One-third of Switzerland is covered by mountains, including 48 peaks that are 4,000 meters (12,123 ft) or higher — a European record. All of this elevation makes the small Alpine country a dream destination for nature lovers and thrill-seekers. With spectacular views and ample opportunities for outdoor sports, mountains in Switzerland represent a major tourist attraction (even if they make driving a rather harrowing experience). With so many choices, there’s a majestic peak for everyone to enjoy. To help you find the one best suited to your taste, we’ve selected seven of the best mountains in Switzerland.
Set in the Bernese Alps in the canton of Berne, the Eiger doesn’t only owe its fame to The Eiger Sanction, the film that Clint Eastwood shot there in the 1970s. It’s also a fearsome peak with gorgeous scenery.
Considered among the most dangerous climbs in the world, the Eiger’s north face is a near-vertical wall of rock and ice reaching 1,800 meters (5,900 feet) in height. Called Nordwand (North wall) in German, it has garnered the unfortunate nickname of Mordwand (“death wall”) thanks to the perilous climbing challenge it presents.
Unless you’re a professional climber, you’d be better off taking an easier hiking path and enjoying the stunning views along the way. You can also take a guided glacier tour to get an up-close view of the unique features of the place, which include crevasses, glacial caves and tunnels.
At 4,158 meters (13,642 feet), the Jungfrau is one of the tallest Swiss mountains and one of the most popular. Like the Eiger, it sits in the Bernese Alps. In winter, its extensive, snow-covered slopes make it one of the best mountains for skiing in Switzerland.
But the Jungfrau is worth visiting in any season. Throughout the year, you can take the cogwheel train to reach the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe at 3,454 meters (11,332 feet). You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, pretty villages and mountain lakes. On a clear day, you can even see Italy on one side!
Sitting in the Pennine Alps on the border with Italy, the Matterhorn offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. On a clear day, you may even see Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in Europe.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take the highest cable car in the world to get to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, where you can enjoy the panorama from the Klein Matterhorn viewing platform and ski throughout the year. The Matterhorn itself is also worth a look: Its distinctive pyramidal shape makes it the most photographed mountain in Europe.
4. Monte Rosa
At 4,634 meters (15,203 feet), Monte Rosa is the highest peak in Switzerland. Situated in the canton of Valais, the mountain boasts a mix of impressively tall peaks and glaciers. You may enjoy them during a picturesque hike along one of the mountain’s many trails. You can go by yourself or join a guided walk or climb (available at different levels of difficulty) to get an even better appreciation of the landscapes around you.
5. Piz Bernina
At an altitude exceeding 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), Piz Bernina is the highest mountain in the Eastern Alps. So, it’s hardly a surprise that it has been nicknamed the “Mount Everest of the Engadin.” Hikers and climbers flock here to challenge themselves with the difficult climb. But it’s all worth the effort: Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the surrounding landscape of glaciers and peaks.
There are many reasons why the locals call Mount Rigi the “Queen of the Mountains.” With 13 peaks close by and two lakes — Lake Lucerne and Lake Zug — at its feet, it offers breathtaking views, especially at sunrise and sunset. Situated in the middle of the country near the Swiss cities of Zurich and Luzern, Rigi can be explored on foot via 120 kilometers of trail or on the cogwheel train that takes you to the top of the mountain.
7. San Salvatore
If you don’t know what to do during a bank holiday in Switzerland, then Mount San Salvatore is a great destination for a picturesque day trip. At only 912 meters (2,992 feet), it’s definitely not the highest peak in Switzerland. Still, its envious position overlooking the city of Lugano and its lake, with Italy on the other side, makes for spectacular views. Even if you’re not an avid hiker, you’ll enjoy the well-maintained and easy trails, such as Via Ferrata. Alternatively, you can take a cable car to reach the top.
When it comes to Swiss mountains, the only way is up
Switzerland may be a small country, but it certainly doesn’t lack mountains. And every Swiss mountain has its own unique shape, scenery and outdoor activities. Our list of seven of the best mountains in Switzerland gives you an inkling of what you can find and enjoy, depending on your interest and your physical ability.