Your weekend in Valais.
Imagine having a chance to spend a weekend discovering winter-time Valais. One key question arises: how best to optimize your time? To help you come up with an answer, we have prepared five different suggestions for a successful weekend. Whether you are a non-skier, a family on a trip, an experienced or amateur ski tourer, or simply a bon vivant, come and discover the many possibilities offered by Valais.
Would you like to find out more about Valais? Don’t hesitate to contact us: we would be delighted to provide you with further information or organise interviews.
A weekend without putting on your skis
There are many things to be discovered in Valais even without skis on, so choose your favourite activities from the following suggestions and combine them to enjoy a sensation-filled weekend.
Snowshoe walk and glacier trek Saas-Fee:
Discover the mysterious world of the Fee Glacier and its year-round snows in the company of a mountain guide. This snowshoe walk may be technically easy, but it lasts four to five hours, so participants need to be in good physical shape. The adventure is well worth the effort, however.
Snowshoeing and star-gazing Simplon:
Snowshoe walk combined with a visit to the astronomical observatory at the Simplon Pass. An exceptional chance to marvel at the star-filled night sky at an altitude of 2,000 metres in ideal conditions.
Fatbiking is a recent addition to the choice of alternative winter sports in Valais. You ride across the snowy landscape on a mountain bike with oversized tyres fitted to wide-rim wheels. Fatbiking is not permitted everywhere, but local tourist offices can inform you about accessible routes. Try fatbiking at any of the following destinations: Aletsch Arena, Leukerbad, Obergoms and Crans-Montana.
Carved out by the rivers of meltwater that flow under the glaciers, these glacier caves are ephemeral sculptures that change over the years. More often accessible in winter, they offer visitors the chance to explore the underbelly of these giant rivers of ice: an experience of fairy-tale beauty. Visit the ice caves in Zinal, Zermatt and Saas-Fee.
Looking for an adrenaline rush? Go on a tandem paragliding flight and drink in the views over the sea of Alpine peaks, the mighty glaciers, endless forests and narrow valleys. See Valais like you’ve never seen it before.
A weekend filled with family memories
With eight destinations bearing the "Family Destination" label, Valais is a true paradise for families. The eight resorts awarded this distinction by the Swiss Tourism Federation include Aletsch Arena, Bellwald, Blatten-Belalp, Crans-Montana, Nendaz, Grächen - St. Niklaus, Saas-Fee and Zermatt – Matterhorn, all of which have adapted their offers and facilities to the needs of families.
Many destinations have a snow garden where you can learn to ski in a fun way. These are delightful white playgrounds in which children of all ages can experience the pleasures of sliding on snow for the first time in the best possible conditions. Snowtubing runs, snowtube carousels and other features add extra excitement as they learn to ski in a fun way. Gentle slopes, magic carpets and beginner lifts help them progress in a secure setting. Experienced instructors ensure the children develop and consolidate the skills they will eventually need to tackle the pistes of the many ski areas of Valais.
Or how about a treasure hunt? Armed with a treasure map, search for clues and solve puzzles as you follow a trail through one of the family destinations of Valais in its snowy winter attire. Four treasure hunts are accessible year-round in Valais, all with water for a theme: visitors of all ages will enjoy exploring the many different facets of “blue gold” in the mountains.
And what could be more magical than a snowy mountain setting for observing alpine wildlife? In winter, many people assume that all animals hibernate – but of the 20 species that live at the alpine wildlife park in Les Marécottes, only two sleep through this period. Visitors of all ages can therefore admire most of the park’s residents in their winter coats. A resident of the village of Herbriggen also offers an opportunity to discover wild animals unlike any other. Meet Reto Summermatter and his reindeer.
A ski touring initiation weekend for beginners
Never tried ski touring? No problem at all. Several resorts and ski areas have created special deals to introduce skiers to the pleasures of this discipline: the ideal way to familiarise yourself with the equipment and technique. Offers are available at Nendaz et Veysonnaz, Champéry and Crans-Montana. These introductory courses do not present any special technical difficulty; however, to make the most of the experience, it is advisable to be in good physical condition and also to be confident about navigating the various bends in the piste.
After trying it out with experts and improving your confidence, you’re ready to head for the ski touring parks. You’ll find an increasing number of secure and signposted routes in Valais, not to mention a new ski touring park, the "Alpes Trail Val d'Hérens", which will be launched this winter (2019/20). Check out the points of interest located on the trails and time yourself using the mobile app that gos with it; or alternatively discover the new Mayen de l'Ours route in Thyon.
Did you know? The term “skin” dates back to the 1930s. Back then, skiers would attach a strip of real seal skin to the underside of their skis in order to be able to climb uphill. Today, the “skins” are made of mohair (hair from angora goats) or from synthetic material.
An advanced-level ski touring weekend
Venture off the beaten track and explore pristine white landscapes accompanied by a mountain guide. How about a one-day hike from Leukerbad to the Lötschental and back, for example? To access the start from Leukerbad, you ride by cable car and chairlift to the top of the Torrent sector: Schwalbennest, at 2,610 m. From there, you climb to a pre-summit of the Torrenthorn for the first glorious descent to Wysse See at 2,340 metres. Next follows an ascent to the Resti Pass at 2,626 metres, followed by a descent to Ferden in the Lötschental valley. A bus or taxi takes you to Wiler for the ride up to the Hockenhorngrat by cable car, chairlift and gondola. A short descent brings you to the Lötschenpasshütte mountain refuge. It is worth stopping here for a rest before embarking on the one-hour climb to the Gitzifurggu at 2,912 m – and the exhilarating long descent back to the spa resort. Possible from February.
Or choose the scenic excursion into the Vallon de Réchy, an uninhabited side valley of the Rhone. Starting in Grimentz, you ride a combination of gondola, chairlift and draglift up to an altitude of 2,874 m just below the Becs de Bosson. A short climb takes you to the Col de Louché. From the pass, you enjoy a glorious descent of the upper Vallon de Réchy all the way to Le Pichioc at 2,203 m. (Alternatively, you can make shorter climbs in a north-north-west direction to access the final downhill run direct.) From Le Pichioc, a climb brings you to the Col de la Brinta at 2,599 m. The day tour ends with a thrilling long descent to the snow blanketed mountain pastures of Orzival and beyond down to Grimentz. Possible from February.
A weekend isn’t long enough and you’d like to enjoy a longer ski touring trip? From April 20th to 25th 2020, we’re organising a group press trip to the Binn Valley nature reserve and Obergoms offering a four-day voyage of discovery of snow-covered landscapes with a local guide. Feel free to contact us if you would like to participate.
A tasty weekend
Are all the above proposals a little too sporty for your taste? Maybe you’d prefer a weekend relaxing combined with local specialities? Then choose your favourite options from the following suggestions and come and get a new lease on life in Valais.
Oases of wellbeing:
In winter, Valais is one big oasis of wellbeing. Each of the five thermal spa resorts invites you, in its own different way, to relax and find new energy; each offers its own range of wellness and beauty facilities. Treatments using products from the region – such as massages with apricot oil or grapeseed, or strawberry or honey scrubs, are especially popular.
Hot pot Bettmeralp:
The Hotel Waldhaus in Bettmeralp invites you to enjoy a wellness experience with a difference: a stint in the hot tub on the hotel’s new roof terrace. Bliss out in the soothing warm water as the glorious panoramic views and winter ambiance work their magic.
Open-air yoga Anzère:
Yoga guides the body, soul and mind at the same time. It is also a relaxation technique; add the magnificent alpine scenery and bracing fresh air of Anzère, and you have the ingredients for a uniquely uplifting experience. Every Sunday, enthusiasts head up to the heights with warm, comfortable clothes to practise.
Enjoy a raclette while learning the art of doing it yourself:
Raclette is the quintessential Valais winter dish, synonymous with convivial gatherings of family and friends. As soon as temperatures begin to drop, locals start dreaming of this dish of delicious melted Raclette cheese accompanied by boiled potatoes, gherkins and silverskin onions. On the right you can find a list of restaurants where you can enjoy this iconic Valais speciality.
The art of serving Raclette is regarded as an almost sacred skill in Valais and requires practice. Connoisseurs watch the cheese closely as it melts in order to scrape (“racler” in French) a portion off at the right moment and in the correct way. What better than a practical workshop with an expert “racleur” to learn the secrets?
“La raclette” or “le raclette”? The people of Valais use “la raclette” to denote the dish of melted cheese; the cheese used in the dish is known as “le raclette”. By the way, raclette is both a lactose and gluten-free cheese.
Bake your own rye bread:
Rye has been cultivated in Valais for centuries. The conditions here – mountainous terrain, elevated locations and extreme temperatures – suit the crop well. Local people use the rye to produce a tasty bread. In former times, villagers in Valais would light the communal oven only two or three times a year. In it, they would bake bread intended to last several months: the unmistakable Valais rye bread. However, only those who make their own bread, following the instructions of someone already initiated in the art, can know its true secrets. At Grimentz, Leuk or Nax, you have the chance to bake your very own rye bread and taste it afterwards.
Tip 1Indoor activities for when the sun won’t shine
Valais enjoys more than 2,000 hours of sunshine a year. But occasionally the sun is shy and the weather unsettled. Swimming pools, escape rooms, museums, skydiving or golf simulators, trampolines, indoor spaces for skateboarding or BMX, climbing walls: we have a vast selection of indoor activities that you can have fun with whatever the conditions outside. You will almost wish that the bad weather would last longer.Further information
Tip 2The most exciting ski runs
The Valais skier Didier Défago, Olympic gold-medallist in Downhill in 2010, has picked the most exciting runs in Valais for skiers who love high thrills. The selection is aimed at skiers with good technique and in good physical condition; the choice will delight all those who enjoy black, long, difficult and above all steep runs.Further information
Tip 3Secured freeride itineraries
Where can you ride the first powder of the winter? On the many secured freeride itineraries of Valais. Several ski areas have established dedicated routes, secured against avalanches, that freeride enthusiasts can enjoy in total freedom. When using these itineraries, it is compulsory to obey all markings; it is also highly recommended to carry appropriate equipment (avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe). As for freeride away from the secured runs, we emphasise that the activity is only for highly experienced skiers and/or those accompanied by a mountain guide. Before setting off, check the weather forecast and avalanche risk report.Further information
Tip 4Cross-country skiing
Cross-country skiing allows you to explore the dream-like winter landscapes at your own pace. Enthusiasts can pick from a variety of trails with different levels of difficulty. Beginners will benefit from an introductory course, to learn the basics. Choose between the elegant classic style or more dynamic skating style: both promise an invigorating and uplifting experience of nature.Further information
Valais in figures
- 29 ski areas
- 2000 kilometres of ski slopes
- 26 snow playgrounds
- 11 ski touring parks
- 300 sunny days a year
- 45 summits above 4,000 metres
- 8 AOP and IGP products
- 5 thermal spa resorts