Whenever someone comes to visit me in Basel, I want to show them the best that the city has to offer. But no visit to Switzerland is complete without a hike so I'm always sure to include this one on my itinerary. This hike ticks all the boxes, it has a church, a castle and goes through fields, vineyards and forests, with some great restaurants along the way.
For hiking I often use Komoot, which is a fantastic app that details hiking, biking and backpacking routes throughout the entire world. The free version (paid version details here) has a lot of features and most likely that is all you will need. This hike is labelled as:
Accessible by public transport from Flüh Bahnhof station on the Number 10 tram line
Nearby parking (across the street from Flüh Bahnhof)
Suitable for beginner hikers and children
Access to bathroom facilities
Areas for picnics
Restaurants and cafes:
Restaurant Pizzeria Sternenberg, Steinrain 6, 4112 Hofstetten-Flüh
Restautrant zur Rose Steinrain 4, 4112 Hofstetten-Flüh
Restaurant Post Mariastein Klosterpl. 14, 4115 Metzerlen-Mariastein
Klosterhotel Kreuz Paradiesweg 1, 4115 Metzerlen-Mariastein
Hofladens (self-serve farm kiosks) along the way
You begin at Flüh Bahnhof. At a leisurely pace and stopping for lunch and pictures, this hike takes around 3 hrs. There are two possibilities for lunch stops (at the beginning and a third of the way through) so time your hike accordingly. If you need bathroom facilities at the station you will have to pay a franc (or two) at the nearby cafe. Otherwise there will be other facilities along the way.
From Flüh Bahnhof you head to the right past the station into the residential neighbourhood of Flüh. As you head up the hill and if you want to start with lunch there are a couple nice restaurants here:
The Restaurant Pizzeria Sternenberg, is a small unassuming restaurant that serves homemade Swiss comfort food. There menu is seasonal and in the autumn they serve the most amazing venison strew and Spätzle (traditional egg noodles) They also offer wood-fired pizza and the usual Swiss favourites.
Another great choice is Restaurant zur Rose, which also has traditional Swiss fair, with the added bonus of having a garden courtyard if the weather is fine.
If you've stopped for lunch you will now have the opportunity to work it off. Follow your Komoot app and head up the residential street to the very top of the hill. Along the way you will encounter a small Hofladen, where you can purchase some local produce or pastries (provided you want to carry them for the rest of the hike). Hofladens function on the honour system so bring some small change.
As you continue up this hill (this is the most physical part of the hike) the residential street will give way to a forest path where you will pass by several devotions to the Virgin Mary. Mariastein was an important stop along the pilgrimage route in Switzerland and these are remnants of that time.
After you emerge from the forest you will continue though some corn fields and past a small farm. As you continue on the path you will arrive in the central Mariastein courtyard. As you come into the courtyard the classicist facade of the Mariastein Abbey will come into view.
This church is well worth a visit and although the facade is classicist, the interior has all the gilding and frills you would expect from the high-Baroque style. It is an active community and often times, if the timing is right, you can hear the monks singing, which is a truly lovely experience.
After you have visited the abbey, the courtyard is a perfect place to stop if you have not already had lunch. There are several benches here if you have brought your own and bathroom facilities to the left of the church.
If you prefer a restaurant, Restaurant Post Mariastein is a good option with the usual Swiss fare, but with the added bonus of the view of Mariastein.
After this stop, you continue past the Klosterhotel Kruez into another residential neighbourhood. After climbing a small hill you will come across and unusual garden display, where you will take the path to the left and cross the border into France. This is a very fluid border and there is no check required, but make sure you have any relevant identification with you, just in case. After you cross the border you will follow a path through some fields and in the distance see some castle ruins. This is your next destination. After a short walk though a French residential neighbourhood you will begin the climb to Château de Landskron.
Château de Landskron was built around 1297. It had a very important strategic position in that it allowed the control of the Eastern Sungau, the Rhein and the city of Basel. It changed hands several times before being used as a prison from the 1690s, which was detailed in the local novel The Prisoner of Landskron. The castle survived the French Revolution, but was destroyed in 1813 by the Austrian and the Bavarian armies fighting Napoléon Bonaparte. It remained vacant until the 1970s when oddly enough it housed a colony of monkeys. The monkey business has since stopped and it is now a tourist attraction under constant construction.
The grounds are quite extensive with good historical plaques explaining all the details in French, German and English. Make sure to climb all the way to the top for absolutely stunning 360 degree views of the area.
As you exit the castle, this is where the Komoot navigation becomes a bit muddled. When facing the main gate of the castle you want to go on the right side of the ruins, past a couple outdoor grill locations (if you have resisted all the lunch opportunities up until now, you can stop here) and into a forest path. Continue along the forest path for a short while, which will end in a rather steep decent before you reach a vineyard at the bottom.
A short walk past a vineyard will bring you back to a path which will take you on another steep descent back down to the residential Flüh. From here you will recognize the way back to the station.
This really is one of my favourite hikes and with several lunch options and sites along the way, it makes for a perfect day.
If you go please leave a comment, I'd love to hear about your experience!
Happy hiking! glückliches Wandern!