There's nothing like high-altitude skiing to truly appreciate the majesty of the Alps in Winter. One of the most famous European ski resorts, the holiday region of Saas-Fee/Saastal in the heart of Switzerland's Valais region is just such an imperious destination.
Ringed by 18 four thousand-metre peaks, including the highest entirely on Swiss soil, the Dom, the Saas Valley is the perfect place for everyone who loves personal challenges - from an adventure tour over the glacier, alpine canyoning in the Fee Gorge, an adventurous winter via ferrata or your first ski tour to an epic descent of 1,800m in one thrilling go.
Saas-Fee/Saastal has a strong tradition in the history of Alpinism, yet it's also a very family-friendly winter-sports resort that's well suited to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders alike; the highest peak in the ski area is even accessible by pedestrians, courtesy of a funicular railway, and hosts the world's highest altitude revolving restaurant at the Mittelallalin at 3'500 m.
It is also, of course, the resort where Wham! shot their famous video for Last Christmas in 1984.
Where is Saas-Fee/Saastal?
The Saas Valley is located in the south of Switzerland in the canton of Valais. The car-free main village of Saas-Fee sits on a beautiful mountain plateau, offering spectacular mountain views all around. The other villages in the neighbourhood are Saas-Almagell, Saas-Grund and Saas-Balen.
The Saas-Fee/Saastal holiday region is easily accessible by car or public transport: Although the closest airport is Sion, just over 46km away, most UK visitors will fly to Zurich, Basel or Geneva, from where onward connections via Visp can get you to Saas-Fee/Saastal in about three hours.
With the guest card (SaastalCard) the mountain busses in the Saas valley are included from the first night. So, you can explore the three ski areas of the Saas Valley in the best way.
Why take a ski holiday in Saas-Fee/Saastal?
The 150km of slopes are snow-sure and some open from as early as July, with the winter season running officially from November to April. The car-free village of Saas-Fee is the epitome of the charming Swiss village; its facilities are modern, its restaurants are excellent, and its apres ski is lively. Saas-Fee/Saastal is indeed a Alpine gem. But superb as the pistes are for all abilities, a ski holiday is about so much more than just the skiing, and the region has pulled out all the stops to offer a diverse winter-sports destination, with a wide range of activities on and off the slopes.
Spectacular ski terrain in Saas-Fee/Saastal
Saas-Fee ski resort in Switzerland is one of the longest-established mountain resorts in Europe. It's charming yet lively pedestrian-friendly village and stunning scenery fits most people's image of an idyllic Swiss Alpine retreat. Great for family ski holidays, it's also well-suited to young and lively beginners and intermediates.
Between 3,600 and 1,500m, the snow-assured areas in the holiday region Saas-Fee/Saastal are home to. 150 kilometres of pistes, with something for everyone from extensive nursery slopes on the flattest ground closest to Saas-Fee village, to the glacial Allalin summit sector, which is best suited to intermediates, and some wooded ski slopes in the Plattjen sector, including some unpisted glade sections. the Morenia sector houses Saas-Fee's excellent freestyle park and a nice mix of runs suitable for most abilities.
For extra variety, there are two further smaller ski areas at the villages of Saas-Almagell and Saas-Grund in the valley below Saas-Fee, both easily reachable by local bus, which is free with the guest card.
Loads of winter activities in Saas-Fee/Saastal
The region counts more than 40 winter activities on its menu: admire the atmospheric lighting in the village, hike along frozen waterfalls or discover a breathtaking panorama from Hohsaas.
Try winter hiking on a dreamy night to the icy Mattmark reservoir and enjoy a picnic at the top of the dam. Or take a torch light tour through the snow-covered landscape of the Saas Valley. For families, fun and adventure are waiting in Kian's Adventure Land: a tepee, an igloo with children's films, a free snowtubing track for the whole family, children's Skidoos and a carousel with a playground offer the ultimate combination of nature, action and entertainment.
A breathtaking tour over the Fee Glacier is a must for adventurous visitors. From the Längfluh Mountain Station, the trail over untouched powder leads up to the panorama platform. Fitted out with snowshoes, ski poles and a climbing harness, you will pass giant ice jags and glacier crevices while roped to a mountain guide and then make your way down to the Spielboden Station.
A high-speed Tyrolean zip-line and cable pulleys are the highlights of a guided trip through the wild and rugged Fee Gorge leading from Saas-Fee down to the next village, Saas-Grund. The spectacular tour passes frozen waterfalls and takes you across suspension bridges, ladders and steel ropes.
With four ice rinks in the four villages of the region, you can indulge in a variety of ice sports, including ice skating, ice hockey, curling or its Bavarian version of ice stock. And whether in Saas-Grund or Saas-Almagell, tobogganing is so much fun that you’ll want to sledge day and night.
Unique culture and cuisine
Over 100 restaurants dot the Saas Valley, catering for traditional Valais specialities to gourmet cuisine. And with nearly 500 accommodation providers - everything from hotels and b&bs to self-catering apartments - you're sure to find something to suit your taste and pocket.
The Saas-Fee/Saastal apres-ski scene is very lively and begins early in the cluster of snow-bars and music-pubs close to the lift terminals, as well as in the numerous bars on the main street leading into the heart of the village, The nightlife really gets into its stride at venues such as the Aussie Bar, Metro Bar, the Old Cinema Pub and the Poison Club.
Find more information about skiing in Saas-Fee/Saastal at saas-fee.ch