Switzerland has long been associated with iconic snow-capped mountains and cozy ski towns that are home to some of the most popular slopes in the world. If you have Switzerland in your sights, then these five ski villages are worthy ski goals.
Grindelwald, Wengen and Mürren
Not everyone is a natural-born skier, and if that describes you, Grindelwald is perfect. This popular ski region is located near the three peaks of the Jungfrau and offers a variety of closely-situated runs for beginner, intermediate and expert skiers. A convenient rail line connects all three of these areas. If your group includes a mix of beginners and seasoned skiers, opt for a stay in Grindelwald. One ski ticket gives you access to its gentle beginner slopes and nearby Wengen for more experienced skiers. Note, however, that only experts are encouraged to attempt the more challenging slopes at Mürren.
And when it’s time to relax, there are plenty of non-sport activities you can enjoy. Have a leisurely lunch in Wengen at the base of the slopes or just take in the scenery. It’s so beautiful that it served as inspiration for JRR Tolkien's mythical land Rivendell and the backdrop for James Bond’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
It’s pretty common in Switzerland for nearby ski towns to be connected. Parsenn acts as the link between the two posh ski villages Davos and Klosters. This region is best known for its long ski runs, with the longest being 13 kilometers, spanning from Weissfluhgipfel to Küblis. Depending on the direction you travel, you can easily access Parsenn by cable car or train.
This particular village is more aristocracy than budget with countless four- and five-star resorts available for your stay and a real town below the slopes. It’s not surprising to spot various members of the British royal family zipping down these runs.
St. Moritz has historical importance for skiing and Switzerland. The very first ski school in the country, the Swiss Ski School, was founded here in 1929 and has been in operation ever since. This ritzy town also hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948. The best way to describe St. Moritz is that it’s a well-heeled ski village with something for everyone. Whether you’re the person who wants to spend all day on the slopes or you want nothing to do with a pair of skis, there’s still plenty of ways to spend your time during your winter holiday in St. Moritz.
Brave skiers can try their hand at night-skiing runs in Corvatsch. Although a pricier vacation spot, there are a variety of other winter sports ranging from ice skating to curling, horse racing and cricket. If you’re not into sports, head over to the St. Moritz Casino to try your luck or enjoy some designer retail therapy at the boutiques on Via Serlas. And if you’re craving a night on the town, St. Moritz delivers with a range of posh clubs and low-key pubs.
If your dream is to see the Matterhorn, then Zermatt is a year-round ski village that you need to put at the top of your list. This iconic town offers up-close views of the towering mountain and some of the highest-elevation ski slopes in Switzerland, with heights that reach a staggering 3900 meters! This is one of the few ski regions where skiers can actually begin their runs in Switzerland and finish in the Italian trails since the Matterhorn straddles both countries.
Zermatt could also be considered a “safety first” ski town. They recently launched a GPS-backed “Zermatt Skiguide” app that provides real-time navigation support that adjusts to current weather conditions, your ski skills level and operation status for nearby lifts and slopes. Most importantly, Zermatt is perfect for skiers of all skill levels. When you’re ready to put your skis away for the day, there are countless gastropubs and bistros throughout the mountainside that offer world-class cuisine. Eco-focused travelers will literally enjoy taking in a breath of fresh air thanks to the village’s car-free environment.
So, the majority of the ski villages listed in this post are well known and very popular — read “crowded during high season.” If the idea of fighting through hordes of skiers to reach the lifts is a turnoff, you’re going to love Andermatt. Pretty much every major travel authority lists this ski village as “one to watch.” And that means that in the next few years, it’s going to become a hotspot and overrun with tourists. But for now, it’s a somewhat hidden gem.
Andermatt recently opened additional lifts, so it’s easier to navigate between the various intermediate slopes. They’ve also opened smoother runs so that less experienced skiers can enjoy the region as well. In 2018, the Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen, the town’s first four-star hotel, opened. So clearly, the shift to posh ski town is on the horizon.
Whether you prefer that authentic chalet experience or like to be pampered at a luxury resort, Switzerland has a variety of gorgeous ski villages to fit your tastes and wallet. Which will you choose — a village where you can rub elbows with royalty or a lesser known powder gem?