Tag: hike

Lugano: to the other side from the mountains

Lugano is the biggest city in the “Italian” part of Switzerland, canton of Ticino. Located on the eponymous lake and surrounded by picturesque forested mountains, it offers the most typical impressions of nature and culture of this region of the country.

I have to say, travelling across Italian Switzerland is quite a strange experience. It is almost impossible to tell Lugano from cities of Northern Italy. Everything is the same: food, vegetation, building styles… Pretty much everything, except for prices. Looking at them, you are reminded that it is still Switzerland… So why pay more if Milan is only one and a half hours away by train? Let’s try to find out.

First time in Japan: Mount Takao

Looking back at my experience with New York, this time I decided that four days in a big city is all I can take and that I would definitely need a nature retreat after that.

A quick search revealed that there is a cool mountain called Takao just an hour by train from Tokyo center, with a number of hiking trails up to the summit and cherry trees that bloom later than in Tokyo thanks to the altitude.

Rigi Kulm: a simple panoramic hike close to Zurich

To be honest, I was not a great fan of this trail: the place is not wild enough for me (in fact, not wild at all). On the other hand, this hike might be a nice option for people that stay in Zurich and want to get a glimpse on the main Swiss stereotypes (mountains, lakes, cows, you know). The trail is super easy – no need to climb, and only very little altitude change. Most of the path is even accessible for wheelchairs!

TL;DR

What: a hike next to Lucerne: Rigi Kulm to Rigi Scheidegg cable car station.
Why: great view on three lakes and on the Alps, clean Swiss air (with a scent of cows :D).
How long: 2-3 hours (the hike itself) + 3.5 hours (commute from Zurich and back).
How to get here: train, cable car.
Difficulty: minimal.
Ascent: 243 m.
Descent: 369 m.
How much it costs: ~65 CHF by public transport from Zurich.

“Blue” hiking trail in Alps: Randa to Domhütte

There are three categories of hiking routes in Switzerland:

  • yellow – the shortest and easiest, with little to no altitude difference; suitable for even small children; often asphalted or go along a forest road;
  • red – “mountain trails”, usually imply noticeable elevation, but generally not dangerous; you can just walk them and do not need to climb;
  • blue – “alpine trails”; to do those, you will need decent physical shape and a certain degree of craziness: steep cliffs, absence of an actual trail, glacier crossings are usual on such routes.

This post is about my first “blue” hike with an overnight in a mountain cabin.

It all started when I learned about Europaweg – a 2-day hiking trail along the Mattertal valley. On the way you have a chance to cross the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Europe (you did not seriously think that Switzerland does not have everything of the most?) as well as gorgeous views on Matterhorn and other 4K summits.

Alpine meadows of Appenzell

One thing I really love about Switzerland is how easy it is to organize a nature getaway here. Here is my algorithm:

  1. Open a map.
  2. Pick a village next to the mountains and a forest that has a train station or at least a bus stop. A lake nearby would be a bonus.
  3. Open the website of the village or the nearest cable car. It will almost for sure contain a description of hike trails including elevation/descent numbers and the map of all trails.
  4. Pick a trail, buy a ticket and go!

A serious advantage of the approach is that like this one can find wonderful and not very famous places which means no tourists and healthier nature. One of such Alpine gems is Wasserauen in the canton of Appenzell.

Walensee

Living in Zurich has its pros and cons. Zurich is a vivid and fast-growing city, which makes living here exciting, but at the same time the constant noise of cars and endless construction sites makes you feel a bit down from time to time.

Fortunately, apart from cities, Switzerland also has mountains, forests and lakes to offer =) Even if you pick a new hiking place every weekend, it will take a few years until you have to repeat some of them. Mountains and cliffs reflected in a lake’s still water, green forests and ringing of cow bells in otherwise absolute silence – that all is exactly what one needs to stay away from the city for a day.

This time we headed to Walensee which is situated south-west from Zurich, in the Lichtenstein direction, to bring some authentic Swiss impressions: