The Alps are Switzerland’s outdoor playground and it's no secret that this small country is home to an amazing choice of ski resorts – the snowy shenanigans don't stop at Davos,Verbier and St. Moritz. If you’re trying to work out which are the best resorts for a weekend ski break, it helps to start by knowing where they are and what they specialise in. Are you a freerider looking for virgin powder and undiscovered lines? A beginner trying to learn the basics of a snowplough? Or a family group with different levels and a need for entertainment? From big resorts with the best après-ski to small, relatively unknown ski regions that cater particularly well to family ski holidays, this guide to the 10 best ski resorts in Switzerland will help you on your way.
Davos is one of the most famous Swiss ski resorts with a high profile among local and international skiers alike. The region is also well-known as a cross country paradise and offers crisp trails which follow the Flüelatal valley. Off the slopes, the town of Davos tends to be livelier than Klosters village, although it lacks the latter's traditional charms.
The original Swiss ski resort, St. Moritz has welcomed winter tourists for over 150 years. Its success stems from the champagne climate of the Upper Engadine – dry and sunny, with a high degree of snow certainty. There’s a packed programme of events that lasts all winter long – in particular, the White Turf horse races, Snow Polo World Cup and the World Cup Bob and Skeleton attract the crowds here.
Nominally - at least - a newcomer, the ski region that resulted from joining Arosa with neighbouring Lenzerheide appeared in early 2014. Both had operated independently for many years and the combination has some 225km of pistes, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Branding itself the 'Free Republic of Holidays', the Saas Fee ski region stretches between four mountain villages in the far south of Switzerland and offers all year round skiing. An abundance of high altitude pistes and the sunny climate of this resort make it a good choice for late-season ski holidays up to April, as snow certainty is assured. Varied terrain offers something for every level of skier, although it’s particularly good for intermediate skiers building up confidence. There’s plenty to do off the slopes – Saas Fee itself is an idyllic mountain village ringed by 4,000m high peaks, and a packed programme of snow-related events and mountain festivals keeps visitors busy during the winter months.
Known as a resort for serious skiers, Verbier also packs a punch with its nightlife, although it’s a lot more relaxed that glitzier competitors St. Moritz and Gstaad. When you’re not skiing, there’s a packed calendar of high adrenaline events to spectate and the range of restaurants and hotels here has expanded over the past few years.
Zermatt is the highest resort in Europe and the place to come for scenic skiing – at every turn, vistas of the mountains remind you that the long journey up to the resort is worth it. Almost as soon as you arrive, the charm of the town and the Matterhorn skyline will make you warm to Zermatt.
Encompassing the resort villages of Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren, the Jungfrau Region is both enormous and wildly photogenic. While there are beginner slopes across the resorts, the length of even the blue runs plus the wait for a train to take you back up are better suited to confident beginner-intermediates than complete novices. Wengen and Murren have preserved their Alpine charm but don't have much in the way of nightlife; Grindelwald has more of a buzz thanks to the young seasonal ski staff letting off après-ski steam.
Well known as a destination for beginners and families, Laax is a winter resort with more than just skiing on offer. Facilities include four snowparks and an indoor freestyle hall, as well as over 230km of pistes for all levels. The climate is characterised by sun and snow, and scattered around the slopes and the valley are 19 mountain restaurants and 8 bars to welcome guests on a variety of budgets.
Smaller than other Swiss ski resorts and more familiar to locals than international vistors, the centrally located Engelberg is nonetheless blessed with outstanding terrain. The Titlis mountain dominates the resort. There's a cable car up to its summit where less advanced skiers and sightseers can disembark and enjoy a walk over the suspension bridge and a hot chocolate in the restaurant without having to tackle the black slopes of the summit descent.
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