Is it possible to cross the Swiss-Austrian border on foot?


Most of the border between Switzerland and Austria north of Liechtenstein is along the Rhine, so there you'll have to cross the border over a bridge. But you can still do it on foot:

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Note however that there aren't that many bridges, and not all bridges have footpaths, though.

This picture actually even shows people walking (and another cycling) over one of the bridges: enter image description here

South of Liechtenstein, the border is in the mountains, and often follows the crest line (ridgeline), so it may be quite impractical in quite a few places unless you have the relevant experience and equipment:

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And of course it's quite different during winter: enter image description here

There's actually a large ski domain straddling the border: enter image description here

Not sure if "on ski" is the same as "on foot" :-)

After that, the border is back to (mostly) following rivers, but very few bridges. This one has a footpath: enter image description here

There are also a few more land crossings, but I couldn't find pictures for them (yet).


Absolutely. Why not?

You probably want to pick a spot that's reasonably populated on both sides so there are places to walk between. Maybe the area between Bregenz and Feldkirch. I think last time we crossed at Diepoldsau.

Borders are fairly relaxed there. Recently I called my son and he was standing with one leg in Germany and with the other one in Switzerland (Basel border).


Borders in Central/Western Europe are usually only marked with some signs and stones. It is very rare to have fences and the like. It is generally possible to cross on foot, and for EU citizens this is also legal. For citizens of other countries it may somewhat different - i.e. it is certainly illegal for citizens of some countries if they do not have the necessary papers.

Even with the necessary visas, for citizens of some countries it may only be legal to to cross the border at border checkpoints. At least I know one border (not the one in the OP) that is very easy to cross on foot, but in the past it was not a good idea to do so (except on a border checkpoint) if police was present.

In response to Nate Eldredge: I do not know about Austria and Switzerland, but in Germany e.g. asylum seekers are not allowed to travel to other Schengen countries. Other Schengen countries can also just turn them back at their borders if they realize that they have a German asylum seeker id card ("Aufenthaltsgestattung"). Although in practice, people do sometimes travel to other EU countries, so it is still "possible" to do so.

In response to Relaxed: Not entirely. §46 Abs 2 AufenthG says that foreigners do not have the right to leave Germany for another country if they do not have the necessary immigration papers for that other country (https://dejure.org/gesetze/AufenthG/46.html). But you are right that the more important aspect here is that Switzerland might prosecute people who enter with only an Aufenthaltsgestattung (or the Austrian equivalent) for illegal entry.

  • Given the Schengen treaty, can you give an example of when it would be illegal for someone to cross this border, assuming they were legally in the first country? – Nate Eldredge Dec 14 '18 at 18:27
  • In the case of Switzerland, it is in the Schengen Area but not in the EU, so not in the customs union, and you should report to the authorities if you have anything to declare. But even way before it was in Schengen you could just cross the border as you liked. There are even tram lines crossing the border (and some where there before Schengen). – jcaron Dec 14 '18 at 21:18
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    The law around the rights of asylum seekers is quite a bit more complicated than that. Of course, any purported restriction on leaving the country is irrelevant to other countries' decision or ability to turn people back. It's true that it's mostly illegal for a person in that situation to cross the border but what matters here is that the other country does not wish to let these people in and has an easy out by returning them to Germany somewhat irregularly. It would however be perfectly legal for border countries to welcome people registered as asylum seekers in Germany if they wanted to. – Relaxed Dec 14 '18 at 21:45
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    It's also perfectly legal for anybody, very much including people with an Aufenthaltsgestattung to leave Germany at any time, say by boarding a flight to their home country. The ability to do so lest there are pending criminal charges or another very serious reason to retain a person is generally considered a human right. What happens is that Germany would then consider that they have abandoned their application for refugee status and it would be complicated to come back. That's not the same as not being allowed to travel. – Relaxed Dec 14 '18 at 21:49
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