The beautiful little, traffic-free village of Saas-Fee looks a bit like a small Zermatt with its dark wooden chalets, and is surrounded by beautiful glaciers and mountain peaks, including the Dom – the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland.
The ski area of Saas-Fee is one of the highest in the Alps, popular for summer skiing on the glacier, but also for its winter slopes that spread over a larger area. The village is based on an old farming community and has retained its charm (and cowsheds full of wintering cattle) despite significant expansion since the first access road was built in 1951.
Most slopes face north and are above 2,500 meters, which ensures very reliable and light powder snow. The whole area is relatively small, with just 100km of pistes that keen skiers and snowboarders can probably tackle in a few days, and is best suited to confident beginners and intermediates.
Keep up to date with the key facts about the resort below and scroll down for our insider’s guide to a day on the slopes, expert reviews and advice. For more Saas-Fee inspiration, check out our guides to the resort’s best accommodations, restaurants and après-ski.
In this guide:
Within the resort
The narrow streets of Saas-Fee, lined with attractive old buildings and newer low-rise chalets, are a charming setting for a stroll. And the surrounding mountains are breathtaking: the resort is known as the Pearl of the Alps and has 13 peaks of 4,000 meters and higher towering above it.
The village is traffic-free, with parking spaces at the entrance and electric buses, taxis and hotel vehicles to take people around. It gets very little sun early in the season, so March and April are good months to visit, when temperatures at the resort and on the mountain are warmer – December and January can be bitterly cold.
After the access gondola to Felskinn, an underground cable car speeds through the mountain to Mitellalin and the resort’s glacier at 3,500 metres. Be careful: the air is thin there. It’s a good idea to walk slowly when you go outside to acclimatize. And to visit the world’s highest revolving restaurant, Allalin: the floor rotates beneath diners and drinkers, allowing 360-degree views of the surrounding ring of 4,000-foot peaks.
There is also Alallin Ice Cave, built deep into the glacier with beautiful ice sculptures, along with explanations of how the ice was formed and how it changes, and an avalanche simulation experience. Entrance fee CHF20.
Remarkably, Saas-Fee also has an entire mountain, Hannig, dedicated to activities other than skiing and snowboarding: snowshoeing, tobogganing, paragliding or walking on cleared trails. There are plans to renovate the Hannig lift with ten-seat gondolas by 2023/24. There’s also a leisure centre, with a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s pool and water slide, hot tub, various saunas and steam rooms, a gym, plus a natural ice skating rink, and the Feeblitz, a fun rollercoaster-style ride. rails.
On the slopes
The Saas-Fee ski area is ideal for beginners and relaxed advanced skiers who like descents with good snow and like to tackle the same terrain several times a week.
The glacier area and most of the upper half of the mountain are ideal for them. Even the pistes marked red here are generally very gentle and would be blue in many resorts.
More adventurous intermediates will want to try the steeper red runs found on the lower runs back to the village and in the Längfluh, Spielboden and Plattjen sectors; but the snow here is rarely as good as the wonderful powder snow found on the higher slopes. And the blues back to the village are largely narrow trails – not good for timid skiers or snowboarders, who can take the lifts back down to avoid them.
There is a powerful lift system, starting with a 30-person gondola that takes 1,500 people per hour from the village to Felskinn at 3,000 meters.
There are few steep runs to challenge experts, and off-piste is severely limited by the deep gorges that make leaving the slopes on the glacier extremely dangerous. However, Saas-Fee is an excellent starting point for ski touring and forms an extension of the classic Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. And descending the 1,700 meter altitude from the top to the bottom of the mountain is a challenge for all levels.
The area is pretty much perfect for students. There is a special beginners area on the edge of the village, which generally has good snow and for which a special ski pass for beginners applies. Ideal progression slopes can be found on the glacier, where top-quality powder snow is virtually guaranteed.
The area is popular with freestylers and snowboarders who make the most of the world-class terrain parks. In winter the park is located in Morenia, below Felskinn, and has rails, kickers, boxes, tables and lines for all levels. In summer the park extends to the glacier and is specially designed for advanced and professional freestylers, with many of the world’s best freestyle riders coming to train here. There is also a popular relaxation room where you can just relax and enjoy the music.
Who should go?
The practice slopes in Saas Fee, which require a special ski pass for beginners, are long, gentle and uncrowded and just a short walk from the main street – plus the glacier area and most of the top half of the mountain are also ideal for beginners with glorious, easy blue descents at high altitude. Saas Fee has a friendly atmosphere and is good for families as there is plenty of après-ski entertainment to keep everyone entertained.
Know before you go
British Embassy/Consulate: 00 31 359 77 00
Ambulance: call 144
Police: call 117
Firework: call 118
TOURIST OFFICE: See saas-fee.ch, the website of the Saas Fee tourist office, for weather reports, lift status, webcams, traffic information and local event listings. You can pick up maps, brochures and other information at the office at the roundabout in the center of Saas Fee.
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Phone code: from abroad, call 00 41 and omit the zero at the beginning of the ten-digit number.
Time difference: +1 hour