Switzerland has amazing fall colors if you know when and where to look. In October, many forests are full of beautiful changing leaves, bursting in harvest colors. But above the tree line, the Swiss mountains have their own autumn splendor, with bright red blueberry bushes, long yellow grass waving in the wind, and boulders speckled with green lichen. Typically the colors are the best the middle of October, but it can vary and early snow can make some areas inaccessible. So be flexible.
Here are a few of our favorite places near Zurich to enjoy the fall colors with our family, both in the forests and the mountains. These places are great for hiking, but also good for a picnic with a view.
Uetliberg & Felsenegg
You don’t have to go far to see brilliant fall colors. The hills surrounding Zurich have just the right kind of trees if you catch them at their peak. The trees on the Panorama trail near Felsenegg often put on a big show right during the school fall break. Read more >>>
This small forested valley near Zurich is packed with pretty trees turning all sorts of colors. There are many fire pits along the river, a great place for a picnic. It’s easy walking for families and the main trail is suitable for strollers. Read more >>>
Many trees along this lake turn brilliant colors, contrasting beautifully against the evergreens. We love just having a fall picnic and bonfire on the lake shore, but the 6 km hike along the south of the lake is really nice too. Read more >>>
This was the first place I saw fall colors in Switzerland and I was so excited to finally experience a real autumn, since I grew up in San Diego where we don’t have seasons. With clear skies, this hike has nice views of the surrounding countryside. But even in fog, as we had it, the colorful trees were pretty enough to make the hike worth it. This area has a short theme trail for children or longer hikes along the ridges. There’s also a big playground, alpine slide and ropes course. Read more >>>
These fall colors were quite unique because the colorful trees were scattered all over the cliffs above the hike, as well as in the forests we hiked through. You could do the long hike, or simply ride the ferry around the lake and enjoy the colors from a distance. Read more >>>
Here you get both mountain views and fall colors. Many of the changing trees were in the valley before we rode up to the car-free village of Braunwald. But the mountain trail also had forested sections with lots of yellow. Read more >>>
Jungfrau Region: Mürren
One year we took family visitors to Mürren in the Jungfrau Region in the last week of September. We were delighted to see so many of the trees changing colors even at this high elevation. I wouldn’t say this is a sure thing, but the spectacular views are worth it even if the fall colors aren’t at their peak. Read more >>>
Fall colors above the tree line
Above the tree line, the fall colors are still on display, just in a different way. In late September, the classic green alps of Switzerland also turn red, orange and yellow, giving these dramatic landscapes an entirely different look and feel. Here are a few of my favorite fall hikes at higher elevations.
I also recommend trying one your summer favorites in a different season or marking a new one off your list now instead of waiting until next summer. Of course, the weather will dictate where you hike during this season and make sure to check for snow covering the trails before heading out.
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