Ski and Snowboard Switzerland from Zurich
By Nic Oatridge
Zurich 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.
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and Winter sports in Switzerland