At 1,560m Davos is one of the highest towns in Europe. Together with the more village-like Klosters, it shares a large ski area ("Davos Klosters") with big verticals and 320km of mostly intermediate-friendly runs, plus some epic off-piste itineraries for better skiers.
The Davos Klosters ski area is one of the biggest in Switzerland. It has about 320 km of Alpine ski runs and over 200km of cross-country ski trails, which is more than enough for a week’s holiday. The slopes are split into 6 separate sectors on both sides of a 20km long steep valley: Rinerhorn, Jacobshorn, Pischa and Schatzalp-Strela are all closer to Davos; Parsenn (the largest sector) lies in between Davos and Klosters; and finally Madrisa is on the far side of Klosters.
Most of the pistes are steepish blues and reds, and perfect for most intermediates. Advanced skiers will want to venture off-piste, on either marked but unpatrolled official itineraries, or unofficial routes that take you far from the piste network, for which a mountain guide is recommended. If snow condition permit, you can ski all the way down from the top of the highest lift at Weissfluhgipfel (2845m) to Davos (1560m), Klosters (1190m), Serneus (990m) and even Kublis (810m).
Davos itself is officially split into Davos Dorf and Davos Platz but it is not easy to tell where one starts and the other stops. And Davos is very much a town rather than than a mountain village. It hosts the World Economic Forum every January, and there are office blocks, shops, a casino, a theatre, a cinema, a museum and a gallery, as well as all the hotels, restaurants and bars you would expect in a ski resort.
Those wanting somewhere less urban should stay in Klosters. This favourite Alpine haunt of the King of England still has a rural, family-friendly atmosphere, despite it having grown into a medium-sized resort with more Gault Millau gourmet points (the Swiss equivalent of Michelin stars) per resident than anywhere else in Switzerland.
Whether you choose Davos or Klosters, there is no shortage of accommodation, with plenty of hotels and apartments and some chalets. Davos and Klosters are both easily reached by car or train from Zurich Airport, making them ‘weekendable’, although you will need a lot more than a long weekend to make the most of the skiing.
Davos Pros & Cons
+ Big ski area (linked by bus and rail)
+ Long, wide, undulating ski slopes
+ Extensive off-piste, easily accessible
+ Good cross-country trails
+ Easily reached by road or rail from Zurich
+ Charming Swiss mountain restaurants
+ Lively apres ski if you know where to go
+ Lots to do and plenty for non-skiers
– A large town, lacking resort atmosphere
– Ski areas are spread out and not lift-connected
– Lift system mostly efficient but needs upgrading
– T-bars might pose problems for some
– Just one black run down to town from Parsenn