When considering the best time to ski in Switzerland, it’s worth noting that the ski season traditionally extends from December through April. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the skiing conditions can vary depending on the specific month that you select.
This article explores the best months to skii in Switzerland. It provides valuable insights into the diverse conditions and experiences you can expect during the ski season in this stunning Alpine country.
Skiing in Switzerland
Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in Switzerland along with snowboarding and cross-country skiing. Additionally, a lot of tourists from abroad, especially those who have access to skiing areas in their hometowns, come to Switzerland to ski.
You will always be close to a ski resort in Switzerland no matter where you live or stay. The majority of skiers and snowboarders share the same mountain resorts; however, snowboarders may find certain resorts more appealing than others.
Most of Switzerland’s ski resorts are located in attractive mountain villages. The most famous are Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Verbier, St. Moritz, Davos, and Wengen. Also, there are lots of other mountain villages that might not ring a bell but are just as nice as those already mentioned.
Best Time to Ski in Switzerland
Now, let’s discuss the best time to ski in Switzerland. Is there a month that provides the best conditions for skiing? No one can predict when there will be good powder conditions, and you can be completely unlucky during the days or week(s) you intend to ski.
On the other hand, the best time to go skiing throughout Switzerland in terms of the likelihood of good snow conditions is probably between mid-January and mid-February.
Although, it is possible to have perfect weather a few weeks before or after the aforementioned weeks.
Due to their glaciers, Zermatt and Saas-Fee have long ski seasons, but these two are more the exception rather than the rule.
Let’s have a month-by-month analysis of skiing in Switzerland.
Skiing in October or November
The majority of ski resorts open in December, but some well-known or higher resorts with glaciers open in October or November. The Titlis Glacier (Engelberg), Glacier 3000 between Les Diablerets and Gstaad, Vorab Glacier (Laax), and Diavolezza Glacier (St. Moritz, Engadin) are examples.
While most people are thinking about autumn holidays during October and not skiing yet, others are already thinking about ski holidays. Ski enthusiasts, however, are already on the slopes at this time. Weather and snow conditions permitting, skiing during these months will have cheaper accommodation rates and fewer crowds.
You should note that some ski resorts are only open on weekends and provide limited lifts and terrain in late Autumn.
In the months leading up to winter, more ski resorts open. Smaller ski resorts with fewer visitors or those at a lower altitude usually open later. The main ski season has not yet begun. However, it will soon begin in December.
Skiing in December
More ski resorts start to open in December. They begin to open one after the other. Or they start operating daily and not only on weekends.
By now, likely, some inches of snow have already fallen in the last few days or weeks. This makes opening a ski resort much easier.
Due to a lack of snow, the December 2022 ski season was relatively weak in Switzerland, as in most other European alps1. Ideally, you should head to one of Switzerland’s more snow-sure regions if you want to avoid this. Snow-sure regions as well as other high ski resorts will, however, see more tourists as well since everyone will be heading up there. Even so, you’d be best served booking there to ensure you’ll be able to ski.
Most ski resorts try to open before the Christmas holiday season. Early December is when the most enthusiastic skiers start skiing.
It will still be less crowded to ski in early December. In addition, the accommodations won’t be as high as they will be a couple of weeks later.
Imagine the ski slopes in late December and over the Christmas holidays.
The days immediately before and after Christmas, as well as New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, are likely to be the busiest days of the ski season.
Yeah, there’s pretty much a lot of skiing going on over the Christmas holidays.
In my opinion, it is even more likely to be busy on the slopes during Christmas than during February. Almost everyone is off work or school, especially when the holidays fall during weekdays.
In addition, there will be incredibly long lines, especially in the more popular resorts. Most ski resorts near bigger cities will also have a deluge of day visitors. Moreover, the hotel prices will be quite high.
Skiing in January
Skiing is best during the weeks following New Year until the third week of January, in my opinion.
There will be fewer crowds during these weeks, particularly during weekdays. You are likely to get ample snow as well. Beginning in the last week of January, the first few families begin their ski holidays and the slopes begin to fill up.
In January, the only downside I can see is that the days are shorter. There is more money to be saved because hotel rates are more affordable, the slopes are mostly to yourself because everyone is at school/work, and there will likely be enough snow even on the lower elevations.
In the end, it’s not so bad when you think about it.
Skiing in February
February is the most popular month for skiing in the country. In most ski resorts, skiing will be highly crowded for practically the entire month.
During the month of February, the majority of ski resorts will be very busy and more expensive.
The ski resorts are probably less busy than they are at Christmas since cantons don’t take their holidays at the same time. Even so, there will be a lot of people on the slopes. Every week in February, a Swiss canton has a ski holiday. By the end of February, most cantons are done with their ski holidays.
Skiing in March
Skiing in March can be difficult, especially if the weather starts to warm up. Unfortunately, this is hard to predict. It is not unusual to get warm and springlike for a week in March, only for it to snow for a couple of days, allowing skiing to be very enjoyable the following week.
Nevertheless, March will be more comfortable on the slopes. There are fewer people than in February. Additionally, the days are longer.
As long as there is enough snow, valley runs are still possible. Snow conditions may deteriorate after several hours though, especially at lower altitudes.
Skiing in April
Ski resorts typically close in April. This is especially true after Holy Week. Ski resort employees enjoy much-needed vacation time. They then begin cleaning the slopes, removing the poles, and checking and maintaining the mountain cable cars. Skiing in April is similar to skiing in late March.
The weather is warmer and the days are longer, but the morning ski conditions will still be good. After a few hours, I find that the conditions aren’t as good anymore, especially on warmer days and at lower altitudes. There are a lot of die-hard skiers who don’t mind rough or varied conditions as much as I do.
In April, you can enjoy some spring skiing. It is a pleasure to ski down the slopes with a t-shirt on while enjoying lunch on a restaurant terrace in the picturesque Swiss Alps.
Skiing from May to September
May to September is the off-season for skiing in Switzerland. While there may be some snow on the higher slopes, most ski resorts will be closed already during this time.
I recommend hiking and mountain biking instead during these months.
Summary: Best Months to Ski in Switzerland
The best months to ski in Switzerland boil down to December, January, and February. Based on my experience skiing on the slopes every week in winter, January would typically be the best month to ski in Switzerland of all three.
- Most tourists who intend to ski tend to visit between Christmas and New Year. Lots of locals go skiing during this period as well.
- January is the best month to ski in my opinion. Snow conditions are often good, there are fewer crowds and hotel prices are not as high.
- During February, it is common for locals to take ski vacations. Most likely, the snow conditions and weather will be amazing during this time. If you go during this time, expect more crowds and higher hotel prices.
- The least amount of people will be at the beginning of the season in October/November and at the end of the season between late March and April. However, the snow conditions may not be ideal. Be prepared for some slushy conditions in the lower slopes. There may also be a limited number of lifts open or days the mountain cable cars operate.
1 Street, Francesca. European ski resorts close because there’s no snow. CNN. Accessed on 19 January 2023. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/no-snow-european-ski-resorts-climate/index.html.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.