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Switzerland up close: A journey filled with panoramic views

23 August 2023

I found many inspiring TikToks and travel stories and decided that Switzerland would be the destination for my next hiking trip. After some research, I finally landed on Lauterbrunnen, Mount Rigi and Mount Stoos. I longed for majestic mountain peaks and beautiful scenery, curious to personally experience all the awesomeness on TikTok and see if it lived up to expectations.

Preparing for your Swiss adventure

Once our destination was set, packing clothes suitable for the changing weather became a priority. The weather in Switzerland is fickle – it can be bright sunshine one second and a heavy thunderstorm the next. Therefore, it’s wise to prepare for all kinds of situations. To keep up to date with weather conditions in Switzerland, I downloaded Meteoswiss, the local weather app, or visited their website, which was user-friendly and easy to navigate.

For smooth travel, I recommend getting a rail pass, either Interrail, which covers parts of Europe including parts of Switzerland, or a Swiss Travel Pass, which gives unlimited train travel within Switzerland. These cards can be easily purchased through their official website. Although the train passes can be expensive, it was worth every penny to explore Switzerland unlimitedly by train. In addition, some mountain tours are included in the Swiss Travel Pass. Otherwise, going up to the mountains may be an additional cost.

Another crucial factor to consider is that Switzerland is known for its high cost of living. Prepare to spend at least €30-50 per person for a meal. A valuable tip is to have cash on hand when visiting the mountain areas, as card payment coverage can be poor or non-existent.

Step by step through Switzerland: Highlights of the trip

The start of the adventure: A train journey to Lauterbrunnen and our first hike

On the first day, we travelled by train to Lauterbrunnen, and our journey began at Luzern Bahnhof (train station), where we boarded a panoramic train bound for Interlaken. To avoid crowding, book a seat in advance. For the first hour of the three-hour journey, we had to stand or sit on the stairs waiting for seats to become available. After changing trains in Interlaken, we continued to Lauterbrunnen, where the first hike of our trip would start.

We had previously downloaded the AllTrails app, but the signage was so good that we barely needed it. However, the app helped us get an overview of the route, so we did not miss anything interesting.

Our hike covered an 8.2 km loop from Lauterbrunnen to Staubbachfall and Trümmelbachfälle, then back to the starting point – a stretch that took about three hours. The loop offered outstanding views and scenery. It was not particularly challenging and can be highly recommended for beginners. However, getting to Staubbachfall can be challenging with its steep uphill slopes. However, the reward at the waterfall is worth the effort as you can admire it up close.

A tip is to drink the cooling mountain water at the fountain below Staubbachfall. In Switzerland, you don't have to worry about water. There are drinkable fountains and taps almost everywhere. And I must say that the water in the Lauterbrunnen was very refreshing!

The panoramic train was a real highlight, and we could hardly stop looking out the window or taking photographs. During the train journey, we also decided to return to one of the towns the train passed through – Brienz. It was a wonderfully charming town with bathing spots within walking distance of the train station. After our hike, we cooled off in the lake and even took the opportunity to take a dip in the cold glacier water.

Discovery of Mount Rigi - The Queen's Mountain in Switzerland

On the second day, we headed to Mount Rigi, often called the "Queen Mountain" in Switzerland. To reach the top of the mountain, you can take three different routes: a cog railway from either Vitznau or Arth-Goldau or the cable car from Weggis. We chose to take the train to Arth-Goldau and then the cog railway up to Rigi Kulm, which is 1,798 meters above sea level.

Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side when we reached the top – the clouds covered the landscape in all directions. We decided to skip our original plan of hiking the Rigi Panorama Trail, a beautiful trail that offers glimpses of Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauzer, since the visibility was limited due to cloud and fog. Instead, we chose to hike downhill from Rigi Kulm's highest point to Rigi Kaltbad. The downward walk was about 7.4 kilometres long and took about two hours.

Although the weather was hazy and cloudy, we were never alone. There were people around us and even some cows on the road. A charming detail was the bells that rang from the cows around us.

At Rigi Kaltbad, there were spas and restaurants where we could relax before deciding whether to continue the hike down or take the cable car. We chose to ride the cable car down after a short tour of the area, as we wanted to catch the boat ride back to Lucerne. The boat ticket was included in our Swiss Travel Pass, and it was an excellent opportunity to see Switzerland from a different angle.

Another mountain adventure - experiences at Stoos

On the third day, we set course for yet another impressive Swiss mountain. This time, we took the train to Mount Stoos, and ventured on the steepest funicular railway in the world. The experience was incredible and really tickled my stomach. Stoos is famous for its ridge trail, consisting of narrow, steep paths and stairs. To start the hike, you can either hike up or take the cable car to the top (for a fee). We started our hike from the top of Klingenstock (1,935 meters above sea level) and followed the path to Fronalpstock (1,921 meters above sea level).

According to the AllTrails app, the trail was considered difficult, and I agree to some extent. Before you set off, ensure you've visited the toilet, filled your water bottles and packed a proper lunch bag. The paths are steep and narrow, with few places to sit down. If you find a seat, take the opportunity to rest for a while. At the beginning of the hike, it was again hazy and cloudy, but the further we went, the more the clouds started to move, and we got a fantastic view of the lake.

When the weather cleared, we could enjoy the panoramic view throughout the rest of the hike. However, it is important to be careful and alert when tackling this trail. It consists of steep, rocky passages edged by stones, rocks and wooden planks. In some places, there are no railings or handholds to hold on to, so I would not recommend this hike for those with ankle or knee problems.

I was surprised at how short the trail was with the time it took to complete it. The distance is 4.4 km and takes about two hours to complete (if you are fast). However, you should be aware that the climbs both up and down are steep. For us, it took slightly longer, around 3.5 hours, including all photo stops and breaks to drink or eat.

I strongly recommend you start your hike from Klingenstock for the best views, whether you hike or take the cable car up. We met many hikers from the Fronalpstock area, probably because it is more child-friendly than Klingenstock, sporting a playground and several restaurants. But also, if you hike from Fronpalstock, you will always have the lake view behind you, and you don't want to miss that!

An unforgettable trip and new adventures in Switzerland

My trip through Switzerland was an unbeatable experience I will carry with me. It was my second hiking trip so far, and I'm just getting more and more fond of this type of adventure. If I had to choose the best memory from the trip, it would be the day at Stoos and the hike from Klingenstock to Fronalpstock – an experience that will be hard to erase from memory. Switzerland really impressed me, and I am sure I will return to explore other parts and regions.

The local guides advised us to plan a return trip during the winter season, especially between January and March, for the best winter experience. If I were to return during the summer, I would choose the months of May or June since July can be a month with variable weather (which we experienced ourselves). Switzerland has so much to offer all year round, and I look forward to exploring new aspects of the country on my next trip.

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