The Swiss Path - Weg der Schweiz in German - is a hiking trail that runs along the southernmost arm of Lake Lucerne, from Seelisberg to Brunnen. The trail offers magnificent panoramic views and is mostly easy going. Furthermore, if you feel like completing the tour around the lake, you can plan your walk by combining it with the better-known Vierwaldstätterweg, the trail that runs along the northern part of Lake Lucerne, starting from Brunnen and reaching the Rütli via Lucerne. In this article, we tell you about our route from Seelisberg to Flüelen and give you some useful tips!
We love... the Swiss Path!
The Swiss Path – Weg der Schweiz, in German – is a hiking trail that runs along the southernmost arm of Lake Lucerne, from Seelisberg to Brunnen. Created in the early 1990s to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, the scenic trail was built with the intention of celebrating and telling the story of the confederation by passing through some of the most famous and beloved historical sites in the area, such as the Grütli (or Rütli) Meadow and the legendary Tell Chapel. About 35 km long, the route is normally divided into four stages. Therefore it is perfectly suited for both a multi-day hike and single day stages. The trail is absolutely fascinating and for the most part easy going. It also offers magnificent views of the lake and surrounding mountains and alternates between coastal paths and stretches in the mountains or along lush meadows. For those who have more days available or for those who simply want to complete the tour of the entire lake, it is possible to continue the hike following the Vierwaldstätterweg, the trail that runs along the northern part of Lake Lucerne, starting from Brunnen and reaching the Grütli.
We have hiked part of both trails on day hikes and in this article, we tell you about our route along the Swiss Path from Seelisberg to Flüelen.
Hike overview & map
The hike we propose is a linear route that starts from the small town of Seelisberg, in the southern part of Lake Lucerne, and following the coast at different elevations reaches Flüelen, where it ends. During the route, you can enjoy beautiful views of the lake and explore the small but picturesque towns of Seelisberg and Bauen. The total route of about 16 km can be covered in just under five hours at a relaxed pace. It is a route of medium difficulty because of its length, but past the first 6 km it is mostly flat or with slight inclines. Along the route you will find a couple of dining options in Bauen and Isleten.
Arrival in Seelisberg
Our hike starts from the bus stop “Salisberg, Dorf”, which we reach by postal bus. The day is sunny and, as always, before starting our walk we decide to have a coffee on the terrace of a small mountain hotel, the Hotel-Restaurant Montana. Here we stay a few minutes and then we are ready to start our walk. The first part of the trail runs about 1.5 km along the driveway and leads to a panoramic terrace overlooking the lake. From here the view is really wonderful and sweeps over the entire southern arm of the lake! Plus, the Grütli is right below you! The Grütli (Rütli in german) is considered the founding place of Switzerland. On this meadow, representatives of the original cantons signed a pact in 1291 to fight unitedly against foreign occupation attempts in their valleys. We suggest you stop for a few minutes and then continue along the trail. About 1.5 km from the starting point, the trail finally leaves the asphalt and enters a dense, well-maintained forest. From time to time, you will again find yourself at the edge of the mountain ridge and once again have access to the panoramic view of Lake Lucerne. You will leave the forest after about a kilometer and, from here, you cannot help but be surprised at the wonder around you: a small blue lake in the midst of green pastures and a cable car going up steeply to Alp Weid. For today, however, our destination is another! Maybe next time!
We continue along the path between meadows and valleys for about 2.5 km. From time to time, we encounter a few elegant mansions and a couple of old wooden huts. This section of the trail, which is entirely on dirt or grass, is gently sloping until we reach the Wyssig area, beyond which begins a staircase of more than 900 stone steps that descends steeply to Bauen. This small fishing and farming village sits right on the shores of the lake, surrounded by a fairy-tale landscape. You will love taking a stroll through this small town. Our advice is to stop for lunch at one of the local restaurants, which offer excellent food, mostly freshly caught fish from the lake. We tried the restaurant Fischli…am See, which is really nice with fresh, well-cooked food. It is often closed outside the summer season, so check first! After lunch, we resume our walk to the next stop: the Isleten area. After Bauen, the trail follows the coast and takes advantage of some old tunnels now entirely dedicated to hikers and enhanced with small art exhibits and murals. Only the last section-about 400 meters-is closed to walkers because of the high risk of rockfall. Hikers are then detoured along the new road tunnel. Here, although there is a sidewalk, still pay due caution to passing cars.
Isleten is just a cluster of houses, but during the summer the area comes alive quite a bit because it has easy access to the lake and is especially popular with water sports enthusiasts who often find the right wind here!
From Isleten to Flüelen
From Isleten, Flüelen is about 7 kilometers further. However, from this point the hike turns more into a pleasant flat walk and follows the shoreline of the lake. This is probably the less interesting part of the route, at least until the access to the Reuss River Delta area. What is now a protected nature area has a long and troubled history of natural disasters, reconstruction, and attempts to contain the river’s wilderness. Today the area is a nature reserve for flora and fauna as well as an area completely devoted to hiking and beach life and relaxation during the summer. Our advice is to explore it on foot, taking advantage of the many recreational and picnic areas in the area.
From here, Flüelen can be reached in a short time. To return home, you can then take the train or, alternatively, a more scenic boat.
Arriving by public transport
The starting point of this excursion – Seelisberg – can be reached by public transport. However, the small town is off the main rail routes, so to get here from Zurich or Lucerne you will have to go to the Stans Train Station and from there take the bus 311 to the “Seelisberg, Dorf” stop. Equally pleasant alternative – though slightly more expensive – is to take one of the historic steamboats from Lucerne to Treib, from where the funicular will take you to Seelisberg.
Train, bus or boat tickets can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB App and, as always, we suggest to check in advance the updated timetables and the different travel options.
Arriving by car
The starting point of this excursion – Seelisberg – can also be reached by car. From Lucerne, the town is easily reached in just 30 minutes, while from Zurich it will take just over an hour by taking the A4 and then the A2. However, if your starting point is not Lucerne or Zurich, you can check the best route for you at this link. In Seelisberg, a small paid parking lot is available in the heart of the village. Here (in german) you can find all the information about parking and its rates. However, as always our suggestion is to choose public transportation: the proposed route is in fact a linear route and therefore at the end of your hike – in Flüelen – you will still have to take public transportation back to Seelisberg.
Little curiosity: the Swiss Path is symbolically divided into 26 sections-one for each canton-and their order is determined by the cantons’ entry into the Confederation. Even the length of the sections was not determined at random, but is based on the population of cantons in 1991: each person was symbolically assigned 5 millimeters of the route!
If the proposed route is too long for you, you can decide to reach Isleten and from there return home by taking the postbus to Isenthal and Altdorf.
The delta of the Reuss River as we know it today is the result of man’s various attempts to control the river’s wilderness. Although today the small sand islands may remind us of an almost Caribbean landscape, this nature park really has a very interesting history. If you would like to learn more about it, find the whole story at this link.
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