Ask a local: What should I do, see, hike, and eat in Saas-Fee, Switzerland?

by Gigi Griffis

Welcome back to Ask a Local, a series of posts in which I interview locals all over the world about what to see, where to go, what to eat, and how to fit in in their city or town.

Today, we’ve got Fabian Zurbriggen from Saas-Fee here to reveal the secrets of the Alps…

About Fabian

I was born and raised in Saas-Fee, which is a small, traditional village in the Saas Valley in southern Switzerland. After living abroad and in Zürich for a few years, I came home to Saas- Fee, where I now work as a ski instructor. I like to go hiking and take photographs in my free time.

What to Do In Saas-Fee (The Basics)

People come here to enjoy the impressive scenery. One nice way to discover the village is by walking up the one-hour chapel trail from Saas-Grund (a village on the way to Saas- Fee) to Saas-Fee. In 1938, the author Karl Zuckmayer walked this path and wrote about it in his book, A Part of Myself.

Other main attractions are the view at the world’s highest revolving restaurant in front of the Allalin peak, the glacier and mountain view at Längfluh, and, in the summer, the very cute marmots at Spielboden, which sometimes come close and eat carrots or peanuts out of your hands.

And, of course, in winter, most people come to ski, and in summer, they come to hike and climb. The beautiful scenery and the relaxing spirit of the village attract visitors year-round.

Usually around mid-October the larch trees turn yellow, which is lovely to see.

Hidden Gems for Seasoned Travelers

If you can make it in winter during a full moon, go out for a midnight walk. The Alpine amphitheater-like setting of the valley and its surrounding mountains covered in white and calmly reflecting the moonlight is one of my favorite things in the world.

In summer, I like to hike up Hannig hill. There is also an easy hike through Bärenfalle to Melchboden, where you’ll find a small hidden lake in the larch forest. From there, you can either walk past Hohnegg back to Saas-Fee or continue up to the cozy Restaurant Alpenblick for a break and to taste their delicious homemade pastries or dishes against a pretty excellent backdrop.

If you continue up the mountain, you will come out of the forest and pass a few gnarled old larch trees. Further up, there is another restaurant offering a wide variety of local foods and dishes and a fantastic view. A cable car will take you back to the village.

The chapel Zur Hohen Stiege is also definitely worth seeing.

Where to Stay

I prefer the calmer and more relaxed back of the village, which is only a 10-minute walk from the center.

Day Trips

I recommend Mittelallalin—an alpine summit just below Allalinhorn. The Metro Alpin (an alpine subway) will take you there.

The neighboring villages also offer a variety of different attractions. In Saas-Grund, you should see the view from Kreuzboden. In Saas-Balen, there is a beautiful waterfall. And in Saas-Almagell, there’s Furggstalden, a charming small settlement of old traditional houses.

The world-famous Matterhorn peak is also nearby. On public transport, you can be there in just an hour and a half.

Where to Hike

Hannig has a lot of beautiful trails. And, on the opposite side of the mountain, you’ll find Plattjen, where you’ll hike past large rocky fields, pine trees, alpine flowers, great views of the Dom peak, and, in July, the alpenrose (a type of rhododendron).

Spielboden/Längfluh is the area where you’re likely to see some marmots, and the glacier is close. There is a spectacular view and easy hike at the little lake in Kreuzboden (in Saas- Grund). And the Mattmark area has an easy hike around the lake (and if you’re up for a longer hike, you can walk to Italy from there).

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Where to Eat & Drink (Favorite Restaurants & Bars)

I often take visitors to Restaurant Alphitta (at Wildstrasse 72) for traditional-style ambience and food (plus, I like the walk through the village).

Besides that, two of my favorite restaurants are Zur Mühle (at Dorfstrasse 61) and Chüestall (at Stadelweg 23).

On the mountainside, I like the Alpenblick (mentioned above), Hannig (on Hannig hill), and Gletschergrotte (at Talabfahrt Gletschergrottenpiste 4b).

And for a beer in the evening, I prefer the Happy Bar (at Lomattenstrasse 26). Popcorn (at Obere Dorfstrasse 6) and Poison (at Obere Dorfstrasse 22) are good places for a long night out.

Budget Tips

In the summer, most (though not all) accommodations in the Saas Valley offer a guest card that allows you to use most cable cars for free. Ask your host about it or stop by the tourist office.

Best Places to Take a Photo

Near the post office, there are some great scenery shots, including old traditional barns. The Gletscherbrücke has a good view of the village and mountains. At Längfluh and Mittelallalin, there are some beautiful shots of the Allalin peak and the glacier scenery. And from Kreuzboden, the view of the Mischabel Mountains is great.

Final Notes & Other Tips

Long ago, people here used to make a living with agriculture and handcrafts, but now the valley is a tourism hub.

Surrounded by several 13,000+ foot mountains, the Saas Valley first attracted British alpinists to conquer the mountains. Later we started to have tourists in winter as well, and Saas-Fee became one of the most attractive ski resorts in Europe (we offer the best snow conditions and a very long ski season). Even in summer our ski pistes on the glacier open up for ski experts (and maniacs).

Saas-Fee, with its amphitheater-like setting (the village is surrounded by massive mountains), wide glacier fields, car-free village, and larch and pine forests, is called the pearl of the Alps. The landscape is certainly one of the most beautiful in the Alps. Plus, life is simpler here. I feel content in Saas-Fee and I wonder if you might feel the same.

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Stephanie July 26, 2019 - 2:05 am

Hi Gigi – Just a quick note to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog over the past year. You’ve been quite an inspiration. In fact, I’m looking forward to following in your footsteps soon. My partner and I are just a few short months away from leaving corporate expat life in Singapore and will be exploring the hiking trails of Europe with not just one but two small dogs in tow. Should be quite an adventure.

We’ll be starting out with a couple months in Turkey…I’m not sure from your blog whether you’ve spent any time there yet. Then it’s off to Italy and a lengthy trip through the Balkans. I’ll be studying your blog for tips of course!

gigigriffis July 26, 2019 - 6:53 am

Thanks for the kind words! And good luck with your journey!


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