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Skiers' Guide to Switzerland - Best Winter Sports Resorts

With approximately 150 ski areas, suitable for all levels of the winter sports lovers, Switzerland has some of the best skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and sledging, not only in Europe – the country is undoubtedly at the center of the winter sports universe. The scenic beauty of the Swiss Alps, its perfect slopes and wide range of accommodation make this country a favorite among ski enthusiasts. For beginners, all Swiss resorts have high quality ski schools where you can just turn up and pay for a day’s or week’s group or private tuition.

Accommodation ranges from luxurious 5-star resorts, private chalets and apartments and cozy family run establishments. Switzerland’s reputation and popularity means you need to book early to secure good accommodation for the peak January-March period. A common misconception is that prices in Swiss resorts are high, however they relate closely to other Alpine destinations. The exceptional infrastructure means that you will get great value and exceptional hospitality – all part of the true Swiss ski experience. If you’re new to skiing in Switzerland, try Zermatt, Villars, Davos, Verbier or Saint Moritz.

Ski Areas in Switzerland

Ski Paradise

The Matterhorn ski paradise extends from the Rothorn (3,103 m above sea level), through Gornergrat (3,089 m above sea level) to the Matterhorn glacier paradise (3,883 m above sea level) and the Schwarzsee (2,583 m above sea level).

Four Valleys

The 4 Vallées Ski area is one of the largest lift-linked areas in the world and the best groomed in Switzerland. The maximum trail, when conditions are right, involves a trail of 15km (nearly 15 km) descending more than 2,500 m again one of the biggest and best verticals in the world.

Aletsch

The Aletsch ski region in Switzerland encompass a total of 49 individual pistes between the resorts of of Bettmeralp, Fiescheralp and Riederalp.

Crans-Montana (altitude from 1500m to 3000m)

Once two separate Swiss villages, Crans and Montana officially merged in the 1960s. Together they compromise an area of 40,000 bed base and are 6km long, with a modern, lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The 50 individual pistes, served by 34 ski lifts that are able to uplift 36,520 snow sports enthusiasts/per hour, make the place a highly rated destination among all winter lovers. Crowned by the Plaine-Morte glacier, the vertical drop is a respectable 1524 metres.

Crans Montana’s main skiing is divided in to three areas although they are all well lift-linked to one another and by five different gondola lifts from various parts of the resort itself. The biggest is Cry d’Err , the second Violettes – location of many of the resort’s tougher runs, and the third Aminona above the purpose built centre of the same name.

Intermediate level skiers will find plenty to occupy them at all levels, particularly the long run down from the Plaine Morte glacier. There are some 30km of cross country trails, including a high altitude loipe on the glacier, and the Foulée Blanche race is staged in the resort each January.

Sierre-Anniviers

The Sierre-Anniviers ski area has  a total of 80 individual pistes that allow you to ski through the resorts of Grimentz, Chandolin, Vercorin and Zinal.

The altitude of the pistes is above 2500 m and is ideal for all levels of winter sports lovers.

Saastal

The Saastal Ski Area includes the Swiss ski resorts of Saas – Balen, Saas-Fee (above) and Saas Grund. With a combined total of 56 individual pistes, both beginners and advanced skiers, will find plenty of action.

Leukerbad (altitude from 1410m to 2850m)

It doesn’t matter whether you’re sports fanatic, adrenalin crazy or in search for a quiet family holiday in the snow, Leukerbad, the largest thermal spa and wellness resort in the Alps offers a wide range of options and activity programs amidst the Valais mountains at approx. 1,400 metres above sea level.

From Leukerbad you get access to 50km of downhill skiing, with 18 individual pistes, all served by 16 ski lifts. Six drag lifts a chair and a cable car connect the skiing areas of Torrent and Albinen. From the top at 2610m there are spectacular views over the Alps with their 4.000m peaks.

And after an active day on the ski runs you can lie back in the outdoor pool and relax in the warm thermal water and let the snow flakes dance all around you: this is the perfect way of experiencing winter in Leukerbad!

Lötschental (altitude from 1300m to 2700m)

The Lotschental Valley, with the Langgletscher glacier at its head contains many picturesque and unspoilt spots. A cable car from can take you to the main downhill area where there are runs for all standards and the option to ski tour with a guide.

The Swiss ski resort of Lötschental has direct access to 25km of downhill skiing, with 10 individual pistes, served by 4 ski lifts. There is skiing to suit a range of abilities.

Anzère (altitude from 1420m to 2500m)

Anzere is a lovely ski area with resorts in traditional Swiss architectural style, close to Crans-Montana. It is very popular, partly because it is the sunniest spot in Switzerland, according to official statistics.

The Swiss ski area is part of the Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises and provide skiers with direct access to 40km of downhill skiing, with 15 individual pistes, served by 13 ski lifts. Anzère gives skiers good access to the pistes of the other Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises ski resorts of Château d’Oex, Les Diablerets, Leysin and Villars – Gryon.

Villars – Gryon (altitude from 1200m to 2100m)

Villars – Gryon gives you an easy access to 67 well groomed individual pistes, served by 16 ski lifts. In addition to the skiing in Villars – Gryon itself (100km of pisted ski runs), the appropriate ski lift pass will allow you to unconditionally ski or snowboard in the other Glacier-Alpes Vaudoises ski resorts of Anzère, Château d’Oex, Les Diablerets and Leysin. Villars – Gryon is directly linked by Ski Lift to the ski areas of Anzère.

Experts have several black runs to enjoy including a long descent from the Roc d’Orsay and shorter runs from Chaux Ronde and Petit Chamossaire down to Bretaye. There are also off piste opportunities all over the area with the ski school guides and other expert routes over at the glacier.

Intermediates have pretty well all the rest of the terrain suited to them and for beginners there is a choice of two friendly ski schools (and an additional snowboarding one). Regional, national and international competitions are staged regularly in the area. A further park is normally open on the glacier when the glacier lifts are operational later in the season or when there is limited snow cover in the main ski area earlier in the winter.

Jungfrau

The Jungfrau Ski Region in Switzerland may not be the biggest ski area in the world, but it’s probably the most picturesque. Comprised of 3 ski areas: Grindelwald-First, Murren-Schilthorn and Kleine Scheidegg-Mannlichen it’s primarily accessed by three grand old resorts – Grindelwald, Wengen and Murren, although the likes of Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken are quite handily placed if you’re looking to ski in more than one of the areas and want to save a bit of money on acommodation.

Adelboden-Lenk (altitude from 1053 – 2400 m)

Adelboden-Lenk stretches out over the two valley villages Adelboden and Lenk. It is divided into four unconnected areas: Frutigen-Elsigen-Metsch, Engstligenalp, Adelboden-Lenk and Betelberg-Lenk. Each area is accessible by a cost-free skibus, however waiting time and distances between the areas need to be taken into consideration when planning the day. A diverse range of trails as well as the high altitude of guarantee snow and fun for winter lovers of all ability levels until springtime. The villages of Lenk and Adelboden are located in two different valleys, with a distance of 80 km in between and connected by pistes.

The Haslital Region mixes rural traditions with a modern outlook. The 1708 m altitude and the three sledge runs, offer ski enthusiast great opportunities for adrenaline boost.  The two main resorts, Meiringen at the base of the valley and the higher one Hasliberg, are linked by a cable car.

Lenzerheide – Valbella (altitude from 1500m to 2870m)

Two centres with a large, mostly intermediate standard ski area of 155k and 58 pistes between them.  The high altitude of the region allows winter sports lovers to run down the slopes and enjoy the snow cover all season.

The snow cover in the area is usually good but during warm and sunny days it might be a little less. Lenzerheide is developing their artificial snow systems to cover more slopes.

Engadin – St. Moritz

Switzerland’s largest winter sports region has the greatest variety of ski pistes in a snowy high mountain landscape. The resorts enchant visitors with the beautiful scenery, its legendary glamour, and its harmonious fusion of nature and tradition.

The sun-blessed Alpine valley and the 350 km of piste, 200 km of cross-country ski trails and 150 km of winter walking paths, make Engadin – St. Moritz one of the most inspiring winter sports areas in Switzerland. One of the most beautiful as well.

The four ski areas, with slopes facing in every direction, allow snow sports lovers to enjoy sunshine and superb snow throughout the day. And you can be sure that the resorts are very well groomed – there is an ongoing investment in the facilities, because of the annual Alpine Ski World Cup races. The high-altitude ski areas of Diavolezza and Corvatsch, the all-round Corviglia area (with snowboard fun park and snow sports school zones) and the family ski area of Zuoz meet a wide variety of requirements.

Flims-Laax-Falera

The large skiing area Alpenarena Flims-Laax-Falera is located in Graubünden, Switzerland. Alpenarena Flims-Laax-Falera has 220 km of slopes, including 63 easy, 71 medium and 86 difficult. 29 ski lifts connect the slopes between 1100 and 3018 meters altitude. The villages part of this skiing area are Flims, Laax and Falera.

Silvretta

The Silvretta Arena provides skiing fun with no limits, and not just because it stretches from Austria into Switzerland. The Silvretta Arena is one of the largest connected ski regions in Europe, with numerous lifts between Ischgl and Samnaun. Pistes stretch up to 2,870 metres of altitude into the mountains of the Silvretta. More than 90% of the excellent pistes and lift facilities are above 2,000 metres of altitude. This is also the reason for the skiing region’s extraordinary snow security. The winter season lasts from the beginning of December until the beginning of May.

Winter enthusiasts from around the world swear by Ischgl’s high standards as a skiing region, facilities and accommodation. Many believe that it is the best skiing region. Joyful gliding or intensive carving – in Ischgl you will find it all.

photo: Saas-Fee

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