Posted on 18 October 2023
Saas-fee ski resort in the Swiss Alps testifies to the sheer majesty of nature and the spirit of adventure. This charming Swiss village, set amidst towering mountains and shimmering glaciers, is renowned for fantastic mountain ranges, outdoor activities, and the world’s highest revolving restaurant. One fascinating historical aspect of this glacier village is the car-free status.
Since 1951, this car-free resort has been preserving tranquillity and air quality. Visitors arrive by electric taxis and horse-drawn carriages, allowing them to truly connect with natural beauty. As a famous winter resort in Switzerland, expect thriving communities showcasing the delights of skiing. So, this article looks at what to know about Saas-fee, and also nearby destinations that also highlight the majestic Swiss Alps.
About Saas-fee ski resort in Switzerland
Saas-Fee, also called “The Pearl of the Alps,” is in Switzerland’s Valais region. Dating from the 13th century, this charming village has retained alpine character while embracing modernity. One primary reason Saas-Fee ski resort garnered international fame is spectacular natural surroundings, highlighted by glaciated terrain during winter.
The mighty Fee Glacier and Allalin Glacier dominate the landscape, their icy arms stretching down from the peaks of the Mischabel range. Beyond the glaciers, Saas-Fee offers diverse alpine flora and fauna with various plant and animal species endemic to this area. Birdwatchers also flock for sightings of Alpine choughs, eagles, and other avian species.
World-class Skiing, Ice Climbing and Glacier Hiking
Saas-Fee village is one of Switzerland’s premier winter sports destinations. Its high-altitude setting ensures reliable snowfall, and several ski routes cater to all skill levels. The ski resort offers over 100 kilometres of well-groomed pistes for beginners and experts. The region’s glacial terrain guarantees year-round skiing and summer skiing as well.
For adventurous adults, winter activities are about much more than traditional skiing. Surrounding glaciers are ideal for ice climbing and glacier hiking, providing unique experiences to explore icy worlds. Experienced guides are readily available to ensure the safety of adults and enrich experiences with their expertise.
Ski Lifts Galore and Excellent Snow Conditions
Felskinn Funicular (Metro Alpin): This funicular railway takes you from Saas-Fee up to Felskinn. Also called the “Metro Alpin” it is unique for being the world’s highest funicular.
Kreuzboden Lift: Kreuzboden Lift transports visitors from Saas-Grund to Kreuzboden for various winter and summer activities. Access the Hohsaas skiing area, famous among intermediate and advanced skiers.
Hohsaas Lift: This chairlift from Kreuzboden goes higher up the mountain to slopes in Hohsaas, with challenging runs and impressive vistas.
Längfluh Lift: From Kreuzboden, Längfluh Lift goes further up into the ski area and more intermediate and advanced slopes.
Felskinn Cable Car: The Felskinn Cable Car ride connects Felskinn with Mittelallalin, where the famous “Ice Palace” is. This point to glacial skiing areas of Saas-Fee is often used by those skiing the Fee Glacier.
Saas-Fee Platter Lifts: In Saas-Fee village, platter lifts that cater to beginners and children are ideal for those learning to ski or snowboard.
Spielboden Express Lift: In the Saas-Fee ski area, this express chairlift accesses many slopes suitable for different skill levels.
Täschlift: Täschlift button lift in Saas-Fee serves beginners and children.
Furggstalden Lift: In the Furggstalden area of Saas-Fee, this chairlift accesses more skiing options for various levels.
Gondelbahn Saas-Grund – Hohsaas: This gondola lift connects Saas-Grund with Hohsaas.
Stafelwald Express Gondola: Another gondola in Saas-Fee, Stafelwald Express, helps skiers reach the Stafelwald skiing area, which offers several terrain options.
Saas-Fee’s ski lift system is well-maintained and efficient. With combined cable cars, gondolas, chairlifts, and surface lifts, visitors explore slopes and enjoy breathtaking alpine scenery. Saas-Fee offers many options for memorable alpine adventures for novice skiers and seasoned pros. Also, don’t forget the fun winter Toboggan run.
Summer Skiing in Saas-Fee
Summer skiing in Saas-Fee attracts many expert skiers and snowboarding enthusiasts worldwide. The primary location for summer skiing is the Allalin Glacier. The glacier, at 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) above sea level, allows for reliable snow cover even in warm summer months. The skiing terrain suits all skill levels, from beginners to advanced skiers.
The summer ski season in Saas-Fee typically begins in late June. It continues until early November, depending on snow conditions. Lifts and slopes open daily during the summer season, with operating hours varying based on the time of year. Check the exact opening and closing times when planning your visit. Allalin Glacier provides dramatic backdrops with panoramic views of towering peaks and stunning ice formations. For freestyle skiing, the glacier snow park features jumps, rails, boxes, and a halfpipe.
Summer Delights and Walking Routes
When the snow melts, Saas-Fee undergoes remarkable transformations, revealing lush green landscapes that invite hikers. The region boasts various hiking trails, varying from leisurely strolls for families to challenging routes for seasoned trekkers. Well-maintained trails offer breathtaking views and diverse landscapes, which include alpine meadows, dense forests, and crystal-clear lakes, making each hike memorable. Check with the local tourism office for hiking maps and details of hiking paths.
For those seeking more challenging adventures, the Mischabel range provides opportunities for mountaineering and climbing. Dufourspitze, the highest peak in Switzerland, and other majestic summits present physical and mental challenges, rewarding climbers with unparalleled vistas.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Saas-Fee also attracts cyclists and mountain bikers. Biking trails crisscross the valley, ranging from scenic routes for leisurely cyclists to demanding downhill tracks for adrenaline junkies. Those who prefer electric assistance can enjoy e-biking, which has recently gained popularity. Impressive landscapes and fresh mountain air enhance biking experiences, making Saas-Fee a paradise for two-wheeled enthusiasts.
Indulge in Swiss Cheese
Saas-Fee is not particularly famous for a specific type of cheese like some other regions in Switzerland are (e.g., Gruyères for Gruyère cheese or Emmental for Emmental cheese). However, Saas-Fee is in Switzerland’s Valais region, earning fame for dairy production and traditional Swiss cheese. The Valais region, with fertile meadows and Alpine pastures, excels in dairy farming. Try Emmental, Gruyère, and Appenzeller. While these cheeses may not be specific to Saas-Fee, they are widely produced and enjoyed nationwide.
While not exclusive to Saas-Fee, raclette is typically melted and scraped onto potatoes, pickles, and onions, making for delicious, hearty meals. Swiss cheese, including the abovementioned types, is made from cow’s milk. Cows graze on Alpine pastures during summer, contributing to unique Swiss cheese flavours. Cheese is carefully aged to develop distinctive characteristics. In and around Saas-Fee, local dairies, cheese shops, and markets sell many cheeses.
Saas-Fee’s Sustainability Initiatives
Some say Saas-Fee is an expensive resort, but Saas-Fee has earned international recognition for its commitment to environmental sustainability. The village perfectly displays how tourism and nature conservation can coexist harmoniously. As mentioned earlier, Saas-Fee, the car-free village, has significantly reduced carbon footprints and preserved pristine air quality. Other incentives include renewable energy, eco-friendly transportation, and recycling and waste management. Local government and businesses work together to promote responsible tourism, including Leave No Trace principles and eco-friendly accommodation options.
Aqua Allalin Centre
Aqua Allalin Wellness and Leisure Centre in Saas-Fee features indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as saunas and relaxation areas. After skiing, hiking, or mountain biking, relax in saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs to soothe your muscles and rejuvenate your body. Aqua Allalin typically includes a restaurant or café on-site and is convenient to grab snacks or post-activity meals. One unique aspect of Aqua Allalin is its stunning location with panoramic mountain views. Whether you’ve spent the day on ski slopes or exploring hiking trails, Aqua Allalin can be wonderful to conclude your day and make the most of your Saas-Fee experience.
The Alpin Express Cable Car
The Alpin Express cable car system in Saas-Fee leads to ski slopes, hiking trails, and mountain terrain, making Saas-Fee popular with outdoor enthusiasts. The cable car system allows visitors to ascend to higher elevations within Saas Valley. Alpin Express, the primary cable car for transporting visitors and residents from Saas-Fee village to various locations, provides convenient access to mountains, trails and slopes.
Operating all year round, this vital transportation link for winter and summer activities is a key route for skiers to access slopes and for hikers exploring Saas Valley. The Alpin Express allows skiers, hikers, and tourists to quickly access high-altitude areas. Whether heading up slopes to ski or taking in views during summer hikes, the Alpin Express is pivotal to Saas-Fee’s charm and allure.
About the Marmots
During summer, expect to see cute Marmots, that are charming, burrowing rodents in Europe’s alpine regions, including the Swiss Alps. These delightful creatures are well-adapted to high altitudes and mountainous environments. Alpine marmots, with their round, stocky bodies, long bushy tails, and distinctive reddish-brown fur, are known for their social behaviour and burrowing habits.
They are also diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime. They live in complex underground burrow systems that they dig in mountainous terrain. These burrows shelter them from harsh weather conditions and predators. Marmots hibernate during winter when snow falls and temperatures drop. Their hibernation period lasts for several months.
Alpine marmots faced challenges because of hunting and habitat disruption, but conservation efforts now protect these creatures. Saas-Fee offers excellent opportunities to observe the protected species in their natural habitat. The best way to spot marmots is to hike in alpine meadows and mountain trails around Saas-Fee. They can often be seen foraging for food or sunbathing on rocks near their burrows.
Marmots are most active during summer when snow has melted. From June to September, this period offers the best chances of observing marmots as they emerge from hibernation and engage in activities like feeding, grooming, and communicating with their distinctive high-pitched whistles. When watching marmots in Saas-Fee or any other alpine region, it’s essential to do so responsibly.
Maintain safe distances and avoid approaching marmots too closely to prevent causing stress or disturbances. Do not feed marmots, which can disrupt their natural diet and behaviour. Watch for marmot burrows in hiking trails that may be well-hidden. Use binoculars or telephoto lenses on your camera to get closer looks without encroaching on their space.
Saas-Fee’s Majestic Mountains
Saas-Fee mountains belong to the broader Pennine Alps, part of the more extensive Alpine mountain system. These mountains owe their existence to the ongoing collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. Over millions of years, the movement of these plates led to the uplift and formation of towering peaks that define the Saas Valley.
Glacial influence in this region is significant. Towering glaciers, like the Fee Glacier and the Allalin Glacier, have carved out deep valleys, resulting in breathtaking U-shaped valleys and jagged mountain peaks for which the Swiss Alps are famous. The presence makes Saas-Fee a year-round destination for snow sports and glacier hiking.Saas-Fee and surrounding regions are home to several notable peaks, each offering its unique allure for visitors.
- Allalinhorn (4,027 meters): This peak for mountaineers and climbers offers stunning panoramic views.
- Dom (4,545 meters): The Dom, the tallest mountain in Switzerland, is sought-after for experienced mountaineers.
- Lenzspitze (4,294 meters): with a striking pyramid shape, Lenzspitze offers challenging climbs for mountaineers.
- Täschhorn (4,491 meters): Täschhorn, another formidable peak, is among the highest, with steep slopes and dramatic ridges.
- Alphubel (4,206 meters): Alphubel is popular among intermediate climbers and offers fantastic vantage points.
- Strahlhorn (4,190 meters): The Strahlhorn belongs to the Mischabel range.
Outdoor Activities in the Saas-Fee Mountains
Saas-Fee’s mountains offer various outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Saas-Fee is crisscrossed with hiking trails suitable for all levels. Explore alpine meadows, forests, and high-altitude vistas. The mountains around Saas-Fee easily attract mountaineers with beginner-friendly to highly challenging climbs.
The mountains also offer excellent rock-climbing opportunities for adventure on vertical terrains. Mountain biking enthusiasts can explore numerous trails, from leisurely rides to challenging downhill descents. In winter, explore snow-covered landscapes on snowshoes, offering immersive winter experiences. Gentle alpine meadows, covered in colourful wildflowers during summer, provide idyllic settings for picnics and leisurely walks.
When venturing into the Saas-Fee mountains, being well-prepared and conscious of safety is crucial. Always check weather conditions, carry the necessary equipment, and respect the environment. Also follow the Leave No Trace movement guidelines to preserve the area for future generations.
Saas-Fee village is open all year round. Winter sports enthusiasts should aim for December to April; summer activities are ideal from June to September. The nearest airport is Sion, but there are limited flight schedules. Instead, fly to Geneva or Zurich airport. From there, take a train to Visp and then the bus or taxi to Saas-Fee bus station. Book hotel accommodation in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Other Places in Switzerland
Saas-Fee leaves lasting impressions. Natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and commitment to sustainability make the area remarkable. Whether you seek thrilling winter sports, tranquil summer hikes, or a car-free village, Saas-Fee offers everything. However, many other destinations in Switzerland also step up to the podium as worthy resorts.
Saas Grund and Saas-Almagell: These two villages belong to the same ski area. Saas-Grund is 4 kilometres from Saas-Fee, and Saas-Almagell is 6 kilometres away. They are connected with Saas-Fee via ski lifts and offer additional skiing options. Saas Grund is particularly family-friendly, with sunny slopes.
World-renowned Zermatt ski resort: 10 kilometres from Saas-Fee as the crow flies, Zermatt is accessible by Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) railway.
Grächen, another charming Swiss ski resort about 20 kilometres from Saas-Fee, has family-oriented ski areas and excellent childcare services. Located 35 kilometres south of Saas-Fee, Aletsch Arena includes Bettmeralp, Riederalp, and Fiescheralp ski resorts. The area offers many winter activities and earns fame for stunning views of Aletsch Glacier, the Alp’s largest glacier.
From Saas-Fee to Verbier
Saas-fee ski resort is worthy, but Verbier, just 2 hours’ drive away and also sitting in the Valais region, is ideal if Saas-fee doesn’t fit your criteria for skiing. Verbier’s history dates back to the 13th century when it was just a small farming village. Over time, it transformed into a world-renowned ski resort. Verbier sits at 1,500 meters (4,921 feet) above sea level.
The town is characterized by stunning alpine scenery, with majestic peaks, including the Mont-Fort, Grand Combin, and Mont Gele, providing dramatic backdrops. Verbier is part of the extensive Verbier 4 Vallées ski area, which boasts over 400 kilometres (248 miles) of ski runs and is one of Alp’s most extensive interconnected skiing domains.
Verbier is also synonymous with world-class skiing and is famous for challenging terrain, attracting professional skiers and snowboarders. Mont-Fort is the highest point, providing breathtaking panoramic views and an exhilarating descent for expert skiers. The resort’s slopes cater to all levels of skiers, and there are excellent ski schools for beginners.
While Verbier is renowned for its winter activities, it is equally captivating during summer. Surrounding mountains offer extensive hiking trails, ranging from accessible, family-friendly routes to challenging alpine hikes. Verbier is also a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts. Ski slopes transform into thrilling downhill and cross-country trails during summer.
Verbier, an all-season destination captivates visitors with natural beauty, thrilling outdoor activities, and vibrant village life. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a culture lover, or simply seeking serene escapes, Verbier has something to offer everyone. Read more about the resort here.
From Saas-Fee to Crans Montana
Crans-Montana also in the Valais region of Switzerland, is about modern sophistication. Set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains and lush alpine forests, Crans-Montana is a year-round paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. In the winter, it transforms into a skier’s haven with access to a wide range of slopes suitable for all skill levels. Meanwhile, the summer months beckon hikers, golfers, and nature lovers to explore the pristine landscapes and crystal-clear mountain lakes.
It serves up picturesque views of the Valais Alps which offers 1668 hikes and the Weisshorn, translated means white peak/mountain. It’s an imposing peak of the Swiss Alps and stands at 4,506 metres (14,783 feet) above sea level. Sitting roughly 70 minutes away from Saas-fee, Crans Montana also earns fame as the ideal winter destination. More about Crans Montana in Switzerland.
Best Glacier Skiing in Europe: Feeling adventurous? The best glacier skiing in Europe, through icy terrains and untouched powdery slopes in mountainous regions, is the most perfect and extraordinary holiday. Glacier skiing refers to skiing on glaciers. Glaciers are large, slow-moving masses of ice and snow that form in areas where more snow accumulates in winter than melts in summer. They are typically found at high altitudes throughout Europe.