Saas-Fee

Switzerland

Nestled right up in the Swiss Alps, Saas-Fee ticks a ton of boxes. High-altitude slopes for snow sureity, a charming village, great pistes for all standards, no crowds convenient lodging and spectacular scenery.

Scout Loves

  • Breathtaking scenery completely surrounding you
  • The many centuries-old wooden chalets and cow sheds scattered throughout the village
  • Excellent beginner slopes right at the village and separate from the main runs
  • High-altitude, north-facing slopes means very reliable snow conditions
  • Relaxed, small village vibe

Scout Tips

  • You can explore smaller ski resorts in the valley on one ski pass. Getting to these by bus can take up a bit of time
  • Advanced and expert terrain can be limited without a guide
  • It can be very cold in January and February
  • Arriving by public transport requires a bus from Visp – there is no train line up the valley

Scout Review

Boom. Wow. Ahhhhhhh. The moment you step out of the bus terminal in Saas-Fee you are immediately struck but the breathtaking landscape completely surrounding you. Situated high up in the Valais region of the Swiss Alps, in Saas-Fee you feel part of the mountains – not at the bottom of them like many other resorts. The most awe-inspiring scenery is smack in your face wherever you go. The glaciers are so close you fell you can almost touch them. Eighteen 4,000m peaks tower above the charming village. On arrival it takes a couple of minutes just to take it all in.

Then, as you are whisked to your hotel by a small electric car through the narrow cobble stone (car free) streets of Saas-Fee, your attention turns to the charming buildings, classic Swiss wooden chalets and a vibrant mountain community going about its day.

Better yet - there also happens to be some great skiing.

Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Alps” Saas-Fee is one of Switzerland’s lesser known ski resorts but it’s one definitely worth considering since it scores so highly on what people are looking for in a European ski trip. Charming European village – tick. High-altitude snow sure slopes – tick. Good skiing for all standards – tick. Great restaurants and bars – tick. Stunning scenery – tick. Wide variety of accommodation – tick. Tick, tick, tick, tick. The only thing that really requires a compromise is that it takes a bit more effort to get to since it’s not directly located on a train line. But guess what that means… less crowds – tick. We feel it’s worth the compromise.

Saas-Fee is great for families, couples and groups of friends. Families will love the relaxed atmosphere, the quiet beginner ski area, a ton of extra activities and some conveniently located lodging. Couples will love the romance of the village – the gourmet dining and the 5-star hotels like Capra and the rustic centuries-old Valasian wooden houses and cow sheds dotted around the village that, by the smells wafting out of them, are still in use today. Groups of friends will enjoy a laid-back, yet decent apres scene along with some excellent moderate accommodation options scattered throughout the village.

Saas-Fee Skiing

Saas-Fee’s ski slopes start in the village at 1,400m and extend right up to 3,600m making them some of Europe’s highest, most snow sure slopes. They even have skiing in summer. It may not have the vast extent of the large resorts like Zermatt or 4 Vallees (Verbier), but when combined with the smaller ski areas of Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell, the whole area  (known as the “Free Republic of Holidays Saas-Fee”) has 150km of pistes. It’s perfect for a shorter stay, or, if you ski all three areas as well as taking in some of the many other attractions and activities in the area, one could be kept busy for an entire week.

The nursery slopes are located right next to the village and include several magic carpets and t-bars. It’s great for learners as the area is segregated from the rest of the slopes, it’s gentle and quiet and very easy to access.

The bulk of the skiing is at the Felskinn, Allalin and Langfluh areas that are accessed by various cable cars and gondolas from the village. The peak at the Mittelallalin station is reached by a series of lifts from the Langfluh side (including a very long, cold t-bar) or a cable car then the Metro Alpin – an underground funicular. There’s a revolving restaurant at the top and a wonderful “Eispavillion” or Ice Grotto that’s well worth looking at - it’s a long underground cave system built into the glacier ice that is both beautiful and fascinating at the same time. The slopes between here and the village are great for intermediate on-piste cruising – there are a few fast lifts that allow for some fast laps and the slopes are wide open with few other skiers around. The longest route back to Saas-Fee is 9km. Advanced skiers that like to get their kicks by going fast on groomers are well serviced, but generally the off-piste areas are no-go since most of it is glacial terrain and dangerous. Advanced skiers wanting to explore the off-piste would be best to get a guide and there is certainly some great looking terrain that can be explored.

A smaller area off to the side is Plattjen, accessed by a gondola from the main base area. It’s actually a great intermediate and advanced slope perfect for a super-fast cruise – it’s used for World Cup racing. You can explore the off-piste safely here except it needs a lot of snow to cover the boulder sized sharp rocks.

If you were staying more than a few days, it would be best to explore the other ski areas at Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell – both of which a mix of blue and red slopes. Ski passes can be purchased that cover all areas, or just one. There is only a very slight reduction in price for purchasing the Saas-Fee pass only, so generally speaking, if you are staying a couple of days, you are better off purchasing the combined ticket to give you greater flexibility and convenience.

Saas-Fee For Families

Saas-Fee makes an excellent choice for families. Its lesser known status and compact village makes it more low-key (and therefore better value) than some of the more famous resorts. There is a good mix of lodging from budget to high-end that suits families – some of which is slopeside or a very short walk to the slopes.

For a family of mixed skiers, with first-timers or beginner kids and more intermediate/advanced parents it makes an excellent choice – as long as the kids are in ski school. The beginner slopes are quite separate from the rest of the intermediate slopes and while there are blue runs on some of the upper slopes, it’s hard to find lifts that will keep everyone satisfied if skiing together. If the kids are competent skiing red pistes, then there is a lot more to discover together. There are several ski schools that take children from the age of 3, all of which have English speaking teachers. Group lessons generally run from Monday to Friday. There is child-care available via the ski schools for children aged over 3 or at two of the hotels for those younger.

Saas-Fee has many great non-skiing activities for families – see below for more detail.

Saas-Fee Accommodation

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There is a wide variety of accommodation in Saas-Fee - from budget to 5-star luxury – amongst which there are a few somewhat dated Swiss 80s-modern style hotels. But there are plenty of great hotels to choose from. At the top end our pick is the boutique 5-star Capra Hotel that’s perfect for a romantic escape. Families may prefer to choose accommodation a short walk from the slopes.

Saas-Fee also has some B&Bs, catered chalets and self-catered apartments.

Resort Activities

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There are plenty of activities to do in Saas-Fee – on and off the snow. You can even enjoy an evening cheese fondue while riding a gondola (the schnapps will keep you warm!).

Saas-Fee even has an entire mountain dedicated to non-skiing activities. The Hannig lift accesses snow walking trails and a 5km toboggan run down to the village – well worth sacrificing half a day on the slopes.

Other activities consist of:

  • Glacier Trekking
  • Ice Climbing
  • Ice grotto
  • Tobogganing/night sledging
  • Cross country skiing
  • Snow tubing
  • Sunrise and Full Moon skiing
  • Winter hiking
  • Ice skating and curling
  • Leisure center with 25m pool and kids pool.

Getting There and Around

Saas-Fee is situated in the Valais region of Switzerland. Geneva is the closest major airport – 2.5 hours away. Zurich and Milan are just over 3 hours.

Private transfers are available from Geneva airport. By public transport it requires a train to Visp station and then a Postbus on to Saas-Fee (approx. 40 mins, departing every 30 mins). You can drive to Saas Fee and will need to park outside the village in one of the covered or outdoor car parks.

All hotels offer a pick-up from the bus station and car parks.

Some hotels offer a shuttle to get to and from the slopes or there is a scheduled free ski bus for getting around the village as well as electo-taxis for hire.

When To Go

Saas-Fee is open for skiing all year round. However, the obvious time to go is during the winter. Due to its high-altitude snow-surety Saas Fee makes an excellent choice for spring skiing. January and February are also good however it can be quite cold.

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