The Swiss ski resort of Davos is the highest town in Europe and was one of the first ski resorts in the world, and although it’s not the prettiest town by a long way, spread as it is along a long, flat valley and busy with traffic, the skiing on the broad peaks on either side is extensive, varied and excellent.
OverviewFamous in non-skiing circles as the location for an annual economic summit for world leaders, Davos struggles to live down its corporate-suited image, as the town is a huge, busy place with grey block architecture and totally devoid of the normal ski-resort buzz. Away from the town, however, it comes to life with some superb, extensive, mostly undemanding pisted terrain, and some excellent, accessible off-piste.
The skiing is in five separate areas of which the largest is the Parsenn sector shared between Davos Dorf and Klosters. Jakobshorn is reached from Davos Platz, the Rinerhorn is a short distance from Davos above Glaris, and Pischa is also above Davos Dorf. The fifth area is Madrisa on the far side of Klosters.
Unfortunately none of these areas are linked. Even so, for intermediate skiers in particular they offer fantastic skiing, with lots of lovely long blue and red cruisers (the longest 12km in length), generally above the treeline – lower down the runs tend to become noticeably steeper (and note that the only piste back from the main Parsenn area is a black).
Beginners have nursery slopes beneath the Jakobshorn at Bolgen with several ski schools to choose from, and from here they can move onto a range of long easy blues on Jakobshorn and Parsenn.
Advanced skiers will find a great range of black runs, many of them cut through the steep forested slopes on the lower levels of each sector, and the off-piste can be superb in good conditions, with some classic marked routes, some descending more than 2,000 vertical metres from Parsenn down to neighbouring villages like Kublis, Saas and Serneus.
You can also follow in the ski tracks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who skied here over a century ago and famously took the ski touring route over to nearby (as the crow flies) Arosa.
For boarders, Davos is about as good as it gets, with three terrain parks, world class freeride terrain and regular international comps and events each winter. Jakobshorn is the main attraction - here the Jatz Junior snowpark contains a superpipe, rails, kickers and plenty of other terrain features. It is floodlit to 9.30pm nightly from Tuesday to Saturday evening each week, except Thursdays.
Tobogganing is perhaps the most popular winter sport other than skiing, especially with families. Davos has three toboggan runs totalling more than 10km in length, with some six kilometres floodlit at night; the longest run is the 4km descent from the Wiesner Alp to Davos Wiesen.
Off the slopes and apres-ski
There are 75km of cross-country trails to suit all abilities as well as the largest natural ice rink in Europe, and if you’re looking for something less taxing shopping is popular here, with a vast array of shops lining the long main strip.
The apres-ski action is pretty lively both on and off the mountain. The Jatzhütte on Jakobshorn kicks off the action before the lifts close, whilst the Bolgen Plaza next to the super pipe on Jakobshorn is a good option straight after the skiing stops.
In the evening there’s a wide choice of options from the Pöstli Club and the EX Bar (which stays open later than anywhere else) to the more genteel options of the Central Piano Bar or Casino Davos.