Arosa is a traditional but high (1,739m) Swiss mountain resort located beside a frozen lake. Its shared ski area with Lenzerheide is one of Switzerland’s largest but skiing is just one of the outdoor activities available. Even the journey to the resort is scenic, especially if you come by train.
Originally founded as an all year round health resort in 1877, Arosa is now linked with Lenzerheide, forming a sizeable ski area, but it’s also popular with non-skiers. The mountains are criss-crossed by ‘winter walking paths’ as well as pistes, and almost all the mountain restaurants can be reached in boots as well as on skis.
Despite being situated at the top the Schanfigg Valley at 1739m above sea level, Arosa is only 100 miles (160kms) from Zurich and is relatively quick to reach from the airport by car or train. The resort is built around Lake Obersee. It has no through traffic, and its hotels, apartments and chalets extend into the pine forests on the mountainsides. This makes the village a bit strung-out and lacking a real centre, and some of the buildings are too big and block-like. Arosa therefore is not as pretty as its surroundings, but it is still a pleasant place to wander around, and maybe do some skating on the frozen lake, or take a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, or try some gentle cross-country skiing on one of the nearby circuits. It’s a traditional, family-oriented resort, so apres-ski and nightlife tend to be cosy, quiet and discreet rather than large, late and loud.
And then there is the skiing. Arosa-Lenzerheide is now one of the largest ski areas wholly in Switzerland. 225km is the official piste length measurement, and it is easily big enough for a week for most of the holidaymakers who come here, who don’t want to spend all their time on skis. Two thirds of the slopes are in the Lenzerheide valley, above the small villages of Vaz and Obervaz (now usually referred to as Lenzerheide) and Valbella, Parpan and Churwalden (which have kept their names). The Urdenbahn lift connecting the two valleys is a fast modern one, so it’s easy to cross between them, although off-piste skiers with a guide can also find challenging freeride routes.
The piste skiing mostly consists of easy cruising blue and red runs. On the Lenzerheide side, there is a world cup downhill run from Rothorn but it’s not one of the steepest on the circuit and is within reach of most intermediates. Beginners are well catered for, with excellent nursery slopes and high-quality, child-friendly ski schools and personal instructors.
Snow-reliability is okay. Arosa-Lenzerheide a sunny area, but it’s reasonably high (the top lift reaches 2865m), with good artificial snow-making and excellent piste grooming.
Arosa Pros & Cons
+ Scenic ‘mountains, forest and frozen lake’ setting
+ One of the largest ski areas in Switzerland
+.An all-year round resort with plenty to do besides skiing and boarding
+ Good for weekends/easy to reach from Zurich
+ Excellent family-resort, especially for children learning to ski
– The location is very pretty but the village isn’t
– Few challenging pistes;
– Quiet at night
– Expensive for a family resort