The mighty Aletsch Glacier comes in at a tidy 23km (14mi) in length and covers some 120 sq km (46 sq mi), making it the biggest glacier in the Alps.
It’s part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area (and is also visible from Bernese Oberland’s Jungfraujoch, which is where most people first gaze upon it). In 2001 it was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List.
Starting at the base of the Jungfrau and snaking its way down into Valais, it’s probably best to view the glacier from the car-free resort of Fiesch (Valais), from where you travel by cable car to Eggishorn (2927m, 9603ft; we’ve linked to single trip ticket prices and the relevant timetable), where the view of a lifetime awaits — a broad, seemingly swirling expanse of ice, watched over by the mighty Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, with Mt Blanc (in France) and the Matterhorn also visible.
There’s great under-the-radar skiing in the area known as Aletsch Arena — this is definitely ‘Switzerland for the Swiss’. Count on over 100km (62mi) of groomed pistes and freeride trails. The car-free villages of Bettmeralp (2000m, 6500ft), Riederalp (1925m, 6323ft) and Fiescheralp (2212m, 7257ft) are all linked (access is by cable car from Fiesch), ensuring solid skiing and snowboarding, plus ski-in/ski-out convenience.
There’s also 70km (43mi) of winter hiking in the arena, plus snow-shoeing (a trail links Bettmeralp and Riederalp) and toboggan runs. Needless to say, summer hiking in the area is fantastic, with plenty of opportunities to catch sight of the glacier and the big peaks. One four-hour hike that leaves people justifiably spell-bound is the Aletsch Panoramaweg (from July to October), which connects Bettmerhorn with Fiescheralp.