The Swiss Alps are world-renowned for their beauty, traditional villages full of wooden chalets and their ski resorts. And for very good reason. Some of the world’s best and oldest ski resorts can be found in the peaks and valleys of Switzerland – think Davos, Gstaad, Mürren, Verbier, Wengen and Zermatt. There are also some hidden gems and a surprising number of big resorts that slip under the radar of most British skiers.
Each region of Switzerland is very different and this is reflected in their ski resorts too. Beginners and intermediates will love the likes of Crans-Montana and Villars, those after huge mileage should head to Laax or Lenzerheide, whilst anyone looking for serious off piste terrain is covered by the powder meccas of Andermatt, Engelberg and Grimentz. There’s even summer skiing at Saas-Fee and Zermatt to complete the offering – it is pretty clear that Switzerland has something for everyone!
Away from the slopes, Switzerland is the ideal destination for a group or family with non-skiers. Some resorts – such as Grindelwald, Davos and St Moritz – are as renowned for the quality of their winter walking trails, cross country routes, ice rinks and tobogganing tracks as their skiing (which is of course excellent!). You can also add to this luxury shopping, some top-end spas and a number of the Alps’ finest hotels.
Food is of course another highlight, with most ski lunches packed full of cheese fondue, käseschnitte, rösti and spätzle – perfect skiing fuel. Après ski tends to be a bit quieter than over in France or Austria, tending to focus on a glass of glühwein or a local beer and perhaps some live music, unless you’re in Verbier – home to the famous Pub Mont Fort and Farinet – where the party very much kicks off after the lifts close.
Getting to Switzerland is very easy and you’ve got three airport choices, Geneva, Zürich and Basel. But getting around within Switzerland is perhaps even easier. There’s no need to hire a car here as the railway network is exceptional, impeccably reliable and very comfortable, plus almost every resort is linked to it – those that aren’t are linked by the efficient Postbus system.
The downside is sadly the cost of holidaying in Switzerland, not helped in recent years by a tough exchange rate. Yes, prices here are more expensive than elsewhere in the Alps, but avoid the smart restaurants in the top resorts and you can generally get away without too big a dent in your wallet. If you’re looking to save further, make sure you pre-book your equipment and lift passes online, you’ll save a decent amount of money and the price you pay won’t be much higher than elsewhere.