A haven for winter sports enthusiasts, Saastal’s Alpine charm is just as strong when the weather warms. This valley is located in the Swiss canton of Valais and home to four villages; all wood and gabled roofs, Saas-Fee is the best known, set at almost 6,000ft. Make this car-free resort your base to explore this cinematic corner of the Alps this summer — here's how.
1. Play among Switzerland’s highest peaks
The Saas Valley is set sky-high among Alpine giants. The valley is surrounded by 18 summits above 13,000ft — including Dom, Switzerland’s highest — and visitors can take them all in on the cable car ride to the Hohsaas viewpoint. If you’re left itching to get closer, a dedicated circular trail departs from the cable station, with knockout vistas and information boards on the mountains along the way. Alternatively, a gentle ramble leads to Weissmies Hut, where you can put your feet up on a sun terrace, while the Hohsaas Bike Trail hightails it back to the villages with glimpses of mountain streams and larch forests.
2. Trek across a glacier
The Fee Glacier seems close enough to touch from Längfluh, a rocky outcrop accessible by cable car from Saas-Fee. From the top cable station, set off on a pleasant stroll to the glacier lake: nearby mountains cast their reflections on its surface, making this a great spot for photography enthusiasts. For something more adventurous, tackle a four-hour trek across the glacier plateau. Blanketed white in winter, the icy expanse between the Dom and Allalinhorn summits can be explored with crampons in summer; negotiate its seracs and crevasses with the help of a guide.
3. Hike around Europe’s largest earth dam
With mountains rising above its reservoir like great shark fins, Mattmark Dam makes for a dramatic hiking backdrop. The five-mile circular trail around this earth dam — Europe’s largest — is gentle enough for families and offers views all the way to the Allalin and Schwarzberg glaciers. The southern tip of the lake, meanwhile, is the starting point for a more challenging 18-mile loop up old smuggler routes; Monte Moro Pass, the highest point of the trek, grazes the border with Italy and opens up to views of Monte Rosa.
4. Feel nature’s force at the Fellbach Falls
Fed by the snow meltwater, the Fellbach Falls are never more spectacular than in summer. Come as the weather warms for the full crash-bang spectacle, watching this 130ft cascade tumble over a wooded cliff face in wispy plumes. Next, stop for a picnic at the nearby village of Saas-Balen, which charms with rustic sights: there are cow-nibbled pastures, dark timber huts and a 19th-century round church that’s unique in the country. From here, trails wind for miles to tiny hamlets and some of Europe’s highest mountain pastures, where the silence is broken only by chiming cowbells.
5. Twirl at the world’s highest revolving restaurant
Perched like an eyrie below the Allalinhorn, the Allalin viewpoint spins in a mountainscape of rock and ice. At almost 11,500ft, it houses the world’s highest revolving restaurant; to reach it from Saas-Fee, take the cableway, then go higher still with the Metro Alpin underground funicular. Make sure to wrap up warm: this viewpoint has an ethereally lit ice cave, sculpted directly from the belly of the Fee Glacier, while outside, pros can be spotted training in Saastal's summer ski area.
6. Get your kicks alpine canyoning
Get your pulse racing by hooking onto a guided canyoning tour of the rugged Fee gorge, which carves its way from Saas-Fee to Saas-Grund. While not requiring high fitness levels, the trail throws you in at the deep end of nature as it dives into canyons, skirts roaring waterfalls and teeters along cliff faces; high-speed zip-lines, suspension bridges, steel ropes and cable pulleys ramp up the thrills. And if that isn’t intrepid enough, book a night excursion, followed by a rewarding fondue dinner.
Visitors from London can fly to cities including Zurich, Geneva, Basel or Milan, all of which have direct train connections to Visp; from the airports, the PostBus (Bus 511 to Saas-Fee) reaches Saastal in around three hours. Saas-Fee is car-free, but electric taxis shuttle visitors from a car park at the entrance of the village to their accommodation. From the first overnight stay, guests receive the SaastalCard, which gives access to cable cars in the summer and the PostBus year-round free of charge. For more information, visit saas-fee.ch
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