15 reasons to visit Valais in summer
1,600 km of official cycle/mountain bike routes
Valais is one, vast high-altitude playground for adventure-seekers. Well-marked cycle routes, dramatic climbs to mountain passes and spectacular alpine trails promise endless thrills for cyclists and mountain bike enthusiasts. From the mountaintops to the valley floors, the diversity of trails ensures that all riders find their ideal terrain.
8,000 km of hiking trails
With 8,000 km of marked hiking trails, Valais promises endless changes of scenery. Follow trails along ancient “bisse„ irrigation channels, over historical mountain passes or along lakeshores, enjoying every nuance of the sun-blessed landscapes. Hike for hours or days on end : the choice of routes is vast, covering every level of difficulty.
8 AOP/IGP products
With eight products that carry an AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) or IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) label, Valais is the Swiss champion of quality seals. Discover the exceptional quality and flavour of the region in these eight certified products: Raclette du Valais AOP, Valais dried meat IGP, Valais cured ham and cured bacon IGP, Valais rye bread AOP, Mund saffron AOP, Abricotine AOP and Valais pear brandy AOP.
40,000 hectares of natural parks
Two sites in Valais have gained the official classification of Regional Nature Park. The Pfyn-Finges nature park is home to a great diversity of animal species and encompasses one of the country’s largest wine-growing regions. The Binntal (Binn valley) nature park, meanwhile, is renowned for its wealth of minerals. The site offers the spectacle of a natural landscape in its wild state extending from the mountain summits to the village limits.
More than 50 Swiss Alpine Club refuges
From the simple refuges of long ago to the ultra-modern cabins of recent years, the long tradition of mountain hospitality continues to evolve. But the spirit of these venues, personified in the guardian, remains authentic. Valais offers a tremendous diversity of accommodation between altitudes of 1,475 and 3,507m, promising a restful and convivial break on your mountain hikes.
72 restaurants listed by Gault&Millau
This welcoming region in the south of Switzerland, framed by famous Alpine peaks, is home to countless prized gastronomic treasures and traditions. If just one could be mentioned it would be Raclette cheese, served spontane- ously at village festivities and family gatherings. Valais is also one of the Swiss regions with the greatest number of gastronomic restaurants per head of population. For 2017, Gault&Millau lists 72 restaurants (with 12 points or more), awarded a total of 996 points.
1 UNESCO World Heritage Site
“Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch„ was the first region in the Alps to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (in 2001), as an unrivalled landscape of exceptional beauty. At its heart, the towering massif of the Eiger-Mönch-Jungfrau and its glacial surroundings frame the Great Aletsch Glacier. Numerous hikes are organised for visitors to explore the site’s secrets.
6 thermal spa resorts
The blissful tranquillity of the mountains refreshes body and soul. Enjoy the beneficial effects of alpine water at the 6 thermal spa destinations of Valais : Breiten, Brigerbad, Leukerbad, Ovronnaz, Saillon and Val-d’Illiez. Experience the pure energy of the Alps in a uniquely uplifting setting : you’ll feel on top of the world.
Countless mountain lakes
There is nothing more refreshing than leaping into a cool, crystal-clear mountain lake – or simply contemplating its pristine beauty from the shore. Most are accessible only on foot. The peacefulness and charm of these alpine gems make them popular destinations for hikers. The still waters mirror the colours of the sky and reflect the soothing tranquillity of the scene.
8 family resorts with the quality label “Family Destination„
A tremendous variety of attractions and facilities designed with families in mind makes Valais the ultimate family holiday destination. Eight resorts have won the coveted “Family Destination„ quality label of the Swiss Tourism Federation (STF) : Aletsch Arena, Bellwald, Blatten-Belalp, Crans-Montana, Grächen-St.Niklaus, Nendaz, Saas- Fee and Zermatt-Matterhorn.
4,000 animal species
With landscapes ranging from wild and rugged to soft and luxuriant, Valais is home to a rich and diverse fauna, including a number of striking native species and breeds. The emblematic animals of Valais – Blacknose sheep, Blackneck goats, St.Bernard dogs, Herens cows – have adapted to the whims of this alpine world and acquired their own unique charm. With a little patience, visitors can enjoy the thrill of observ- ing wild deer, marmots, bearded vultures and even ibex in their natural environment.
50 grape varieties cultivated between altitudes of 400 and 1,100m
Valais is notable for its great range of winegrowing terrain, all with different soils, aspects and microclimates. Renowned as Switzerland’s largest winegrowing region with 5,000 hectares of vineyards, Valais also boasts the world’s greatest diversity of grape varieties. The whole region is like a vast open-air wine museum : taste them all at your leisure !
45 peaks above 4,000 metres
The summer season in Valais is in a class of its own. The majestic 4,000-metre peaks make for spectacular panoramas and provide a thrilling backdrop for summer outdoor activities. Mountain hikes, glacier treks, mountaineering – with 45 mountains higher than 4,000 metres, Valais promises summer adventure at the highest level.
More than 100 “bisses„
The “bisses„ – the historical irrigation channels of Valais – have for more than 700 years carved a passage across the dry landscapes of Valais to carry the precious water of the glaciers to the fields, vineyards and orchards, often following a daring path. Today, about 100 of these “bisses„ still carry water. Explore this unique heritage as you follow the many paths that run alongside these historical constructions: a water- side walk sure to delight visitors of all ages !
11 Michelin-starred restaurants
Didier de Courten in Sierre personifies – with his 19 Gault&Millau points and his two Michelin stars – the excellence of creative cuisine. As a great admirer of Valais heritage, he transforms the produce from here and elsewhere into bold gourmet inventions. Over at the foot of the Matterhorn, Zermatt enchants guests with its galaxy of Michelin-starred restaurants. The resort boasts more than 250 Gault&Millau points and attracts the biggest names of the Swiss gastronomic scene – such as Ivo Adam, crowned with 2 Michelin stars.