A perfect family holiday in the Swiss mountains!
If you are looking for a typical Swiss experience, then Blatten, a beautiful village just below the Belalp mountain is where you should go with your family! Sunburnt wooden Swiss houses, playgrounds in a natural environment, Wallis blacknose sheep, and adventure awaits you!
Blatten lies in the Wallis region, close to the biggest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier. Families can enjoy lots of energetic outdoor activities, hikes, nature, and suspension bridges for the bigger daredevils. The typical blacknose sheep, cows and playgrounds will definitely be appreciated by the little ones!
Witches and legends
Blatten is known to be the village of the witches due to an old legend in which a witch supposedly haunted the region. Vero, the nice Belalp witch guides children through activities, and a treasure hunt can be picked up at the tourist information which will take you through the village and up on the Belalp mountain. The treasure hunt is available in German, English and French.
A cool playground in the centre of Blatten completely designed in the theme of witches. A little wading pool with sand to play in, a mini-golf, and an adventure rope park. Everything is right here for the kids to play and have fun! There is a little bar for refreshments and ice-cream on site.
We really liked the mini-golf and you get a little booklet explaining what you should do at each of the Hexengolf holes.
The blacknose sheep are typical of the Wallis region. They live high up the mountain, where they can mostly be seen early morning or late afternoon. In the middle of the day, especially on hot days, they hide by the rocks and are less likely to show themselves. If you are lucky, you will sometimes also see them wander around the village of Blatten. We were lucky when we were there, as there were two of these cute fellows walking around just below our apartment.
The best weekend to see the sheep is the last weekend of August, known as the ‘Shepherd Weekend’ since the shepherds will then transfer their sheep to their winter pastures.
The old center of Blatten
The old center of Blatten is very typical of Switzerland with its sunburnt dark wooden houses on poles. These houses used to serve as a barn for animals, or for the people to stock up on their food supply for winter, or their materials. The center of Blatten is small. All year round there are only about 300 people living here permanently, but the houses are very well maintained and picturesque.
Right in front of the old center is Hotel Restaurant Blattnerhof which has a nice terrace outside. Perfect place to eat some specialties from the Wallis region.
The big gondola takes you up to Belalp right from the center of Blatten. Kids under 16 years old go up for free! The Belalp mountain is a Unesco World Heritage area. Once you are up, you can walk into the direction of the Belalp Hotel, from which you will have a view on the majestic Aletsch Glacier. The hike towards the hotel is easy, and you can choose between the normal path (where you could go with a stroller with big wheels), or you could choose the more adventurous path with slightly bigger kids, which lies just below and leads you through the fields, with small waterfalls, rivers and river crossings.
You will probably see some cows on the way as in summer they are everywhere on Belalp. If you take the normal road, you will also see a structure of rocks (Färriga) which serves to sort the sheep during the transfer from their summer to their winter pasture. We took the normal road to go to the Belalp Hotel, and the adventurous road back. The viewpoint of the Aletsch Glacier is just behind the Belalp Hotel. The small church on top of the hill is also picturesque and you can of course have a peek inside. The Belalp Hotel is a nice place for a coffee and a homemade pie. They have an outdoor terrace, and an indoor panoramic terrace.
We walked back to the gondola and then continued on the other side (so to the left when you get out of the gondola) in the direction of the Hamilton Lodge. Another beautiful place! We had lunch here, as I read they had pancakes and hamburgers on the menu, something the kids would definitely like! 😊 If you walk a bit more downhill from the Hamilton Lodge, you can buy cheese directly from the farmer.
Part of our family went back down to Blatten with the gondola, but my eldest son and I decided to go down on Trotti-bikes, sort of scooters with breaks. A real fun experience! The Trotti-Bikes can be rented directly from the staff of the gondola, just before departure at CHF 10,= per scooter. The road leads you in the direction of Hamilton Lodge and then down, passing beautiful wooden houses, small waterfalls, cows and stunning views. You can go as fast, or as slow as you want by keeping your hands steady on the brake. The last part down in Blatten is a bit on the road, so keep well to the right and go slow. Even if there is almost no traffic, a car of someone who lives in the upper part could of course pass on that part. They say the Trotti-bike can be done with kids ages 7 and up. At the end, you just give them back the bikes at the downhill station of the Blatten-Belalp Gondola. We loved this activity, highly recommended!
As indicated on the walking signs in the center of Blatten, in front of the little supermarket, the dam and reservoir lake of Gibidum (Stausee Gibidum) is a 40 minutes’ walk from the center. You continue uphill on the main road, until the bus stop called ‘Belstar’ where you see the signs in direction of Stausee Gibidum leading to the right. This walking path leads you through a beautiful forest, and then a bit of road again until you get to the Dam. The walk to get there is almost only uphill. You eventually get to the viewpoint of the Dam, where stairs lead down, and you can of course walk over it. Our little one was a bit scared of the height, so we eventually didn’t walk over it, but it was a nice walk and an interesting site to see!
These amazing thermal baths are located at about a half an hour’s drive from Blatten. It is a warm water pool, as all thermal baths in Switzerland, and this one is located in a very stunning setting. It has a river with current for you to float around in, rocks to climb up on and jump off in the pool (different sizes for different ages), a small wading pool for the little ones with shade, bouncy castle installed in the pool in summer, and a great slide coming right off of the mountain into the pool! Never seen this before. Takes a bit of effort to climb all the stairs to go up, but really fun slide that lasts a bit longer than most slides in other pools. You can also swim inside of the building and there they have another kids pool with toys floating around for the little ones. At Brigerbad, there are several spots for refreshments. There is an ice-cream and snack stand, a restaurant, and a sort of take-away with burgers, pizza and hotdogs. You can even order a plate with specialties from the region in the restaurant, which has a nice terrace. The kids were of course very excited about this outing! And I have to admit, so was I… 😊
You can buy an entrance ticket for 3 hours of time, or for the whole day if you want.
We rented a really nice apartment in Blatten, which I highly recommend as it’s close to everything and very nicely decorated. It is only a couple of hundred meters from the Gondola, a 2 minute walk to the playground, and adjacent to the old town center. The apartment has one master bedroom and a room for the kids which would sleep 3. There are games in the kids room, it has a garden with a stunning view, and it has all the necessary kitchen equipment. To see the apartment, click here.
As for us, we have several reasons to go back to Blatten! One of them is the Goms suspension bridge in Ernen, and the other reason is to check out the slopes in winter. 😊