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(Via Alpina: Western Switzerland) Chalets above the village of Lauenen
VIA ALPINA: WESTERN SWITZERLAND (SELF-GUIDED)   5 stages . 6 nights . Swiss Alps   Booking

Via Alpina: Western Switzerland (Alpine Pass Route West)
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ One rocky col and many grassy cols
+ Walk from German-speaking to French-speaking Switzerland
+ Good hotels booked for you

The Via Alpina (formerly the Alpine Pass Route) is our big cross-Switzerland trek, East to West from Sargans to Montreux. In this Western section we take 5 days from Kandersteg to Montreux, with many options for taking longer.

The West week of the Via Alpina is characterised by meadows and farms; after the crossing of the pass to Adelboden, the remaining cols are lower and lack the rocky terrain. The trek becomes more and more of a cross-country exercise. Our last day - which can be broken into two - starts with a long walk to the Rochers de Nayes above Montreux, then finishes with a fabulous path in descent. Drop down final steps to the town itself.

On this self-guided holiday, make your own pace and walk in your own group - or solo. It is satisfying to piece together the trek, finding your accommodation each night in a new village, or in the case of Col des Mosses at a road pass with scattered houses and chalets. End in Montreux, the biggest contrast of all, on the shore of Lac Leman.

We book your good mix of Swiss hotels and an auberge. We break off the trail to visit Gstaad, by a regular Swiss post bus. Hotels and restaurants line the pedestrianised street.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Via Alpina: Western Switzerland self-guided walking holiday


Alpine Exploratory
VAWsg Via Alpina: Western Switzerland (Self-guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

Please ask
Singles 180
Main VAW
Singles 240
6 stages
(7 nights)

Please ask
Singles 210
Singles 280
6 stages
1 rest day
(8 nights)
Please ask
Singles 240
Singles 320
Specialised schedules
4 stages
(5 nights)

Please ask
Singles 150
Singles 200
Baggage transfer
All stops except huts
Please ask
Baggage transfer


Here is our normal schedule of 5 stages.

Arrival day: Arrival in Kandersteg
Your trip begins on arrival in Kandersteg, a village with an outdoors focus on the Spiez to Brig train line. Mountains line both sides of this deep valley. Enjoy a first dinner tonight.
Hotel in Kandersteg

Stage 1: Kandersteg to Adelboden
Black3 grade, 16.5km with 1355m ascent, 1185m descent
The rocky pass of the Bunderchrinde (2,385m) is a first challange and involves consistent uphill through woods and cow meadows. The pass is a notch in the rock, framing the onward view to Adelboden. The initial descent path is rocky and loose; lower down, the descent is fine and becomes gently pastoral. Adelboden is one of the most pleasant of Via Alpina resorts.
Hotel in Adelboden

Stage 2: Adelboden to Lenk
Red3 grade, 19.5km with 950m ascent, 1230m descent
Choose from two routes today, both crossing the mountains at the grassy Hahnenmoospass. We suggest the ascent to the Sillerenb�hl and descent via the Simmef�lle, a long stepped waterfall in woods. This is a gentler day than those before or after. Lenk is another charming small resort.
Hotel in Lenk

Stage 3: Lenk to Gsteig
Red3 grade, 23km with 1420m ascent, 1310m descent
We cross two passes today, the grassy Tr�tlisbergpass and the wooded Chrine. After the first pass is the village of Lauenen and at the end is the hamlet of Gsteig. At both places we can take the regular bus to Gstaad for its lively resort atmosphere and good hotels. (Staying in Gsteig is a decent option too.)
Hotel in Gstaad

Stage 4: Gsteig to Col des Mosses
Red3 grade, 24.5km with 1320m ascent, 1040m descent
A steep ascent through meadows to the Blattipass and a long pastoral traverse to the Col des And�rets (2,030m) takes us into French-speaking Switzerland. This is an intriguingly cross-country day with some challenge. Above Les Diablerets we traverse several meadows, turn the corner of the hillside and come to the road at Col des Mosses.
Hotel at Col des Mosses

Stage 5: Col des Mosses to Montreux
Red3 grade, 32.5km with 960m ascent, 2065m descent
Our long last stage goes cross-country to the Rochers de Nayes, a peak high above Montreux. From this last high point the descent is long, but the middle section of path is a delight, twisting and surprising in its views. Arriving in Montreux is likely to be a sudden change, despite the charm of the old town. The lake-front and the Avenue des Alpes are quite busy. We hope that the holiday atmosphere and the charm of Lac Leman make an exciting finish. (The stage can be shortened by using the mountain railway from the Rochers de Nayes down to Montreux, or taking it from a station lower down.)
Hotel in Montreux

Departure day: Departure from Montreux
After a last breakfast we depart from Montreux, in what will feel like a very different environment to most of the trek. The paddle steamers on Lac Leman are a fine way to reach Lausanne or Geneva, blue water and hills above. The train speeds to both and to Geneva Airport, or by a pastoral route to Bern and Basel. We love to advise on Swiss travel.

Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.

Baggage transfer

Let us move your bags between stops. Please contact us for a price.


The Via Alpina: Western Switzerland allows a few variations, as follows.

Take 6 stages
The last day is long, into Montreux. Taking a 6th day lets us split this in two, using the mountain railway to the Rochers de Nayes. (This is a fine excursion in its own right.) A seventh day is not a bad idea too, in order to split the long stages between Lenk and Col des Mosses into 3 days. We stay at Gstaad, where buses join the Via Alpina at Lauenen and Gsteig.

Rest days
Break at Lauenen or Gsteig for the bus to Gstaad, a fine little town in a curve of the railway.

Miss the first stage
By joining at Adelboden instead of Kandersteg, miss the first stage which includes a rocky col. This would keep the whole route at a lower grade, with grassy passes only.

The route

Our approach to the Via Alpina: Western Switzerland
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Kandersteg to Montreux, along the third week of the Via Alpina. On the trek itself, no transport is taken except for any that you would like to add in, to skip certain sections of valley walking or to descend by cable car. The routecards explain these places; none are necessary to complete the route.

The Via Alpina�s terrain comprises the full range of Alpine walking, a typical day starting with wide tracks through forests, tarmac country lanes, then up to zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. The highest col, the Bunderchrinde (2,385m), involves loose paths over scree and shale, on both approach and descent. The Via Alpina has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is a trek throughout.

How to get there

Your holiday starts in the valley village of Kandersteg and ends on the shore of Lac Leman at Montreux. Zurich and Basel (for Kandersteg) and Geneva (for Montreux) are the most convenient airports, with good trains.

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Via Alpina: Western Switzerland
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: VAWsg
Route: The Via Alpina (Walking guide)
(Prefer a Guided trek or the full VAS?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 5 days' trekking
Start: Kandersteg in Switzerland
End: Montreux in Switzerland
Typical walk: 22.5km, 1,085m ascent
Total distance: 112km or 70 miles
Highest altitude: 2,385m
Grade: Black3 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2020

5 stages, per person:

VAWsg Classic
GBP 1,080 (singles 180)
Via Alpina: Western Switzerland (self-guided)

Research Summer 2020

Steph Ward at Alpine ExploratoryAllan Gibbs at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Via Alpina was led by:
Allan Gibbs in July
Steph Ward in July

Recces 2020

Lac Leman in view at last!
Lac Leman in view (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

6 nights, staying in:
3- and 4-star hotels (5)
Auberges (1)

Accommodation and itinerary
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards VAS14-18 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
19 July to 18 September 2020
18 July to 17 September 2021
Trek on your ideal dates

The Bunderchrinde, to Adelboden
The Bunderchrinde on route to Adelboden

The Via Alpina in the Alps

Map of the Via Alpina within the Alps

Our city information included in your info pack:
Geneva, Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Zurich

City breaks after trekking

Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our background page on the
    Via Alpina

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