The celebrated mountain resort of Saas-Fee is cradled by the Saas Valley in Valais. With old wooden chalets and granaries, Saas-Fee is a village with real history, and has been adapted to the needs of modern winter sports fans. There’s a system of Wi-Fi-connected funiculars, cable-cars and ski lifts to get you to pistes that also welcome walkers in summer.
And for those craving winter sport when the rest of Europe is hot, the Dom and Allinhorn glaciers are permanently frozen. Things get really spectacular when you board the Metro Alpin funicular for a record-breaking ride to the base of the Allinhorn. There you can dine at the world’s highest revolving restaurant and walk through the centre of the Fee Glacier.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Saas-Fee:
It’s hard to imagine anywhere better for a short family ski holiday.
First off, the high elevation of the slopes, topping out at 3,500 metres, ensures snow-sure pistes and a long ski season that extends well into April.
Most of the 100 kilometres of runs are suited to intermediate skiers (45%) and beginners (30%). And while the skiable area is relatively compact, Saas-Fee has easy links to nearby Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell, and your lift pass will be valid at those resorts.
There’s also the promise of summer skiing on the Fee Glacier in breathtaking scenery.
2. Allalin Ice Pavilion
From the cable-car station at Felskinn you can hop on the Metro Alpin, the highest funicular and highest underground railway in the world, climbing to a height of 3,500 metres to see inside the Fee Glacier.
The Ice Pavilion, a 5,500-cubic-metre grotto in the body of the glacier has recently been updated with new ice sculptures and an avalanche simulator.
There’s also information about the science and history of the glacier: The age of the ice at different points is labelled with important historical events that took place at the same time it was formed.
3. “threes!xty” Revolving Restaurant
Above the Ice Pavilion is a record-breaking revolving restaurant where sublime mountain views accompany your meal.
The line-up of mighty peaks is long and includes Dom, Täschhorn, Alphubel, Strahlhorn and of course, Allalinhorn, which looms right over the restaurant.
It takes one hour to make a single revolution, and while a meal at a location like this will never be cheap, it’s a small price to pay to contemplate such marvellous scenery.
“threes!xty” is both the highest revolving restaurant in the world and Switzerland’s highest restaurant.
4. Saas-Fee Village
The formidable peaks over the valley are at the heart of Saas-Fee’s charm, but another thing to love about the village is that it predates the skiing industry.
The modern amenities and profusion of hotels haven’t hidden Saas-Fee’s rustic soul.
The centre is totally car-free and the resort provides electric mini-buses shuttling you from one area to another, while ski-lifts, railways and cable-cars tackle the stiffer slopes.
Hints of Saas-Fee’s humbler past can be seen at the old raccard granaries on the edge of the village, made completely from wood and resting on stilts.
In no time at all you can use the brand new cable-car (updated in 2016) to get to this rocky outcrop at the centre of that crown of peaks rising to 4,000 metres or more.
At this spot, almost 2,900 metres up you can survey the Fee Glacier and its many seracs and crevasses.
There’s also a restaurant up here with a panoramic terrace, which is stunning in winter.
If you’re up for a hike you could either alight at the earlier stop at Spielboden and walk up to Längfluh, or walk down in the other direction.
At Spielboden in summer there’s a little trail where the marmots are tame and will take food from your hand.
6. Gorge Alpine
By road Saas-Fee and Saas-Grund are just five minutes away, by the distance can seem a lot bigger if you go via the vast gorge between the two communities.
This is a trip that can only be done with the help of a mountain guide, and you’ll know why when you see it: The gorge has been made navigable by a network of steel ropes, ladders, suspension bridges and a Tyrolean zip-line.
If you can relax enough to focus on the views you’ll enjoy frozen waterfalls and great perspectives of the ravine’s towering walls of rock.
Once you make it to Saas-Grund you’ll know you’ve earned that fondue or raclette.
The resort’s museum is in Saas-Fee’s former parsonage, going back to 1732 and restored in 1983 when this attraction opened.
Come to get an idea of Saas-Fee before the advent of tourism, and at the time when the first visitors arrived in search of mountain adventure.
The museum features a typical apartment from the turn of the 20th century, folklore items and the traditional costumes of the Saas Valley.
You can study the science of the Allalin Glacier, and there’s an exhibition with the personal belongings of the author and playwright Carl Zuckmayer ,who settled in Saas-Fee in 1958.
Summer or winter you can take a lift to carry you to one of the highest toboggan runs in the Alps.
This ride is on rails, using nothing more than your own gravity to put you in the shoes of a bobsledder juddering down a 55° incline.
At the start there’s a nine-metre-high 360° loop, before you plummet down the slope, reaching speeds of 40km/h.
On the course you’ll pick up momentum with the help of three sudden “jump bends” where the rails disappear between the trees.
On the 900-metre ride don’t forget to admire the views of the scenery while you have the chance.
9. Rope Park
In the forest beside the Feeblitz is a tree-top adventure park welcoming all-comers.
Before you begin there’s an introductory route, literally showing you the ropes and how to handle the park’s various challenges.
Adults and kids 11 and over can then attempt a longer course with bridges and obstacles testing balance, coordination and agility to the limit.
There’s also a special course for kids aged 4-9, which like the whole attraction is rigorously tested for safety.
The park’s show piece is the Tyrolean over the Fee Gorge, 280 metres long on the way out and 210 on the way back.
10. Hannig Toboggan Run
West of the resort is a lofty scenic lookout known as Hannig, which is still bathed in winter sunshine long after things have got dark down on the valley floor.
Hannig is at an elevation of 2,350 metres and is on the cable-car network.
You can bask in the sun for a while on the terrace, but maybe the best reason to make the climb is for the five-kilometre toboggan run.
All the equipment you’ll need can be rented from the station up here, and then slide all the way back down the side of the valley to Saas-Fee.
June to October, Saas-Fee has more walking routes than you could cram into one holiday, but one of the must-dos if you’re in good shape is the Kreuzboden and Amageler Adventure Trail.
Around nine kilometres long, it will take three hours or so to complete, and the best bit is a panoramic 60-metre suspension bridge.
For the ultimate view of Saas-Fee and its glacier, there’s an 8.4-kilometre path beginning at Hannig and leading you past waterfalls and a glacial lake to the Plattjen Mountain Station where you can catch the cable-car home.
12. Cross-Country Skiing
It’s easier to savour the Saas Valley’s natural wonders when you’re skiing at a leisurely pace.
The Saaservispa Trail is named for the frozen river that it tracks, and is as long as 32 kilometres from Saas-Balen to Eyu-Alp just past Saas-Almagell.
Naturally you don’t have to ski the entire length, and can use the lifts and cable-cars to get on and off where you like.
The trail snakes through a real winter paradise of snow-coated larch and pine forest, and cute hamlets with traditional huts.
This route has a very gradual incline that you won’t notice until you’re presented with magnificent views of the glacier and mountains at the finale.
Another high-speed cable-car ride from Saas-Grund will drop you off at Kreuzboden or higher at Hohsaas for all sorts of activities at high altitude.
There’s a superb view to Saas-Fee and you can set off on a few hikes in summer.
One route has view of all 18 of the 4,000-metre peaks in the area, and there are information boards pointing out each mountain.
The Alpine Flower Promenade is as lovely as it sounds, and there’s also a glistening lake abounding with trout and a mini zoo with pygmy goats and pot-bellied pigs.
Instead of taking the cable-car you can hire a monster scooter for a swift trip back down to Saas-Grund.
If you’re in Saas-Fee for more than a weekend you’d be missing out if you didn’t set aside a day for some indulgence and relaxation.
There are five day spas in Saas-Fee alone, and many more further along the valley.
If you want some real luxury , the five-star Ferienart Resort & Spa has everything you could need.
A day spa package admits you to the wellness area and its pools.
Also on the menu is a honey scrub, massage and healthy meals and refreshments like fruit cocktails and salads.
15. Guided Adventure
For the sake of safety there are some spectacular experiences that are only possible with a qualified guide.
As we mentioned earlier, this is the case in the Gorge Alpine, but there’s much more you can get up to with a qualified hiking, mountaineering or skiing guide.
Take a rock climbing course or go mountain biking above the clouds on a trail descending more than 1,700 metres.
The Allalinhorn Ski Tour is a ski/mountaineering experience that you won’t soon forget: You’ll strap on a pair of crampons and edge your way to the top of a 4,000-metre peak before skiing back to Saas-Fee.