Swiss Alps By Train | How To Guide For Skiers

Want a ski trip without the flight guilt? Here's how to travel to Switzerland’s ski resorts by train

Love skiing but hate flying? It’s a conundrum for climate-conscious skiers and snowboarders eager to minimise their carbon footprint. But if you want to hit the Alps in the greenest, most eco-friendly way, there is an answer – take the train. Here’s why you should give rail a chance, how you can go about doing it, and a selection of some of the best Swiss ski resorts accessible by train.

Why Travel To The Alps By Train

Flying is usually the fastest, simplest and cheapest way to get to the Alps, but air travel is often plagued by problems – massive queues at the check-in desks, painfully slow progress through security, planes so crowded you feel like a sardine in a tin. And that’s before you’ve had a nervy wait at the baggage carousel and a crawling bus transfer to the resort.

Trains can provide an antidote to the stress of flying. You get good legroom, epic views out of the window, and a comfortable travelling experience – simply sit back, relax and enjoy the romance of a European rail journey. That’s what train enthusiasts claim, anyway.

Then there are the environmental considerations. Travelling by train guzzles far less fuel than air travel and produces a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions of flying. A single journey by train from London St Pancras to Zermatt in Switzerland, for example, creates 11.7kg of carbon emissions compared to 134.2kg for the same journey by plane (according to – a whopping 90% reduction. That’s a big win for the planet – and your conscience.

How To Travel To The Swiss Alps By Train

All options start with the Eurostar. From London St Pancras International, you’ll whizz through the Channel Tunnel to Paris Gare du Nord in just under 2 hours and 30 minutes – a speedy start.

Next you’ll have to transfer from Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon. It’s a tad inconvenient, but far from difficult – simply take the Metro, RER local train or jump in a taxi. It won’t take longer than 60 minutes, even if you’re slow.

From Paris Gare de Lyon, take a TGV-Lyria high-speed train to your Swiss destination. This will often involve a change or two (usually via larger stations such as Lausanne, Basel or Zurich), but the SBB rail system in Switzerland is so efficient and punctual you’re unlikely to encounter problems.

“Set off from London on an early train and you can be in-resort tucking into cheese fondue by dinner time”

Door-to-door, these journeys can be completed in a day – set off from London on an early train and you can be in-resort tucking into cheese fondue by dinner time. Take the 07.01 train from St Pancras and you’ll be in Andermatt by 19.06, for example. Alternatively, some passengers prefer a stopover en-route; a bonus city break before hitting the slopes.

Of course, some resorts are quicker and simpler to get to from Paris than others. This all depends on their location within Switzerland, the number of connections required and how well trains are synced with gondolas or bus transfers.

Tickets can be purchased online in advance from websites such as Trainline and Rail Europe. London to Paris by Eurostar costs from £78 return in standard class, while Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria starts at €29 each way in second class. The excellent Seat61 blog has detailed buying instructions to help you get the best deals.

5 of the Best Swiss Ski Resorts By Train

We recently headed by train to the Valais canton of Switzerland – a rather magical and adventure-filled region with 45 peaks over 4,000m, 300 days of sunshine annually and 2,400km of ski slopes. It was a ski odyssey, that also included a visit to the neighbouring canton of Uri. Our aim? To test out some of the best Swiss ski resorts to visit by train. Without further ado, here’s our top 5.

1) Aletsch Arena

Home to the greatest glacier in the Alps and located within the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Aletsch Arena ski area feels (somewhat surprisingly) like a hidden gem. Better known by the Swiss than outsiders, the ski-in ski-out resort offers 104km of slopes linking three charming car-free villages – Riederalp, Bettmeralp and Fiescheralp – with 35 lifts providing “snow guaranteed” conditions between 1,925m and 2,869m at the top of the Eggishorn. The pistes are groomed to perfection too – the local piste bashers have a trophy cabinet full of awards.

How to get there: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon. Hop on the TGV-Lyria to Betten Talstation, usually connecting via Basel and Brig  or Lausanne and Brig. Directly next to the Betten Talstation concourse, you can take the cable car up to Bettmeralp. The total journey time is 10-11 hours. 

Where to stay: Hotel Waldhaus in Bettmeralp is a perfect ski-in ski-out base

Where to eat: Restaurant Gläcktricka in Bettmeralp serves up Valais specialities including rösti

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2) Saas Fee

Saas Fee is an iconic ski destination – a place of reliable snow, high-altitude skiing and Swiss alpine charm; a place where you’re always surrounded by 18 towering 4,000m peaks. The resort has 150km of blue, red, black and yellow pistes, ranging from 1,500m to 3,600m above sea level. There’s also one of the largest glacier ski areas in the Alps to consider as well. In a world of warming temperatures, it is this height that sets Saas Fee apart. It gives skiers and snowboarders one of the best chances of good snow all-season long.

How to get there: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon. Hop on the TGV-Lyria to Stalden Saas, via Lausaunne and Visp. From Stalden Saas you need to take a 40-minute Postbus 511 to Saas Fee bus terminal. The total journey time is 11-12 hours.

Where to stay: Mistral Hotel is perfectly located for access to cable cars

Where to eat: At 3,500m altitude, the Mittelallalin is the highest revolving restaurant in the world

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3) Andermatt

Transformed from sleepy ex-military base into a Swiss alpine skiing paradise courtesy of a $2 billion investment spearheaded by Egyptian real estate mogul Samih Sawiris, Andermatt in the canton of Uri is a resort on the rise. With 180km of pistes, 33 lifts and rising up to 3,000m above sea level, the resort – spread across the Andermatt, Sedrun and Disentis ski areas – serves up a lot of bang for your buck. For experienced skiers and snowboarders, Gemsstock (2,961m) delivers demanding slopes, deep snow and freeriding fun with non-stop descents of up to 1,500m. Gütsch (2,344m) and Schneehüenerstock (2,600m), meanwhile, have something for everyone; we’re talking red and blue runs galore.

How to get there: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon. Hop on the TGV-Lyria to Andermatt, with connections via Basel and Göschenen. The total journey time is 11 hours.

Where to stay:  The new Radisson Blu Hotel Reussen in Andermatt combines contemporary styling with alpine charm

Where to eat: If you want to splash the cash, the 5-star The Chedi is a gastronomic delight

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4) Zermatt

Stylish, high-class and elegant, Zermatt is one of the world’s premier snow destinations. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn, Zermatt is home to Europe’s highest ski resort, rising to a height of 3,883m above sea level. The ‘Matterhorn Ski Paradise’ area has 360km of blue, red, black and yellow runs. Promising “fantastic skiing” for a long season, it combines a jam-packed programme of events, delicious dining options, and lively après-ski entertainment.

How to get there: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon. Hop on the TGV-Lyria to Visp via Basel or Lausanne. Next change to the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn train to Zermatt. The total journey time is 11 hours.

Where to stay: Zermatt Youth Hostel has well-priced rooms and is centrally located

Where to eat: 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat is Switzerland’s highest hotel and a perfect spot for lunch

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5) Verbier / 4 Vallées


Double-winner of the prestigious World’s Best Ski Resort accolade at the World Ski Awards in both 2021 and 2022, Verbier has a long-standing reputation as a first-rate ski destination – and it’s easy to see why. Striking a perfect balance between charming Swiss alpine village, rugged mountain adventure hub, and cosmopolitan and lively après party centre, Verbier is the gateway to the 4 Vallées ski area with more than 400km of runs and 100 lifts. Whether you’re looking for a freeriding paradise or simply on-piste fun, there is something for everyone in Verbier.

How to get there: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon. Hop on the TGV-Lyria to Le Châble via Lausanne and Martigny. Directly next to Le Châble train station you can take the Médran cable car to Verbier. The total journey time is 10 hours.

Where to stay: Hôtel Ermitage is in central Verbier, close to local amenities.

Where to eat: Try the melted cheese delights of a traditional Swiss raclette dinner at Le Caveau.

More info:

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