Can beginners ski in Switzerland?
You don’t have to be an experienced skier to enjoy the Swiss pistes. There are many beginner classes.
If you have some skills and can ski on your own, there are learning zones and easy slopes in nearly all snow destinations.
Many Swiss ski resorts are family-friendly: there are children’s skiing areas and many fun snow activities.
How long does it take to learn skiing?
It takes months to years of practice to become an experienced skier. Many Swiss residents have been skiing each winter from early age. That’s why it may look easy if you see them skiing.
If you have no experience, you can learn some basic techniques during a class of a few hours. After a 3- to 4-day course you’ll be able to ski a bit on easy slopes. Count on 4 hours of practice per day.
If you have no experience, don’t use the ski runs without a teacher. This is dangerous for yourself and for other skiers.
Costs of beginner ski packages
An average beginner ski package costs about CHF 370 per person per day in Switzerland. This is based on an individual or small-group lesson by a qualified teacher. It assumes 4 to 5 hours of actual skiing.
Most packages include ski gear and the use of ski lifts. They usually don’t include transportation to the ski resort and winter clothes.
Average costs per day are lower if you’re in a larger group, or if you book a multiple-day course.
Schools of the Swiss Ski School organization offer 3-day all-inclusive skiing courses. The packages cost about CHF 1150. They include 4 to 5 hours of private instruction per day. All gear and the use of ski lifts are included.
Costs of ski gear
If ski gear is not included in your package, you can rent it. Average prices at Swiss rental shops per adult per day are:
- skis: CHF 40
- ski boots: CHF 20
- snowboard: CHF 40
- poles: CHF 7
- helmet: CHF 8
- ski jacket: CHF 25
Costs of lift passes and other transportation
On average, a day pass for a Swiss ski area with multiple lifts costs CHF 70 per day per adult. You’ll need a ski day pass if your package doesn’t include the use of ski lifts, or if you ski on your own. Prices vary by region and size of the ski area.
Multiple-day passes are relatively cheaper. Special offers are available for many regions.
Estimate which lifts you’ll be using and how often. That will help you find to the most economical ski pass.
You’ll often use other public transportation during your ski trip. For example: you’ll travel to and from your snow destination. You may also make day trips to other areas. A rail pass helps you save money in most cases.
More saving tips can be found here.
Where to learn how to ski in Switzerland
Nearly all ski resorts in Switzerland have ski schools. Most of them offer beginners' classes. Ski schools are often geared to tourists from abroad, especially in larger ski resorts.
In many snow resorts you’ll find schools of the Swiss Ski School organization. These schools provide qualified winter sports instructors. All instructors have completed a 3-year training and have a Swiss Federal Diploma. They speak English and sometimes other languages too.
Very small ski resorts may not provide ski schools with beginners' classes in English.
Types of beginner ski classes
Beginner ski classes in Switzerland range from half a day to a full week.
If you just want to have some fun in the snow, you can book a half-day or full-day class. If you want to learn basic skiing techniques, count on at least 2 to 3 days. Safely skiing down an easy slope will take 4 to 5 days.
There are beginners' classes for snowboarding, families and kids as well.
Book your lessons in advance. It can be busy in high season. That means you won’t always be able to arrange for a class on the spot.
Beginner skiing on your own
Don’t use ski runs on your own if you can’t ski yet. Only ski without a teacher if you have enough experience.
Switzerland has a 3-color system for ski runs:
- blue: easy, for beginners
- red: intermediate, for advanced skiers
- black: difficult, for expert skiers
Nearly all Swiss ski areas provide blue runs. Use those and avoid the others. Beginners' lifts and learning zones are often available too. These are flat areas or gradual slopes with practice elements.
Be careful when skiing and don't overestimate your skills. Use special ski gear. Keep a safe distance to other skiers.
Beginner- and family-friendly Swiss ski resorts
Nearly all Swiss ski resorts have easy pistes, beginners' classes and children areas.
Many schools of the Swiss Ski School have a “Swiss Snow Kids Village”. This is a fun practice area for children. The mascotte “Snowli” is there to help them. Children’s ski classes can be booked.
Examples of beginner- and kid-friendly Swiss ski resorts are:
- Adelboden-Lenk (Engstligen valley). This large ski area has several family areas. There’s a Snow Kids Park at Elsigen-Metsch.
- Arosa-Lenzerheide (Graubünden). There’s a public free beginners' and kids' area called “Honigland” at Pratschi. You'll find several other ski areas and a ski school for children.
- Belalp (Upper Rhone valley). The “Hexenland” is a fun ski area for kids, accessible for free.
- Bettmeralp, Riederalp and Fiescheralp (Upper Rhone valley) belong to the ski area “Aletsch Arena”. All villages have ski schools. The Blätz lift in the valley is ideal for children.
- Davos. The beginner areas Bolgen and Bünda are quickly accessible from the village. Rental shops are close by. Madrisa and Rinerhorn have “children’s lands”.
- Grindelwald. About 1/3 of the pistes near Grindelwald is easy. The bodmiARENA is a special beginners' zone.
- The Matter valley. Easy pistes are available near the villages of Täsch, Randa and Grächen. For example: there are 4 children's ski parks at Hannigalp above Grächen.
- Meiringen (Hasli valley). The Meiringen-Hasliberg ski area has a great children's and beginners' area: Skihäsliland Bidmi. The local ski schools offer many classes and tailor-made events.
- Mürren. There’s a practice area right in town. Another training area can be found at the nearby hill Allmendhubel. The local ski school offers beginners' classes. The Kids Paradise takes care of children if the adults are off for a day.
- Samnaun (Graubünden). There are flat, easy slopes at the Musellahang. Alp Trida offers blue pistes. The local ski school offers fun kids' classes.
- Verbier. There are three ski areas for young children. Beginning skiers and families can enjoy the easy slopes of Les Esserts or La Chaux.
- Wengen. There’s a practice area in the center of town, supervised by the local ski school. Another beginners' area and children’s paradise can be found at Männlichen.
- Zermatt. Family-friendly and easy slopes can be found at the Wolli beginners’ park at Sunnegga near Zermatt.
- Zweisimmen (Simmen valley). The nearby mountain Rinderberg has two children’s ski lifts and a playground.
Beginner skiing in summer
Summer is not the best time for beginner skiing in Switzerland. Only the highest mountains have enough snow. Hard summer snow is less suitable for skiing than wintry powder snow.
Resorts with all-year skiing options do have beginner classes in summer. The main ones are Zermatt and Saas-Fee.