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With 2,000km of ski slopes across 34 ski resorts, Switzerland’s Valais has the highest-altitude ski regions in Switzerland and has snowsure conditions to thrill everyone from beginners to the pros

skiing region dents du midi valais switzerland credit litescapemedia
Photo: JB Bieuville_Litescapemedia

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Ski holidays in Valais are special - with 45 peaks over 4,000m providing a truly spectacular landscape, it's a little bit of heaven on earth. Its 34 ski resorts - most lying above 1,500m - are spread across the region’s four main ski areas and due to the high altitude of its slopes, Valais is the only region in Switzerland that guarantees a good coverage of snow. Some areas, such as Saas-Fee/Saastal or Les 4 Vallées, even reach over 3000m, with some of their slopes crossing the eternal ice of the glaciers.

Where is the Valais ski region?

The canton of Valais is located in the south-west of Switzerland. To its south is Italy, to the southwest France. It's served by five airports, from the local airport at Sion to the bigger hubs of Bern, Zurich, Geneva and Basel, and it's best-known resorts are on the excellent Swiss Railway network.

Photo: Julie Rebaudo_JB Bieuville_litescapemedia

Why ski the Valais ski resorts?

In other words: What's it like to ski in Valais? Well, it's the region in Switzerland that promises the best snow conditions on its 2,000 kms of slopes - thanks to its high altitude. Skiing in the Valais ski area is a joy for ski tourers - Valais is regularly the setting for ski touring world championships as well as the world’s toughest ski touring race, the Patrouille des Glaciers. Secured Touring Tracks, meanwhile, offer the perfect introduction for those new to the discipline.

Black runs, mogul fields, steep slopes, huge vertical drops: thrilling challenges await experienced skiers in Valais. Some descents are up to 25 kilometres long – non-stop, without ever having to use a ski lift. With fantastic carving conditions, challenging slopes and headlong schusses. The only reason for skiers to stop are the many picturesque ski huts situated along the pistes.

Valais also enjoys an excellent reputation for its freeride scene: you will find some of the world’s legendary freeride areas here. Several Valais ski areas have established secured freeride itineraries that offer enthusiasts a taste of adventure away from the prepared pistes.

Take a closer look at four of the Valais's top ski areas:

From tiny areas to international names, the Valais ski resorts are varied and exciting. Here's a guide to four of the best ski areas in Valais:

Photo: aletsch arena.ch_Frédéric Huber

Aletsch Arena

Piste area: 104km

Easy: 40%

Intermediate: 48%

Advanced: 12%  

Altitude range: 1,845m to 2,869m

This is the epitome of a hidden gem. Seriously underrated - and seriously uncrowded - the Aletsch Arena at the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site is a family-friendly ski area of 104km. It's centred upon the three car-free, ski-in, ski-out holiday villages of Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp, set on a high plateau, with wonderful views of more than 40 four-thousand-metre peaks and the largest glacier in the Alps - the Great Aletsch glacier. Thanks to the high altitude, ideal winter sports conditions are pretty much guaranteed from December through to April.

At over 1,950m, Bettmeralp is one of the prettiest ski villages in Europe and is probably the best venue for a family holiday at Aletsch Arena. At 2,212m, Fiescheralp is the highest of the three.

Skiing in the Aletsch Arena is a delight. The ski domain has good beginners’ slopes, four snow parks, half-pipes and floodlit night runs. The Aletsch slopes are mostly wide cruisable reds and blues, a major factor in why this area works well for families, and also for a lot of older skiers, who have embraced the easy pace of life here. Kids will love the Gletschi Family Funslope on Bettmeralp, where they can gain confidence on rollers, a snow tunnel and banked turns. For more variety you can go night skiing on the Riederalp or Fieschertal.

For experts, there's not much quality off-piste terrain, but a backcountry ski tour on the Aletsch Glacier is very much to be savoured. For more active off-slope activities, there are 72km of winter walking trails and guided snowshoe tours, plus you can go cross-country skiing, tobogganning, ice skating and even paragliding.

However, the main appeal of the Aletsch Arena is undoubtedly the ski-in, ski-out nature of its villages, along with its spectacular views - look one way and you've got the Matterhorn rising up in the distance, spin around and you have the Great Aletsch glacier, the biggest glacier in the Alps.

Must-do: Intermediate skiers will relish the challenging Glacier Panorama Tour. The route of this unique panoramic circular ski tour takes you to the breathtaking viewpoints of the Aletsch Arena on four occasions.

Must-visit: The viewpoints of Moosfluh, Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn, offering views of the Great Aletsch Glacier and the 4,000m peaks of Valais, including the iconic Matterhorn. 

Want some local knowledge about the Aletsch Arena? Take a look at The Faces of the Valais: Aletsch Arena for a local's perspective.

Photo: Saastal Tourismus AG-amarcster


Piste area: 150km

Easy: 30%

Intermediate: 50%

Advanced: 20%

Altitude range: 1,500m to 3,600m

Ringed by eighteen 4,000m peaks, the stunning high-altitude Swiss Alps ski domain of Saas-Fee/Saastal offers a mountain and glacier landscape full of adventure.

One of the most famous European ski resorts, Saas-Fee/Saastal is the perfect place for everyone who loves personal challenges. From an adventure tour over the glacier to alpine canyoning in the Fee gorge, from an adventurous winter via ferrata or your first ski tour to an epic ski descent of 1,800m in one thrilling go, skiing in Saas-Fee is inspiring. It's also very family-friendly and 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 it hosts the world's highest altitude revolving restaurant at the Mittelallalin at 3,500m.

The car-free village of Saas-Fee is charming, its facilities are modern, its restaurants are good, and its apres ski is lively. The region counts 36 winter activities on its menu: 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 torchlight tour through the snow-covered landscape of the Saas Valley.

With four ice rinks in the four villages of the Saas-Fee/Saastal region, you can indulge in a variety of ice sports, including ice skating, ice hockey, curling or its Bavarian version of ice stock. And tobogganing such as the 11km track from Kreuzboden to Saas-Grund, is an integral part of holiday life.

Must-do: For a spectacular aerial experience, go ziplining across the wild and rugged Fee gorge.

Must-visit: The Fee glacier – a snowshoe trek across seracs and crevasses to the highest point, the Panoramaplatz is an unforgettable five-hour return trip.

Want some insider knowledge about Saas-Fee/Saastal? Take a look at The Faces of the Valais: Saas-Fee/Saastal for a local's perspective.

Photo: Etienne Bornet


Piste area: 410km

Easy: 33%

Intermediate: 53%

Advanced: 14%

Altitude range: 1,400m to 3,330m

These twin resorts are located right in the middle of the massive 4 Vallées ski area, in the heart of the Swiss Valais region, and skiing in Nendaz is a great family-friendly alternative to the more illustrious - and more expensive - neighbour, Verbier. A large, modern ski resort, Nendaz has brilliant access to the same snowsure slopes, along with some fantastic freeride and skiing up to 3,330m.

Nendaz is laid-back rather than loud and lively and is ideal for families. Indeed, the resort has been given the prestigious 'Families Welcome' status by the Swiss Tourist Board. The modern resort centre - a mix of mainly chalets, apartments and small hotels - is just up the road from Haute Nendaz, a rustic hamlet of old buildings and a lovely baroque chapel.

Neighbouring Veysonnaz is an often overlooked part of the 4 Valleys. Geographically, it’s almost as far from Verbier as you can ski and still be in the 4 Valleys, which makes it ideal for those wanting a quieter pace. It’s a resort in two halves – a charming, rustic old village, complete with historic church, and the resort station just up the road.

As well as being on the access-all-areas 4 valleys ski pass, Nendaz and Veysonnaz are also part of the smaller ‘ski area within a ski area’ of Printse, that includes Siviez and Thyon. However, it’s the proximity to Thyon’s mix of blue and red slopes that makes the prettier Veysonnaz a particularly appealing spot for beginners and early intermediates. The main lure of the area for experts, however, is the spectacular amount of freeride with seven marked-out freeride zones, including the famous Mont-Fort descent.

Families will enjoy the range of non-ski activities in Nendaz-Veysonnaz, including tobogganing, dog sled rides, an ice rink, fitness centre, climbing wall and 130km of winter walks.

Must-do: Ski the legendary Piste de l’Ours (the bear’s track), one of the most famous World Cup ski runs. This north-facing red run has 900m of vertical and up to 51% gradient.

Must-visit: For great views, Mont-Fort, at an altitude of 3,330m, is the highest point of the ski area and also the starting point of the Mont4Zipline, the highest zipline in the world.

Want some insider secrets about Nendaz-Veysonnaz? Read The Faces of the Valais: Nendaz-Veysonnaz for some local knowledge.

Photo: JB Bieuville_Litescapemedia

Region Dents du Midi

Piste area: 650km

Easy: 44%

Intermediate: 45%

Advanced: 11%

Altitude range: 1,000m to 2,466m

Part of the vast French/Swiss cross-border Portes du Soleil domain, The Region Dents du Midi covers the four Swiss resorts of Champéry, Les Crosets, Champoussin and Morgins. With an impressive range of slopes – from wide-open runs to one of the most famous challenges in skiing – and 37 lifts, the swiss sector provides plenty of scope for families with children but also for more adventurous skiers looking to expand their horizons. If you’ve visited the wider Portes du Soleil, you’ve very likely been skiing in the Region Dents du Midi, maybe without appreciating its distinct character.

The region is named after the rugged 3 kilometre-long mountain range that dominates the Illiez and Rhone valleys and provides a spectacular backdrop. The 7 vertiginous summits are an iconic local landmark.

At the area’s outside edge, Champéry is one of the oldest tourist places in Switzerland and combines charm and authenticity with its chalets lining a picturesque village street bustling with shops and places to eat. It's distinctive red and white cable car is a marvel of Swiss efficiency, whisking you up to the ski area in under 5 minutes. Les Crosets is very much the nerve centre of the Swiss side, with great connections. It's popular with intermediates and is home to the area's much-loved Superpark. Champoussin is ideal for beginners, with gentle slopes, while Morgins marks the link between the Swiss and French terrain. Here, you’ll find long, scenic ski runs and the Rando Park, the region’s only official ski touring training area.

Morgins also has some great forest runs, while for sheer pleasure, the Gran Paradis run on the Champéry side is hard to beat. You can even try paragliding down from the Croix-de-Culet!

Must-do: With moguls the size of VW Beetles, the Swiss Wall is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s toughest ski runs and is a bucket-list challenge for many skiers.

Must-visit: You can come here and ski local, but you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to go big and explore the rest of the Portes du Soleil area.

Want to know more about the Region Dents du Midi? Take a look at The Faces of the Valais: Region Dents du Midi for a local's perspective.

Ready to grab your skis? You'll find fantastic holiday deals, a huge range of accommodation, opportunities to buy lift passes and book unforgettable activities and loads more at Valais' online shop. Go to for more info.


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