Switzerland is known for its alpine vistas and its great skiing. Credit: Shutterstock

The Best Ski Resorts in Switzerland

Whether you want to party hard or head off-piste, the Swiss Alps has the best skiing in Europe

Published 11/18/2022 by Hayley Leaver

It’s perhaps not surprising that the country behind the handiest pocket knife you’ll ever own and the best timepieces in the world can craft a pretty good ski resort, too. Skiing in Switzerland doesn’t just offer quality but quantity—you’re never too far from one of its more than 340 ski resorts. 

Skiing is a significant part of life in Switzerland—it’s not uncommon for children to learn to do it before they learn to write—so you can expect to find slopes for every taste and ability. With several of its summits soaring more than 13,000 feet, there are as many black runs as there are blue at ski resorts in Switzerland, and high-altitude challenges for more advanced skiers and snowboarders in Zermatt and Saas-Fee. There’s also a varied après–ski scene that caters to raclette lovers as much as it does ravers in resorts such as Verbier. If we’ve peaked your interest, read on for our pick of the best places for skiing in Switzerland.

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Zermatt

Swiss Alps skiing doesn’t get better than Zermatt. The highest ski resort in Europe, with altitudes between 8,000 and nearly 13,000 feet, car-free Zermatt is one of the only places to ski in Europe 365 days a year. Even during the summer months, you’ll normally find 12 miles of trails open here—compared to 195 miles of pistes at its coldest.

Sitting at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn—probably the most recognizable mountain in the Alps—each one of Zermatt’s famously long runs comes with the most beautiful backdrop. You can admire even more stunning scenery on the Matterhorn Glacier Ride, the world’s highest 3S cable car, which links the Trockener Steg station with the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise 2,412 feet above sea level, where you can ski year-round. Opened in December 2020, Zermatt’s 10-person Kumme gondola, which takes skiers to the Unterrothorn area, is also the first lift in Switzerland to operate without staff and part of the area’s continued investment in this top ski resort.

Not everything is new here, the much-loved Chez Vrony restaurant sits at 1,300 feet high as it has done for more than 100 years. Accessible from the blue run number six, it’s probably the most famous restaurant on the slopes in the Swiss Alps and well worth a visit for the Matterhorn views and signature burger.  

Saas-Fee

Skiing in Switzerland is about good powder and good terrain. Like Zermatt, the high-altitude village of Saas-Fee is also car-free and home to some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery, making it a popular and safe ski destination for families. While it may be the second-highest ski area in the country, it recently collected the top honors for the quality and dependability of its snow at this year’s Best Ski Resort Awards. Its snow reliability and well-groomed pistes have also made it a popular place for ski teams to train. With a good split of blue, red and black runs across its 93 miles of ski trails, it’s good for snowboarders, experienced skiers, and beginners alike. You’ll need to wrap up warm against those high-altitude temperatures, however.

Saas-Fee’s pedestrianized traditional village may suggest a slower pace here, but when the pistes are closed, the party continues with a fairly lively après-ski scene at Nesti’s SkiBar and Fee Iglu Bar. You can also enjoy Michelin-starred cuisine and an impressive selection of Swiss cheese at the Fletschhorn Restaurant.

Verbier

Visitors to Verbier will want to follow their time here with a day or two to recover as it’s one of the most challenging ski resorts in the Swiss Alps. To make the most of the main resort in Switzerland’s largest ski area, the 4 Vallées, you’re going to need stamina. With 255 miles of runs and 93 lifts covered by a single lift pass, you’ll be up early every day. At what’s considered one of the best après-ski resorts in Europe, you’ll be out until late every day too, heading from the piste to the pub, to the club. 

While Verbier is one of the best resorts for snowboarders and advanced skiers, beginners can still practice their snowplowing on the nursery slopes and blue runs at Les Esserts and La Chaux. Those looking for a serious challenge will find it on the high-altitude slopes off the top of Mont Fort and the physically challenging Tortin track. Powder lovers can also try heli-skiing with four drop-off points at Petit Combin, Glacier du Trient, Rosablanche and Pigne d’Arolla.

For high-altitude fun of another kind, Ice Cube’s sunny terrace at the top of the Ruinettes gondola at 7,200 feet is where to start your après-ski on the slopes. From 3 p.m. every day, Le Rouge also hosts its famous après-ski on its panoramic terraces, which you can ski directly to. To carry you through to the early hours, there’s also the Farm Club and Farinet.

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Gstaad

If you like to enjoy your snowplow with a side of celeb spotting, Gstaad, on the western edge of the Bernese Oberland, is where the rich and famous like to winter. Famous residents include former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and actress Julie Andrews, who has had a chalet in the upmarket resort for more than 40 years and has even been awarded honorary citizenship of Saanen, the municipality to which Gstaad belongs. You can find statues by her late husband, the sculptor Blake Edwards, around the town.

Après-ski here is less about shots on skis and more about gourmet restaurants and luxury spas in some of the finest hotels in the world. They don’t come more iconic than the resort’s five-star Gstaad Palace, a castle worthy of Disney that has welcomed guests including Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana and Michael Jackson, who apparently tried to buy it.

While the luxury accommodation may not be for everyone’s budget, there are 124 miles of pistes offering skiing and snowboarding for all abilities up to 9,842 feet. Thanks to the high altitudes, you can expect good quality snow from the end of October until the start of May, with the Glacier 3000 area—Bernese Oberland’s only glacier—staying snowy the longest. Beginners will find Eggli home to nearly 37 miles of wide open, mostly blue runs, while advanced skiers will want to take on the legendary Tiger Run, the resort’s steepest and most challenging slope, starting from the Wasserngrat.

Klosters

When the aristocracy look for the best ski resorts in Switzerland, they choose Klosters. Yet, despite its Royal connections—it’s a favorite of King Charles III—Klosters is much more low-key and affordable than you’d expect. Set in the beautiful Prattigau Valley, 3,937 feet above sea level, it has more of a modest family-friendly vibe compared to its more flamboyant neighbors. The après-ski scene is also much more subdued and focused on good quality restaurants. This is where you come to relax rather than rave when you look for ski resorts in the Swiss Alps.

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It’s also where you come to ski with the experts. Under the same ski pass as neighboring Davos, the Davos-Klosters ski resort covers an impressive 198 miles of slopes and a variety of terrain including popular off-piste areas and lots of cross-country skiing trails. While there are gentle nursery slopes for beginners to practice on in Madrisa, the steep black runs and moguls from Parsenn to Klosters will challenge even the most seasoned skier. Snowboarders are also catered for at Jakobshorn’s parks.