Switzerland and skiing are almost synonymous. Switzerland has one of the longest skiing seasons in the Alps with slopes for every level of expertise. The scenery in the Swiss Alps is legendary with some of the highest peaks in Europe including the Matterhorn above Zermatt. There are many vehicle-free villages with excellent restaurants serving first class cuisine on and off the mountains.
The Swiss transportation system is reliable and convenient for reaching all the ski resorts, and no resort is more than three hours from a major city. The most well-known ski resorts are the playground of the rich and famous, but there is plenty of accommodation and discounts for budget skiers.
Switzerland’s largest ski resort is Davos, and it is also one of the highest towns in Europe. There are five ski areas that surround Davos. A funicular railway takes skiers up 2,750 metres to Weissfluhjoch at the top of the Parsenn. Skiers can ski back to the town or go north westerly to the neighbouring resort of Klosters.
Davos is a good place for intermediate and advanced skiers with off-piste skiing, cruising runs up to 15 kms and great mogul slopes. The Jakobshorn area is where snowboarders gather for the excellent slopes. Beginners and families enjoy the Pischa area where the slopes are gentle, not crowded and sunny.
Davos has many of good bars and restaurants for comfortable and friendly après ski. There are also many restaurants on the mountains. Other winter sports include an ice rink, snowshoeing, and high altitude skiing as well as a gym, indoor pool and heated outdoor pool.
Classed as a top five ski area in the world, Verbier also has the most challenging runs in Europe.
There are four valleys that connect the ski resorts of Verbier, Nendaz, La Tzoumaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon and Les Collons. Verbier is the largest skiing area, but the others may have lower prices with access to skiing at Verbier. All of the resorts have good facilities with bars, restaurants, cafes and sport centres that make them a good choice for families. They also have a quieter nightlife than Verbier.
Verbier is a good place for advanced and intermediate skiers because of its many challenging runs and off-piste. Expert skiers look to Verbier for the most challenging skiing in the Swiss Alps. There is a good ski and snowboarding school with a lot for children to do. It also has a snowboard park, ice rink, high altitude skiing, snowshoeing and skidoo. The Verbier Nissan Xtreme Freeride Contest is held there every year.
The runs for beginners are near the village centre with new magic carpet lifts. The intermediate skier has 206 kms of runs with 43 lifts and a variety of terrain. With new challenges every day, advanced skiers find Verbier a paradise. They have a glacier and the Tortin snow bowl with high moguls all the way down to the bottom.
Wengen, in the Jungfrau pass, is a car-free village with excellent skiing facilities. Skiers get access to the slopes by train or the Mannlichen cable car.
The beginner’s slopes are in Wengen and above Grindelwald and a blue piste at Oberjoch which is a slow speed zone. There are excellent ski schools with English speaking instructors. Intermediates have 213 kms of pistes with relaxing runs as well as more challenging runs down the Kleine Scheidegg Mountain. Two exceptional runs are from Oberjoch to Grindelwald for 8 kms and from Eigergletscher to Wengernalp.
The run called Black Rock and the Lauberhorn World Cup run are only for very advanced skiers. They begin at the base of the Eiger. It is the longest downhill course in the world and skiers reach speeds up to 160 km/h. There is also a famous black almost vertical run in Murren called Kanonenrohr. Wengen has two half-pipes as well as a terrain park.
The après ski is lively with bars and restaurants in the area, but the general atmosphere in Wengen is more subdued and relaxing. There is a cinema which often shows English language films. Non-skiers also visit Wengen for the majestic views of the Eiger and the surrounding mountains, but the skiing is best for beginners and intermediates.