The Aletsch Glacier (Grosser Aletschgletscher or "Great Aletsch Glacier" in German) is the largest glacier in the Alps, measuring over 20 km in length. It is located within the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Switzerland. And hiking to and along the glacier is one of my favorite hikes in all of Switzerland -- in fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did some variation of the hike three times. My favorite version of the hike starts up in the mountains, after a cable car ride up to a small resort village called Fiescheralp. From Fiescheralp, you start hiking around a mountain peak called the Eggishorn. About 30 to 45 minutes into the hike, you are greeted by this view:
Beautiful, am I right? But the best part is, this isn't even the Aletschgletscher; this is the smaller, nearby Fieschergletscher. A little bit farther into the hike, you move through an alpine valley, and eventually reach the Grosser Aletschgletscher:
I took that picture myself! Pretty amazing, isn't it? And my meager photography skills do not even begin to capture the majesty of the glacier, or the beauty of the surrounding mountains. That view is pointed towards a place called Konkordiaplatz, where three different smaller glaciers come together to form this one massive river of ice. If you get down right next to the glacier, you can actually climb on it, and check out a small lake called the Märjelensee, which is filled with ice:
You continue to walk above the south edge of the glacier, enjoying an ever-changing view. If you are lucky, you might even see some marmots!
Finally, after six hours, you end up in another mountain resort town called Bettmeralp:
This hike is extremely popular with the Swiss and tourists alike. It is not too difficult, though it is quite long, but if you are already planning on visiting Zermatt and seeing the Matterhorn, the Aletschgletscher is only 1.5 - 2 hrs away, and worth it. Here are my pictures from 2006, 2008, and 2009, and if you are interested in doing the hike as I described, I recommend this description from Activity World.