Dylan Jones from Shoot from the Trip heads to Verbier in Switzerland on assignment for On the Luce to check out what this stunning ski resort has to offer during the summer months.
Birds tweeting, cowbells clanging and mountain bikes whizzing past – the sounds that you’ll hear sitting on your balcony during the summer in Verbier, Switzerland. You might know Verbier as a luxury ski resort, but this beautiful town in the Swiss Alps has plenty offer during the summer season too. Located in the south of Switzerland on a south-facing plateau with breathtaking views across the Val de Bagnes, Verbier is the perfect mountain resort for a summer break. From walking trails and bike tracks to spas and mountain yoga, and restaurants offering locally produced dishes (including plenty of cheese), here’s what summer in Verbier has to offer.
This trip was hosted by Verbier Tourist Office, but all views are our own.
Verbier Infinite Playground (VIP Pass)
When you stay a minimum of one night in the region and pay the tourist tax, you’re issued with a Verbier Infinite Playground Pass (VIP Pass) which provides some great savings. The VIP Pass gives you discounts to many local attractions and free access to the ski lifts for pedestrians and a 50% reduction for cyclists throughout the summer season. There’s also unlimited access to the region’s local buses, meaning it’s easy to get out and explore further afield.
Things to do in summer in Verbier
A visit to the Swiss Alps in summer is mostly focused on spending time outdoors. The green valleys are bathed in sunshine, sitting against the backdrop of snow-capped jagged peaks stretching out as far as you can see on the horizon. The stunning scenery is perfect for hiking, biking and exploring, with over 800km of bike tracks and 500km of walking trails.
Hiking in Verbier
From gentle hikes to challenging climbs, there are a wide range of trails available through the mountains, valleys and forests of Verbier and the Val Bagnes, depending on your fitness levels. The 11km Bisse du Levron trail is perfect for an easy family hike. The Bisse, a manmade stream constructed in 1460, transports water along the mountainside above Verbier before leading to a waterfall, and can be accessed by taking the Medran lift to Les Ruinettes from Verbier.
The trail follows the Bisse along the hillside with stunning views down to Verbier and the valleys below. Being so high above the town was a really peaceful experience, and the only noises we could here were the trickling of the Bisse and the sounds of surrounding wildlife – the cowbells of cattle grazing on the pastures, the chirping of marmots and birdsong from the trees.
If you want to stop for lunch, the Restaurant La Marlénaz is conveniently located near the Bisse du Levron trail. This lovely high-altitude restaurant at 1895m has a large terrace overlooking Verbier, friendly service and delicious food. There’s a heavy focus on traditional Swiss cuisine like rostis, fondues and raclette, washed down with a local fruity white Fendant wine.
For a slightly more strenuous hike, it’s worth taking the trail to Pierre Avoi. This tall rock formation towers over the surrounding landscape at 2473m with 360-degree views of Verbier, the Rhone Valley and Mont Blanc mountain range. The Pierre Avoi trail can be reached by taking the Savoleyres mountain lift from Verbier. The hike is fairly simple until the final climb to the top of the Pierre Avoi, where ladders and chains help hikers reaching the summit.
Biking in Verbier
Mountain biking is hugely popular in Verbier in summer. Verbier BikePark‘s 800km of trails and mountain roads and suitable for downhill, enduro and the slightly less energetic e-biking (a bike with an integrated motor). Biking is a great way to cover a lot of ground around the mountains, but if you’re not super-fit, the added assistance offered by the e-bike is perfect.
If you’re a beginner to e-biking, guides from Verbier BikePark are on hand to offer introductory sessions and technical advice. Our E-biking excursion was with accompanied by a guide, who gauged our experience and recommended the most suitable routes for our skill level. E-bikes can be hired from many locations across Verbier – ours were hired and collected from the Backside Verbier shop in the centre of the resort (CHF55 for half a day).
After riding across Verbier, we then started our climb upwards, initially heading along winding mountain roads before hitting the forest and some true mountain bike-worthy paths. Putting the bikes in electric mountain bike mode added to the effort put in by pedalling, making light work of the ascent – and was especially useful on hill starts after pausing to take in the views. After descending back to Verbier, we headed to Restaurant la Croix-de-Coeur for lunch.
This fine dining mountain restaurant located between Verbier and La Tzoumaz has fantastic panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful opportunity to sit out on the sunny terrace, soak up the views and enjoy the delicious dishes on offer. If you’re looking for a way to see great views that change as your perspective does, challenging yourself, but with the back-up of an electric motor, e-biking is a great activity is for you.
Verbier mine tour
Another outdoor activity, and something a little unusual, was a guided walk and tour of an abandoned mine (CHF10 for adults and CHF5 for children with the VIP Pass). Beginning at the Col des Planches mountain pasture, packed with summer wildflowers, we were briefed on the geological richness of the area and the history of mining at Mont-Chemin.
The walk to the mine takes an hour through meadows and forests. At the mine entrance, we were given hard hats and torches before heading into the dark passageways deep underground. Within seconds of entering the tunnel, the temperature plummeted, so make sure to have warm clothing and sturdy shoes. Although the 400-metre-long tunnel through the mine is flat, it can be a little uneven underfoot with some moisture seeping through the rock.
Inside it was fascinating to see the changes in the rock formations where granite, quartz and marble were intertwined with flecks of blue and green minerals, used for making jewellery. Iron, lead and silver were mined here from the beginning of the Middle Ages and extensive fluorine mining took place in the 20th century. The mine tour is followed by a hike back to Col des Planches where you have the opportunity to taste a selection of local produce.
For an adventure without leaving the resort, the aerial walkway near the Medran cable car station is ideal for the whole family (CHF12.50 for adults and CHF7.50 for children over seven with the VIP Pass). This high ropes adventure course has three difficulty levels and three courses, made up of a series of high walkways and zip wires. Some sections are challenging, but the adrenaline rush of whizzing through the trees on the zip wires makes it worthwhile.
For a slightly more challenging adventure, there are also two Via Ferrata courses in the region, with rope bridges, carved steps and ladders, suspended high over deep gorges. These is a much more challenging adventure, and you will be accompanied by a mountain guide.
Relaxation and wellness
A weekend of hiking, biking, eating, drinking and relaxing in the mountains brings with it a special kind of mindfulness and reflection. But sometimes that’s just the start of the journey and you need more – and what better place to recharge than in the fresh mountain air of the Alps.
Wholey Cow offer a range of yoga, massage, fitness, personal training and Pilates options at their premises in the centre of Verbier. But they also offer something extra special – yoga on a mountain top. It’s a short gondola ride on the Medran lift to Les Ruinettes, where you cross to the terrace of Le Mouton Noir Restaurant, where the class takes place.
With an amazing backdrop of the Mont Blanc mountain range, this is a spectacular location for an hour-long yoga session The class covers all levels, with three options for differing yoga abilities. We were guided through the class and given instructions and the rhythm for breathing and holding poses. The location, the exercise and the mindfulness left me feeling great.
For a truly relaxing and indulgent experience, head to the luxurious W Verbier hotel’s AWAY Spa. With 800 square metres of relaxation space including nine treatment rooms, a jacuzzi and steam rooms, you can relax, rejuvenate and feel refreshed for the remainder of your trip. Spend time in the indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool to make the most of the surroundings.
Food and drink
Food and drink plays a huge part in the culture of the Verbier region. The Val de Bagnes region is famed for its cheese. Raclette and Tomme cheese are popular in the area, so naturally there’s the opportunity learn about cheese-making techniques (and taste a few along the way).
Verbier cheese tour
A really informative and enjoyable excursion, From Cow to Cheese is a half-day activity which takes you to a cheese-making facility before visiting the alpine pastures where the Herens cows graze, to see a more traditional method of cheese production (CHF10 for adults and CHF5 for children with the VIP Pass). This is followed by a tasty lunch at a mountain restaurant.
The tour begins at Fromagerie D’Etiez in Volleges to see the production of raclette cheese from start to finish. Unpasteurised milk arrives early in the morning from local farmers before the process begins. The milk is warmed and mixed with cultures to thicken, forming a curd before being placed in circular moulds and pressed for a designated time. It’s then turned and pressed again and the cycle continues to remove excess liquid to reach the correct consistency.
The cheese is the submerged in a salt bath which adds flavour as well as forming a rind. Finally, the cheese is stored in cool (and carefully monitored) temperatures on wooden shelves to age. During this aging process, the cheese is washed and turned regularly by hand. The raclette cheese is stored for at least 90 days before it is ready to be sold.
A tasting session followed, with the opportunity to sample of range of delicious cheeses produced at the Fromagerie D’Etiez. These cheeses as well as other local produce can be purchased from the store on site. No need to worry during closed hours, as there is a cheese vending machine outside. Yes, you heard it right, a cheese vending machine. Heaven!
After touring the fromagerie, it was time to head to the mountain pasture at Alpage du Tronc to meet the Herens cows. This small, horned breed of alpine cattle are black, brown or dark red. They’re bred primarily for beef but produce around 3200kg of milk per year and are well adapted to high-altitude pastures. A distinguishing feature of these cows is that females are aggressive and dominant, and the local tradition of cow fighting is a major tourist attraction.
The cows are herded in twice daily for milking and a more traditional cheese making process takes place, with less machinery and more processes carried out by hand. It was interesting to compare the two. The tour finished with another delicious lunch involving plenty of cheese.
Verbier brewery tour
If you’re a beer-lover, the V Bier Brewery Tour at Vie Montagne will be right up your street (CHF12.50 for adults with the VIP Pass and free for children under 15 with a non-alcoholic drink). Vie Montagne is a private members club with a restaurant, gym and a public bar. Located on the Rue Medran in the centre of Verbier it also has a microbrewery, with six of its own beers on tap. These beers are all brewed on site by the resident brewer, guaranteeing freshness.
The set-up is impressive with the malt being ground on site, before being mixed with water from nearby Lac de Louvie, locally purified with nothing else added. Once brewed the beers are sent to one of six dedicated fermentation tanks before being pumped to casks and served. This has to be one of the shortest travelled beers in the world, from brewery to glass in under 100 feet.
The brewery has six beers on offer: Pilsner, V-Wit, Pale 3, Pale 4, Pale Ale and Red IPA. They vary from a refreshing Pilsner, to a great Wheat Beer, a range of Pale Ales varying in strength to the final Red IPA – a flavoured beer which is infused with the earthy tasting beetroot. This surprisingly complimented the Pale Ale flavour, making for a great all-rounder.
The beers were all served in a magnificently fitted out space. Books and curiosities lined the walls, lots of wood befitting the nature of cabins in the area and great lighting (a wonderful array of lamps hanging from above into the public bar). The restaurant was a more cosy club-style with leather tub chairs and darker wood. Definitely a space worth visiting.
Exploring the resort of Verbier
With Verbier being geared up for the busy winter season, there is no shortage of bars, restaurants and shopping options in the resort. The ski gear may be put away but there are stores selling summer hiking and biking gear as well as accessories. We paid a visit to SunGod’s Basecamp in the resort centre – a super-cool company selling innovative and stylish sunglasses, goggles and accessories built to last and suitable for all of your outdoor adventures.
Predominantly an online retailer, their flagship store in Verbier is a space where people can come in, design their own sunglasses, grab a beer or a coffee and chill out in cool surroundings. SunGod have so much confidence in their product that they carry a lifetime guarantee. They’re durable and hardwearing, but also unique – we were gifted a pair to customise.
You might miss out on après-ski if you’re visiting Verbier in the summer, but you’re never far from a bar or restaurant in the resort where you can wind down after a day of hiking or biking. Smart and stylish Chez Martin provided a friendly welcome with a menu of local foods, meat, fish and a selection of Italian dishes. A starter of tasty beef carpaccio, followed by a saffron risotto with slow cooked beef ragu was washed down with a hearty glass of Pinot.
Millenium, on the corner of Rue Medran, has outdoor and indoor seating. The interior was cosy and welcoming with low-hanging lamps, dark wood and traditional features, creating a lovely atmosphere. A perfectly cooked tuna with wasabi on blini starter, followed by Yakitori beef skewers and fried polenta as a main was beautifully presented and the flavours were divine. Alongside a glass of local Gamay, it was a really enjoyable dining experience.
Where to stay in Verbier
There are a range of places to stay in Verbier, with a mix of self-catering chalets, AirBnB rentals and several hotels. We stayed at the family-run, three-star Hotel Bristol on the Route des Creux, in the heart of the resort. The rooms have been recently decorated and are simple and stylish, with splashes of colour and wood details. They’re large and airy with a king-sized bed, desk, large wardrobe, mini bar and a balcony with the most fantastic mountain views.
Breakfast is included in the room rate, with a continental buffet style breakfast with hot offerings like bacon and eggs served in a bright conservatory. The lobby has a small bar and seating area, but there is no onsite restaurant – though given the location in the centre of the resort, everything’s on the doorstep. Rooms from CHF173/£148/$190 a night for a twin room.
How to get to Verbier
Verbier is located in south-east Switzerland, connected by plane, rail and road. We flew from London Heathrow to Geneva with SWISS Airlines – a short 90-minute flight. SWISS operates flights to Switzerland from London Heathrow, London City, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Dublin from £55 one-way (hand luggage only) or £71 one-way (all-inclusive).
From Geneva Airport, we took a scenic train along the Swiss edge of Lac Leman/Lake Geneva to Martigny, where we transferred onto the St Bernard Express up into the mountains to Le Chable. Then you can either take a gondola, bus or taxi for the 15-minute journey to Verbier.
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