13 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.
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.
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 10 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
VerticAlp (closed in 2022), a panoramic experience at the Emosson dam
Unfortunately, all three VerticAlp facilities will be closed during the summer of 2022. However, a replacement bus will allow you to get from Le Châtelard to Emosson Dam during the summer season.
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.