The Swiss Alps are the most dramatic scenic ski mountains anywhere. Switzerland has over 200 ski areas in a country the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined! Skiing in the shadows of The Eiger’s North Face in the Jungfrau Region is as breathtaking as it gets. The Murren’s Schilthorn, Zermatt’s Matterhorn, Titlis Glacier, Mont Fort at Verbier…the list of abrupt alpine peaks goes on. You can ski the world’s oldest, longest World Cup Downhill, the 1930 Lauberhorn race course in Wengen, almost 3 miles and 3,373′ vertical. See how close you can come to Bode Miller’s 2 1/2 minute Gold winning time (it was a 9-minute non-stop run for us). St Moritz Piz Nar is another legendary long steep downhill with 100-degree drop.
The Swiss Lifts – Ride a spinning ski lift, Engelberg’s Titlis Rotair tram turns a full 360 as it ascends the ski slopes of Engelberg. So you get a perfect panorama on your lift ride up to the 9,934′ Titlis Glacier, amazing and ideal for planning your ski down. At St Moritz, the six passenger heated leather chairs are sponsored and placard by “PRADA”. Davos Klosters is a maze of high capacity, high elevation lifts – from Funiculars to bubble chairs to a Tram car with “His Royal Highness – Prince Charles’” name emblazoned on the outside. Ride to Murren’s 9,748′ Schilthorn summit in the Jungfrau, enjoy the spectacular Piz Gloria 360-revolving restaurant, then ski like James Bond- where 007’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed.
Swiss ski lunch is an alpine event. Ski in to mountainside chalets and enjoy Swiss fondue, raclette, rosti potatoes, delicious home-cooked food served by farmers who produce cheese from cows who graze these same mountains in summer. Sunny day, dine on the terrace – beautiful wooden decks with spectacular views of the surrounding Alps. The Europeans know how to do lunch with a Stein of beer or a bottle of wine, way better than a quick greasy burger between runs. Save room for Swiss cake, apple tart, a coffee, or a shot of homemade schnapps so as not to insult your host. Our favorite chalets in The Arlberg and Davos Klosters best mountain huts.
Ski village to village. Swiss trail maps are no bigger than ours stateside (and they still print trail maps). You ski miles and miles of terrain, even into neighboring countries – Switzerland to Italy, France or Austria for example. It’s a true alpine adventure. At Davos Klosters it takes three lifts to reach the Nostalgia Run – which descends 8 miles from the summit to the delightfully small town of Kublis, over 5,000 vertical feet where a train, included in your lift ticket, returns you to the resort.
Off-piste that is off-the-hook. Surprisingly most Swiss skiers stay on the prepared pistes – the few groomed trails off each lift. Advanced skiers can easily go just off the marked runs to long untracked snowfields, then return to the trail and lifts. Better still, hire a mountain guide “bergfuhrer” to take you to epic untouched steeper terrain with avalanche safety protocols. A Swiss ski guide day can eclipse heli-skiing at a fraction of the time and money, a guide is $500 + a day. See our Guide to Hiring a Ski Guide in the Alps.
Swiss Hotels! You will find a plethora of four and five-star lodging in ski villages like St Moritz – Badrutts Palace. Zermatt’s Kulm or Cervo, Gstaad’s Palace and Grand Park Hotel, Andermatt’s Chedi, Hotel W Verbier – all extraordinary. Its decadent returning from downhill skiing to opulence, a ski concierge, spa, scenic balcony and sumptuous down duvets. See our Top Swiss Ski Hotels.
Swiss Trains and Trams. All these beautiful Swiss ski resorts can be reached by Swiss Pass which include trains, buses, boats and trams. The entire system runs with the precision of a Swiss watch. The Swiss Trains are clean, fast, and smooth, with big picture windows and ski storage. See our Guide to Skiing the Alps.
Après Ski! The Europeans invented “drinking in the alps” and continue to raise the bar – literally. By 2pm, there are more skiers enjoying an aperitif on a sun terrace above 8,000′ than skiing the Swiss Alps slopes. It’s still a long ski down from these high elevation apres ski chalets, but the Swiss seem to handle it heartily as they have for a century.
A sunny day in the Swiss Alps is the ultimate – a skier’s best day ever! If you get lucky like we did with two weeks of pure sunshine – it will surpass any other ski trip. Snow, scenery, steeps, glacier skiing, après ski, Swiss fondue, chocolate, need I say more…
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