Resorts Switzerland

Ski Resorts in Switzerland

Location

Switzerland is located between Germany in the north, France in the west, Austria in the east and Italy in the south. Due to this central location, its culture is a blend of local languages and traditions with those of its neighbours.

Though not known as a flat country, the Swiss Alps are markedly more rugged than the northern regions, and comprise about half of the country’s 16,000-square-mile area.

Skiing History

Organised skiing in Switzerland was underway at least as early as 1893, with some practitioners active much earlier than that. Postal services and the military used skis to aid them in alpine travel, and it soon grew in popularity as a leisure-time activity as well.

The first modern slalom race was held at Mürren in 1921. The (2nd) Olympic Winter Games were held in St Moritz in 1928 and again in 1948, the first post-war games being awarded to Switzerland largely because of their official neutrality during the war.

The first T-bar lift was introduced in 1935 at Davos.

Climate

The average local temperature varies from resort to resort, but don’t stray too far from the Alpine averages:

November -7°/-1°C (low/high)

December -10°/-5°C

January -12°/-5°C

February -11°/-3°C

March -7°/1°C

April -4°/5°C

Many mountaineers claim that it gets 1° cooler for every 100m increase in altitude. This varies a lot depending on other factors, but it is something to keep in mind.

Culture

Swiss people love to greet one-another in the street – often even if they are strangers. This is considered normal polite behaviour, especially outside of the big cities, and will become a reflex once you’ve been there a while. When meeting someone formally, shake hands firmly and look them in the eye… you’ll fit right in.

Sometimes the more reserved manners of the Swiss can seem cold, but they are not unlike the British in many ways, and a little time together will melt any initial coolness.

The Swiss are punctual, and busses and lifts will leave on time. Reservations will be held until shortly after the agreed time, then cancelled. If you find you’re running late, a phone call may save the table.

Many restaurants in Swiss alpine resort towns boast traditional dishes on the menu. These are highly influenced by German, French and Italian cuisine, but vary widely from region to region.

You’ll find cheese and chocolate everywhere, and in stunning variety, as well as regional dishes like OLMA bratwurst, Berner Platte, Zürcher Geschnetzelte, Stunggis and fondue.

Language

Switzerland is known for a multi-lingual population, and that is reflected in its national languages: German, French, Italian, Romansh. Many people also speak English, but don’t expect it of everyone.

Currency and Economy

The currency is the Swiss Franc and, though rates fluctuate, each Franc is worth about 76p.

Switzerland is expensive by British standards and is known as one of the most expensive countries in the world. Add to this the higher rates charged at ski resorts, and the ills can add up pretty quickly. That said, it returns decent value for money, and caters to some of the most discerning clientele, offering a wide variety of luxury services, shopping and accommodation.

Famous Ski Areas

There are 335 ski resorts in Switzerland at our last count, and this number will no-doubt continue to rise.

A few of the best are Kitzbuhel, Zermatt, Verbier, St Moritz, Gstaad, Saas Fee, Wengen, Davos-Klosters and Parsenn, Zermatt, Adelboden-Lenk, Crans Montana, Vernier, Engelberg-Titlis and many more.

Ski Reputation

Switzerland is almost synonymous with skiing. Its resorts are high and relatively snow-sure, with long seasons and a lot of glacier-skiing that offers good condition even when other areas are suffering.

On and off the slopes, the architecture and genuine alpine culture and aesthetic adds charm and traditional flare to any ski holiday. When you return from a trip to ski in Switzerland, you’ll know you’ve been to the Alps.