Overview for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to Aosta
Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage trail from Canterbury to Rome is getting increasingly popular among modern wayfarers for a reason. Starting from Lake Geneva, the Swiss route goes across the Alps into Italy. The path reveals amazing sceneries, cultural heritage and history, providing many opportunities for enriching adventures. This section of the Via Francigena is, without doubt, one of the most spectacular pilgrims’ paths in Europe.
Our itinerary starts in Lausanne and runs through the vineyards of Lavaux to the bend in the Rhone. From the ancient city of Octodurus, the path winds through the narrow pass shaped by the wild waters of the Drance to the northern slopes of the Great St Bernard Pass, the highlight of the trip. After visiting the Hospice Museum at San Bernard, you will move to the border. Here there is a mule track with panoramic views which goes gradually down into the valley. You will go through the pretty little villages of Saint Rhemy en Bosses, Saint Leonard, Saint Oyen and Etroubles and reach Aosta in Italy.
Itinerary for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to AostaGo to top of page
Day 1: Lausanne
Your trip starts from Lausanne in Switzerland. Depending on the time of your arrival you have the rest of the day for exploring the cultural sites of the city.
- Accommodation: Hotel du Marche or similar
Day 2: Lausanne to Vevey
Today, the Via Francigena takes you out of the city of Lausanne and along the shore of Lake Geneva. Right before you reach Vevey, the route will climb sharply into the impressive UNESCO-listed terraced vineyards of Lavaux, before leading you again to the lakeshore and Vevey.
- Accommodation: Hotel des Negociants or similar
- Walking for the day: 21 km
Day 3: Vevey to Villeneuve
Today, the first part of your walk will follow the path by the lakeshore. On your way, Montreux is a cultural hub, home to the famous Jazz Festival and many other events during the year. You will also see the fairy-tale Chateau of Chillon.
- Accommodation: Hotel du Soleil or similar
- Walking for the day: 12 km
Day 4: Villeneuve to Saint-Maurice
This section of the Via Francigena takes pilgrims along the Rhone River, which means that the trail is quite flat and easy today. In Saint Maurice you should visit the beautiful abbey, built against the cliff.
- Accommodation: La Dent du Midi or similar
- Walking for the day: 26 km
Day 5: Saint-Maurice to Martigny
Today the Via Francigena route will follow higher paths to the village of Martigny, after a few kilometres following the Rhone. Just after Saint-Maurice, you reach Vérolliez, where a tiny chapel commemorates the martyrdom of St Mauritius and his companions. On the path into the Rhonetal, you will see the famous Pissevache waterfall and the 200-metre-deep Trient gorge. In Martigny, visit the Roman archaeological sites, particularly the amphitheatre.
- Accommodation: Hotel du Forum or similar
- Walking for the day: 17 km
Day 6: Martigny to Orsières
This stage marks the beginning of the climb to the Great St. Bernard Pass. From Martigny, a sometimes steep path leads over the narrow Les Trappistes pass to the medieval village of Sembrancher. From here the route follows the Napoleon trail. Once you have reached your destination for the night, Orsières, make sure you visit the church and its bell-tower.
- Accommodation: Union Hotel or similar
- Walking for the day: 20 km ↑950m
Day 7: Orsières to Bourg St Pierre
Today, you will be climbing steadily from Orsières to Bourg-St Pierre, on off-road sections with some short, steep parts. Bourg-St Pierre is a small classic alpine village and was an important staging point for Napoleon’s Italian campaign.
- Accommodation: Hotel Du Cret or similar
- Walking for the day: 14 km ↑1000m
Day 8: Bourg-Saint-Pierre to the Great St Bernard Pass
After leaving Bourg St Pierre, the Via Francigena takes you south towards Colle del San Bernardo, the Great St Bernard’s Pass. Along the way, you will pass Lac des Toules and its dam. Sitting at 2,469m above sea level, the Col du Grand St. Bernard has been used over the centuries by the armies of Rome and Napoleon as well as pilgrims on their way to Rome’. The pass is perhaps most famous for its hospice where the famous St. Bernard dogs were originally bred.
- Accommodation: Hotel Italia Col du St Bernard or similar
- Walking for the day: 12 km ↑1100m
Day 9: Great St Bernard Pass to Aosta
Today you will descend into the valley through the pretty little villages of Saint Rhemy en Bosses, Saint Leonard, Saint Oyen, Etroubles and Echevennoz to Aosta in Italy. Aosta was originally founded by an alpine tribe known as the Salassi and the town’s position as a gateway to the Alps saw it change hands many times over the centuries. It was held by the Romans, Burgundians, Ostrogoths, Byzantines and the Frankish before it finally became part of the Kingdom of Italy. As a result, there is an abundance of archaeologic and historic sites in the town, including the Augusta Praetoria Roman ruins.
Note: Today’s walk is quite long (29 km, 7-8h) although most of it is a descent. You can optionally split it by adding an extra night at Etroubles (14 km from St Bernard) and on next day you will walk another 15 km down to Aosta.
- Accommodation: Le Pageot or similar
- Walking for the day: 29 km
Day 10: Departure
Departure on your own or extension upon request.
Hotels for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to AostaGo to top of page
Accommodation is in welcoming 3-star hotels and country inns. All rooms have en-suite facilities. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included every day. Packed lunches can be pre-ordered at the accommodations or bought from local shops. Dinners are available at the overnight accommodations or in the villages.
Travel for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to AostaGo to top of page
The closest International airport to the starting point is Geneva Airport (60 km). The closest airports to Aosta are Turin and Milan, or you can return to Geneva by bus (2.5h).
You can take a train from the airport to Lausanne (45 minutes travel time), there are 3 departures per hour. Most connections are direct and there is no need to change. Full timetable details are available at www.sbb.ch.
Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip, as they are much cheaper and faster compared to car transfers. You can also book a private airport transfer with us.
Hotel to hotel luggage transfer is included on all walking days.
Up-to-date travel advice on Switzerland is available here. Up-to-date travel advice on Italy is available here. Detailed travel information and hints will be provided in your holiday information pack.
A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.
Trip Info for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to AostaGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
The route is graded moderate; the climb to Great St Bernard Pass involves some steep sections, narrow paths and daily elevation gain of over 1000m. A solid level of fitness is required for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades).
The route is well marked with the official signs of the Via Francigena (white-red markings and yellow sign with the Pilgrim symbol on it). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
You can start your holiday every day between 15 June and 2 September. The Great St Bernard Pass is closed for walkers during the rest of the year due to snow coverage and high avalanche risk. It closes on 15 September
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 25 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Via Francigena in Switzerland: Lausanne to AostaGo to top of page
- 9 nights in selected 3-star hotels and country inns, private en-suite rooms
- 9 breakfasts
- Luggage transfers on all walking days
- A detailed information pack, route notes and maps
- 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative
Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements
- Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable.
- This holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost
Please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above to see the price of the holiday and the different options, extras and supplements for your desired dates.
Options and Extras
- Additional nights before, during or after the walk
Other Trip-Related Costs
- Airport train and bus fares
- Entrance fees for attractions and museums
- Flights and airport transfers
- Lunches & dinners
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- City tourist taxes
- Any items not explicitly mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
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