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23 Aug 2021

The canton of Valais is a region in southwestern Switzerland, bordering France and Italy and home of the legendary Matterhorn. This two-stage cycle route passes through the towns of Martigny and Sion, winding through beautiful vineyards before concluding in historic Leuk.

The 39.7km first leg of the Vineyard Trail begins in Martigny, and winds gently through beautiful countryside and past numerous wine-producing villages, affording you plenty of opportunity to stop and explore many sites of historical interest and natural beauty.

Valais is the largest wine-making region in Switzerland, and grows 55 varieties of grape, including several unique to the region. It is a wine-lover's paradise – many wineries offer tastings without appointment, and make for the perfect stopping off points on your journey.

This video portrays an alternative route for those who would like to challenge themselves on a massive ascent. Learn more about the route to the Grande Dixence dam here.

Other points of interest on the route include the ancient town of Saillon, where the smuggler Joseph-Samuel Farinet – the man known as the 'Swiss Robin Hood' – lived and was buried. It is also the home of the world's smallest vineyard. You will pass Chamoson, whose Church of St-Pierre, with its octagonal tower, is a Swiss Heritage site.

The first leg of the route ends in Sion, the capital of Valais and one of Switzerland's oldest cities. It is dominated by the magnificent Valère Basilica and Tourbillon Castle, which face each other from opposing hills, and is a perfect stopping-off point because commencing the second stage of the route.

From Sion, the 55.3km second stage of the Vineyard Trail climbs up through the Rhône Valley. Bordered by picturesque dry stone walls along the riverbank, the route twists through the mountains, reaching the highest point of the stage at 889m above sea level as you pass the diverse vineyards of the region.

At Saint-Léonard you can take a break to explore Europe’s largest underground lake. Guided boat trips are available to take in this pristine and serene marvel of nature, so different from the wide open spaces of the Swiss countryside.

The route continues up into Sierre, known as the City of the Sun for its average of 300 days of sunshine a year, before a final descent to Leuk. Dating back to the Roman Empire and beyond, this historic spot marks the end of the route. Consider sampling Vitis Antiqua 1798, wine made from Switzerland’s oldest vine – a Cornalin planted in 1798 – or winding down in Leukerbad’s thermal baths after your exhilarating and challenging journey.

Book your Valais trip now