Eight Back-to-Nature Adventures We’re Booking in Valais, Switzerland, this Summer

Eight Back-to-Nature Adventures We’re Booking in Valais, Switzerland, this Summer

Looking for a destination that boasts almost 300 days of brilliant sunshine a year, 45 breathtaking mountain summits of 4,000m or over, 8,000km of hiking trails, sweeping valleys, fairy-tale forests, generous vineyards, historic villages, colourful locals and countless opportunities to reconnect with nature like never before? The Swiss canton of Valais has it all.

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Photo credit: © Valais/Wallis Promotion – Christian

the weather heats up, we’re exploring the breathtaking beauty
of Valais and reconnecting with nature in a region
whose mountains, glaciers, lakes and vineyards are chocolate-box
perfection. Revealed in their full verdant glory after the winter
snows melt away, destinations such as Saas-Fee/Saastal and
Leukerbad shine in a whole different light. At this time of year,
menus boast the bounty of the area’s generous natural larder, while
the valley’s edelweiss-scattered meadows and adventure-ready trails
wait to be traversed.

Over 8,000km of signposted paths await, from gentle, meadering
routes criss-crossed with sheep tracks to adrenaline-pumping hikes
ready to test the most active of travellers – the iconic,
Toblerone-shaped Matterhorn towering over it all. Surrounded by
soaring mountainscapes and some of the most scenic summits in the
world, those with some mountaineering experience should be able to
take it to the next level and tick off at least one of the region’s
4,000m peaks. Lace up your walking boots, it’s time to reconnect
and rediscover.

Natural highs: eight rejuvenating adventures in Valais,

Ride it Out

Mountain biking
is to Valais what parkour is to Paris, with
1,600km of official bike routes making this one vast,
jaw-droppingly beautiful playground for adventure-seekers on two
wheels. Not loving the thought of cycling up a mountain? No
problem. Bikes are welcome on mountain railway services. Unsure
where to start? We recommend the spectacular
Stoneman Trail
, which promises unforgettable views of the
Unesco-listed Aletsch Glacier and mighty Matterhorn, which, no
matter how many times you’ve seen it on screen, never fails to
inspire IRL.

Photo credit: Aletsch Arena © Pascal Gertschen

Experience Mountain Hospitality

Unique to Switzerland, the mountain huts operated by the Swiss Alpine Club
provide refuge to hikers and mountaineers seeking shelter. There
are plenty to choose from in Valais, ranging from simple and
pared-back to sleek and design-led. For an authentic glimpse into a
tradition that began in the mid-19th century, check out some during
your high-altitude escapades. But the famed mountain hospitality
doesn’t stop there: it’s evident in the accommodation throughout
Valais – from chalet-aparthotels to spas. Looking for a plush
all-rounder? Try Saas-Fee’s 74-room Walliserhof Grand Hotel
& Spa
– a five-star retreat that promises to take care of
mind, body and soul. From its first-in-town CrossFit facilities to
the hyperlocal menu at its restaurant Cäsar Ritz, it’s a top-notch
spot at which to rejuvenate and refuel.

Photo credit: ©Valais/Wallis Promotion – Claudio

Bag Your First Four-Thousander

While many associate the spectacular holiday region Saas-Fee/Saastal
with its snow-assured ski season, this destination is equally
dazzling in summer, when the melodious sound of cowbells
accompanies hikers on twisting trails and the water of the Mattmark
dam glows an ethereal, milky blue. Of the area’s four villages,
Saas-Fee, Saas-Grund, Saas-Almagell and Saas-Balen, it’s the last,
aka “the Pearl of the Alps”, that you should make a beeline for.
Budding summiters have their pick of 18 4,000m+ peaks: we recommend
hiring a local guide with whom to take on the
4,027m Allalinhorn
. Afterwards, toast your success at the
world’s highest revolving restaurant.

Photo credit: ©Saastal Tourismus AG-Puzzle Media

Taste-Test an Outstanding Terroir

Not only is Valais the country’s largest wine-making region, but
it also boasts the world’s greatest diversity of grape varieties.
The pioneering Les Celliers de
offers visitors an
immersive education
into this 2,000-year-old grape-growing
history. Wear sensible shoes for the tour, which takes you through
some of the area’s stone-walled vineyards. Along the way, you’ll
stop at small guérites (converted winemakers’ huts) for guided
tastings of crisp whites accompanied by plates of local delicacies.
There’s also an
on-site cycle route
, plus a well-stocked shop from which to
select the perfect bottles to enjoy later.

Photo credit: © Les Celliers de Sion

Get Lost in Nature

Sunny summer days are well spent exploring some
of this region’s wild, romantic terrain
. We suggest hiking
along the glacier trail found on the Lämmerenboden plateau, from
the Gemmi Pass to the Lämmeren hut. Sitting pretty at the foot of
the Wildstrubel massif, the refuge offers incredible views of the
Valais Alps. Seasoned mountaineers and those with a head for
heights might want to sidestep the daisy-dappled fields and head
straight for the hills. Tackle the eight historic wooden ladders
that once linked Albinen and Leukerbad.

Photo credit: ©Valais/Wallis Promotion – Christian

Sleep in a Mountain Cabin

Blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, and with summer
temperatures hovering around the 30 degrees Celsius mark, Valais is
a place where you’ll want to spend as much time as possible
outside. An idyllic way to maximise your time in the heart of the
mountains is on a walking tour from Veysonnaz to Nendaz – a
distance of around 40km. Aimed at the average, physically fit
hiker, and accessible to families with children aged eight years
old and above, the two-night tour will see you meandering along
marked paths by day and bunking up at cosy cabins when the sun goes
down. Walking at your own pace, stopping for snacks along the way…
well, it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “on top of the

Photo credit: © Valais Wallis Promotion – Patrick

Indulge in the Local Gastronomy

All we’ll say is that it’s lucky there are so many action-packed
activities in Valais to balance out the sheer quantity of
fine mountain fare you’ll consume while here
. With eight
appellation d’origine protégée-designated gastronomic products to
its name – including Raclette du Valais AOP, Valais cured ham and
bacon and Valais rye bread – and a handful of Michelin-starred
restaurants, finding a good place to eat here is not going to be
difficult. Take a break from your afternoon’s activities to enjoy
apéro riche (abundant canapés with drinks) at 3100
Kulmhotel Gornergrat
, the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps, or
make a meal of it with a three-course feast in the iconic Hotel

Photo credit: ©Valais/Wallis Promotion – Sedrik

Meet the Sheep

You’ve seen the stuffed-toy versions in the village boutiques:
now it’s time to see some of the region’s 4,000 animal species in
their natural habitat. With its different climate zones, varied
terrain and the Arven (Swiss-pine) forest, the Gornergrat mountain
is the place to make tracks for, preferably on the Gornergrat
open-air cog railway – the highest in Europe – whose uppermost
station stands at 3,089m. Our favourite four-footed residents? The

emblematic blacknose sheep
, which, with their spiralled horns,
inky faces and ears and woolly white coats, are the epitome of
cute. And, spotting them this summer is easier than ever, thanks to
the special collars they’ve been given, which can be tracked with
GPS. Simply download the free app, find the signal and follow the
map to meet them up close. You herd it here first.

Get Some R&R

While simply taking a few deep breaths of the pine-scented Swiss
mountain air is enough to send us into a state of zen, it’s the
five thermal spa destinations of Valais – Breiten, Brigerbad,
Leukerbad, Ovronnaz and Saillon – that draw
tranquillity-seekers from around the world. Start at Leukerbad, whose
thermal pools pump out 3.9 million litres of mineral-rich waters
daily, ranging from 28 to 51 degrees Celsius. The largest of its
kind in the Alps, the spa’s decor is retro (conical glass roof,
bold splashes of primary colours and sturdy white columns), while
its facilities include waterslides, restaurants, indoor and outdoor
pools, hot springs and a menu of massage options and treatments
using products bolstered by an apothecary’s worth of alpine
and herbs

Photo credit: ©MyLeukerbadAG

The Lowdown

Start planning your back-to-nature retreat at visitvalais.ch/shop

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