Sion is a city is located in the southwestern canton of the Swiss Valais. Valais canton is immensely beautiful with amazing white peaks all year round, but it has as well not such a famous activity: quite a lot of avalanches happen there every yea (so be safe while mountaineering up there). The Valais’s capital is known for two major hilltop fortifications the Valere castle complex (you won’t miss it if you are coming to Sion by car, it is seen straight from the highway) and 13th-century Tourbillion castle ruins. The conical witches’ tower is located in the old town of Sion. The 15th century Notre Dame-du-Glarier is among the top most attractive sites in the area. There is an art collection center in the town and you can never go wrong if you visit this destination when on holiday or vacation.
Since the town is in proximity to Rhone River, it has gained huge popularity as one of the destinations for mountain skiing and best wineries locations in Switzerland. There are numerous activities that you can enjoy when you visit this city. These activities can range from self-guided walks and exploration of churches and castles in the area. Some of the fun activities you can do include the ones we are going to discuss below.
Before visiting Sion in summer time be sure to have a cap and sunscreen as Sion is very hot. I have visited Sion only in summer time (I am pretty sure it is very beautiful in winter as well) and it was always crazy hot. 2 liters of water disappear in minutes 🙂 So be ready and have fun in Sion!
How to get to Sion
First things first: how to get to Sion?
Sion is very easily reachable by car or train.
Sion is pretty far from Zürich: 276 kilometers, but just 160 kilometers from Geneva or 154 kilometers from Bern. Sion is pretty close both to France and Italy and is on the way to famous Zermatt or Chamonix (in France, the place where Mont Blanc rests). The drive to Sion is very beautiful as there are huge mountains all around the highway. As well slopes and fields around are full vineyards, the place is actually straight from the postcard. You will love it.
Once you come to Sion by car, there are plenty of parking spots, but one of the cheaper options is by Migros: Rue des Erables 24, 1950 Sion. There are other parking spots as well, but have at least some coins as most of the parking does not accept credit cards.
If you would like to reach Sion by train, please check out the latest schedules and ticket prices right here: Swiss trains. Put Sion as your destination.
Facts about Sion
I think it is always good to know something about the place before you come and visit, so I would like to give you some short facts about Sion.
Sion is the capital of canton Valais (Switzerland has 26 cantons and each of canton has a capital).
Sion speaks french! Bonjour! The Valais canton is in the french speaking part of Switzerland. For me personally you can even feel the french influence in architecture and especially the vast vineyards makes the whole place feeling more than France. I am pretty sure that Sion people would say that they are the ones who influenced french :))) Another crazy fact according to Wikipedia: 19 people who speak Romansh in Sion 🙂 This is the 4th official Swiss language and less and less people speak it. I have visited Disentis city before where the main language is Romansh, really special language worth saving.
Sion is not a big city, with just over 34 000 people it makes a perfect mountain city where you do not have to rush and can relax even in the city center.
What to do in Sion
As I have visited Sion couple of times, I prepared a list for you of things I think would be of most interest for you. Let’s jump in:
1. Walking tour to discover the town.
You can enjoy walking around the city as you familiarize yourself with the city and the activities that people in the area like doing. The discovery walk is 2 kilometers in length and the tour will take you about an hour to complete it (do not rush, enjoy, otherwise you will run through it in 20 minutes). During the tour, you will get to see the cathedral, town hall, chateau de Valere, chateau de Tourbillion (really really french names 🙂 ). Each of the stops is well designated with informational boards and illustrations to help you understand more about the city. You can get a map of the Discovery Walk from the tourism office. I always suggest that so you do not miss anything, any famous places, buildings and sights. Tourism office is here: Place de la Planta 2, 1950 Sion and the official website is here: Sion Tourism.
2. Visit the castle of Tourbillon
You will have to do a slight walk up to the Castle of the Tourbillon. The castle is popularly known as Chateau de Tourbillon. It is located one of the highest hills (not a mountain, as mountains there are over 3000 meters) in the region overlooking the city of Sion. The location offers really great views of the overall Sion region and canton Valais. The chateau was built between the years 1290 and 1308. Originally the castle was used as the residence of the bishop and it was later expanded to include an exterior wall. A fire in the year 1788 nearly destroyed the castle but it was refurbished to accommodate modern features. Be sure to check out the opening and closing hours as well as entry fees if any. Entrance is free and check official information right here: Tourbillon castle.
3. Chateau Valere and the Basilica
Chateau Valere and the basilica are some of the outstanding buildings in the area. It is yet another building which is full of history in Sion. They were built in the 11th century and were mainly used as a church and it is situated across the Castle of Tourbillion. You will have again a slight walk uphill to reach the Valere castle. Initially, it was a walled complex and acted as a residential place for the local canons. However, after its abandonment in the year, 1798 part of the property was converted into a seminary while the other part remains as a museum. The cathedral houses the oldest working organ from the 14th century. Entrance is free, but for a few swiss francs you can get a guided tour, check out the official information right here: Valere castle.
4. Our Lady of Sion basilica (cathedral)
The basilica of our lady of Sion is located on the hills of Sion Vaudemont with a spectacular view of the town. The basilica was built in the 10th century and it was later expanded in 1741 to accommodate a rising number of pilgrims. Currently, the place is still used for pilgrimage and it has a 7-foot statue of the Virgin Mary.
Besides, there are artifacts and archaeological exhibitions, an orchard garden, a lookout out area giving you panoramic views of the area and a monument of peace. You can never go wrong by visiting this place because it has all the fun activities you have been looking for. The basilica is open daily for visitors and there is an onsite lodge if you want to stay there.
5. Go for wine tasting at Les Fils de Charles Favre
Ok, now let’s jump from the historic sights to more fun stuff. If you consider yourself as one of the wine connoisseurs or you want to try something interesting then this is the best place to go. Sion is full of vineyards. At the Les Charles de Favre, you will have a chance of tasting some of the best Swiss wines. If you are not a fan of white wine then you can enjoy some of the best award-winning red wines at competitive prices. When visiting any winery in the region you can try the wines with a Swiss chocolate or tasting board.
The place is a bit further from the city center, but the distance is easily walkable: address is Avenue de Tourbillon 29, 1950 Sion. Their official website for any information and tasting is this: Les Files de Charles Favre.
6. Enjoy an evening walk around Maison de la Nature
Maison de la nature (house of nature) is located on the eastern part of the Lac de Mont d’Orge (right next to the lake). The area is rich in fauna and floras and you can take time to appreciate the beautiful Swiss wildlife in this location. The nature walk has been in operation for the past three decades and it is the main outstanding feature of the region. You can treasure hunt around the lake as you enjoy a cool breeze. This is a perfect place to walk after your wine tasting 🙂
Check out their official website for any additional information: Maison de la Nature.
7. Dine-in paradise at La Sitterie
Looking for a nice place to dine in Sion? In the northern region of Sion, you will find La Sitterie which is a small house that has been refurbished to make a wonderful restaurant. You can enjoy your meal amidst beautiful flowers and plants surrounding the terrace. The restaurant prides itself on using fresh and locally produced raw materials. You will need to make a call to reserve a spot. Their website: La Sitterie.
8. Have fun at Domaine des Iles
You can enjoy a wide array of activities at Domaine des Iles. The area is packed with a camping area, barbecues, restaurants and picnic areas. You can enjoy a wide range of activities from playing mini-golf, tennis, and beach volleyball among other interactive activities. During the summer you can enjoy a cool swim at the lake and during the winter season, you can indulge in skiing. It is an exceptional park and you can always find something to do throughout the year.
I have spend once a night next to this park in a tent as I was travelling through Switzerland, so it brings only good memories.
Check out their official website here: Domaine des Iles.
9. Reach new heights at Real fly
If you want to try something adventurous while in Switzerland you can try it at the Real fly where you can experience sky diving inside a simulator. The 79 feet free fall simulator is one of the biggest in the world and it can accommodate up to 8 people. You can fly with your friends and family. There is a bar on-site and you can take a break while enjoying your drink. The simulator brings virtual reality to a new level.
Check out their website: Real fly Sion.
Sion is a beautiful town in the Swiss Alps and there is a lot that you can discover during your travel to this lovely Swiss city.
Every kind of traveler can find something for himself, if you like history: visit the castles of Sion. There is so much history in such a small place.
If you like wine: there are plenty of choices as this is a wine region with finest Swiss wines.
If you like hiking and open air activities: go hiking, there are lots of places to hike around, many peaks to reach. An articles of best hikes around Sion will come soon from me 🙂 I love those places.
If you are travelling with family, there are plenty of places for small kids to spend time.
Sion is a place for everyone and you won’t regret visiting the capital of canton Valais.
If you have any questions about Sion, please let me know, I will do my best to help you.
Once you are in Sion, maybe you want to visit the most famous Swiss village: Zermatt? Check out my trips to Zermatt right here:
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