13 must-see sights in Valais

What are the top attractions and key sights on a trip to Valais? Among the countless mountains, lakes, valleys and vineyards, we have picked the places not to be missed and the best things to see and do during your next holiday or break here. From Upper Valais to Central Valais and Lower Valais, discover the most beautiful places to visit.

Matterhorn/Zermatt

Matterhorn/Zermatt

Zermatt has highest ski area in the Alps. The village is also a major mountaineering centre, framed by glaciers and famous mountains including the Matterhorn, whose iconic triangular shape is recognised worldwide: a fitting emblem for Valais. The Gornergrat Bahn cog train climbs from Zermatt to one of the best vantage points for admiring this rock giant.

Zermatt Matterhorn, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Great Aletsch Glacier

Great Aletsch Glacier

Listed as a World Heritage Site, the Great Aletsch Glacier is the largest in the Alps, containing 11 billion tons of ice. The whole region constitutes a superb natural habitat for many rare species of plants and animals that visitors can spot during a hike in the region, on a snowshoeing walk in winter or even from high up on a paragliding flight.

Great Aletsch Glacier, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Valère and Tourbillon

Valère and Tourbillon

The hills of Valère and Tourbillon tower over Sion and the floor of the Rhône valley, visible from far and wide. Two ancient buildings crown the summits, symbolising the historical wealth of the Valais capital. The Basilica of Valère houses the world’s oldest playable organ, dating from 1430; Tourbillon Castle, now in ruins, was once residence of the bishops of Sion.

Valère and Tourbillon, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Fondation Pierre Gianadda

Fondation Pierre Gianadda

The “Pierre Gianadda Foundation” stages international exhibitions by major artists: Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir and many more. Visitors can also explore the foundation’s Automobile Museum, with a fine collection of vintage cars, and the Gallo-Roman Museum. Outside, a leafy park displays sculptures by 20th-Century artists such as Rodin, Miró and César.

Fondation Pierre Gianadda, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Metro Alpin in Saas-Fee

Metro Alpin in Saas-Fee

The Metro Alpin in Saas-Fee is the world’s highest underground funicular, linking Felskinn – by the Fee Glacier, on which visitors can enjoy guided hikes – and Mittelallalin. The revolving panoramic restaurant at Mittelallalin is the world’s highest; this is also the starting point for excursions and pistes that you can ski and snowboard from sunrise.

Mittel Allalin Saas-Fee, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Barryland

Barryland

St Bernard dogs have been bred in Valais by canons at the Great St Bernard Pass hospice since the 17th Century. Visitors can admire these emblematic dogs of Valais at Barryland, with its museum and kennel, run by the Fondation Barry. New litters of puppies regularly appear, stealing the show and melting the hearts of visitors of all ages.

Barryland, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Abbey of St Maurice

Abbey of St Maurice

Founded in AD 515, the abbey houses the relics of the martyrs of St Maurice. The basilica and its treasury, composed of gifts from kings, merchants and pilgrims en route to Rome, reveal a rich history: this is the oldest monastic establishment in continuous use in the western Christian world. Don’t miss the chance to taste a genuine abbey beer brewed on site.

Abbey St-Maurice, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Euseigne rock pyramids

Euseigne rock pyramids

The fairy-tale pyramids of Euseigne bewitch visitors to the Val d’Hérens. Up to 15 metres tall, these geological curiosities are among the most remarkable in the Alps, formed 10,000 to 80,000 years ago. Composed of compacted moraine debris deposited when the valley’s glacier retreated long ago, each is topped with a rock protecting it from erosion.

Euseigne rock pyramids, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Leukerbad hot springs & spas

Leukerbad hot springs & spas

Every day, 3.9 million litres of water rich in minerals bubble out of the region’s hot springs at 51° C, feeding the 30 thermal pools of Leukerbad, the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps. The water is known for its energising effect; various spas and wellness centres offer countless ways to relax, from massages to treatments using Valais plants.

Leukerbad Therme, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Mont-Fort

Mont-Fort

The 3,300-metre Mont Fort will bewitch all who love the high mountains and magnificent panoramas. Accessible by cable car from La Tzoumaz, Verbier or Nendaz, the peak offers 360-degree views taking in the Matterhorn, the Grand Combin and Mont Blanc. Europe’s highest zip wire runs from the Mont Fort down to the Col des Gentianes: high thrills guaranteed!

Mont-Fort, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva

Fed primarily by the Rhône, Lake Geneva – known locally as Lac Léman – is Europe’s largest alpine or subalpine lake in terms of surface area. Valais shares it with the cantons of Vaud and Geneva and with France. Visitors can enjoy a cruise on one of the historical paddle steamers that stop at the piers in St-Gingolph, a former fishing village, and Le Bouveret.

Lake Geneva, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Champex-Lac

Champex-Lac

Set on a high plateau between the peaks of Catogne et La Breya, Champex-Lac is nicknamed “Switzerland’s little Canada”. The crystalline waters of the mountain lake are idyllically tranquil in summer; in winter visitors can skate or go cross-country skiing on the frozen lake. The alpine botanical garden and the artillery fort are also well worth a visit.

Champex-Lac, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland

Chemin du Vignoble

Chemin du Vignoble

The Chemin du Vignoble (“Vineyard Trail” or “Wine Trail”) from Martigny to Leuk is the best way to explore the Valais vineyards. The path leads for more than 82 km through historical villages, across hillside wine estates and along ancient dry-stone walls. The gentle, winding trail follows the contours, revealing magnificent views of the alpine scenery.

Chemin du Vignoble, must-see sights in Valais, Valais, Switzerland