All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Rail travel to Swiss resorts

Mon, 05/10/2015 - 09:54 -- admin

Switzerland has some great ski resorts in the Alps and a fabulous train network.


Introduction

Train to Swiss ski resorts

Travelling to Swiss resorts from the UK by train can be a real pleasure.  The connections are simple and though it might take a little longer in terms of journey time than reaching French resorts, the superb Alpine scenery compensates. 

Although you have to change train a couple of times en route this is straightforward. Most Swiss resorts have their station in the heart of the resort village, meaning virtually no transfer at all, while others are a short bus or taxi ride away.


Step 1: Take a Eurostar to Paris

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You get on the Eurostar, sit down, have a chat with your friends, go to the cafe bar, read a book, look at the scenery gliding by, share a joke with a fellow passenger.

There are lots of great ways to use the time and then before you know it your Eurostar is arriving in Paris-Nord.

You may also want to see our guide to what the Eurostar is like.


Step 2: Change from Paris-Nord to Paris-Lyon

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So next you want to get from Paris-Nord, where the Eurostar arrives, to Paris-Lyon - the station from where the TGVs depart, bound for the Alps.

The easiest way to do that is with a pre-booked taxi, where the driver waits for you at the end of the Eurostar platform, holding a placard with your name. But there is also a taxi rank, a 50 metres to the right of the Eurostar platform.

You can also use the RER (part of the Metro) which is pretty simple to do. When you get to Gare de Lyon, you can have lunch if there is time, or bring some food onto the TGV (which also has a cafe bar). 

You can find all about these options in our guide to changing station from Paris-Nord to Paris-Lyon


Step 3: Whizz to the Alps on the TGV

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Now you are on the TGV, Paris slipping away as you speed out of the suburbs and through the French countryside to towards Switzerland.

Fields, lakes, farms, houses - you'll see what people do with their back gardens, what little villages look like here.

Head to the cafe bar, grab a meal, some snacks, coffees or a bottle of wine. Have a snooze, do some work, play games, chat, dream about the slopes. When you arrive at your destination station, it is a relatively short taxi or bus ride up to your ski resort.

You may also want to see our guide to what the TGV is like.


Step 4: Take local train to your resort

Train to Swiss ski resorts

To reach your resort, you'll need to switch to a Swiss train. This is very easy as it's just a change of platform.  All stations in Switzerland have lifts, escalators or gentle ramps (for wheeling luggage) so it's no hassle.

Some Swiss trains have restaurant carriages on board - so this is a great opporunity to dine while enjoying the scenery gliding by.

Most Swiss ski resorts actually have the train station in the village.  That means there's almost no transfer needed at all - you'll be able to just walk over to your hotel or chalet, or get a pick up or taxi to take you there.


How to book Eurostar + TGV to Switzerland

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Expert rail-booking service from Switzerland Travel Centre
Switzerland Travel Centre (STC) are experts in journeys from the UK to the Swiss Alps.
You can phone STC on: 0207 420 4934 (9am - 5pm Mon-Fri; 9am - 1pm Saturdays).
And you can also click on this link to send them an email, or use the form below:
 

Enquire for travel to the Swiss Alps

 

Booking online
You can book many journeys from the UK to Swiss resorts online, using the Loco2 website.
However, not all journeys to Swiss resorts are bookable online in one go, even though in theory they should be. This is because the underlying rail-company booking systems don't always talk to each other properly, preventing you booking the entire journey as a whole.  But if this is the case, you can contact booking agents such as Switzerland Travel Centre (see form above), who will be able to find and book tickets for you.


The Swiss Transfer Ticket

If you decide to fly into Switzerland, the Swiss Transfer Ticket is a good-value way of reaching your resort by train from the airport. The ticket gives you a return journey from one of Switzerland’s airports (or from the Swiss border).  The ticket is valid for one month, but each journey must be completed in one day and on the most direct route, and it valid for one month.

The ticket has some advantages for families

  • Children from 6 to 15 years inclusive travel free with a Family Card if accompanied by at least one parent
  • Children under 6 years travel free (no Family Card required)

The prices for the tickets vary according to the exchange rate, but at a rough guide:

  1st Class 2nd Class
Adults £170 £104
Children (6 - 16)  £85 £52

You can book your Swiss Transfer Ticket with Switzerland Travel Centre

Here is a link to a map of the Swiss rail network covered by the ticket.


Great Swiss ski resorts by train

Switzerland has hundreds of ski resorts of all sizes.  That gives you a lot to choose from, and if you'd like help choosing you are welcome to contact Snowcarbon founder Daniel - who can make recommendations and make sure you find something suitable. Just send Daniel an email and he'll be back in touch.

In the section below, we highlight some of the best Swiss resorts by train - each with a resort guide and an example journey.


St Moritz

St Moritz by train London to St Moritz village by train London to St Moritz village by train 1

Resort summary
The birthplace of ski holidays, St Moritz is a resort that exudes a strong air of class, and history. It all started in 1864, when a hotelier by the name of Johannes Badrutt bet some English tourists – who were staying the summer in St Moritz – that if they were to return in winter, they’d find the town sunnier and much more pleasant than smoggy, damp, cold London. They did, he won his bet and winter sports tourism was born.

On the mountain, the skiing is varied, with 350km of long, wide, and well-prepared slopes. The resort is split into three distinct areas, although Corviglia, served by a two-stage railway, and Corvatsch are the most convenient to access from the town. Recent investment means there are now plenty of fast lifts serving the ski area, and few queues – even in peak season.

At 1,856m in the Engadin Valley, the village combines snow reliability with plentiful sunshine.  The slopes start at 1,800m and the highest point in th eski area is at 3,305m. Intermediates particularly will love the plentiful long, rolling red and blue runs, while for beginners, the main nursery slopes are at Corviglia.

The town lies on the shores of a vast lake, which freezes in winter and is used for an eclectic range of activities including horse racing, polo, golf, and even cricket. St Moritz’s main street is dominated by high-end boutiques such as Prada, Versace, and Louis Vuitton, and there are also a number of glitzy high end hotels.

Example journey - outbound
Depart London St Pancras on the 07:52 Eurostar to Paris-Nord, arriving 11:17; take the 12:23 TGV from Paris-Lyon to Zurich, arriving 16:26; take the 16:37 Intercity to Chur, arriving 17:52; and then take the 17:58 regional express, arriving at 19:58 in St Moritz.

Example journey - return
Depart St Moritz on the 08:03 regional express to Chur, arriving 10:03; take the 10:09 Intercity to Zurich, arriving 11:23; take the 11:34 TGV to Paris-Lyon, arriving 15:37; and then take the 17:13 Eurostar from Paris-Nord, arriving London St Pancras at 18:30.


Verbier

Verbier by train London to Verbier by train Verbier ski by train

Resort summary
Verbier is situated at the hub of Les 4 Vallees amid some of the most awe-inspiring mountain views in the Alps. You can feast your eyes on the Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin to the south or at the top of the Mont Fort Glacier on a good day one can see the Matterhorn in the other direction.

Boasting over 410km of pistes (100km in the Verbier area of the 4 vallees), there is plenty to ski. The resort is famous for its extensive accessible off-piste and wide variety of terrain, making it something of a Mecca for experienced skiers.
The itinerary runs in Verbier are legendary, whether it Mont Gelé with its steep and long descent, the bumps and massive width of Tortin, or the technical lines through the tree lined beauty of Vallon d’Arby, there is plenty to keep you busy.

There is an undeniable panache about the accommodation here, with chalet-style apartments and hotels as well as chic wooden chalets - many of which have splendid views of the surrounding mountains and all-day sunshine.

There are several award winning restaurants in the village.  The restaurant in the 5* Chalet d’Adrien has a Michelin Star and stunning views; while one of the oldest restaurants in Verbier, Le Carrefour, cooks meat on hot stones with south-facing views and a sun- baked terrace.

Example journey - outbound
Depart London St Pancras on the 17:30 Eurostar to Paris-Nord, arriving 20:47; stopover in a Paris hotel and then take the 07:57 TGV from Paris-Lyon to Martigny, arriving 12:52; and then take the 13:17 regional train, arriving at Le Chable at 13:44. From there it's 20 minutes by connecting bus or taxi to Verbier.

Example journey - return
Transfer by bus or taxi to Le Chable station; then take the 07:11 regional express to Martigny, arriving 07:39; then take the 07:50 InterRegional train to Geneva, arriving 09:30; take the 09:41 TGV to Paris-Lyon, arriving 12:49; and then take the 14:13 Eurostar from Paris-Nord, arriving London St Pancras at 15:30.


Zermatt

Zermatt by train London to Zermatt by train Zermatt ski by trainLondon to Zermatt by train

Resort summary
Zermatt is without question Switzerland's most famous resort, not least because it has the most photogenic mountain in the Alps - the Matterhorn.  Below this towering peak is a vibrant, cosmopolitan village made up of swish hotels and charming wooden chalets.   The buzz is palpable, above the quiet whirr of the electric buses and taxis that ferry tourists around in this otherwise car-free resort.

Zermatt has slopes that rate highly in terms of snow confidence, with a season running from from late November to the end of April.  There is huge 350km of pistes, shared with the linked resorts of Cervinia and Valtournenche in Italy, and the top station is nestled at an imperious 3,820m.

Although the slopes aren’t well suited to beginners, if you are of intermediate level or above, you’ll be in your element here, carving and cruising a myriad of options in spectacular high-altitude scenery.

A huge plus is the quality of the mountain restaurants, making lunch or coffee stops an absolute pleasure, such as such as Chez Vroni, a snug, well-loved cabin in the tiny hamlet of Findeln, with dried home-made sausages dangling from the ceiling.

There’s plenty off the slopes too, with ice-skating, sleigh rides and plenty of spas – one of the top ones being in the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. Evenings in the village a buzzy, with lively pubs such as Paperla and dancing at the Postli disco.

Example journey - outbound
Depart London St Pancras on the 17:30 Eurostar to Paris-Nord, arriving 20:47; stopover in a Paris hotel and then take the 07:57 TGV from Paris-Lyon to Visp, arriving 14:04; then take the 14:08 regional train to Zermatt, arriving at 15:14.

Example journey - return
Depart Zermatt on the 08:13 regional express to Visp, arriving 09:22; then take the 09:28 EuroCity to Basel, arriving 11:29; then take the 12:34 TGV to Paris-Lyon, arriving 15:37; and then take the 17:13 Eurostar from Paris-Nord, arriving London St Pancras at 18:30.


Map of Swiss stations and resorts

This is a map of the Swiss Travel System network.

You can click on the map to enlarge the map, or you can view a pdf version.