Book with confidence for 2021
Views into Gsteig on the Via Alpina in Switzerland

Via Alpina West
Self-guided walking holiday

Key information Summer 2021

Start: Kandersteg in Switzerland
End: Montreux in Switzerland
Season dates: 18 July to 17 September 2021
Length: 5 days' walking
Typical walk: 22.5km, 1,085m ascent
Total distance: 112km or 70 miles
Highest altitude: 2,385m
Grade: Black 3 (Walking grades)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups

The Swiss Via Alpina is a stunning long-distance hike, crossing some of the most iconic regions of Switzerland as the trail winds its way along the length of the country from the medieval village of Sargans to the charming village of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Our Western section covers the 5 stages from Kandersteg to Montreux.

The route takes on the sweeping mountains from Kandersteg with a first rocky crossing over the dramatic Bunderchrinde Pass, and then turns more pastoral for stages characterised by flowering meadows and farms, finishing with a descent to the glittering Lake Geneva. The trek becomes more and more of a cross-country exercise as we continue West. 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 descending 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 day by day, 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. You’re welcome to start your walk on any date within our season.

If your group would like to hike with a guide, we can also arrange a privately guided trip along the Via Alpina for you. We welcome you to get in touch to ask for more details on this option.

Alternative trip options
Prefer a different length of trip? Why not try one of these:
Via Alpina: Bernese Oberland - 7 stages, 8 nights
Via Alpina Switzerland - 18 stages, 2 rest days, 21 nights
Via Alpina East - 6 stages, 7 nights
Make the Trip shorter
With the days on our normal Via Alpina West trip already being quite long, we don’t recommend shortening the trip by walking longer stages. Instead, we would suggest missing out the first tough day from Kandersteg to Adelboden. This keeps the grade of the trip to a red3, with all the cols being grassy passes with good paths. An ideal trip to give a flavour of the Swiss mountains whilst keeping the walking to an easier grade.

Make the Trip longer
For hikers with a little more time, we recommend splitting the last very long stage into 2. This gives a 19.5km day to Rochers de Nayes and a 11.5km day down to Montreux. There is no accommodation at Rochers de Nayes, so we take the cog railway to Montreux for 2 nights in this bustling town. For an even longer 7-stage trip, we split the stage from Lenk to Gsteig with a night in Lauenen. This gives quite a short day from Lauenen to Gsteig (8km with 420m ascent and 470m descent), so a further option is to take the bus down the valley to the slightly larger town of Gstaad and spend the night in this larger resort with plenty of shopping opportunities.

Rest Days
For added rest days on the Via Alpina West, we suggest taking the bus from Gsteig to Gstaad and spending a night in this excellent town. It’s a popular resort with comfy hotels, plenty of shops and bars, and lots going on!

Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and all arrangements taken care of. If your group would like a guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details.
Via Alpina Western Switzerland
18 July to 17 September 2021
Hutty Classic Comfy
4 stages
(5 nights)

Please ask
GBP 1,010
Singles 150
GBP 1,070
Singles 190
5 stages
(6 nights)
Please ask
GBP 1,090
Singles 180
Main Trip
GBP 1,160
Singles 220
6 stages
(7 nights)

Please ask
GBP 1,170
Singles 210
GBP 1,250
Singles 260
Private guided
5 stages
(6 nights)
Groups of 4 or more
Please ask
GBP 1,690
Singles 180
GBP 1,760
Singles 220
5 stages
(6 nights)
Groups of 1, 2 or 3
Please ask us
Baggage transfer
Please ask us

Where we stay
Our Via Alpina West route offers a comfy mix of accommodation with every night spent in a lovely hotel. We’ll book ensuite private rooms throughout, and hope you will enjoy the delicious breakfast awaiting you in the mornings.

As standard, the accommodation on the Via Alpina West is fairly comfy, and in the smaller towns we already use the best options available. If you are looking for a little more comfort, we can upgrade your hotels on 2 nights, in Kandersteg and Gsteig. In place of Gsteig, we would book a hotel in Gstaad, a short bus ride away from Gsteig. If you'd prefer to stay on the route, please do just let us know. In addition, we would upgrade your room type in Montreux.

We don't offer a specific Hutty option on the Via Alpina West, due to the limited options on the route and the general spacing of accommodation. However, please do contact us to discuss the minor ways in which we can tweak your trip to suit your preferred style, such as using simpler hotels.

Single Supplement
The single supplement covers the extra cost of booking single rooms in the hotels and auberges, compared with 2 people sharing a room.

Our approach to the Via Alpina West
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Kandersteg to Montreux, along the third week of the full 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 shorten descents by cable car. Our routecards explain the different possibilities; none are necessary to complete the route.

People at Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory's 2020 research on the Via Alpina was led by Nicky Mount in August

The Terrain
The 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 walking over loose scree and shale, on both approach and descent. The Via Alpina has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is considered a trek throughout.

Is it for me?
This hike will suit walkers who are used to long days in the hills and want to stay in comfy accommodation with private rooms. The hardest part of the route in terms of ascent and terrain is the crossing of the Bunderchrinde Pass on the first day. For clients looking for less of a challenge, a 5-stage trip missing the first stage and splitting the last stage in two, creates a great moderate trip with comfortable accommodation.

Our Via Alpina West is a walk, not containing any climbs or via ferrata routes. There is no glacier walking and no rock climbing. On the first day though, there are sections where the path crosses steep and rocky ground, and care is needed. These full mountain days call for self-reliance, particularly in wet weather and bad visibility

   For an even more detailed read, please see our Via Alpina Walking Guide
How to get there
Swiss Train Station
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.

  • Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
  • Breakfast every morning
  • Dinner at the auberges (on 1 night for our main trip)
  • Detailed Routecards VAS14-VAS18 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
  • The 2 topographical maps needed
  • Expert advice and local information
  • A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
  • Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
Not included
  • Travel to and from your trip
  • Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 18 nights on our main trip)
  • Baggage transfers (available as an extra)

Baggage transfer

We offer baggage transfers as an extra to all stops on our standard Via Alpina (baggage transfers aren’t available to the huts if this option is chosen). Due the high cost of transferring luggage by road and rail in Switzerland, we generally recommend that you carry everything you need for the trip on your back; there is not too much you need during your trek. We can also advise on more cost-effective ways of sending additional kit ahead to meet you on the rest days and at the end of your trip. If you would like more information about our baggage transfer service, please ask.

Booking form for the Via Alpina West

Your dates

Arrival day

First walking day

Departure day

Your party

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If you are adding to an existing booking, please give the main contact's details and just the new people. Thanks.

Number of people in your group

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Contact details

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Medical conditions relevant to a walking holiday?
(Please tell us in confidence. Thank you.)

Vegetarians, special diets or allergies?

Room types?

Baggage transfer

Baggage transfer?

Differences from the normal trip

Differences if any (extra nights, comfy or hutty mix, fewer rest days, etc.)?

Party's walking experience

Please may we ask for details of everyone's experience?
Especially helpful are names of trails, national parks, peaks or regular hikes. Thank you.

Main contact

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Please add any more people in the Comments box below. Thanks.

Emergency contact

Please tell us about a friend or relative who we can contact in the event of emergency during your holiday.


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Optionally, to help us

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If a friend recommended us may we ask who it was? We might send a thank you!

Check and submit

We will reply to your booking form with a confirmation email giving the details of your balance and deposit amounts.
We'll send you instructions to pay your deposit by card, bank transfer, or cheque.
Your deposit will be 20% of the cost of your trip with a minimum of GBP 200 per person.
Your balance is due 8 weeks before your trip and we'll email you with a reminder.

Terms and Conditions
By submitting this form you confirm that you have read and agreed to Alpine Exploratory's Terms and Conditions (PDF).
In particular, as the main contact you confirm that:
+ Everyone in the group has read and agreed to the T&Cs.
+ Everyone in the group has the fitness and experience for the trip.
Please ask us if you have any questions. Thank you.

Got questions about the Via Alpina West?
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about any aspects of your planning and preparations! Lucy, Hannah, Steph, Hannah, or Nicky will reply with expert advice. We spend a lot of time walking our routes and more broadly exploring ski and hiking trails around the world so do feel free to ask anything at all.

Via Alpina West enquiry form

Your name

Your email address

Optionally, where did you first hear about us? We're always curious!

Your intended arrival date on the Via Alpina West? (This helps us give you an idea of availability and doesn't need to be exact)

How many people will you be?

Any questions or preferences?

If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!

Contact Alpine Exploratory
Phone +44 (0)131 214 1144
Our times 9am to 5pm UK time
Monday to Friday
Australia 02 8319 2266
Canada 416-548-4819
Hong Kong 25 803 0282
New Zealand 04 889 4515
USA 646-757-1102

Open to the world
Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.

Views from Adelboden on the Via Alpina
  Crossing a River above Adelboden    Photos from the Swiss Via Alpina

Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.

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