Classic Swiss Alps Walk
Kandersteg is in the heart of the Bernese Oberland, where the great arc of the Alps culminates in some of its highest and most spectacular peaks. This area epitomises the 'chocolate-box' Alps: lush green meadows bright with wildflowers, against a backdrop of rugged, wild mountains, topped with glistening glaciers.
A week's stay here uncovers the very best of the region: a huge turquoise lake enclosed by towering cliffs, a hidden valley headed by a glacier, a sheer gorge carved out by glacial meltwaters, an Alpine pass that has been used since Celtic times and an abundance of wildflowers. Did we mention the spectacular views? The impressive white peaks of the 3970m Eiger, Monch, Jungfrau and Matterhorn dominate the skyline with a plethora of other summits and glaciers close at hand. Amazingly, all of this is accessible on well-defined paths directly from the hotel (with excellent signposting) or after a short bus or gondola ride.
On arrival at the 3-star Hotel Alfa Soleil, your hosts, the charming Seiler family, will provide you with a Regional Travel Pass giving you unlimited use of cable cars and the regional bus service. They'll also ensure you receive a full introduction to the area, including insider tips on where to spot the best alpine flowers!
When you feel like a rest from walking, there's an elegant lounge, swimming pool, sauna, solarium and gym to keep you entertained. In the evening you can relax and enjoy regional dishes and fine wines in Nico's restaurant.
The walking is of moderate difficulty and includes mountain walking on good (though sometimes narrow) paths with occasional steepish climbs. NB: Some gondolas/cable cars do not operate in early/late season when alternative walks will be proposed.
Day 1 - Arrive in Kandersteg
You arrive in time to settle in and perhaps enjoy an aperitif before dinner.
Day 2 - Blausee 10km/6.5mi/3hr
A gentle walk to start your week, this varied and peaceful route takes you along the bottom of the upper Kandertal Valley to the world-famous Blausee - Blue lake (entrance fee and boat trip included). Here you can wander through the woods and around the little turquoise lake before returning to your hotel for dinner in Nico's restaurant.
Day 3 - The Gasterntal and Kanderfirn Glacier 13km/8mi/6hr
This is a day full of thrilling experiences, starting with an exciting 20 minute minibus ride (included) along a narrow road literally carved out of the rock wall. The Gasterntal is Kandersteg's 'hidden valley', dozens of snow-fed waterfalls thundering down the sheer rock faces carved out by a gigantic glacier 10,000 years ago. From this romantic nature reserve, and with the mighty rock walls of the Tatlishorn and Atels towering up on the right, you meander through woods and open meadows; look out for lady slippers, fire lilies and more than 25 varieties of orchid!
Day 4 - Oeschinensee 15km/9.5mi/5hr
Widely regarded as the jewel in the crown of the Bernese Oberland, Oeschinensee is, in our view, the most beautiful Alpine lake in Switzerland. After a short ride up on the gondola (included), you climb to the viewpoint at Heuberg. Nothing can prepare you for the cobalt blue of the water surrounded by the razor-edged peaks of the Doldenhorn (3638m), towering 2000m above it, and striped by dainty waterfalls trickling down from the Frunden glacier.
Day 5 - Allmenalp 11km/7mi/3.5hr or 16km/10mi/5hr
It's a gentle start today with a spectacular cable car ride (included) to ascend to the Allmenalp (1725m), a colourful meadow brimming with rural mountain charm. There are stunning views across the valley to the Oeschinensee with its magnificent turquoise-coloured waters and towering cliffs adorned with waterfalls. From the summit the 360° view is nothing less than spectacular, with 12 mountain peaks above 3000m in close proximity, and occasionally eagles frequent the adjoining peaks.
Day 6 - Daubensee and Gemmi Pass 15km/9.5mi/4.5hr or 20km/12.5mi/6hr
The Sunnbuel cable car (included) whisks you up to nearly 2000m, from where you climb to a fantastic ridge walk along the Uschinengrat (2200m). If you're lucky, you'll spot wild deer on the upper slopes. You might fancy lunch at the renowned Schwarenbach Hotel, where Lenin and Picasso have signed the visitors' book. It's then on past the Daubensee (sometimes still partially frozen) to the famous high Gemmi Pass (2322m), a major transalpine route first used by the Celts. The extraordinary panorama of the Valais Alps to the south includes the Matterhorn (4478m) and Monte Rosa on the Italian border.
Day 7 - The Sudrampe 10km/6.5mi/4hr or 16km/10mi/5.5hr
Today starts with a 25 minute rail ride (payable locally) through the mountains up to the village of Hohtenn where your route takes you high above the Rhone Valley, and through a landscape of gorges, plunging waterfalls and small colourful villages hemmed in by vineyards on the edge of this fertile valley.
Day 8 - Leave Kandersteg
Where you stay
This single-centre holiday is based at the following hotel. If you'd like to extend your stay here, or upgrade your room, just let us know at the time of booking. You can call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 to discuss accommodation options.
Hotel Alfa Soleil, Kandersteg (3 Star)
The Hotel Alfa Soleil is a traditional, cosy and family-run hotel on the edge of the village (only 5 minutes' walk from the centre) with a wonderful view over fields to the mountains behind.
There are 35 rooms on three floors; all rooms are en-suite and have a television, telephone and hairdryer.
For the evenings, the hotel has a cosy lounge bar with a pool table and music desk which is open to both hotel guests and the general public. There is also a large lounge area for residents with an open fire where you can relax for a quiet chat or with a book, or to play one of the hotel's board games.
Further details on the hotel website, and independent reviews on Trip Advisor.
Transfers included from Kandersteg train station at 16:41, and back to Kandersteg train station at 10:00.
Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email email@example.com to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Mr Kelleher on 30/08/2016
We had a fantastic time on the Classic Swiss Alps walking holiday. Everything was organised for us - from the flight to the journey to the hotel and details on the walks. The hotel staff were all very friendly and extremely helpful. The food was the surprise of the trip, it was delicious! The walks and the scenery was spectacular, and the suggested routes were all brilliant. There was also enough flexibility in the suggested guide to vary the hiking to your level of ability. Overall, we had a brilliant time!
Reviewed by Mr Clegg on 23/08/2016
Good summer walking in a lovely valley. Not as spectacular as the Jungfrau region, but impressive. Great to have passes for most (but not all ) of the walks. Good cooking at Alfa Soleil, though watch out - heavy handed in cooking with cream. Even in bad weather there are walks one can do.
Reviewed by Ms Schoenfeld on 11/08/2016
Our trip we booked through Headwaters for a stay in Kandersteg, Switzerland at the Alfa Soleil was the highlight of a few weeks spent in Europe. The hotel was wonderful, and the hiking suggestions from Headwaters were great and provided us with all the information we needed to do some great hiking on our own. They scheduled our train trips and everything worked just as planned. It was great to have a home-base from which to do a lot of different hikes in the area. We were very pleased with our whole experience!
Reviewed by Ms Cutts on 02/08/2016
Kandersteg is the most perfect setting - the beauty of the mountains, lakes and meadows is breathtaking! The walking options are fabulous - but remember to take your poles for those steep downhill sections! The staff at the hotel were welcoming and so helpful - a real plus. A wonderful holiday!
Reviewed by Ms Moore on 05/07/2016
Wonderful holiday - excellent hotel in an amazing varied area for walking with stunning views round every corner. The buses and lifts - free with the complementary pass - make the high level walks (and/ or restaurants) so accessible. One of our best holidays ever and we will be back!
Reviewed by Mrs Hayward on 28/06/2016
The Classic Swiss Alps walking holiday was a wonderful blend of a comfortable and welcoming hotel and varied walking. As a single centre holiday it was good to be able to access amazing scenery very easily and close to the hotel. The walks could all be tailored to suit ability, weather and level of energy by extending or shortening the suggested itineraries. The map was a great help in addition to the written descriptions. We were there at the end of June just before the hay cut in the village fields so saw the myriad meadow flowers before they were harvested, a process that was also very interesting to watch. The higher alpine meadows were the best we have ever seen anywhere and the waterfalls were impressive, fed by the melting snow. Kandersteg, where the holiday is based, is well served by trains and this was our method of transport all the way from England.
Reviewed by Mr Wilks on 28/06/2016
We had a wonderful time - excellent hotel, interesting food and superb walking. If you like wild flowers, it was a stunning to see the variety and colour on display. It is a reminder of what we have lost with our 'improved' grassland and factory farming. What was nice was that we could tailor each day's walk with the help of the hotel staff according to how strenuous a walk we felt like and what the weather was like in various parts of the area.
Reviewed by Mr Jones on 13/06/2016
This was our third trip with you and all have been most enjoyable - the right length of walks and the grading worked out fine.
Reviewed by Mr Craig on 07/06/2016
A very good experience with lovely location, accommodation and scenery.
Reviewed by Mr Doublet on 02/10/2015
Great location and excellent Hotel with some fantastic walks for all abilities.
Reviewed by Mr Patten on 24/09/2015
Good value and well thought out
Reviewed by Ms Savage on 31/08/2015
Excellent hotel, food and location.
Reviewed by Mr Bryant on 11/08/2015
Hotel is in great location, all walks are very close and varied. Hotel was comfortable, our room was old in terms of decor, but others have been recently refurbished. The evening meals were pretty good (mainly meat, very little fish), breakfast was rather bland (limited selection mainly bread). Packed lunch was welcome, but was a sandwich only, which was quite lacking compared to other Headwater packed lunches.
Reviewed by Mrs Weaver on 11/08/2015
Our first walking holiday and first with Headwater. We had a great experience and will come back. A few errors in notes we will send details to you.
Reviewed by Mrs Jenkins on 03/07/2015
Contrasting walks in a beautiful area of Switzerland. The two walks to the Oeschinensee and the Doldenhornhutte are particularly challenging with many steep or tricky paths often very narrow and across waterfalls or shale slopes. Essential to have a head for heights and walking poles. These however were the best walks with terrific views. Do the extension to the Daubensee walk as the views at the final destination are well with it. The Alfa Soleil Hotel is a good 3 star hotel and our junior suite was excellent and worth the upgrade. Our one complaint of the room would be the shower and the sudden change of temperature when running going from very cold to scorching and dangerously hot; we had to be be swift to move out of the range of the spray when this happened. Breakfast is not as varied as other Swiss hotels we have stayed at and there was a huge additional charge if you fancied eggs and bacon. The food overall was inconsistent and not up to expectation following all the reviews and varied from poor ( tough poached chicken and lamb curry one night) to very good on the barbecue evening. However, great value holiday overall for Switzerland which is very expensive. PS the house wine is very good and at 22 Swiss francs per 50cl, a bit of a bargain.
Reviewed by Mr Boyce on 01/07/2015
Exceeded expectations, scenery gorgeous, hotel friendly and helpful staff
Reviewed by Dr Luton on 16/06/2015
Great walking on good paths. Excellent scenery and wonderful alpine flowers. Consider Berne as a day off destination.
Reviewed by Ms Gane on 16/06/2015
It was a beautiful location and we had some lovely walks and saw amazing flowers. The hotel owner who was supposed to give us some guidance was not as helpful as he could have been. He raced through some information on the first evening and gave us various passes not all of which he explained.After that, he told us about one bus route being unavailable and arranged for us to travel on it when it became available. However when we asked questions subsequently, in particular if a route was Ok, he said it was up to us if we went on it. In fact it was challenging with some landslides on steep mountainside and frozen snow partially covering a fast-flowing stream through which we had to paddle. The breakfast and packed lunches were great. Dinner was positively gourmet. (Whisper it low, but we would have preferred something simpler with fewer courses so that there was time for a walk afterwards). Mark-ups on the wine in the restaurant were enormous. We were also rather startled to be charged for tap water every night.
Reviewed by Mrs Triger on 11/06/2015
This was our second visit to the Alfa Soleil in Kandersteg. We were incredibly fortunate to receive a double upgrade to their new Loft apartment!! We had booked a new junior suite and we believe we were given this because there were a large party of elderly people staying and possibly some of them had booked the Loft, only to find there was no lift. This really made our week's stay as it was spacious and beautifully furnished giving us room to spread out and to also enjoy the enormous terrace with views all round of the mountains.The weather held up every single day and what with this, and the excellent food provided by Nico, we could not have had a more enjoyable stay.
Reviewed by Dr Banyard on 27/09/2014
Everythiing worked just as it should. We were very happy indeed with our holiday. My wife's dietary restrictions were coped with very efficiently and without fuss by the hotel. Thank you very much!
Reviewed by Mrs Salisbury on 26/09/2014
Wonderful walks, great advice from Peter at hotel. We walked every day, and enjoyed exploring the area. Food and the friendly staff at the hotel made this one of our best holidays.
Reviewed by Mr Stewart on 12/09/2014
A good short break in spectacular surroundings, with enough guidance to enable us to enjoy the area to the best as and when we wished without forcing us into any particular programme.
Reviewed by Ms Foulds on 09/09/2014
Kandersteg is a good base for the series of walks suggested by HW but also for constructing your own routes if you are a confident walker. The hotel is comfortable and friendly and the food was mostly excellent. A small buffet was provided every day from which to make sandwiches for a picnic lunch, although more choice of fruit would have been welcome. Kandersteg village is very quiet (at least in summer) and we were a little disappointed at the lack of anywhere to go in the evening apart from having a drink in another hotel. Prices for cable cars, soft drinks, coffees and cakes were higher than envisaged but quality was very good. The scenery in the valley is stunning but the typical mountain weather meant that the peaks were not always visible. On cloudy days, it was good to have the choice of taking a quick train ride into the Rhone Valley area where the weather was usually better. Several of the walks in the HW itinerary can be shortened or lengthened to suit individual abilities and taken as a whole they give a very good overview of the area.
Reviewed by Dr Paterson on 15/07/2014
The Alfa Soleil is a wonderful hotel with a really excellent restaurant. We're vegetarians and the chef provided an amazing series of creations over the week for us. The hotel proprietor is a lovely host who really takes care of all his guests and the hotel team are superb. The walks are amazing and very varied with plenty of other options - one day we took a day trip to Bern which is a fascinating city, and also spent a day on the lake taking a steamer from Spiez. We travelled by Eurostar and TGV - dinner in Paris on the way out and lunch in Basel on the way back - really comfortable - do book ahead and get cheap first class tickets for the TGV though.
Reviewed by Mr Williams on 08/07/2014
Overall an enjoyable holiday, the walks are definitely in the 2 boot category but using the cable cars means much of the walking is flat or downhill. The scenery is majestic providing you can see it for the clouds! Go prepared for mixed weather, we were in Kandersteg in early July and had everything from glorious sunshine to sleet (above Oeschinensee) by way of rain and thunderstorms. We were lucky enough to see an ibex, marmots and an eagle (at the top of Gemmi Pass). The paths were all well maintained and the signage is very good making the navigation easy. The hotel is welcoming and the rooms comfortable if somewhat dated in decor and furniture. The food is good but be aware that it's a 4 course set menu with just a choice of 2 main courses (or an unspecified vegetarian option). The 'lunch buffet' where you can make up your own packed lunch at breakfast time is a good idea. The travel arrangements all worked well and the Swiss trains were on time as expected. Being a Saturday the train from Zurich Airport to Bern (and return) can be busy and does not cater particularly well for luggage, we had to leave our bags in the area by the doors along with a number of others. The reserved seats that Headwater provided were necessary but these were upstairs away from our bags. Also note that the train from Bern to Kandersteg splits at Speiz with only the front portion going to Kandersteg and Brig, we didn't find this entirely obvious when boarding the train. It's not a big problem as the ticket inspector checks that you're in the right part of the train but it's easier if you don't have to move yourself and your bags at one of the stops.
Reviewed by Mr Beresford on 07/07/2014
A great holiday based in an excellent friendly hotel with good local food. The walks,starting from the hotel or via a short train, bus or cable car ride,were interesting and varied. The walks are deserving of the 2 boot status, taking most of the day to complete with the suggested extensions, allowing time for photographs, eating the excellent hotel picnics and admiring the views and the magnificent alpine flowers in June.
Reviewed by Mr Finn on 18/09/2013
We thought that this was an excellent walking holiday. The variety of the walks meant that we could always choose one which suited us plus could travel to the next valley for better weather. The hotel was extremely comfortable and Peter and Agnes were great hosts with lots of good advice.The big surprise was the quality of the food which was definitely 5 star with good flavours and presentation
Reviewed by Mr Williams on 14/08/2013
Reassured by a member of Headwater staff who had just been there that the Alpen Soleil in Kandersteg was 'a quiet hotel', we were very disappointed to discover that the hotel is right on a main road at the front and that at the back is a railway line carrying cargo freight through the night. In the hot weather, with windows open, it was hard to sleep for the noise of traffic and trains, all the more intrusive because occasional.
Reviewed by Mr Bradley on 25/07/2013
Wellorganised, comfortable hotel, easily followed walking notes, beautiful area, challenging treks
Reviewed by Mr McDavitt on 25/07/2013
We enjoyed our holiday. However, we were a little disappointed by the lack of entertainment in the evening at both the hotel and location.in general. In terms of value for money we felt the holiday content was expensive when compared to other holidays we have been on. And I do appreciate that we were in Switzerland!
Reviewed by Mr Dennis on 21/07/2013
Kandersteg was an exellent place for a walking holiday with a good variety of walks but age was against us (we are 80plus) in some instances, we made full use of the cable cars however.
Reviewed by Mrs Longfoot on 17/07/2013
Switzerland is breathtakingly beautiful and we loved it, but everything was ver expensive, so we were glad of half board and the picnics provided which helped to keep the cost down.
Reviewed by Mr Hill on 09/07/2013
Awesome scenery, excellent hotel, wonderful wild flowers and butterflies.Mixed weather.
Reviewed by Mrs Triger on 15/06/2013
An excellently organised walking holiday with a selection of very interesting walks. First rate hotel with superb food - makes a huge difference to be 'family owned' and upon arrival we were given an upgraded room as the hotel was not full. A very nice way to start! Kandersteg is quite beautiful and the people courteous and friendly. It helped that we had superb weather for 5 out of 7 days and the mountains and meadows were looking their best. All in all a most successful holiday. Thank you Headwater.
Reviewed by Mrs Satchell on 12/06/2013
Don't go to Alfa Soleil, beautiful scenery, rubbish food
We are so sorry that the food at the Alfa Soleil did not meet your expectations. It genuinely took us by surprise - it is normally one of the highlights! Please let me assure you that our Swiss Progamme Manager will be discussing this with the hoteliers and monitoring the situation closely. We have worked with Peter and Agnes at the Hotel Alfa Soleil for many, many years and they are always extremely keen to act on our feedback, we are confident that any issues will be resolved effectively.
Reviewed by Mr Williams on 13/09/2012
An excellent relaxing holiday. None of the walks are particularly strenuous (for a reasonably fit 60+ year old) and do not take up a full day so if you want extreme exertion it might be better to look elsewhere.
Reviewed by Mr Clare on 23/07/2012
Kandersteg in June is a winner!
Reviewed by Mis Stainer on 11/07/2012
Our holiday was excellent. Never done an activity holiday before but will do again. Already recommended Headwater to many people.
Reviewed by Mr Moore on 07/07/2012
Well organised and good value for money
Reviewed by Mrs Robertson on 07/07/2012
Tremendous experience which resulted in me challenging myself in some situations and overcoming fears to enjoy the scenery and the local flowers at their best.
Departure dates & prices
|May 2017 departures||Tour only|
|June 2017 departures||Tour only|
|July 2017 departures||Tour only|
|August 2017 departures||Tour only|
|September 2017 departures||Tour only|
Self-guided walking, single centre. Managed locally by hotelier.
Saturdays from 27 May '17 to 23 Sep '17, for 8 days (7 nights). Non standard departures are possible, please call for details. Extra nights are also a possibility.
All meals including picnic lunches.
Starting your tour
Transfers included from Kandersteg train station at 16:41, and back to Kandersteg train station at 10:00.
Enquire about this holiday
Simply complete the form below and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and additional information.