Two hours from Geneva, Crans-Montana has the outward appearance of a typical Swiss destination. There is plenty of Alpine luxury on the surface, but in 2017 several communities combined to create a municipality that offers an incredible travel experience for every type of visitor. Whether you’re skiing on the slopes or heading here for a party in the mountains, here’s Culture Trip’s ultimate guide to Crans-Montana.
Why visit Crans-Montana?
What exactly can you do in a ski-resort town when there’s no snow? That’s a question you might ask if you ever head east through the mountains and valleys outside Geneva to Crans-Montana. Well-known as a great ski destination, the municipality is close to Sion and – as is typical of the region – has a dual identity, with locals speaking both French and German. You’ll also find a smattering of Italian in various places, so there’s a welcoming mix of influences everywhere you roam.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
A major attraction is Caprices – a festival that takes place in the mountains. The 2021 edition was moved to the end of summer, but will return to its traditional slot at the end of the ski season in April 2022. Partygoers this year had to swap their skis and jumpers for shorts and hiking boots as the summer months are unsurprisingly pleasant in an area recognised as the sunniest in Switzerland.
And if you’re looking for a destination full of great views, incredible scenery and an authentic introduction to Alpine culture, here’s more on why a trip to this part of Switzerland needs to be on your list soon.
Things to do in Crans-Montana
The Valais region – where you’ll find Crans-Montana – is best known for producing wine. The local varieties tend to have a fizzy aftertaste, which is actually rather pleasant on the tongue. As with any fine wine, you’ll need to find the perfect dining option to pair with your glass, and there are some great restaurants in Crans-Montana that make the most of local ingredients and authentic Swiss cuisine.
In the centre of town you’ll find any number of welcoming and affordable establishments offering satisfying fondues and fresh cuts of meat. As is the style here, you can cook everything at your table in most restaurants and then slather it in cheese for good measure. This all works well as après-ski fun too – but there’s somewhere else you should head if you want to make the most of the sunshine when the slopes are closed.
Up in the hills and mountains you’ll find bisses (old irrigation channels). These structures might not have the grandeur of other attractions, but they do serve a purpose even to this day. You can walk the many trails that follow the routes these small water canals take through the mountains and you’ll find yourself in the heart of the spectacular Crans-Montana wilderness, where snow-covered peaks and lush forests transport you to a different world entirely. The sheer number of giant mountains here is bewildering, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bad view for miles around. Brave hikers can even take on the sheer cliffs of Bisse du Ro, where rickety wooden bridges lead to remote vantage points.
This setting is the unlikely home of one of the finest restaurants in the country. From the outside, the chalets dotted around Le Relais de Colombire look rather unassuming – stay in them if you’re willing to forgo the creature comforts of a larger hotel – but the real star here is the Colombire restaurant. Take a wheel of freshly baked raclette and devour it on the terrace in a space that comes with sun loungers – hinting at the great weather you can get here. Head down the narrow stairs – and make sure you do – to an indoor space that can fit up to 50 diners. The concrete bunker style is deliberate, and the huge window carved into the side of the structure provides a jaw-dropping vista to admire over the best local dishes around.
A summer trip to a renowned ski resort such as Crans-Montana might not automatically spring to mind, but whatever time of year you visit this delightful corner of Switzerland you’ll be surprised by how welcoming it is.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.