Leukerbad's ski area is mainly above the tree line with dramatic mountain views of the Dauberhorn and many 4,000 metre peaks of the Valais and the Rhône valley. There's 3km of blue, 20km of red and 27km of black runs including tree-lined red and black runs from Rinderhűtte (2,350m) down to the Leukerbad-Rinderhűtte cable car station (1,411m) and to the Flaschen-Torrentalp gondola base station (1,540m). The valley runs lead to four out of five of Leukerbad's mountain restaurants and they're fun to ski during the day as well as offering enjoyably long runs down at the end of the day.
The ski area is small but fun with seventeen groomed runs including 2 blues, 8 reds and 7 black runs, which are best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. First time beginners can start on nursery slopes at Park Erli until ready to ski the blue runs above Rinderhűtte. Competent beginners will quickly progress from blue to red runs, but less confident beginners would be better learning to ski elsewhere. The longest descents are 10-14km long and start from the top of the Schwalbennest chairlift via a combination of routes to the bottom cable car or gondola stations.
One of the fun things about the Leukerbad ski area is the variable undulating terrain; so when you ski the same run more than once - and you'll do so often in Leukerbad - by varying your line you can ski the same piste differently. The variable terrain is also more interesting for boarders and freestylers as some of the runs are good for riding up high on the sides of the piste. There's a small Fun Park with tables, slides and a kicker which is reached by riding the Schwalbennest chairlift.
The Torrent ski lift system of six lifts includes a cable car, two gondolas, a high-speed 6-man chair lift and two T-bar drag lifts. Expect to have to queue for the cable car and gondola at peak times in the morning, but nothing major.
There are five mountain restaurants the locations of which are clearly marked (but unfortunately not named) on the Leukerbad ski area map. All seventeen marked trails are clearly numbered on the ski area map but the actual piste markers at the side of the runs are not numbered and on-mountain sign posting is not always as good as it could be for navigating in bad weather.
If you find yourself skiing with orange and blue poles both to your left and right, you're on a blue run. That's fine in good weather, but in bad visibility you might easily find yourself with black (and orange) and blue (and orange) posts left and right, which means you're off-piste between two runs, possibly without meaning to be.
Good skiers will easily ski the whole area in a couple of days, which makes Leukerbad a good destination for weekend skiing, but the ski area is not quite big enough to keep advanced skiers entertained for more than a few days unless snow conditions are suitable for skiing off-piste.
In addition to the main Torrent ski area, there's a particularly good learning area next to the Sportarena on the edge of town with a T bar and a children's lift for novices and children. There's also a cable car leading to Gemmipass (2,350m) where you can enjoy cross-country skiing, winter hiking, sledging and snow shoeing around the frozen Lake Daubensee with splendid panoramic views and good ski touring routes higher up.
The main Leukerbad-Rinderhűtte (Torrentbahn) cable car is situated on the outskirts of Leukerbad, about 800m from the centre of town. It's easily reached on foot but if you prefer not to walk the Ring-Jet shuttle bus will take you there or you can catch a bus to the Flaschen-Torrentalp gondola station which is about 1km out of town.
If you have a car, there's parking in a covered car park below the Torrent cable car and open-air parking next to the Flaschen-Torrentalp gondola. From the Goppenstrasse car park you have to climb about 200 steps to get to Torrent cable car, so it's better and easier to walk the scenic route via the Promenade than to drive and park.
The cable car to Gemmipass (2,850m) is nearer to the centre of Leukerbad, but the Gemmipass area is mainly for cross-country skiing, winter walking, tobogganing and snow shoeing around Lake Daubensee and a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking and home to Europe's highest catamaran sailing school in summer.
Leukerbad ski season starts mid-December and ends mid-April and the ski lifts are operating from 08:45 - 16:15 daily. Check the times of cable cars outside peak periods at the beginning and end of the day otherwise you might have to wait 15 minutes or more to ride the cable car to Rinderhűtte at quieter times in the middle of the day.
Lift lines are short and move quickly so you shouldn't experience much queuing for the lifts except possibly to queue for the main cable car from Torrent to Rinderhűtte at peak times at the beginning of the day.
A 6-day adult ski lift pass costs CHF 250 and, to avoid having to carry skis between your accommodation and the lifts, you can rent a ski storage locker at the cable car and gondola lift stations for around CHF 3 per day. A child's 6-day lift pass costs around CHF 150, but children up to 8 years can use the lifts for free.
If you're not staying in one of the 4-star or 5-star wellness hotels and want to visit Leukerbad's public thermal baths you can buy a combined Snow and Bath Pass which costs between CHF 190 and CHF 346 for a 6-day pass for children and adults respectively. The combined Snow and Spa pass includes access to the ski lifts, the thermal pools of Burgerbad and Lindner Alpentherme, the Ring Jet shuttle bus and free admission to the Sportarena. Children up to 8 years of age have free access to all these facilities except the Park Erli ski area.
Park Erli facilities include a wide open nursery slope, T-bar and children's ski lift. The nursery slope is steep enough and long enough for novices to enjoy learning to ski without having to worry about more experienced skiers speeding past. The facilities include the Snowli Park which is a dedicated area for children between 2½ - 6 years of age. Children's skiing lessons and child care at Snowli Park can be booked through Leukerbad's Official Swiss Snowsports School.
While Leukerbad has very good facilities for novices, the main ski area is not really suitable for beginners. There's a small beginner area close to the top cable car station on Torrent, but only two blue runs totalling just 3km in extent and hence beginners will find it very repetitive unless they can progress very quickly from blue to red runs.
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Although the ski area is smaller in extent than better known Swiss ski resorts elsewhere in Valais, the flip side of the coin is that there are fewer skiers on the mountain - partly also because many guests are coming for spa treatments rather than to ski - and the slopes are not crowded.
While a smaller ski area means you should expect to have to ski the same runs more than once, many of Leukerbad's groomed runs are rising and falling from left to right as well as from top to bottom which makes them more interesting and allows you to vary your line each time you ski them.
The area above the Bergrestaurant Rinderhűtte (2,350m) and the highest lift (2,610m) is an open bowl containing two blue runs, four red runs and a black run. There's also plenty of easy off-piste in between the runs and it's a fun place to ski on a blue sky day.
The red and black tree-lined runs from Rinderhűtte (2,350m) down to the bottom lift stations are great for intermediates. The red and black runs down to the middle and bottom gondola stations are reasonably wide and often quiet. They're fun to ski fast and from the very top to the bottom gondola station will test your fitness.
The black and red routes from Rinderhűtte down to the bottom of the Torrentbahn cable car offer a long and enjoyable tree-lined descent that passes through a 50m long tunnel part way down. These trails are narrower but not difficult and include impressive views of Leukerbad and the Daubenhorn on the opposite side of the valley.
The Weidstubli half way down red 16 is a popular mountain restaurant. From Weidstubli you can either ski red 16 to Leukerbad (but there's no lift back up) or ski red 17 to the bottom of the Torrentbahn cable car and ride back up for more.
More than half of the marked runs are designated black (27km) with red runs making up most of the rest (20km). The best on-piste descents for good skiers are from the top of the Schwalbennest chairlift (2,610m) all the way down to the bottom gondola station (1,540m) - firstly via red run 9, black run 10 and red run 12 and, secondly, following consecutive black runs 3, 4, 5 and 6. The last two of these are fast and enjoyable tree lined runs on undulating terrain. The Alpengruss and Briand mountain restaurants close to the gondola mid station (1,920m) both have sun terraces.
The route all the way from the top of the Rinderhalde or Torrent T-bars (2,500m) to the bottom Torrentbahn cable car station (1,450m) is another long descent starting with either red run 1 or black run 4 then from bottom of Rinderhalde T-bar via black run 15 and red runs 16 and 17 which will bring you back to the cable car. Check what times the cable car runs at quiet times during the day and time your run accordingly otherwise you might be waiting a while at the bottom station for the next cable car up. The Weidstubli half way down red run 16 is another of Leukerbad's better mountain restaurants and worth visiting.
While Leukerbad's ski area is relatively small in terms of the number and extent of groomed runs, when snow conditions are good there's a reasonable amount of easy off-piste terrain between the pistes. The area above Rinderhűtte includes plenty of lift served off-piste terrain including the slopes either side of the Rinderhalde T-bar. But be careful not to stray too far away from the T-bar as there are cliffs out of sight on the left hand side of the ski area. Similarly, if skiing or riding the easy off-piste beneath the Schwalbennest chairlift, there are a few small cliffs lower down, but not marked on the map which you need to watch out for. You'll easily see them in good visibility when riding the chair but if visibility is poor you need to be more careful. There's yet more relatively easy off piste terrain beneath the Torrentalp-Rinderhűtte gondola either side of red run 11.
In addition to easy off-piste skiing and riding between the pistes, there are more challenging off-piste descents from the ridge that rises left to right towards Torrenthorn (2,997m). These steep descents can be reached by booting up from the top of the Rinderhalde T-bar or from the top of the Schwalbennest chairlift (2,610m) and the higher up you go the steeper the pitch back down to the safety of the groomed runs. There's yet more off-piste skiing on the slopes beneath Schaffberg (2,806m), which can be reached by traversing high and left from the start of the Lingelen red run (9).
When skiing or riding on more challenging off-piste terrain away from the main ski area, for safety reasons and to find the best snow, we recommend you hire a guide through Red Carpet Ski School.
There's ski touring on the Gemmipass including the route via Gemmi Pass to Wildstrubel (3,243m) which takes about 3 hours to skin up to the top. The views from the summit are breathtaking with as many as forty two 4,000-metre peaks visible in perfect weather conditions. Daubenhorn (2,941m) is another popular ski touring route. It takes about 2 hours to reach the top and offers similarly spectacular views of the Valais.
Other ski touring routes in Gemmi Pass include Steghorn (3,148m) and Roter Totz (2,848m), which take between 2 - 2½ hours to ski up. There are also more challenging high altitude ski touring routes to the Rinderhorn (3,448m) and Balmhorn (3,698m) which take around 4½ -5 hours to ascend and sometimes require use of crampons.
There's a small snowboard fun park on the Torrent with rails and boxes and a tiny mountain hut. Relative to the size of the ski area, there's a reasonable amount of lift accessible off-piste between the groomed runs above the Rinderhűtte, including easy off-piste terrain between red runs 7 and 8 beneath the Schwalbennest chairlift.
There's good carving for boarders and freestylers on red run 9 starting from the top of the chairlift (2610m) then continuing on black 10 to the gondola middle station (1920m). When the powder is good and when safe to venture off-piste, there's some good off-piste terrain for advanced riders on the slopes beneath Schafberg which is easy to access by traversing high along the left hand side of red run 9.
Leukerbad's choice of mountain restaurants is limited. There's a large self-service Bergrestaurant Rinderhűtte, which is quite ordinary, with a panorama sun terrace and an umbrella bar outside; the restaurant is at the top of the Torrentbahn cable car (2,350m).
There's nothing else higher up in the ski area apart from the incongruous Torrenthorn building which is an eyesore at 2,497m. It resembles a run-down office building and is in fact a large ski-in, ski-out hotel for school groups, but the ski area would look a lot better off without it.
Fortunately, there are better mountain restaurants on the tree-lined runs below Rinderhűtte. The Briand and more attractive Alpengruss mountain restaurants are situated at gondola middle station at 1,920m. There also Flaschen next to the bottom gondola station at 1,540m.
The Weidstubli mountain restaurant is a popular place for lunch and can be reached either by skiing red 16 below Reuillerette or on foot via winter walking paths from Leukerbad, which is a 45-minute walk, then ride the toboggan run back to Leukerbad.
The Gemmi pass is an ancient trading route that dates back to Roman times. In winter season the Gemmi area features cross-country skiing, ski touring, winter walking, snow shoeing, tobogganing and even snow kiting on the frozen Lake Daubersee.
The Berghotel Wildstrubel is situated at the top of the Gemmi cable car, overlooking Lake Daubersee with stunning views of Leukerbad and the Valais and Bernese alps. The historic Berghotel Schwarenbach is situated on the Gemmipass beyond Daubersee and dates back to 1742. It's well visited by ski tourers, mountaineers and walkers and has provided hospitality to a number of famous guests including Piccasso, Edward Whymper and Mark Twain. The Lämmerenhűtte is a Swiss Alpine Club mountain refuge about a 1½ hour hike from Gemmipass.
Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 93
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Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 19 08
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Tel: +41 (0) 27 17 55
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Tel: +41 (0) 27 472 81 30
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Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 11 17
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Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 35 58
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Tel: +41 (0) 33 675 22 87
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An attractive small town, Leukerbad is situated at the far end of the road that rises from Leuk in the Rhone Valley to the foot of the Gemmipass at an altitude of 1,411m. The hillside town is built either side of the small river Dala and surrounded by the impressive Dauberhorn (2,942m) which towers over 1,500 near vertical meters above Leukerbad. The majority of guests come from Switzerland (77%) with around 9% from Germany, 4% from Italy, 2% from France and 8% from other countries including UK.
Leukerbad is not a party town. Nor is it in any sense exclusive. But it's an interesting and enjoyable place to stay with plenty of other activities for non-skiers in and around the town and on the mountain. Blessed by an abundant supply of thermal water, Leukerbad is home to the biggest and the highest Alpine Spa and Wellness centres in Europe. There's a wide range of accommodation, including self catering apartments, and a reasonably good choice of restaurants and bars to suit all budgets.
As far as snowsports equipment rental is concerned, there are a handful of shops in the centre of Leukerbad including Briand Sport, Intersports Possa and Location Ski for Hire (the wooden hut in Kurparkstrasse) and a Snow Shop on the mountain at the top of the Torrentbahn cable car. There's also a Mammut shop in town selling exclusively Mammut.
If you're self-catering, there's a large Migros supermarket which has an especially good selection of fruit and vegetables and is convenient for buying most basic foodstuffs. Specialist food shops in Leukerbad include Le Pain for bread and pastries, Rossgillu for meat and Ferme Gemmet has a superb selection of cheese. John's Wine Shop, close to Migros and Le Pain, has a selection of local Valais wines.
The Leukerbad Ring Jet bus service operates every 30 minutes, stopping at 14 bus stops in and around Leukerbad and costs CHF 3 for a daily ticket or CHF 14 for a weekly ticket. The bus stops are clearly marked on the town map. Tickets are available at the LLB bus station, from ticket machines or can be purchased from the driver. Timetables are available at the bus station, from the bus driver or at the Tourist Office.
Leukerbad is not a party town. Thermal bathing in the public baths and in the spa and wellness centres at the best hotels is by far the most popular after skiing activity in Leukerbad and hence there are not so many bars for après ski; nor is there much in the way of late night entertainment.
Leukerbad's better restaurants include the charming Waldhaus-Grichting which is situated on Promenade towards the Torrentbahn and is highly recommended for its food, superb selection of fine wines and good ambience.
The Alpina Hotel Restaurant is popular for its home cooking, good service and friendly atmosphere and is located in the heart of Leukerbad next to Restaurant Sternen which offers fondue, raclette and other regional specialities.
The Heilquelle and Römerhof restaurants in the centre of Leukerbad offer varied menus including grills, pizza and pasta dishes. The Walliserkanne is the best of three restaurants at Hotel de la Croix-Fédérale, the other two being the China Garden restaurant and the Pizzeria.
The Erni Stübli at Hotel Dala is inexpensive and offers a choice of local Valais specialities including raclette and hot stone grills, fondue and flambé dishes, and fondue chinoise. Hotel Dala also features the Cupido Bar which has live music and dancing and live music daily until 1.00 a.m.
Café Tannenheim next to the Ambassador apartments is inexpensive and worth a visit for lunch or dinner. It's also serves a good breakfast, which is handy if you're staying in one of Leukerbad's self catering apartments.
The Birchen Restaurant, which is a 45-minute walk from Leukerbad centre, has an attractive sun terrace, rustic interior including an antique fireplace dating from 1613 and serves Valais specialities including rösti, fondue, cheese rarebits and fresh produce daily from the restaurant's own farm.
The Chinchilla Rest-O-Bar next to the church is a reasonably pleasant bar restaurant with an extensive selection of beers and spirits including famous whiskies and serves a range of freshly prepared, home-made dishes.
The Grand Bain lounge and fireside bar at Lindner Hotel is a pleasant hotel bar for cocktails, champagne, whisky and cigars or for coffee and cakes during the day. And the Bar La Barrique at the 5-star Hotel Les Source des Alpes is a comfortable and quiet place to go for drinks.
Sternengässi 7, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 472 27 27
Bar La Barrique
Hotel Les Source des Alpes 5-star
Tuftstrassse 17, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 472 20 00
Birchen, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel. +41 (0) 27 470 12 84
Rathausstrasse, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 79 793 80 25
Kirchstrasse 12, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel. +41 (0) 27 470 20 81
Dala Erni Stübli
Kurparkstrasse 15, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel.+41 (0 ) 27 472 23 00
Grand Bain Bar
Dorfplatz, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel. +41 (0 ) 27 472 10 00
Rathausstrasse 7, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 22 22
Rathausstrasse 16, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 472 99 99
Sternengässi 6, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 11 20
Promenade 17, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 470 32 32
Kirchstrasse 43, CH-3954 Leukerbad
Tel: +41 (0) 27 472 79 79
There's 30km of cross-country skiing including trails at village level (5km) or on the Gemmi around Lake Daubensee and the Lämmernboden area. Cross-country skiing lessons are available from the Official Swiss Snow Sports School in Leukerbad.
Leukerbad has 40km of winter walking trails including short, long, steep and flat trails in the village and above Gemmipass (2,350m). The classic Gemmi hike from the cable car station on Gemmi past Daubensee to the Sunnbűel cable car above Kandersteg and back takes 3-4 hours. There are shorter 1½ hour walking trails from Rinderhűtte (2,350m) down to Torrentalp (1,920m) middle gondola station and from behind the Sportsarena to the pretty hamlets of Birchmen and Bodmen. Shorter still is the 45 minute walk from Dorfplatz in Leukerbad through larch forests to the Weidstűbli mountain restaurant
The Gemmi area also includes two marked snowshoe trails each of which takes about 4½ and 2½ hours respectively. Snow shoe guiding including shorter snow shoe tours can be arranged at the Official Swiss Snowsports School office in Leukerbad. Tobogganing enthusiasts can enjoy two toboggan runs down to Lake Daubensee on Gemmi each of which is about 1km long.
The Burgerbad public thermal baths in the centre of Leukerbad is one ofthe biggest thermal spas in the Alps with 10 pools and two water slides. The Burgerbad attracts lots of families and there are over 1,000 lockers for changing so it's a very public place indeed and extremely noisy rather than relaxing at peak times. But it's worth visiting, if only once during your stay, and especially at quieter times during the day when most people are skiing. If you're an adrenaline, junky be sure to try the 120m water slide which is fast and enjoyably scary when ridden in total darkness at night! There's also a more family friendly 100m water slide. For more information and prices go to www.burgerbad.ch
For an altogether more relaxing spa experience try Lindner Alpentherme. A self-described wellness temple with 2 thermal pools (indoor and outdoor), a sauna village and over 200 health and beauty treatments, Leukerbad's Lindner Alpentherme is the biggest and highest spa and wellness centre in Europe and is open daily from 8am until 8pm. Facilities include the impressive Roman-Irish Bath and the sauna village which is open until 10pm and highly recommended. For more information and prices go to www.lindner.de/en/LHAT
Leukerbad's Rehabilitation Centre specialises in the treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders and is home to the Swiss Olympic Medical Centre which offers training and treatment advice to the country's elite athletes. The Rehabilitation Centre has two thermal pools (indoor and outdoor). Treatments are available on a residential (90 beds) or outpatient basis.
Leukerbad's impressive Sportarena is situated next to the Park Erli nursery slopes and about 400m from the centre of Leukerbad. Facilities include an indoor ice rink for skating, curling and ice hockey, a climbing wall, 3 indoor tennis courts, 2 squash courts, badminton, a gymnasium and fitness equipment. For more information go to http://www.sportarenaleukerbad.ch/de/welcome.cfm
Summer actitivies include over 200km hiking trails, sport climbing, mountain biking, Helsana Swiss running and walking trails, paragliding, tennis and golf. There's also sailing at Europe's highest catamaran sailing school on Lake Daubensee and sport climbing on Switzerland's longest via ferrata on Daubenhorn which features 216 metres of fixed ladders and over 2,000 metres of steel cable.
For more information contact the Tourist Office in Leukerbad: