Thinking of hiking to Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge (aka Randa Suspension Bridge hike nr. 69) near Zermatt in Switzerland and wondering what to expect and if it’s worth it? In this guide, we share our experience, info, tips, and our honest review of this hike. Find out!
Randa Suspension Bridge, officially known as Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge (Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke am Europaweg) is one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world and the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the Alps.
When it was built as part of the Europaweg from Grächen to Zermatt in 2017, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. There’s still a sign indicating this at the bridge itself.
Spanning 494 meters (0.3 miles) at 85 meters above the valley, this hanging bridge is a really impressive structure. To give you an idea, it takes 10 minutes just to walk over this bridge in one direction…
However, reaching this spectacular suspension bridge near Randa requires quite a long and steep hike. Therefore, many people wonder if Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge is really worth all the effort. And the opinions are mixed… But there’s more to this hike than just the bridge – Randa town itself to start with, but also Europa Hut, and the mountain scenery, of course.
So I hope that this guide will answer all your questions about visiting the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge hike and help you decide if it’s worth it for you. Take a look!
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Hike Overview
Loop hike from Randa to Europahütte via Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge:
- Official trail: Hike nr. 69, indicated as ‘Hauspil – Hängebrücke’.
- Distance: 8.6 km (5.3 mi).
- Hiking time: 4 hrs.
- Difficulty: Medium.
- Elevation difference: Ascent 988 m/descent 988 m (3,241 ft).
- Start/end: Randa town (1,439 m).
- Season: May – October.
- Facilities: There are facilities in Randa village and also at Europa Hut (if you take a detour), but there are no mountain huts along the trail. At the beginning of the hike, you can fill up your water bottles and there are also some (primitive) toilets along the trail.
- Equipment/clothing: Good hiking shoes are a must and hiking poles are highly recommended. Also, pack plenty of water, sun protection, and some snacks or a picnic.
Good to know: Please note that the distances/times are from Randa Railway Station and all the way to Europahütte. If you start your hike at the car parking close to the church, you’ll save about 0.4 km (0.25 mi) each way. If you only do the circular hike to the bridge (without a detour to the Europa Hut), the loop hike is about 7 km (4.3 mi) and takes about 3 hours (hiking time).
Our experience: The circular hike from Randa to Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge and back to Randa took us 3.5 hours including lots of photo stops and a picnic.
For various reasons, we decided not to take a detour to Europa Hut. It would also have added at least another hour of hiking time, plus time at the hut, and it was already getting late for what we still had to do that day. But if you have plenty of time and start early, I would definitely recommend doing it, especially if the weather is nice and there are no clouds to obstruct the views.
Below, you can find all the practical details and info for this hike.
How to Get There, Parking & Map
The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge hike starts in Randa Village, near Zermatt (see the map below for the exact location). Randa can be easily reached by car or by train.
If you are coming by train, simply follow the “Hauspil – Hängebrücke” signs from the Randa railway station.
If you are coming by car, you can drive to a small car parking in the village, close to the church, and where the actual hiking trail starts. This saves you quite a long uphill walk through town. However, the parking area here is really small – there’s space for just 12-15 cars and it quickly fills up.
You also have to pay a small parking fee using the machine at the entrance of this parking. The fee was 5 CHF when we visited and you could pay cash or by card. Please note that you can only stay here for max. 8 hours. For longer stays, you have to use the car parking at the station.
We were lucky to find one last parking spot here, so we didn’t have to drive around looking for alternative parking. But from what I saw, there aren’t many other options, except the parking at the railway station. So try to arrive early, or simply park at the station and prepare for a bit longer climb to the trailhead.
Below, you can see the map indicating all the important points you need for this hike: Randa railway station, the car parking at the station and the one close to the church (the closest to the trailhead), and where exactly the hike starts. From there, you’ll see plenty of signs and you really can’t go wrong.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge can be visited FREE of charge. The only cost you might have is a parking fee (at the moment 5 CHF) if you visit by car or train tickets if you come by train.
In Which Direction to Hike
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge hike is a circular loop that starts and ends in Randa. The official sources recommend hiking anti-clockwise. They also indicate that the hike takes half an hour extra if you do it in the other direction.
We did the hike as recommended and have to agree that it’s probably the best way to do it indeed. Hiking anti-clockwise means that you are hiking in the shadow on your way up. Since the climb is pretty steep, it’s nice to have more shade when climbing – it’s tiring enough as it is. There’s much more sun on the other side, so it’s easier if you are hiking down there.
Furthermore, some of the nicest views are in front of you when hiking down from the hanging bridge in the direction of Randa. If you do this hike in the other direction, these views will be behind you, but you’ll see the bridge in front of you for a big part of the hike.
On the bridge itself, the views are nicer in the direction of Zermatt, so if you hike as recommended, the best views are behind you. But it’s easy enough to just stop once in a while and enjoy the 360° views around you here, so this is definitely not a reason to do it the other way around.
Best Time to Visit
The season when you can hike to Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge is approximately from May to October, so any time in this period is good. The nicest months for this hike are probably late September to early October – the weather is generally ok, it’s not busy, and the trees start to change color making the scenery so much more special.
The best time of the day is early morning – not only because it’s less busy, but also because it’s the best time for photography. In the afternoon, the sun is right in front of you when looking towards the nicest views, making it really difficult to enjoy the scenery or take nice pictures.
We did this hike on our way from central Switzerland to Zermatt, so we only arrived in Randa at around noon. It was really hot (we visited mid-August), very busy at the parking and on the trail itself, and the light for pictures was far from ideal. If I were to do this hike again, I’d go as early as possible.
Also, please note that this hike can be dangerous if there’s lightning. You are also not allowed to cross the bridge in winter.
Hike Description & Photos
The official hiking trail to Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge starts at Randa Train Station. But – as already mentioned – you can also drive to the car parking by the church and that will save you a steep walk of about 0.4 km in each direction. We started the hike at the car parking close to the church and if there are free spaces, it’s really the best way to do it.
From the moment you arrive, you are in the heart of the picturesque village, with traditional wooden houses decorated with wood carvings and colorful flowers. Be sure to take your time to look around before you start the hike (or when you return) – Randa village is really charming and is well worth a visit even if you don’t hike to the bridge.
From the car parking, walk in the direction of the church and take the first street to your left. There are hiking signs fixed to the corner of the house, but you only see them once you turn behind the corner. You really can’t go wrong – there’s just this one street between the car parking and the church.
Here, you take a narrow cobbled street uphill and walk past the traditional wooden houses on stilts (typical to the Valais region in Switzerland). There is a small water fountain here, so if you need to fill up your water bottles, this is a good place to do that.
Soon, you’ll see hiking signs indicating ‘Hängebrücke’ or ‘Hauspil-Hängebrücke’ to the right. From here on, you start climbing on a dirt trail and you’ll be climbing pretty much all the way until you reach the bridge, an hour later.
The hike takes you through a larch forest and you’ll have some shade almost all the time – it really helps because the hike is steep. The only change in the rather monotonous scenery is the occasional view of the glacier on the other side of the valley.
Good to know: There are many signs indicating the suspension bridge along the way, so you really can’t go wrong. However, time indications are totally wrong. At one point, the signs say you have 45 minutes left to go. But then after climbing for about 35-40 minutes, there is another sign saying that’s it’s yet another 40 minutes to the bridge… We were not the only ones that were looking at it in disbelief – ‘whaaaaat???’ Talking about a demotivating experience… But then you walk another 10 minutes and there’s a sign saying that the bridge is just 5 minutes away and that is, indeed, correct.
So ignore the time indicated on the signs or you’ll get confused and demotivated. And let’s hope that the kind people of the local tourism board read this and will replace the signs in the future. 🙂 Please also note that some of the signs on the other side of the bridge (back in the direction of Randa) are totally wrong as well. About halfway through the hike, there’s a sign saying that the village is just 5 minutes away, while in reality, it’s still about 40 minutes…
Our experience: From the moment we left the village and started climbing on the dirt track, it took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the bridge from Randa. From the other side of the suspension bridge back to Randa, it took us 1 hour and 10 minutes before we reached the first houses in town.
Now back to the hike… After about an hour of a continuous uphill hike, the trail gets somewhat flatter. Once you see huge boulders around you, you know that you’re almost at the bridge. You can’t see the suspension bridge until you’re practically there and then all of a sudden there it is – right in front of you.
There’s not much space on the southern side of the bridge, so if you are planning to have a picnic here, it’s best to first cross to the other side. On the other hand, this side is in the shadow and once you cross the bridge, there’s hardly any shade at all (but there’s much more place to sit down and enjoy the view). We even found a free picnic table here.
In high season, you’ll meet quite some other people hiking in this area and crossing the bridge in both directions. While not very wide, it’s not too difficult to pass other hikers if you run into them on the bridge, so don’t worry about it. The bridge also feels very safe and you can also walk here with kids.
Keep in mind that Randa Suspension Bridge is almost 0.5km long and it’s really high. This is definitely not an ideal place to visit if you are afraid of heights. Our kids are usually quite fearless and they have hardly ever shown fear, but one of our sons was a bit uncertain about crossing this bridge. I think it has mostly to do with its length – once you start, count 8-10 minutes before you reach the other end.
But it’s well worth taking your time while you cross the bridge! The views are amazing, with snow-capped mountains and glaciers around you. If there are no clouds, you can also see Matterhorn and Weisshorn.
After you cross the bridge, you’ll find a small picnic area with a view over the suspension bridge and the surrounding mountains. Take some time to simply enjoy the scenery – after all, you did all that climbing in order to get here.
If you feel like hiking a bit more, you can continue further uphill to the Europa hut, or you can turn left and go back down to Randa, where you started.
The detour to Europa hut is just 0.8 km one-way (so 1.6 km extra in total). However, because this mountain hut is located much higher than the bridge, you need about half an hour to get there (and half an hour back).
There’s a restaurant at the hut and it’s a good place for lunch if you didn’t bring a picnic. Otherwise, you can just get some cake and drink something while enjoying the scenery.
There are many more hiking possibilities here, but if you’re just doing the Randa Suspension Bridge – Europa Hut hike, you’ll have to return back to the bridge the same way you came. You can then continue down to Randa (follow the signs to ‘Randa Dorf‘ (Randa village) and under the bridge.
Just as on your way up on the other side of the bridge, this trail is also very steep with not that much to see along the way. Don’t forget to look backward once in a while – you can see the bridge behind you for quite a long time.
When you are out of the forest and almost back at the village, the scenery gets greener again, you pass some more traditional houses and the view is more open. The trail then reconnects to the same narrow cobbled street where you started. You can refill your water bottles at the water fountain again.
Soon, you’ll pass Randa church on your left. The small car parking is to your right here. Otherwise, continue straight downhill in the direction of the railway station. If you have some energy, check out the church and the beautiful houses around it. It only takes a minute or two – well worth it.
Is Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Worth It?
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge near Randa is really impressive. If you have never walked on a really long suspension bridge in the mountains, you’ll probably find it mind-blowing and well worth a long and tiring climb.
If, however, this is not the first hanging bridge that you’ve seen, you might find that it’s not worth the climb.
Don’t take me wrong – Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge itself IS really impressive and the surroundings are magnificent, no doubt about that. But the climb to get there and back is really steep and quite boring. So the real question is whether you are prepared to climb for 1.5 hours just to see the bridge and then spend another 1-1.5 hrs on a very steep hike down…
We have seen a few similar hanging bridges before and our family’s opinion about this one was quite mixed.
My husband and the kids found that it wasn’t worth the long hike. I found that the bridge more than made up for the tiring climb. Yes, it’s not the most exciting hike, and yes, you don’t see much along the way, but how often do you get to walk over a half-a-kilometer-long hanging bridge… And the views from and around the bridge are spectacular as well.
That being said, I’d only recommend doing this hike if you have at least 3-4 days in the Zermatt area and the weather is really nice. Then Randa suspension bridge hike is worth it. If, however, you only have 1 day in Zermatt (and even with 2-3 days), there are so many other (even more impressive) places that don’t require that much effort and that are worth your time more.
TIP: As already mentioned, even if you decide not to hike to the bridge, consider at least visiting Randa village. It’s really picturesque with some traditional dark wooden houses typical to the Valais region and well worth a few minutes of your time.
Below, at the bottom of this article, you can find our alternative suggestion – another suspension bridge nearby that’s much easier to visit than the hanging bridge in Randa.
Extra Tips for Hiking to Charles Kuonen Bridge & Europa Hut
- Arrive early. If you are coming by car, it’s best to get to Randa no later than 10 am – that way, you have more chances finding a spot at the small car parking close to the hike trailhead. Also, this is quite a popular hike, so the earlier you start, the easier it will be – otherwise, you constantly run into other people since everyone stops to catch their breath all the time.
- Wear the best hiking boots you have. This is really not a hike to do in your sneakers! The trail is very steep and you really need sturdy grip and good ankle support.
- Bring your hiking poles. If you have hiking poles, you’ll definitely want to bring them when hiking to Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge. While the uphill climb is doable without the hiking poles, they are almost indispensable on your way down. We own and highly recommend these light and foldable hiking poles from Black Diamond. And yes, we used them when hiking here in Randa and in Zermatt as well.
- Pack some snacks and plenty of drinking water. Because you climb uphill all the time, you need much more water than for other hikes of comparable length or duration.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge with Kids
While it’s indicated as a family-friendly hike, the Randa suspension bridge trail is also quite challenging. It’s a steep uphill climb with a 988 m (3,241 ft) ascent and just as steep descent.
If you have plenty of time and your kids are good hikers, you could probably attempt this hike with children from 5-6 years old. However, you’ll definitely enjoy it more with older kids.
We hiked to Charles Kuonen hanging bridge with our 10-12-year-old children and they managed the steep uphill and downhill trails just fine, but they also complained about the constant climb and rather boring scenery. We couldn’t even bribe them into hiking to Europa Hut for some cake. You can see the hut from the bridge and it just didn’t seem worth yet another steep climb, and sometimes you have to listen to your kids if you want to keep it fun for the whole family…
If you take your kids on this hike, be sure that they are ready for at least 3 hours of hiking on steep trails (4+ hours if you go to the mountain hut). Also, pack plenty of water, some snacks, and sweet treats to keep them motivated and going.
Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Alternative
If you want to walk over a suspension bridge, but don’t feel like hiking that much, you’ll be glad to know that there’s another suspension bridge in Zermatt that’s much easier to visit and doesn’t require that much strenuous hiking.
Furi Suspension Bridge is much shorter than Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, but it’s also quite impressive, the scenery around it is also very nice, and it’s so much easier to reach.
You can get to the Furi suspension bridge on a half-hour easy hike from the Furi cable car station in Zermatt. The whole loop will take you about an hour and it’s incomparably easier and more relaxing than the hike to the suspension bridge in Randa.
So, this is our guide to visiting Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in Randa, Switzerland.
Have you done this hike? What was your opinion about it? Feel free to leave a reply below and share your experience.
More hiking suggestions in Zermatt:
- Matterhorn Glacier Trail – the best LONGER hike in Zermatt.
- Gornergrat Scenic Trail – the best SHORT hike in Zermatt.
- Riffelsee Lake Trail – the best EASY & SHORT hike in Zermatt.
- 5 Lakes Hike in Zermatt – a somewhat longer, but easy and really nice hike for those who have more time.
- Overview with a map: Best Hiking Trails in Zermatt
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Some of our favorite hikes in Switzerland:
- Best Hikes at Schynige Platte (near Interlaken)
- Oeschinensee Hike (close to Interlaken)
- Four Lakes Hike in Engelberg (near Lucerne)
- Bachalpsee Lake (Grindelwald)
- Stoos Ridge Hike (near Lucerne or Zurich)
Some of our favorite places in Switzerland: