Explore the fertile valley of the Rhône River to the peaks of the towering Alps in Valais, a southwestern canton known for its glamorous ski resorts, historic villages and excellent wines. Carve up the ski slopes, hike through lush meadows or taste the valley’s finest produce while looking out on dazzling glaciers, majestic mountains and alpine lakes.
The canton is split into Upper Valais in the German-speaking east and Lower Valais in the French-speaking west. To the west, check out fascinating heritage architecture, picturesque castles and charming pavement cafés in Sierre and Sion, the canton’s capital. Enjoy a luxurious vacation at the resort villages of Verbier and Crans-Montana, where perfect powder slopes meet cozy lodges and chic bars. In the warmer months, the pretty plateaus turn into lush hillsides where you can mountain bike and hike amid pine trees and wildflowers.
In Upper Valais, you’ll find dramatic landscapes of sheer alpine pinnacles and enormous glaciers. Surrounded by peaks that exceed 13,000 feet (4,000 meters), Saas Fee is a secluded village renowned for its premium skiing and hiking trails. The iconic Matterhorn looks over the pretty resort of Zermatt and dominates the town’s panorama of snow-dusted peaks. Take in views of the conical mountain from the town’s various cable cars or the dizzying heights of Matterhorn Glacier Paradise.
Hike along the Aletsch Glacier, the largest and longest glacier in the European Alps. Relax and soak away any aches in Leukerbad, known for its thermal spas and breathtaking rocky spires.
Valais can be reached and explored by car, plane and train. Railway lines enter the canton from Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. If driving, you can connect to several destinations from the Rhône valley and a main highway that tunnels through mountain passes by way of car shuttle trains.
Enjoy Valais’ breathtaking scenery from alpine lodges, modern hotels and winery estates. Whether at an après-ski bar, a stunning wooden chalet on a hiking trail or a charming café in town, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to relish the region’s fine wines, cheeses and breads. Don’t miss tasting Valais’ raclette cheese, supposedly invented after a local winemaker tried warming his cheese on an open fire on a cold day.