When we were planning our route around Europe we wanted to cover as many ski areas as possible and obviously, Switzerland was high on the priority list. When we started to do some research we found that there are a lot of things you need to consider before you go.
Can take my motorhome skiing in Switzerland? Yes, It is possible to take your motorhome or campervan skiing in Switzerland and you will be treated to breath taking scenery, well equipped campsites and excellent skiing.
Whilst this is all true, there are a number of things you need to consider if you’re planning a motorhome skiing trip to Switzerland and here we’ll cover important information that you need to know before you set off this winter.
Where can you stay in a motorhome skiing for in Switzerland?
Number one on your list should be where can I park my motorhome or campervan? Unlike neighbouring France, Austria and Italy where there are countless aires, stellplatz and sostas, free or cheap parking in Switzerland is not as common and the use of campsites is actively encouraged year round. For this reason, if you’re planning a motorhome ski trip to Switzerland it’s worth choosing a campsite and booking in advance. There are however various options we’ll run through here:
Campsites: Whilst they aren’t as plentiful as in other regions of the Alps and Dolomites, those that are open for business in the winter are mostly excellent and, as you would expect from the Swiss, extremely well equipped.
Aires: Serviced aires are few and far between, particularly in ski areas but there are some about. Aires are however more plentiful on the main routes through Switzerland so if you’re happy to pack-up and drive each day, you can find an inexpensive place to park overnight, sometimes with hook up.
Ski Lift Car Parks: If you want to be in the heart of the action, you can park-up with your motorhome in some ski lift car parks. It’s important that you check that it’s ok to stay, as each area has it’s only rules about overnight campers. If you arrive and there are other campers set up, it’s still wise to ask around. We only recommend this rock-up-and-see approach to more experienced motorhome skiers and those who are footloose and happy to find an alternative if things don’t work out.
Wild Camping: Wild camping in Switzerland is a complicated affair! We defer to the Swiss Alpine Club on these matters and their understanding of the rules are as follows:
Wild camping is illegal below the treeline (except in some circumstances but nobody knows what those are!). Above the treeline, wild camping is permitted under the following conditions:
- A limited number of vehicles at once (i.e. no vanlife gatherings)
- You may stay in each location for one night only
- You must leave no waste of any sort
The Cost of Motorhome Skiing in Switzerland
The second question you might want to ask yourself is can I afford to go motorhome skiing in Switzerland? With a Burger King date-night for two (I know – glamorous aren’t we!) in central Geneva setting us back just over 50CHF (€45), our fears about the cost of skiing in Switzerland seemed to be justified. However, there are a few misconceptions about just how expensive Switzerland is and there are ways to ski Switzerland on a budget.
Season Passes in Switzerland can be an absolute bargain. For just 815CHF (€750) you can have a year round pass to the Aletsch Arena which includes all cable cars (even from the Valley which you need as the ski areas are car free), access to loads of attractions in the summer as well as the winter and if you’re into climbing, hiking or MTB, this is incredible value. Other areas offer similar deals and Switzerland is big on promoting their mountains season round.
Also a year round pass, the popular Magic Pass is great for anyone looking to tour around Switzerland. 499CHF (€455) gets you access to 30 ski areas and loads more perks besides.
This goes without saying and we always love travelling the long way round but in Switzerland this can save you nearly €40 which is not to be sniffed at. It’s important to check that when you opt to avoid tolls that it’s not a false economy – an extra 4 hours onto your journey over a mountain pass might cost you €40 in fuel alone!
OG motorhome skiers have several camping discount cards in their arsenal of money saving tools. Three that have weight in Switzerland in the winter are Europe Camping Key, ACSI and the CCI (Camping card International). Comparing deals between the three can save you lots of cash at various campsites bringing them more in line with their European neighbours.
Visit smaller resorts
Not only are you more likely to find inexpensive places to park but you’ll find everything a little less costly. From coffees to ski passes, the difference between the large internationally renowned resorts and the tucked away secret spots can benefit your wallet no end.
Example: 1 day adult pass
- Three resorts pass for Aletsch Arena €55
- Zermatt ski pass €75
We’ve already touched on the vignette you will need to purchase if you’re planning to travel on the motorway system in Switzerland – be sure to check the classification of you vehicle as that can affect the price you pay on toll road throughout Europe. in Switzerland, motorhomes, campervans and trucks over 3.5tonnes need to fill in paperwork which can’t be done online and whilst this sounds complicated, it’s pretty straight forward when you get down to it.
Winter tyres are not mandatory in Switzerland but as always, we firmly advise anyone planning to travel to the mountains in their motorhome in winter to have full specification winter or all season tyres. If you want to know where the use of winter tyres is compulsory, you can find a full list here. If you are on tour and chose not to have winter tyres fitted you might find yourself limited in where you can go and how you can get to where you want to go! Austria and Germany have strict laws enforcing the use of winter tyres and France is getting involved too with winter specification tyres being mandatory in some departments from this November.
One thing you might be surprised to discover is that both petrol and diesel are a few cents cheaper in Switzerland than in the UK so no excuses for grumbling at the pump!
If you’re reliant on an LPG refillable gas system then you’re going to want to have a ‘Plan B’ in Switzerland. LPG stations are like rocking horse poop and if you’re planning on being in Switzerland for any length of time then a back-up gas bottle is a smart move. Those of you with enormous LPG tanks will have the pick of the mountains and this is something we’ve committed to in our own winterised van build. Many motorhome skiers use MyLPG.eu but a word of warning – this app is populated with user generated data and not always accurate so in places like Switzerland where the next station may be several hours away, it’s best to be prepared.
Portes Du Soleil
If you want a sneaky way to ski Switzerland then many of the border countries have ski passes that cover Swiss resorts! The Portes du Soleil area ski pass for example allows you up and over into four Swiss Villages and with the many camping options open to you in the Portes Du Soliel, you get the best of both worlds! You can check out the aires and campsites in the PDS area here.
Snow Pass Holders
If you’re the holder of a European SnowPass (read all about that here) you will find 22 Swiss ski stations are covered by the scheme which means you have over 200 days skiing in these resorts alone. With the pass costing just €395, the offer is compelling if you’re looking to ski in Switzerland and have your home on your back!
Some of our very favourite places to ski are in Switzerland and we would strongly encourage anyone with a motorhome or campervan to visit Switzerland for a ski holiday. Whilst not offering the ease of motorhome skiing that France and Austria offer or the value of Italy, it’s got epic mountains and a vibe that is unique to Switzerland.
Here are a few campsites to consider if you’re planning a motorhome skiing adventure to Switzerland.
- Camping Jungfrau, Lauterbrunnen – which is access to Wengen, Lauberhorn, Mürren, Schilthorn and Grindelwald ski areas. It offers a free ski bus and is a 15 minute walk to Lauterbrunnen.
- Camping Molignon, Les Haudères giving access to the 4 valleys (by bus) as well as the nearby resorts of Evolène(3km), La Forclaz(4km) and Arolla(10km)
- Camping Eggishorn, Fiesch-Eggishorn – a 10 minute walk from the cable car that takes you to Fiescheralp in the Aletsch Arena. One of our favourite spots in Switzerland.
- Camping Pradafenz, Churwalden. This is a ski-in ski-out campsite connected to the Arosa ski area – a whopping 225km of skiing in the Arosa Lenzerheide.
- Camping Eienwäldli, Engelberg. As well as the main Engelberg ski area, it has access to glacier skiing – all about 10 minutes ride in the ski bus.
The Swiss winter campsites do not vary as much in price as across the rest of the European ski areas and budgeting around €50 per night based on two adults and a 7m motorhome would be sensible.
Can you wild camp in Switzerland? Yes but only above the treeline and for one night in each location.
Is skiing in Switzerland expensive? Ski passes are not any more expensive than in the rest of Europe but there are some good value options for those staying for a longer time or taking multiple trips across the season.
Where’s the cheapest place to ski in Switzerland? From our list the Aletsch Arena offers the best value overall as a place to ski with your motorhome overall but there are many less expensive small ski stations where you are able to camp in the ski lift car parks.