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Valais

Valais (Wallis)

The canton of Valais is located in southwestern Switzerland and lies in the drainage basin of the Rhone River. This river arises in the Rhone Glacier and flows 260 km through Swiss territory. In the Valaisan Alps, winter-sport enthusiasts feel completely in their element. Winter-sport areas like Zermatt and Saas Fee cast their spell on vacationers from the whole world. As well, towns like Riederalp, Verbier or Crans-Montana are among the most popular vacation destinations in Valais. Almost all of the Swiss four-thousand meter peaks are located in the Valaisan Alps. The Matterhorn and Dufour Peak are regarded as the highest mountains in the country. Backpackers and Alpinists can undertake extended tours in the Valaisan mountains. In the tranquil Rhone Valley, eventful hiking trips can also be made in the spring and fall.

As well, culture and history are vibrant in Valais. In Sierre, the harmonious baroque cityscape is highly impressive. Stockalper Palace in Brig is considered one of the most important secular buildings of Valais. In Goms richly decorated churches invite a visit. The canton is the most important wine-producing region in Switzerland. More than forty different varieties of grapes are cultivated there. Popular starting points for winery tours are Sierre and Salgesch. The local wine-growing museums inform visitors on the history of the local vintners. The region is famous for its living customs. At traditional costume and shepherd festivals, vacationers can become acquainted with local traditions and enjoy hearty Valaisan hospitality.

Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes in Valais

Zermatt

Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist destinations. Even if the town is strongly oriented to tourism, the charm of a Valaisan mountain village is not completely lost. The town is tranquil already because it is closed to traffic. Vacationers must park their motor vehicles in nearby Täsch and reach their destinations on a shuttle train or electric bus. The town center of Zermatt can be conveniently explored on foot. The Marmot Fountain, erected more than a century ago, is regarded as a trademark of the town. Anyone who joins a guided tour of the town center will learn many valuable facts and become acquainted with its most beautiful buildings and other sights.

Tourism in Zermatt is dominated by the Matterhorn. On a stroll around the town, vacationers never lose sight of the commanding mountain ridge. The Matterhorn Museum, located on Church Square (Kirchplatz), is a major tourist attraction. The exhibition displays an archeological excavation and is set up underground. Here the mythos of the Matterhorn is brought authentically close to tourists. Active vacationers will find a varied palette of possibilities year-round in Zermatt. Walks to the Ricola Herb Garden or the picturesque Riffelsee are rewarding. The whole family will enjoy exciting adventures in Forest Fun Park. In the winter, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise ski area is well-visited.

Sights in Valais

Outstanding buildings
Numerous outstanding castles and palaces such as Stockalper Castle or St. Maurice Abbey invite excursions in the Swiss canton of Valais. Among the best-known buildings are the Basilica of Valeria and Tourbillon Castle. They look down from hills overlooking the town of Sion. While the Basilica de Valère is open to visitors, one can only enjoy the ruins of the Summer Residence on Tourbillon from a distance. Not far from Sion, we find another important building, the 285-meter high Grande Dixence Wall, which impounds Lac des Dix. The Grande Dixence is the second-highest dam and, at the same time, the highest gravity dam in the world. Another impressive engineering achievement can even be explored on foot. Simplon Pass crosses the Valaisan Alps and connects the Rhône Valley with the Italian province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola. This pass, open year-round, was enlarged in the mid-17th century for commercial purposes.

Experiencing Nature
But it is not just Simplon Pass that offers breathtaking views of untouched nature in Valais. Among the canton’s greatest highlights is unquestionably the Matterhorn, a Swiss trademark. The 4,478-meter high peak is among the best-known mountains in the world and on many different routes offers unforgettable impressions. Anyone who wants an unspoiled view of the Matterhorn should hike along Gorner Ridge. This mountain ridge, at an altitude of 3,135 meters, offers views of over 20 four-thousand meter peaks, thus also of the Matterhorn or Monte Rosa. Gorner Ridge, about three kilometers east of Zermatt, is one of the most popular excursion destinations for nature enthusiasts. A natural spectacle that will also thrill the youngest hikers is the fairy grotto (Feengrotte) above St. Maurice. The Feengrotte was the first grotto in Switzerland to be made accessible to tourists, so that today numerous visitors can enjoy bizarre rock formations and shimmering joke fountains. In Valais, nature enthusiasts can look forward to many further enchanting places, like the 200-meter deep Trient Gorge or the impressive Ice Pavilion, the world’s largest glacial grotto in Saas-Fee.


Exciting Museums
In numerous museums, anyone who wants to learn more about Valais is enlightened in an entertaining manner about the traditions and life of this canton. The typical lifestyle of mountain farmers is shown in the vernacular museum in Anniviers. In a house dating from the early 16th century, visitors find a kitchen and living room decorated with furniture and typical household objects from that time. Vacationers gain insights into the 500-year long history of the Swiss Guard in the Gardemuseum in Naters. This town was not chosen by accident. No other Swiss community has in the course of the centuries placed more guardsmen in the service of the Pope. In the community of Saillon, strongly dominated by wine production, there is an exciting museum that, among other things, is devoted to the life of Joseph-Samuel Farinet, the most famous counterfeiter from Valais. In addition, the counterfeit-money museum informs visitors on the most current and topical security techniques and the greatest forgeries in history.