Dramatic mountain scenery and alluring traffic-free alpine villages make skiing in Switzerland hard to beat.
Switzerland is home to some of Europe’s top ski resorts. They’re all full of character, surrounded by incredible alpine scenery, and offer reliable snow cover from late November until the end of March. From the unparalleled winter glitz of St. Moritz’s to the challenging pistes of Zermatt at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn, we’ve pinpointed four resorts that showcase the Swiss mountains at their most extraordinary.
Andermatt: Advanced skiers’ paradise
Drive time from Zurich: 1h 30m
Until around a decade ago, this resort in the beautiful Urseren Valley enjoyed an existence of relative obscurity. Few of Europe’s skiers headed to its varied terrain, and locals kept quiet about its excellent backcountry. The secret is slowly getting out, but despite the steady rise in visitors, it has maintained its charm.
With steep bowls, challenging black-diamond runs, and kilometers of untouched backcountry, the resort is perfect for intermediate or advanced skiers and snowboarders who enjoy a challenge. It’s easy to find untouched powder, but a local guide will unlock many possibilities. At night, the pretty fairy-lit village offers traditional restaurants and cozy bars.
Pick of the pistes: Conserve energy for the long black run from the top of the Gurschen lift to the village. It’s a thrilling finish to the day, and you’ll certainly earn your dinner.
St. Moritz: Living the high life
Drive time from Zurich: 2h 30m
In 1864, St. Moritz became the birthplace of winter sports, and more than 150 years later, the upmarket resort in the Engadin valley remains one of Europe’s most popular mountain destinations. High altitudes and 88 pistes spread across three main areas guarantee snow-sure, world-class skiing, while the town’s proximity to the Italian border also ensures plenty of bluebird days throughout the season.
While it retains its reputation as the Alps’ glitziest resort, with high-end hotels lined up next to Michelin-starred restaurants and designer fashion boutiques, the lakeside town is also renowned for its unbridled sense of fun, both on and off the slopes – expect a packed calendar of winter music festivals and sporting events, including an annual polo tournament on the frozen lake.
Pick of the pistes: The Corviglia area is the easiest to access and is an intermediate playground with plenty of long cruising runs and a handful of testing blacks. Few routes are as fun as the Paradiso red run, which ends at a hut of the same name with incredible views and excellent hot chocolate.
Zermatt: A world-renowned classic
Drive time from Zurich: 3h 40m
You can expect snow cover from early December in Switzerland’s most famed resort, making it a fantastic option for trips before Christmas. It’s also a time when the beautiful, car-free town twinkles the brightest as the wonky wooden chalets and narrow streets get draped in lights and decorations. If you can’t visit during the festivities, fear not – there’s skiable terrain all year round thanks to Zermatt’s glacier and high-tech artificial snowmaking.
The town sits in the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn, which is visible from across every swathe of the resort’s varied terrain–all linked by one of the most state-of-the-art lift systems in Europe. Around two-thirds of the runs are red, which makes it ideal for intermediates looking for long, scenic runs with plenty of challenge, while experts will love the chance to get off-piste in the avalanche-controlled backcountry.
Pick of the pistes: On a clear morning, take the mid-mountain Gant-Hohtälli gondola to 3,286m and choose your red run–you’ll experience 11km of cruising descents with unbeatable views of the Matterhorn.
Saas-Fee: Gentle, sun-soaked slopes
Drive time from Zurich: 3h 50m
While many Swiss resorts cater to a crowd who’ve been skiing since they could walk, Saas-Fee has become a hotspot for less advanced skiers and snowboarders. The nursery slopes are a short walk from the main street and offer quiet, gentle slopes overseen by experienced ski schools. Once it’s time to progress to a blue run, there are many on the glacier, allowing beginners to experience high-altitude thrills.
When it’s time to take a break from learning the basics, you can sit back and let gravity work on an entire mountain dedicated to tobogganing. Away from the slopes, the town has avoided mass development, meaning it’s a pretty place to wander around, stopping for coffee on the outdoor terraces, or shopping in the independent boutiques.
Pick of the pistes: The Plattjen area is perfect for intermediates looking for long red runs. The lap from top-to-bottom of the Plattjen gondola combines a cruising red with a blue or black, depending on your confidence level.