If there is ONE image of a magnificent winter landscape that has left its mark on pop culture… it would be the one from Wham’s “Last Christmas” music video. However, did you know? that it was in fact filmed in 1984 in Saas-Fee, Switzerland?
In December last month, I went on a winter ski vacation at Saas-fee with my family, who came to visit us in Switzerland over Christmas. In today’s itinerary, I’m super excited to share with you the best things to do in Saas-Fee in winter!
Where is Saas-Fee?
Saas-Fee is found in the German-speaking Valais, in central-southern Switzerland. At 1,800m a.s.l., it is situated at the foot of the Dom, the highest mountain located entirely on Swiss territory (4,545m a.s.l.)
The neighbouring Saas valley resorts: Saas Grund & Saas Almagell are not interlinked by ski lifts, but are both covered by the same ski pass and the regional Post Bus shuttles. You can cover all three villages over a weekend trip.
Watch my full vlog itinerary on Saas-Fee here!
Why is Saas Fee so Popular?
Saas Fee is considered to be one of the most attractive winter sports destination in the Swiss Alps. Thanks to its high altitude and dizzying heights topping out at 3,500 metres, this area is snow-sure starting from the end of July to the end of April.
And for those of you who hate the cold: You can still skii in Saas-Fee during summer! That’s also the reason why so many professional skiers stay part-time in Saas-Fee to train during summer. So don’t be surprised if you meet a ski star during your summer vacation!
Another thing to love about Saas-Fee is simply its old world, rustic charm. The village has successfully retained traditional architectural style, with picturesque wooden chalets dotting all over the scenery. With just 2,000 residents during and relatively lower occupation numbers, it has a much more laid-back, family feel compared to other Swiss ski resorts.
How to Get to Saas Fee
Unlike its bigger neighbour Zermatt, Saas-Fee is not directly accessible by train. Nevertheless, it is still relatively easy to get here via a combination or train and bus, or if you really must, by car.
By Public Transport:
From Lausanne, take the regional train to Visp, the nearest station to Saas-Fee. From there, take the regular Postbus to the Saas Fee bus terminal. The journey takes about about 3 hours in total.
Saas-Fee is a car-free village. If you are driving, you will have to park your car outside of the village at dedicated car parks. It costs CHF16.50 for the first day, and then CHF12.50 for each subsequent days.
Hotels will usually provide small electric taxis and the resort buses running rom the car park or bus terminal to the hotel in the village. Remember to request for baggage transfer service from your hotel when you arrive.
Best time to visit Saas-Fee
Winter is high season in Saas-Fee, with 18 4,000m peaks and 150 km of slopes awaiting ski-lovers.
Nonetheless, Saas-Fee is not only for the winter adventurers. With its excellent alpine and southern location, summer here is especially sunny and beautiful: Expect lush flowers and green mountains, with plenty of outdoor activities: from 350 km of hiking trails, to biking, mountaineering, rock climbing, glacial activities and more.
Saastal Card and Snow Magic Package
Upon arrival at your apartment or hotel reception, you will receive the Saastal Card. With it, you can take the public transport PostBus free of charge throughout the Saastal valley (not valid for arrivals and departures). You also benefit from reductions of up to 30 percent on a total of 30 offers, such as cable cars, indoor pool, ski school lessons, parking garage, and more.
If you are planning a longer stay, consider geting more value out of your money with the Snow Magic Package 2021/2022. This includes from 4 nights in the accommodation of your choice, a flexible 6 day ski pass for the whole winter season 21/22, and the Saastal Card.
Where to Stay in Saas-Fee
As we were travelling as a family of 6 this time, we preferred a more spacious Swiss chalet rather than a hotel. We chose the Apartment Bristolino operated by Hotel Bristol.
The location was really ideal as it is literally just a 2 minute walk away from the ski lifts and the curling/ice hockey rink which is the gathering point for ski instructors and students in the morning. The intersport ski rental shop was also right next to the chalet, which makes it super convenient for renting and returning our ski-gears.
Space-wise, it was great having a large kitchen for cooking (we had our own swiss fondue for dinner!), along with a cosy lounge and 3 bedrooms for sleeping.
No complains about this place at all, this apartment would be surely be ideal for families.
1. Go Skiing in Saas Fee
Saas-Fee is recognised as one of Switzerland’s more family friendly ski resorts: There is a children’s ski school with nursery slopes just right next to the village. Beginners are also safe to practice their new-found skills here at the large sheltered beginners’ area. Since Vince and the rest of my family were all learning to ski for the very first time, they all had their lessons here.
These beginner slopes are gentle enough for practicing, and are not connected to the main slopes. That way you won’t feel as stressed bout other pro skiers whizzing past or crashing into you!
Intermediate skiers will have fun on the long red pistes on the top half of the glacier, which make up approximately 60% of the ski terrain. Advanced skiers are also well-catered for, with off-piste skiing as an option.
We engaged 2 private instructors from the Ski School Saas Fee: Since everyone were beginners, we felt that it would be beneficial to have full attention of an instructor and set our ski foundations right with individual learning.
The girls were also in the best of hands learning at the separate children ski school. It was tough for them initally, some tears were involved… but the instructor was really gentle and patient with them and they especially enjoyed the tea-breaks (MORE than the ski lessons itself! haha).
For prices and booking availability:
Dorfplatz 1, 3906 Saas-Fee
Tel. +41 27 957 23 48
2. Go Sledding at Saas-Grund
For non-ski fans, there are plenty of other winter activities to consider in Saas-Fee, from ice-skating, snow-shoeing to sledding. AND If you think sledding is only for children, think again!
Compared to other winter weather sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, sledding is truly the bargain of the season: Aside from the sled, sledding is completely free. You can even substitute the sleds with garbage can lids, no one would tell! :B
We took a bus ride to neighbouring Saas-Grund just 15 minutes away, then a transfer by cable-car up to Kreuzboden. Here, you can enjoy a sled-run over a fabulous 11 kilometres into the village, along with a view of the Mischabel chain and the Mattmark region.
You can rent your sled from the cable car station at the bottom.
3. Visit an Après-Ski Bar
No ski-day should end without an après-ski!
Pronounced as apray-ski, this refers to the period after skiing, where skiers return back from a long day at the slopes, for a time of drinking and mingling. In fact for some, après-ski is just as important a part of a day as the actual skiing!
There’s no exact time as to when the après-ski starts and end, but the bars tend to fill up at around 3pm: You can tell by hearing the pumping house beats! People usually leave at around 7pm before dinner.
We had fun at the Blackbull Snowbar. The mood here is super lively and exuberant, and everyone one is up drinking mulled wine and singing – no matter whether they know the lyrics or not! This place also happened to be just RIGHT opposite our chalet…so thank God we had sound proof double glazed windows, otherwise I don’t think we can sleep through the partying!
4. Go on an evening torchlight walk
For a unique experience Saas-Fee by night, get a fire torch and go on an illuminated night walk around the village.
This experience felt as though we were walking straight into a scene from Narnia! We walked with snow crunching softly under our boots, under the clear moonlit sky, with the burning fire giving off warmth and a a lovely orange glow.
You can get the flame torches from the Saas-Fee tourist office, each costs 5 CHF. We went on a guided tour, but you can do a free and easy walk by yourself too.
The torches are available in the tourist offices for CHF 5.- per piece.
5. Enjoy dinner at Waldhüs Bodmen
This restaurant Waldhüs-Bodmen (it literally means “the house in the woods”) was the destination of our torchlight walk. Located just about 15 minutes away from Saas-Fee, iIt is a lovely wooden chalet situated on a hill overlooking the Saas-Valley, making the 1km walk well-worth it for the views.
The restaurant has a lovely atmosphere and so much rustic character to it. It has a small separate Harley-Davidson themed bar with many vintage portraits. A larger dining room is situated indoors. There’s even a live petting zoo, which is a real delights for the little ones. While the adults enjoy your dinner, the kids are busy watching the guinea pigs, chicken and rabbits!
The menu is also traditional Swiss, and includes the usual array of cheese fondue, rosti and, of course, a varied selection of sausages.
It would be such a shame to come to Saas-Fee and not give this restaurant a visit. I can imagine myself coming back again in the summer to enjoy the large terrace!
Panoramastrasse 42, 3906 Saas-Fee
Tel: +41 027 957 20 75
6. Take the Metro Alpin
Opened since 1984, this underground funicular is the highest in the world! It links the Felskinn cable-car station (2,980 metres a.s.l) to the midpoint of the Allalinhorn, called the MittelAllalin. Ski-fans can also take Metro Alpine up here, and then go on an exhilarating ski ride back down to Saas-Fee.
I really liked the views of the majestic peaks up at the Allalinhorn, because it isn’t as crowded as other mountains. Once up here, breathe calmly and get used to the thin air, that alone is an extraordinary experience!
7. Enter the world’s largest Ice Pavilion
The ice pavilion in Saas-Fee is located at a breezy 3,500 meters above sea level, at a refreshing -5 degrees. Get ready a thick jacket and sturdy shoes, as ice covers the ground in some places and the pavilion’s corridors are freezing cold. You can also grab a down jacket available outside the pavilion site so that you can explore the ice pavilion. more comfortably wrapped up.
Once you enter, a long staircase leads 70 meters down into the glacier, around which the entire walls and ceiling fully made up of clear, transparent ice. Inside, you will find several ice sculptures designed down to the smallest detail, decorated with colourful lights.
Unfortunately, this experience was bit of a miss for me. Perhaps partly due to the fact that I had already visited something similar at Mt Titlis, so it was not something entirely new. Furthermore the entry price at 20CHF felt overly steep, and I didn’t find much educational exhibits inside other than ice sculptures.
Saastal Bergbahnen AG
Opens daily 9am – 6pm
Admission: 20 CHF for adults, 12 CHF for kids, free with Metro Plus tickets in summer
Not wheelchair friendly
8. Visit the World’s Highest Revolving Restaurant
After the Ice Pavilion, head to the Drehrestaurant Allalin (threes!xty restaurant ) for some literal sky-high dining.
This restaurant boasts the lofty record of being the world’s highest revolving restaurant! It takes about 60 minutes to rotate a full 360 degrees, during which you get a stunning ever-changing perspective of the glacial scenery outside.
On clear days, you can see sweeping paranomic views of the Swiss Alps, including the Jungfrau and Eiger, and even as far as Milan, Italy!
+41 79 263 71 82
Opens from July-April
9. Do a Daytrip to Zermat
Just 1 hour 45 minutes away, Zermatt is extremely do-able as a daytrip option from Saas-Fee. This place needs no introduction, being home to the famous Toblerone mountain, the Matterhorn!
If there’s any train ride that is as scenic and memorable as the destination, it would be the Gornergrat. This is the first fully electrified cogwheel train in the world, and has been operating since 1898. The train chugs up to 3089 a.s.l. in 33 minutes with stunning views of the Matterhorn along the way. You would hardly sit still throughout your ride!
The Gonergrat Bahn goes all the way to the end stop (Gornergrat), but you can choose to leave or board from any of the four stops in between. For hikes in summer, we like going to Rotenboden (the third stop, just before Gornergrat) where you can do a moderate hike down to Rifflesee, a lovely lake famous for its clear reflection of the Matterhorn.
While you are up here, head to the Kulmhotel, the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. We like the its huge sun terrace with unbeatable views of the Matterhorn.
10. Visit the Zooom Museum
Another activity which tourists often miss out is the Zooom Museum: A multimedia museum that discovers the alpine landscape of the Matterhorn in three zoom stages. See the King of the Swiss Alps up close through two virtual paragliding flights, an all-immersive cinema and periscopes!
If you have gotten the Gornergrat railway tickets with the Gornergrat as your start or end destination, you should should give this place a visit since the Zooom experience world is included in the ticket.
Click here to see the full Gornergrat Bahn Pricelist
Children with the Junior Card and dogs travel free up to the Gornergrat
Have you been to Saas-Fee,Switzerland ? What was your favourite activity while you were there? Leave a comment down below!