Affordable skiing in Switzerland

Affordable Family Skiing in Switzerland

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When I told my husband I’m going to write a post about affordable skiing in Switzerland, he laughed and said that it’s going to be the shortest blog post ever. But all joking aside… You are probably wondering if it’s possible to book cheap or at least affordable ski holidays in Switzerland.

Whether you are on your own, traveling as a couple or a family with kids, my answer is yes, you can definitely spend your winter vacation in the Swiss mountains without having to break the bank. Find out!

Why should you even consider skiing in Switzerland

We have been skiing in Switzerland for many years and we love it there. Switzerland has many advantages compared to other European ski resorts.

First, Switzerland and the Swiss ski resorts are very easy to reach (even if you don’t have a car). There are many international airports and a very good railway network.

Second, skiing in Switzerland is much more relaxing than, for example, in France, because the infrastructure is better and it’s much less busy on the slopes. You hardly ever have to wait longer than 2-3 minutes for a ski lift, even in the busiest resorts and during the busiest periods.

And third, Swiss mountain resorts are the authentic villages with history, traditional architecture and typical culture, and not some artificially built ski villages that have nothing more than a few hotel blocks, restaurants, and shops that you find in so many other countries.

Family skiing in Switzerland on a budget

Ski pistes in Switzerland are hardly ever crowded – Leysin

 

And now back to affordable ski vacations in Switzerland… First, I’m going to give you some tips on how to book ski holidays in Switzerland without having to break the bank. Then I’ll introduce you to some Swiss mountain resorts where you can ski on a tighter budget. And last but not least, I’ll give you some examples of affordable family accommodation in the Swiss Alps. Read on!

How to find and book an affordable and cheap family ski vacation in Switzerland

 

Budget-friendly skiing in Switzerland – tips and advice

1. Go in low season

While Swiss winter school holidays are spread in time and hotel prices skyrocket when the schools are out, there are still less busy periods when the Swiss mountain hotels are more affordable. Usually, the prices will be lower in December (except Christmas-New Year period) and in January.

While December may not be an ideal month to ski due to the lack of snow, January usually offers perfect skiing conditions pretty much anywhere in Switzerland. If you can, avoid February to mid-March as that is when the Swiss (and most other European countries) have their winter break. The second half of March is usually quieter and cheaper again. Even skiing during the Easter holidays is usually much more affordable than in February – beginning of March.

Here you can find the Swiss school holidays calendar.

2. Book in advance

Book in advance

While you have to book your accommodation months in advance if you’re planning to go skiing in Switzerland in February, you don’t necessarily have to do this if you go skiing in a lower season. But make sure to book all the extra’s the moment you have your vacation planned. Ski equipment, ski lessons, and even ski passes are often cheaper if booked online in advance. Some ski resorts give you up to 20% off ski passes if booked at least a week or two weeks in advance.

Ski lifts in Engelberg Switzerland

 

3. Take advantage of guest cards

Most hotels in Switzerland will give you a tourist card for the duration of your stay. It’s usually issued by a local tourist office and gives you all kinds of advantages, like discounts at the local stores or restaurants, public transport, free access to a swimming pool or an ice skating rink, etc.

4. Book half board package or self-catering accommodation

Dining is very expensive in Switzerland so booking a half board package at your hotel will often save you a lot of money. Self-catering is also a good option, especially if you are traveling with a big family. In that case, look for an apartment or a chalet – it will be much cheaper than staying at a hotel.

5. Look for cheaper, less known ski resorts

Don’t expect cheap skiing in the most known luxury Swiss Alps mountain resorts like Gstaad, Zermatt, or Verbier. Look for smaller, less known villages for your budget Swiss ski holiday. Below you can find a list of several cheaper ski resorts in Switzerland.

Affordable family ski holidays in Switzerland

Skiing in Switzerland with a family can be more affordable than you think:

  • Most hotels have family rooms for up to 4 people and usually, children stay free of charge.
  • Ski passes are free for kids under 6 and there are big discounts for older children too. Sometimes you can take advantage of family rates or special weekend family rates as well.
  • Some ski rental companies provide children’s ski equipment free of charge with a rental of ski equipment for the parents.
Affordable skiing in Switzerland with a family is possible

In most ski resorts you are free to use the equipment of the ski schools

 

Skiing in Switzerland on a budget: cheaper ski resorts and affordable hotels

As I said, we have been skiing in Switzerland for years and it’s always been very affordable. Pre-kids we always skied in January or March when the hotels and ski pistes were much less crowded, and we always looked for the less popular ski resorts where the prices are much lower. Here are some resorts you could look at.

11 Cheap Ski Resorts in Switzerland

Skiing in Engelberg Switzerland

 

Affordable hotels for a family ski vacation in Switzerland

I made a selection of several budget-friendly skiing accommodation options for families in Switzerland. It’s a random selection in different ski resorts all over Switzerland. These are all ski resorts that we have been to and feel comfortable enough to recommend them as really nice places to ski with kids. These are not necessarily the cheapest resorts, but the hotels I chose have a very good price – quality ratio for a Swiss family winter break. I split them in two groups: cheap and affordable accommodations based on certain criteria I noted below.

Cheap family accommodation in Switzerland

The criteria I used for the CHEAP Swiss mountain hotels for families:

  • Good location in the resort that I know, but not always very close to the ski lifts
  • Family rooms for up to 4 people
  • Price of max 150 CHF/night/room (the price might be a bit lower or higher depending on the season)
  • Breakfast included or self catering
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Review score of 8+ (booking.com rating system)

Cheap family accommodation in Leysin Switzerland

Cheap family accommodation in Arosa Switzerland

Cheap family hotels in Saint-Luc Switzerland

Affordable family accommodation in Switzerland

The criteria I used for AFFORDABLE family hotels in the Swiss mountains:

  • Good location in the resort that I know
  • Family rooms for up to 4 people
  • Price of max 250 CHF/night/family room (the price might be a bit lower or higher depending on the season)
  • Breakfast included
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Review score of 8+ (booking.com rating system)

Affordable family hotels in Leysin Switzerland

We stayed at both these hotels several times, they both have an excellent price/quality/location ratio.

Affordable family hotels in Engelberg Switzerland

  • Hotel Edelweiss (very family-friendly with children play rooms, etc). Probably one of the best price – quality hotels you’ll find in such a good location in Switzerland.

Affordable family hotels in Zinal Switzerland

Affordable family accommodation in Laax Switzerland

Affordable family hotels in Saas-Fee Switzerland

Affordable family accommodation in Saas-Grund or Saas-Almagell Switzerland

Affordable family accommodation in Mürren Switzerland

Affordable family accommodation in Grindelwald Switzerland

Our experience – is cheap skiing in Switzerland possible

There are many reasons why we like skiing in Switzerland: it’s not that far for us to drive to, the ski resorts aren’t as busy as in most other countries in Europe, infrastructure is great, and we just simply love Switzerland. For that, we are prepared to pay a bit more. Therefore not all our ski holidays in Switzerland have been cheap, but most of the time we manage to keep then quite affordable without sacrificing on the experience.

If you travel outside main school holidays, if you are prepared to walk a bit further to the gondola, and if you take the time to look for smaller, less-known ski resorts, then yes, it is certainly possible to find affordable skiing in Switzerland.

  • Over the years we have stayed in several hotels from the list above. We used to ski in Leysin a lot. Once we stayed in the nearby Villars-sur-Ollon – excellent wide slopes, but not always possible to find budget-friendly accommodation.
  • Two years ago we splurged and spent our ski holidays in Hotel Silberhorn in Wengen. We all loved it and the kids are still talking about the outside jacuzzi we used to bathe in every evening, but it’s not exactly a budget-friendly hotel, so I don’t think we’ll be going back soon, but this has more to do with our family situation (3 kids), and it might be much more affordable for a family with just 2 kids sharing one room.
  • Last year we were skiing in Engelberg – here you can find the full review of the Berghotel Trübsee where we stayed at. We love this hotel for various reasons: family room for five people, fantastic location on the mountain, toboggan at the hotel, etc. You can check availability and rates here: Berghotel Trübsee Engelberg.
  • On our most recent skiing vacation in Switzerland, we went back to Wengen again. We stayed at Hotel Belvedere, which is quite a lot more affordable than Hotel Silberhorn we stayed at before. During the same trip, we also discovered Haslital-Meiringen ski area that is incredibly family-focussed. This is lesser-known smaller ski resort and therefore prices are quite lower, especially if you decide to stay in Meiringen town. It takes two gondola rides to get to the ski area, but it’s quite easy to do and accommodation is much more affordable than at the hotels located next to the ski slopes. You can read more about our recent trip here: Visiting the Jungfrau Region in winter.

So yes, it is possible to find affordable skiing in Switzerland. It just takes some research and you really should book well in advance!

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Practical tips for booking budget - friendly Swiss ski holidays, including the list of cheap ski resorts and suggested hotels for an affordable family ski vacation in Switzerland.

Comments

  1. hi, jurga
    i absolutely love your post .
    I have been to swiss twice but on both occasions me and my wife dint go skiing.
    i do understand Switzerland is expensive but would love to try this out on april
    My dates are from the 8th till about 12th .
    Do you think i would be able to get snow ??

    Do you think as a beginner should i learn in engelberg or Andermatt or Grindlewald.
    I have been to Engelberg and Grindlewald and love the vibe there so was thinking i should go there
    but as a beginner in skiing where do you suggest we go ?

    Its a relaxing holiday , so i would learn some skiing also have a nice place to have dinner nearby and not struck to some resort food all the time.

    It would be great if you could revert back thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Dave, that time of the year I would go to a place that has ski slopes in the areas of at least 2000m height. There won’t be much snow left in the lower areas, I’m afraid. You may get lucky and it will snow still, but I wouldn’t count on it.
      In Kleine Scheidegg and in Manlichen area (accessible from Grindelwald or Wengen) there is a ski school/ beginners slopes quite high in the mountains, so maybe check it out there. Are you taking ski lessons? In that case, maybe best contact a local ski school and ask for advice.
      I’m not familiar with Andermatt ski area, but Engelberg (especially the slopes at that height) is more a place for people who already know how to ski…
      PS if you decide to go to Grindelwald/ Wengen area, you may want to check our post about the Jungfrau Region – we just came back from there and there is a lot to do even if you can’t or don’t want to ski.

  2. Hi thanks for this article! Super helpful. I’m planning to go near Zermatt next ski season, and I was wondering what the ski conditions were like in late March? I was planning on going in February but might consider changing to March if the snow conditions weren’t too icy, or warm during the day and freezing at night.

    1. Author

      Hi Alana, Zermatt is a place where people even ski in summer. You never know how the ski conditions will be, it’s so different from place to place and from year to year.
      In general, in Switzerland most ski resorts are open from December till mid April, so both – February and March are ok.
      The only factor to consider is school holidays as everything gets much busier in those weeks, so mid March can be better for that.

  3. I have skied in Switzerland a few times and you are right, it can be expensive. Your post is very useful… You should do the same for France, because it’s also very expensive!

    1. Author

      I somehow find it easier in France as there are many more dedicated ‘ski-villages’ with so much accommodation, self-catering apartments, etc. Whereas in Switzerland it’s more real towns and villages with fewer accommodation options and therefore higher prices. But yes, good idea, I’ll see if I can publish something similar for another ski season 🙂

  4. Hello Jurga,
    We are an American family living in Hamburg, Germany. My kids speak both German and English. We have booked a ski holiday for next March for our family in Leysin, Switzerland. I would like to enroll my kids (11 and 7) in ski school since this will only be our 2nd time skiing, but do you what language the instruction is provided in? Is it possible to have the instruction provided in either English or German?

    Thank you,
    Meredith Gibson

    1. Author

      Hi Meredith, Swiss ski schools often offer ski classes in different languages. And I am sure that German or English is easier than for example Dutch (for our kids), since pretty much every instructor speaks English. And German is one of the main languages in Switzerland, so I think that will not be a problem neither.
      The best thing to do do is to contact the local ski schools and talk to them. Here are some ski schools I found in Leysin: Ecole Suisse de Ski Leysin or Leysin Ski.
      Hope this helps.

  5. Thank you so much for this post, my family and I are planning our winter vacation in Switzerland for Dec. 2017 but I wasn’t for sure where to look there are so many cities in Switzerland and couldn’t narrow it down. In addition, I want to make sure it was affordable for our family as well. This post has help out a lot and I can start more research from here. Thanks again

    1. Author

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Dee. Hope this helps you plan a nice and affordable family trip to Switzerland. Just one tip – this year there was very little snow in European Alps in December, so look for a place that is higher up in the mountains or has guaranteed skiing, like a glacier or snow cannons – I think most places will have at least a couple of runs with snow cannons, but better check in advance.

  6. Skiing is not cheap sport, nor is Switzerland cheap country. But, I think skiing there is still affordable. You gave some really good tips on how to save some money.
    I’ve never skied in France, but I’ve skied a lot in Switzerland and I wouldn’t necessarily agree about the infrastructure and short waiting lines. At some ski resorts, they could definitely do some upgrading of the lifts. Also, the waiting lines could be super looong during the busier periods. (At least in Adelboden and Flumserberg.)

    1. Author

      Thank you for your comment, Urska. You’re absolutely right – skiing isn’t cheap anywhere. As for the waiting lines, we never really experienced long waiting times anywhere in Switzerland. Even now when we travel in high season with kids, the longest we ever had to wait was 20min wait once in the morning in order to get to the ski area above Wengen. But that only happened one time in more than 10 years… Normally the wait time is max. 2-3 minutes. But I guess it all depends on the place and the infrastructure there. I can only compare it to the other countries we’d been to, and Switzerland was always by far the least busy on the slopes and at the lifts. I just heard some horror stories about waiting lines of 3 hours and more in Bulgaria. It might be cheap, but you get what you pay for.

  7. I have skied in Switzerland a few times and you are right, it can be super expensive. Great post I never thought you could do it cheaper and great tips. Definitely going to pin this for future reference.

  8. We’ve never been skiing before but I’m sure my kids will love it. This guide will be really useful when we go on a skiing holiday to Switzerland. I would have also thought it was not possible to book affordable ski holidays in Switzerland, haha.

  9. When I read the title of your post I have to admit I thought – how?! But you have some great tips in here! I lived in Switzerland (Saas Fee actually!) for 5 months and understand how expensive it can be, and picking the smaller resorts certainly helps!

    1. Author

      Hi Vicki, thanks for stopping by. It’s definitely not cheap in Switzerland, but as anywhere else, so much depends on the choices: the resort, hotel, the period…
      You’re so lucky to have lived in such a beautiful place! We love Saas Fee – Zermatt area!

  10. I’d love to go skiing here in Switzerland!

  11. Ok you’ve twisted my arm Jurga, when I eventually travel to Europe, I will be skiing in Switzerland!! 😉 Great tips, thanks for sharing your recommendations!

    1. Author

      If you come all the way to Europe for a ski holiday, then definitely Switzerland is one of the best choices, Priti. Not just for skiing itself, but – as I said in my post – for the more authentic experience. You’d love Switzerland in summer or in winter!

  12. I would love to go skiing in Switzerland one year. Definitely on my list!

  13. Id love to try skiing but i thought its too expensive… but reading this article i should consider it on my future travels.

    1. Author

      You should try it at least once, and then you’ll be hooked. 😉 We find skiing holidays to be the most relaxing of all vacations – you forget all the worries and just focus on the skiing itself. Give it a try!

  14. This is such good research! Every time we have gone we really spend an arm and a leg, this is truly unique ideas! Thank you for sharing

    1. Author

      I’m sure you’re not alone, Arianne. Many people tell me they don’t even consider Swiss holidays because it’s so expensive. Granted, it’s not cheap, but if you look around, there are usually good deals available. In summer many hotels offer free gondola tickets for the area, but then again – not in the most popular resorts. It’s only once that we went to Switzerland and felt that we really splurged. We love Switzerland and visit at least once a year, if we can, twice, but somehow we always manage to find affordable ways to enjoy it… That’s why I wrote this post – to show other people that it can be done.

  15. I love Switzerland in winter – its a long time since i was skiing there (Crans Montana – not cheap) and these days to be honest I am more a fan of sitting with a hot chocolate or bowl of soup and enjoying the views! Great guide though for someone looking for an affordable ski holiday in Switzerland!

    1. Author

      But isn’t it the best part of any ski vacation, Tracy – sitting with a warm drink in your hands and enjoying the sun and the spectacular views! 😉

  16. wow – Jurga, this is such a well researched post. I know nothing about skiing so this is the perfect article I would read if I was searching for a ski holiday. So much so that you’ve actually made me consider one.

    1. Author

      Even if you don’t ski, Alex, Switzerland is a beautiful country to visit in winter. You can do snowshoeing, sledging, tobogganing, and lots of sightseeing too. As I said in this post, it’ very different from many other ski places where there is nothing else to do but ski or après-ski 😉

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