How to Cross Switzerland's Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge

Photo of Phoebe Lowndes
12 December 2019

There’s no shortage of death-defying peaks in Switzerland, famous for its epic Alpine scenery – but you needn’t be a world-class climber or heli-skier to experience fearsome drops.

Introducing the record-breaking Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world and top of the list for thrill seekers exploring the area on foot. It stretches 494 metres (1,621 feet) across the Zermatt Valley, and intrepid hikers are rewarded with unparalleled bird’s-eye views of the surrounding scenery. Cutting the journey time across the valley by four hours, the bridge takes a mere 10 minutes to traverse, but is certainly no walk in the park.

Afraid of heights?

Miraculously constructed in only 10 weeks, this spindly structure scales a whopping 85 metres (279 feet) at its zenith. Not an adventure for the weak-kneed, the walkway itself allows 360-degree views, thanks to the steel grating underfoot that provides an uninterrupted panorama of the mountain ranges on either side – and the precipice below.

If heart-stopping heights don’t daunt you, this is an unmissable experience. For those less steady on their feet, Edith Zweifel, spokesperson for Zermatt Tourism recommends closing your eyes, “or have someone to walk just behind”.

What to look out for

Mountains and meadows are in abundance in the Alps, and from its lofty heights the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge offers a smorgasbord of jaw-dropping scenery, so don’t hurry across.

From the shark’s-tooth peak of the Matterhorn (arguably Switzerland’s most famous mountain) to stunning views of Weisshorn and the distant Bernese Alps, there’s plenty to take in. Start your trip in the small picturesque town of Randa (around 15 minutes by train from Zermatt) and hike through lush forests and undulating meadows bursting with native flora and fauna.

Unlike the many incredible cable cars, funiculars and gondolas across the Alps, access here is free and the bridge is open year-round. For keen hikers, the only thing stopping you is inclement weather, so make sure you check the Europaweg trail site for all the latest information.

Will I need any special equipment?

Hiking from Randa to the bridge can take up to four hours. It’s a relatively steep trail but is family-friendly, and you can complete it in half that time if you are fit and agile.

Sturdy footwear is essential and, as always when hiking, check the forecast and dress accordingly. Scaling mountainsides and taking in mind-blowing views is tiring work, so come prepared with water and energy-boosting snacks.

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