What defines the Swiss ski experience? Glaciers, high-altitude skiing, astounding views from the train window as your inch up to the resort, cheese fondues and towering mountains.
Most Swiss resorts are high, high and higher...and have impressive runs including some of the highest and toughest in Europe. Like all big resorts, Swiss skiing offers masses for every level, but experts really will delight here, and because of the high altitudes powder can be found many days after it falls.
There's an old world charm here with meadows, farmland, rustic chalets, and villages perched at soaring levels. You can dine in mountain restaurants that are converted cow sheds and taste Swiss specialties. Nightlife varies hugely, from the epic clubs to casual drinks, but you'll usually find lively restaurants and bars wherever you go.
If you're after a stress-free beak, this is the land of efficiency, hospitality and service. The Swiss take looking after you very seriously, and the country runs like clockwork - public transport is organised, with stress-free connections, and you can take your bags and suitcases on buses and trains with ease. And whilst in some of the top resorts can be pricey, it's a misconception that Switzerland has to be expensive.
Two of the best known resorts are St Moritz and Zermatt. One of the most exclusive resorts in the world, St. Moritz is renowned for its ‘dry sparkling champagne climate', boasting an average of a whopping 322 days of sunshine a year. With its cosmopolitan ambience, designer boutiques (Dior, Chanel and Hermes line the streets), fabulous après-ski ambience and 350 km runs, St Moritz remains infinitely desirable.
Zermatt could be the most popular resort, however, with its stunning views of the Matterhorn, vast all-round skiing, glacier magic, famous advanced pistes and views across Switzerland, Italy and France. Verbier offers huge terrain as part of the Four Valleys area (410 km of runs) and a sun-drenched south-west bowl, while Davos brings all the advantages of a big city mega resort and distinctive, long intermediate runs.
How to get to Switzerland
The two major airports in Switerland are Zurich and Geneva, depending on which resort you wish to ski. For example, Zürich, lying 194 km away, is the closest airport to St Moritz and receives regular flights from the UK and the rest of the world. Many budget airlines such as EasyJet fly regularly to Geneva. From Geneva airport, the train takes 2 hours 12 minutes to Le Cable below Verbier, from where you can catch a bus.
Catching the train
There are several rail routes to Switzerland, all of which require an initial journey via Eurostar to Paris, from London Waterloo or Ashford, Kent. From Paris, catch a high-speed TGV train to Geneva (03h30). Alternatively from Paris, you can take an overnight train to Chur in Switzerland, and connect with a local train to St Moritz. The entire journey takes only 12 hours. The train from Zurich takes approximately 4 hours with 1 change at Chur. The scenic Glacier Express train departs from Zermatt and takes around 7 ½ hours to wind through the Swiss Alps with just one train change.
From the UK, travel by P&O Stena Ferry, Hoverspeed or Channel Tunnel. The resort of Verbier is about 850kms from Calais with a driving time of 8 hours, 30 minutes and toll road costs of about €41. The journey takes you through France before entering Switzerland. If you fly to Geneva and hire a vehicle, travel from the airport via Martigny towards Sembrancher and LeChable to the resort. Alternatively St Moritz is 972kms away from Calais through France and Switzerland - a journey that takes over ten hours.