Monday, January 31, 2011

Wanderweg—The Magic of Walking in Switzerland

The Wanderweg (W’s are pronounced like V’s in German) is the term used for the more than 31,000 miles of walking trails in Switzerland. Walking the Wanderweg is a common Swiss past-time and it is quite usual to see Swiss hikers of all ages on the trains heading to or from their hikes with rucksacks and walking sticks in hand.

The Wanderweg is posted with orange signs to keep you on course and every so often there will be directional signs with estimated time and kilometer distances. Consider that while many of the routes on the Wanderweg are roads of various sizes, there are also numerous stretches that are mere foot- or sheepworn paths through a field or pasture, or even a lawn!

Take your time. Never be in a rush when starting out on a new Wanderweg route. Much of the fun and charm have to do with the adventure of making your way through the beautiful landscape. Another wonderful aspect of the Wanderweg is that it is not just for recreation and sightseeing. The Wanderweg is practical. If you have figured out your route—you can walk to your destination be it clinic, store, attraction—no need for cars, or public transportation. Or for variety you can take advantage of all options, walking one direction and taking public transport for your return, or walking both ways, but taking different routes. A word to the wise—be prepared for steep walking—both uphill and downhill—Swiss walking is not for the weak-kneed.

One of the pilgrimage-walking routes to Santiago de Compostela (St. James Way or Jacobsweg in German) in Spain goes through the Fribourg area of Switzerland. See the Swiss site for Santiago routes in English.

Excerpted from the Green Earth Guide: Traveling Naturally in Switzerland

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