The gorgeous little, traffic-free village of Saas-Fee looks a bit like a small Zermatt with its dark wooden chalets, and it is surrounded by magnificent glaciers and mountain peaks, including the Dom – the highest mountain located entirely within Switzerland.
Saas-Fee’s ski area is one of the highest in the Alps, popular for summer skiing on the glacier as well as the winter pistes that spread over a bigger area. The village is based on an old farming community and retains its charm (and its cowsheds full of over-wintering cattle) despite substantial expansion since the first access road was built in 1951.
Most of the slopes are north-facing and above 2,500m, which makes for very reliable and light powdery snow. The whole area is relatively small, with just 100km of pistes that keen skiers and snowboarders are likely to cover within a couple of days, and best suits confident beginners and intermediates.
Stay on track with the essential facts from the resort below, and scroll down for our insider guide to a day on the pistes, expert ratings and advice. For further Saas-Fee inspiration, see our guides to the resort's best accommodation, restaurants and après ski.
Inside the resort
Saas-Fee's narrow streets, lined with attractive old buildings and newer low-rise chalets, are a charming setting for a stroll. And the surrounding mountains are stunning – known as The Pearl of the Alps, the resort has 13 peaks measuring 4,000m and higher towering above it.
The village is traffic‑free, with car parks at the entrance and electric buses, taxis and hotel vehicles to ferry people around. It gets very little sun in early season, so March and April are good months to visit, when temperatures in the resort and on the mountain are warmer – December and January can be bitterly cold.
After the access gondola to Felskinn, an underground funicular speeds through the mountain to Mitelllalin and the resort’s glacier at 3,500m. Beware – the air is thin up there, it's a good idea to walk slowly when getting out to acclimatise. And to visit the world’s highest revolving restaurant, Allalin – the floor revolves under diners and drinkers, allowing 360-degree views of the surrounding ring of 4,000m peaks.
There’s also Ice Cave Alallin, built deep in the glacier with stunning ice sculptures, along with explanations of how the ice was formed and how it changes, and an avalanche simulation experience. Entrance costs CHF20.
Unusually, Saas-Fee also has a whole mountain, Hannig, devoted to activities other than skiing and snowboarding – snowshoeing, tobogganing, parapenting or walking on cleared paths. Plans are afoot to renovate the Hannig lift with ten-seater gondolas for 2023/24. There’s a leisure centre as well, with a 25m pool, kids’ pool and waterslide, hot tub, a variety of saunas and steam rooms, and a gym, plus a natural ice rink, and the Feeblitz, a fun rollercoaster-style ride on rails.
On the slopes
Saas-Fee’s ski area is ideal for confident-beginners and leisurely intermediates who want runs with great snow and are happy to cover the same ground several times in a week.
The glacier area and most of the top half of the mountain are ideal for them. Even runs that are marked red here are generally very gentle, and would be classified blue in many resorts.
More adventurous intermediates will want to try the steeper reds to be 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 lovely powdery snow to be found on the higher slopes. And the blues back to the village are largely narrow tracks – not good for timid skiers or snowboarders, who can catch the lifts back down to avoid them.
There's a powerful lift system, starting with a 30-person gondola that whisks 1,500 people per hour from the village up to Felskinn at 3,000m.
There are few steep pistes to challenge experts, and off-piste is severely limited by the deep crevasses which make venturing away from the pistes 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 1,700m vertical from the top to bottom of the mountain is a challenge for all abilities.
The area is pretty much perfect for learners. There’s a dedicated beginner area at the edge of the village, which generally has good snow and is covered by a special beginner lift pass. Ideal progression slopes are found up on the glacier, where top-quality powder snow is almost guaranteed.
The area is popular with freestylers and snowboarders who make the most of the top-notch terrain parks. In winter the park is at Morenia, below Felskinn, and has rails, kickers, boxes, tables and lines for all ability levels. In summer the park moves up to the glacier and is specially set up for advanced and pro freestylers, with many of the world’s top freestyle riders coming here to train. There’s also a popular chill-out area for just relaxing and enjoying the music.
Who should go?
The nursery slopes in Saas Fee, which are covered by a special beginner lift pass, are long, gentle, quiet and only 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 runs up at altitude. Saas Fee has a friendly atmosphere and is good for families as there is plenty of après-ski entertainment to keep everyone occupied.
Know before you go
British Embassy/Consulate: 00 31 359 77 00
Ambulance: dial 144
Police: dial 117
Fire: dial 118
Tourist office: See saas-fee.ch, the website for the Saas Fee Tourist Board, for weather reports, lift status, webcams, traffic details and local event listings. Pick up maps, leaflets and other information from the office on the main roundabout in the centre of Saas Fee.
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Telephone code: from abroad, dial 00 41, then leave off the zero at the start of the 10-figure number.
Time difference: +1 hour