Dramatic scenery, powder-covered glaciers, and old village mountain villages sans traffic put a ski holiday in Switzerland at the top of wish lists around the world. Dozens of ski resorts scattered among the sky-high peaks of the Swiss Alps offer something for everyone. You’ll find ski schools for beginners, impressive runs for intermediates, and seemingly vertical drops for experts. Even non-skiers can get in on the action with après-ski experiences like fireside Swiss fondues, gourmet dining, cocktail bars with panoramic views, and luxurious spas. Here are five of the best resorts in Switzerland to consider for your next ski vacation.
For the ski trip of a lifetime, head to Zermatt, the Alp’s highest winter sports area with Europe’s most iconic mountain, the Matterhorn visible directly behind the town and along most of the trail system. The ski terrain here rises to altitudes from 2,500 to 3,900 metres, and you’ll find over 2,133 metres of vertical drop. The 360-kilometre trail system connects to three ski resort towns and Italy. Avid skiers around the world have aspirations of skiing over the Theodul Pass down to Italy’s trails.
Open since 2019, the Matterhorn Glacier Ride is the highest 3S cable car in the world and will get you to the Matterhorn Glacier where the slopes are open even in the summer for skiing and snowboarding. The area is blessed with long runs and terrain for any skill level. Beginning skiers and families with children flock to the easy slopes at Wolli’s Park at the top of the Sunnegga funicular. From here, advanced skiers can head up to the Rothorn’s trails and the Gornergrat ski pistes by gondola, chairlift, or cable car. A rack-railroad climbs the slopes to the Riffelhaus 1853, a hotel with an excellent restaurant and terrace with views of the Matterhorn. Cabins and chalets are scattered about for cosy to posh accommodations.
The Davos area is the scene for a string of popular ski resorts in Eastern Switzerland along the valley of the Landwasser River. One of the largest areas for winter sports in Europe, the two alpine towns of Davos and Klosters serve as a base. The multiple ski areas are interconnected, so skiers can choose any combination of over 300 kilometres of pristine runs. Most are for intermediates, but the off-piste terrain attracts advanced skiers.
Parsenn is the major ski area and connects Davos and Klosters. You’ll find challenging terrain and a few of the Alp’s longest runs. The longest is 13 kilometres and runs from Weissfluhgipfel to Küblis. The most expert skiers will be thrilled with a vertical drop of 2,034 metres. “Snow Farming,” the practice of placing a system of moveable fences for the wind to create mammoth drifts makes it possible to ski as early as October in Davos’s Flüela Valley. Snowboarders are drawn to the Pisha and Jakobshorn areas, especially Pisha with its off-piste terrain.
Don’t think for a minute that these are quaint little mountain villages; rather they are posh resorts where you may bump elbows (or ski poles) with celebrities and indulge in après-ski liveliness. Get to the ski runs in Parsenn on the funicular railway from Davos or the Gotschna cable car from Klosters.
3. St. Moritz
St. Moritz is probably the most world-renowned ski resort in Switzerland. No doubt it’s because the town twice hosted the Winter Olympics, once in 1928 and again 20 years later. And much more recently, St. Moritz hosted the Snow Polo World Cup in January of 2020. The White Turf St. Moritz, a wild, snowy horse race, is held every year in February.
St. Moritz is also popular worldwide for posh hotels with spas and indoor pools, and a pricey après ski social life. But there’s another aspect of the resort town other than a place for the wealthiest or expert Olympic hopefuls. Family-friendly mountain lodges and beginner and kid-friendly slopes are a few minutes away in Silvaplana. From here, take the lift or cable car to the Corvatsch ski slopes.
You’ll find other fun things to do in St. Moritz in winter besides skiing. There are ice-skating rinks, bobsledding, and tobogganing. Top off the day with an array of tantalizing fondues at a friendly cafe like Gondolezza.
Experts looking for off-piste or freeride skiing or snowboarding and budding powder-hounds will be thrilled with the Verbier ski resort. It’s part of the western section of the 4 Vallees ski region and ranges from the lower slopes at Le Chable to the 3,330-metre summit of Mont Fort. Verbier is further divided into four areas.
Take the gondola from Le Chable across the valley to the lower Brunson ski area for challenging skiing. Beginners and lower intermediates will enjoy the open pistes on the Verbier village side of the Savoleyres / La Tzoumaz area. Skiers of all levels will be happy at the Verbier sector. It includes 1500 metres of skiable vertical up to Mont Gele. The Mont Fort sector is part of the interlinked 4 Val-lees ski region and features advanced routes and off-piste free ride.
You can get to Verbier ski resort easily via train from the Geneva Airport. Verbier is a vibrant village with numerous ski-in and ski-out accommodations and a lively après-ski and nightlife.
5. Grindelwald Wengen
Ski and frolic surrounded by some of the planet’s most incredible mountain scenery at Grindelwald Wengen ski resort. Classic characteristics of the Swiss Alps provide the perfect skiing experience from novice to expert and every skill level in between. And what Zermatt has with the Matterhorn, Grindelwald matches with the encroaching peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau mountains.
The trails at Grindelwald Wengen are diverse and groomed with plenty of freeride powder opportunities. Skiers delight at the off-piste powder in the high alpine region off Lauberhorn & Männlichen. Grindelwald’s lengthy valley trails are perfect for progressive beginners and intermediates, and you’ll find places along the way to stop in for a brew. The gondola system is unsurpassed and a fabulous train ride winds through spectacular vistas. Take an exciting train ride to the nearby Muerren Schilthorn ski resort and across the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Grindelwald’s lodging is as varied as the skiing with options for every budget and taste. You’ll find tasteful, comfortable places in the tourist enclave of Grindelwald Village, and the Interlaken Ost & Kleine Scheidegg train connects to the village. Choose from luxury hotels, apartments, and chalets near the train station and village centre.
Don’t miss out reading this fun filled Travel Tale of an Indian Couple in Switzerland:
Happy Skiing (or hanging out) at one of Switzerland’s fabulous ski resorts. And don’t forget, you can visit the resorts in the summer for hiking, pools, spas, and elegant outdoor lakeside dining.
Author Credit :
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel.
Photo Credit : Jack & Matt from unsplash [ dot] com