Zinal is one of our favorite mountain villages in Valais along the Haute Route. Situated at 1670 m above sea level, Zinal is tucked at the very end of the Anniviers Valley and is surrounded by a stunning array of huge mountains. Despite the Germanic name, this is a primarily French-speaking valley (the linguistic divide comes one valley to the east, in the Turtmanntal). There’s not much to do in the town itself, with just a few shops and about half a dozen small hotels, but the beautiful village core features many examples of traditional sun-blackened huts and houses.
You come to Zinal to hike. The trails around Zinal are steep, but they are also quite beautiful, with a number of alpine club huts that can be visited as dayhikes. The variety of dayhikes, and the fact that it’s one of the largest villages along the Haute Route (despite being really small), makes it a great choice for an extra night or two if you want to slow down and relax along the way. Zinal is also a great longer-term base for strong hikers or trail runners who would like a small, out-of-the-way base for hikes into the countryside. It would not be hard to spend an entire week in the Anniviers valley, visiting places such as the Grand Mountets hut, Moiry hut, Sorebois pass, Hotel Weisshorn, and more.
Besides hiking, trail running and mountain biking, there are a few other things to do in and around Zinal. There is an atmospheric, traditional cheese dairy just south of town that is worth a visit. The gorgeous geranium-filled village of Grimentz is a short bus ride away. And the the Sorebois cable car features not only a scenic restaurant at the top, but also trotti bike rentals (big bike scooters with brakes but no pedals) that you can rent for the thrilling descent to town.