(Photograph copyright Valais/Wallis Promotion - David Carlier)
What are the first three things that come to my mind when you think of "Valais"?
Let us guess: the Matterhorn peak, the Aletsch glacier and, of course, the cuddly and dribbling St. Bernard dogs? You've just named some of the top highlights of Switzerland’s sunny canton. But with all that natural beauty and rich history, would you be surprised to know that Valais Tourism has dozens of experiences just waiting to be unleashed?
This summer, head to Switzerland’s south and experience the best that Valais has to offer.
Go for a walk along a historical irrigation channel
The so-called bisses were constructed over the centuries as a way of bringing water to the fields, orchards and vineyards in Valais. Some 1'800 km of channels were entirely constructed by hand.
You can explore this unique heritage as you follow the many paths that run alongside these historical constructions. There are various degrees of difficulty, from easy strolls over shallow paths to adventurous walks across cliffs. We have previously described what it is like to hike along the bisses.
Admire the crystal-clear waters of the Valais mountain lakes
Every lake in Valais has its own color and charisma. On some days, their calm surface will even mirror the colors of the sky – or the Matterhorn in its entirety!
Since mountain lakes in Valais are reachable by foot only, they make for a perfect reward during a hike. Whether you take a refreshing swim on a hot summer’s day or sit on the shore to watch the reflection of the trees and clouds, you will realize one thing: the lakes in Valais are truly special.
We especially recommend hiking to the following lakes: Blauseeli, Schwarzsee, Lac de Moiry, Lac de Champex and Lac de Derborence. And if you can wake up early enough, you will catch the most beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn at Riffelsee.
Have fun with the kids
We are very glad about the various child friendly family resorts in Valais. That’s because with all that stunning nature, a myriad of fun family activities await for summer fun. (The crisp and pure alpine air will be an added benefit.)
If your kids are crazy about animals, Valais is the place to be. More than 4'000 animal species call the Valais their home. Take those cuddly Blacknose sheep, Blackneck goats, St. Bernard dogs or Herens cows - you name it! With a little patience and a pair of binoculars, you might even spot wild deer, marmots, chamois, bearded vultures and even ibex in their natural environment. Or pick one of the theme trails of Charlotte the Marmot in La Fouly...
Taste some of the delicious Valais specialties
Valais is mostly famous for its raclette dish, but local delicacies also include sweet apricots and dried meat. Fun fact: Valais is one of the regions in Switzerland with the greatest number of gastronomic restaurants per capita.
Don’t miss dishes that are prepared with saffron from Mund (name of the village). If you want to learn more about the saffron - from cultivation to harvesting, - visit the only saffron museum in Central Europe.
(Photograph copyright Valais/Wallis Promotion - Sedrik Nemeth)
Visit a winemaker at a vineyard or cellar and taste some wines
Have you ever taken a walk through a vineyard? We highly recommend a stroll (or hike) in Switzerland’s largest wine growing region. Think vineyards as far as the eye can see.
At the end of your walk, plan some time to take a break at a cellar. This is where many wine makers welcome visitors to present their wines and offer tastings. Did you know that Valais also boasts the world’s greatest diversity of grape varieties? Petite Arvine, Heida or Humagne Rouge are some Valais grape varieties we particularly like.
Visit a picture-postcard village with wooden chalets and barns
Take Plan-Cerisier which overlooks the Rhône valley near Martigny. Or make your way to Grimentz in the Val d'Anniviers. And how could you miss the town of Ernen, voted as one of “Switzerland’s most beautiful villages”?
If you want to see some traditional floating barns with a twist, visit Chinderwält (children’s world) in Visperterminen. Five Valais barns have been changed into a fun world using a variety of colors, materials and sounds to stimulate the senses.
Finally, seek a blast of adrenaline
And just when you thought you have seen it all, you remember the world’s longest suspension foot brigde... At 494 meters length and 85 meters height, it takes some guts to cross the Charles Kuonen Bridge!
You will be spoiled with spectacular views of the Zermatt valley and surrounding peaks, including the towering Weisshorn at 4506 meters above sea. Another fantastic attraction are the zip lines in La Breya - the longest in the French-speaking part of Switzerland!
Still need more inspiration? How about walking the Tranquility Trail, go on the Conscious Breathing Hike, visit the chestnut festival, take an alphorn class or trek with yaks at Val d’Hérens?
Valais is full of surprises and offers a treat for every taste. See you there this summer!
(Photograph of suspension bridge copyright Valentin Flauraud/europaweg.ch. This article is sponsored by Valais/Wallis Promotion.)