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Frequently Asked Questions

Tour Basics

How large will our hiking group be?

Our minimum group size is 1 person.  Yes, one. We believe that when you make a commitment to take your vacation with Alpinehikers, we’ve made a commitment to you to lead the tour. You become our guest. There is no minimum size, and our tours will never be cancelled due to low enrollment, so you can plan your vacation confidently. If you’ve reserved, you’re going!

Our maximum group size in the Alps is 14 people, so groups are always cozy and intimate, typically with 2 guides for groups larger than 8.  Small groups create a fun, flexible dynamic that’s just not possible with a larger number of people, so we strive to keep things small.

What kind of condition do I need to be in for one of these tours?

A good level of physical fitness is required to enjoy hiking in the Alps. With that said, the Alps and their wonderful infrastructure provide us with a lot of flexibility. Everywhere we go there will be plenty of beautiful places to stop and rest, and most segments can be made longer or shorter by using the trains and lifts that crisscross the countryside. With small groups, we can easily tailor our hikes to fit the fitness level and desires of our hikers.

Remember though, this is very steep, mountainous terrain – trails in the Alps are consistently steeper than most people expect – and flat walks are few and far between. Prior aerobic conditioning is very important and will greatly enhance your trip. Everybody enjoys their trip more if they arrive in shape.

Our village retreat tours offer the most flexibility, with easy options to take a day or half a day off, or to do full day hikes that are 7-8 miles with 1500-3000 ft of elevation gain and loss.

On our inn-to-inn tours, we will be crossing high alpine passes and sometimes staying far away from public transportation. Days will typically be 8-12 miles with 3000-4000 ft of elevation gain and loss each day.  If you are not already in good condition, for you own happiness and safety, and for the smooth procession of the tour, you should start a program of walking and conditioning before joining the tour. Please ask if you have any questions regarding the appropriate tour for you.

How do I get ready?

Shortly after you sign up, you’ll receive a pre-trip packet with suggestions on what to bring and how to arrive at our meeting point.  If you have any questions, we are always available by email or phone to help with gear and getting to your tour.

In order to get in shape for the tour, try to start exercising regularly before you come. Get out on weekends (preferably to hills), don’t skip the gym. The Alps are steep, and the better shape you’re in when you arrive, the more enjoyable your tour will be. Even a little bit of prior training helps a lot!

My partner doesn't hike... is there anything for them to do?

Absolutely, although some tours are definitely better for non-hikers than others. Our village retreat tours offer multiple activities and beautiful views for the non-hiker, and would be great choices if one person wants to hike while the other enjoys the alpine scenery at a slower pace. Our luxury tours, such as the Grand Tour, Deluxe TMB and Deluxe Dolomites also feature superb hotel pools and spas.

Non-hikers should also consider our self-guided tour options. We offer fully customizable self-guided itineraries and our Scenic Train tours are specifically designed as an introduction to Switzerland and require little or no hiking (although great hikes are always a possibility). Check out our Self-guided tours page, email or call for more information.

What's included in the tour price?

Guided tours include:

  • friendly guides and welcoming hotels and inns
  • all breakfasts, lunches and most dinners – exceptions noted
  • baggage transport between inns on inn-to-inn tours
  • ground transport during the tour to trailheads and new locations
  • some include taxi transfers to and from the tour region (Dolomites and TMB)
  • some include rail passes for travel to and from the airport (Swiss tours)
  • selected entrance fees, gratuities and taxes
  • and guided hikes daily

We don’t expect you to pay for cable cars, buses or trains we take during the course of our hikes, tip the hotel and restaurant staff (we do that), or provide your own meals.  The only things the tour price does not include are drinks with your dinners, personal items, extras charged to your room (like minibar or phone calls), tips for your guides, or insurance of any kind.


Self-guided tours include:

  • prepaid hotels
  • all breakfasts and most dinners
  • luggage transfers on inn-to-inn tours
  • an appropriate rail pass or airport shuttle for travel to and from the airport or border
  • selected trailhead transfers, noted in the itinerary
  • carefully written route descriptions
  • hiking maps with highlighted routes
  • digital route descriptions for downloads to your phone with the free Outdooractive app
  • a local support contact person, and lots of useful information that will help your trip run smoothly

Self-guided tours do not include lunches, drinks with your meals, some dinners, extras (such as laundry, phone calls from the room, etc), or transportation not covered by your rail passes, taxis or ticket. Exact details vary slightly from tour to tour, so see the individual tour descriptions for complete details.  We spend every summer in the Alps ourselves, and we’re constantly updating our materials to let you know what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s worth seeing.

Tour Travel

I'm traveling alone...can I book a single room?

Yes. Published prices are per person based on double occupancy, but singles are very welcome on our tours and we have single rooms, available on a first-come basis, with a single supplement fee.

If you are traveling alone and would like to share a room with another hiker, we will do everything we can to match you up with another traveler of the same sex. If that is not possible, however, the single supplement will apply. The single supplement is due with the balance of your tour.  Please note that on our inn-to-inn tours, we sometimes stay in huts or lodges with shared rooms, and single rooms are not available for those nights.

What about kids?

We love kids! Switzerland is a huge playground for children, and they are very welcome on our tours. Many of our guided tours, especially the village-based tours and inn-to-inn combo tours, are particularly suited to families.

Self-guided tours are a great option for families, and we can plan short walks, family-friendly hotels, and a wide array of activities that will be memorable for kids of all ages!  Our own kids have spent many summers in the Alps, and we’ve developed a lot of ideas about what works and what doesn’t, from choice of destination, accommodations, and activities.  We can also accommodate families with children who wish to share a room.

I'd like to bring a group of friends... do you offer group discounts?

We offer a 10% discount on self-guided tours for groups of 10 or more, 8% for 8-9, and 6% for groups of 6-7 people.  With a small group, you might also consider a Private Guided Tour, a fantastic option for a small group that gives you ultimate flexibility in planning.  Please ask if you are coming with a group.

How do we get to our meeting point?

Most of our guided tours include a rail pass for travel to and from our meeting and departure points or an airport shuttle. If you have additional travel plans before or after your tour with us, extra travel days and 1st-class passes are also available for an additional fee. Please ask if you have questions about your particular situation and we can help you choose the right pass for your tour.

Our self-guided tours almost always include a rail pass or airport transfer to and from your tour.  Usually passes will be ordered and mailed to you 4-5 weeks before your tour, but may vary based on your signup date.

If you don’t need a rail pass or shuttle, let us know and we can leave that off your tour.

How about our plane tickets and our extra time in Europe?

The tour price does not include the cost of air travel to Europe. If you’re flying from the US, you will need to leave a day early for arrival the next morning in Europe. For your return flight, plan to depart Europe the day after your tour ends, to allow for travel time to the airport. Most people will need to spend a night in their departure city when the tour ends and fly home the next day. If you would like help with this night, we have great choices for 3 and 4-star hotels in Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Venice and more.

We are also happy to help with pre and post-tour plans. Although Switzerland is our specialty, we have years of experience with other European destinations as well, and can research and arrange independent travel to nearby countries such as Italy and France. We can book hotels and rail passes in Switzerland, and help come up with an overall plan that makes the most sense for your European travels.

What if our dates don't match, or we don't want a group trip?

Flexibility is always important to us at Alpinehikers. If you wish to take one of our existing tours as a self-guided option, organize a private guided tour on your own dates, or build a customized tour to the Swiss Alps, give us a call or email to discuss your options. We can work with you individually to create a trip uniquely suited to your needs, from simple inns to 5-star comfort, hiking tours to scenic train tours. If you like to go at your own pace or can’t join a scheduled tour, this may be for you. We also arrange itineraries for non-hikers in both city and mountain areas of Switzerland.

Our Self-guided tours are both flexible and affordable. Self-guided versions of our scheduled guided tours cost less than a guided tour and include everything you need to to the trip independently.  We include maps, prepaid hotel reservations with breakfast and dinner, daily route descriptions, a Swiss rail pass, luggage transfers and select taxi transfers, and other tips and suggestions to make your trip run smoothly.  Basically everything you need, without groups or a guide!

You may also want to consider a Private Guided tour.  We will arrange your own guide and a customized itinerary for your group just about anywhere in the Alps, for ultimate flexibility in your itinerary and departure date. For groups of 6 or more, prices are very similar to our regular guided tours, and private guides can be arranged for just one or two people as well.  Please see our Private Guided Tours page for ideas, and contact us if you have a group and are interested in hiring a private guide for any trip.

If you prefer to join one of our guided group tours, but can’t quite make the full tour dates, please email or call to ask about options. For most of our tours, it’s quite possible to do partial trips, joining partway or leaving early. We have tours running most of the time during the summer, and are happy to work with you to find an experience that fits your schedule.

What to Expect

What will our accommodations be like?

Whether you’re hiking all day or traveling by train, our inns are more than just a place to sleep, they are an integral part of the experience and are among the highlights of our trip. We look for comfortable rooms, spectacular settings, friendly service, and a cozy and authentic atmosphere.  We think you’ll agree the intimacy and ambiance of these inns adds immeasurably to the quality of our tours.

On our classic inn-to-inn hiking tours through the Bernese Oberland, Haute Route, Dolomites, and Mont Blanc, regions we stay in a combination of distinctive village hotels, mountain huts, and quiet mountain inns.  Mountain inns (Berghaus in German) are a tradition in the Alps, many dating back to the 1800’s. They can be described as simple alpine B&B’s, set in remote and beautiful locations. Each one is unique – its atmosphere shaped by the house, the location, and the personality of the owner – and they all share unforgettable character and charm. They have private rooms, and bathrooms and showers are shared. Mountain inns are a great place to meet other hikers and locals alike, and will likely turn out to provide some of your favorite memories of the tour.

Our Deluxe inn-to-inn tours include luxurious 4 and 5-star hotels in the villages, along with a couple select mountain inns, so you can stay true to the inn-to-inn nature of your hike while relaxing in comfort where it is available.  The hotels are unforgettable, the spas are impeccable, the cuisine is world-class, and – combined with some of the best hiking on this planet – these are truly memorable splurges for a hiking trip to the Alps!  Our Deluxe tours include private rooms and luggage transfers every night.

Our Village Retreat tours stay in everything from friendly 3-star hotels to luxurious 4 and 5-star spa getaways.  Regardless of star level, the hotels we’ve selected are generally family-run, focused on great service, and all feel good to come home to after an exerting day of hiking.

What about our meals?

You’ll be exercising all day, pleasantly tired, and ravenously hungry! So we’ll treat ourselves to some fabulous meals. Our meals are carefully prepared, beautifully presented, and wonderfully satisfying. We might enjoy classic cheese fondue or raclette one night, and the best local specialties the region has to offer the next. Our hotels and guides are also very aware of food allergies and sensitivities, and there are typically lots of options for people who are vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, or have nut or other allergies.  Please ask if you have questions about your situation.

With a few exceptions (noted on the tour itineraries), all meals on our guided tours are included in the price of our hiking tours.  On many tours we will leave one night free for you to explore on your own. We’ll start with a rich continental breakfast each morning at our inn, and finish with a multi-course feast in our hotel or a local restaurant every night. For lunch we like to get creative. We prepare a picnic lunch each day, and we take a lot of pride in our hearty picnics, making lunch something to look forward to as well!

Self-guided tours always include breakfast, and normally include dinner in the evening (referred to as “half-board”).  This is typically a 3 or 4-course dinner with a couple of options to choose from.  In some places, we choose to leave dinners off, when our preferred hotels don’t offer dinner, and/or you are in a city or town with lots of good restaurant options to explore.  You will typically be on your own for lunch on a self-guided tour.

How much luggage are we allowed?

One piece of luggage per person will be transported between hotels on our inn-to-inn tours.  Additional pieces may be brought for an additional charge (varies by tour). Extra luggage should not be necessary though – please try to travel light. Many hotels in Europe, especially on our inn-to-inn tours, have many floors but no elevators, and when we travel between villages by train, we will carry our own bags on the journey. So try to keep your luggage down to an easily manageable level.

TMB tours in particular have luggage size and weight restrictions. Please ask if you need more bags sent.

Many tours include one or two nights where luggage is not available, in which case you will need to carry additional clothes or toiletries for a night away, catching up with our luggage at a later stop.  See individual tours for specifics.

What will the weather be like?

We get this question a lot, and in short, there’s no way to really know. In the mountains, weather varies a lot by altitude and can (and does) change rapidly throughout the day. Typical highs during a warm stretch might be in the 80’s, rarely warmer, but it can get cold at any time, and it even snows down the 5000′ a couple times each summer! There’s no predictable difference between the weather in June, July and August, and you should come prepared for anything. September is normally a little cooler, but still with similar patterns. You’ll want shorts, t-shirts, sun hat, and other sun protection for sunny weather of course, but also a warm fleece or jacket, rain gear, perhaps gloves and a warm hat just in case.

The best approach is to expect some mixed weather, don’t worry about it, and don’t try to guess. The weather websites are usually more misleading than useful, focusing only on if there’s any rain at all in the region during the day, and usually not accurately telling you where their weather station is. They can be very misleading. And nobody can tell you what it’s going to do 4-5 days from now. A normal day might start clear, for instance, and have some clouds building as the morning goes on. Maybe it’s in the upper 60’s, and we start out hiking uphill from our hotel. Great hiking weather. By lunch there are some clouds and the sun is coming and going, and it’s still very nice, but now we’re up at 8000′ and the wind is picking up. You’ll want to put on your fleece as we stop to eat and enjoy the views. By the time we get back to the hotel, it might be sprinkling a little, rain coats come out, and then at dinnertime (when we’re inside) it rains pretty hard for 30 minutes, clearing again after dinner.

Of course, often it’s sunny for days on end, and sometimes it rains all day as well, but a day like I’ve just described is pretty common. You’ll need a variety of clothes for that day – sun gear, fleece, rain gear. If you look at, all you’ll see is rain, but really we just had a gorgeous day in the Alps. Come prepared for a variety of experiences. is a good site for reliable local forecasts in English.

Can I be sure my trip is confirmed?

Yes!  We run all of our tours.  Keep in mind that our tours have no minimum size. If you sign up for the trip, we will guide it. For some reason (we’re not sure why), this is unusual in our industry, resulting in many people needing to make frantic backup plans when their tour is cancelled at the last minute. This will never happen with an Alpinehikers tour.  No need to wait to see if a departure is “confirmed”… they all are!

Deposits and Cancellations

How much of a deposit is required?

A deposit of $500/person is required to begin your reservations and will be applied toward your final trip cost.  Your balance payment will be due 90 days before your tour starts.

For tours booked within 90 days of departure, we require a deposit of 50% of your tour price, with the balance due after your tour is confirmed.  this will be due upon confirmation of your reservations.  If final payment is not received by the due date, we reserve the right to treat your reservation as canceled.

When submitting your deposit you will also be asked to review and agree to our booking terms.  Should you have any questions about any of these terms or documents please reach out to us by email at or by calling our main office at +1 928-778-0345

After your deposit is received, you will be sent a welcome letter and acknowledgment that we are working on your reservations along with a due date for your remaining balance. You will also receive a digital pre-trip booklet with detailed information on the trip, directions for joining the tour, suggested clothing and equipment, and other tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Reserve your spot as soon as you’re ready to commit to the trip.  Space on group guided tours is limited to a maximum of 14 per tour, and even for private and self-guided tours, earlier booking makes it easier to reserve preferred hotels.

What if we cannot travel on our trip?

Your health and happiness is always our top priority, and these are definitely uncertain times for international travel.  For that reason, we offer generous change and postponement options to any tour.  Postponement fees are quite a bit less than cancelling outright.  Your new tour can be in a different country (including our US tours), later in the year, or a different year completely.

Travel insurance should cover you in the event you actually get sick right before or during tour, and is more important now than ever. Please cover your trip, not only for this reason, but for the many other unpleasant surprises that can come up.

What is your refund policy if I need to cancel?

Cancellations must be received in writing, and are subject to the following per person fees (1/1/24):

  • More than 90 days before departure – $300/person to cancel, $100/person penalty to postpone
  • 61-90 days before departure – $500/person to cancel, $250/person to postpone
  • 46-60 days before departure – 75% to cancel, 50% to postpone
  • 0-45 days before departure – 100% of tour cost

If you’ve received a rail pass from us, we will ask you to return this unused either to us or to Rail Europe, and this will be refunded to you as well.

Do I need trip insurance?

We very strongly recommend travel insurance.  Cancelling a trip is no fun, and it’s very expensive. A lot of people have to cancel every year for various and unpredictable reasons. To protect yourself in the event that you have to cancel, trip cancellation and travel insurance is a pretty minor expense and a very good idea.

We always try to be fair to our clients who can’t come, but we do make substantial commitments that can’t always be reversed at the last minute. You’ll have flights and pre and post-trip plans to account for also. So don’t forget this important part of your tour.

For US and Canadian residents, we suggest you compare Travel Guard plans and choose among Essential, Preferred or Deluxe coverage. Travel Guard has worked well for our tour members for years, and is not that expensive – generally between 4-9% of your tour cost, depending on your age, the cost of your trip, and what kind of plan you get. It’s best to buy insurance within 15 days of your initial deposit, which gives you more comprehensive coverage, and the option to buy “cancel for any reason” coverage.

If you are forced to cancel a trip, you can talk to us about rescheduling, or carrying over a portion of your tour cost to a future tour and we’ll do what we can to help. But every year we have clients who regret that they didn’t get insurance, while nobody ever regrets that they did.

Price guarantee

The published prices at the time you sign up are guaranteed for this year, regardless of enrollment or currency fluctuations, so lock up your trip early and you don’t need to worry about prices or exchange rates. Group discounts and reduced prices for children are available. We also offer a 10% discount to returning hikers and on the second of two tours taken in one season.

At Alpinehikers, we are committed to offering first-class tours at reasonable prices. What we will never do is skimp on the tours themselves or on your experience. Our goal is to provide you a combination of quality and price that is unmatched in Switzerland.

How do I sign up?

You can find easy directions on our Sign Up page.  We have an online reservation form for you to fill out, and ask for a deposit to confirm your booking.  We accept personal checks, bank transfers or credit cards (Visa/MC/Amex) for both deposits and tour balances.

Do you work with travel agents?

We are happy to work with travel agents, advisors and other industry insiders.  If you have a client who would like to experience the Alps, we can help with expert advice at every step.  Discounted trips are sometimes available to photographers, bloggers and specialists.  Please ask if you are interested.

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