When someone mentions the Alps one thinks of the mountains, the snow-covered peaks, perilous ascents. But for me the best bits of the Alps are the in-between bits; the valleys. There are so many beautiful valleys in the Alps and they can be seen in a variety of ways; driving through them, hiking on them, and even from a cable car or railway. I like the secluded and hidden nature of valleys with the mountains surrounding you and cutting you off from the rest of the world. Of course there are other mountain ranges that create valleys, but the Alps for me has a particular resonance and European beauty all of its own. Here are five of the best valleys in the Alps.
5. VILNOSS VALLEY – ITALY
One tends to forget that part of the Alps is in Italy and here is a superb valley for you to sip Chianti and eat Parma ham on ciabatta.
4. LAUTERBRUNNEN VALLEY – SWITZERLAND
Of course Switzerland is home to the largest ranges of the Alps and the Lauterbrunnen Valley has to be seen to be believed. You’ll never have seen such an azure sky against the distant snow-capped peaks.
3. STUBAITAL VALLEY – AUSTRIA
The Stubaital is an alpine valley in Tyrol, Austria. It is the central valley of the Stubai Alps. The Ruetz river flows through the valley. The valley is about 30 miles long and begins near Innsbruck. At Fulpmes terraces merge to form the valley floor and there is a 16 Megawatt hydroelectric plant producing renewable green energy. Fulpmes is also famous for having a cinema which contains (and still uses) the oldest film projector in Austria. At the end of the Stubaital valley the Stubai Glacier is well worth seeing, and there is a popular ski resort there.
2. CHAMONIX VALLEY – FRANCE
Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, is one of the best-known towns in the French Alps. It was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and it one of the oldest ski resorts in France. It has a population of just under 10, 000 and boasts the north side of the summit of Mont Blanc, and therefore the summit of the highest mountain in the Alps is part of the village of Chamonix. The Chamonix commune is well known and loved by skiers and mountain enthusiasts of all types, and of course has a one of the most beautiful valleys in the Alps.
1. LOGAR VALLEY – SLOVENIA
My best valley of the lot is an unusual one and a best-kept secret. It’s the Logar Valley within the Kamnik Alps, in the Municipality of Solčava, Slovenia. “Log” means ‘swampy meadow’. In 1987, the valley received protected status as a landscape park encompassing 25 square kilometres. And boy is it great! It’s a standard U-shaped glacial valley but has views and scenery that are breath-taking. It’s very sparsely populated with less than 50 people having homes/farms there.
A walking path through the valley leads past a number of points of interest: the source of Black Creek (Črna), wooden logging chutes, a burl-covered ash tree, a charcoal-maker’s hut, and other natural and rustic sights. The path should only take 2-3 hours to traverse, but I guarantee you it’s the best valley walk you will have ever been on. Do you want to add to this list? Do you have a favourite mountain valley