Resorts in Review: Skiing in Switzerland
Switzerland, which is 70% mountains, is a record-breaking skiing area, not just in Europe. It has around 250 ski areas, which together add up to over 7,000 kilometres of perfectly groomed pistes, 1,812 ski lifts serve these. The land of the four-thousand-metre peaks offers breathtaking and snow-sure skiing pleasure pure and simple, as well as the highest ski area in Europe. A skiing holiday in Switzerland promises something extraordinary.
Highlights for skiers in Switzerland
A small country on a grand scale! Home to 48 four-thousand-metre peaks, with Dufourspitze being the highest at 4,634m. It is closely followed by the Swiss landmark, the Matterhorn at 4,478m and the legendary Jungfrau at 4,158m.
It is also home to Europe’s largest ski area, which is also the world’s biggest: Les Portes du Soleil. Then there are the longest runs in Europe with 15 km in the Matterhorn ski area and 14 km in Saas-Fee. The highest mountain station in Europe, the Matterhorn, at 3,821 m. The highest suspension bridge in Europe, the Titlis Cliff Walk in Engelberg, with 100 m in length and 500 m in height.
The longest World Cup run in the world with 4.5 kilometres at the Lauberhorn in Wengen. To top it all off, with 21 kilometres of pistes, Zermatt-Matterhorn is also the largest summer ski area in Europe.
Have we forgotten anything? Oh yes, St. Moritz was also the first ski resort in Europe.
The largest ski area in Switzerland
By far the largest ski area in Europe and, with over 600 kilometres of pistes, the largest in the world is Les Portes du Soleil. But strictly speaking, the Swiss cannot boast of this alone; they have to share this trophy with the French. The cross-border ski area is partly located in the neighbouring country.
But it is not the only large ski area that Switzerland has to offer. There are also Les 4 Valleès with almost 410 kilometres of pistes, Zermatt with 360 km and St. Moritz with 330 km.
The highest ski area in Switzerland
The highest ski area in Switzerland is also the highest in Europe – another record: the Matterhorn in the ski area starts at 1,620 m and reaches its highest point with the highest mountain station in Europe 3,389 m above sea level.
The oldest ski resort in Switzerland
In the winter of 1864, St. Moritz was officially opened as the first ski resort in Europe. The winter sports resort also advertises itself as the birthplace of winter tourism and winter sports. In 1929, Switzerland’s first ski school was opened.
The best ski resort in Switzerland
With so many records, it’s hard to choose which is the best ski resort. It can be confidently said that Samnaun and Ischgl are probably among the best in the country. The family-friendly (Samnaun) and very lively (Ischgl) ski area are also considered the best in Austria, as the two countries share the location.
However, Les Quatre Vallées, located on the French border, should not be underestimated with its huge and varied network of pistes. Advanced and experienced skiers, in particular, will get their money’s worth.
The steepest descent in Switzerland
We forgot another record – the steepest downhill run in Europe, and the world! “Le Mur Suisse” is the free fall on skis. In some places, the gradient is actually 100%, so you can only jump. What makes it even more complex: it is a mogul slope.
Skiing in Switzerland for beginners
Crans Montana: There are many beautiful Swiss resorts for beginners, but the unique feature of Crans Montana’s beginner area, “Snow Island”, is that it is a golf course in summer. Golf courses are not usually known for their steep slopes, which should give you an idea of how flat the slopes are there.
There are magic carpets, a snack bar with nice deck chairs right next to it, and a snow tyre and toboggan area should you need a break. Most of the 55 km of blue runs are separated from the rest of the ski area, so beginners have everything to themselves and can learn in peace.
Davos: Davos has created the first “slow and easy” mountain in Europe with the “Slow Mountain” on the Schatzalp. The area with eight kilometres of blue pistes is located away from the rest of the ski area, so beginners can ski at their own pace without speed demons passing them every few seconds.
At neighbouring Rinerhorn, kids can let off steam in Kinderland, which has some nice easy runs as well as a fun run through a witch’s forest!
You can read more about the best beginner ski areas here.
Skiing in Switzerland for advanced skiers
Switzerland once hosted the Winter Olympics, which St. Moritz and Corviglia hosted. There is a well-developed network of trails there and also many challenging red (79 km) and black (34 km) runs.
Skiing in Switzerland for experts
Although the many kilometres of blue pistes make the Arosa-Lenzerheide ski area well suited to beginners, the 87 km of reds and 28 km of blacks offer plenty of variety for any experienced skier.
You will particularly enjoy the World Cup and training course of the professional Silvano Beltrametti, which has a gradient of up to 66%. This makes it one of the most difficult downhill runs in the world.
Skiing in Switzerland for freeriders
Switzerland is a Mecca for freeriders. Not only because of the altitude and the accompanying snow guarantee, but also because of the 90 or so official freeride routes. While in Davos, the experienced deep-snow skiers don’t want to go home at all, powder snow newcomers can throw themselves into the white bliss for the first time in Andermatt. Tourers will find the best and most challenging tours in Verbier.
Skiing in Switzerland for Freestylers
Those who know their way around the freestyle scene will be familiar with the snow park in Laax. This has been the number one snow park in the Alps for several years now.
Switzerland has another world record: the longest halfpipe! There are 90 obstacles, lines from beginner to pro, a superpipe and ski and boardercross tracks.
Skiing in Switzerland for families
In general, all ski resorts in Switzerland are family-friendly. It’s a lot quieter here than some Austrian resorts like Ischgl or Kitzbühel as far as après-ski is concerned. So you can count on relative peace and quiet everywhere.
However, the ski resort of Grächen in the Valais is often mentioned when it comes to family friendliness. With 44 km of blue pistes, free childcare, four family parks, an adventure playground, a special family restaurant and a fairytale gondola, the little ones will definitely not get bored.
The Arosa-Lenzerheide ski area also scores particularly well in terms of family-friendliness with three free children’s lands, excellent ski schools and family runs. If the weather should be bad, there is an indoor playground.
Accommodation in Switzerland
The standard in Switzerland is very high, as the crème-de-la-crème spend their exclusive ski holidays there. However, there is not only accommodation for the rich, but also down-to-earth cosy hotels. Despite all this, the traditional and historic resorts have managed to retain their typical Swiss charm. You will indeed have to dig a little deeper into your pockets when it comes to accommodation than in other countries such as Germany or Austria.
For families, look out for special discounts that many hotels often offer together with ski passes. All-inclusive packages can be particularly worthwhile, as food and drink are not cheap either.
Eating and drinking in Switzerland
Food is of a very high quality, even if slightly more expensive.
Don’t miss out on a Swiss cheese fondue or raclette! You would regret it. Since you’ll be busy burning calories on the slopes, you can indulge in the mind-blowing Swiss chocolate without regret.
Prices in Switzerland
It’s definitely the most expensive ski holiday destination in Europe. On average, you have to shell out 1,500 euros per week for hotel and ski pass. But, there are also somewhat cheaper regions, such as the Gotthard-Oberalp Arena at around 840 euros per week or Brigels from 700 euros per week.
If you still don’t want to miss out on the unique record-breaking Swiss skiing experience, it is often worth booking very early, such as in the Arosa-Lenzerheide ski area. In addition, like everywhere else, prices are a lot cheaper in the low season. If you buy ski passes online, they are usually cheaper.