Via Jacobi is a pilgrimage route from Lake Constance to Geneva as a part of the Camino de Santiago. This 21-days adventure offers a remarkable hiking experience along historic paths through a diverse cultural landscape.
Whether you are looking for a spiritual journey or a hike along the stunning Swiss valleys and lakes, you will be seduced by the magnificent alpine scenery of the surrounding Bernese Oberland, the excellent cuisine and the Swiss hospitality.
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*This map is only for general reference; detailed route maps will be provided in your pre-departure package.
Day 1: Arrival in Rorschach
Between the gentle hills of Appenzellerland and Europe’s third-largest lake – Constance, lies Rorschach, the picturesque harbour town with Latin flair. In 947 Rorschach had received the right to hold markets and developed itself in the Middle Ages into the most important trading place on the southern side of the lake. The prosperity of these times can still be seen today in the stately homes in the heart of the locality and in the “Kornhaus”, the emblem of Rorschach and the most beautiful grain silo in Switzerland.
- Accommodation: Hotel Mozart or similar
Day 2: Rorschach – Herisau | 25 km
The Via Jacobi winds its way to St. Gallen through wide fields and small villages. South of St Gallen, you cross the Sitter and then wander through the recreational area Gübsensee. From here it is only three kilometres to your destination, Herisau. The place welcomes you with a historic marketplace, medieval streets and a good selection of hotels and inns.
- Walking for the day: 25 Km, ↑800 m ↓420 m, Duration: 6.5 h
- Accommodation: Landhaus Säntis or similar
Day 3: Herisau – Wattwil | 23 km
Herisau, the oldest Appenzell parish seat has been known since 907. The path leads past the former hostel, zum Goldenen Sternen, then on through the varied hilly landscape of Appenzell and Toggenburg to Wattwil. By bus to the neighbouring village Liechtensteig, where you will spend the night.
- Walking for the day: 23 Km, ↑1000 m ↓125 m, Duration: 7 h
- Accommodation: Cafe Huber or similar
Day 4: Wattwil – Rapperswil | 25 km
By bus back to Wattwil. Between Wattwil and Rapperswil, the landscape is dotted with individual farms and marked by gently rolling hills and various-sized woodland areas. Some beautiful sunken paths turn the hike into a special experience.
- Walking for the day: 25 Km, ↑665 m ↓865 m, Duration: 6.5 h
- Accommodation: Hotel Speer or similar
Day 5: Rapperswil – Einsiedeln | 16 km
The hike leads over the wooden footbridge from Rapperswil to Hurden built in 2001 and then over the Etzelpass to Einsiedeln. Enjoy a stroll to the shores of Lake Sihl and admire the Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey, located within the village. Considered one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe, the monastery complex and the abbey’s library are well worth visiting.
- Walking for the day: 16 Km, ↑760 m ↓260 m, Duration: 4.5 h
- Accommodation: Drei Könige or similar
Day 6: Einsiedeln – Brunnen | 24 km
Today the trail will take you over Haggenegg through the beautiful high valley of Alp towards the two Mythen peaks. The stately Au Convent and panoramic views of the Glarner Alps and the valley basin of Schwyz and Brunnen are feasts for the eyes. Schwyz, and the area surrounding it, is famous for its cherry blossom and numerous cherry specialities. Schwyz is also where the famous Swiss army pocket knives come from.
- Walking for the day: 24 Km, ↑635 m ↓1095 m, Duration: 6.5 h
- Accommodation: Hotel City or similar
Day 7: Brunnen – Stans | 21 km
After breakfast, you will cross Lake Lucerne. Take the ferry from Brunnen to Treib (included), the ancient refuge harbour at the point where cantons Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden meet. Don’t miss visiting the chapels along the way and the marble sculpture showing the sacrifice of Arnold von Winkelried in Stans.
- Walking for the day: 21 Km, ↑720 m ↓695 m, Duration: 6 h
- Accommodation: Hotel Engel or similar
Day 8: Stans – Flüeli-Ranft | 17 km
Today, following the first ascent after Stans, enjoy the panoramic views to Stanser Boden, the Vierwaldstättersee and the Innerschweiz mountain peaks. At the end of the section, visit the hermitage of Niklaus von Flüe, Switzerland’s only canonized saint.
- Walking for the day: 17 Km, ↑760 m ↓480 m, Duration: 5 h
- Accommodation: Guesthouse Engel (Sachseln) or similar
Day 9: Flüeli-Ranft – Brünig Pass | 23 km
Start your day with the amazing views from Flüeli – a feast for the eyes in this magnificent countryside, far from the hustle and bustle. The varied route follows the shores of the lakes Sarnen and Lungern. From Lungern church along the Brünigweg which, as a pilgrimage pfennig (coin) shows, was once a pilgrims’ path. Enjoy the magnificent mountain panorama of the high Bernese Oberland summits and eternal snow.
- Walking for the day: approx. 23 Km, ↑820 m ↓560 m, Duration: 6.5 h
- Accommodation: Lindenhof or similar
Day 10: Brünigpass – Interlaken | 30 km
Today the trail leads you along sunny slopes above the turquoise-toned Lake Brienz, surrounded by the forested and rocky hills of the high Faulhorn and Schwarzhoren more than 2.000 metres above the lake.
- Walking for the day: approx. 30 Km, ↑860 m ↓1‘300 m, Duration: 8.5 h
- Accommodation: Hotel Carlton-Europe or similar
Day 11: Interlaken – Spiez | 13 km
This section leads alongside the River Aare to the Weissenau nature reserve on the Thunersee lake. From Neuhaus, the route continues through woodland, often with clear views of the lake and the Bernese Alps. St Beatus Caves, former place of pilgrimage of St. Beatus, are particularly impressive. From Merligen by boat to Spiez. Make sure you take the opportunity to taste the local wine!
- Walking for the day: 13 Km, ↑445 m ↓445 m, Duration: 4 h
- Accommodation: La Belle Vue or similar
Day 12: Spiez – Wattenwil | 23 km
Before you leave today, visit Spiez Toy Museum and admire its toy collection from the 19th century to the modern era. Learn about toys that were popular in days gone by and how they have changed in recent years. It’s sure to bring back some childhood memories. Enjoy the easy walks, admire the Stockhorn mountain chain in the background, pass several lakes and 2 of the ‘1000 –year-old churches on Lake Thun. The oldest, built by King Rudolf II of Burgundy, is in Einigen.
- Walking for the day: 23 Km, ↑560 m ↓520 m, Duration: 6 h
- Accommodation: Liechti B&B or similar
Day 13: Wattenwil – Schwarzenburg | 21 km
After breakfast, continue from Wattenwil in the Gürbetal valley through the rural landscape of the Schwarzenburgerland up to Schwarzenburg. There are fantastic views of the Stockhorn mountain range all along the way. You walk through small villages with picture-postcard churches. The Rüeggisberg Monastery ruins and Wahlern Church, seen from afar enthroned on a sandstone ridge, are cultural highlights on the route to Schwarzenburg.
- Walking for the day: 21 Km, ↑700 m ↓520 m, Duration: 6 h
- Accommodation: Hotel Sonne or similar
Day 14: Schwarzenburg – Fribourg | 20 km
This stretch is considered the most exciting part of the Way of St. James in Switzerland and has been used by the Jakobspilger – the St. James pilgrims – since the Middle Ages. In Sense District, the rock-hewn passages paved with river stones are bear witnesses to the centuries-old history of the Way of St. James.
- Walking for the day: 20 Km, ↑ 400 m ↓ 560 m, Duration: 5.5 h
- Accommodation: Hotel De La Rose or similar
Day 15: Fribourg – Romont | 27 km
The city of Fribourg with its numerous historic references to St James and the St James pilgrims would be worth the journey on its own. Along river Glâne, you will every so often encounter evidence of the passage of pilgrims in the past, such as the St Apolline bridge. While in Romont, visit the Swiss Museum of Stained Glass and Glass Art.
- Walking for the day: 27 Km, ↑ 620 m ↓ 460 m, Duration: approx. 7 h
- Accommodation: Hotel le Lion d’Or or similar
Day 16: Romont – Moudon | 15 km
As you leave Romont, you will quickly cross the border between the cantons of Fribourg and Vaud via a path along the ridge, with a delightful clear view on both sides. After the descent to Curtilles, the route follows a path along the Broye. The parish church in Moudon and its precious stalls are well worth the visit. Both Romont and Moudon share the fact of having once belonged to the Duke of Savoy.
- Walking for the day: 15 Km, ↑ 180 m ↓ 440 m, Duration: approx. 3.5 h
- Accommodation: Hotel Chemin de Fer or similar
Day 17: Moudon – Lausanne | 29 km
Today you will walk along the River Broye to Bressonnaz, an area with bridges crossing both the Broye and the Carrouge rivers. The trail to Vucherens has open views of the Freiburger Alps and the forested Jorat region.
Lausanne is known for the unique museums undergoing exciting transformations and a new aquarium contrasting with the city’s Gothic Old Town. The neighbourhoods of chichi lakeside Ouchy and Flon, with its re-imagined warehouses, reflect Lausanne’s hip, urban culture; both beckon you to visit.
- Walking for the day: 29 Km, ↑ 740 m ↓ 720 m, Duration: approx. 7.5 h
- Accommodation: Agora Swiss Night or similar
Day 18: Lausanne – Rolle | 31 km
In Lausanne, the Way of St James leads from the Notre Dame Cathedral down the Escaliers du Marché. In Vidy, it crosses an idyllic park with Roman ruins and then follows the popular lakeside promenade along Lac Léman to Morges.
- Walking for the day: 31 Km, ↑ 280 m ↓ 420 m, Duration: approx. 7.5 h
- Accommodation: Au Bonheur des Iris or similar
Day 19: Rolle – Coppet / Commugny | 29 km
Do not miss the opportunity today to visit the famous Château de Coppet. Former home of Jacques Necker, Louis XVI’s banker and minister of finance, before it was handed down to his daughter, Madame de Staël, after she was exiled from Paris by Napoleon. It remains the little town of Coppet’s crowning glory. You can tour the rooms, sumptuously furnished in Louis XVI style, where de Staël entertained the likes of Edward Gibbon and Lord Byron.
- Walking for the day: 29 Km, ↑ 400 m ↓ 360 m, Duration: approx. 7 h
- Accommodation: Motel le Leman or similar
Day 20: Coppet / Commugny – Geneva | 17 km
This hike leads through villages with a French ambience to cosmopolitan Genève. Your adventure comes to an end with a visit to the impressive St. Pierre Cathedral. One magnificent stained glass window depicts St James wearing a purple cloak trimmed with ermine.
- Walking for the day: 17 Km, ↑ 200 m ↓ 240 m, Duration: approx. 4.5 h
- Accommodation: Les Nations or similar
Day 21: Departure
Return home or individual stay extension.
What to Expect
Accommodation is in nice 2/3-star hotels, local guesthouses and inns, in double or twin private en-suite rooms (no en-suite rooms available in smaller villages like Wattenwil). We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Show our default hotels for this trip
- Hotel Mozart, Landhaus Säntis, Cafe Huber, Hotel Speer, Drei Könige, City, Hotel Engel, Guesthouse Engel, Lindenhof, Hotel Carlton-Europe, La Belle Vue, Liechti B&B, Hotel Sonne, Hotel De La Rose, Hotel le Lion d’Or, Hotel Chemin de Fer, Agora Swiss Night, Au Bonheur des Iris, Motel le Leman, Les Nations
*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.
Accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis. Picnic lunches are optional at an extra charge and can be ordered locally. You can have dinner at your hotel or at nearby restaurants.
Difficulty & terrain
This moderate hiking tour leads mostly on comfortable forest trails. Some narrower paths along Lake Lucerne on Day 7 (read more about difficulty grades).
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
This trip is available from mid-April until mid-October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates (except Sundays), and you can start your trip on any date during the season.
The best time for walking is between June and mid-September when the wildflowers are in bloom, and the weather is generally good. Earlier in the season, there may be some residual snow patches, but this will not require any special equipment or skills.
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Our recommended airport for this tour is Zurich (ZRH).
By train or bus
- By train: From Zurich airport via St. Gallen. Duration approx. 1.5 hours. For more information and timetables, please visit SBB or use the Omio travel planner above.
- Return travel by train via Zurich to Zurich airport. Duration approx. 3 hours.
- 20 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
- Luggage transfer when changing hotels (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
- Ferry ticket Brunnen – Treib
- Ferry ticket Merligen – Spiez
- Admission fee Abbey Library in St. Gallen
- Detailed route notes (1 x per room) & GPS tracks
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme
Options, extras & supplements
- Extra charges may be applicable for last-minute bookings for this specific tour!
- Single room supplement for members of a group
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights in Rorschach and Geneva are available upon request