As one the largest ski area in Switzerland, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Davos-Klosters. We sure were when we first exited the funicular and got on the pistes. That’s why we’ve broken down the ski area to provide you some insights so you can make the most out of your ski holiday in Davos.
On our tour of the Alps, we made it to this world-famous town two days after its claim to fame, the World Economic Forum. However we didn’t come to mingle with world leaders, we came to Davos intent on building our skills on snowboards. It’s hard to not find challenging terrain to elevate your skills on a snowboard or pair of skis in one of the best ski resorts in the world.
Davos is a well-loved ski resort and it’s not the village charm, but the skiing on offer. With six ski areas, hundreds of kilometers of pistes, and something to offer every skill it’s easy to understand why it is well regarded.
A Piste Guide to Davos Ski Resort
Parsenn is the most popular ski resort area in Davos and readily accessible from the town center. It’s a large ski area with long runs that are largely intermediate, it’s good for families, but it is definitely easy to get lost here.
To reach Parsenn from Davos you can take the Parsennbahn funicular from Davos Dorf. The top of the funicular clocks in at 2,662m and from there it is a short gondola ride up to Weissfluhgipfel 2,844m. From the top, an array of runs spread out in different directions.
Towards the center is a number of intermediate runs that are perfect for families, beginners, and those looking to cruise. The lifts that service Parsenn are modern with gondolas and a few high-speed lifts (some with seat warmers). I had a lot of fun taking runs down the boardercross track, it was also popular with a number of skiers. I also recommend checking out the Davos Igloo Village right near Weissfluhjoch station, for a lunch or mid day drink. Additionally, you can stay overnight here and be one of the first on piste in the morning!
One major bonus of Parsenn is the special early bird skiing experience inclusive in your lift ticket. If you’re willing to brave the cold and early morning two advanced ski guides lead twelve lucky skiers up the mountain to take the first ride of the day as the sun rises over Davos. This special experience isn’t available every day, and it is mandatory to sign up in advance for this experience, find out more here.
As snowboarders, we found the pistes, park, and freeride opportunities best on Jakobshorn. It’s Davos-Klosters second largest ski area and well known for attracting boarders, and anyone looking to get some laps in the park. Jakobshorn is also great for beginners with its Bolgen nursery slope and easy terrain park.
Jakobshorn is also where the well known Jatz-Hutte is – a place where you can relax, eat, drink, and even hot tub while looking over the alps. They have a selection of daybeds with a spectacular view and one of the coolest hot tubs in Europe. The views are sweet, but just be for-warned that it’s a very expensive place to eat (even for Switzerland), and if you want a lounge chair they cost 5 CHF per hour.
With low visibility and whiteout conditions on our last day, we weren’t able to test out Pischa. Instead, we headed for familiar ground/pistes on Parsenn. However, Pischa is known to be paradise on a powder day. The mountain has no groomed pistes, but a series of marked ski routes that are avalanche controlled and provide plenty of freeride opportunities.
As we’re only beginning our long journey into snowboarding we still do not have the experience or tools to the brave backcountry. That’s why on a stormy day with low visibility we stuck to familiar terrain. If you’re looking to make the most out of your time on ski routes and the off-piste opportunities we suggest you utilize a professional guide and avi gear. See our full ski and snowboard packing list here!
This is the most beginner friendly area of the Davos-Kloster ski resort. It is a tad bit difficult to reach if you’re staying in Davos as it requires a 30-minute train ride from Davos Platz to Kloster Dorf. However, the area is easy to explore and has modern lifts to get you around.
This mountain is slightly outside of Davos. It’s known for being a quiet mountain that is sure to offer a true mountain experience. Runs here are largely suited to an intermediate rider. Skiiers or riders can easily reach the resort via the bus and train free of charge with their ski pass. Non-skiers can take the lift to the upper terminus and take a short hike down into the valley. Every Wednesday and Friday night the lifts open up for night skiing and night tobogganing. Or you could always sit back relax and soak up the sun from the upper terminus.
If you’re looking for a quiet ski area for a relaxing evening on the slopes then Schatzalp is the place to head. Runs here are not particularly difficult and it’s well known to be for those looking to ski slow. Schatzalp is for those looking to find the Alpine resorts of yesteryear where it’s about healthy living and connecting with the mountains – no apres ski here.
It’s all tied in with the classic hotel Schatzalp hotel that provides fantastic views over Davos. From the top of the funicular and the hotel, you can easily stroll around and enjoy the winter views. It’s also possible to walk down to Davos town from here.
Where to stay in Davos
We really enjoyed our time at Hotel Edelweiss and it was easily one our favorite hotels in Switzerland. The two-star hotel is a lovely contemporary boutique hotel. While many hotels in the Alps can be dated we were pleasantly surprised by their modern and warm interior.
Contemporary themes can be found throughout the hotel and we loved having coffees in the reading lounge. The hotel has a sauna and it’s a short 10-minute walk to the Parsenn-Bahn.
The restaurant was one the best aspects of the hotel with a wonderful breakfast and hearty meals. We loved the fact they were able to accommodate us as vegetarians. It can be a struggle with many hotels in the Alps, but it’s always helpful to let the hotel staff know in advance.
Quick Switzerland Travel Tips
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Swiss German:”Hallo” and “Danke” French: “Bonjour” and “Merci”Italian: “Buongiorno” (formal) “Ciao” (informal) and “Grazie”
- Currency: Swiss Franc
- Visa: Schengen Visa, 90 days in the European Union out of 180. Many nationalities are granted this on arrival for free. Check with your embassy to see if that is you.
- What to Pack: Depends highly on the season and what you are doing. Mountain and hiking clothes are always a good idea in the summer, while you will definitely need your cold-weather gear in the winter. Don’t forget the ski gear if you plan on going skiing in the majestic Swiss Alps!
- You’ll need a special adaptor for travel in Switzerland as they use the Type J outlet. This universal travel adaptor is the one I have and it worked well!
How to Travel Around Switzerland
Train travel doesn’t get any easier than in Switzerland. The country has an incredibly efficient rail network that can get you pretty much anywhere – even in the mountain towns. This is the only way we have ever traveled to Switzerland and it’s very enjoyable. Eurail passes work well in Switzerland, as you can purchase a Swiss Rail Pass for extensive travel. Without these passes, you’ll want to book all your train travel in advance or you could pay a premium on the train. Make sure to be on time – punctuality is key in Switzerland!
Where the train can’t go – the bus can. Bus travel is also easy in Switzerland and your Swiss Travel Pass will work on them as well!
If you want freedom and flexibility you’ll need to get you’re own rental car in Switzerland. Some car rental comparison sites are:
My favorites to look at are:
- RentalCars.com: Provides comparisons for car rentals in Scotland.
- AutoEurope: I can often find deals here for car rentals in Europe.
- Discover Car Hire: Searches rental car prices around the globe.
Food in Switzerland
Have we mentioned that Switzerland is expensive? The easiest way to save money on food is by shopping at grocery stores and cooking your own meals. Co-Op and Migros are the main grocery stores, but be forewarned prices even at the grocery store are more than you’re probably used to seeing. I can’t even count on my hand the amount of time PB&J served as my lunch and dinner in Switzerland while I was on a budget.
Will be hard to find in Switzerland. Your average no-frills lunchtime meal from a cafe will run you at least 15 CHF. If you’re in mountain huts while skiing, expect to spend 10 CHF on french fries (we paid 1 CHF more for each ketchup packet).
Fondue and Rosti are two of the main dishes you will find in Switzerland. Expect to pay about 25+ CHF per person for a nice meal out.
For as expensive as Switzerland is, I honestly expected alcohol to cost more money. I was surprised that a glass of local red wine could be had for 5 CHF and a pint of beer ran about 6 CHF.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
We don’t travel without travel insurance and neither should you. You never know what can happen while traveling so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.