I'm not a big fan of winter. I don't like the cold and I don't love the snow. But I do love winter sports. Weird, right? This year I decided to make my comeback on the skis. I've been snowboarding for the past couple of years and wanted to give skiing another try.
We spent a week in a cabin in a tiny town called Bellwald in the Canton of Valais. Bellwald is tiny. Like really tiny. There are 4 lifts and only two of those are chairlifts. Actually, I wouldn't recommend skiing there which we had to learn during our week there. Tiny alone wouldn’t be all that bad but it’s also expensive compared to the Aletsch Arena. The day pass in Bellwald was 4 CHF cheaper than in the Aletsch Arena, but you only get 4 lifts compared to 35. I reckon that it’s good for families. It’s not too big, quiet and there are a lot of ski schools for every level.
From Bellwald it takes you only 15 minutes by car to get to Fiesch. Optionally you could also take the gondola and train to get to Fiesch from Bellwald. From there you can take a gondola up to Fiescheralp. Now you have access to all the slopes of the Aletsch Arena. 104km of slopes and 35 lifts. The condition of the slopes and the snow were both superb. Skiing was such a pleasure. You can go up to the Eggishorn or Bettmerhorn to have an amazing view of the Aletsch Glacier. But to be honest, the glacier isn’t too spectacular during the winter. It’s just snow. The view, however, is stunning nonetheless. If you look closely you can even spot the Matterhorn in the distance. Unfortunately, we only spent one day here which we regretted afterwards. We should have gone there the entire week.
Skiing or snowboarding is not your thing? Don’t worry, there are tons of other things to do here. I’m sure you will have a good time. Hiking, paragliding, cross-country skiing, fat biking, sledding and ice skating are a few of the activities you can enjoy in the snow or on the ice.
Switzerland is expensive. That is a fact and that is especially true for winter sports. Besides all the gear you need to ski, lift tickets, food and accommodation add up quickly. A day pass for the lifts in the Aletsch Arena will cost 60 CHF. You will get a slight discount if you buy multiple days at once.
One of us owned a house in Bellwald which meant we didn’t have to worry about accommodation costs. I recommend checking in on AirBnB or on the Aletsch Arena website to find hotels or hostels. I suggest looking for accommodations early because it’s usually booked solid during the winter months.
To keep our cost of food down we never went out to eat and always cooked for ourselves. That’s a great way to keep your costs down, no matter where you travel to. And surprisingly it was pretty good too!
We ate lunch in restaurants on the mountains which is pretty much the opposite of budget travel. It will cost at least 20 CHF. Most of them offer picnic areas though, so if you want to bring a sandwich that is no problem at all.
The Aletsch Arena has become one of my favorite places in the Canton of Valais. I will definitely be back.