Best Switzerland Ski Resorts for Families
Switzerland may not be your first thought when it comes to family ski holidays, but Swiss ski resorts do have a number of trump cards to play. One thing that surprises many families is that the country has some of the most generous lift pass pricing for children in the world, kids tend to be able to ski until they’re older for free in Swiss ski resorts, particularly in the German speaking side of the country. Then discounts are much deeper on the adult price until into teenage than in other alpine nations and finally savings often continue right through until young people are actually in their early 20s, so not even children any more. Another big positive is the ease of reaching many ski resorts by rail, again with free or heavily discounted tickets for children, making costs often less than a transfer.
But of course, it is about more than just money and easy access. A number of leading Swiss resorts have banned car traffic making them feel safer, as well as more peaceful and most have invested in great facilities on and off the slopes – children’s separated-off fun snow learning areas, kids' lines in terrain parks, toboggan runs, mountain coasters, indoor swimming pool complexes, the list goes on at the top Swiss family ski resorts.
Engelberg’s ease of access and compact centre make it one of the best ski resorts for families in Switzerland. Just an hour from Zurich there’s little time for any “are we there yet?” complaints before you are indeed there. The resort centre and lift access is then relatively compact, making getting about quick and stress free too. In addition to skiing, Engelberg offers a wide range of leisure activities for families: sledging, ice-skating, swimming, cinema or climbing are just a few of them. There are several special snow parks and kids-only learning areas on the slopes and everyone will love the toboggan runs down from Gerschnialp, up to Brunni and Fürenalp, with three varied runs for the whole family.
The venue for Wham! Famous Last Christmas video is a picture-postcard perfect Swiss ski resort that’s full of atmosphere with its car-free village and the atmosphere of a ski resort from the golden age before mass-market tourism. Along with plenty of great family-friendly terrain, special attractions for children include the Swiss Snow Kids Village, an alpine coaster (a kind of downhill roller coaster) and an ice cave up in the glacier, reached via the world’s highest funicular railway. How cool is that?
Wengen is a top Swiss family ski resorts and a lovely choice for spending high quality time together. First off, the village is largely pedestrianised and centred on a modest main street that keeps everything safe and small scale. The fact that its location is truly stunning is a big plus and if you have a train-obsessed child, this is also the perfect choice, as neat little trains pass through every minute like clockwork. The Jungfrau pass gives you the option to head down to the town of Interlaken in the valley to see all its attractions, or head up to the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station above, where attractions include ice sculptures and a Lindy chocolate factory and exhibition.
Car-free Zermatt offers a safe environment for a family ski holiday. While the adult lift passes are among the most expensive in Europe, the famous Swiss ski resort is among the most generous in the world when it comes to kid's tickets – children aged up to 9 years old are completely free of charge, then from 9 to 15 years old inclusive pay half-price (and are free too on Saturdays). Even teenagers aged 16 to 19 inclusive get a 15% discount. So, depending on your kid’s age, the lift pass costs for your entire family ski holiday can work out less here than at an apparently cheaper resort – but you do have to do your maths. There are great family-friendly facilities too of course, highlights including Wolli’s snow park on Sunegga, toboggan runs, ice palaces, train rides and much more.
One of the easiest resorts to get to in Switzerland, fast, empty trains run direct from Geneva Airport to a station below the resort, where a short walk takes you to a funicular railway up the mountain. It’s all very relaxed, efficient and fun. Crans Montana is one of the best ski resorts for families in Switzerland with a huge range of family-friendly attractions, hotels and restaurants. Younger children will love Snow Island, an area of mini pistes created each winter on what is the golf course in summer. There’s also snow-tubing and sledging here. One great attraction through the winter is a beautiful illuminated pathway around the frozen lake that has magical artworks and surprised all the family will love as you wander around.