1. Summer in Switzerland – The fantastic Verbier VIP PassAs if all of that wasn’t enough, in the summer every visitor who spends at least one night of their Switzerland trip in Verbier receives the Verbier VIP pass. VIP stands for Verbier Infinite Playground – as well as of course this pass makes you a very important person in Verbier! This fantastic little pass put together by Switzerland tourism gives visitors masses of really good discounts on over 45 of the best things to do in Verbier. This includes transport (eg lifts), places to see like Mont-Fort, food and cultural experiences and leisure and sport (from the swimming pools to horse riding to golf). When you arrive at your Verbier hotel (most of which also offer great value summer rates) and check-in you will receive your Verbier VIP pass. If you don’t receive your Verbier VIP pass when you check into your hotel Verbier do make sure you ask. However, this being Switzerland that is unlikely to happen as they are on top of everything! Once you have your pass you will only need to flash it when you are buying lift tickets etc to gain your discount. So just pop it in your wallet and bring on the savings! So easy! The VIP pass is valid for those who spend at least one night in Verbier between the beginning of June and the end of October.
2. They sell great SunglassesSunGod sunglasses was started by a Londoner – Zoe Watkiss – in Verbier and the business is run from Verbier. Zoe loved being out in the mountains but hated how easily sunglasses would break. And how expensive they could be. SunGod only sells its product direct – through the store in Verbier or online – and this allows them to keep the costs reasonable (about CHF 100 per pair). SunGod allows customers to put together their ideal pair of sunglasses. Choose your frame shape from the selection on offer, choose your frame colour, choose your lens and then choose your brand/logo treatment and you have your own ideal sunglasses! Best of all Sungod sunglasses all come with a lifetime guarantee on their frames. I chose a pair of the classics with a frosted clear frame and a copper tint to my lenses. They barely left my face my entire time in Verbier and I have worn them loads since returning. And they also have a range of goggles for skiers. If you can’t make it to Verbier on your Switzerland vacation, the website offers next day delivery to the UK.
3. Fantastic Local WinesWho knew Swiss wine was fantastic? Particularly from the area around Verbier! Production quantities are quite low so Swiss wines aren’t exported – which means you must to go Verbier to taste them! I drank swiss wine with all of my meals whilst in Verbier and was very happy – particularly with the chardonnay. But the best place to sample Swiss wines in Verbier is the lovely Vinabagnes wine bar/shop. Vinabagnes offer a wine tasting of 2 local whites and 2 local reds. It is such a lovely shop/bar. There is wine to buy, wine to drink, super cozy inside areas to sit (it must be lovely here in winter) and then a lovely large summer terrace with umbrellas for summer. During August the tourism board hosts Happy Hour entertainment – normally singers. When I visited Verbier there was live music just across the road from Vinabagnes and the atmosphere was just wonderful. Back to the wines! I started with a Petite Arvine white which was light, fresh and fruity. Then another white called Heida (her french name is Savagnin Blanc not Sauvignon) which had a more complex and smoky finish. And it was my favourite. The reds in the area tend to be heavy on berry flavours due to the sunny climate. The Syrah doesn’t tend to be barrelled so is lighter in taste than most syrahs but more berry-ish. The Cornalin was even higher up the berry scale and rather delicious.
4. Verbier holds loads of interesting FestivalsAnother reason that Verbier is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland in the summer is its festival! I counted about 15 events and festivals happening in Verbier in August alone and I probably didn’t get them all! The biggest of all of them is the Verbier Festival which is a classical music festival that runs for 3 weeks every summer. The Verbier Festival is held in what is a car park in the winter. It is an amazing transformation from pure tarmac to a serious structure with world-class sound and visuals. And of course, all of this has the mountains behind it so the Switzerland scenery is stunning. I was lucky enough to be given a pre-show backstage tour at the Verbier Festival and witnessed the rather extraordinary logistics around a team of 70 live streaming online of course as well as to tv stations around the world. Pretty awesome! I attended just one concert at the Verbier Festival – Beethoven and strings. I don’t know a lot about classical music but it was very enjoyable. The Verbier Festival Switzerland has multiple tents for food and wine and hospitality. I enjoyed a lovely plate of cheese and charcuterie with more local wine for dinner! Best of all holders of a Verbier VIP pass get a discount on all tickets for the Verbier Festival. August also sees the first-ever Verbier Ebike festival as well as what sounds like a fantastic yoga festival at the end of the month. Add these to your Switzerland summer vacation ideas!
5. The Verbier 3D Sculpture ParkFrom La Chaux to Les Ruinettes at an altitude of 2300m is the Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park. These works of art are created by international artists who are invited to visit Verbier every 2 years. The park is free – the sculptures literally start appearing. There is a mix of sculptures and of course, not all will be to everyone’s taste. My favourite was the giant puffin/penguin type bird!
6. The Verbier Sunday Summer MarketOn 4 summer Sundays Verbier is home to the Summer Market. This lovely little market features crafts, products, and food from the Valais region and beyond. The Verbier Sunday summer Switzerland market is held on Rue de la Poste between 9 am and 5 pm.
7. Watch the Sunrise over the Swiss Alps at Mont FortAt 3330m, Mont Fort offers a 360 view of some of the most beautiful peaks of the Alps: Matterhorn, Dent Blanche, Grand Combin, and Mont-Blanc. It is only possible to visit the summit of Mont Fort in July and August – yet another reason to visit Switzerland summer time! But this is one view of Switzerland you truly have to earn! The alarm went off at 4 am. We then walked to a central bus stop point in Verbier (the lifts don’t run this early). It was a bus trip and then 2 cable cars before we were able to start the short climb up some big rocks to sit and watch the sunrise over the Alps. And wow what a view!!! I was lucky enough to visit Mont Fort Verbier on a fairly clear morning (definitely check the weather forecast as that is a very early start to end up with no view!). It was COLD up at Mont Fort – even at the height of summer! However, there were blankets on offer as well as hot beverages at the little igloo near the top. Plus we were entertained by 3 mountain men with very long horns playing what I think was swiss mountain music – all very atmospheric! Do wear sensible shoes – there isn’t a lot of climbing but it is rocky enough at the top that you’ll be glad you wore them. And do make sure you pre-book your ticket for Mont Fort. You will, of course, receive discounts with the fantastic Verbier VIP pass. One ticket covers the bus and cable cars plus the next item on my list! Peak Visor. The tourism board uses it!
8. To have Breakfast in an IglooAfter your early start and big journey to the top of Mont Fort it is time for breakfast! And what better place to have breakfast than inside an igloo? Hop on the cable car and head down to Les Gentianes igloo restaurant. Included in the ticket to Mont Fort is a big continental breakfast at Les Gentianes with some fantastic views.
⇒ Looking for some other off the beaten path places to visit in Europe in the summer? Check out my posts on Graz in Austria, the Tarn et Garonne region in France, Hamburg in Germany and Puglia in Italy.
9. The Via Ferrata in the Mauvoisin GorgeI am a bit embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what Via Ferrata was! By hey I will pretty much try anything and I like a surprise so I just went along! In my basic layman’s terms, Via Ferrata is like rock climbing except there are steel rungs for your hands and feet rather than rocks. And I should probably explain that Via Ferrata happens on climbs where there aren’t rocks eg a quite smooth gorge like Mauvoisin Gorge. I was picked up at my hotel by the terrific Yves from Guides de Verbier. It was then a 45-minute drive to the other end of the Valais region for a different view of the beautiful land in and around Verbier. We parked at Mauvoisin gorge and got our kit on! This was full gear – helmet, harness and clips. I had done a small amount of indoor rock climbing in the past but this was quite new to me. Luckily Yves literally tied me to him with a rope as they do with small children – I was quite happy with that! We then headed to the start of the Mauvoisin Gorge Via Ferrata. It is like rock climbing but as the surfaces are flat metal rails have been put along the gorge for your hands and feet. I gave Mauvoisin Gorge Via Ferrata a try but to be honest, it was a little too scary for me. This was the last of all the outdoor activities I tried in Verbier so I think my brain was a little tired from taking in new information. If this had of been my first activity of the trip I think I would not have found it as exhausting and probably would have tried to finish the route. Instead, after giving the route a good try for a couple of hundred meters there was just one exit point and I decided to take it! If you do love rock climbing I think you will love this! I absolutely felt very safe – I was just rather exhausted so it was a bit much to keep thinking about where I was going to put my hands and feet next constantly. Ironically I found the bridge the easiest part! I think that is because I knew I was safe and I didn’t have to think about where to put my hands and feet!
10. The Photography Exhibition on the top of Mauvoisin DamAfter visiting Mauvoisin Gorge it is a short drive and then a hike to get to the Mauvoisin Dam. After parking, there is a long underground tunnel which leads to the top of Mauvoisin dam Switzerland. Rather creatively this tunnel has been turned into a museum/exhibition with photos and commentary which explain who the dam came to be in the 1950s. Lots of photos of men in positions which would horrify a health and safety inspector today and all whilst smoking! It was actually fascinating to hear about how the glaciers provide the water to the Mauvoisin dam (becoming a travel blogger has turned me into an engineering wonders geek!). It is then possible to walk along the top of the 250m high dam. I loved this! Talk about experiencing the power of nature! There are massive mountains on both sides of you, water pouring out at force, the water is an amazing sea green colour and wow! Quite breathtaking! Switzerland travel must do! Every summer, Bagnes museum invites a photographer to exhibit their work on top of Mauvoisin Dam as an outdoor photo gallery. Such a good idea! The exhibition was great and it was such a spectacular setting.
Logistics for Via Fettara Mauvoisin Gorge & Mauvoisin Dam:Mauvoisin Gorge is about 45 minutes by car from Verbier. My day trip to Mauvoisin Gorge and Dam was with Guides de Verbier. Yves was fantastic – particularly when I got scared during the Via Ferrata! Group tours are held on Wednesday mornings over the summer (check the site for exact dates). You will be accompanied by a mountain guide who will take you through the rope bridges, carved steps, and ladders over a total of 600 metres. AND – with your Verbier VIP pass you will get 50% off this activity so it will cost you only CHF 40 rather than CHF 80
11. It is the capital of all things cycling in SwitzerlandVerbier has become a real hotspot for mountain and e-biking in Switzerland. There are basically 3 cycling options available:
a. Hire an EbikeUntil this trip, I thought Ebikes was a bit of a cop-out – like taking one of those electric buggies at the airport! But I found out I had it totally wrong. An Ebike can give you the same work out as heading out on a “normal” bike but they allow you go to twice as far and probably 4 times as far as the motor can kick in to add to the ride. I didn’t go on an Ebike this trip but will next time! I highly recommend trying out an Ebike in Verbier as it is the perfect place to test it out heading uphill! And Verbier now has an Ebike festival!
b. Head to the Bike ParkIf you have already tried mountain biking and loved it – or have someone under 25 and brave with you who hasn’t – then the bike park is the place for you! There are 8 different downhill mountain bike trails at the park which cover a total of 17kms. Two are blue trails and designed for beginners. The other 6 paths are for more experienced mountain bikers. There are jumps, ramps and of course jaw-dropping scenery on offer! You will need full armor for this option– and a scary helmet that covers your whole face!
c. Hire a Mountain Bike and GuideThis was my first time on a mountain bike. I cycle around London loads but I am not exactly going at high speeds over treacherous terrain! I hired my bike at the Backside Shop in Verbier and Oliver from The Big Ride was my fantastic guide. Most of the bikes at the Backside Shop are Enduro branded. These bikes are popular because of their versatility – they can deal with anything and everything. They have shocks and air so are more comfortable for dealing with the bouncing of downhill biking but still have nice big tires for grip. Olivier was good enough to put my front brakes on the right side for me and rear on the left – for those of us who naturally drive on the left side of the road. I was surprised by how different it is to ride a mountain bike vs my classic hybrid bike at home. I thought hey I have cycled my whole life – how hard can this be? It wasn’t hard but it was different – which meant having to think about things which I normally don’t think about when cycling. For example, whilst riding a mountain bike the seat will come up and down with pressure. This means when you stop you need to push down on the seat or else your feet won’t come anywhere near the ground and you’ll fall over. Also, riding a mountain bike means leaning forward rather than sitting upright. My wrists were killing me by the end of the morning as I was holding the handlebars and brakes in a different way to normal. The gear system was slightly different but I didn’t find that difficult to get my head around. The great thing about mountain biking in Verbier is there are so many options. There is a fantastic quite flat path that literally goes around all the mountains (these are also hiking trails). This allows you to experience so much in a relatively short period of time. And then, of course, there are loads of downhill paths. I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to heading downhill when things are steep – for example, I am completely terrified of downhill skiing! I tried the downhill but it was a bit much for me. But definitely try it for yourself as I am a true scaredy-cat in this area! What I most enjoyed was being on the flat paths. I felt really comfortable which allowed me to appreciate the amazing amazing views.
Do I need a Guide?If you are a first-timer to mountain biking like me – and/or to Verbier – I would definitely recommend going with a guide. The paths and terrain change quickly – as do the associated difficulty levels. Also, there are random things like cordoned off areas for the cows. It is possible to cycle over these sections but I would have worried about whether I was allowed to do this or not. And then the path gets really skinny which can be a bit confronting etc etc Also, the guides know the bikes inside and out and how they react to different situations. Plus they, of course, know all the different paths so will be much better at choosing the paths you will most enjoy. And having a guide means you can just relax and enjoy the absolutely amazing views without having to worry about where to go next.
Verbier Cycling Logistics:Hire your bike in Verbier and then take the cable car up to Les Ruinettes. Good news – that fantastic Verbier VIP pass provides a 50% discount on mountain lifts for mountain bikers – the day ticket is CHF 19 instead of CHF 38. The bikes go on the outside of the cable car – there is a structure – and then you hop in!
12. You can take the highest Yoga Class in EuropeHow good a claim is that? Experience yoga at 3300m just under Mont Fort after sunrise. This was the first time I have ever done yoga in socks – it was too cold to take them off! There are also blankets as well as mats! The class is run by champion snow-boarder and yogi Emilien Badoux who is just lovely. He was very practical about the cold. The class was more Hatha style with lots of stretching and warming up muscles vs Iyengar style up your heart rate stuff. The class flew by as the scenery was very spectacular!
13. It is a great spot for ParaglidingI have always wanted to go paragliding but for one reason or another, it never happened. So I was VERY excited when paragliding appeared on my schedule for Verbier! I can’t imagine anywhere would feel safer than visiting Switzerland to try paragliding for the first time! My flight was taking off from Les Ruinettes. I went with Verbier Summits who were fantastic. I felt so comfortable with Mike! I don’t like heading downhill fast which he was lovely about. I was more concerned about running down the mountain than being in the air! It was a very short run off the mountain with long strides and then we were off! And wow wow wow! I just loved it! I have been up in microlights and helicopters etc before but there is always noise. Paragliding in Verbier was so quiet! And just when I thought it couldn’t be better I found out that my harness actually turned into a seat! I was so comfortable! I just needed a coffee and I could have been up there all day! I thought I would “hang” off the paraglider but no it is all sitting and relaxing in Verbier! We went through the valleys and Mike did a few twists and turns which was fun. He also has a go pro type camera with an extremely long selfie stick! He took loads of photos and was then able to transfer them directly to my phone. I also took my digital SLR up with me. I took a few shots but to be honest, the best shots came from Mike’s camera as this was the only way to capture where the shots were being taken from. And then the landing was so easy! We literally touched down to the point I could run a bit and then it turned into a walk. So smooth! The flight that I took ended at Le Chable. It is then possible to get the cable car back to up Les Ruinettes. In addition to Les Ruinettes, there are paragliding take-off spots at Savoleyres and Croix de Coeur in Verbier. This was the highlight of my trip to Verbier and if you’re interested in paragliding I highly recommend trying it in Verbier!
⇒ If you like outdoor adventures check out my posts on climbing Ben Nevis, a day by day guide to Everest Base Camp, Visiting Yosemite in one day or in October, inside a volcano in Iceland, Cano Cristales in Colombia and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia.
14. They have great chocolateFor something beyond Lindt head to the lovely La Galerie du Chocolat. This gorgeous little cafe/chocolate shop serves up some fairly amazing chocolates as well as wonderful and unique chocolates such as chocolate credit cards. I visited during the Verbier Festival so they were selling chocolate violins! They have some lovely outdoor seating and are in the middle of town.
15. Verbier produces some fantastic cheesesI love that there are multiple ways to enjoy Swiss Cheese! Let’s start with the classic – fondu. I had my fondu at the lovely Le Namaste restaurant. Talk about fondu with a view! This gorgeous wooden restaurant, of course, has a bit terrace. It was very busy when we visited for Saturday lunch. We ordered the fondu with girolles mushrooms and bread at Le Namaste Verbier. I highly recommend adding the mushrooms. It was delicious and of course quite filling! We tried to offset that with some local light wine that is the perfect accompaniment to fondu!
16. You can drink Beetroot BeerThe V Bier Brewery and Brewery Tour are in the Vie Montagne restaurant in Verbier. Brewery tours are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays in July and August at Verbier’s only microbrewery. Learn how the beers are made and taste the full range. Their key point of difference is the fresh mountain water! Vie Montagne restaurant and the V Bier brewery are two years old. The owner is actually English. The building is a mix of private club and restaurant. So some areas are open to everyone (including the restaurant) and some are just for members. The V bier brewery tasting Verbier Switzerland covered the 5 beers V Bier currently had on tap. Let me be completely honest – I am more a wine drinker than a beer drinker. We started with their Pilsener which is a top seller and was their first beer. Next up was a white beer which I quite like. This is a classic Belgium beer recipe to which V add lemon zest and Verbier mountain water! Then I tried an American pale ale – which uses American Hops – followed by a pale 5 which means the beer has 5% alcohol. Last up was their IPA which is red. The colour is driven by the fact that this IPA contains both beetroot and beetroot juice! I quite liked it and I loved the colour! And great news! The V Bier Brewery Tour is half price with Verbier VIP pass!
17. Great RestaurantsI also visited a couple of other fantastic restaurants whilst I was in Verbier. Le Fer a Cheval is one of Verbier’s iconic restaurants. It has been around since the 1960s. Some locals headed over to Lake Tahoe in the US and decided to come back and create a saloon in Verbier! There is both outdoor and indoor seating and a great buzzy atmosphere. I had some delicious escargot to begin followed by pan-fried local perch fish. All washed down with a delicious Swiss chardonnay!
18. La Pierre AvoiI thought I would finish with a Switzerland Summer must do – climbing La Pierre Avoi. This viewing point is at an altitude of 2473 metres. Take the cable car to Croix de Coeur or La Tzoumaz and begin the ascent. Do wear sensible shoes. The climb isn’t technical but ankle protection always hikes. It is a bit of a workout and quite steep but gosh the views are worth it! The view stretches from the Rhone Valley to the Combins Massif through the Mont-Blanc. This is quite a popular hike and the summit was busy on the day I visited. But it didn’t interrupt the absolutely stunning views of Switzerland in Summer!
19. Verbier has several lovely Boutique HotelsVerbier has some fantastic boutique hotels – and most of them drop their rates considerably in the summer months so they offer terrific value. I stayed at the charming Experimental Chalet. This stylish chalet was recently renovated by its owners the terrific Experimental Group. This hotel group owns unique and stylish boutique hotels in several of the world’s major cities. They know what they’re doing when it comes to boutique hotel design and style and how to infuse these with local character! The hotel has distinctive red shutters that can’t be missed as you head into Verbier. The location is just fantastic. The Experimental Chalet is on the main road of Verbier and on your left as you drive into town. It was very easy to walk everywhere in Verbier from the hotel. The staff were also just lovely and couldn’t have been more helpful.
Experimental Chalet RoomsMy lovely room was a great mix of modern design and chic chalet with lacquered wooden floors and its own terrace. My room at the Experimental Chalet was a Classic room. This is their smallest room and I thought it was an excellent size. I particularly loved the bathroom! The black and white check of the tiles was complimented by the fluffy towels, waffle bathrobe, and slippers which featured a red embroidery of the frame of the hotel. My shower had a nice big head on it and the water pressure was excellent. The toiletries were a fantastic twist on the typical! Firstly they came in a very cute little cloth sack which also featured the red embroidery of the hotel’s distinctive shape. Inside there was actually a mix of toiletries brands rather than just the one brand. And good brands like Maelin and Goetz! I was very pleased.
Eating and Drinking at the Experimental ChaletThe ground floor of the hotel has two large sitting areas for relaxing, coffee and/or drinks. Breakfast is also held in this area. Breakfast is a lovely buffet that featured local yogurts and cheese as well as meats. There were a few kinds of cereal on offer including some great muesli, fresh pastries, and some very tasty orange juice. There is also a menu of hot food options. Eggs prepared as you like, avocado on toast, sides of sausages and bacon and the usual classics. I enjoyed the bacon and egg roll which was served on a brioche. The cocktail bar on the first floor opens at 6 pm. There is a lovely big outdoor seating area as well as many comfortable seats inside. There is a nice selection of local swiss wines. The summer dinner menu is shorter than that on offer during winter but there is more than enough choice. The menu is European with a twist rather than full-on swiss eg no fondu or en croute. I enjoyed a delicious spring vegetable Panzanella salad with lots of rocket and vegetables. Dessert was a very tasty lemon and blueberry tart.
The Experimental Chalet Spa and JacuzziThe first floor of the Experimental Chalet hotel holds the spa and jacuzzi. The spa was designed with French brand Biologique Recherche who is known for its all-natural products. The spa offers a range of facial and body treatments as well as waxing and mani/pedis. There are 3 treatment rooms, a hammam and solarium. However, for me, the highlight of the Experimental Chalet Verbier was the wonderful jacuzzi! The jacuzzi is in its own glass conservatory. There are loads of wooden sun loungers inside and outside. In the summer the glass doors are opened to allow the fresh air in.
20. It is easy to get To VerbierThe closest major airport to Verbier is Geneva Airport. There is a regional airport 61km away called Sion but it doesn’t have many flights. hire a car at Geneva Airport. In summer it should only take two hours to drive from Geneva Airport to Verbier. The second option is to take the train. Geneva Airport is on the railway lines so once you have your bag it is a very short walk to the terminal as it is literally next door, just follow the signs! I then took this scenic train to Martigny (about 1 hour and 40 minutes) where I changed and got a train to Le Chable station (just under 30 minutes). As this is Switzerland I had 9 minutes to change trains at Martigny. This was no problem as of course everything was on time and operated very smoothly! And the journey is very scenic! Once at Le Chable either book a taxi or take a public transport bus up the mountain to Verbier (the bus has several stops throughout the heart of Verbier) or take ski lift!
Who Paid for What in this Post?The lovely Verbier Tourism Association was kind enough to cover my flights, accommodation, activities and most meals (Thanks Elise and Sibylle!!). All I had to pay for was a couple of glasses of Swiss wine. All very kind of them – but as always my opinions are my own regarding my swiss holidays! This post also contains quite a few affiliate links. This means that if you click through on these links and make a purchase I will most likely receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure you were aware of this!
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