Last updated on 08 August 2018
If you don’t have a car in Switzerland, you can still easily access lots of amazing hikes with public transportation, which is punctual, reliable, clean, and well connected. However it can be expensive, take much longer than driving, and stressful if you have lots of connections with short transfer times.
So I’ve put together a list of hikes that are easy to reach by public transportation from the Zurich main station and listed the estimated costs to help plan your trip.
See also our Tips for making Swiss hiking more affordable
First, what does “easy by train” mean?
No one likes running to catch a connecting train, especially with kids, or loading and unloading a stroller multiple times in one trip. So I’ve picked locations with:
- minimal connections, ideally no more than one
- easy connections, i.e. transfer on same track or bus just outside train station
- minimal walking distance from the public transportation to the mountain transport or trail head.
- ideally less than 2 hours travel time to mountain transport
Make sure to double check the bus schedules, since many local buses run very infrequently, like once an hour or only a couple times a day.
** All fares quoted below are samples based on 2017 prices, for one adult round trip from Zurich HB with the SBB Half-fare discount. It does not include local Zurich city travel. Fares may change.
** Since this post includes info tables, it looks best on a larger screen, not so great on phones.
Hikes easy by train, no extra costs
These are not the most exciting hikes on my list, but they are very easy to reach, with only one connection, usually from a train to a local bus. These hikes do not require mountain transport, so no extra costs. The connections are based on the simplest route, though other routes may exist.
|Kusnacht Ravine||1 train||20mins||8.80||7 km one way|
|Sihlwald||1 train||20mins||8.80||2 km loop theme trail|
|Horgen Ravine||1 train, 1 bus||20mins||8.40||2.8 km one way|
|Devil’s Gorge||1 train, 1 bus||1hr5||34.40||4.2 km one way|
|Zugerberg||1 train, 1 bus||45mins||17.40||2.8 km loop theme trail|
|Caumasee||1 train, 1 bus||2hr||55.20||10 min to lake or
7 km round trip to gorge
Hikes easy to reach + mountain transport
These hikes are more exciting, but they also require mountain transport to reach the trails (except Walensee, which requires a ferry). So the quoted travel time and costs only get you to the valley station and do not include the cable car or funicular at your destination.
|Mount Rigi||1 train||40mins||21.80||viewpoint + 9 km panorama trail|
|Walensee||1 train, 1 bus||1hr||27.80||4 km round trip|
|Flumserberg||1 train||1hr||32.60||3.2 km theme trail|
|Sattel Hochstuckli||1 train||1hr10||27.00||bouncy castles and hikes|
|Stoos||1 train, 1 bus||1hr15||29.20||2 km panorama trail|
|Pizol||1 train, 1 bus||1hr10||37.60||4.1 km loop theme trail or 10k lake hike|
|Pilatus||1 train, 1 bus||1hr20||38.40||Panorama walk at top|
|Braunwald||1 train||1hr30||27.80||3.5 to 7.6 km theme trail|
|Toggenburg||1 train, 1 bus||1hr50||50.20||6 km theme trail or 3 km panorama loop|
Farther away & slightly more effort
Hikes in this list take more effort to reach, most with 2 connections and longer travel times, around 2 to 2.5 hours. My kids usually don’t mind such long train trips, but with smaller children you’ll need to consider how you’ll entertain them during the ride. Look for trains with the family car, which includes a small playground for children.
|Destination||Connections &||Travel Time||Price*||Hike Info|
|Hoch Ybrig||2 trains, 1 bus||1hr30||29.20||Panorama trail|
|Elm||2 trains, 1 bus||1hr50||27.80||2.6 km theme trail|
|Engelberg||2 trains, 1 bus||2hr||38.00||Globi trail + barefoot path
Trübsee lake walk
|Ebenalp||2 trains||2hr05||40.00||15 min to viewpoint or
7.5 km hike to lake and down
|Niederhorn||1 train, 1 bus||2hr00||70.00||7.2 km panorama ridge hike|
|Bannalp||2 trains, 1 bus||2hr05||35.60||2.5 km dwarf theme trail|
|Oeschinensee||2 trains||2hr20||75.00||4 km round trip to lake|
|Lenzerheide||1 train, 1 bus||2hr25||52.40||4 km Foxolino trail|
|Hasliberg||2 trains, 1 bus||2hr30||47.20||4 km dwarf theme trail|
This list show the famous destinations and regions that you will want to visit and what sort of travel time and connections you will face. I’ve quoted the times to a central point in each region. You’ll have more travel time to reach your final destination. Good luck!
Cost: Most of these are so far from Zurich, that it’s most affordable to get a SBB Day Pass (aka Tageskarte) which is CHF 75, but only if you have a SBB Half-fare card. This entitles you to unlimited travel all over Switzerland for one day.
|Zermatt Area||2 trains||3hr15 to Zermatt|
|Valais Region||1 train||2hr20 to Brig|
|Jungfrau Region||3 trains||2hr30 to Lauterbrunnen|
|Ticino||1-2 train||2hr20 to Locarno or Lugano|
|Engadin||2 trains||3hr20 to St. Moritz|
|Western Switzerland||1-2 trains||1hr30 to Fribourg/Neuchâtel
2hr50 to Geneva
Know of any other hikes that are easy to reach by public transportation? Leave a comment and help us out.
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