Belalp is one of our favorite destinations – a magical town hanging over the Sion Valley, with views of the Matterhorn and Sion pass. The skiing is remarkable, not crowded, steep in places and wide open. There’s even a tunnel drilled through the mountain to get you more access to the backside. Skis – big guns, be prepared for on- and off-piste. In the summer, the hiking is some of the best in Switzerland (possibly the best) – there’s really no bad time to visit There are a lot of houses you can rent for longer term stays (if you’re willing to schlep your food in, this whole area is accessed by gondola). 

We love the ***Hotel Hamilton. It’s been redone with some attention, not overly fancy but with the right touches. Food is very well executed and not exclusively Swiss – pasta, burgers, salads, etc.. Very good breakfast. There are two saunas, and two outdoor hot tubs – one a wooden food-fired charmer. Book well in advance (think months in advance, and for a holiday weekend, try the year before). 

*Hotel Belalp is the other lodging/dining option – it’s nice looking from the outside, a bit more complicated to get to (a 30 minute walk from the tram). It’s a bit hard to judge the rooms – my impression is that they are on the functional/tired side. The dining room is new and quite elegant. Food was on the fancier side, but the execution wasn’t great. This is closer to the glacier; a walk here is pleasant to see the dramatic view.

As of winter 2024, there’s a cute new restaurant on the slopes, Restaurant Fleshtola. We haven’t had the food yet (the menu looked appealing) – drinks were good.

Spring/Summer/Fall Hikes

Belalp is the start of Bisse #21, ***Bisse Nessjeri-Obersta-Stigwasser hike. It’s great, quite hard on the knees (over 1000 M elevation drop). First mentioned in 1477, the Nessjeri begins at 2140 m near the Kelchbach stream. At first, it runs at an almost imperceptible incline across a rock balcony located diagonally opposite the Aletsch Glacier; then it plunges down into the valley via the Nessel. The Stigwasser and Obersta Bisses, mentioned for the first time in 1521 and 1684 respectively, are both sourced in the Gredetsch Valley near Mundbach at altitudes of about 1300m. The hike has epic vistas (including great views of the Matterhorn) to Mund. The destination, *Mund, is “the saffron town.” We found no evidence of saffron growing and I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit Mund, aside from completing the hike. Bring lunch, it’s a long one.

Heading in the opposite direction, the ***Belalp to Riederalp route (trail 39) includes a dramatic suspension bridge and really lovely scenery – it’s on the top of our list for hikes in Switzerland. You can make it a round trip over the dam – about 25 km all told, with a lot of elevation change. Bring a lot of water and avoid on really hot days! We had a great lunch at **Restaurant Riederfurka, which is surprisingly high end and has an excellent wine list (though we went back for a second time in the winter and didn’t like it as much). It’s right next to Pro Natura Zentrum Aletsch, which makes a lot of Instagram lists, but isn’t that impressive up close. More on the area around the Aletsch Glacier here.

Naters & Brig

At the base of the valley, Brig is more of a staging area than a destination, with many interesting valleys / passes just off it, including the **Simplon Pass (just okay for car people, not the most scenic). The historic center is a good stretch-your-legs stop, with a grand palace and several cute squares lined with restaurants.

There’s an interesting and very easy stop (you’ll be within a block while driving past) – the **Ossuary in Naters, built in 1514 to store the bones from an over-crowded cemetery. The impressive skull wall (visible from the street), has 1,857 skulls, a selection of approximately 31.000 skulls in the ossuary. It’s not quite at the level of Leukerbad’s Ossuary, where you can get much closer, but I’d still make time for the detour.