Nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, majestic peaks more than 4,000 metres high, pristine natural landscapes and a wealth of fine produce for a mouth-watering cuisine: Valais is heaven for outdoor activity enthusiasts, foodies, families and culture lovers alike.
With its endless sports and activity options, Valais is the ultimate playground for adventure seekers, in winter and summer alike. Cyclists and mountain bikers find well-marked routes, spectacular climbs up to mountain passes, 1,600 kilometres of dedicated itineraries and thrilling trails to suit all tastes. Hikers, too, are spoilt for choice, with more than 8,000 kilometres of marked footpaths. Walks of all levels of difficulty lead across mountainsides and up to high summits, through fragrant larch forests, by historical “bisses” irrigation channels, along historical routes and through vineyards. In winter, 2,000 kilometres of ski piste and guaranteed snow cover promise ideal conditions for snow sports enthusiasts.
Valais is also proving to be the perfect destination for trail runners, with endless possibilities thanks to an exceptional diversity of topography and terrain. Dramatic mountains, thick forest and lush pastures make for trails full of variety, promising interesting altitude profiles, technical challenges and breathtaking views. The many itineraries in Valais make use of existing hiking trails, and allow beginners and committed trail runners alike to enjoy dream conditions in a spectacular alpine setting.
Valais is a region of many facets: from the orchards and vineyards to the high mountains, every corner of the canton invites visitors to relax and enjoy the good things in life. This is a land rich in tradition, offering many unique experiences – such as the “combats of the queens” between cows of the local Herens breed, who naturally lock horns to establish a hierarchy within the herd. These popular events take place throughout the region, and offer an authentic taste of local culture. Food and wine also occupy an important place in the heart of Valais people, who enjoy meeting over a glass of wine or the iconic local dish: Raclette.
A Raclette is a must on any visit to Valais. The multiple servings of melted cheese, accompanied by potatoes, cornichons and silverskin onions, make for the most convivial of meals. Another key dish is the Assiette Valaisanne (“Valais platter”), showcasing delicious cheese and cured meat from the region, which has pride of place at any drinks gathering – alongside fine Valais wines. Local apricots and asparagus are also among the delicacies of Valais. One of the highlights of autumn is the brisolée, which features roasted chestnuts with an Assiette Valaisanne, cheeses from the alpine pastures, and seasonal fruit. And to finish this feast, what better than a Valais pear brandy AOP or an Abricotine AOP (Valais apricot brandy)? For a special treat, dine at one of the region’s 10 Michelin-starred restaurants or at any of the many restaurants listed by Gault&Millau.
The main Rhône valley and its side valleys, each with its own character, dominate the landscape of Valais. Vineyards cover the lower slopes, making this the leading winemaking region in Switzerland: with 5,000 hectares of vineyards, Valais accounts for one third of national production. Valais is also home to one of Europe’s highest vineyards, located at an altitude of 1,100 metres, near the village of Visperterminen. The favourable climate in Valais – dry and sunny – along with the diversity of soils enable nearly 60 different grape varieties to flourish.
Culture also plays a central role in Valais life. Here again, the region is notable for the wealth and variety of its customs, including the many different Carnival traditions throughout the region. Some of the most famous are the Tschäggättä of the Lötschental, with their fearsome carved masks, and the Empaillés of Evolène, who wear giant costumes stuffed with straw.
Whether you are visiting with family or friends or travelling solo, exploring on foot or by bike, we suggest you extend your stay to make the most of your visit to our region. You are guaranteed plenty of memories that will stay engraved on your heart. Welcome to Valais!