With a landscape dotted with towering Alps, it’s not surprising that Switzerland is one of the most popular ski destinations in the world. In fact, winter sports were invented in Switzerland in the 19th century. But with so many ski resorts to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?
Switzerland boasts more than 250 ski areas in five of her eight Cantons so choosing which resort to visit can be tricky. But with skiers – both downhill and cross country - and snowboarders of all levels well catered for, and an impressive number of cable cars and lifts at each resort, there really is a ski resort to suit everyone.
My numerous visits to Switzerland haven’t included skiing (yet!) but after lots of research, and with the help of the lovely folks at Switzerland Tourism, I’ve come up with a selection of recommended resorts for every level of skier or boarder. Whilst there are heaps of ski resorts with all levels of runs – blue, red and black – the ones listed below are a good place to start if you’re skiing in Switzerland for the first time.
I’ve also included resorts that are most likely to have snow at Christmastime, and those that have snow all year round – yes, you can even ski in Switzerland during summer!
And, if a member of your travelling group isn’t a skier, or you’d like a day’s break from the slopes, a visit to Switzerland’s Christmas Markets is a must. I’ve included a list below of some of Switzerland’s best Christmas Markets for you to visit.
Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland for Beginners
Beginners wanting to hit the ski slopes of Switzerland can head to the internationally known resort of Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn, or choose from any number of other resorts. The Aletsch Arena (Valais region), Arosa-Lenzerheide (Graubunden) or Abelboden-Lenk (Berner Oberland) resorts are all a good choice.
Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland for Intermediate Skiers
With 70 kilometres of red pistes, Crans-Montana (Valais) is well suited to intermediate skiers. Other good options include Verbier (Valais) and Engelberg (Central Switzerland).
Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland for Advanced Skiers
If you’re an advanced skier, why not hit the slopes with the world’s jetsetting skiers at St. Moritz (Engadin), the birthplace of winter sports? Klosters (Graubunden) is another chic resort popular with royalty. It shares a skipass region with Davos, with both resorts covering 305 kilometres of ski terrain. If glitz and glamour aren’t your thing, head to the Thyon les Collons resort in Valais.
Best Family Ski Resorts in Switzerland
The best family holidays are those where both parents and kids are happy and there are plenty of ski resorts in Switzerland that fit the bill. Kids will love the ski schools, toboggan runs and ice rinks while Mum and Dad will love the family discounts. Some resorts even offer ‘kids ski free’ deals. For great family ski holidays in Switzerland, consider Grindelwald (Berner Oberland), Davos/Klosters and Chateau-d’Oex (Vaud).
You can read more about Grindelwald and the Jungfrau Ski Region in this article.
Ski Resorts in Switzerland most likely to have snow at Christmastime
A white Christmas is something that many of us hope to experience so if you are heading to Switzerland and plan to ski at Christmastime, you want to be sure that there is going to be snow. Generally speaking, the higher the resort, the more likely you are to have snow and a few Swiss ski resorts actually guarantee it.
Ski resorts guaranteeing snow at Christmas include Saas-Fee, St. Moritz, Zermatt and Davos/Klosters.
Further reading: Zermatt, the perfect luxury getaway destination
Best Resorts in Switzerland for Summer Skiing
Zermatt is the highest year-round ski resort in Europe and skiers can enjoy summer skiing at 3,883 metres. The Zermatt Matterhorn website boasts that you can have ‘a summer adventure in a bikini’ - I’m not sure I’m game for that, but it would be a surreal feeling to swoosh across the Theodul Glacier in your swim suit!!
Summer skiing is available from June to November.
Saas-Fee, close to Zermatt, is another resort that offers summer skiing on its 20 kilometres of pistes on the Allallin Glacier. Here you can enjoy summer skiing from early June to the end of October.
Christmas Markets in Switzerland
The Swiss cities of Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lucerne and Montreux all host large Christmas Markets from late November each year but you’ll find smaller markets in many of the smaller towns and villages and most ski resorts.
Mulled wine, gingerbread, wooden Christmas decorations and pine trees are just some of the many products you’ll find for sale at Switzerland’s Christmas Markets but the real attraction for many is the chance to mingle with other shoppers, listen to carol singers and share the goodwill of the season.
With excellent public transport connections between Switzerland’s ski resorts and major cities, visiting the Christmas Markets of Switzerland before, during or after your ski holiday is easy.
Further reading: Where to spend Christmas in Switzerland
Accommodation at Switzerland’s Ski Resorts
Most Swiss ski resorts offer a range of accommodation across all budgets. Hotels, chalets and apartments are popular whilst companies like Club Med offer fully inclusive holidays at their ski resorts in St. Moritz and Wengen.
Getting to Switzerland’s Ski Resorts
No Swiss ski resort is more than three hours from a major city, so getting to the slopes is easy. SBB, the Swiss railway system, offers excellent connections from all major cities and towns in Switzerland. Whether you fly into Geneva or Zurich, or another European country, public transport options are plentiful.
Now that you are ready to plan your own ski holiday in Switzerland, you can get more information on individual ski resorts by visiting the Switzerland Tourism website.
See Skimax for a range of Ski packages to Switzerland.
Images supplied by Switzerland Tourism.