WHAT TO DO IN SION + TRAVEL TIPS
This post is for you if you are planning a trip to gorgeous Sion and want to find out about the best things to do in Sion, Valais.
Sion is one of the most beautiful and one of the most unique towns in Switzerland. Yes, Sion is an absolute must-see. And this verdict comes from a Switzerland addict – from someone who has spent a lot of time in Switzerland – someone who has seen quite a bit if I may say so myself. And I can say that Sion is pretty. Pretty amazing!
Find out what makes Sion so amazing – here is some information on the best Sion activities along with many travel tips.
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SION TRAVEL TIPS
Sion is located in Valais – Valais is also home to the world-famous travel destination Zermatt but the capital is actually, yes you guessed it, Sion (or Sitten in German). Outside of Switzerland, it might be lesser known but the most sun-kissed town in the country is well worth a visit. From afar you can see the two hilltop fortifications – making Sion even more recognizable. But there is more to Sion, much more.
And today I am sharing with you my thoughts on what do to in Sion – one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland.
Traveling can be intimidating and stressful, as there’s a lot to sort out. Don’t worry, as here are some useful tips on how to get to Sion, where to stay, when to visit, and more travel info.
How to Get to Sion
Sion is set in southwestern Switzerland, near the borders of France and Italy. It is the economic center of the Valais, with Switzerland’s largest bus station – this makes getting to Sion quite easy to virtually every town in the canton. It’s easily accessible from most major Swiss cities, such as Bern, Geneva, and Zurich.
If you’re a fan of public transportation, a brilliant option is to take the train. This will provide you with some idyllic views of the Swiss countryside. Another great option for traveling to Sion is by catching a bus.
Buying a Swiss Travel Pass is a wonderful and easy way to get around Switzerland. This allows for unlimited travel on all trains, buses, and boats. A bonus is that you can get up to 50% off mountain excursions and free entry to over 500 museums.
If you prefer to drive, I’d recommend using Discover Cars for rental car bookings. They’ll show you the best deals from over 500 suppliers, such as Hertz, Europcar, Avis, and Budget.
Where to Stay in Sion
I stayed in Sion for a couple of days. However, I stayed in my van, so while I do not have first-hand experience with accommodations in Sion, I have done my research, and here are the best places to stay in Sion. T
- Ibis Sion is for those on a budget. Rooms have comfortable beds and artsy designs. You can start your day on the right foot with a continental breakfast buffet while enjoying some of the best mountain views in Switzerland.
- One of the coolest options is Moxy Sion, which has an incredibly modern and funky design. Rooms have neutral tones with pops of bright colors. What’s even better are the free drinks on arrival, the hotel’s game rooms, and bicycle rental to explore Sion.
Best Time to Visit Sion
Sion has beautiful weather year-round as it is one of the driest and sunniest cities in Switzerland.
- Winter in Sion: In Sion, winter falls from December to February. The temperature ranges from 40ºF to 53ºF, so it’s pretty chilly, but it’s perfect for those skiing at nearby ski resorts.
- Spring in Sion: Spring falls from March to May in Sion. It’s got fantastic weather, with temperatures from 53ºF to 72ºF. This is perfect for those looking to explore the Valais region and for hiking.
- Summer in Sion: Summer is Sion’s busiest season, so book in advance to save on accommodation. It’s got great weather with temperatures from 55ºF to 81ºF, perfect for wine tasting at its popular vineyards. Summer happens here between June and August.
- Fall in Sion: The temperatures drop slightly in Sion’s fall but are still pleasant and range from 33ºF to 75ºF. It’s one of Sion’s quieter seasons, which is perfect if you’re looking for lower prices. This is also a great time as you see the beautiful fall foliage.
More Sion Travel Tips
- Free wifi – Throughout the city, you will find wifi spots. More so than in any other Swiss city.
- Free water – there are a couple of water fountains, so bring your refillable water bottle as there is no need to buy bottled water.
- And another free great thing in Sion: Many free public toilets (WC), whether it was the Place Maurice Zermatten, or in the old town – here, you do not have to look long for a public toilet. And they were also clean (at least those I went to).
BEST SION ACTIVITIES
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Sion, Valais.
In Sion, the hills of Tourbillon and Valère are a noticeable part of the town. One of them is the stunning Castle Tourbillon.
Shortly before the year 13000 the bishop of Sion, Coniface de Challant, undertook the construction of the castle – though it was completed by its successors – the frescos of the chapel date back to the second quarter of the 14th century (though it took a recent restaurant ion to make it visible).
In 1417 the castle was set on fire – it was restored a few decades later – and then became the summer residence of the bishop though it lost in importance during the 18th century when the castle was definitively ruined during another fire. However, the Saint-Georges and Saint-Grat Chapel are still well preserved. And they are one of the main sights in Sion.
The other hilltop castle – just opposite Castle Tourbillon – is Valère Castle. This fortified church is also known as Valère Basilica and this landmark’s been around since the 1100s.
Around this time, Sion was the political and religious center of the Valais region. So, this building is a major part of the region’s history. It took inspiration from a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. Another incredible feature of this castle is the organ, as it’s one of the oldest functioning organs in the world. Make sure to check out the Valais History Museum to learn about the region’s cultural history, with a collection of over 1,000 objects. This includes items from the Paleolithic age until the Industrial Revolution.
Place Maurice Zermatten
At the foot of the Valère and Tourbillon hills, you’ll find Place Maurice Zermatten. This square’s named after the renowned French writer Maurice Zermatten who was very prolific in his time and published an astonishing figure of 120 books.
He was born in Saint-Martin, a small town in Valais, and returned to the canton after getting educated in Paris and Fribourg. He lectured at the College of Sion until retirement, so the town held him in very high regard. The square is magical and highlights the difference between nature and Sion.
Sion Old Town
Sion’s Old Town is full of brilliant things to do and see, from the Valais Nature Museum to Majorie Castle. An excellent time to visit the Old Town is on Fridays, as there is a farmer’s market. You can get all kinds of local produce, from fruit and vegetables to cheeses and baked goods.
You can learn all about the Valais region dating back to the Mesolithic age at the Nature Museum, where there is also local flora and fauna on displays, including over 8,000 animals. In the Altstadt (German for Old Town), there’s also the Valais Art Museum. There, you can see pieces from Marina Abramovic, Oskar Kokoschka, Raphael Ritz, Ernest Biéler, and more.
But most of all, I enjoyed the historic, pretty, and colorful buildings that are sprinkled throughout the old town.
Cathédrale Notre–Dame du Glarier
Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Glarier, also known as Sion Cathedral, is an exquisite church that dates back to the 7th century. The cathedral was burnt down in 1010, and you can see the ruins of this on the lowest floor.
The cathedral was rebuilt with a Romanesque architectural style. The western bell tower is an example of this, dating back to the 12th century. Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Glarier underwent renovations for a third time between the 15th and 16th centuries with a more modern and gothic style. You’ll see ornate details in the church’s interior, such as stained-glass windows, wall frescoes, and a gold-detailed altar.
One of Sion’s most incredible offerings is Lac Souterrain, Europe’s largest underground lake. It stretches over 984 feet with an area of roughly 65,000 square feet. What’s interesting is how it came to be.
It’s a rock made up of Triassic gypsum that was slowly dissolved by groundwater over millions of years. As one of the best lakes in Switzerland, the water is a vivid blue, incredibly still, and stays at a temperature of 52ºF. I recommend visiting here – only possible with a guided tour – and you will even see trout and bats living in the cave. It’s only open seasonally from March 18 to November 1. It costs 12 CHF for adults (16 and older), 7 CHF for children (5 to 15), and is free for those under 5.
Domaines des Iles
Located just 10 minutes outside Sion is an adventure park called Domaines des Iles. This is a great place to explore Sion’s beautiful nature, especially if you want to relax.
This park spans over 54 hectares and is next to the stunning Rhône. It’s one of the loveliest places in the Valais canton for a summer picnic, with expansive green grass, free parking, and two beautiful lakes. You can also swim which is great on a hot summer’s day. If you’re looking for something more heart-racing, check out the climbing wall in summer or the cross-country ski track in winter.
Vineyards and Wine Tasting
Sion is set in Switzerland’s main wine-producing region. While forests, glaciers, and mountains cover almost half of Valais canton, its valleys are significant for Swiss agriculture. So, the area is well known for its wine, especially the Fendant variety.
Due to the steep and hilly makeup of Sion and its surroundings, irrigation channels or “bisses” were carved out of the mountains to water the vineyards. If you love wine, consider going on a wine tour of Sion for an exceptional way to explore this generational practice.
Walk Along the Rhône
The Rhône is the third longest river in Switzerland and starts at the meltwater of the Rhône Glacier in Valais, close to the village of Gletsch. From here, it flows through the Swiss Alps, into Lake Geneva, and through southeastern France ending up at the Mediterranean Sea near Arles. It is a beautiful river that has immense historical importance.
Before railroads and roadways, the Rhône was a central local trade and transportation route. In fact, it has been in use since the Greeks and Romans were in power. In Sion, a walk along this river is a brilliant way to appreciate the beauty and magnitude of our planet or to decompress after a day spent in museums or castles. Dotted along the Rhône, you’ll find restaurants, parks, and shops.
Day Trip to Zermatt
Just an hour and a half from Sion is the town of Zermatt. This is a world-famous location for skiing in the winter, and it sits at the bottom of the incredible Matterhorn mountain.
There’s so much to do here, from riding up the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car to paragliding off the Matterhorn. If you love skiing and snowboarding, this is one of the greatest destinations in Switzerland. But if you’re more laidback or visit in the summer (though here you could also ski in the summer months), hop on the Gornergrat Bahn train and relax as you ride up to Gornergrat. You’ll get the most splendid views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Swiss Alps here.
If you want to learn about the village’s history, go on this walking tour of Zermatt or visit the Zermatt museum.
Final Thoughts on the Top Things to Do in Sion
Sion is full of excellent things to do, from exploring the natural beauty of the Valais region to appreciating the history of the Altstadt. It’s a fantastic town with brilliant weather and moderate temperatures. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and learned more about the awesome Sion.
Are you ready to explore some of these wonders? Maybe next time I’ll see you there!