THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SKIING SWITZERLAND
Switzerland, the land of fondue, raclette, chocolate, spätzli and skiing, lots and lots of skiing.
The landlocked country boasts over a 200 ski resorts accessed by trams, gondolas, chairlifts and nestled within classic alpine peaks including the Matterhorn, Eiger and Monte Rosa. How do you choose where to ski? This may help.
Kids will love Wengen, accessed by a cog railway through a tunnel in the mountains to arrive high above the Lauterbrunnen valley. Wengen lies along the route to Jungfraujoch, the highest station in Europe. The resort is pedestrian only (except private taxis and hotel vehicles). Mum and Dad will love the baby ski slopes accessed from the centre of the village. Expect a chilled out village with an outdoor ice rink and stunning views.
Who can resist the beauty of the Matterhorn and its pyramid like peak that thrusts skyward from the Swiss Alps. But that’s not all that’s beautiful about Zermatt. Skiing on the Klein Glacier is one, skiing from Switzerland to Italy and back again is another, the silence of a car free village, the amphitheater of 4000 + metre peaks that create the valley, the longest winter skiing in Europe, need we go on?
A picture box Swiss village of alpine chalets, narrow laneways, cow sheds and more. The resort is car free which just adds to the old world charm. Zermatt is over the ridge so expect the same soaring peak views and the high altitude ensures crisp dry snow.
To brush shoulders with the rich and famous
This sophisticated resort has regularly hosted Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Robert de Niro, the king of Sweden, John Travolta and a plethora of families that need only one name (think Trump and Heineken). Slip into Badrutt’s Palace hotel for a hot chocolate or a martini at the hotel’s Mario Bar and brush up on your celebrity spotting. If you can get your name on the list for the Dracula Club at the Kulm Hotel then you’ll have a ticket to the resort’s inner guest sanctum.
The British Royal family have called the slopes of Davos their winter holiday home for generations. Prince Charles is a regular and the younger royals have been seen here. Add the global power of the World Economic Forum each January and expect the likes of the Clintons, Angelina Jolie, Bono, Bill Gates and the like.
For advanced skiers & snowboarders
There’s a reason the Freeride World Tour hold their extreme skiing event on Verbier’s Bec des Rosses face. Verbier is a freeride paradise for those who like their skiing steep and off piste. Try Tortin and Gentianes runs inbounds for resort accessed steep pitch or the famous Stairway To Heaven hike to ski area. Head off piste into the side and back country (with a guide) off the back of Mont Fort and ski down powder filled bowls to a dam. Not enough? Jump into a heli, Verbier is one of a handful of resorts in Europe that offer heli accessed skiing.
Switzerland’s freerider paradise for off piste lovers, Engelberg Titlis, boasts 2000 metres of vertical. The unique topography of Titlis means powder descents from 3020 metres above sea level down to Engelberg at 1000 metres above sea level. The snow is so consistent you can pretty much ski this off piste area all season long. Though, as always, go with a professional guide who knows the terrain.
For the best après
With big mountain skiing comes big mountain partying. Verbier is the undoubted king of Swiss apres. Hang at James Blunt’s La Vache restaurant (he owns the restaurant with Carl Fogarty and Lawrence Dallaglio), hit up the Après Bar at the Farinet and dance on tables in ski boots or head to The Pub Mont Fort to share schnapps with the seasonaires. Head to the exclusive Farm Club and Coco Club and order champagne with the hoi palloi. Take Berocca, you’ll need it.
You’ll find plenty of apres to keep you dancing in your ski boots in Zermatt. Ski into Hennu Stall, the ski town’s most famed apres venue for traditional post ski vibes. Try the equally famed Papperla Pub in town or the on mountain Cervo bar. All three boast live music on different days. For a Swiss lederhosen feel head to Harry’s Bar for Instagram worthy partying. The Brits take over Pollux Bar each season, Snowboat bar is a ‘yacht in the snow’, Papa Caesar in Hotel Post is worth a late night boogie and Grampi’s for a piano singalong or Hexenbar in Hotel Zermatterhof for people watching.