The heritage and majesty of the best ski resorts in Switzerland are undeniable. The scenery along the route is breathtaking.
Alpine skiing originated in Switzerland in the nineteenth century, and it remains one of the most significant skiing countries in the world owing to places such as St Moritz, Zermatt, and Davos. There are, however, a plethora of lesser-known, but as enchanting destinations with exceptional skiing, lodging, and cuisine.
All of this was made possible in part by the pastoral vigilance of a priest in Saas-Fee. In the midst of a blizzard in 1849, Father Johann Imseng received word that one of his flock, stranded in a lower settlement, was dying. Father Imseng, a mountain guide, had built himself some crude skis out of barrel staves. He put these on his feet and made it to his parishioner in time for the final benediction. As they say, the rest is history.
The travel is one of the highlights of skiing in Switzerland; all of the main resorts (as well as a number of lesser ones) can be accessed straight by rail from the airports of Geneva and Zurich. Transfers are on schedule and with Swiss precision, and the scenery along the route is breathtaking. The disadvantage is that any vacation in Switzerland is pricey, including skiing.
Best for all skiers of any level
Andermatt, a former army garrison town, has long featured some rather difficult skiing for specialists on the 2,963m Gemsstock, which is served by an old cable car. However, the business drawback of a resort catering solely to expert skiers is that it excludes 97% of the market.
In 2005, billionaire Samih Sawiris arrived in Andermatt with a proposal to invest 1.8 billion Swiss Francs in developing the resort into a year-round luxury ski and golf destination. The proposal is currently in its second phase of development, with five-star hotels and magnificent residences, a new rail station, a golf course, and an expanded ski area with 33 lifts and 180 kilometers of slope.
Away from the tumultuous slopes of the Gemsstock, the undulating pistes lead to the nearby mountain communities of Sedrun and Disentis. You’ll pass by two fantastic eateries that share a sun patio and gorgeous mountain vistas along the route. If your legs are tired at the end of the day, take the après-ski train home, which travels leisurely back to Andermatt as you savor the glühwein.
Best for intermediates and advanced skiers
The Matterhorn, Europe’s most iconic mountain, looms over every street corner in Zermatt, and the beauty of the panoramas will leave you speechless.
This is Switzerland’s best ski location, yet it is not always simple to travel. The ski area is informally split into three sectors that are best approached initially from different spots within town, the highest of which is the Klein Matterhorn, which connects to Cervinia in Italy.
It has few competition in terms of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. Zermatt is the global capital of mountain restaurants, and you can dine and drink better at altitude than nearly any other best ski resorts in Switzerland, or even in the world – but at an exorbitant price.
Best for long weekends
This is the place to go if you want to ski hard and party even harder. Novices and apprehensive intermediates are welcome, but there are less intimidating places to learn. In the lift wait, you’ll find skiers with backpacks stuffed with airbags, ropes, and ironmongery — there are less intimidating locations to learn.
The piste skiing is fragmented, but obstacles like the vertigo-inducing descents from Mont Fort and Tortin’s monster moguls make any flaws unimportant.
The Warren Smith Ski Academy is a good place to start if you want to improve your skiing. Powder may be found easily without resorting to costly heli-skiing. Take a local guide and be cautious; this is high alpine terrain with just a significant risk of avalanche.
Few things beat a midday croûte complète (oven-roasted cheese and ham on wine-soaked bread with an egg on top) at Chez Dany before heading to the ice bar next to the W Hotel Verbier for après-ski fun.
Best for families
Where? You are free to inquire. Grimentz, along with adjacent Zinal and a number of other little resorts, has practically fallen under the radar of British skiers. The community and its 14th century wooden chalets are nestled away in a time warp in the Val d’Anniviers, reachable by a wild switchback road with precipitous drop-offs from the valley town of Sierre.
Its ski resort is connected to Zinal by a gondola, while ski buses connect it to St. Luc/Chandolin and Vercorin. A vehicle is a valuable asset since it allows you to stay in one of the lesser mountain towns while visiting Grimentz’s major ski hub. There are 210 kilometers of pistes in the valley, with the bulk (115 kilometers) centered around Grimentz.
5. St Moritz
Best for skiers with deep pockets
In the southeast part of Switzerland, near the Italian border, St Moritz lies hidden away around a picturesque lake. It is divided into two major settlements and several satellite communities.
The glamorous St Moritz Dorf has the best hotels and stores. On the streets, voluminous fur coats compete with Prada ski suits, and many of their well-heeled wearers stick to shopping, spas, and sun terraces instead of ski lifts.
It is less costly and calmer at Bad St Moritz. Four kilometers distant, Celerina, as well as Pontresina, Silvaplana, Samedan, Surlej, and Zuoz, provide an alternate base. The Engadin lift pass covers everything.
Tobogganing and skating down the steep hill to Celerina, which later became the Cresta Run, were the first winter activities in St Moritz, which began in 1864. Around and on the frozen lake, there are several activities. Bobsleigh, show jumping, horse racing, greyhound racing, golf, polo, and even cricket are all examples of these sports.
With 350 kilometers of piste separated into four sectors, St Moritz is known as one of the world-class and best ski resorts in Switzerland. The most notable is Corviglia, which may be accessed by cable car from Bad or by funicular from Dorf.
6. Saas Fee
Best for beginners
Saas Fee is one of the Alps’ most snow-sure destinations. The ski lifts reach up to 3,500 meters, skiing is available for most of the year, and there are 13 peaks over 4,000 meters. Converted farmhouses nestle incongruously next to contemporary hotels throughout the historic community.
Unfortunately, the dramatic glacier environment, which includes massive séracs and gaping crevasses, limits the amount of safe piste skiing that can be done without a mountain guide. Beginners, on the other hand, will have a great time here since the nursery slopes are pleasantly separated from the major courses and are not subjected to more experienced skiers rushing past them. There are several good ski schools to choose from, as well as a whole mountain dedicated to tobogganing.
Intermediate skiers will enjoy the diversity of pistes and breathtaking scenery, while experienced skiers will be limited after four days. There is, however, a large snow park further up the glacier, as well as more skiing in the neighbouring hamlets of Saas Almagell and Saas Grund. Apart from electric taxis and delivery trucks, Saas Fee is car-free.
Best for late-season skiers
Not long ago, seeing monks in rough-woven habits with knotted waists riding the lifts and enjoying the skiing brightened your day. Unfortunately, when the residents of the resot’s Benedictine monastery travel up into the slopes of Angel Mountain these days, they don helmets and North Face jackets.
Engelberg, located high above Lake Luzern, is frequently referred to as one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets. It was a popular destination for British skiers in the 1950s and 1960s before declining due to a lack of investment in ski lifts. With some of the longest lift-served routes in the Alps, a stunning assortment of upward transportation, including a spinning cable car, has reestablished its supremacy.
It has a good snow record, and skiers of all abilities will enjoy themselves here. It boasts two off-piste descents, the Galtiberg and the Laub, that are dreamy, comparable to the finest of Verbier and Zermatt combined. There are numerous lengthy and steep descents on the pistes, as well as a separate beginning section. Engelberg should never be underestimated.
Best for freestylers
Laax is a large, snow-sure resort with a glacier, and the top ski lift is at a reasonable 3018m. There are a total of 224 kilometers of varied pistes, including some truly long descents. Its ski area is shared with Flims and the hamlet of Falera, which are both nearby.
Since the 1880s, Flims has been a spa resort, and it is home to the renowned Waldhaus Flims Wellness Resort. Laax, on the other hand, is known for its weekend nightlife as well as its freestyle skiing and snowboarding. In the 1980s, freestyle found its first Swiss home here, and now it boasts five snow parks with a large worldwide following.
Riders Hotel is a blend of fashionable five-star and backpacker hostel with an outstanding vegetarian cuisine, while Rocksresort is a contemporary complex of rooms and apartments especially suited to families.
9. Davos and Klosters
Best for party-goers and beginners
These disparate places are connected by a massive ski area called Parsenn. Every January, the World Economic Forum is held in Davos, a big town. Prince Charles like Klosters, a lovely, more intimate collection of chalets and hotels.
Parsenn offers over 100 kilometers of skiing for all levels. Davos contains the Jakobshorn and a few other spots, while Klosters has the Madrisa region, which is great for novices.
Dorf and Platz are the two sections of both resorts. Skiing is more convenient in Davos Dorf, while shopping and entertainment are more handy in Davos Platz. Klosters Platz, at the far end of Parsenn, is the village center with access to the major skiing. Klosters Dorf is a little further away, at the base of Madrisa, a few kilometers distant.
Davos and Klosters are connected by train and share a lift pass. Where you stay is determined on the sort of vacation you want to take. Choose between Davos’ cosmopolitan sophistication and Klosters’ rustic and family-friendly.
Best for intermediates
Wengen is perched on a sunny bluff above the Lauterbrunnen valley, and the rack-and-pinion railway, which also serves as a ski lift, is the only way to get there in the winter. The Jungfrau resort and its lift system have been resting on their laurels for far too long, but they are currently undergoing extensive renovations.
This is one of the best ski resorts in Switzerland for intermediates who want to put in some simple miles each day rather than seek out new difficulties. The landscape is mostly flat and lacks the drama of the peaks above it.
The Lauberhorn is a great adventure, since it is one of the World Cup’s legendary downhills. Anyone in the intermediate level can try it out and pretend to be a boy or female racer. The difficulty here is not the pitch itself, but rather the 4.5km length, which forces even the most powerful thighs to wilt with exhaustion.