Hike Europe: The Alps12 Days • 4 Cities Hike Europe: The Alps
When you think of Europe, you’re probably thinking old churches, busy shopping streets, and monuments of the past. This trip is none of that. Instead, think walking, hiking, sweating, and breathing heavier than normal through the parts of Europe that not many people get to experience. In just 12 days, you’ll visit three countries, hike through vineyards, by glaciers, and up some of Europe’s most famous mountains. You might even see a cow or two. Because this trip is all about the great outdoors. Where the air is cleaner, the sounds are calming, and you can eat endless amounts of Swiss chocolate (or cheese, for those lunatics that don’t like chocolate) to counteract all the calories you’re going to burn.
What are the top highlights?
- Sweat it out during hikes in Switzerland, France, and Italy
- Hike through Lavaux Vineyard Terraces that overlook Lake Geneva (and yes, you get to drink the wine)
- Look up—way up—at Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps, and one of the tallest in Europe (15,781 feet)
- Climb towards the iconic, pyramid-shaped Matterhorn mountain, passing by the Black Lake in the Zermatt region of Switzerland
- Ride the rapids of the Arve river with your fellow travelers in France
- Cuddle a St. Bernard during a stop in Martigny, Switzerland
Your trip includes
- Round-trip flights & airport transfers
- Tour Director & local hiking guides
- 6 days of hiking through the Alps
- 10 nights in hand-picked accommodations
- Private deluxe motorcoach
- Welcome Mixer with appetizers and drinks
- Daily breakfast & Farewell Dinner
You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.
Click here for examples of where you'll stay.
Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:
- Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
- Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
- Flights are booked with major airlines
- 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
- One checked bag included on most flights
- Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure
Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Hop on the plane, do some light calisthenics in the aisle to warm up your legs, and try to sleep as much as possible. You’re in for a full-throttle hiking adventure.
Day 2: Arrive in Lausanne
Sitting on the Northern shore of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is Switzerland’s fourth largest city with views of the lake and surrounding mountains that will leave you speechless. But in the words of the Canadian rock band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
- Meet an EF representative at the airport.
- Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
- Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
- Meet your fellow travelers as they arrive.
During your free time, enjoy Lausanne old town or hang out by Lake Geneva, the largest lake in Western Europe. In the evening, it’s time for our Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, take the party elsewhere.
Day 3: Explore Lavaux Vineyard Terraces via St. Saphorin
Vineyards are great. Walks through Swiss vineyards alongside Lake Geneva are better. Today will be your first adventure—and it’s a relatively easy one. You’ll start in St. Saphorin, a micro town to the east of Lausanne, with a population of 393. From the town you’ll walk to the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Evidence of these terraces date back to the 11th century. Breathe in the fresh (and slightly wine-scented) air, and get ready for a beautiful day. You'll even get some wine.
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 6.8 miles
- Begin your hike through the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, a beautiful 18-mile stretch of vines that produce some of the best wine in Switzerland.
- Admire the combination of nature and human ingenuity that went into making the vineyard what it is today.
- Take a break for an included wine tasting because...why not?
- Try and figure out what locals consider the "three suns" of Lavaux
- After tasting the local wines, end in Lutry, another small town, for some free time to grab more Swiss eats (there will likely be cheese).
Day 4: Travel to Zermatt Region via Montreux
Continue around Lake Geneva to Montreux, a town that has one of the most stunning lake walks in the world as well as one of the most famous Jazz festivals. Stroll through the town (looking for chocolate), followed by a scenic hike down from Rochers de Nayes (working off the chocolate) with more epic views of the lake down below and the Swiss and French Alps high above. Then it’s on to the Zermatt Region of Switzerland, where the world-famous Matterhorn mountain awaits.
Time: 5 hours
Distance: 8 miles
Ascent: 820 feet
- Get those legs moving again for a hike around the surrounding mountainside.
- Reach the summit of Rochers-de-Naye, and enjoy the sprawling views of the lake below.
- Say “more cowbell” as you hear that unmistakable noise from some of the thousands of cows in the area.
- Wave goodbye to big, beautiful Lake Geneva, and make your way to the Zermatt region, where you’ll feel even more surrounded by the Alps. Because you are.
Day 5: Hike to the Matterhorn's Hornlihutte at 10,695ft
Today’s your day to tackle the Matterhorn. (Not literally, it’s a mountain.) Start in Zermatt, hop in your gondola, and gawk at the mountain’s almost symmetrical natural pyramid that stands 14,692 feet tall. From gondola station, you’ll have the opportunity to hike higher and closer to the Matterhorn. Today's destination is the Hornlihutte, a high altitude hut (10,695 feet) that climbers' of the Matterhorn use as a final staging point for their ascent. So far this is the most epic hike of the trip!
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 5.2 miles
Ascent: 2,221 feet
- Hop aboard a gondola (not the boat kind), head 8,373 feet above sea level, and check out the Matterhorn (you can’t miss it).
- Continue upwards, over fairly steep terrain, to Hornlihutte (Matterhorn basecamp). If you’re not feeling this hike, hang out by the Black Lake or head back to Zermatt on your own.
- Watch in awe as hikers prepare to ascend the Matterhorn.
- Grab a high altitude lunch at Hornlihutte (on your own).
- Put those hamstrings to use as you hike back down to where you started in Zermatt (or take the gondola back down #noshame).
Day 6: Free Day in Zermatt Region
You’ve got a free day in the Zermatt Region to do as you please. The views are incredible, the lifestyle is easy-going, and the opportunities to ice your hamstrings are ample.
Free Time Suggestions
Raclette: You haven’t had cheese until you’ve had it in the traditional Swiss fashion—melted and served in a mountain of gooey deliciousness.
Bahnhofstrasse: Stroll the main shopping street of Zermatt, popping in and out of designer stores, bars, and cafés, sneaking a glance at the Matterhorn in the distance each time.
Day 7: Travel to Aosta Region via Martigny
Give your legs a rest today—it’s time for a puppy break. Martigny, Switzerland is home to the St. Bernard Museum and numerous kennels where these gentle giants are bred. Once you’ve had your puppy fix, head to the Aosta region in northwestern Italy, one of the most beautiful places in the country. It’s a nature-lover’s paradise, with hiking opportunities galore.
- Warm up your dominant petting hand; St. Bernards are near.
- Visit the St. Bernard Museum, and snap the perfect picture with any of the dogs romping around nearby.
- Cross the border from Switzerland to Italy, saying goodbye to chocolate, and hello to pasta (and realistically, more chocolate if you want it).
- Walk through the town with your Tour Director, passing by ancient ruins with the Italian Alps in the background.
- Picture yourself living the serene mountain life (just need to learn some Italian).
Day 8: Hike Gran Paradiso
Today enjoy the playground of Kings - or at least the last King of Italy. Hike in a tremendously beautiful and protected setting, teeming with ibex. It's another unforgettable day, this time under the Italian sky.
Time: 5 hours
Distance: 5.1 miles
Ascent: 1,800 feet
- Stretch your legs and prepare for an epic hike.
- Yell as loud as you can like they do in the movies; you just crushed another intense hike .
Day 9: Travel to Chamonix + Optional White Water Rafting
Next up: France. You’ve got really tall mountains and a whole lot of adventure at your fingertips. Today, you have a choice: relax on your own in the Chamonix region, or hit the water (not literally, water has feelings, too) during an optional white water rafting adventure.
- Travel from Italy to France, crossing a third country off your list.
- Let your jaw drop and your eyes widen as you stand in awe of Mont Blanc.
- Explore the surrounding area in Chamonix or get extreme(ly wet) during an optional white water rafting trip.
White Water Rafting(extra cost)
Give your legs a break during an adrenaline-pumping Arve river adventure. Grab your bathing suit and hop in a raft with a local river guide. With their help, you and your fellow travelers will work together to navigate several classes of rapids (1-3). Paddle hard, avoid the rocks, and get ready to experience Alpine wilderness from a new perspective. Oh, and splashing your neighbor is highly encouraged.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
Day 10: Hike Aiguilles Rouges
Hike the mountain where the first Winter Olympics took place in 1924. While today is all about you and the mountain, back then, 16 countries battled it out in a variety of snowy events like curling, ice hockey, and Military patrol. While you try and guess what Military patrol is, spend the day hiking and visiting two different lakes near the peak of Aiguilles Rouges, or “Red Peaks.”
Time: 6 hours
Distance: 6.8 miles
Ascent: 1,640 feet
- Join a local hiking expert for a full day hike and exploration of Chamonix.
- Take a cable car part way up the mountain to around 6,500 feet.
- Begin your hike to the peak (8,202 ft), where two lakes await your arrival, Lac Cornu and Lac Noir.
- Hop in one of the lakes (weather dependent), and take in the views from a different perspective.
- Stop by the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve, where, if you’re lucky (and quiet), you could see groundhogs, wild goats, and plenty of bird species.
Day 11: Hike High above Chamonix
Another day, another hike, amirite? Today, you’ll get a little bit of everything, from hiking next to a glacier to getting over your fear of heights and stepping into a glass box at 12,000 feet (NBD). This is your last big hiking day. So live it up.
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 4 miles
Ascent: 900 feet
- Start the day by stepping into a glass room (floor and all) at the Aiguille du Midi mountain peak, where over 3,000 feet of nothingness stands between you and the rocks below.
- Grab lunch at a chalet near the midway cable car station of Plan de ‘Aiguille.
- Make your way to Montenvers, a nearby town, where you’ll hike to a glacier.
- Head back down to Chamonix, or continue up on your own via cable car (small fee) to the highest elevation of the trip: 12,391 ft.
- Wipe the sweat from your palms and take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking mountain scenery at 12,391 feet.
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.
Day 12: Fly Home
Au revoir les amis!
Translation: Goodbye, friends! Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Activities will take place rain or shine, however the hiking routes may change based on local conditions. Any changes are at the discretion of the guide.
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