The worlds longest suspension bridge was just opened in Switzerland! Officially called the Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke, it only just opened in July 2017. This is the latest addition to Switzerland’s already impressive lineup of attractions, both manmade and natural. So of course I had to go and check this thing out for myself! The bridge stretches a half a kilometer in length, which is a pretty unreal length of walking bridge if you can imagine. It’s a bit wobbly to walk on, I found it a bit unnerving…and I think I’m pretty adventurous! But it’s a really cool experience to walk across this bridge, as it offers fantastic views of the Swiss Alps. So if you’re in the business of seeking out the world’s best, biggest, highest, and longest attractions, or if you just want to loop this into your Switzerland vacation, I’ve got the scoop. Here’s everything you need to know for how to visit the worlds longest suspension bridge in Switzerland.
How to Visit the Worlds Longest Suspension Bridge in Switzerland
Where in Switzerland is the worlds longest suspension bridge?
The Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke, the world’s longest suspension bridge, is located near the mountain town of Randa, which is near the famous town of Zermatt. It’s in the Swiss Alps mountain range surrounding the famous Matterhorn peak, in the south of Switzerland. Even though it’s near Randa, accessing the bridge requires hiking up the mountains a bit.
What are my hiking options to get there?
The easiest and most straightforward way to get to the world’s longest suspension bridge is by hiking up from Randa. The hike begins right at the Randa train station, and you just need to follow the signs towards Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke. When in doubt, the signs will also be pointing you towards Europahütte since that’s the hut close by.
The hike is quite steeply uphill, you’ll ascend about 600m to the bridge, which is at 2000m. I have seen others post online that the hike up took 2-3 hours but I made the hike in 1 hour 7 minutes. I was racing time, trying to make it up and back before the sunset, so my times are probably the shortest you could do it in. If you’re not too experienced with hiking, it’s okay you can make it up there too, it’s not a technically difficult trail. You may just need to stop more often for a breather and to sip some water.
Then once you reach the bridge, it’s 500m long so it takes 20-30 minutes to cross it. It’ll be longer as you stop for pictures too! And then for the hike back down into town, follow the trail signs for Randa. This bit took me 52 minutes, and in general the hike back down should be a bit shorter timing than your hike up. And this makes a full loop!
Overall, the hike from Randa to the Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke bridge and back takes at least 2 hours 30 minutes, but more likely 3-4 hours.
There are other ways to reach the worlds longest suspension bridge, as it’s part of the massive network of hiking trails that traverse the Swiss Alps. This bridge is part of the longer Europaweg trail, and you can find it on your way between Zermatt and Grächen.
It’s about a 6 hour hike to the bridge from Zermatt, and a 7 hour hike to it from Grächen. If you want to do this 2-day hike, you can stay overnight at the Europahütte, which is a 30 minute hike from the bridge, on the Grächen side.
Of course you will also have the option to include this in a larger and longer hike through the Swiss Alps, but these are the details you’ll need to reach it from the nearest landmarks.
How do I get to Randa?
Randa is a small town, like the quintessential Swiss mountain town where tourists don’t even go. But it’s an access point for a few trails, like the Europaweg. You can get to Randa by train, from Zermatt it’s just 2 stops on the R (regional) train. The ticket to Randa from Zermatt costs CHF28.40 round-trip, and can be purchased in the train station right before you board the train. These trains run approximately every half hour, and the ride takes about 20 minutes.
You can also reach Randa by train from other parts of the country. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll need to probably route towards Zermatt and just get off at Randa before you reach Zermatt.
What should I bring along with me?
For those of you doing the day hike circuit from Randa, you should bring a day pack with water and snacks, and sunscreen! You can get away with wearing sneakers for the hike but you’ll be more comfortable in hiking boots. The hike up is tiring and you’ll definitely warm up, but once you reach the top it’s cold and windy. Bring a winter jacket and gloves for the walk across the bridge and the hike down. And of course, bring your camera!
For those of you doing the 2-day hike between Zermatt and Grächen, you’ll need a larger overnight pack as well as more water. The Europahutte offers warm indoor accommodations and hot meals, so you will not need a tent or cooking kit!
How much does it cost to access the bridge?
There is not a fee to cross the bridge, no tickets needed. It will cost you some energy to climb up to it but then you are free to cross the bridge!
Are there any safety concerns when visiting the bridge?
It’s not advised to visit the bridge in inclement weather like snow, rain, or strong winds. And actually it’s forbidden to cross the bridge during a thunder and lightning storm since it is made of metal and therefore a target of lightning. But there is nobody guarding the bridge so it is up to you to decide when it’s not a good idea to cross.
Use your best judgment about when to cross the bridge when others are on it. If the bridge looks too crowded, it would be best to wait for some space to clear up. I had the bridge to myself for most of my crossing actually, and I think that given the hike you must endure to reach it, the bridge will probably not be overcrowded usually.
When crossing the bridge, you should not rock or bounce the bridge. Because of the structure as a suspension bridge, it has some give. It will naturally shake a bit when you walk but you should not intentionally create more shaking in the bridge than that.
Additionally, I was quite disturbed to find that in the short time that the bridge has been open, two irresponsible visitors have attached locks to the bridge. These locks have their initials inscribed in them, like people do at the Love Locks Bridge in Paris. This practice poses a serious threat to the structural integrity of the bridge, as it was not designed to support the extra weight of these locks, especially if lots of people start to do this. You should not add locks to the bridge, nor should you write on it. That is defacing property, it’s illegal and it’s disrespectful to the other people that want to use the bridge. Remember the golden rule of being in nature: Take only photos, leave only footprints.