Winter in Switzerland is summed up best in one word: Skiing 🙂 The winter days are short and overcast. Thank goodness for the Alps! It makes winter actually FUN.
There are countless ski resorts in Switzerland and many are just a short distance from Zurich. Some resorts I’ve had the opportunity to visit so far are Flumserberg, Davos Klosters, Engelberg and the world renown, Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn.
Tips and discounts for traveling by SBB, the Swiss railway:
- If you’re traveling by train in Switzerland, the Swiss railway or the SBB, provides a “Snow n Rail” special, which gives a discount when you purchase your train ticket + lift ticket together for many resorts in the country. A great way to ski and save some money.
- Ever feel burdened dragging your snowboard or skis, boots and luggage around town to the resorts? With the SBB’s luggage delivery service, now you don’t have to! For a small fee, just drop off your equipment at your nearby SBB office 2 days prior to your travel and viola, delivery to your door.
Flumserberg is the closest resort to Zurich and only 1.5 hours by train from our doorstep to the chair lift! Stretching 1,000 meters to 1,400 meters above the Walensee, Flumserberg has a respectable 16 lifts and pistes (trails) for all skier types, cross-country trails, snow-shoeing trails and sled runs. It’s a fantastic day-trip coming from Zurich. The best thing about this resort is that I can wake up at 8 am, catch a train to the mountain, happily spend an entire day skiing, and be home by 6:30 pm!
Davos is located on the Landwasser River in the Swiss Alps, and is the highest city in Europe at 1,560 meters (5,120 feet). It is renown for both its diversity of sports as well as being the host for the World Economic Forum. There are 5 different slopes at Davos for winter fun including the Jakobshorn, Parsenn, Pischa, Madrisa and the Rinerhorn. Make sure to check their website for limited specials deals and discounts, like complimentary lift passes when you stay overnight at one of their many partner hotels and apartments.
Engelberg is located in the canton of Obwalden in Central Switzerland and only a 1.5 hour drive from Zurich (and 30 min from Lucerne). Engelberg is another great local resort for all winter sports and an easy day trip from the Zurich and Lucerne areas. There are 8 chairlifts, 7 cableways and 7 drag lifts for a total of 82km of slopes – including some wonderfully un-groomed pistes that made my leg muscles shake halfway down the slope!
Zermatt, home of the infamous Matterhorn, is a 3.5 hour train ride from Zurich and all together an amazing experience, even if you don’t ski or snowboard. Located in the district of Visp in southern Switzerland, the village is situated at an altitude of 1,620 meters and surrounded completely by the Pennine Alps (located in Switzerland & Italy), where the highest peak is over 4,600 meters (14,600+ feet) tall! The mountain is massive and with 3 days on the slopes, we only scratched the surface.
The town of Zermatt has a population of about 5,800 and thrives mainly on tourism. To prevent air pollution, this small town is a car-free zone. One can get around town mainly on foot, by electric taxis or horse-drawn carriages.
Highlights of Zermatt
- Spectacular views of the Matterhorn – we got very lucky with four beautiful, sunny days!
- Riding on the highest train in Europe to the Gornergrat (3,000+ meters) and skiing past the Gornergletscher (the second-largest glacier in the Alps).
- Skiing over to Italy (Cervinia) and having lunch! Note that most lifts stop around 4pm so be careful not to get stuck on the other side.
- Cool bars, restaurants and establishments on the mountain, like the Igloo Village. It’s a restaurant, hotel and spa which melts very year and takes over 3,000 hours to rebuild. Amazing!
The Swiss Alps are truly something to experience, even if you don’t ski or snowboard. There is something everyone in the family can enjoy!