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Snow, Cow Bells and Gluhwein – A Guide to Skiing in Switzerland

Snow, Cow Bells and Gluhwein – A Guide to Skiing in Switzerland

I love skiing. I’ve been doing it since I was old enough to stand up without help and coming from a family of avid skiing enthusiasts, the sport is in my blood. I’ve tried snowboarding a few times, but for some reason it never really did it for me. Not sure why, but I just prefer to ski rather than board. But we all live our lives differently so if you are more into snowboarding, I salute you!

As any skiing enthusiast knows, there are lots of fabulous places to ski in many scenic parts of the world. I can’t claim to have hit the slopes in all of them, but I have been to a few over the years. However, I love Switzerland and this blog is going to be about skiing in Switzerland. Hopefully, if you haven’t been tempted to book a ski trip yet, this might persuade you to give it a go. And if it doesn’t well you are missing out.

Help - I Can’t Ski
You are never too old (or young) to learn how to ski. One of the advantages of learning young, though, is that you have no fear and are more likely to bounce when you fall. Older people tend to be nervous and fearful of breaking a bone or two. Of course skiing is not a risk-free sport, but as long as you are sensible and wear a safety helmet, you can minimise the risks.

If you would rather gain a bit of experience before you travel to a ski resort, book some lessons on a dry ski slope near where you live. Or, if you have access to a real snow slope, give that a try instead. A few preliminary lessons will give you a feel for the sport and help you decide whether (or not) it is for you. If this doesn’t appeal, or you would rather jump in feet first, book lessons at the resort: choose from group lessons or opt for private tuition if your budget allows. Or, if you are feeling really brave, let a more experienced friend or partner teach you the basics.

Fashionable St Moritz
St Moritz has a certain cachet for being the ski destination of the rich and famous. Well it is certainly that and if you fancy shopping for a new Cartier watch après piste, then St Moritz is likely to be perfect for you. The town is divided into two parts. St Moritz Dorf, on the hillside above the lake, is where the fashionable people go. The other (less fashionable) resort is next to the lake and is called St Moritz Bad. Travel here if you want to use it as a base to travel to other ski resorts in nearby Austria and Italy – both are within easy reach via car and train.

The slopes in St Moritz are very high, so snow is pretty much guaranteed. The scenery is fantastic and there are lots of ski runs in St Moritz for intermediate skiers, as well as plenty of fancy hotels and restaurants. You can also try some seriously wacky winter sports if you get bored of skiing. Show jumping on the lake anyone?

Thrilling Off-Piste Skiing in Verbier
Verbier is for the young and hip skiing crowd. The scenery is fantastic and the nightlife amazing. Come to Verbier if you want to ski all day and party all night. The resort is only a couple of hours from Geneva by train, so it’s easy to reach. Snow is almost guaranteed in Verbier, so you are safe to book for the beginning or end of the ski season. Skiing in Verbier is great for all abilities. The resort is famous (and justifiably so) for its off-piste skiing; world champion skiers come to Verbier to test their mettle in the XtremeVerbier championships.

I haven’t been to Verbier for a couple of years, but apparently there is a new complex opening up in the town with bars, cafes, and a luxury hotel. However, if you are looking for chalets in Verbier for next season, there are always plenty to choose from as long as you don’t leave it until the eleventh hour to book. Since Verbier is in French-speaking Switzerland, practice your French before you go.

Picture Postcard Zermatt
If you want some pretty pictures of Alpine chalets to post on Facebook, Zermatt is the place to visit. It quite literally is the world’s most photogenic mountain ski resort. In summer the lanes are filled with musical cows, but in winter the skiing is out of this world. The resort has around 350km of pistes to suit all abilities, from families to experts. It is a bit on the pricey side, but travellers on a budget should be able to find cheap accommodation and budget restaurants to eat in.

One of the main benefits in Zermatt is that the resort is car-free, although you do need to watch out for buses and taxis. The resort is blessed with lots of natural snow, but if the real thing is in short supply, there is always enough artificial snow to ensure you don’t miss out on an early season break. In fact you can even ski during the summer in Zermatt if you want to do things differently! For bargain breaks in Zermatt, go just before Christmas for the prices are lower – it’s very cold at that time of the year, but you can always warm up with a few glasses of festive gluhwein.

Skiing in Switzerland is always amazing, so if you haven’t been before, make sure you book a ski break in a picturesque chocolate box Swiss resort next season.