Creux du Van – The Grand Canyon of Switzerland

Reni sitting at the breathtaking Creux du Van

Reni sitting at the breathtaking Creux du Van

Have you ever heard of the Grand Canyon of Switzerland? Yes, there are spectacular landscapes and canyons in Switzerland. The Creux du Van is one of those incredibly fascinating destinations in Switzerland, which leave you amazed at the sight. No wonder that the spectacular Creux du Van is also known as the Grand Canyon of Switzerland.

For Reni it is the first time to visit the Creux du Van, for me it’s the second time. Many years ago I stood at this stunning abyss into the depth on a hike during a school camp. The Creux du Van is tucked away in a forest in Val-de-Travers in the Swiss Jura. The nearest town and railway connection is the small village of Noiraigue. From Noiraigue, there is a fairly strenuous but very rewarding hike with beautiful views of the Creux du Van.

The hiking trails around the Creux du Van are well signposted

The hiking trails around the Creux du Van are well signposted

Circular walk around the Creux du Van

The circular hiking trail around the Creux du Van is 13.6 kilometers and you will need about five hours for it. First you will climb 750 meters up onto a plateau and afterwards you will descend down into the valley again. The starting point is the small town of Noiraigue near Neuchâtel in the Swiss Jura. From here, the first bit is on a paved road until you reach the city limits where the trail is leading off into the woods. Since the trail is designed as a circular route, you need to decide whether you do it clockwise or counterclockwise. We have chosen the counterclockwise direction. The first part will be a steep ascent anyway.

Right from the start, the trail is quite steep and follows a wide forest road uphill. The climb is long and the first beads of sweat will form on your forehead. At the farm Les Oeuillon you can get drinks and snacks to get energy for the next part of the climb. From here the trail is a steep footpath that meanders through the forest. The climb is strenuous and sweaty but you will be rewarded with great views of a beautiful landscape.

After approximately 1.5 hours the trail is flattening out and we reach the plateau of the Creux du Van. We are at the northern end of the horseshoe-shaped canyon and from here we can clearly see the shape of the abyss. It’s already noon and we enjoy our snack with this amazing view.

The view during our lunch break at the Creux du Van

The view during our lunch break at the Creux du Van

Rest area with wonderful views of the Creux du Van

Rest area with wonderful views of the Creux du Van

After our well-deserved lunch break, we follow the hiking trail that leads along the rock face of the Creux du Van. The cliff is not fenced off and it’s very deep so be careful. If you bring your kids, make sure to point out the danger and always have an eye on your children.

Slightly set back from the rock face of the Creux du Van there is the restaurant Le Soliat. You can reach the restaurant with your own car and this is also the alternative for people who do not want, or are not able to do the steep climb.

At the highest point there is even a tourist information point with an employee of the tourist office (only in good weather and in high season). Here you get additional information or tips for hikes in the region. Along the precipice, there are many beautiful places where you can enjoy the beautiful landscape and look into the depths.

The rock face of the Creux du Van is very impressive but not secured

The rock face of the Creux du Van is very impressive but not secured

The Creux du Van is located in the Val de Travers in the Swiss Jura

The Creux du Van is located in the Val de Travers in the Swiss Jura

A short detour from the escarpment to the lookout Le Soliat is also worthwhile. Over green pastures along the fences a path leads to the lookout where you can enjoy a panoramic view over the landscape. There is also a panoramic map with the name of the surrounding peaks. The view over the beautiful landscape of the Jura invites you to linger. Lie down into the grass and enjoy the sun on your face.

A path leads from the escarpment of the Creux du Van to the viewpoint Le Soliat

A path leads from the escarpment of the Creux du Van to the viewpoint Le Soliat

In the meadow at Le Soliat are many stone cairns

In the meadow at Le Soliat are many stone cairns

Back on the main hiking trail, we now reach the south side of the escarpment of the Creux du Van. Here is the best place to see the horseshoe shape of the Creux du Van. You stand really close to the abyss and it’s incredibly deep, so watch out that you do not stumble. A misstep would be disastrous.

We are really impressed by the stunning landscape of the Creux du Van. What also surprised us is that there are no fences or warning signs. In other countries we have seen similar landscapes completely fenced off and filled with warning signs.

The rock face of the Creux du Van has the shape of a horseshoe

The rock face of the Creux du Van has the shape of a horseshoe

Now the trail starts to descend again. At the beginning the trail is steep and narrow. After about half of the descent we again reach a forest road and the road is not as steep anymore and pleasant to walk. After the descent into the valley we reach the Restaurant Ferme Robert. There is also a small museum and information on the secrets of the Creux du Van and the nature reserve surrounding it. From here it is only a short walk back to Noiraigue.

Getting to the Creux du Van

The Creux du Van is easily accessible by public transport from the small village Noiraigue, which is close to Neuchâtel. There are direct trains from Zurich to Neuchâtel and from Neuchâtel it’s only a short train ride to Noiraigue. The travel time from Zurich to Neuchâtel is about 90 to 120 minutes and from Neuchâtel to Noiraigue it’s about 20 minutes.

At the train station of Noiraigue you can hire bikes and e-bikes and there is a very small shop with drinks and some snacks.

Other attractions in this region are the Areuse Gorges and Poeta-Raisse.

When you visit the Val-de-Travers, you should definitely try absinthe. This high-proof brandy was born in this region. Today, the production is legal again but for a long time it was forbidden.

For more information about the Creux du Van and other attractions in the Val-de-Travers, check the websites of neuchateltourisme.ch and myvaldetravers.ch.

 

What is your favorite landscape in Switzerland? Have you been to the Creux du Van or the Swiss Jura? We love to hear your travel experience in Switzerland.

 

We traveled with our Swiss Travel Pass and used the ticket for our trip on the Bernina Express. The ticket was sponsored by Swiss Travel System. Thanks a lot for supporting us.

We assure our readers that we write about our personal experience and opinion.

 

4 thoughts on “Creux du Van – The Grand Canyon of Switzerland

    • It totally is. If you get the chance check it out. It’s a great place to visit on a trip to Switzerland and it’s not so touristy like Matterhorn or Pilatus 😉

  1. Wow this looks stunning! I’m very interested by the diverseness of the nature in this area though! In some places it looks super green and lush and in others more rocky with pine trees. Is this typical of Switzerland?

    • It was the first time we visited Creux de Van and it is a very special place. For us it is not typical Switzerland compared to the eastern part we’re coming from. But it may be typical for the area there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *