We’ve spent two summer vacations in the Valais region in southern Switzerland, which is best know as the home of the Matterhorn. But it has so many other wonderful places to visit and hike besides Zermatt. Here are our favorites to get you started, with links to my posts for more details.
Valais is a Swiss canton in southern Switzerland, shown highlighted in the map below. It includes Zermatt and other well-known destinations as Aletsch Arena, Crans Montana, Verbier, Saas-Fee, Leukerbad and Sion, the capital. The Valais tourism website has lots of helpful information about activities and accommodation for this region.
There are dozens, if not, hundreds, of hikes in this region. I’m just highlighting a few that we really enjoyed hiking as a family. These would be a good start for exploring this region.
1. Zermatt: Gornergrat
Zermatt is the most famous part of the Valais, because of the Matterhorn, so you will definitely spend some time here. Check our our family guide to Zermatt for all our favorite hikes in this area. But our very favorite activity in Zermatt is riding the Gornergrat train up the mountain to catch views of the Matterhorn and glaciers. Then an easy hike to the beautiful Riffelsee lake.
2. Riederalp Aletsch Glacier
Cable car to the top where you have a great view of the fantastic Aletsch glacier. There is a short and easy panorama path, great for little ones. Back in the Riederalp dorf, there’s mini-golf and other amusements to round out the day.
3. Hohsass near Saas Fee
We really like these two hikes accessible from Saas Grund, the small town immediately before you reach the more well-known Saas Fee. First we rode cable cars to the Hohsaas, the highest point and did a little theme trail about eighteen 4000m peaks. Then we rode back to the middle station and did a little sensory trail with a big playground, a great treat for the kids.
Beautiful high alpine valley, with thermal baths as the main attraction. Multiple hike options in valley and on surrounding mountains. We had a great time at the thermal baths there.
At the far western end of the Valais valley, Verbier is well known as a ski resort, but it is great in summer too. We enjoyed the Bisse du Levron walk along the ancient irrigation canal, one of the many “Bisse” walks in the Valais.
Historic town in the Valais valley, with four castles, including the charming ruins of Tourbillion. See official website.
8. Rainy day options:
Over the two weeks, we had three full days of rain and a few partially rainy days. Swimming at the thermal baths was our best option. We particularly liked Brigerbad in the main Valais valley, near Brig. We also went bowling at Fun Planet in Brig.