The Aletsch Region is well known to the Swiss and neighboring Europeans, but less familiar to others. If you are looking for something different than the "packaged vacation", more relaxing, but still convenient to all the sights, read on! Since this area is frequented by Europeans, many of the links here are in German or French only, but you will get the general idea. Many locals speak English.
Click here for a great German-English dictionary.
Ferienhaus Montanara is located in the tiny village of Greich, between the town of Mörel
in the Rhone valley and the resort of
You'll be surrounded by farmers with cows and sheep.
The easiest approach is by
Tell the operator you want to get off at the mid-station/Greich. One way fare per person is
5.00 SFr (approx USD$5.00), less if you have a Swiss Pass or 1/2 Price card, etc.
There are also multi-ride tickets available, i.e. 6, 12, 24 rides, for a bit cheaper.
You have numerous culinary choices in Riederalp and Bettmeralp, and many of the neighboring villages. The least expensive food option is to shop at the local Coop grocery store ( Coop business hours) (picture) and bakery on the alp. Prices at the top of the cable-car are the same as down in the valley due to Swiss fair-price regulations, and unlike in the cities, the stores at resorts are open on weekends and holidays. Other shopping and many services are also available.
Calendar of Events
for the Valais. Concerts/Fairs/Festivals/Exhibitions in the area.
Clean air, unique flora and fauna, and a one of a kind panoramic view of the southern Swiss Alps. The Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn area around the Aletsch Glacier was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The Aletsch region offers:
Hiking and mountaineering (map)
(even on the glacier w/ guides). There are 150 km (100 mi) of
hiking trails (Wanderwege), from easy strolls, to short hikes, to overnight treks and
alpine tours. The
Massaschlucht (Massa canyon - the Grand Canyon of Switzerland) is within hiking distance.
Mountain biking: 300 km (200 mi) of signposted mountainbike routes, both downhill and cross country, from family friendly to medium difficulty. Your bike can be loaded onto the cable-cars and chairlifts for easy mountaintop access. Mountain bikes can be rented at various locations, including at the top of the Bettmeralp cable-car, large SBB train stations, and in Fiesch Sport Center.
Minigolf and golfing on on the highest 9-hole golf course (par 60) in Europe, situated amidst small lakes in majestic surroundings. (at the top of the tram just a few minutes away)
Salina Maris Wellness Spa with salt water baths at the bottom of the cable-car near Mörel. Also nearby is Brigerbad, a large complex of natural hot springs, with warm waterslides, and an underground "grotto".
For the kids, there's the Fun Park, a children's play paradise on the alp plateau, as well as regular playgrounds with swings, slides, etc. Bettmeralp has a whole kids program. Happyland (kids amusement park) in Granges is also an option.
Up on Riederalp/Bettmeralp, there's also tennis, boating, indoor swimming at various hotels and "wellness centers", lake swimming, and camping. Other swimming pools are listed under "winter" below.
What trip to Europe would be complete without castles: Our favorites are
Valere in Sion about 45 min from the house; Chillon on the Lake of Geneva near Montreux; and La Batiaz in Martigny. Brig boasts the Stockalper Palace. The medieval crossroads of
Naters has a 12th-century castle, traditional festivals and crafts, and the Swiss Museum of the Papal Guards. Other nearby castles include Mercier (Sierre), Raron (Lotschberg region), Werra (Leuk), and Aigle (Villars--one of the best) to name just a few.
SwissCastles website has pictures of the
castles in Valais/Wallis all
and castles all over Switzerland
(in French though).
The Aletsch ski area (map) is actually a combination of the Riederalp, Bettmeralp, and Fiescheralp ski areas. Even with a sunny southern exposure, it's "snow sure," and within a 5 minute cablecar ride from Haus Montanara in Greich. The Aletsch region is a family-oriented ski area, with a mix of beginner through expert runs (pisten); most are intermediate. (Though smaller than Zermatt or the Jungfrau Region, Riederalp/Bettmeralp is still huge when compared to most USA ski areas.)
Lift tickets (prices 2009-2010)
generally cost quite a bit less than in the USA. You'll also find the type
of skiing quite different: you'll ski from the top of a mountain down treeless runs
marked with poles in the middle, through small villages and past small pubs. The ski
area does not have designated "boundaries". You are skiing on giant snowfields and
farmers' fields. The ski runs are not generally cut through the forest, but rather start
above the tree line. Off-piste skiing is generally allowed with some exceptions,
but you're on your own if you get lost -- hire a local guide for off-piste skiing. Ski and snowboard rentals are readily available.
Some of the larger and famous ski areas are easily
reachable within 2 hrs by public tranportation:
(interactive ski map or pdf),
Less well known, but also great ski areas are even closer:
and Visp region (ski map).
Cross country skiing also very popular in this region with trails of various difficulties.
There are long trails extending up the whole Rhone river valley,
or short and medium length trails up on the Riederalp and Bettmeralp.
There are multiple options for indoor swimming and spas:
Plenty of other apres-ski activities and non-skier activities are also available in Riederalp
and Bettmeralp: horse-drawn sleigh rides, sledding, snowshoeing, gourmet dining, ice skating, winter hiking, etc.
A 20-minute tram/train ride to Brig affords even more possibilities: Museums, concerts,
theatre, a beautiful castle (Schloss Stockalper Brig), fine shopping, and all
you'd expect from a bustling city.
Day Trip Ideas:
Zermatt/Matterhorn (2 hours Greich to Zermatt)
Glacier Express train between Zermatt and St. Moritz, over high passes, bridges, though tunnels, narrow gorges, spectacular scenery. Make a reservation in the dining car for an unforgettable journey.
Interlaken/Jungfrau Region/Bernese Oberland - this is where the famous Jungfraujoch, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Mürren are located. (2 hrs Greich to Interlaken)
Zürich (wikipedia) or Zürich tourism
(3 hours Greich to Zürich) -
City of international banking, exclusive upscale (window) shopping,
interesting old town (many churches, clock towers, wall murals, etc., airport,
Zwingli's center in the Reformation. The Limmat River flows through the city.
Bern - Switzerland's capital, medieval pedestrians-only old town, the "bear pits".
Lucerne - the famous covered bridge, boat rides on the Lake of Lucerne.
Geneva (wikipedia) or
Geneva (tourist office)
(3.5 hrs to Geneva, 2.5 hrs to Montreux) -
City of world politics, pulpit of Calvin in the Reformation, at the
tip of the lake of Geneva, with the famous "Jet d'Eau," one of the world's
tallest fountains. The
Lake Geneva Region, a.k.a. "Swiss Riviera",
and the Rhone Valley are also Switzerland's
wine growing region. Hear the Jazz festival in Montreux.
Locarno/Lago Maggiore and Lugano (wikipedia) or Lugano (tourist office) (3.5 hrs to Locarno, 5 hrs to Lugano) - Mediterranean climate with palm trees, beautiful lakes, Italian language & food. Pedalos (pedal boats) on the lake and Seenachtfest (lake fireworks). Well worth the trip just for the train ride, and Lugano is a very pretty city to spend the night. This is the little known Swiss-Italian state of Ticino.
Lake Como and Milan, Italy (2.5 to 3 hrs to Milan)
***Above travel times are one way by public transportation from the vacation house in Greich;
remember, it takes about 30 mins to get to Brig
from Greich and most trains leave from Brig
Riederalp: Ski area and village directly above Greich/Haus Montanara
Bettmeralp: Ski area and village near Greich/Haus Montanara
SBB/CFF/FFS: Swiss National Railways website in English with timetables
Swiss Travel System website offers many types of train passes, discounts, and travel ideas.
Riederalp Bahnen: Tram/Cable car system for the Aletsch region
Ski area maps (scroll towards the bottom of the page).
bike.intermaps.ch/aletsch: Interactive summertime map of the Aletsch region.
www.infosnow.ch: Interactive wintertime map of the Aletsch region.
Local car rental in Brig