No where screams ‘Alps’ like Switzerland. And when the mountains are calling it is good to know that the best extreme sports in Switzerland can compete with almost anywhere on the planet. With that in mind, check out the top 27 Swiss adventure activities to discover what is on offer in central Europe.
Known for its magnificent mountains, lovely lakes and fantastic facilities, Switzerland is a year-round sporting destination. From snow sports to air activities and water sports to earth based endeavours, the mix of experiences will satisfy the appetite of most adrenaline junkies.
Since the golden age of alpinism in the mid nineteenth century, Switzerland has been a popular destination for tourism. The early visitors were mainly Brits looking to climb the country’s snow-clad Alpine peaks. Soon they began to ski down the mountains, particularly in the Jungfrau region where ski tourism began.
In the summer the sparkling blue lakes and verdant valleys first attracted visitors as it was considered good for recuperation. But these days they have become a natural playground for some of the best Swiss adventure activities. These days you can book anything from romantic five star adventures to Swiss activity camps for kids.
Whether you’re gliding down ski slopes, kayaking through gushing rapids or soaring above pristine landscapes, the thrill of the best extreme sports in Switzerland are hard to beat. These experiences are further enhanced by the country’s well-developed infrastructure, safety standards and professional guides.
Moreover, Switzerland has fabulous food, wonderful wine and luxurious lodging. It is all easy to reach by plane with major international airports in Geneva and Zurich. The Swiss rail network is extensive and runs like clockwork. So while the costs are high the quality in Switzerland is even higher.
From winter sports like skiing and snowboarding to summer activities such as mountain biking and kitesurfing, there’s no off-season in this Alpine wonderland. So, why wait? Let’s explore some of the the top extreme activities in Switzerland. With so many on offer we’ve broken the list of activities down into air, water, earth and snow sport categories:
Starting with what Switzerland is best known for – snow sports. While mostly available in winter, early spring and late autumn, you can actually ski year round in some Swiss destinations such as Zermatt.
Revered as the ski capital of Switzerland, Verbier boasts varied slopes suitable for everyone from beginner to expert. Although to make the most of Verbier it is better to be more advanced and partial to a spot of off-piste. The 1,300 metre descent from Mont Fort is know as one of the best ski runs on the planet.
Of course, Verbier comes with a lot more than just epic skiing and snowboarding. It is known for its wild après and people party long into the night. There are plenty of luxury ski chalets, hotels and apartments, but also budget lodging in a couple of hostels. You’ll find top notch restaurants, but equally you can save money with lower cost take aways or by eating in.
Taking skiing and snowboarding to the next level, heli-skiing offers access to untouched slopes away from the ski resorts. A popular heli-ski area is Petit Combin in the Valais region from where you can enjoy a 2,300-metre off-piste descent.
Unleash the power of the wind on snow at Simplon Pass. Snowkiting combines skiing or snowboarding with kitesurfing to create an exhilarating winter sport. You can take lessons, book snowkiting camps and even rent gear through the Swiss Snowkiting School.
Switzerland’s varied winter landscape provide the perfect conditions for ice climbing. Kandersteg in particular, with its frozen waterfalls, offers a variety of routes for both beginners and expert climbers.
Next up it is the ground and earth based activities. These are mostly summer sports, but some of them can be enjoyed year round.
Alaïa Chalet, located in Lens just outside Crans-Montana, is a dream come true for skateboarding, BMX and scooting. It features one of the most advanced indoor and outdoor skate parks in Switzerland. Designed for all skill levels, the park includes bowls, half-pipes, ramps and street obstacles that promise endless fun and challenges.
There is even a trampoline area to practice tricks, airbag jumps and facilities to practice freestyle skiing and snowboarding on the features. Whether you’re learning your first ollie, mastering a kickflip or training for pro competitions this is the place to be. For more information, visit Alaïa Chalet.
Graubünden region, home to the Engadin Valley, St Moritz and Davos, offers more than 400 km of mountain biking trails. With all styles of MTB covered, uplift, bike parks and natural trails it’s the place to be. Experienced mountain bikers will want to conquer the challenging Tschiertschen-Praden track, renowned for its steep climbs and exhilarating descents.
Cyclists seeking a challenge should ride up and over the 2,757m Stelvio Pass which is the highest paved rode in the eastern Alps. If you still have energy in your legs cross the boarder into Italy and ride down the infamous 21.5 km long road with 48 hairpin bends. The way back up is one of the most famous and toughest cycling climbs in the world.
BMX enthusiasts are in for a treat in Geneva. The well-maintained track features jumps, bumps and tight berms that cater to riders of all levels. Whether you’re into racing or freestyle, you’re sure to find a challenge at the Geneva BMX Club. One of the best Swiss extreme sports for those stuck in the city.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley offers some of the most beautiful day hikes in Switzerland. Walk past stunning waterfalls, blooming alpine meadows and charming Swiss hamlets. The Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau trails are a must and if you are getting tired you can always hop on the Jungfrau trains.
The Via Alpina crosses the whole of Switzerland in 20 stages. This long-distance trekking route traverses through some of the most stunning landscapes, including six Swiss cantons and over three Alpine passes. This 390 km trekking holiday in Switzerland is only passable in the summer and requires very good fitness to cope with 23,500 metres of ascent.
Climbing the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic summits in the Alps is quite a feat. Known for its pyramid shape and standing at 4,478 meters, there are several routes, each presenting its own set of challenges. An ascent requires learning some mountaineering skills and good physical fitness. But it is one of the most impressive mountains in Europe that beginners can climb.
Known as the “Swiss Dolomites”, Gastlosen is a premier rock climbing destination featuring over 50 crags and 300 routes. These faces cater to a wide range of skill levels, with difficulty grades ranging from 4a for beginners to challenging 8a routes for experienced climbers.
Test your skills at Magic Wood, one of the Europe’s best bouldering spots. Navigate through more than 700 bouldering routes amidst the backdrop of beautiful Avers. Easily one of the best extreme sports in Switzerland as you need little equipment to get bouldering.
Experience the thrill of climbing and mountaineering with the safety of a secured iron cable. During via Ferrata in Kandersteg you’ll climb steep rock faces, cross suspended bridges and climb iron ladders all while taking in the panoramic mountain views. Via Ferrata is an incredible, but very safe way to experience the Alps as a climber.
As a landlocked nation you’d be surprised by the amount of water sports available in Switzerland. Many of these are summer only, although if you want to get in the water in the winter don’t let me stop you!
On the shores of the picturesque Lake Grenon in Crans-Montana lies a wakeboarding paradise. The wake park, equipped with a full-size cable system, allows both beginners and experts to enjoy wakeboarding under the Swiss sun. As Swiss adventure activities go this is a great summer substitute for snowboarding.
Experience the thrill of water sports in the picturesque setting of Lake Silvaplana. The ‘Maloja Snake’ wind phenomenon provides ideal conditions for kitesurfing and windsurfing. So harness the power of the wind and ride the lake in what is regarded as one of the original and best kite spots in Europe.
As a landlocked nation you’d be forgiven for thinking you cannot surf in Switzerland. However, the thrill of surfing can be experienced in the heart of the Alps at Alaïa Bay in Sion. The artificial wave pool creates perfect break every time, allowing you to surf regardless of the weather or proximity to the coast.
Embark on a water-filled adventure on the Rhône, one of Europe’s major rivers. Whether you prefer being the master of your own destiny in a kayak or prefer the thrill of being part of a rafting team, the River Rhône promises an unforgettable experience.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) has been the fastest growing water sport in recent years and Lake Geneva is a wonderful place to get involved. Enjoy the the beauty of the surroundings and the serenity of the lake while getting a full-body workout. Easily one of the best Swiss adventure activities.
Discover the thrill of canyoning in the Ticino region, known as the ‘Eldorado’ of the sport. The crystal-clear waters, vertical cliffs, and natural slides provide the perfect conditions for a thrilling canyoning adventure. This activity stands out even in a list of the best extreme sports in Switzerland!
Of course this list of action sports in Switzerland would not be complete without some air based activities.
Fly through valleys, over thick blanketed forests, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. The Jura mountain range is simply spectacular. It is a great place for a tandem paragliging experience, for beginners to learn or for experienced paragliders to enjoy the many thermals. The Jura mountains are considered to be one of the best paragliding sites in Europe.
For a unique perspective of the Swiss landscapes, try ziplining in Grindelwald. Fly through the air at breathtaking speeds while taking in the stunning views of the Bernese Alps.
Interlaken, situated between two stunning lakes, is a beautiful spot. Made all the better by jumping from a helicopter in view of the north face of the Eiger! Free-fall at speeds of up to 200 km/h, while taking in the stunning panoramic views of the Swiss Alps. For more information check out Skydive Interlaken.
Last but not least! Take on the highest bungee jump in Switzerland at the Verzasca Dam. Famously 007 Jumped from here at the beginning of Golden Eye. At 220 meters, it’s one of the highest commercial jumps in the world, and ranks as one of the best bungees in Europe. Oh and the views of Ticino aren’t bad either.
We hope you found this guide to the best extreme sports in Switzerland inspirational. Want to try some of the top 27 Swiss adventure activities? Then check out our Switzerland adventure travel page.