You might think skiing in the Alps is only for experts, but not all Europeans ski like James Bond. Their kids learn on bunny slopes just like ours, and, in Switzerland, most ski resorts are family-friendly, with facilities, lessons, ski trails and lifts catering to young skiers. In fact, the whole family, from first-timer skiers to black-diamond experts, will find their perfect snow at these top Swiss ski resorts.
With the sharp summit of the Matterhorn visible from all over the picture-perfect Alpine town, Zermatt is Switzerland’s poster-child ski resort. It’s known for some of the best skiing for experts, but also a favorite for families. Kids age 9 and under ride free when accompanied by an adult with a multiday pass. The free Wolli Card lets them ride the Gornergrat Bahn and gets them free lodging in some Zermatt hotels. Kids find easy terrain with kid-pleasing play features at Wolli’s Park, at the top of the Sunnegga funicular.
One of the world’s oldest winter resorts, St Moritz twice hosted the Olympics, but has plenty of snow for everybody who can afford its notoriously high prices. But only a few minutes from the glitzy town is Silvaplana, where there are plenty of family-friendly places to stay and a gentle slope where kids can learn and beginners can practice. More experienced family members can take the lift and cable car from here to San Moritz’s Corvatsch ski area. The terrain here is known for its long intermediate runs.
With 206 kilometers of slopes and ski runs, the Jungfrau is also known for its long runs, but that’s not all it offers. Of its cluster of idyllic little Alpine villages, choose Wengen if you’re skiing with kids and beginning skiers, as its nearby slopes are gentle and the runs shorter. When the kids get tired, amuse them by riding the many cable cars and rack railways from town to town.
Sitting close to Switzerland’s highest peak, which assures dependable snow, Saas-Fee has 96 kilometers of ski trails classed for intermediate skiers, plus 37 kilometers of beginner trails. The beginners lift and learning slope is right at the edge of the village, so no long treks to get the kids from lodgings to lifts. Experts can head higher for Alpine thrills, and teens love the snow park’s freestyle challenges.
Another mountain known for its intermediate terrain is Crans-Montana, in the upper Rhone valley near Lake Geneva. But 55 kilometers of slopes and runs are rated as easy, and the resort further caters to kids with its new covered magic carpet at the Ski Kindergarten. Kids also love the snow-tubing hill, with its own magic carpet lift. Teens keep busy at the dedicated snow park for boarders and in the new Chalet Alaïa, an action sports center opened this winter, with trampolines and a large outdoor skate park.
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