Switzerland travel advice

Andrew Appleyard from our specialist operator Exodus has accompanied many small group walking vacations in the Swiss Alps:

Challenge and camping

“I would say that walking the Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, Chamonix to Zermatt, a classic haut route, is significantly beyond your introductory Mont Blanc circuit trip. It does require more ability in remote higher altitude areas and so it’s somewhere that you will find experienced trekkers, you’re likely to encounter snow in the further reaches even as early as late August and early September. It’s a challenging grade 5 route, but it takes you through a really quite stunning area. You do a lot of camping on this trip – most of it is done for you, but there is a participatory element to it too.”


“The Mont Blanc circuit is one of our most popular Switzerland walking vacations and for good reason. You do need high quality boots, with ankle support essential. Trails are well marked but loose terrain is not uncommon. I’ve seen people wearing trainers really struggle, especially on the descents. Having once sniffed at walking poles, I borrowed a pair and now I swear by them.”

Drinking water

“It’s incredibly clean up there in the Swiss Alps, so following the Leave No Trace principles is very important. There is a drive towards going plastic-free on vacation now which is a great thing, but you do need to be careful when it comes to refilling water bottles. I have seen people filling up with glacial melt water, and I’ve seen whole groups get ill from it. There are mineral particles in the water which can give you stomach upsets, and of course there are lots of animals up there in the alpine pastures too, doing their business in streams. So always fill up at taps in designated areas, rather than streams however tempting the water might look.”

Mont Blanc Circuit

“I’ve done the Mont Blanc circuit both clockwise and anti-clockwise, and always recommend the clockwise route as easier and more enjoyable with the undulations that way round from Chamonix.”
Bruno from our specialist operator Cyclomundo with some advice on cycling in Switzerland:


“Although Switzerland is indeed known for its mountainous geography, it is important to keep in mind that wherever there are mountains, there will also be valleys. Therefore, it is possible to find a great variety of terrains in Switzerland, which translates into many different tour options for riders of all levels. We can just as easily offer leisurely tours on flat ground for families with kids or challenging mountain tours for avid and experienced riders. Additionally, the infrastructure in Switzerland is such that it is almost always possible to hop on a train to avoid cycling through a tough section. E-bikes have also made it easier for cyclists who may want to tackle the highest peaks but are not confident in their fitness levels. Although our tour involves quite a bit of climbing (with a day over 1,000 meters of climbing), using public transportation, there are ways to avoid the toughest sections (the climb to Chatel-Saint-Denis from Vevey for instance).”

Responsible tourism

“There are spots in Switzerland where over-tourism has taken hold. One such example is the top of the Jungfrau, which Bollywood movies have turned into a must-see for travelers from Asia. Our tours, however, make the most of small, family-owned hotels to give travelers a more authentic Swiss experience away from the large crowds and tour buses. This helps the local economy and supports family businesses over big, often foreign-owned multinational chain hotels.”

Health & Safety in Switzerland

Responsible travelers are insured travelers – vacationing in the mountains brings with it certain risks of course, from slips and falls to avalanches in winter. You might think the risk is small, but the bill certainly won’t be if you need emergency hospital treatment and you don’t have some form of cover. Follow the Seven Principles of the Leave No Trace initiative to ensure that your impact on the natural environment is kept to a minimum. A key part of that is when trekking or mountain biking, always stick to the trail and, wherever possible, walk single file in the center of the track to prevent damage to often fragile habitats. Whether you’re skiing or hiking the Mont Blanc circuit, there is a risk of altitude sickness which most often occurs when you go too high, too fast, and can lead to dizziness, nausea and insomnia. If you’re feeling under the weather then slow things down to allow your body to acclimatise. Frostbite, and snow blindness, are other potential health hazards in Switzerland particularly during the winter season when temperatures in the Swiss Alps can fall as low as -12°C. Layer clothing, wear protective eyewear, and pay close attention to weather warnings if you’re heading into cold weather. Tempting as it might be to fill up your water bottle in a glacial mountain stream or waterfall, it can be a seriously bad idea. A combination of minerals that can cause stomach upsets, and animals going about their business, mean you’re much better off using a designated tap instead. Kudos for carrying a reusable bottle though – we like you.

Tips from our travelers in Switzerland

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Switzerland travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
The terrain for the walks is very very rough (rocks). You really must have proper mountain walking boots. My high class 'Hokka' trail running shoes were completely 'finished' after the week.
– Michael Cooke on a Mont Blanc walking vacation
“This is a fabulous sightseeing trip go enjoy. Suitable for all levels of cyclists. Great, energetic, peaceful, wonderful scenery. We covered a lot of miles but bikes were easy to ride. Hotels we stayed in were very good, comfortable and generally good food. Highly recommend this vacation.” – Marieanna Howard on a self-guided cycling vacation in Switzerland

Our top Switzerland Vacation

Switzerland activity vacation, tailor made

Switzerland activity vacation, tailor made

Mixture of activities through Switzerland's main attractions

From 2175 to2985 9 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Switzerland or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Noel Reynolds] [Andrew Appleyard advice: Dino Reichmuth] [Bruno advice: photosforyou] [Michael Cooke quote: Chris Holgersson]