15 must-see sights in Valais

Mountains, lakes, plain, valley, vineyards: what are the top attractions and must-see sights during a stay in Valais? We have picked out for you the not-to-be-missed places and the best things to see or do next time you are here. From Upper Valais to Central Valais and Lower Valais, discover the most beautiful places to visit for an unforgettable trip.

Matterhorn/Zermatt

Train of the Gornergrat with view on the Matterhorn/Zermatt

Zermatt has highest ski area in the Alps. The village is also a major mountaineering centre, framed by glaciers and legendary 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

View on the great Aletsch glacier from the Eggishorn

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Aletsch Glacier with its 27 billion tons of ice is the largest in the Alps. The entire region constitutes a superb natural habitat for many rare species of plants and animals that can be admired during a hike and especially from the Eggishorn vantage point.

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

Valère and Tourbillon

Old town of Sion and its castles

The hills of Valeria and Tourbillon tower over Sion and the Rhone valley floor, visible from far and wide. Enthroned at the top are the Basilica of Valeria which houses the world’s oldest playable organ, and the ruins of Tourbillon castle, once the summer residence of the bishops of Sion. At the foot of the castles, the old town of Sion and the surrounding vineyards are also well worth a visit.

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

Fondation Pierre Gianadda

Art and culture at the Pierre Gianadda Foundation

The Pierre Gianadda Foundation stages international exhibitions featuring major artists including Picasso, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir and many more. Visitors can also explore the foundation’s Automobile Museum, with a fine collection of vintage cars, as well as 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

Mont-Fort

Mont-Fort, a 360° view from the Matterhorn to Mont-Blanc

The 3,300-metre Mont Fort is paradise for all those 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 line runs from the Mont Fort down to the Col des Gentianes: thrills guaranteed!

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

Barryland

In the footsteps of the St Bernards dogs at Barryland

True mascots of the Valais, St Bernard dogs have been bred in Valais by monks at the Great St Bernard Pass hospice since the 17th century. The Fondation Barry – Barryland is home to the museum of these legendary dogs, as well as a kennel where they can be admires. New litters of puppies regularly appear, melting the hearts of visitors of all ages.

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

Metro Alpin in Saas-Fee

Metro Alpin and Ice Pavilion in Saas Fee

The Metro Alpin in Saas-Fee is the world’s highest underground funicular, running from Felskinn – by the Fee Glacier, on which visitors can enjoy guided hikes – to Mittelallalin. This stop houses the highest revolving panoramic restaurant on the planet as well as the world’s largest ice grotto, the famous Ice Pavilion. This is also the starting point for excursions and pistes that you can ski and snowboard down as soon as the sun comes up.

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

Leukerbad hot springs & spas

Leukerbad hot springs and 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. Here in the largest thermal spa resort in the Alps, the water is known for its energising effect. The wellness centre offers a chance to relax with a massage or a treatment based on Valais plants.

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

Champex-Lac

100% nature in 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, while in winter visitors can skate or go cross-country skiing on the frozen lake. The resort’s other not-to-be-missed attractions include the alpine botanical garden and the artillery fort.

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

Grande Dixence: Museum and zip line

Grande Dixence: Museum and zip line

Nestling at the head of the Val des Dix, Grande Dixence is the world’s highest gravity dam. Visitors can visit the exhibition pavilion and the inner workings of the dam from mid-June to the end of September/mid-October. Thrill-seekers can try out the 700-metre zip line which skims alongside this concrete colossus.

Grande Dixence, Val d’Hérémence, Valais, Switzerland

St-Léonard underground lake

St-Léonard underground lake

The lake St-Léonard underground is the largest in Europe, at 300 metres long, 20 metres wide and 10 metres deep. The boat trip enables visitors to discover the nooks and crannies of this lake cavern with its distinctive atmosphere. There is also an educational area where you can learn more about how the lakes and the Alps as a whole were formed.

Underground lake in Saint-Léonard, Valais, Switzerland

Emosson / VerticAlp

Verticalp, a panoramic experience at the Emosson dam

At Emosson, the adventure begins with the trip itself, whether aboard the world’s steepest funicular featuring an 87% gradient, or the Minifunic, which provides access to the esplanade overlooking the clear blue lake of the Emosson dam. Here you can admire the Mont Blanc massif or hike the dinosaur looking for tracks believed to date back 240 million years.

Emosson dam, Vallée du Trient, Finhaut, Valais

The terraced vineyards of the Bisse de Clavau

The terraced vineyards of the Bisse de Clavau

Overlooking the Rhone plain between Sion and St Leonard, the Bisse de Clavau offers a panoramic view of the Alps. This irrigation canal is emblematic of the canton and takes one through terraced vineyards supported by drystone walls typical of Valais vineyards and true masterpieces of Valais expertise.

Stockalper Palace

Stockalper Palace

Recognisable by its three emblematic towers each topped with a dome, this castle was built in the 17th century by a merchant named Gaspard Stockalper. Nicknamed the "King of Simplon", he was known for his many constructions as well as for having created the Simplon pass mule track, a trade route between Gondo and Brig.

Stockalper Castle in Brig, Valais

La Furka steam train

La Furka steam train

Climbing aboard this historic train is a veritable journey through time. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the Furka steam train engines have been regularly travelling the Glacier Express route, between Realp and Gletsch, since 2010. This journey features a succession of mountain landscapes all the way to the Conches Valley, offering a truly unforgettable experience.

Steam Railway on the Furka Pass, Valais