Follow legendary tracks over the Gotthard Pass as you hike from the north to the south of Switzerland in 20 days, meaning you will be immersed in the history, culture and nature of this wonderful country for 20 days.
This hike leads through alpine mountain worlds from Basel to the Mediterranean influenced Chiasso. There are magnificent lakes and rocky peaks as well as picturesque villages along the long-distance hiking trail. You will walk from the German to the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, experiencing the difference between the cultures in the cities and landscapes in between.
On the Via Gottardo you follow the historic trade route that has connected Germany with Italy since the 13th century. With the Gotthard Pass at its center, this route was considered the most important Alpine crossing for a long time. Travelers would once have carried goods over the 6,889 feet (2,100 meter) pass before the railway and road tunnels opened through the mastiff.
Your hike starts in beautiful Basel. From there you hike over the gentle hills of the Jura and through the Swiss Mittelland to Lake Lucerne. In the Reuss Valley, the Via Gottardo takes you over historic bridges up to the famous pass. South of the massif, the landscape and climate change: you can see the Italian influence in the idyllic villages and Mediterranean vegetation. From Lugano you will hike to impressive vantage points over the glistening Lake Lugano. Finally you reach your destination Chiasso, a pretty town which lies directly on the Italian border.
Each of the twenty stages in this Collection ends in a town or city with a good choice of accommodation. A special highlight is definitely the overnight stay in the unique St. Gotthard Hospice on the Gotthard Pass. On some sections there is the possibility of shortening the stage with cable cars or ferries. The starting point of the Via Gottardo is at the railway station in Basel and the destination Chiasso also has a railway station. Therefore you can travel to and from the Via Gottardo by public transport without any problems.
The starting point of your hiking adventure on Via Gottardo is at the train station in Basel. Via the St. Alban Tor it goes to the banks of the Rhine. You walk directly on the water on former fishing paths along the Rhine and then you cross the local recreation area Hardwald. After you have left the town of Muttenz with its beautiful alleys, you climb up the Wartenberg. Above you can enjoy a great view and explore three castle ruins.Then you hike steadily uphill through forests and meadows. You will reach the highest point of the first day on the ruins of Schauenburg, whose mighty walls and towers date from the 13th century. About three kilometers after the Schauenburg you come to the Bienenberg, where you have a magnificent view of the Ergolztal. Your milestone is in Liestal, which welcomes you with a good selection of places to eat and accommodation.
The second stage is marked by the historic Hauenstein route, one of the oldest railway lines in Switzerland. Relaxed you follow the Via Gottardo of Liestal direction Lausen. In the Ergolz and Homburgertal you will find a variety of impressive castles and fortified castles. So you can visit in Sissach the late baroque castle Ebenrain with its beautiful garden.Further on you follow the railway line and meet again and again on impressive viaducts and railway bridges. Meadows alternate with small villages that are suitable for a break. The last kilometers of this stage, the path rises and brings you to another highlight: The sprawling ruin Homburg is located on a hill and offers you a wide view of the surrounding Jura mountains. The plant was set on fire in 1798 and not rebuilt. From Homburg you walk through idyllic mixed forest down to Läufelfingen, your destination today.
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At just under 12 kilometers, this stage is one of the shorter ones on the Via Gottardo, so you can start the day in a relaxed atmosphere. Through the gentle hills of the Jura mountains you follow the path through quiet forests and across wide meadows. Before you come to Trimbach, you have the opportunity to walk up to the prospective Geissflue. The ascent to the summit is worthwhile, because you will be rewarded with a magnificent panorama.After a short break at the summit cross of the Geissflue we continue to Trimbach. You cross the village and reach the shore of the Aare. Following the shimmering river, you reach the beautiful Olten. You can round off the day in one of the restaurants in the historic old town.
From Olten you follow the course of the Aare in the south and soon reach the shady Bornwald. From the slopes of Mount Born you can enjoy a great view of Aarburg. Especially beautiful is the sight of the towering above the city church. Behind it lies the mighty fortress, which is also worth a visit.After Aarburg the Via Gottardo runs through a hilly, wooded landscape, which impresses with beautiful viewpoints. After nine kilometers, you come across the Blegibach and follow its course through nature. Then you hike a short distance on the main road, which leads you over the highway. On forest roads and side roads, the route takes you to Zofingen, your stage destination. The town is known for its intact old town and the historic moat gardens.
On the fifth day, you leave Zofingen heading south and hike through areas that are very typical of the Mittelland. You move at the interface of forest, cultural landscape and small villages. The route leads up and down and always brings you to beautiful viewpoints. Halfway you can take a break in Dagmersellen and fortify yourself in one of the restaurants.After a well-deserved break, you start climbing up the forested ridges south of Dagmersellen. The path winds in zigzags to the idyllic Lake Mauenee, in which a small island including a castle lies. You can rest on the reed-covered shore and cool your feet in the water. It is only a short distance from Lake Mauen to Sursee, today's destination.
The first section of the sixth stage is shaped by Lake Sempach. You pass the lido and then hike along the eastern shore of the lake. In the small town of Kirchbühl is the Sankt Martin Church, one of the oldest churches in the canton of Lucerne. The numerous restaurants and cafes in the nearby town of Sempach are perfect for a stop.Via Gottardo leads you from the southern shore of Lake Sempach through a varied Lucerne foreland. Via Rothenburg you get to the banks of the Reuss and then follow the Dammweg. The river takes you to enchanting Lucerne with its unique sights. From the historic chapel bridge that spans the Reuss, you can enjoy impressive views of the rows of houses.
The seventh is the most relaxed of the 20 stages of the Via Gottardo: From Lucerne you can take the boat across the beautiful Lake Lucerne to Flüelen. Just sit back and enjoy the impressive view of the water and the surrounding mountains. The steamer takes you to Flüelen at the southern end of the lake. Afterwards, you will hike from the landing place three kilometers to Altdorf. The place with its magnificent mansions is surrounded by mighty peaks such as Rophaien.If you prefer to hike the beautiful landscape on Lake Lucerne, there is the possibility to go ashore in Brunnen or Sisikon. It is a good 14 kilometers from Brunnen to Flüelen and almost seven kilometers from Sisikon. On the way you will be rewarded with impressive views. You can find more information about the boat connections on Lake Lucerne at: lakelucerne.ch/fahrplan-preise/fahrplan
On the eighth day you leave Altdorf and wander through the Reuss Valley, which is bordered by mighty mountains. The change of medieval towers, ornate churches and the railway line make this stage an exciting journey through time. So in Attinghausen worth a visit to the castle ruins. Accompanied by the sound of the water, you follow the Reuss upriver. Their run is getting narrower.At Erstfeld you change the shore side and from here begins the Via Gottardo steeper. The trail runs along the famous Gotthard road and meanders up the mountain. Stone bridges and viaducts span the bed of the Reuss and give an impressive sight. The small town of Wassen is your stage destination. Here you will find a small selection of accommodation and restaurants.
At a good ten kilometers, this stage is one of the shorter of the Via Gottardo. So you have enough time to enjoy the beautiful landscape. Even today, the clear mountain water of the Reuss accompanies you, which is perfect for a foot bath. After you have left Göschenen behind, you will come to a special bridge: the historic Häderlis Bridge connects the two banks and gives you a great view of the raging river.The stone arches of the Teufelsbrücke are also a great photo opportunity and bring you closer to your destination today with dry feet. Between the Reuss and the Gotthardstrasse you hike to Andermatt, which is a popular ski resort in winter and therefore offers you a large number of accommodation options.
The route leads from Andermatt to Hospental, a typical village on the pass with holiday homes, restaurants and a castle complex worth seeing. Like the Gotthardstrasse itself, the hiking trail winds up the mountain. You walk part of the way on the old Postkutschenstrasse and the historic mule track with its smooth paving.The sight of Lago de Lucendro and its huge dam is impressive. Here you can pause briefly and let the landscape work its magic on you. Shortly afterwards you will reach the world-famous Gotthard Pass: the rocky peaks of the area are reflected in the small and larger lakes such as Lago della Piazza. Not only hikers, but also cyclists and motorists enjoy the special atmosphere of this place. You can spend the night in the comfortable St. Gotthard Hospiz, where Goethe already slept.
After a relaxing night at an altitude of over 2,000 meters, the eleventh stage from the Sankt Gotthard Hospiz goes past the chapel down the mountain. You can enjoy a truly unique view a few hundred meters below the pass: the world-famous Tremola Street winds along the slope in 24 hairpin bends, overcoming 340 meters of altitude. It is considered a highlight among racing and motorcycle riders.Partly on your own hiking trail, partly on the Tremola itself, you hike to Chiassin, where new and old Gotthardstrasse meet. Your destination is the village of Airolo, which is located at the southern end of the Gotthard tunnel. In the center of Airolo you can visit the Santi Nazario e Celso church with its striking bell tower.
From Airolo you hike to a forested mountain top, on which the Torre dei Pagani is located. The view back to the village and the green valley is wonderful. The tower, which was once part of a medieval castle, descends to the banks of the Ticino. You follow the course of the river through the beautiful landscape and keep looking at the winding Gotthardstrasse.Via Ambri and the local airfield you get to Rodi, your destination today. You can also find accommodation in the neighboring town of Fiesso. From Rodi you can take the cable car directly up to the dreamlike Lago Tremorgio, which shimmers blue in a cauldron at over 1,800 meters.
This stage is shaped by the element of water, because directly on the outskirts of Rodi is the fascinating Piottino Gorge. Over bridges and stairs you walk between the steep cliffs above the crystal clear river Ticino. The gorge is one of the most important passages of Via Gottardo and a real experience.Afterwards, the path runs through a beautiful forest, which repeatedly offers views of the railway. After six kilometers, you come to the small town of Faido, where you can take a break. In Faido you can admire the Piumogna waterfall, which plunges over several rocky plateaus in the depths. Continue following the course of the Ticino to Lavorgo. As the range of accommodation in Lavorgo is limited, we recommend booking your accommodation in advance.
Stage 14 starts with a short climb south of Lavorgo. Through deep green forest you walk to the quaint village of Chironico, where the beautiful Chiesa di San Maurizio stands. High above the riverbed of the Ticino, we are heading towards the south. Again and again you come to idyllic settlements and alpine meadows.A special highlight is the village of Fàidal: on the hillside above the Valle Levantina a group of slate-covered stone cottages are grouped together with wooden benches for a rest. Time seems to be standing still here. From Fàidal, Via Gottardo meanders down to Personico and leads you to Biasca. Before you move into your accommodation, it is worth visiting the ornate Chiesa di San Carlo Borromeo. A staircase past the church will take you to a magnificent vantage point.
Sleep well, you cross the center of Biasca and return to the shore of the Ticino. The path leads you through the impressive Rivieratal, once on this side, once on the other side of the river. Along the way are small towns and villages where you can take a break or strengthen yourself. Without major differences in altitude, you walk relaxed along the water.At Lodrino, you can see a waterfall plummet near the church and then pass the Lodrino airfield. Via Gottardo takes you on the river dam through green meadows to Bellinzona. The Italian-style center with the stately Castelgrande Castle invites you to explore and offers many restaurants and cafes for a final stop.
In the beautiful Bellinzona you can start the day with a visit to the mighty Castello di Montebello. The first part of this stage is relaxed, as you walk on the banks of the Ticino to Giubiasco. The path leads past the church and the sculpture park there to the eastern edge of the district. Here you can climb up to the unique towers of Fortini della Fame, which served as defenses in the 19th century.Afterwards, a wonderfully natural section through dense forest begins. Continuously uphill you hike on old mule tracks and historic paths. The highest point of this stage is the idyllic Alpe del Tiglio. The view extends over the Magadino plain to the shimmering Lago Maggiore. Through the mountainous landscape it alternates up and down to Tesserete, your stage destination.
From Tesserete it goes south. Outside the village, you hike on the flank of the Sasso Scuro through an idyllic forest and soon reach the medieval Torre die Redde. There is also a picnic area by the stone tower and a few steps away you can visit the small church of San Clemente.After Torre the Redde, the climb to the top of San Bernardo begins. There is a hermitage on the 707 meter high mountain and you can look forward to a wonderful panorama. Your gaze wanders over vineyards to the dark blue Lake Lugano. Starting from Colle San Bernardo, the route first runs through the forest down the slope and then leads you through the alleys of the towns of Comano and Porza. The closer you get to Lugano today, the taller and more magnificent the buildings become.
Changing views of the beautiful Lake Lugano characterize this stage. From the town of Paradiso, which borders Lugano in the south, you can hike to Mount San Salvatore. The slope of the trail is sometimes challenging, but the panorama from the most famous lookout on Lake Lugano compensates for this. Alternatively, you can also go up by funicular.Through quiet mixed forest, the Via Gottardo meanders on the other side of the rocky mountain down to the shore of the lake. Passing traditional Ticino villages you will reach the remarkable Santuario della Madonna. Via the Alpe Vicania and the local restaurant you descend to Morcote. The idyllic village impresses with its colorful houses and narrow streets that nestle on the lakeshore on the slope.
The penultimate stage starts with a leisurely crossing from Morcote to Brusino. From the ferry you can enjoy a new perspective on the picturesque places on the shore. This is followed by a crisp climb to Serpiano, which you can shorten with the cable car if necessary. From Serpiano you hike uphill through a deep forest and can always enjoy impressive vantage points.Before you reach the dreamy village of Meride, you come to the Terrazza della Val Mara. From this platform you can take a look at the rocky gorge including the waterfall. The Tremona-Castello archaeological site takes you back in time: here, walls of an old mountain village and finds from the Neolithic period were uncovered. Via Gottardo leads you through forests and vineyards to Mendrisio. The city has a lot of southern flair and is famous for its magnificent historic buildings.
On the last leg of the Via Gottardo you can look forward to Italian flair and varied landscapes. Through the green vineyards outside Mendrisio you will wander through beautiful nature and small villages. A special highlight is the Geopark Parco delle Gole della Breggia: Fossils from the Jurassic and Tertiary have been found in the rock formations in the gorge.The gorge zigzags towards Morbio Superiore, whose piazza is perfect for a break. Afterwards you climb up to the Chiesa di San Martino di Tours. The church itself is very simple, but the view from the top of the hill is outstanding. The path then runs through the picturesque village of Sagno down to the lively streets of Chiasso. The beautiful city is right on the border with Italy and marks the destination of Via Gottardo.After a relaxed discovery tour of Chiasso, you can start your journey home at the station and review the last 20 days.