascent 370m /descent 1700m

Having spent the last few days anticipating your arrival in the walker’s paradise of Zermatt, it’s only right that you have a final day of walking here on the slopes surrounding the iconic Matterhorn.

The first option starts with a classic cog railway ride to Riffelalp, and explores the lakes to the east of Zermatt below the Findel Glacier. The area is criss-crossed with an extensive network of paths and tracks, and home to some of the best mountain restaurants that Zermatt has to offer. There is also the quintessential 'lake-and-Matterhorn' not-to-be missed view from Stellisee.

The second option takes you within touching distance of the glaciers which sweep down from the border with Italy. After a gondola ride to Trockener Steg at nearly 3,000 metres, you cross a stark landscape dotted with glacial lakes and dominated by the classic Matterhorn east-face view, which looms ever larger as you come within one kilometre of this iconic mountain – a fitting finale to your adventure.

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 Grade 3 Walk
Local Map
 Walking Chart
Walking Chart:From the Eiger to the Matterhorn This is an approximation only. If comparing holidays, please note the scale of the chart as this can differ.
Shorter options
If this holiday appeals but you can only spare a week away at a time, you can do it in two parts: The High Route followed by High Passes of the Valais.