Small ski resorts: 11 recommendations for families

Kleine Skigebiete: 11 Tipps für Familien Kleine Skigebiete: 11 Tipps für Familien

You don't have to go abroad to enjoy a nice, affordable day's skiing during the high season. Some of Switzerland's smaller ski resorts have plenty to offer! Here are 11 recommendations for a great day on the slopes.

Skiing excursion

When planning a skiing holiday or day out, we mostly picture mountains covered with snow, bright sunshine and a big bowl of cheese fondue. We're happy to forget about the mountains of luggage, the high price of ski passes and the queues for the ski lifts. Families with children also face hurdles of a different kind – like finding a resort with pistes for skiers of every level. And there should also be bad weather alternatives and something to do after the day's skiing lessons. Ideally, the ski lift or ski school should be easy to get to on foot, or at least quickly and easily reached by public transport or car.

For anyone with children who aren't of school age yet, there are many relatively cheap ski resorts – especially in the low season. However, for the majority of families who are tied to the school holidays, it is advisable to book well in advance if you want to spend time at the most popular and renowned ski resorts. Which also means having to dig deep into your pockets.

Affordable alternatives in Switzerland

That's why some prefer to spend their family skiing holidays in Germany, Austria or France. But there are affordable alternatives even in Switzerland. These are often smaller, less well-known ski resorts, which doesn't mean that they don't have everything families need for a successful skiing holiday. On the contrary, anyone willing to give a smaller ski resort a chance will be delighted by the lack of hustle and bustle, the abundance of nature and the pleasant encounters with the locals.

So we have put together a list of 11 recommendations which are relatively cheap and where you can enjoy many other winter sports activities.

Recommended ski resorts

Ski resort

Canton

Altitude

Adult ski pass

Pistes

Other highlights

Anzères

Valais

1'500 - 2'362m

55 Fr. / day

60 km

  • Ski and sledge run for children in the middle of the resort
  • Spa & wellness facility

Braunwald

Glarus

1'250 -1'900m

46 Fr. / day

26 km

  • Car free
  • Offers for families
  • Panorama hiking trail

Grächen

Valais

1'619 - 2'868m

56 Fr. / day

44 km

  • SiSu Family Park (50,000m2)
  • Crèche included in ski pass
  • Various activities: ice skating, snowtubing, snowbikes

Kandersteg

Berner Oberland

1'200 - 1'682m

44 Fr. / day

12 km

  • Hiking on and around Oeschinensee
  • Ice fishing
  • Full-day childcare

Les Mosses

Waadt

1'445m

69 Fr. / 2 days

(incl. Leysin 55 Fr. / day)

40 km (inkl. Leysin 100 km)

  • Biathlon centre
  • Kids' snow park just 300m from town centre
  • Shuttle bus to Leysin

Les Paccots

Fribourg

1'061 - 1'568m

39 Fr. / day

20 km

  • Easily accessible by car
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Close to nature

Ovronnaz

Valais

1'300 - 2'427m

53 Fr. / day

30 km

  • Thermal baths with mountain views
  • Snowpark and ski cross
  • Free additional activities

Sattel-Hochstuckli

Schwyz

800 - 1’600m

45 Fr. / day

14 km

  • Revolving gondola
  • Europe's longest pedestrian suspension bridge

Savognin

Graubünden

1'200 - 2'713m

57 Fr. / day

80 km

  • Extra-wide slopes
  • Numerous hiking trails
  • Large freeride area

Sörenberg

Lucerne

1'166 - 2'350m

52 Fr. / day

53 km

  • Free parking at all 6 valley stations
  • Photo point
  • Freestyle line

Stoos

Schwyz

1'300 - 1'935m

52 Fr. / day

35 km

  • Traffic free
  • Quad bikes for children
  • Skiing for early birds

If you only want to go skiing for a day, it's worth looking into resorts near where you live in order to minimise your journey time. It also pays to take a chance on very small ski resorts. The Bergfex or Skiresort.ch websites are a good place to start.

Anzères

This mountain village in Valais is particularly child-friendly: during the winter season, young visitors can practice on a sledge run and ski slope especially equipped with a moving carpet – right in the heart of the town. A free shuttle bus brings skiers and snowboarders directly to the valley cable car station. And if you're staying in accommodation close to the centre, it can also be reached easily on foot. As an alternative to the pistes for skiers and snowboarders of every level, Anzères also has numerous hiking paths and cross-country ski trails. And the Anzère Spa & Wellness centre is a great place to bathe and relax.

Braunwald

If travelling to Braunwald by car, you have to leave your vehicle in Linthal and continue your journey by gondola. You see, Braunwald is a car-free resort. Families with children up to the age of 16 can take advantage of a special offer: a day pass costing CHF 155 that includes ski passes and lunch for everyone. As well as a hike affording panoramic views of the Glarus peaks, other winter activities in Braunwald include horse-drawn sleigh rides, sledging and ski touring.

Grächen

A small winter sports resort that is geared entirely towards families. A gondola takes you up from the mountain village to the slopes of Hannigalp, and you can listen to fairy tales during the ride. Once at the top, you'll find the ski school meeting point, a huge children's park, the Sisu Wolkenland indoor play area and a crèche, which is included in the price of the ski pass. The Skimovie slope, on which skiers of all ages can film themselves as they race downhill, is right next door. The village itself has a sports centre, where visitors can skate on the natural ice rink.

Kandersteg

Kandersteg is ideal not only for families, but also for nature-lovers. This small ski area has a reasonable number of pistes, ranging from easy to medium in difficulty. Oeschinensee, a lake situated at 1,578 metres above sea level, is one of a kind and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Two hiking trails lead across the lake when it is frozen. You can also skate on the frozen Oeschinensee, or even go ice fishing.

Les Mosses

This mountain village in the Vaud Alps is part of the Leysin - Les Mosses - La Lècherette ski area, with around 100km of pistes on offer. What's more, thanks to its extensive network of cross-country trails, Les Mosses has become known as a biathlon centre.

But the resort is a popular destination for families, too. At the foot of the ski slopes and just 300m from the centre of the village is the Les Mosses Parc, a snowpark with a ski lift and magic carpet for kids. Snowtubing is another activity that promises lots of thrills and fun. And there's a freestyle snowpark and cross piste next to the Crettex ski lift.

Les Paccots

The holiday resort is situated close to Châtel-St-Denis and can be easily reached from Fribourg and Lausanne in around 30 minutes. Its gentle slopes and Snowli snow garden make it the ideal place for children to learn to ski. Visitors appreciate the family-friendly atmosphere and closeness to nature. If you like to snowshoe, visit farms or go horse riding, then this is the resort for you. And Les Paccots also has a large ice rink.

Ovronnaz

The pistes for all levels and snowpark with timed ski cross run are not the only highlights to be found in Ovronnaz. Where better to relax than in the thermal baths with wonderful views of the mountains all around? There's a baby lift for young children next to the Ovronnaz ski lift. A free programme of weekly events is organised for visitors throughout the winter season. Activities include yoga in the snow or learning how to make crêpes, for example. If you're not interested in downhill skiing or snowboarding, you can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or ski touring.

Sattel-Hochstuckli

The world's first-ever revolving gondola carries winter sports fans from the valley station in Sattel to the top of this family mountain. If you decide to stay in Mostelberg, at an altitude of 1,200 metres, you'll have direct access to the ski school and the Rondos Kinderland facilities for children. It has a 125-metre "magic tunnel", a conveyor belt that takes kids comfortably back to the mountain station while telling them the story of Rondo, the little mascot.

The 40-minute loop trail across the Raiffeisen Skywalk, a 374-metre pedestrian suspension bridge, promises hikers a special experience.

Savognin

Savognin is situated at the heart of Parc Ela, Switzerland's largest nature park. The family-friendly ski resort has long, extra-wide downhill runs. The Kinderland facility for children is right in the middle of the village and you can leave your children here to be looked after and fed even if they're not taking part in a skiing course. As an alternative to the ski slopes, there are two sledge runs and many winter hiking trails and ski touring routes. There's even an Avalanche Training Centre at the middle station in Camon. And the snowpark in Somtgant adds even more variety.

Sörenberg

It's worth travelling to this ski resort in canton Lucerne by car as all six valley stations offer free parking. The village itself has an indoor swimming pool and "Kids' Village" with ski and snowboard school. There's even more fun for kids up in the Rossweid area at 1,465 metres above sea level, including a photo station. That's also where the freestyle line heads back down to the village. If you don't wish to ski or snowboard, you'll find fantastic snowshoe trails, winter hiking paths and cross-country trails. Or you can have fun on the sledge runs and natural ice rink.

Stoos

The funicular railway will take you from Schwyz to Stoos at world-record speed. The car-free ski resort offers access to slopes to suit all tastes and levels of ability: easy runs for beginners; broad, panoramic pistes for those who like to ski for fun; and steep descents for experts and thrill-seekers to race down. No-one, whether skier, snowboarder or hiker, should miss the spectacular views from Fronalpstock, taking in 10 Swiss lakes. In addition, Stoos offers family-friendly prices: the Kids' Pass lets children of 5 and under ski for free, and the Family Day Pass includes kids aged 6-15 for CHF 126.

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