Crans-Montana in summer: 4 great things to do
Like all of the most desirable visitor hotspots in the Swiss Alps, the charming Swiss Alpine town of Crans-Montana is associated first and foremost with winter sports pursuits.
However, as locals and year-round visitors to the stand-out resorts of the canton of Valais are well aware, there’s plenty else on offer to see and do here outside of peak ski season.
With that in mind, here are our top four reasons to visit the Upper Rhone Valley during a glorious Crans-Montana summer.
1. Seasonal walking and cycling
Regardless of the season, stunning natural beauty is always one of the most compelling reasons to visit the Crans-Montana resort. In winter, this, of course, tends to mean exploring the many dramatic pistes via skis, snowboards and cable cars. In summer, however, the region’s rich profusion of walking and cycling trails really blossom - both literally and figuratively.
Spend time here in the warmer months, and you’ll enjoy free roam over an extensive network of mixed ability hiking and biking routes that criss-cross the lush meadows and sweeping hillsides. Explore river walks through dense woodlands at lower altitudes, or head uphill to discover the various tranquil and picturesque Alpine swimming lakes that dot these unspoilt plateaus at higher elevations.
There’s lots of opportunity to hire cycles (or buy any additional walking gear) in and around the town itself, and cable car or gondola access to ever-more scenic routes is available year-round. In short, you’ll always be able to find a quiet path through a diverse range of beautiful landscapes within a short distance of your chalet, giving you plenty of room to breathe deeply in the clean, fresh mountain air.
2. Wining and dining
For a relatively small Alpine town, Crans-Montana is big on gastronomy - and the summer season is one of the most rewarding times to experience a wide range of delicious local produce. Many favourite ingredients and recipes from the region are locally sourced during the warmer months, as you’ll quickly discover if you opt to take part in one of several ‘mountain gathering’ cookery sessions, held regularly once the snows have receded from the lower slopes.
If you prefer less rustic surroundings and a more hands-off approach to fine dining, you’re certainly not short of options there either. A wide variety of international chefs, restaurants and tasting menus are awash with traditional regional dishes - we always recommend you sample the local raclette cheese as often as possible, perhaps while gathering with friends to share the bounty of our signature ‘Valais platters’.
Copious sunshine and ideal soil conditions also make historic Crans-Montana an important stop on any Swiss wine tour. Connoisseurs and casuals alike can rest assured that there’s always plenty of sipping and cork-popping to be done - not to mention a wide variety of local vineyards and cellars, ranging from the traditional to the ultra-modern - to do it in.
3. Crans-Montana golf
No list of Crans-Montana summer activities would be complete without a mention of the unrivalled golf facilities the canton of Valais has to offer, for expert players and amateurs alike. Once a year, the entire golfing world turns its attention to this small Alpine resort, when the rolling fairways and flawless greens of the gold-standard Severiano Ballesteros Course plays host to the superstars of the Omega European Masters tournament.
ASG and affiliated clubs’ members can live out their pro golfer dreams on these very tees for a fixed green fee during the rest of the summer, but it’s far from the only option available. Players with a suitable handicap can also tackle the exquisite Jack Nicklaus Course, where incredible mountain views have earned it multiple awards as Switzerland’s most visually stunning 9-holer.
For a more relaxed and informal challenge than either of the above courses, there’s the renowned Super-Crans Course at Vermala, as well as the NOAS Course at Chermignon d'en Bas - both of these local gems are open to players who can’t provide proof of an exact handicap. If you feel like working on your swing a little before diving into a full Crans-Montana summer golf experience, the high-tech training hub at the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club will serve you equally well.
4. Flora and fauna
The hills and plateaus surrounding the resort tend to come into full bloom from mid-May to late September, and the effect can be truly breathtaking. Along with the rest of the Valais region, Alpine flowering season in Crans-Montana is particularly verdant during July and August, when peak daily temperatures most reliably climb towards a balmy 20 celsius.
Delicate blossoms and fragrant shrubs appear to spring up everywhere during a warm Crans-Montana summer, carpeting the grassy slopes and illuminating the perennial woodlands with riotous washes of vibrant, celebratory colour.
As the indigenous plants begin to open up across the valley, an already busy population of local wildlife also becomes more active and varied than at any other time of year. Expect to see (and hear!) everything from an abundance of forest birds and smaller woodland critters, to the larger signature species of the region, including marmot, ibex and chamois.