The Pennine Alps run along the Swiss-Italian border. This is the area of the most famous Alpine peaks found on almost all postcards as well as on some Swiss brands. The Swiss part of the Pennine Alps is located in the canton of Valais, hence its alternative name the Valais Alps. In Italy the area is divided between the region of Aosta and the Piedmont.
The highest and the most prominent out of 1466 Pennine Alps mountains is Monte Rosa (4,634m). It is the highest point in Switzerland and the second highest in the Alps. With a prominence of 2,165m it is regarded as Ultra. With just 8 Ultra mountains in Switzerland 2 of them are located in the Pennine Alps. Grand Combin is the second one.
The area is rich in world class mountain resorts and famous peaks: Dom (Mischabel), Weisshorn, Weissmies, Dent Blanche. The exceptional Matterhorn, the symbol of Switzerland (and PeakVisor itself), is the most photographed mountain in the world.
Major Trails and Hiking Areas
- Zermatt with a dense network of hiking trails and the finest mountains around is one of the most popular hiking areas. For those looking for a perfect Matterhorn photo there’s the “5 Lakes Walk” so you could snap Matterhorn reflection in every one of them. Other notable options are available by rack railway Gornergrat and easily reachable Oberrothorn. Both are perfect panoramic locations.
- Mottarone> is a prominent mountain above Lago Maggiore reachable by a cable car from Stresa. It allows having a relaxing mix of lakeside walks, boat trips to islands with rich history, and panoramic mountain walks.
- Monte Mars is overlooking the Natural Reserve with the same name. It is abundant with lakes and epic alpine scenery.
- Monte Zerbion allows staggering panoramic views of the whole Aosta Valley and hundreds of alpine peaks. The trail to the top is not hard but utterly rewarding.
- Testa Bernarda and Teté De La Troche are one of the best spots for Mont Blanc and Grandes Jorasses views, especially at sunrise.
- St. Bernard pass area has many gratifying hikes of various distance and required skills level. Pointe de Drône is one of the easiest.
- Mont Fort is the highest point surrounded by glaciers and reachable by a cable car from Verbier.
- Monte Moro is accessible by a small cable car from the village of Macugnaga and features a close-up on Monte Rosa and its unspoilt valley.
- Alta Valsesia Nature Park is rich in trails and beautiful scenery. Corno del Camoscio is a very short walk from the top cable car station.
Cable Cars and Cog Railways
There’s definitely no lack of mountain infrastructure in the region. I’ll start with lesser known yet very attractive places in the Piedmont:
- Mottarone - from Stresa (Lago Maggiore)
- Oropa - a cable car runs from a large high altitude sanctuary near the town of Biella at altitude of 1,159m to Monte Camino.
Here are the cable cars in Aosta which are in most cases considerably cheaper than Swiss ones:
Swiss cable cars in the Pennine Alps:
Major Cities and Resorts
There are many alpine villages and world renowned resorts in the Pennine Alps. Here are the major hubs allowing access to this area:
- Aosta, Italy - in the south. Mont Blanc and Grand Paradiso come as a huge bonus.
- Sion and Brig, Switzerland - in the north. Both are convenient if you have plans for the Bernese Alps as well.
Despite very high main chain which rarely goes below 3,000m you could easily cross it via the Saint Bernard pass (or the tunnel) and via cable cars from Cervinia to Zermatt.