The Swiss Alps harbor dozens of worthwhile ski resorts, so before heading off willy-nilly to the mountains, ask yourself some important questions. Do you prefer to whiz down the Alps in relative isolation, or accompanied by many other skiers? How chic and how expensive do you want your vacation to be? Do you want to try your hand at other winter sports like paragliding, ice-skating, tobogganing, or fatbiking? And after a day in the great outdoors, do you prefer to retire early to a simple mountain hut with a view of the stars, or do you yearn for late nights, pounding beats, and flaming shots?

  • Grindelwald: This is one of the few resorts in the Bernese Oberland that occasionally mistakes itself for a genuine city rather than an artificial tourist creation. It offers a healthy dose of restaurants, bars, discos, and, unfortunately, traffic. There are a lot of affordable accommodations here, and fewer snobs. Many skiers use it as a base camp for long-haul excursions to the slopes of First, Männlichen, and Kleine Scheidegg. The resorts of Wengen and Mürren are accessible by cog railway and/or cable car (no traffic!).

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  • Gstaad/Saanenland: Gstaad is the most elegant pearl in the larger ski region of Saanenland, on the western edge of the Bernese Oberland. Although you can find a few inexpensive lodgings if you’re lucky, don’t count on it. The jet set comes here to see and be seen, and there’s a lot to do off the slopes, be it music festivals, shopping, or just people-watching. The architecture is stubbornly alpine, and the interior decorations range from baronial in the most expensive hotels to kitschy in the cheaper ones. The slopes themselves are best suited for beginners and intermediates—experts will quickly get bored with the offerings. 

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    Mürren: One of the most oddly positioned resorts in Switzerland, Mürren sits on a rock ledge high above the Lauterbrunnen Valley of the Bernese Oberland. Accessible only by cable car or cogwheel train, it’s among the country’s most picture-perfect resorts, full of chalet-style architecture and free of traffic except for hotel and service vehicles. Though its isolation makes it charming, it also makes the cost of staying here somewhat higher. Mürren is closer than any other resort to the demanding slopes of the Schilthorn, where experienced skiers are offered nearly 32km (20 miles) of Europe’s finest powder—and eagle-eyed panoramas over dramatically beautiful landscapes.

  • Verbier: This is the premier ski resort of French-speaking Switzerland, with an unpretentious panache and a fun-filled atmosphere. Its restaurants serve some of the finest creative cuisine in the region; others make do with simple alpine fare for hearty appetites. If you don’t speak French, you won’t feel uncomfortable—many of the resort’s nightlife options cater to Brits. (Throughout the town, English-style pubs compete cheerfully with French cafes.) Verbier lies at the heart of a sprawling, high-tech network of cable cars and gondolas that will connect you to such relatively unknown satellite resorts as Veysonnaz and La Tzoumaz. The resort is favored by world-class athletes for the difficulty of its slopes.

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  • Zermatt: Occupying a high-altitude plateau at the foot of Switzerland’s most photographed and iconic mountain, the Matterhorn, it’s hard to believe that this thriving ski town was once a simple farming hamlet. Many of the ancient wooden huts still remain in the heart of town, their windowboxes brimming with geraniums. You’ll find some of Switzerland’s best and most extensive skiing here, plus nightlife for all tastes, from lively après-ski to Michelin-starred dining. Access from the Rhone valley is via cog railway only; the resort is car-free, though the streets bustle with electric carts and horse-drawn carriages. A complicated network of chairlifts, cog railways, and gondolas carries skiers to such peaks as Stockhorn, Rothorn, Riffelberg, Trockner Steg, and over into Italy.

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    Arosa-Lenzerheide: In a sunny, bowl-shaped basin at the end of a 19-mile road from Chur, Arosa offers peaceful ambiance minus the alpine kitsch. Its architecture is contemporary, its restaurants artisanal, its bartenders vested; in peak season, it draws crowds of young families and millennials. Not as stratospherically expensive or pretentious as St. Moritz, Arosa offers lots of runs for intermediate skiers—plus cable-car access to the nearby valley of Lenzerheide, with its more challenging slopes.

  • Davos-Klosters: IThink of these linked resorts as the “slobs versus snobs” of the Swiss skiing landscape. Davos is larger and crasser, with notoriously tacky architecture, ostentatious hotels, and raucous après-ski bars. Klosters is prim and proper, a favorite of British royals and upper-crust bourgeoisie who stay at inconspicuous chalets or the dollhouse-like Chesa Grischuna. What do they have in common? Some of the best, and best-kept, slopes in the country, most crisscrossing the imposing Gotschna-Parsenn ski area. One of the most challenging runs descends from Weissflühgipfel at 2,622m (8,600 ft.) to Küblis at 810m (2,657 ft.).

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  • St. Moritz: The premier ski and social resort of eastern Switzerland, St. Moritz draws a lot of folks familiar with the art of conspicuous consumption—but with its breathtaking valley views, dependable snowfall and killer runs for skiers of all levels, it’s a magnet for the purely athletic as well. Skiing in the region is divided into three resorts, the most popular of which is Corviglia, on the mountains above St. Moritz. Engadine locals, most of whom learn how to ski before they can walk, head for the intermediate slopes of Corvatsch above Sils Maria and the advanced runs and off-piste options of Diavolezza-Lagalb by Pontresina.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.