Ski and Snowboard Switzerland from Zurich

The station at Zurich Airport makes getting to the resorts a cinch

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urich is very near to some of the best ski resorts in the world and makes a great starting point for a winter sports holiday; some resorts are barely an hour away. If you are living in the city as an expat you are sure to want to try out the world's best ski and snowboard destinations during your assignment. And if you are here on business it seems rude not to take at least a day out to visit the slopes. Also Kloten, where Zurich's international airport is located, is a convenient gateway for skiers and snowboarders looking for a weekend or midweek break or who want to avoid being treated like cattle by a package holiday operator. In fact Zurich is almost certainly the easiest airport to use to get to the Alps, with a station in the airport itself and fast train links to a number of world class resorts.

Travellers from abroad might want to use the Swiss Transfer Ticket which, at CHF 141, provides a return ticket from Zurich Airport to any other station in Switzerland (although you must buy it before you arrive in Switzerland). Alternatively, for one, two and six day outings, Swiss Rail runs the outstanding Snow'n'Rail scheme with a 20% discount on both public transport and lift passes. These can be purchased from the SBB ticket machines or from the railway service desk, both in the Airport Centre. If you plan to travel a lot in Switzerland during a year, you can also purchase a 1/2 price railcard which will also apply to Snow'n'Rail tickets.

Incidentally Zurich is not only convenient for Swiss resorts - there is a direct rail service to St Anton in Austria, and the drive to the other Arlberg resorts or Ischgl is pretty straightforward too. I've driven between Zurich and St Anton in a little over 2 hours without breaking a speed limit once. See my blog article on driving from Switzerland to St Anton for more information. There is also a daily shuttle bus from Zurich Airport provided by the Arlberg Express.

Before you leave the airport, you might want to check out the shopping complex in the Airport Centre. There is a sports shop (Ochsner Sport), a reasonably priced electronics shop (InterDiscount) and a Co-op supermarket, amongst many other stores. At the supermarket you can stock up on food and drink for your onward trip - and not only is supermarket booze cheap in Switzerland, it is acceptable to drink alcohol on the trains. There is also one hour free Internet access in the airport: access the ZurichAirport WLAN network and in a browser window enter your mobile phone number to receive a code required to activate your free access. Incidentally free Internet access is widely available in Switzerland, typically in many stations and restaurants - Starbucks and Migros and Coop restaurants are particularly useful.

I am not going too much into the ins and outs of travelling within Switzerland - individual resort pages provide more detail for each resort, but I will include here a selection of journey times from Zurich to convenient resorts, sortable on any column.

Resort Region Language Locality Bottom m Top m Piste km Fam­ily Day Price Snow'n'­Rail Stat­ion Zurich Zurich Distance
4 Vallées Valais French Valais 1350 3330 412 71 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 17 mins 3 hrs 10 mins 278 km
Adelboden Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1068 2362 210 63 SFr Y 2 hrs 32 mins 2 hrs 10 mins 163 km
Airolo Ticino Italian Ticino 1700 2250 30 45 SFr Y Y 1 hr 44 mins 1 hr 29 mins 123 km
Aletsch Arena Valais Swiss German Valais 1845 2869 104 Y 60 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 37 mins 2 hrs 40 mins 159 km
Alt St Johann Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 900 2262 60 Y 57 SFr 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 15 mins 95 km
Anzère Valais French Valais 1500 2420 52 52 SFr 3 hrs 15 mins 3 hrs 15 mins 291 km
Arolla Valais French Valais 2000 2980 47 39 SFr 3 hrs 50 mins 3 hrs 31 mins 314 km
Braunwald Eastern Switzerland Swiss German Glarus 1300 1905 32 Y 48 SFr Y Y 1 hr 30 mins 1 hr 15 mins 87 km
Brigels Graubünden Romansh Graubünden 1100 2418 75 Y 56 SFr Y 2 hrs 25 mins 2 hrs 10 mins 165 km
Champéry Valais French Valais 1050 2250 650 57 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 51 mins 2 hrs 50 mins 244 km
Chandolin Valais French Valais 2000 3000 75 54 SFr Y 2 hrs 43 mins 3 hrs 29 mins 316 km
Disentis Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1227 2833 60 54 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 34 mins 2 hrs 25 mins 178 km
St Anton Austria German Tyrol 1304 2811 340 51 Euro Y 2 hrs 17 mins 2 hrs 15 mins 200 km
Engelberg Central Switzerland Swiss German Obwalden 1050 3020 82 Y 65 SFr Y Y 1 hr 49 mins 1 hr 10 mins 86 km
Flims Laax Falera Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1100 3018 235 Y 76 SFr Y 1 hr 50 mins 1 hr 45 mins 138 km
Flumserberg Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 1220 2222 75 Y 58 SFr Y Y 1 hr 4 mins 1 hr 15 mins 96 km
Gstaad Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1200 2971 250 62 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 49 mins 2 hrs 25 mins 187 km
Hoch-Ybrig Central Switzerland Swiss German Schwyz 1050 1831 50 53 SFr 1 hr 28 mins 1 hr 10 mins 59 km
Interlaken Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1050 2970 Y SFr 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 30 mins 117 km
Lenzerheide Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1230 2865 225 Y 72 SFr Y 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 45 mins 139 km
Leukerbad Valais Swiss German Valais 1411 2610 52 Y 53 SFr Y 3 hrs 5 mins 3 hrs 25 mins 312 km
Leysin Lake Geneva Region French Vaud 1350 2205 100 Y 48 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 19 mins 2 hrs 45 mins 242 km
Meiringen Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1061 2433 60 Y 57 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 8 mins 1 hr 15 mins 100 km
Melchsee-Frutt Central Switzerland Swiss German Obwalden 1080 2255 32 50 SFr Y 2 hrs 12 mins 1 hr 20 mins 92 km
Mürren Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1650 2971 54 63 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 49 mins 1 hr 50 mins 132 km
Nendaz Valais French Valais 1350 3330 412 Y 56 SFr Y 3 hrs 15 mins 3 hrs 10 mins 281 km
Obersaxen Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1201 2310 120 56 SFr 2 hrs 38 mins 2 hrs 158 km
Obertoggenburg Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 900 2262 60 Y 57 SFr 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 15 mins 95 km
Pizol Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 1045 2250 40 54 SFr Y Y 1 hr 18 mins 1 hr 50 mins 120 km
Portes du Soleil Valais French Valais 1050 2300 650 54 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 51 mins 2 hrs 50 mins 244 km
Rougemont Lake Geneva Region French Vaud 992 2284 62 62 SFr Y 3 hrs 2 hrs 25 mins 189 km
Saanen Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 992 2284 86 62 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 59 mins 2 hrs 29 mins 203 km
Savognin Graubünden Romansh Graubünden 1200 2713 80 Y 57 SFr 2 hrs 37 mins 1 hr 50 mins 164 km
Sedrun Graubünden Romansh Graubünden 1500 2350 50 60 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 53 mins 2 hrs 30 mins 186 km
Sierre-Anniviers Valais French Valais 1350 3000 228 Y 49 SFr 3 hrs 47 mins 3 hrs 25 mins 309 km
St Moritz Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1750 3303 350 Y 75 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 26 mins 2 hrs 40 mins 203 km
Unterbäch Valais Swiss German Valais 1221 2521 20 44 SFr Y 2 hrs 31 mins 48 mins 50 km
Unterwasser Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 900 2262 60 Y 57 SFr 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 18 mins 80 km
Vals Graubünden Swiss German Graubünden 1250 3000 25 49 SFr Y 2 hrs 34 mins 2 hrs 7 mins 168 km
Verbier Valais French Valais 1500 3330 412 75 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 17 mins 3 hrs 10 mins 278 km
Veysonnaz Valais French Valais 1350 3330 412 75 SFr Y 3 hrs 11 mins 3 hrs 10 mins 288 km
Villars Lake Geneva Region French Vaud 1300 3000 100 Y 53 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 58 mins 2 hrs 45 mins 239 km
Wengen Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 1274 2320 110 63 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 49 mins 1 hr 45 mins 128 km
Wildhaus Eastern Switzerland Swiss German St Gallen 900 2262 60 Y 57 SFr 1 hr 55 mins 1 hr 25 mins 100 km
Zermatt Valais Swiss German Valais 1620 3899 350 92 SFr Y Y 3 hrs 11 mins 3 hrs 50 mins 221 km
Zinal Valais French Valais 1670 3000 72 58 SFr 3 hrs 47 mins 3 hrs 40 mins 317 km
Zweisimmen Bernese Oberland Swiss German Bern 950 2008 85 62 SFr Y Y 2 hrs 17 mins 2 hrs 15 mins 190 km