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Disclaimer: Bear in mind this a trip planned for the summer of 2021, where hopefully Covid restrictions will be reduced.

A friend of mine will be hiking the whole Via Alpina and I am looking to accompany him when he crosses through Switzerland. Our plan was originally to camp all the way through but apparently wild camping is not allowed in Switzerland.

I would then like to ask if there are spots for camping across the Via Alpina or if the Huts/Refuges are our only option. If so, how cheap are they? We are looking to minimise the prices, but also having the opportunity to camp in a very nice place would be amazing.

We are not members of any alpine club if that matters.

What is the best course of action?

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  • I can move this question to our sister site 'The Great Outdoors' for you. Not sure which is the better site to get answers for this problem. Cross posting the same question is not appreciated but you could look for a like question there. outdoors.stackexchange.com
    – Willeke
    Nov 23 '20 at 19:56
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A quick online search reveals that there are various accommodation types on along the trail, ranging from free bivouacs to expensive hotels. For example Hiiker has a comprehensive list and map of available accommodation.

In addition, official websites, such as Schweizmobil contain detailed information on the trail and of available accommodation. Finally, I found a blog posts of people who have hiked the Via Alpina, which also provides detailed explanation of where they slept and how much they spent:

Accomodation on the Via Alpina

On this Via Alpina we tested different types of accommodation: inns in villages, mountain pastures, campsites but also a few nights in Bivouac. If you want to do the Via Alpina here is a list of all the places where we slept (you will notice that we took breaks at some places, this is the reason why we spend sometimes 2 nights at the same spot):

  • D.0 : Camping in Bad Ragaz / 43,2 CHF for 2 people and 1 tent / website
  • D1: Bivouac Weisstannen pasture / 0 CHF
  • D2: Hôtel Sonne in Elm / 48 CHF per person (dormitory, breakfast included) / See on Hotelscombined
  • D3: Manser B&B in Linthal / 50 CHF per person in a double room, breakfast included / See on Hotelscombined
  • D4: Klausenpasshöhe / 39 CHF per person (dormitory, breakfast included) / website
  • D5: Hotel Krone Attinghausen / 30 CHF per person (dormitory, breakfast included) / See on Hotelscombined
  • D6: Blackenalp Pasture / 40 CHF per person in dormitory with dinner and breakfast (amazing deal!) / No website, to book call +41 41 637 04 26
  • D7 & D8: Camping Engelberg Eienwäldli /41.5 CHF per night for 2 people with 1 tent (showers cost extra – 1CHF / minute) / Website
  • D9: Bivouac Tannensee / 0 CHF
  • D10: Camping Balmweid Meiringen / 30 CHF per night for 2 people with 1 tent
  • D11: Camping Gletscherdorf Grindelwald / 39 CHF per night for 2 people with 1 tent
  • D12 & D13: Camping Jungfrau Lauterbrunnen / 35 CHF per person (dormitory)/ See on Hotelscombined
  • D14: Bivouac Grisalp / 0 CHF
  • D15: Bivouac Oeschinen lake / 0 CHF
  • D16: Camping Rendez-Vous Kandersteg / 38 CHF per night for 2 persons and 1 tent/ Website
  • D17: Camping Bergblick Adelboden / 29 CHF per night for 2 persons and 1 tent / Website
  • D18 & D19: Camping Seegarten Lenk / 23,5 CHF / per night for 2 persons and 1 tent / Website
  • D20: Camping Bellervie close to Gstaad / 24 CHF per night for 2 persons and 1 tent / Website
  • D21: Bivouac l’Etivaz / 0 CHF
  • D22: Bivouac Hongrin lake (great spot just next to the dam) / 0 CHF
  • D23: Night under the stars at Rocher de Naye / 0 CHF
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  • So Bivouacs are allowed with no problem? I thought they were prohibited. Thanks. Nov 24 '20 at 16:01
  • @embedded_dev They are prohibited on public ground. The list contains specific places where it's allowed. But actually I think it's just raising a tent that's prohibited, if you actually just use a bivouac bag then I think it may be allowed.
    – Nobody
    Dec 28 '20 at 19:53
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    This is region dependent and as Via Alpina crosses multiple cantons you should always check local regulations. Dec 31 '20 at 13:38
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Wild camping (wether tent, tarp or bivouac bag) is generally authorised in Switzerland except in protected lands (such as wilderness protection areas) or on private land with a recommendation to camp over the limit where trees grow. PDF memo on camping by Swiss alpine club (the main article is in German or in French under: Swiss alpine club camping)

But in an emergency, you can still do a bivouac (one night, set up late and leave early with no traces behind) is generally anywhere in the mountains or forests), not to be mistaken with the official bivouacs that you'll see on maps (which are like very basic and usually small mountain huts)

The key point being not bothering or damaging the fauna and flora and leaving no traces (so no fires). I would also recommend not to camp in the vicinity of a mountain hut (they don't like it if you sleep in your tent but use their toilets and facilities), nor close to inhabited buildings and to ask permission if a farm is close by.

I have had only good experiences wild camping in Switzerland, so I can definitely recommend it.

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