It’s no secret that some of the world’s best ski resorts are found within Switzerland’s outstanding mountains. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly slopes or deep powder freeriding, it’s all here!
- Non-stop ski runs from the very top to bottom
- Reliable snow cover thanks to its high altitude
- Awesome snow park has a strong reputation amongst freestylers
- Cheaper and less crowded than neighbouring Zermatt
- Limited black runs and off-piste skiing could disappoint experts
- Not the largest ski area by Swiss standards
- Suffers from lift queues during the high season
Saas Fee serves up excellent high alpine skiing on gentle slopes, making it a firm favourite amongst beginners and intermediates as well as families. This isn’t the only reason the resort is a hit with newbies though, the many novice-friendly gondolas whisking skiers around the mountain help too. Over 90 mi of trails should keep groomer cruisers busy all week, with little chance of having to skid down a black run because you took a wrong turn. Advanced skiers might want to look elsewhere to get their kicks, but freestylers will find more than enough to test their skills at the Morenia snow park.
Dine in the World’s Highest Revolving Restaurant!
To really make the most of the amazing scenery here you should book a table at the Drehrestaurant Allalin, a glass-walled revolving restaurant spinning around at an astonishing 11,483 ft! Ride the Metro Alpin, the world’s highest-altitude underground funicular railway that actually tunnels through the mountain to enjoy authentic Swiss cuisine with an ever-changing view. Just outside you’ll find over 12 mi of glacier skiing open all year round, and in the summer there’s an impressive terrain park complete with kickers, rails, boxes, and even a superpipe!
Charming Car-Free Village and Plenty of Winter Activities
Saas Fee grew from humble farming roots and still retains much of its traditional feel, with narrow lanes flanked by wooden chalets devoid of noisy traffic. The only vehicles allowed are electric ones, which come in the form of taxis and buses to get you around. There’s also an entire mountain dedicated to all things not skiing and snowboarding. Hannig, with its very own gondola reaching 7,664 ft, offers a 3 mi toboggan course along with a whole bunch of snowshoeing trails.
Getting there: Fly to Geneva Airport, it’s a 2.5-hour drive to the resort or 3 hours by train and bus
- Well connected slopes across all three bases
- Vibrant resort that attracts the young and trendy
- Great après ski to enjoy in Laax
- Slopes can get crowded during the high season
- Not a particularly quiet place if that’s what you’re after
The expansive mountainsides above the villages of Flims, Laax, and Falera make up one of Switzerland’s largest ski areas, but its biggest drawcard isn’t the extensive interconnecting slopes. What pulls in skiers and snowboarders from all over the world are the world-class terrain parks surrounding the Crap Sogn Gion station, high up at 7,310 ft. There’s no denying this ski resort is a big hit with freestylers, but there’s plenty to attract skiers who prefer staying on the snow than flying high above it.
Ski More Than 2 mi in a Single Run!
Away from the kickers and rails is an awesome top-to-bottom run that serves up a meaty 5,610 ft of vertical drop. Head up to the La Siala mountain station and take on the number 10 course. It starts out as a red before mellowing out into a blue and leads all the way back down to Flims. From here you can easily slide aboard lifts back up to the Naraus and Grauberg stations, which along with La Siala provide access to some of the quietest ski runs across the whole resort. For freeride runs just look for the yellow lines on the slope map, there’s loads of them!
Three Distinct Alpine Villages to Enjoy
If you’re looking for the most excitement off the slopes there’s no question that you should stay in Laax, the party animal of the three villages. On the other end of the scale is Falera, the quietest of the bunch and car-free too. Somewhere in the middle is Flims, which has the charming character of a traditional Swiss mountain village. One more place you shouldn’t miss while vacationing here is the top spot on the Vorab Glacier. At just over 9,900 ft it’s the highest lift-accessed point in the resort, so expect jaw-dropping views of the Swiss Alps in all directions!
Getting there: Fly to Zurich Airport and take the resort shuttle bus which takes 1.5 hours
- Consistent snowfall thanks to storms hitting the mountains from every direction
- Some of the most expansive powder skiing in the world easily accessed from the Gemsstock tram
- Amazing intermediate terrain stretching across several valleys from Nätschen to Sedrun
- Small traditional Swiss ski village with plenty of character sits alongside a new luxury resort
- Its reputation as a powder mecca means it can get crowded after a fresh dump
- Very few beginner runs on the Gemsstock side of the mountain
- Frequent storms can shut down resort access and drastically reduce visibility
- Not a great deal of dining and drinking options in the village
Once a military base, Andermatt had long been the reserve of local powder junkies brave enough to take on the craggy steeps, spectacular couloirs, and wide open bowls emanating from every direction off the 9,715 ft high Gemsstock. Now it’s developing into a much more rounded ski resort, thanks to its more sedate runs that link across multiple snowfields to Sedrun. The sprawling terrain here is now known as SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun, and it’s home to one of the most reliable snowpacks across the whole of Europe!
Plenty of Powder, Fearsome Freeriding, and Great Groomers
Grooming is limited across much of the terrain from Gemsstock down to Andermatt, and the snow on the trails here generally stays soft despite getting plenty of use. To throw yourself straight into a challenge try the Giraffe route, it kicks off with a steep couloir from which there’s no escape once you’ve dropped in! Over on the Nätschen side there are excellent groomers to carve up, and getting yourself to the Oberalp Pass puts you in place to speed down red run after red run all the way to Dieni.
Trains Give You the Freedom to Go Ski Touring
A lift ticket for the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun resort also includes use of the trains that wind through the mountains connecting alpine towns and hamlets. This opens up huge possibilities for backcountry touring and long powder descents if you’re ready to scrutinise local maps (or hire a guide). To get you started, there’s the epic Guspis route from the top of the Gemsstock station that brings you out into the town of Hospental. Also, the train that links Andermatt to Sedrun stops at the quaint hamlet of Tschamut-Selva, where there are isolated cross-country skiing trails to enjoy. If you fancy a few days of top-notch powder freeriding within easy reach of Zurich there’s no better place than Andermatt-Sedrun.
Getting there: To drive from Zurich Airport takes 1.5-2 hours
- Plenty of lengthy intermediate pistes
- Ride a train up to the slopes!
- Lots to do besides just skiing and incredible scenery to enjoy
- Some slow and complicated connections between slopes and lifts
- Flat sections mean it’s not particularly snowboarder friendly
Ski Area: Jungfrau Ski Region
If you’re looking for a Swiss postcard ski experience, then Grindelwald is the place for you. The majestic North Face of the Eiger towers over this pretty mountain village, which is steeped in mountaineering and skiing history. Its main ski area shares slopes with Wengen and can be skied on the same lift ticket! There’s no better way to get up the mountain here than by train, soaking in the snow-drenched scenery before stepping off at the Kleine Scheidegg station at 6,762 ft. Our advice is to get warmed up on the slopes of Männlichen before testing yourself out on the steeper courses higher up!
Take on the World Cup Lauberhorn Slope!
See how you stack up against the professionals by speeding down the Lauberhorn, which is without a doubt our favourite run here. A leg-burningly long course that offers uninterrupted skiing across some seriously diverse terrain, the annual downhill races here attract huge crowds. Ski it all the way to the bottom and you’ll arrive at Wengen, a car-free village where you can enjoy lunch in the sun before catching the ski train back up the mountain.
Experience Its Inspiring Otherworldly Scenery
Before the lifts close make your way up to the Hohlenstein station and schuss down the red run that leads to Grindelwald Grund. It’s a great slope to finish up the day, but it’s the amazing sunset views that make it so special. If you need even more natural wonders to impress you, a trip to the Lauterbrunnen Valley should do the trick, it’s where JRR Tolkien found his inspiration for creating the mystical realm of Rivendell. One more to put on your list is a train ride up to Jungfraujoch, named by the resort as the Top of Europe, where you can gaze over the largest glacier in the Alps, the Aletschgletscher.
Getting there: Fly to Zurich Airport then drive to the resort in 2.5 hours, or take the train which takes just under 3 hours and involves 2 changes
- Its high elevation usually means lots and lots of snow!
- Incredible expert terrain makes it a paradise for freeriders
- Nice little mountain town with a relaxed vibe
- Quick and easy access from Zurich Airport
- The sidecountry gets tracked out quickly
- Slopes are poorly connected in places (watch out that you don’t get stuck around the Trübsee)
- Not very big when compared to other Swiss ski resorts
- Just a few enjoyable blue runs to choose from
A rising star amongst Switzerland’s smorgasbord of distinguished ski resorts, Engelberg is up against tough competition but has more than enough going for it. There’s a whole range of good reasons why you should take a ski vacation here, but at the top of the list is the massive freeride potential you’ll find on your doorstep. The secret is most definitely out though, as every year the town fills up with Scandinavians in search of their powder fix.
Ski the Famous Big Five!
What makes Engelberg a stand out for accomplished skiers is the excellent off-piste terrain that can be quickly accessed straight from the lifts. Sure, a little hiking will reap you more rewards (and is usually necessary if you want to score freshies) but it’s not strictly essential. Start with the Laub for a wide open mountainside, deep snow, and over 3,280 ft of vertical drop. Once you’ve nailed that one you’ve got Sulz, Steintäli, Steinberg, and the mighty Galtiberg to conquer. To share stories about your gnarly lines just head to the Ski Lodge for après ski, you’ll be in good company!
Challenge Yourself On-Piste
While avid backcountry skiers will get the most out of Engelberg, there’s plenty to ski even if you’ve never ventured off a groomed piste. Mellow blues are in short supply, but the red runs off the Klein Titlis station offer high alpine skiing with a dramatic backdrop. Don’t be surprised to see plenty of tourists without skis heading all the way up to 9,934 ft for the sensational views too. A little further down is our favourite run, the black run from Jochstock, a wide and steep groomer built for fast carving.
Getting there: Just a 1 hr 20 min drive from Zurich Airport, or around 2 hours by train
- Great ski resort for beginners and intermediates finding their ski legs
- Decent backcountry to explore between the resorts
- Enjoys plenty of sunshine so expect stunning bluebird days
- Just a few north-facing slopes where the snow stays in good condition for days after a dump
- Choose where you stay wisely, Lenzerheide isn’t as nice a ski town as its neighbour Arosa
- Like most Swiss ski resorts, it’s expensive
Lenzerheide and Arosa were both stand-alone ski resorts until as recently as 2013 when the impressive Urdenbahn cable car was finally built. Carrying 150 people at a time across a 1 mi wide alpine expanse in just over five minutes, it has created a major league ski area much like the Peak 2 Peak gondola did at Whistler Blackcomb. Now there are 140 mi of groomed runs across three distinct mountainsides to explore!
An Abundance of Blue Runs Above the Tree Line
Where this ski resort excels is in its blue groomers, which make up over half of all the runs. These mellow slopes are fantastic for cruising and carving, plus you’ll also enjoy uninterrupted mountain views with no trees in your way. Few slopes are in the shadows here and when the sun beams down you can expect excellent visibility, although the snow takes a beating for it. Black trails are a serious minority so pick this resort if you’re a ski newbie, or a hardcore freerider on a ski vacation with your family of intermediates!
Ski Safari Between Lenzerheide, Arosa, and Tschiertschen
Backcountry skiers shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the scenic Ski Safari roundtrip that includes three descents and takes you into deep powder stashes. There are also plenty of freeride options from the summit of the Parpaner Rothorn, which is also where you’ll find our favourite on-piste slope, the Number 21. Soak in the sensational panorama before skiing over a glacier, through a tunnel, and down steep fresh corduroy back to the cable car!
Getting there: It’s a 2-hour drive from Zurich Airport or 2.5-3 hours by train
- It’s a very diverse ski area with terrain for all abilities
- There’s some awesome backcountry to explore
- Off the mountain you’ll find a proper town, not just a purpose-built resort
- The five separate ski areas within Davos Klosters are far apart from each other
- Bus and train connections can be slow
- Some might find this place a little too posh
Enjoying centre spot in the immense Davos Klosters linked ski area, Parsenn is the lynchpin that links these two regal ski towns together. Of the five mountains that contribute to the 167 mi of slopes here, it’s Parsenn that’s the biggest and offers the most varied ski terrain. The Parsennbahn funicular railway has been running for over 80 years already, transporting skiers up to Weissfluhjoch at 8,734 ft. This where our favourite run in the resort starts, the Number 4 red course, a wide-open groomer that’s great for long carves and notching up some serious speed!
Easily Accessible Off-Piste and Oodles of Backcountry
Just off the Gotschnagrat station you can drop into a wide 30° face of deep powder that’ll lead you straight to a lift, just remember you’ll have an audience if the Gotschnabahn cable car is approaching! If that gets you craving even more off-piste, hire a guide and hit the backcountry between the resorts. For us this is where the real magic is, finding freshies between the ski areas, and if you do it right there’s very little hiking involved!
Something For Everyone Across the Five Mountains
Parsenn isn’t without its drawbacks, namely the crowds that build up around the Parsennhütte station where many runs end and lifts start. If you’re on a family ski vacation get yourselves over to Madrisa, a smaller mountain with gentler slopes and plenty of sun, it’s perfect for a relaxed ski day. For boosting airs and busting tricks Jakobshorn is the place, with it’s perfectly groomed JatzPark complete with 20 features including rails and kickers. When a day off the mountain is called for, try and catch a game of ice hockey at the HC Davos stadium or check out the expressionist paintings of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at the Kirchner Museum.
Getting there: By train, car, or shuttle bus, it’ll take roughly 2 – 2.5 hours from Zurich Airport
- Huge variety of red and blue runs to choose from
- Plenty of activities for non-skiers to enjoy
- Incredible views over the iconic frozen lake and mountains
- A modern ski town with excellent amenities and facilities
- Some ski areas aren’t linked by ski lift so a bus or train ride is required
- Doesn’t receive quite as much snow as nearby Davos Klosters
- It’s an unashamedly upmarket resort and very expensive
Skiing’s capital of jet-set sophistication for over a century, St Moritz enjoys an exceptional combination of excellent snow reliability with over 300 days of sunshine a year. The home mountain rising above the town is the Corviglia, complete with 96 mi of runs, and the highest lift-accessed point is the summit of Piz Nair at 10,062 ft. Whether you want to ratchet some serious speed on World Cup-quality courses or just leisurely carve up some corduroy, it’s all here for the skiing.
218 mi of Trails Across the Engadin St. Moritz Region
Besides from what St Moritz offers right on its doorstep, there’s also the wider ski area of the Engadin Valley to take advantage of. Opposite the main slopes of Corviglia is the Corvatsch ski area, where a cable car will get you as high as 10,837 ft. From here ski down to the bottom and be sure to take the Hahnensee black trail for your final journey, it’s 6 mi leg-burner! Further afield are Maloja, a quieter mountain perfect for scoring freshies after a dump, and Zouz, where you’ll find a decent terrain park and half pipe to work on your freestyle tricks.
The World’s Original Winter Sports Resort
St Moritz is so much more than just skiing, it’s home to a wide range of weird and wonderful winter sports. Its frozen lake is an arena for everything from ice skating and curling to horse racing and cricket! The only remaining natural bobsleigh course on the planet, which opened here in 1904, continues to be used to this day. Even when you put winter sports aside, there are activities for everyone. Whether it’s a visit to the Segantini Museum, a flutter at the St Moritz Casino, or shopping in designer boutiques on Via Serlas, you’ll find something to keep you entertained. St Moritz is not to be missed if you want to experience a fantastically diverse winter sports destination.
Getting there: Fly to Engadin Airport, just a 10-min drive from St Moritz, otherwise, it’s roughly 3 hours drive from Zurich Airport
- Stacks of expert off-piste to challenge the best skiers in the world
- Amazing views of the Mont Blanc massif and Switzerland’s highest peaks
- Linked to the vast 4 Vallées ski area
- Huge variety of exposures and altitudes to suit almost all conditions
- Not a great deal of easy terrain for beginners to cut their teeth on
- Crowds are worse here than anywhere else in the 4 Vallées
- As Swiss ski towns go, there are much prettier ones than Verbier
Ski area: 4 Vallées
Verbier’s reputation precedes itself, and for a whole bunch of different reasons. First and foremost, it’s home to the some of the most technical freeriding terrain on the planet. Advanced skiers will benefit most from the craggy chutes, cliff drops, and insanely steep pitches, but adventurous intermediates should get a kick out of this place too. Being part of Switzerland’s largest ski area, the 4 Vallées, means you’ll have more than 250 mi of runs to tire yourself out on. You could easily split this up across a whole week, but to truly turn your legs to jelly try doing it all in just one day!
Skiing Starts at the 10,925 ft Summit of Mont Fort!
It’s no coincidence that the most spectacular run here is also our favourite, the huge ungroomed mountainside that starts from the top of Mont Fort and leads all the way down to the Tortin station, at 6,725 ft. The bumps here can be big and hard or gentle and soft, it all depends on when it last snowed, but the 4,200 ft of vertical drop always stays the same! Climb aboard the cable car back up to Col des Gentianes and you can enjoy something altogether smoother, uninterrupted groomers all the way back down to the town.
Freeride Options for Rookies and Daredevils
If you haven’t quite reached the heights of professional level freeriding yet then head over to the Greppon Blanc station to try out some off-piste terrain that shouldn’t terrify you. Drop in over the backside of the peak to start the long route down, and enjoy a celebratory refreshment from the kiosk at the bottom while you wait for the bus to pick you up! For something altogether more challenging, the route off the backside of Mont Font starts out scarily steep before mellowing out a little as you pass Lac de Cleuson on the way down to Siviez.
Getting there: Fly to Geneva Airport, it’s a 2-hour drive or 3 hours by train
- Very large ski area that’s connected to Italy
- Ski terrain is balanced to provide something for all levels
- Epic mountain scenery is unmissable
- Delicious food on and off the mountain
- The shady town doesn’t get any sun during the peak of winter
- Everything is expensive, from lift tickets and lodgings to dinner and drinks
- Exposed lifts mean snow and wind can limit your options
Ski area: Matterhorn Ski Paradise
So here we have our number one, Zermatt, the jewel in the crown of Switzerland’s ski resorts. This is your resort if you’ll accept nothing but the best, and have the money to afford it! Sitting beneath the unmistakable Matterhorn, the scenery here is unsurpassed, with the towering peaks of Monte Rosa and the Weisshorn elevating the natural splendour even more. It goes without saying that the skiing here is up there with the best in the world, but there’s also the gastronomic delights that go with it. Fantastic restaurants are dotted all over the mountain, serving Swiss cheese fondue and other culinary masterpieces. You can even ski over into Italy to try a scoop of authentic gelato!
Cruise Flawless Groomers All Day Long
Head all the way up to 3,883 ft on Europe’s highest cable car to reach the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, where the Theodul glacier ski area is open all year round. From here you have one of the most picturesque routes back down to Zermatt, just follow the corduroy red runs down to Schwarzsee, from where there’s freeride routes down tree-lined steeps or a marked piste that winds through the forest. Our other favourite runs are on the other side of the resort, immaculately groomed blue and red trails (even a couple of blacks too) accessible from the Rothorn station.
Perfect for Everyone, From Newbie Kids to Intrepid Freeriders
Every type of skier, big and small, is catered for here. Little ones will make friends with Wolli the blacknose sheep, Zermatt’s cute and cheerful mascot, while learning to ski on the nursery slopes. Expert skiers in search of powder stashes are presented with practically limitless possibilities if they’re prepared for a little skinning up the mountain. There are also plenty of marked freeride routes on the piste map for skiers looking for their first taste of off-piste. Down in the historic old town there’s luxurious shopping to burn a hole in your pocket, along with legendary après ski fun at the Papperla Pub, so what are you waiting for!
Getting there: Take the train from Zurich Airport, it takes roughly 3.5 hours with 1 change in Visp
If you’ve skied Switzerland, what are your thoughts? Are any of your favourites missing, or would you rank them differently?