The Via Alpina trail has so many beautiful, memorable, and extraordinary locations it would take a book (or perhaps a set of books) to note them all. However, below are some of the top choice destinations based on feedback from recent hikers and travelers within the last two years. Keep in mind that deals are constantly changing especially in today’s economy, so be sure to contact each merchant listed for their latest rates and information.
An unbeatable favorite of Americans and Europeans alike is the Haute-Savoie region of France. The area is world famous for being home to Chamonix – site of the Winter Olympics games ever in 1924. There’s also the fascinating tunnel through the 15,771-foot-tall Mont Blanc connecting France and Italy, a masterpiece of modern engineering. If you don’t have much time, or if you want to connect a brief stay in the Haute-Savoie region with some time on other sections of the Via Alpina, a popular route is to go from Vernayaz, Switzerland, to La Flégère, France. This should take about four days at an average, comfortable pace. You’ll get intimately familiar with France’s signature peak as you gaze at soaring rock faces and white-water rivers.
For fuel, discover the French trail mix called “tartiflette”: made of potatoes, cheese, and bacon… outstanding! With a little time online you can find interesting and cheap places to stay like isolated pasture huts and trailside chalets. During the summer months the slopes of the ski resorts in the Haute-Savoie are a hot destination for mountain bikers. You can take your bike up with the use of more than 40 chairlifts and then take downhill bomb runs at Chamonix, Le Gets, and Morzine.
From near the town of Chamonix you’re ready to connect up to another gem of a short hike thrugh Italy and Switzerland in the Pennine Alps. Take about 5 days and stroll from Valgrisenche, Italy on the Via Alpina to Trient, Switzerland. Between the two towns lies the Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard, over the top of which Napoleon led his troops in 1800.
This peak marks the beginning of the Via Alpina’s southerly jaunt down to the Mediterranean Sea and Monaco. For adventurous and out-of-the-ordinary lodging on this route, trying staying over with the monks of the 11th-century Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard. One might not think so, but monks make some of the best beer on the planet in these Alps. After even just a few days hiking along here, you’ll deserve it!