Visp is a German-speaking town in the Swiss canton of Valais. It is located in the Rhone valley and is a major industrial centre in the region. Its location at the intersection of three train lines and a big bus interchange make it a gateway to many of the towns and resorts in the upper part of the Valais.
Visp used to be quite a backwater town, its main focus being the LONZA chemical plant, one of the biggest employers in the region. However, since the opening of the new Lötschberg base tunnel, it has become a major rail interchange. The railway station has been upgraded from an old-fashioned province station to a big modern railway station. The area around the station has been heavily developed, now offering a lot more facilities and shops than even 10 years ago. Despite its rather low population of around 7,500 inhabitants, it is a major urban centre in the region. So if you are travelling to one of the smaller mountain resorts, this will be your last chance at shopping at a big supermarket.
Virtually everyone travelling to one of the destinations in the region (including Saas-Fee and Zermatt), as well as people coming from Berne and Zurich travelling on to the lower Valais has to transit in Visp now. Most of the sights can be visited in a few hours and it may be interesting for a short stop on to the way to your final destination.
- 1 Visp Tourismus, Balfrinstrasse 3 (Diagonally across from the station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Sep-May: M-F 09:00-12:00/13:30-17:00, Jun-Aug: M-F 08:30-12:00/13:30-18:00, Sa 09:00-12:00.
Visp is a stop on the major train lines from Geneva and Zurich. The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (platforms 1 - 3) also stops here with trains towards Zermatt and Andermatt. If you are coming from Domodossola, Milan or any other Italian destination, you probably have to change train in Brig.
- 1 Visp railway station. Station built in 2007, served by about 230 trains per day.
The bus terminal is directly in front of the railway station. Among others, buses connect to Saas-Fee.
If you are driving, you will most probably be coming in via the main road (N9) which leads through the town centre. Be sure you follow the main road and don't take the bypass (Umfahrung). There are several car parks (mostly underground) around the town centre, notably at the two supermarkets (Migros and Coop) and the railway station.
While Visp doesn't have a passenger airport, it's about equidistant (by train) from four airports with flights from all over Europe and beyond. From Geneva, Zurich and Basel, take a train towards Brig. Visp is just before Brig, and for each of these the trip will take about 2 h 30 min. From Milan Malpensa Airport, take a bus to Domodossola, and from there it's a short train hop across the border to Visp, it will take about 2 h 15 min.
Visp is small enough that all areas of interest can be reached by foot. The old town is 15 minutes' walk from the railway station.
There are buses running through town (on their way to somewhere else), but frequencies are at best half-hourly. The only bus which is potentially useful, is the one in direction of Visperterminen, which stops at the hospital (Visp, Spital). This stop is very close to the old town and saves you the walk uphill.
- 1 Burgerkirche Heilige Drei Könige, Kaplaneigasse. The tower of this Catholic church is from the 14th century, whereas the church was built from 1710-1730.
- 2 Schulhaus Sepp Blatter, Auf der Mauer. This school building named after the former FIFA president is nothing special. If you are a football fan, though, you might be interested to stop by and take a picture of the building with the name written on its facade.
- 3 St. Martinskirche, St. Martiniplatz. This is the more modern of the two churches. It was built in the 17th century, but then modified in 1953, giving it a rather modern look.
There are several cultural heritage-listed buildings in town listed by the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. Some include:
- 4 Altes Spittel, Spittelgasse 4. The three-floor "old almshouse" was built as a residential building in the 16th century, but from 1751 to 1965 it served as a guesthouse for poor travelers and pilgrims. As such, if the Internet and Wikivoyage would've been around in the 1960s, we might have listed it in Sleep#Budget. Today it hosts a youth cultural center, a club for the local handball team and the office for the refugee organization Forum Migration Wallis.
- 5 Haus In-Albon, Gräfibielgasse 6. An impressive Gothic castle complex, that the local governor Simon In-Albon had built in the 16th century. The In-Albon family owned it until 1855, and it remains a private residence but it can be admired from the outside.
- 6 Pflanzetta, St. Jodernstrasse 7. Visp was a crossroads long before the railway, and a trade route passed through town in the Middle Ages. The Pflanzetta building complex, named either after a family name or an old word for "field", was built as a entrepôt and guesthouse in 1351. Over the centuries the route through slowly declined in importance as other routes were built across the Alps. After a thorough renovation in the 1980s, the rooms have been turned into apartments.
- 7 Schützenlaube, Schulhausplatz. The building was established as part of a shooting range for the local militia in 1664, serving that purpose for about 200 years. The militiamen stood in the building and shot through openings at its western side at targets on a nearby slope. Today the Schützenlaube houses an art gallery.
Sports and outdoors
There are many hiking trails, easy and difficult, to choose from. These trails take you around Visp itself and to nearby villages. Some trails are open for winter hiking also, and for snowshoe walking.
- 1 Planetary trail. A marked out trail that leads to the town of Stalden. It is a scale model of the solar system on a 1:1 billion scale with models illustrating the size of the planets at intervals corresponding to the distance between them. The trail starts behind the cemetery and is marked. It leads through the Visp valley to the town of Stalden, which is located at a very exposed spot overlooking the valley. The trail is rather flat and does not require you to be in a very good shape.
- 2 Schwimmbad Mühleye, Mühleye 7. The Mühleye swimming area is a 15 minute-walk from the railway station, or you can go by local bus. The swimming area features a heated 50-meter pool, a 20-meter pool for non-swimmers, a children's pool with a slide, jumping levels from 1 and 3 meters, a 45 m slide and a grass area for playing and resting.
- 3 EHC Visp, Lonza Arena, Kantonstrasse (500 m eastwards from the railway station, near the tracks). Catch a match of the local ice hockey team EHC Visp at their home arena. They only play in the National League B, but are very popular among the locals.
- Skiing - nearby skiing areas include 4 Visperterminen, 5 Bürchen-Unterbäch, 6 Törbel, 7 Staldenried-Gspon, 8 Eischoll and 9 Turtmann.
- 10 Tennis- und Sportcenter Visp AG, Ennet der Vispe. Tennis center with four outdoor and three indoor tennis courts (the latter are open around the year).
- Biking - you can explore the Upper Valais by bike from Visp. The canton of Valais operates a bike rental system named Wallis rollt which has multiple stations in the canton.
- Fishing - the bodies of water in the region are good for fishing.
Food and drink
- Wine tasting - there are many vineyards in the region offering wine tasting.
- Learn cutting raclette, taught by a professional cutter. The local tourist office arranges these courses. Participants get a diploma and a glass of wine.
- 11 Jazz-Chälli, Fülagasse 5. Jazz and blues concert venue with pleasant ambience and room for an audience of about 100.
- 12 Kino Astoria, Napoleonstrasse 9a. The local movie theater showing the latest films, although dubbed in German.
- 13 Cultural center LaPoste, La Poste-Platz 4. A performance art venue with domestic and international shows including operas, concerts, theater and dance performances. Has a restaurant.
There are a couple of small shops in the railway station. A big Migros supermarket is right behind the bus interchange in front of the railway station, while a bigger Coop supermarket is located on the other side of the street, opposite Migros. Most of the other stores line the Bahnhofstrasse which runs from the railway station, crossing the main road all the way to the core of the old town.
- 1 Brockenstube Visp, Bahnhofstrasse 22. Tu-F 9:30-12:00, 13:30-18:30, Sa 9:30-12:00, 13:30-16:00. This is a second-hand shop run by a social enterprise. However more interesting are the wooden souvenirs they sell, mostly household items such as chopping boards.
- 2 Pürumärt. F 16:00 - 20:00 (winter 19:00). A weekly market along the Bahnhofstrasse up to the old town. Sells among other products from regional agriculture such as cheese and sausage.
- 3 ZAP (Zur Alten Post), Bahnhofstrasse 21. M-F 09:00-12:00 and 13:30-18:30, Sa 09:00-17:00. Small bookshop. Has a limited range of English books. They also have a lot of local/regional books.
- 1 Migros Restaurant, Brückenweg 10 (On the far end of the bus terminal in front of the station), ☏ . M-Th 07:30-18:30, F 07:30-20:00, Sa 07:30-17:00. This supermarket with in-store restaurant is an option for a quick bite or a meal while changing trains at a decent price. Also have take-away.
- 2 Restaurant Staldbach, Talstrasse 9 (take the bus in direction Saas-Fee for about 5 minutes and alight at 'Visp, Staldbach'), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. daily 09:00-23:00. A rather pricey restaurant a bit outside of Visp. Definitely one of the best in the region in terms of food quality. around Fr. 35 for mains, Fr. 22 for weekday lunch menu.
- 3 Zenhäusern Bäckerei, Bahnhofplatz 1. 05:00–20:00. This is a bakery and café inside the railway station building. If you are changing train and have to wait for your connection and it's cold outside, this is the most convenient option to sit down and have something to eat. While they do serve some proper meals, the pastries and desserts are what they are known for. They also have some regional specialities such as rye bread.
Visp has little to offer in terms of night life. Being a rather small town, your options will be mostly limited to a number of pubs lining the Bahnhofstrasse.
There is only a handful of options for staying in Visp. More choices are available in any of the many more touristy towns nearby.
- 1 Bildungshaus St. Jodern, St. Jodernstrasse 17, ☏ . A Catholic institute that also offers rooms to individuals. Full board, half-board, and breakfast is also available. From Fr. 68 for single room.
- 2 Campingplatz Mühleye, Mühleye 7 (cross the river behind the railway station (north) over a pedestrian bridge then follow along the river until you reach the camping; around 700 m), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This camping ground also has a swimming pool which can be used without staying at the camping ground.
- 3 Hotel Elite, Bahnhofplatz 7 (Opposite the railway station.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org/. From Fr. 100.
- 4 Hotel Visperhof, Bahnhofstrasse 2, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From Fr. 105.
Free wireless Internet connection is available at the railway station for 60 minutes (after which you'll have to wait 2 hours to get another 60 minutes).
- 1 Raron is reachable by train in a couple minutes from Visp. It is notable for the following sights:
- 8 Burgkirche St. Romanus. This church is located on a hill overlooking the town. It was built in the 16th century on top of the ruins of a castle, hence the name of castle church. The church is known for the ceiling fresco depicting the Last Judgement. On the southern side of the church lies the tomb of the writer Rainer Maria Rilke
- 9 Felsenkirche. Built in 1974 this church is much newer but nevertheless not any less interesting than the Burgkirche. This church is built in an artificial cave under the hill, almost directly under the Burgkirche. Inside the church, the cave walls have been left as they were, giving the church a very unique feel.
- 2 Niedergesteln can be reached by bus in about 20 minutes from Visp. It is around 1 km from Raron. The main attractions of this small village are the 10 old village core, consisting of several medieval buildings, including the church as well as the 11 castle ruin overlooking the village. The castle was mostly build out of tuff.
- 3 Visperterminen is a village above Visp. It is reachable by bus from the main station in Visp. Other than the view on the Rhone valley and the Visp valley it has the allegedly highest altitude vineyards in Europe. Whether this is true or not, the terraced vineyards with dry stone walls are an interesting sight.
As this is a regional transport node, there are plenty of interesting destinations to go to next:
- The mountain resorts of Zermatt and Saas-Fee are reachable in about an hour from Visp via train (Zermatt) or bus (Saas-Fee). Go there for skiing in winter or hiking in summer.
- If you are more into spa, head to Leukerbad. You will have to take the train to Leuk and take the bus from there.
- Head northwards by train towards Berne or Zurich if you are missing a proper city after your stay in rural Valais.
|Routes through Visp|
|Bern ← Spiez ←||Romanshorn Brig||→ Brig → END|
|Lausanne ← Sion ←||Geneva Airport Brig||→ Brig → END|
|Andermatt ← Brig ←||Göschenen Zermatt||→ Zermatt → END|