Switzerland is a fantastic country for walking breaks, long or short. The public transport system is so good that it is possible to be based almost anywhere using a combination of trains, buses and in some cases boats and lifts.
This series is intended to highlight some of the towns and villages we have found to make ideal bases. Some of these are less known than the more popular destinations, and can therefore be less crowded. We have based the selection on the following criteria:
- Convenient access by public transport – no car required
- Great places to stay and eat
- Excellent walking that is easily accessible either direct from your accommodation or by using local transport services such as buses and lifts
- Stunning surroundings (not difficult in Switzerland!)
For more information on travel passes in Switzerland, please see our page of Recommended Resources.
Arolla is a tiny unspoilt village in the Valais. Despite not being as well known as many other towns and villages in the Valais, the scenery around Arolla is absolutely magnificent. Above the village there is a forest of beautiful Arolla pines, and all around there are peaks and glaciers.
The village has a few good hotels with restaurants, and several walks start right from the village. It is therefore an ideal base for a short break.
Getting to Arolla
Wherever you are coming from, you first need to get to Sion (see Voyages-sncf to check routes, timetables and tickets if you are coming from the UK or Europe, Rail Europe to check routes, timetables and tickets from the US or Canada, or Interrail for a range of passes including multi-country passes).
At Sion, you need to catch Postbus No. 381 to Les Hauderes
At Les Hauderes change to Postbus No. 382 to Arolla
The buses are fairly regular and totally reliable, and the journey time from Sion is around 1 hr 20 mins.
You can check routes and times from any starting point using this timetable.
For more information on travel passes in Switzerland, see Interrail.
Where to Stay
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Kurhaus and loved it. The hotel may not be the most luxurious, or have the best restaurant we have visited, but its unsurpassed situation, history and character more than made up for any shortcomings. The hotel does a very reasonable half board package, and the meals are very acceptable and in a lovely setting.
The only downside is that you need to walk about half a mile uphill after getting off the bus. You continue on the road above the village, going round a few hairpin bends. If you can do this comfortably with your luggage, or can arrange to arrive by taxi, I wholeheartedly recommend the hotel.
An alternative is Hotel du Pigne – situated in the centre of the village with a restaurant and panoramic terrace.
There are also various apartments and a hostel – you can search on booking.com for details.
Several attractive walks start from the village, including:
Walk to the Glacier d’Arolla (about 1 hr each way)
Pas de Chevres (Goats pass) – Quiet a steep climb, but definitely worth it for the view. We saw several ibex near the pass. (4 hrs plus round trip).
Lac Bleu de Lucel – About 3 hrs round trip
For these and other walks in the area I recommend The Rother Walking Guide to the Valais West, which includes walks around Arolla.
If you want a short break in a stunningly beautiful location, which is a little off the beaten track and still uncrowded, you cannot beat Arolla.
Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences, therefore kindly note the disclaimer.