Our ultimate guide to Crans Montana gives you the lowdown on this sunny resort in summer and winter.
Crans Montana is the sunniest resort in Switzerland
Located on a plateau above the Rhone Valley, Crans Montana is one of the sunniest resorts in Switzerland, with panoramic views stretching from the Matterhorn to Mont Blanc. Strictly speaking, Crans Montana is made up of two towns, each with a distinct character. Crans is the trendier side of the resort with designer shops and glamorous nightclubs whilst Montana is quieter and more traditional.
Sprawling 6km along a busy road, Crans Montana does not exude typical ski resort Alpine charm, but it is still attractive and is lively in both summer and winter with an astonishing array of activities on offer. Its discreet atmosphere and high standard of hotels and luxury chalets have attracted many famous faces over the years from Roger Moore to David Guetta. Yet it is not only a destination for the well-heeled; there are plenty of accessible slopes for families and activities for children too.
Crans Montana is easily reached by taking a direct train from Geneva airport to Sierre followed by a small funicular which climbs up the hillside to Montana. Driving time from Geneva or Bern takes just over two hours and over three if you’re coming from Milan.
Home to an array of designer shops
A true shoppers paradise, Crans Montana is home to over 120 shops spread across the two towns. Top luxury brands from Hermes to Louis Vuitton can be found in the Rue du Prado. For designer sportswear and gear, Alex Sports is your one-stop shop. Stocking labels such as Bogner, Escada, Ralph Lauren and Zegnar, you can buy a jacket or rent a pair of skis. There are several branches in Crans Montana, including one that specialises in bikes and accessories.
Where to eat and drink in Crans Montana
Crans Montana has an incredibly diverse gastronomic scene, with everything from Thai, Japanese and Lebanese to Italian, Argentinian and of course Swiss. For fine dining, Michelin-starred Le Mont Blanc not only offers superb food and an interesting wine list but spectacular views to accompany your meal too. L’Ours is another restaurant to have earned a Michelin star but if its value for money you are after we can recommend Italian restaurant Le Farinet, for pizza La Piccolina and for the best burgers in town it has to be the Burger Lounge. If you’re a fan of Japanese food try Edo or MiZUKi by Kakinuma.
On the mountain are numerous Swiss mountain chalets serving up classic dishes like tartiflette and rosti. Try Cabane des Taules or Cabane des Violettes for delicious raclette or goulash or treat yourself to a refined lunch at Chetzeron close to the top of the Cry d’Er gondola.
There are plenty of opportunities to party in Crans Montana. Montana tends to attract a younger crowd with its more traditional apres vibe whilst Crans bars and clubs tend to be more expensive thus attracting an older crowd. Apres tends to start at the base of the Violettes gondola at Seven Bar or Zerodix at the bottom of the Crans cable car. After that it’s off to the Monki’s and Amadeus bars and if you’ve still got the energy after the bars close head to Sky Club or Pacha Club for dancing until dawn.
Where to stay in Crans Montana
Luxury chalets in Crans Montana don’t come much better than Ultima - two chalets sitting side by side with ski-in/ski-out access not to mention a vast spa and clinic with outdoor pool, hammam and sauna, as well as on-demand clinical services and access to personalised treatments. For something a little more low key but still with great service try the elegant Chalet Renee in Montana which offers ski-in/ski-out access to the Violettes Express ski lift, a beautifully furnished living area and indoor Jacuzzi with fabulous views. Split into apartments, Chalet Migui is ideal for large groups sleeping 24 guests in total.
Winter in Crans Montana
Crans Montana offers 140 km of sunny south-facing ski slopes with the Plan Morte glacier at the top providing good snow conditions in even the warmest weather. Spread along the valley are three main access points to the slopes - the Merbé/Cry d’Er gondola in Crans, the Arnouva gondola in Montana and Les Violettes in the middle of the ski area.
With miles of open cruising runs, Crans Montana’s slopes are best suited to intermediate level skiers with long runs of up to 12km in length. The Col du Pochet, just behind the summit of Bella Lui (2,534m) is a brilliant spot for backcountry skiing whilst the men’s downhill course, the Piste Nationale, is another favourite. Beginners have excellent learning areas at resort level on the golf course and at mid-mountain. The resort also has a fantastic snow park with an Olympic-size half-pipe.
If skiing isn’t your thing then there are plenty of ways to enjoy the mountains. Due to the spectacular scenery, snowshoeing is always popular as is dog sledding. For a bird’s eye view of the resort head up even higher and take a hot-air balloon or helicopter flight. If you enjoy a flutter then head to Crans Montana’s casino or there’s a mini golf course right in the centre of the resort.
Summer in Crans Montana
With an average of 300 days of sun per year, it is no wonder Crans Montana has become just as popular in summer as in winter. There are a plethora of activities on offer from hiking and biking to horse riding and watersports. However, with four courses and a prestigious club, it is golf that is the main attraction. Crans Montana hosts the OMEGA European Masters at the end of August, attracting top players and spectators from around the world.
Crans Montana has several lakes where you can soak up the sun and explore by pedalo, wakeboard or stand-up paddleboard. There is also an outdoor pool with water slide and a Beach Club with real sand which is open from the beginning of June until the end of August. Sunbathing, volleyball, and an inflatable assault course on the lake are all possible here.
Aside from golf tournaments, Crans Montana hosts several other exciting events during the summer months including the Jumping Longines, an Alpine Cycling Festival and various concerts covering different genres of music from folk to jazz.