One of the biggest advantages of living in Switzerland is that the winter is not a boring season where you sit inside hoping for the cold weather to pass. You can actually enjoy yourself and find the sun, that is hiding behind the clouds! Even though I had no experience with winter sports before I set foot in Switzerland. But, I put my ski boots on and practiced so much around the different ski areas, that I can even do a black slope these days.
Now, I am happy to share the best ski areas around Zürich with you.
About 1,5 hours drive from Zürich
Ski level: all
Price for a ski pass: 69 CHF
I am starting the list with Davos/Klosters, because it is my favorite ski area in Switzerland. If you ask me it is one of the best ski area’s around Zürich. It is big enough to spend a day or two but not enormous.
For me this is the place where I enjoyed learning to ski the most. The slopes in general are quite wide and are blue or red. Furthermore the crowds spread out well over the area. That way it never gets too busy on the slopes.
I’d say this area is best for people who ski and a little less suited for snowboarders. There are a couple of slopes that are more like a connecting road, on ski’s this is ok, but for a snowboarder it is not ideal.
You can do a trip to Davos/Klosters in one day if you live in or around Zürich. But if you wish to make the most of your ski trip, it is very nice to spend a night in Klosters. Where Davos is a bit bigger and more versatile, Klosters is small and cozy. Hotels are quite affordable and outside of peak season they often have special offers. This usually means a discounted ski pass or something similar, which saves a lot of money.
About 1,5 hours drive from Zürich
Ski level: All
Price for a ski pass: 77 CHF p.p although booking your ski pass online can be cheaper if you are in time. Prices fluctuate.
Laax is a great ski area and attracts many skiers and snowboarders in and outside of Switzerland. The region is quite big and has a very versatile offer of slopes. There are the snowboard play parks, difficult black slopes but also green slopes for absolute beginners. So if you want to explore the best ski areas around Zürich, this is a great one to start with.
As the region is quite popular, you will find that the audience is a bit younger in general. This also means that there are a lot of snowboarders on the piste. Around the slopes you find some nice places where you can have a simple yet delicious “bratwurst mit Brötli”. Or you can take your time and enjoy a proper meal as well in one of the many restaurants.
For those who like to après ski, this is one of the best resorts to do so. After finishing your day on the slopes, the music is already turned on and the bar is open to welcome you for a drink. It is still no Sankt Anton or Val Thorens though ;-).
As the area is quite big, you can enter in different towns. I prefer to go via Laax as it is a bit more quiet to get up the gondola, but Flims is bigger and facilitates more parking spaces.
About a 1 hour drive from Zürich
Ski level: Beginner to intermediate
Price for a ski pass: 52 CHF p.p
A small yet nice ski area that is close to Zürich. As the area is not very high, this area is only good for skiing when the snow line is quite low. The area is quite easy to oversee and the slopes aren’t too difficult, making it a perfect location for beginners. But, as soon as you are a bit more advanced, you will finish exploring this area in a little as half a day. In that case you might want to consider an area that is a bit bigger. If you have time during the week, you will find it quite relaxed as you will have the slopes almost to yourself.
Titlis Ski area in Engelberg
About 1 hour and 15 minutes drive from Zürich
Ski level: intermediate
Price for a ski pass: 65 CHF p.p
When you take the car to go to Engelberg, you will drive over a beautiful mountain road that leads you to the town of Engelberg. A big lake in front of the mountain, close to the ski lift radiates serenity. But, mount Titlis is popular throughout the year amongst tourist, so you can expect the lifts to be somewhat crowded on your way up.
The region is perfect for a day trip. If you are an advanced skier, you can see most of the area in one day, so if you plan an overnight trip, this might be a bit small.
As this area is the closest to Zürich, you will find many day-tourist. The region is known for good skiing, but they also do many other things to attract people to the region. You can, for example, test your nerves during a cliff walk at a suspension bridge at 3200 meters or take a look inside the glacier cave.
But let’s talk about skiing!
But to come back to the skiing. I find that the slopes are a bit more challenging compared to Klosters or Laax, thus I would say it is best not to go if you are an absolute beginner. There are only a couple of blue slopes and the red ones can be a bit more challenging than at other resorts. Even though I very much liked the surroundings of this ski resort, the scenery is beautiful and you find some gorgeous lakes along some of the slopes. What bothered me a bit is that there are not a lot of lifts compared to the amount of slopes. In weekends this results in quite some waiting time before you can hop on the lift to take you back up. But if you are keen on exploring the best ski areas around Zürich, this one has to be on your list.
A nice little extra feature on Mount Titlis is the ‘Rotair’ lift. It was only installed last year and instead of a normal gondola, this one rotates and gives you a stunning view over the mountains cape of Titlis.
Wengen in the Jungfrauregion
About 2 hours from Zürich
Ski level: intermediate/advanced
Price for a ski pass: 65 CHF p.p
The beautiful Jungfrau region might be a bit far for a day trip, but with it being only a 2 hour drive from Zürich, it is still within easy reach.
I would only recommend this region for experienced skiers. The majority of slopes are either red or black. Most blue slopes (there are only about 4 or 5) can often only be reached via a red slope. The mountain is pretty steep, making the red slopes more challenging that the red slopes in Davos for example.
A nice feature of the Jungfrau region is that the area is home to the longest black decent, that you might know from the Ski Worldcup. With parts that have no less than a 36 degree decent angle, I’d say you need some courage to go down here. The current record for that particular slope is a little under 2 minutes. My husband (a good skier) took about 20 minutes to finish the decent.
Spend the night?
When you want to visit the region there are a couple of accommodation options. My personal favorite is the small town Wengen. A small and car-free village up in the mountains that looks like time stood still since the 50’s. It is small, cozy and filled with old fashion wooden chalets. The funny part is that some of the slopes actually run through the town. In most cases you will be able to ski all the way to your hotel. To acces Wengen you need to leave your car in Lauterbrunnen and hop on a train that will take you up the mountain.
Other options are the bigger (and less cozy) Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen or Kleine Scheidegg high up the mountain.
About 1 hour from Zürich, with excellent train connection
Ski level: intermediate
Price for a ski pass: 65 CHF p.p
Flumserberg is another region that is quite close to Zürich and has great skiing facilities. My experience is that to enjoy a day of skiing at Flumserberg, you need to be early. Especially coming by car, make sure to be there before 9AM. A lot of people from Zürich head in this direction to go skiing, after 9AM the parking spaces are often full.
Flumserberg is a typical day-trip destination as the region is not super big, but big enough to enjoy a full day of skiing. As most slopes are red, I’d recommend going if you have some experience with skiing and you are able to do a normal red slope.
So what makes skiing in Switzerland so wonderful?
As everything in Switzerland, the ski resorts are well organized. Slopes clear and have markings every couple of meters and maps are always available for free. Most of the towns are very cozy in winter time.
Another big advantage is that the Swiss are excellent skiers, which makes it safe on the slopes. Everybody knows their way around and I hardly find that people don’t stick to ski etiquette. People are precautions and I hardly see any accidents happen on the slopes. If you compare it to the more touristy ski area’s in Austria or France, you will immediately notice the difference as people tend to be a a little less experienced and a bit more reckless.
The moment I love in particular is the moment the gondola lifts you up above the clouds. Waving the grey and cloudy valley goodbye and welcome the sun and a blue sky to enlighten your day.
Second, it is great exercise! Because, let’s be honest, wintertime is the time where I used to gain a couple of pounds. Especially in my home country, the winter is grey, cold and wet. There is hardly any motivation to spend a day outside.
The best time to go for a ski trip
The skiing season starts as early as the beginning of December. Of course this is subject to the amount of snow. The advantage of skiing in December (before christmas) is that it is more quiet. Plus, you can often find good deals that might even include a free skipass.
As from January the snow begins to fall and this period is pretty grey with a lot of snowfall. So if you want to go in January, you will sure be able to. Take a look at the weather reports.
In February the days start to extend and usually there is plenty of snow and sunshine. All slopes should be open and you can ski all the way to the valley in most ski areas. This is also the time that most Swiss will come to the resorts. As well as tourists that have their annual holiday period. So this period is usually very crowded and prices are high. Finding a hotel last minute will cost you quite some money and often they will require a minimum stay of two nights.
March on the other hand is perfect. In a good year there is still plenty of snow, the days are long and the holiday period is over. Swiss ski season ends the end of March with exceptions of the higher located areas.
Other things to know about skiing in Switzerland
So I have mentioned the prices for ski passes to take into account. But what about the rest? Like all ski resorts, prices can be steep, especially in Switzerland. I would like to give you an indication of the costs you can expect for a day on the slopes.
At every resort, you will be able to rent equipement if you don’t have any. When you want to rent boots + ski’s + poles, you will be spending about 120 CHF. Of course this might vary a bit depending on the region. But this is the price in Laax.
Ski rental will be around 65CHF. Shoes around 45CHF and poles around 10 CHF. Snowboard equipement will be similar in price.
Or you can decide to rent ski’s for the entire season. If you plan on skiing more often, this is an option I would recommend. Depending on the type of ski’s (more or less advanced) you will spend around 500/600 CHF for a whole season. So if you plan to go more than 10 days, you will save money on the total renting price.
Do you wish to enjoy a cup of coffee or heisse schoggi on the slopes? this will cost you about 8 CHF per person.
Most ski area’s have a variety in food options. Sometimes you will find a simple grill for “bratwurst mit Brötli” this is the cheapest option for lunch and will cost anywhere between 8 up to 15 CHF. If you want to have lunch in a restaurant, take into account that a meal will cost anywhere between 18 and 30 CHF per person.
Most restaurants will offer standard dishes like Bratwurst, pasta Bolognese or Swiss Rösti. Besides that, they might add some specialties from the region like special meat, fitness tellers (salad) or soups.
I hopes this will help you discover the best ski areas around Zürich. Have a great winter season!
Oh and if you want to be active in summer as well, here are some great hikes around Zürich as well.