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Switzerland is a fantastic location to go to, not just for skiing but also for the culture, the landscapes, the quirky buildings, and so much more. With skiing open year-round at some resorts, it can be hard to decide when to go, between summer, winter, school holidays, and off-season. So, when is the best time to go skiing in Switzerland?
The best time to go skiing in Switzerland is generally during January and February when there is the most snow. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then the last 3 weeks of January, late November, early December, and early March or April are your best options.
Skiing in Switzerland
Located in the heart of the Alps, Switzerland has more than 100 ski resorts to choose from, so it’s no surprise that Switzerland is known for great skiing.
High peaks, low-altitude mountains, glacier and alpine skiing make Switzerland a beautiful place to visit for skiers from all around the world. Switzerland always aims high, so the quality of restaurants, skiing infrastructure and accommodation is always high quality, which helps to make the country so attractive to winter sports enthusiasts.
Switzerland’s most well-known ski resorts include Zermatt, Verbier 4 Vallées, St. Moritz, Crans-Montana, and Davos just to name a few.
These big resorts in Switzerland have been around long enough to ensure everyone has the best skiing experience. From hundreds of miles of terrain to state-of-the-art ski lifts, the efficiency and smoothness of the operations at Swiss ski resorts make skiing that much easier and more enjoyable.
Key takeaway: Known for more than just fantastic skiing, Switzerland has other great attractions too, such as the après-ski culture, cuisine, and, of course, the charm.
The stunning scenery, cute villages, amazing food, and the the Swiss people make ski vacations in Switzerland truly memorable.
When Is Switzerland Ski Season?
Switzerland is one of the few countries worldwide that has skiing all year round, along with its neighbors, Austria and Italy.
Zermatt resort is open all year round for skiing, meaning that if you want to, you could plan a skiing holiday in summer. What’s more, from Zermatt there is easy ski access to the Italian resort of Cervinia, so you can nip down to the town for a quick pizza!
Key takeaway: The real winter ski season in Switzerland starts in October, when the snow returns to the higher altitude ski resorts.
The season typically ends around April, as the snow starts to melt away. However, some ski resorts do extend their season until May.
If you are curious as to when specific ski resorts close, check out their websites. It’s worth noting that specific closing days vary from season to season depending on the prevailing conditions.
The Best Time To Go Skiing In Switzerland?
Ultimately, the best time to go skiing in Switzerland is during the peak of winter, when the snow conditions are at their peak. However, when you are looking to book a skiing vacation in Switzerland, there are many things that you should consider.
1. Snow Quantity And Quality
If you want to go skiing in Switzerland, chances are that you are looking for great snow and lots of it. Typically, January and February see the best snowfall but sometimes December can be up there with the best of the months.
If you are looking to ski during off-peak winter seasons, such as early or late, you are advised to choose a higher-altitude resort, where the coverage will be better.
One of the best known ski resorts, Zermatt, lies to one side of the spectacular Matterhorn mountain. The resort is open all year round (with the primary winter season ending in early May). The summer skiing is on the glacier, higher up the mountain at nearly 13,000 feet (3883 M), so you will have some spectacular views on clear days.
2. Are Terrain And Ski Lifts Open?
Most Swiss resorts start opening in October, however, earlier in the season, it isn’t guaranteed that all the terrain and lifts will be open, and it will vary from year to year and from resort to resort, so always check beforehand.
Each year the arrival of the snow determines when specific terrain and lifts are going to open. Most of the ski resorts in Switzerland do also have good snow-making facilities.
The popularity of skiing in Switzerland and the improving technology means that many resorts are upgrading their facilities. The Swiss have a worldwide reputation for manufacturing skiing infrastructure, such as chairlifts and gondolas, so you will always find the equipment in a Swiss resort top-notch.
3. Crowds, School Holidays, and Weekends
If possible, it is always going to be better to avoid crowds. Going skiing can be so much fun, but if it is bustling and you end up having to wait in line for the lift for ages, the fun fades quickly.
The busiest months for skiing tend to be around school and work holidays.
Key takeaway: The first week of January, most of February, and also around Christmas tend to be the busy season for ski vacations.
Simply put, great snow combined with vacations equates to busy runs. Depending on your own availability, you may have no choice but to travel during the school holidays.
And without a doubt, the weekends right throughout winter will be busy at the Swiss ski resorts. Not only do we have tourists coming to ski in Switzerland but also locals. There are approximately 6000 permanent residents in Zermatt but during the peak winter season that swells to 35,000.
When you are booking a trip to Switzerland it’s always worth bearing in mind when the Swiss National Holidays fall, as well as competition events. Visitors to the resorts will naturally increase dramatically.
The price of accommodation and air travel also tend to be more expensive for Switzerland during the peak winter months, especially close to Christmas and holidays.
The peak winter times are typically around Christmas, early January, and school holidays in February. As such, these will generally be the most expensive times to book accommodation and travel.
If the budget for your trip is keen, it’s best to travel at off-peak times, and choose midweek rather than the weekend. In general, Switzerland is one of the more expensive countries to visit in Europe.
But Seriously, When Should You Go?
Our pick for the best time to go skiing in Switzerland would be the last few weeks of January. January is a great month for skiing with lots of powder and great skiing. It is the coldest month, but if you wrap up well and keep on the move, you will hardly notice it. In the heart of the winter months, it is almost guaranteed that there is going to be good snow.
Let’s break down the best and most popular winter times to ski in Switzerland by month. Before December, many ski resorts are just opening up, but by the start of December, the winter ski season will be well underway.
Often, early December leads to significant snowfall, which makes for excellent skiing conditions. With all of the ski resorts open for business by this point, you will find enough choice to find a great resort that fits the bill for your ski vacation.
Christmas in Switzerland is always a popular time to visit the mountains. It can be a truly magical time of year to book a winter ski vacation and enjoy the festivities in an authentic setting. In addition to great skiing, there are winter markets and attractions, which all add to the Christmas spirit.
However, it’s worth remembering that many other skiers will be attracted by the appeal of Switzerland during Christmas, so there will be plenty of crowds around. So, make sure you book well in advance for the Christmas/New Year period.
The first week of January can be busy with school holidays, but after that, the rest of January is usually a great time to go. As this is in the middle of winter, January will produce plenty of snow and can be the perfect time to visit some of the lower altitude resorts as well.
Generally speaking, February is the busiest month for skiing, in addition to the Christmas/New Year period. There are German and Swiss school holidays in February, which really bring the crowds out.
In addition, there is also a lot of snow during this time, often with it falling on more than half of the days of the month. It is still a great time to go skiing but you may have to discover other things to do, for some of the days, if the weather closes in.
By March the crowds start to thin out. With still plenty of snow around, this can actually be a good time to go skiing in Switzerland. The temperatures will be warmer but you can always travel up to the higher runs, where the snow will still be powdery.
End of the Season Skiing
By the time April rolls around, many of the ski resorts start winding down for the season during this time. At the start of May, most of the ski resorts will close with only a few still open during the first couple of weeks (except for Zermatt of course which is open year-round, but their main winter season closes at the start of May as well).
If you are looking to spend some time skiing towards the end of the season, it is generally best to aim for some of the higher altitude ski resorts such as Zermatt, Verbier 4 Vallées, or the Corvatsch/Furtschellas ski areas. These areas will retain the most snow and will continue to offer great skiing towards the end of the season.
Are You Ready To Book Your Next Swiss Ski Vacation?
The best skiing in Switzerland is during January and February when there is the most snow, although the ski season lasts from October through April (and into May for some resorts).
There is plenty of good skiing in Switzerland and a good selection of resorts. Zermatt offers skiing year-round and other outdoor activities right at the base of the Matterhorn.
Around Christmas/New Year can be a magical time to visit Switzerland, with great skiing, a festive spirit, and Christmas markets. Just be aware that this time of year tends to be a little more expensive and busier.
Our pick would be to go ski during the last three weeks of January. The holidays are finished, meaning fewer people around, and the quality of the snow still good, while prices tend to be a little lower than some peak travel periods.