This is the second post about this gem in the Alps, Leukerbad and here I’d like to talk about the Torrent area, an ideal place for both winter sports and relaxation, as well as the Walliser Alpentherme & Spa, a resort featuring two thermal pools, a Valaisian Sauna Village and the Roman-Irish Bath. At the end of this post, I’ll also recommend you some viewpoints from which you can not only see the lovely village but also the Gemmi and the Torrent both in the day and at night.
If you have read my previous post, please click here to jump directly to the main content of this post. Otherwise, please keep reading the following chapters in which I’ll give you a general introduction to Leukerbad including some background information of its thermal springs, its yearly festivals and events and its nearby towns.
Since I came to Switzerland two and half years ago, I have visited the Canton of Valais a few times. However, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered a gem in the Alps, Leukerbad. If you can understand a bit of German, you probably know that “Bad” in German means “bath”. Thanks to its rich natural thermal water, Leukerbad is the largest thermal spa and wellness resort in the Alps and has some of the most beautiful spas in the whole of Switzerland.
Last weekend, after I had spotted two consecutive sunny days, I drew up the plan and visited the village. Thanks to Leukerbad Tourism Office, I learnt and experienced a lot about the village itself, its surrounding mountains and most importantly, the thermal baths. I have to say this is really a wonderful place for all kinds of people because whether you are interested in sports, wellness, some quiet time by yourself or some quality time with your family, Leukerbad provides various activities and facilities that will meet your personal needs and expectations. For example, do you wanna go winter hiking, snowshoeing or sleighing on the Gemmi Pass? Do you wanna go skiing in the Torrent area? Do you wanna lie down on a chair on the sun deck surrounded by numerous snowy peaks? Do you wanna indulge yourself in the thermal baths and enjoy various kinds of water massages? Do you wanna take some water slides with your family? Do you wanna experience the ritual Roman-Irish bath or visit the Valaisian Sauna Village? Leukerbad can give you all of them and even more.
If you plan to visit this beautiful village, I strongly recommend you checking the official website of Leukerbad in advance because it includes basically everything that you need for a smooth and meaningful trip. For example, you can read about live weather condition, weather forecast, the operational status of the facilities, news, upcoming events and so on on the front page. (When I talk about the mountains or spas that I visited during my stay I’ll also give you the links to the pages containing information such as the opening hours, ticket prices and etc.) Now, before embarking on my own journey, I’d like to give you a brief introduction to the village, in particular the thermal springs, and its yearly festivals, events and surroundings.
1. The thermal water
As you can see in the four pictures above, they are the pools that I went to belonging to two public baths, namely Leukerbad Therme and Walliser Alpentherme. Let me start introducing to you this “flowing gold” by quoting an interview with Dr. Louis Largo, bath doctor from 1992 to 2011, co-founder of the thermal springs guild and co-author of the book “Spas in Valais”. (Please note this interview was not conducted by me. I read it from a brochure provided by the tourism office.)
Basically, the two questions are: 1) How the thermal springs in Leukerbad are formed? and 2) What kind of health benefits can one expect from Leukerbad’s thermal springs? Dr. Largo’s response is as follows:
1). East of Leukerbad between Majing and Torrenthorn, rainwater seeps into the mountain ground and penetrates down to 500 meters below sea level. There it is saturated with minerals for over 40 years before it reaches the light of day as natural hot spring thermal water. Leukerbad has around 65 sources that are registered into 8 different spring groups. With a daily flow of 3.9 million liters of up to 51°C (123.8 F) water, Leukerbad is the largest natural thermal spring region in Europe.
2). Most notably, the chemical effect of Leukerbad’s thermal water is of balneological interest as that’s what separates it from other thermal springs. The springs in Leukerbad predominantly contain calcium sulfate minerals – like in plaster. Warm plaster baths alleviate rheumatological and neurological afflictions and help heal from the effects of accidents. When the plaster water is consumed, it acts as a diuretic and helps relieve constipation.
Wow, amazing isn’t it? Around 2.7 thousand litres of up to 51°C pure thermal water are estimated to flow out of Leukerbad’s springs every MINUTE to fill the town’s 31 pools! That’s the biggest volume of thermal water per minute per region in the whole of Europe! In fact, as early as during the Roman times, people already knew about the local springs and there’s evidence showing that the thermal water has been used without interruption since then. I guess this is the reason why the Roman-Irish bath in Walliser Alpentherme is the most popular and possibly the most authentic in all Switzerland. Leukerbad currently has eight groups of springs that are used for balneotherapy and for generating electricity. If you take a walk in the city, you can see fountains with thermal water flowing out constantly. Isn’t this the gift of nature and how can you say that this marvelous town is not blessed? Some of the thermal springs emerge directly from the fissures in limestone or in shale while some of them, such as the St. Lorenz Spring, make their way to the surface through a thick layer of unconsolidated rock from the rocky thermal aquifer.
In Leukerbad, all the thermal spring water comes from one single thermal aquifer. Nevertheless, when the water reaches the surface, the springs that it forms range from slightly warm ones to the St. Lorenz Spring, the warmest one in Leukerbad, which is 51°C and has a constant flow of about 900 litres per minute. The water is rich in calcium sulphate and fluoride and has slightly elevated levels of sodium, strontium and iron. It also has high concentrations of dissolved solids and sometimes carries black-brown suspended sediment from the Aalenian shale it passes through. The bright rusty color typical of the mud at many of the springs is caused by the high-level iron content in the water.
At 3:00 on the third day of the third month of the third year of the third millennium (3rd March 2003), the Thermalquellen Zunft (Thermal Springs Guild) was founded (one of the co-founders is Dr. Lago, whose comments I quoted above) aiming at protecting the thermal springs as well as giving the public an insight into the medical, scientific, economic, cultural, ecological and historical significance of them. Because of its advocation for preservation and sustainable use of the springs in Leukerbad, the water has maintained its high quality and we, together with our future generations can have the opportunity to enjoy this luxurious gift given by the earth.
Having learnt about some background information about the thermal springs in Leukerbad and the Thermal Springs Guild, now let’s take a look at some of the festivals and events happening here all the year round.
2. Festivals and events in Leukerbad
Unfortunately, I only stayed in Leukerbad for one weekend and during that time, no event was happening. Actually, I knew that “Aqua Mystica” was gonna happen the next weekend (20th January 2018) after my visit but when I saw the weekend (of my visit) with such beautiful weather, I couldn’t wait anymore and booked the hotel and train tickets. I strongly recommend you checking the front page of the official website of Leukerbad because all the upcoming event are listed there. For example, “Magical Winter – culinaric walk” on 20th January 2018, “8th Nightrace 777 Leukerbad” on 20th January 2018, “Aqua Mystica” on 20th January 2018, 10th February 2018, 24th February 2018 and so on, “Badner Fasnacht” from 8th February 2018 to 13th February 2018 and etc. If you are interested in certain events and want to participate, you can click on them to check some more detailed information such as the time, location, contact, and most importantly, how they are gonna proceed. Now let me briefly introduce to you some events that I find interesting.
Considering Leukerbad is famous for its thermal water, I guess the highlights of its events are the three happening in Leukerbad Therme (AM and CB) and Walliser Alpentherme & Spa (RIN), that is to say, “Aqua Mystica“, “Champagne Breakfast” and “Roman-Irish Night“. “Aqua Mystica” was the one that I wanted to participate in the most and though I wasn’t there at the right time, I experienced the light show, which is held everyday in Leukerbad Therme at 17:30, 18:10, 18:45 and 19:30. At those specific times, the whole pool (with a fountain) is lit up and with the rhythm of the music, the colors of the lights change. Please note that the pictures I show above in this chapter are from the light show instead of from “Aqua Mystica” but I guess the two of them do share some similarities. When the “Champagne Breakfast” takes place in Leukerbad Therme, the food and drinks are served on floating wooden plates while the guests are sitting in the thermal water and at the “Roman-Irish Night” in Walliser Alpentherme & Spa, one can discover the art of ritual bathing and experience Roman bathing culture and Irish bathing tradition. Are you looking forward to trying them out?
Throughout the entire year, there’s also the renowned “International Literature Festival” in which you can read not only classical but also contemporary literature in a thermal pool or at night on the Gemmi Pass; the “Valais Cow Fights in Snow” in March; the “Shepherd’s Festival on the Gemmi” in which Valais and Bernese people are competing in rope pulling; the “Culinary Thermal Spring Walking” featuring not only hiking but also tasting local special food; the “Swiss National Day” with unique lighting of the Gemmi wall and spectacular fireworks; the “Gemmi Sheep Procession” and “Swiss Country Music Weekend” in September; the “Varner Wine Weeks” and “Pfyfoltru Wine Festival”; the “Gemmi Triathlon” in which participants must swim across Lake Gerundensee in Sierre, cycle to Leukerbad and run up the historical Gemmi hiking trail; the “Night-Race 777” in which winter sportsmen have to overcome 777 meters of altitude in the darkness of the night… It seems people living in Lerkerbad never get bored.
3. Around Leukerbad
If you are staying in Leukerbad for a week or even more, why not taking this opportunities to explore some other towns close by? For example, Varen, the wine village that produces premium Pfyfoltru wines. After hiking through its vineyards, you can also visit one of the wine cellars; Albinen, located at the eastern slopes of the Dala Valley, its sun-darkened wooden houses will surely catch your attention; Inden, a small village with around 120 inhabitants which was mentioned in 1779 in Goethe’s travel report; Leuk-town, last witness to the Medieval Valais with its mansions, bishop’s castle and town hall; and the Regional Nature Park Pfyn-Finges, one of the largest pine forests in the Alps and home to the unique and varied fauna and flora. If you are interested in one or more particular towns based on my brief introduction, please click here to read more about them. In one word, you will never feel bored no matter how long you choose to stay in Leukerbad. Now, please follow me closely and feel the village that I experienced and loved.
4. Torrent – “Rigi” of the Valais
Mount Rigi is called the queen of the mountains in Switzerland and the Torrent area is called the “Rigi” of the Valais. Why? Because of its wonderful views of course. However, after my visit, I found many more reasons. On Sunday morning, after one night’s good sleep, I continued my exploration of Leukerbad starting from the Torrent area. Considering I stayed in a hotel close to the bus stop, I took the Ring-Jet (bus on Leukerbad) and got off at “Leukerbad, Torrent-Bahnen”. After a few minutes’ walking, I arrived at the lower station of the Torrent cableway. In fact, if you don’t stay close to a bus stop or you need to wait for a long time for the bus, I suggest you walk to the cable car station directly because the village is not huge and you can have a nice walk in it. I remember that there is a street called “Promenade“, which not only provides a fantastic view over Leukerbad but also connects the cable car station with the Walliser Alpentherme, two main destinations of this post.
In general, compared with Gemmi, I feel that the Torrent area attracts more people who love skiing and snowboarding. I can say when I was there, 90% of the people that I saw were with either skis or snowboards. What about the other 10% of people? Well, I guess 6% of them were hikers or snowshoers and the rest 4% were simply life-lovers who just sat on the deck chairs enjoying what’s given to them, the fresh air, the breeze, the sunshine, the wonderful view and the harmony. Please note that even though this area is very popular among skiers and snowboarding lovers, it doesn’t mean other people can’t have fun here. For example, the panoramic winter hiking trail is absolutely fabulous and it is among the most beautiful hiking trails that I’ve ever taken (I’ll talk more about this trail later). Though I didn’t go there, I read from the official website that since the winter season 2013/14, the official school of Swiss winter sports Leukerbad on Torrent has been offering a clean space for children. There is a small ski arena at the Rinderhütte where children are introduced to skiing in a funny way.
If you wanna know more about the winter activities on Torrent such as skiing, snowboarding, winter hiking, skiing tours, paragliding and so on, please click here.
If you wanna know more about the summer activities on Torrent such as hiking on various themed trials, monster scooting, mountain biking, disc golfing, paragliding and so on, please click here.
By the way, when I was checking the winter activities on the Torrent-Bahnen website, I came across a very special one that I had never seen anywhere else before. Do you know what a snowcat is? Do you know how the ski slopes groomed are? Here in Torrent, you can have the opportunity to spend one evening as a snowcat co-pilot! When it comes to snow grooming, a snowcat is also called a “piste machine”, a “trail groomer” or a “piste bashers”. After the last skier leaves the Torrent ski resort at 17:00, the work of the snowcat drivers begins. They have a challenging, lonely yet fascinating job. Do you want to join them shoveling, shaping, smoothing, pushing the snow to wherever it is needed and transforming the slopes into a smooth carpet? There are 55 kilometers of slopes here which vary around 1200 meters in altitude. They are actually groomed every evening. What an experience it would be to prepare the ski trails for tomorrow while enjoying the Alps as well as the stars at night. I’ve already added this activity to my must-do list and hopefully during my next visit to Leukerbad I can realize this little dream.
For me, cable car is not just a means of transportation which brings people up and down the mountains. It is also a moving viewing platform and an amusement ride. Sometimes, neither on the ground nor on the mountain can you see something that can be seen in a cable car cabin. For example, (as you can see from the fifth picture in the gallery) as your cabin goes higher and higher, Leukerbad appears gradually on your left-hand side (when you are facing the Torrent). You can even see the outdoor thermal pool of Walliser Alpentherme & Spa.
In general, there are three main cableways belonging to the Torrent-Bahnen, namely, the aerial passenger line Leukerbad – Rinderhütte, the cable car Flaschen-Torrentalp-Rinderhütte and the ski lift/chairlift Rinderhütte-Schwalbennest. The first cableway has the biggest cabins and is accessible to all the people who want to go to Rinderhütte, heart of the ski resort and the starting point of many hiking and snowshoeing trails. What’s also worth noting is that the Rinderhütte panoramic restaurant (2350m) is located at the mountain station and in its large winter garden or on the sun terrace, you can enjoy a wide variety of dishes and Valaisian wines. For skiers, you could either ski down from here to Torrentalp and to Flaschen and then take the second cable way back or take the chairlift to Schwalbennest (highest ski point of this resort) and then ski back and further down to Torrentalp and Flaschen. As for pedestrians, I’m not 100% sure whether your return ticket is valid for the second cable way or not because it is not clearly stated either on the official website or on the brochure I got from the tourism office (but I believe it should be). When you buy your ticket, please ask the staff whether your return ticket is valid for the Flaschen-Torrentalp-Rinderhütte cableway or not. As for the chairlift, it’s only for pedestrians who have bought the “Winter-Walker-Ticket Schwalbennest“. You can take the it to go up from Rinderhütte to Schwalbennest and then take hiking trail No. 32 to go back. Please note that, as told by the staff on site, it is not allowed to take the chairlift down from Schwalbennest to Rinderhütte.
If possible, I recommend you taking the Flaschen-Torrentalp-Rinderhütte gondola lift because the cabins basically move above the snow slopes and if you are not a skier, you can at least see and feel how other people have fun below or beside you. The windows on one side of the gondolas can be pulled down and you can enjoy, without any obstacles, a fantastic view of the surroundings including the forest, Gemmi, Flaschen and of course numerous snowy peaks of the Alps. I remember when I was there, basically all the gondola going down were empty and all the ones going up were packed because of the skiers. As for the chairlift, if you get the chance to take it (which means you have to hike down from Schwalbennest to Rinderhütte), it’s quite thrilling. Compared with the other cableways where actual enclosed cabins are used, the chairlift literally lifts you up just with a 6-seat chair (as you can see in the fourth picture in this chapter). I felt much closer to nature and on my way to the highest point of the ski area at 2610 meters above sea level, 20 Valais above-four-thousand-meter mountains as well as the Rhone Valley gradually showed themselves.
4.2 Ski resort
Having attracted so many skiers, Torrent ski resort must have its advantages. Featuring 55km of perfectly groomed slopes from 1411 meters to 2610 meters above sea level, it’s suitable for beginners, professionals as well as children. Among all the slopes, 3.5km are blue, 27km are red and for more ambitious guests, 17km are black. There are also 6km yellow slopes for freeriding. For the younger generation there’s a fun park with obstacles adapted to the natural terrain and for children, the Snowliland will surely keep them safe and entertained.
What I’d like to mentioned here to the skillful skiers is a slope called the “Dream Slope at Torrent” which is 9.7 km long and has an altitude difference of 1.07 km. After arriving at Rinderhütte and continuing with the chairlift Rinderhütte-Schwalbennest, you will arrive at the highest point of the ski area 2610 meters above sea level. First, enjoy the panoramic view of 20 Valais above-four-thousand-meter mountains as well as the Rhone Valley and then your adventure starts.
The long dream slope begins with the wide slope Lingelen, which leads to the relaxing Carven. Then you reach the Torrentstaffel, the most challenging part of the descent. On this steep slope short turns are announced. On the technically demanding downhill you can let things take their course, so that you arrive at the middle station Torrentalp at proper speed. Before finishing, there’s still more than 3.1km of slope over the hills of Planedri leading to the valley cable car station at Flaschen.
If you are interested in this slope and want to challenge it, please click here for more information and to watch a video about it.
After seeing so many skiers having fun I decided to enroll in a ski school next weekend. For a person who thinks sledding is too exciting, this was not an easy decision to make. However, first of all, I’m living in Switzerland and where else in the world could be a better place to learn it? Secondly, I saw so many little kids who were about 10 or even 8 years old skiing and had the “entire mountain in their hands”, so how difficult would it be for me to learn it? Well, in fact, I somehow believe that Swiss people have some kind of “ski genes” in them when they are born. For example, as shown in the picture above, the slope seemed really steep for me (in the picture it doesn’t seem so but in reality it really was) and yet the dad just tied a rope to his daughter and went down… I was sweating while watching them… How can you teach or train a kid like that… Maybe the little girl got bored skiing on easy and moderate slopes and decided to learn some more advanced skills? How I wish I were born in the mountains and had learnt the basic skills already! Anyway, I guess it’s never too late to learn.
4.3 Panoramic winter hiking trail
Same to me that you can neither ski nor snowboard? Don’t worry because there are wonderful winter hiking and snowshoeing trails on the Torrent. In general there are three for hiking and one for snowshoeing. What I’d like to recommend you is the “Panoramic winter hiking trail Rinderhütte – Torrentalp“, which is 5km in length, 430m in altitude difference and takes 1 – 1.5 hours to finish. As you can see from the first three pictures above, the wonderful views along the way towards the mountain peaks and the Rhone Valley will keep catching your breath. The trail was wide, sunny and very well groomed and it wasn’t difficult at all to walk on it. With a little bit of luck you might even see chamois or snow grouses. I actually got a bit worried while walking on some sections because as you can see from the third picture above, they were right under some steep and untouched slopes and it seemed that the snow could fall at any moment. Nevertheless, I took it because I checked the avalanche danger level at the cable car station and it was safe. I believe if there is any risk, the authorities will close the relevant trails in advance. All in all, safety is the premise of any kind of fun and is for sure the top priority of local administrations.
Feeling that 1.5 hours’ hiking can’t meet your expectations? You can take a detour when you finish around half of the panoramic trail. This round-way sideline goes from Praaberggaa to the old Sennhütte at 2210 meters above sea level and continues up to the Schnydi. It is 6 km in length, 615 meters in altitude difference and takes around 2 hours to finish.
As I mentioned above, at Rinderhütte, you can take the chairlift to go up to Schwalbennest and after enjoying a unique view of the Valais Alps, get ready to hike down. Please note your pedestrian return ticket is not valid here and you need to buy the “Winter-Walker-Ticket Schwalbennest” to use the lift. This trail is 1.6 km in length, 315 meters in altitude difference and takes 1-1.5 hours to finish. Please remember to follow the marked path because if you get on the ski slope by accident, it could be dangerous. By the way, the marked path also leads through Hotel Torrenthorn with its “Eselbar”, where you can relax a little bit and enjoy the sun. Compared with the panoramic trail, though a bit more steep, this path is not exposed to avalanches and is very sunny.
If you wanna know more about the winter hiking trails or the snowshoeing trail which goes through the snowy forest from Torrentalp to Flaschen, please click here.
4.4 Relaxation is a lifestyle
Just feeling lazy and don’t want to do anything? Why not? For me personally, I always want to do at least some hiking when I go to a mountain but who says you can’t just take a cable car to go up and lie down on one of the deckchairs just to relax? Resting doesn’t mean doing nothing and is absolutely not wasting time. It’s a process for both the body and soul to recover from daily stress and where else could be a better place for this process than the top of a mountain covered by snow, embraced by the Alps and blessed by the bright sunshine and fresh air? I understand you probably don’t wanna move but I can’t help recommending you a viewing point (as shown in the second picture above) which is around 3-5 mins away by foot from the Rinderhütte cable car station. Trust me, after a smooth walk down and up, you will feel you’re the king or queen of the Alps.
All in all, if you are a skier, Torrent is paradise for you. If you are a hiker, snowshoer or simply a “lazy” wanderer, with its marvelous views, you will appreciate this area and enjoy yourself no less. Now let’s take the cable car down to Leukerbad and walk on the “Promenade” to Walliser Alpentherme & Spa, which is only 7 mins away.
5. Walliser Alpentherme & Spa
Walliser Alpentherme & Spa was the second public bath that I went to and personally I feel it’s more serious than Leukerbad Therme, which means I feel it’s more for adults and people who want an absolutely relaxing day by themselves. This feature is particularly obvious in the Roman-Irish bath. In general, there are three floors in this resort. If I name the floor where the thermal pools are the first floor, then the ground floor is for the cash and info desk, the changing rooms, the shower rooms and the Valaisian Sauna Village, and the second floor is for the Roman-Irish bath. Before exploring the three main parts, let’s take a look at the opening hours and entrance ticket prices.
Please note that though the three main sites I mentioned above are in the same building, you need separate tickets to enter them. You will get a wristband from the cash desk when you buy tickets and before entering each site you need to scan it to gain access. It’s possible to buy tickets only for entering the thermal pools on the first floor but if you wanna go to the sauna village or to the Roman-Irish bath, it seems you can only buy combined tickets which include the entry to the thermal pools. (This is what I learnt from the brochure obtained on site but you can ask whether it’s possible or not to buy tickets only for the sauna village or the Roman-Irish bath at the info desk.)
- If you wanna know about the opening hours of the thermal pools and of the Valaisian Sauna Village and the prices to enter the pools alone, please click here.
- If you wanna know about the opening hours of the Roman-Irish bath and combined ticket prices for both this bath and the thermal pools please click here.
- Though not shown on the official website, a 5 hour ticket for both the sauna village and the thermal pools costs 40 CHF and a whole day one costs 55 CHF. Subscriptions for 3 or 6 days are also possible and you can consult the prices at the cash desk.
Now here are some tips I want to share with you based on my own experience.
- If possible, I suggest you take your own towel so you don’t need to rent it.
- You can either wear water-proof slippers to the resort or just go barefoot.
- Men and women here go to the same changing rooms but each person can use a private changing booth while getting undressed and dressed.
- Please note the sauna village and the Roman-Irish bath are NUDE AREAS and have limited access to children.
- It’s ok to take your phone to the thermal pools but it’s strictly forbidden to take it to the sauna village and the Roman-Irish bath.
- If you want to go to the Roman-Irish bath, a reservation is compulsory.
- In certain saunas, if you see taps with tubes, don’t forget to flush the place you have sat on for the convenience and hygiene of the next visitor.
- In certain saunas, remember to cover with your towel all the places that your body is touching.
Just in case you will be as shocked as I was, I’d like to emphasize again that the sauna village and the Roman-Irish bath are NUDE AREAS and it is not allowed to wear swimming or bathing suit in them. To be honest, this was my first time entering a place with both naked men and women and probably because of culture difference, I felt rather awkward. Nevertheless, after I came back and told my friend about this experience, she began laughing out loudly and then told me this is actually rather common in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Now when I think back about it, what was to be embarrassed of in front of a group of strangers? You don’t know me and I don’t know you. What’s the big deal about that? Just a reminder, if you are going with friends, you’d better know this rule in advance and consider whether everyone of your group would be agreeable with it or not. All in all, it’s all about relaxation coming here right? Just make sure you will make yourself feel comfortable. 🙂
5.1 Thermal pools on the first floor
By either taking the lift or the stairs, after changing clothes and taking a quick shower, you will arrive at the first floor in a few seconds. This floor has two big pools, one indoor and one outdoor. The indoor pool features several cascade showers to massage and strengthen the muscles of the neck and back, as well as another round pool (a pool within a pool) where the water is a bit warmer and you can sit in and enjoy a underwater massage. The outdoor pool is accessible from the inside so your body doesn’t have to suffer from the cold air. It is also huge and features a lot of massage facilities. For example, while surrounded by the Gemmi and the Torrent, you can either lie down on one of the many backrests, swim to the middle circle or even occupy one of the booths close to the backrests to have an air bath. This pool is so big and the water is so blue that I even saw it not only from the Torrent cable car but also from the Gemmi observation deck. Don’t stay in the water for too long because you might get dehydrated, but in case you do, there’s a tap with drinkable water close to the entrance to the outdoor pool.
5.2 Wallaisian Sauna Village
Unfortunately, because this is a nude area, I didn’t take any pictures to show you what it looks like. Nevertheless, I can tell you that this 300 m² “village” is designed with great attention to details and incorporates a wide variety of local building materials such as slate and weathered timber. I had been to some sauna centers before but it was rather interesting for me that here the sauna rooms are designed and arranged like in a Swiss village. It features a traditional spycher (herbal sanarium 70°C), a Swiss chalet (Finnish sauna 90°C), a rustic Valaisian farmhouse (steam bath 48°C), a stone mill (stone sauna 40°C) with a mill wheel and a glacial pond and a village well with thermal water. Isn’t it a great place to not only relax but also learn about the Alpine traditions?
Once you scan your wristband and enter, you will see on one side the plan of the village and on the other side a board instructing you how to make the most of your time here (step by step instruction telling you how to achieve ultimate relaxation with the facilities here). Close to the showers you can find small boxes where you can temporarily store your bathing suit and glasses. As I mentioned before, in some saunas, do remember to flush the place you have just sat on for the convenience and hygiene of the next visitor and in some other ones, remember to cover with your towel all the places that your body is touching. If you feel dehydrated, water is provided here or alternatively, there’s also a cafe offering refreshing drinks.
For more information about the sauna village such as the plan or the infusion and peeling schedule, please click here.
5.3 Roman-Irish bath
Thanks to the staff on site who gave me the permission to take a picture of the bath when there were no visitors. Nevertheless, I still decide not to publish it because this is more of a ritual place and after all, I didn’t experience it. Though the tourism office granted me access to all the three sites here, I didn’t take the Roman-Irish bath because first of all, after the thermal pools and the sauna village, I felt it would be too much to go through one more entire procedure of ritual bathing. Secondly, I didn’t really know much about the ritual or what to do here so in order to avoid embarrassment, I decided to try it out another time. A few days after I came back to Zurich and when I was collecting information for this post, I learnt from the official website of Walliser Alpentherme & Spa that:
The Roman-Irish bath offers one of antiquity’s most pleasurable and deeply relaxing nude bathing rituals and the order is:
- Cleansing shower (5 min.)
- Tepidarium warm-air bath, approx. 54 °C (15 min.)
- Laconium hot-air bath, approx. 68 °C (5 min.)
- Self-exfoliation (10 min.)
- Aromaticum soap-brush massage (10 min.)
- Caldarium steam bath, approx. 48 °C (5 Min.)
- Ying thermal bath, approx. 36 °C (10 min.)
- Aqualbad jacuzzi, approx. 34°C (15 min.)
- Yang thermal bath, approx. 28°C (5 min.)
- Frigidarium cold-water bath, approx. 12 °C (1 min.)
- Silencium-relaxation room (30 min.)
How I wish I had read about this order before I went there. In that case, I probably would have chosen this bath over the sauna village. Nevertheless, as I said to the staff there, I will leave this ritual bath to my next visit to Leukerbad.
Though I didn’t try this bath, I did have an interesting conversation with the staff on this floor. She was a friendly lady and she asked me: “Do you like traveling? If so, why don’t you have time to enjoy and to experience?” She somewhat implied that some travel bloggers rush here and there to some destinations and write about them but don’t have time to actually slow down and feel the soul of those places. Her words indeed touched me and those questions had been lingering in my mind for a long time. Actually, I found the answer to her questions a few days after I came back to Zurich. The dilemma or “awkward situation” that she mentioned was caused by a desire to hit two birds with one stone and the two birds are having a great time traveling and writing a great (interesting and informative) article. I’m not saying this is impossible but according to my experience, it is very difficult. I always thought that since I started writing my blog, traveling was still the same and the only difference was that I needed to write an article about my experience later. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It was after a deeply consideration that I came to the conclusion: a media trip more or less alters the nature of a personal trip. Though I learn more than before, I have more pressure. For example, in the past, when I visited a museum, I picked up the floors or rooms that I was interested in regardless of how interesting the other parts could be. Nowadays, when I’m on a media trip, I always try to figure out the general structure of a museum first and then I will try to know about every part of it because I don’t want to present a museum to my readers which misses some parts that I don’t care but my readers might be interested in. I understand there are different kinds of blogs, some of which focus on the information while the others focus on the authors’ own feelings. For me, I try my best to combine both because individuals are different and I don’t want you to be predominated by my impressions. Sometimes facts are more objective. My trip to Leukerbad this time is similar. Did I really like the village? Honestly, I loved it and the mountains and thermal baths were really amazing. Nevertheless, carrying a camera, going around the pools and taking photos did make my photographer and me feel embarrassed, but what’s a better way to show you, my readers, what the spa resorts here are like? Isn’t a picture better than a one-hundred-word description? Sorry for being off-topic but I thank Leukerbad and Walliser Alpentherme & Spa for inspiring this realization in me. Maybe the thermal water here does have magical power.
6. Viewpoints in Leukerbad
Having been to the Gemmi, Torrent and two public baths in Leukerbad, how can we forget about the village itself? The story of Leukerbad dates back to the 4th century BC and graves and ceramics attest the presence of habitation. Besides the hiking trails on Gemmi and Torrent, many others are located in or around the village to help you gain a better understanding of it. For example, on the thermal spring trek, nine illustrated panels (I heard that they are only in German and French) will broaden your knowledge about geology, history and the medical and economic aspects of the thermal water. Led by this trek, you will come close to the Dala gorge, where the thermal canyon walk will lead you through the creek bed and on the left bank you will find the thermal springs. If you are interested in the hiking trails in or around the village either in the summer or in the winter please click here.
As for the viewpoints, besides the Gemmi observation deck which I emphasized in my previous post, I recommend:
- Römerweg – hiking trail around 25 minutes away by foot from the Rathaus. Nice view over the whole village and Torrent.
- Lomparaweg – hiking trail 13 minutes away by foot from the Rathaus. Nice view over Gemmi.
- Promenade – a path connecting Walliser Alpentherme & Spa with the Torrent cable car valley station. Nice view over Leukerbad and the Gemmi.
- viewpoint in front of Les Sources des Alpes Hotel. Great view over the village.
Instead of describing to you what you can see, I will show you the pictures directly so you can decide by yourself which viewpoint(s) you prefer.
6.3 Viewpoint in front of Les Sources des Alpes Hotel
6.4 In front of my hotel window
I guess as long as you have a curious heart and desire to explore Leukerbad, you will find its beauty everywhere. The Romans had already appreciated the thermal water here and then a lot of famous people such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mark Twin, Lein, James Baldwin, Herbert von Karajan, Leo Tolstoy and many many more all came to see the lovely village and experience its “flowing gold“. Don’t you wanna follow their steps and feel the magic of the thermal water as well? As I said at the very beginning of this post, Leukerbad is really a petite yet wonderful place for all kinds of people no matter whether you are interested in sports, wellness, some quiet time by yourself or some quality time with your family. Hiking? Snowshoeing? Sleighing? skiing? Snowboarding? Spa? Water massages? Air massage? Water fun? Sauna? You can have all of them and even more here in Leukerbad.