Swiss Skiing at Christmas

Aug 19th, 2008, 06:26 PM
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Swiss Skiing at Christmas

We are planning a family trip to Germany/maybe France/maybe Switzerland for Christmas this year. "We" consist of my parents (in their 60's), my husband and I and my brother (30's-40's). We are flying in and out of Frankfurt and getting around by train. Our plan was to see a bunch of Christmas markets and then my brother threw in a zinger.

My brother was a ski instructor in an Eastern US ski resort when he was younger and apparently has a life-long dream of doing a little skiing in Europe. He's not requiring a week, just one day on the slopes. He would rent equipment, but bring appropriate clothing. He has never been to Europe or traveled by train anywhere and only speaks English, and is generally irresponsible so we are a little hesitant about sending him out for a long day trip on his own. My husband and I have done a little skiing, but don't anticipate doing any on this trip. None of us have ever skied in Europe. My parents will not be skiing. We all, however, would love to see a charming winter village, decorated for Christmas, with ice skaters, horse-drawn sleds, tobogganing, etc. (but who wouldn't?).

What would work best for my tenative planning is to do a few days in Frankfurt with some side trips for surrounding Christmas markets, relocate to Strassbourg for same, then go to skiing place on the 24th or 25th of December, staying for a couple of days and returning to Frankfurt on the 27th.

So, with that long wind-up, here are my questions:
1. Where could this little winter fantasy reasonably take place? Switzerland seems closest to me, but maybe Austria is a good choice. It appears that we might be able to get to Interlaken reasonably easily on the train and they seem to have some sort of bus that could deliver my brother to the slopes. They seem to have some runs there that make snow. Would there be enough snow for a good chance at skiing then? Is this a good base for the rest of us? It appears alot cheaper and with more availability than the actual ski areas, does this indicate "not charming"? Lucerne also appears possible without a car and seems to have a range of things to do. I can't seem to find out how to get to the ski slopes from town. Would this be a good place?
2. I'm assuming that the week between Christmas and New Year's is high season for the ski areas as it is in the US. However, will everything shut down on Christmas eve and Christmas day? The slopes? The trains? Will it be impossibly crowded?
3. I'm sure there won't be any shops open or entertainment available on the 25th, but will hotels serve meals or should I be looking for an apartment where we can cook up something?

I know there are a lot of questions here - thanks for reading to the end! Any help/clarification would be welcome!
Skedaddle is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 10:25 PM
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Dear Skedaddle,

If this helps with your irresponsible brother...

In most real ski areas in Switzerland you will need to book for an entire week at least between Christmas and New Year's and yes it will be crowded. Most good resorts are already full.

I would have recommended the Engadine region but not for just a day. It offers lots to do beyond skiing.

gruezi is offline  
Aug 19th, 2008, 11:35 PM
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>In most real ski areas in Switzerland you will need to book for an entire week at least between Christmas and New Year's and yes it will be crowded. Most good resorts are already full.

I agree but almost all skiing areas are within (longish) day trip distance to a bigger city.

From Zürich, Flumserberg and Hoch-Ybrig will be the most "reachable" snow areas, but also Engelberg and even Davos/Klosters have their share of Zürich day trippers.

Skedaddle, depending on the weather you can ski in the Vosges range - an hour by bus from Strasbourg or Mulhouse. But with just under 1500 m height the slopes there are not reliable - there may be snow or may be not.

Interlaken is not really the best base for skiing - to get to the slopes you have to take the train to Lauterbrunnen, change tehre to Wengen etc.
altamiro is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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Arriving from Strassbourg and returning to Frankfurt with 2 nights in Switzerland for skiing?

That's quite a bit of travel time.

On skiing: All the lifts will be open as long as there is snow. Hopefully the weather will be good too.

Gruezi is correct about hotels preferring 7-day guests.

For ski resorts that will probably have enough snow and are obtainable by train, I'd recommend Arosa or Davos.
kleeblatt is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 07:48 AM
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Lucern can give you a good site.

The skiiers can take the train to Engleberg and walk to the lifts at Titlis. This is a 3,000 meters high mountain area with year-round skiing. There's also for all level of skiing.

There is also cross country skiing at Titlis.

Those parts of the family which don't want to ski, they can stay at Lucern and tour around this city.

Other posters gave some good areas too but Lucern is a good combination with transport and lodging in city.

blackduff is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 08:01 AM
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My post must have been lost. Anyway, here's again try.

Lucern is a good choice. The train from Lucern to Engleberg and then walk to the base of Titlis. This is a 3,000 meter mountain. The pistes are for all level of quality, including cross country trails.

Equipment can but rented at Titlis or within Engleberg.

For the non-skiers, Lucern can keep the time visiting this city. Both parts of this group can be pleased.

blackduff is offline  
Aug 24th, 2008, 04:13 AM
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Thanks, guys for all your help! Looking at all the suggestions, we are thinking about Lucern. It looks relatively easy to hit the slopes in Engelberg from there. Lucern looks charming - would you guys say that's accurate? Could we expect a little snow there for Christmas or is the elevation too low?
We are thinking of traveling there on 12/24, staying 3 nights and heading back to Frankfort on 12/27. That will give us the relatively closed 12/25 there and then my brother can ski on 12/26 and the rest of us can tour around the city. Does that seem a reasonable plan?
Skedaddle is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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Engleberg's biggest mountain (Titlis) has summer skiing even. The top is a glacier, so you can assure skiing.

Davos certainly will be full of snow too but this is about three hours of driving to make from Lucern to Davos. There is a train to Davos (actually I missed this train while I was still on the slopes).

Within Engleberg has another ski area which faces South but the snow isn't as reliable. Also is a small slope in Engleberg.

The back side of Titlis is available from Milchefruit (sp.?) and it has a lot of snow in the spring, so it's a good place for March or April. Bigger slopes but it's worth skiing.


blackduff is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 06:54 PM
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Fantastic - this sounds like it will be perfect for him.
Do the trains and lifts run on Christmas day? I know they would here, but in Switzerland, I'm not so sure.
Skedaddle is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 10:34 PM
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Weather and snow conditions permitting, all ski lifts will be open.
kleeblatt is offline  
Aug 25th, 2008, 10:36 PM
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If you are based in Luzern, another popular ski resort among the locals in Andermatt. The Gemstock is especially favoured by intermediate+ skiers.
kleeblatt is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 12:38 AM
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I think that the train passes just in front of the pistes at Andermatt. That certainly would be a good choice too.

blackduff is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 01:18 AM
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You still have to walk a bit with your skis. There are two skiing areas: Natchen and Gemstock. Natchen is closer and easier but quite often doesn't have enough snow. Gemstock is a bit farther but more popular with longer runs.
kleeblatt is offline  
Aug 26th, 2008, 03:26 AM
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Not sure if this will work for you. Reading your itinerary you say you are working out of Frankfurt.

I am a big fan of the German Christmas Markets. If you work your way down to Rothenburg and then to Munich you might want to head all the way down to Garmish/Mittenwald area. It is a bit of a train ride from Frankfurt and you would have to stay in the Garmisch area to make this work.

Your brother can rent skiis and spend the day skiing Garmish, and the rest of you can sip gluwein and shop the Christmas Markets in town

Just a thought!
bmw732002 is offline  
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