Cross country skiing Switzerland

Cross-country skiing in Switzerland

5.0(1 Rating)

Cross-country skiing in Switzerland is possible on more than 5000 kilometers of trails. Of these, 1700 km are in Graubünden alone. Whether classic cross-country skiing or skating, important information about cross-country skiing in Switzerland shows this guide.

Cross country skiing Activities and tickets

Find out more about Cross country skiing

With over 5,000 kilometers of trails, Switzerland offers more than enough opportunities for cross-country skiing. From the Engadine, where the Engadine Cross-Country Marathon takes place every year, to the panoramic trails in the Bernese Oberland, to the rolling hills of the Jura, you'll find something suitable in every corner

The lengths of the trails are as varied as the landscapes through which they wind. You'll encounter short cross-country trails in Switzerland starting at one kilometer that go for an extended loop around a sports field, or you'll head to a ski resort where more than 200 km of groomed trails await you.

In this guide we will lead you through the world of cross-country skiing in Switzerland. In addition to the most important basic skills, we will introduce you to some beautiful areas where you can practice your swing

Cross Country Classic

Cross-country skiing is done in two styles: Classic and Skating

In the classic diagonal technique, the skis are guided in parallel. It takes place in dynamic alternation between gliding and pushing off. In diagonal stride, arms and legs move in opposite directions. The swing leg and a powerful pole drive you forward. The double pole push is used on sloping or flat terrain.

In this type of cross-country skiing, you are on a groomed trail with your skis moving as if in a track. Beginners are recommended to start with this type of skiing as it is considered easier than skating.

Cross country skating

In skating you move forward similar to skating. This technique is more demanding and strenuous. With skating skis you reach higher speeds than on a classic cross-country ski. This is due to the use of force from the sliding edge of the skis

While the push-off and gliding phases alternate dynamically, the body's center of gravity shifts constantly. You usually use the poles with double pole thrust.

A good skating ski is suitable for both groomed trails and skating on rolled snow surfaces. The skis are usually between 1.85 m and 1.95 m long. Getting started with skating is easier if you start with the shorter ski

Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)
Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)

Cross-country skiing trails in Switzerland from 50 km in length

The longest cross-country skiing trails in Switzerland are listed in this table.

Trail nameTourist regionAltitude (m a.s.l.)Classic cross-country skiing (km)Skating cross-country skiing (km)
EngadinGrisons1450 - 1800247235
GomsValais1250 - 15609494
DavosGrisons1480 - 18607656
Les Rasses/Sainte-CroixLake Geneva-Waadtland1175 - 13006565
Evolène-Les Haudères/ArollaValais1370 - 20006060
PontresinaGrisons1770 - 22005757
Lenz - Lenzerheide - ParpanGrisons1360 - 15605656
KanderstegBern11765552
La Vue des Alpes/Tête de RanJura & Three Lakes Country1130 - 13605454
Escholzmatt-Marbach-BumbachLucerne-Lake Lucerne850 - 9205050
Les Cernets/Les VerrièresJura & Three Lakes Country1150 - 13005050
Les Prés-d'Orvin/ChasseralBerne1020 - 15405050

Join our newsletter!

Sign up now for travel tips, ideas for inspiration and latest travel guides straight to your inbox.

By signing up, you agree to receive promotional emails. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Cross-country skiing Davos (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Davos (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Cross-country skiing Sainte Croix (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Sainte Croix (Photo: MySwitzerland)

General questions about cross-country skiing

There are a few questions about this popular sport that we are happy to answer.

For whom is cross-country skiing suitable?

Cross-country skiing is a suitable winter sport for young and old. The movements train the body in a holistic way, which helps to build up muscles quickly. You can go cross-country skiing with the whole family and even the dog will be happy to join you

You alone determine the intensity. Young and ambitious cross-country skiers can work intensively and systematically towards an increase in performance. For the pleasure skier it is enough to be in the nature and to move

Does cross-country skiing have health benefits?

Cross-country skiing is a holistic sport and is considered very healthy. Injuries are rare. Your legs and arms, as well as your torso, are constantly being stressed, which promotes flexibility and muscle development. Due to the gliding in the cross-country track, classic cross-country skiing has a gentle effect and there is no upsetting strain.

Is cross-country skiing difficult to learn?

As in any discipline, the same applies to cross-country skiing: Practice makes perfect. The sport is fundamentally different from alpine skiing. The skis are much narrower and have hardly any edges to help you navigate. That's why it's worth taking a course for your first attempts.

Gliding forward is similar to inline skating. The use of poles is reminiscent of Nordic walking. The movement sequences on the boards are rather complex. The best conditions for learning cross-country skiing are elasticity, strength and endurance. After all, you need to transfer the power from your legs to the skis.

How do you brake in cross-country skiing?

What both styles of cross-country skiing have in common is the challenge of downhill skiing and braking. Cross-country skis are very thin and don't have sharp edges like "normal" skis

Whenever possible, try to stand loosely on your skis and don't tense up. You should never guide your poles with the tips pointing forward out of fear. Some beginners try to brake in this way. This is highly dangerous and can lead to serious injuries.

To brake in the classic style, it is enough to take one ski out of the track. You turn the rear end of the ski outward. The tip of the ski points inwards and the body's center of gravity rests on the other leg. Finally, you apply appropriate pressure to the ski that is out and you can slow down. You try to keep your balance directly above the ski. The basic position for braking is parallel ski control and balance distribution

Cross-country skiing Zermatt (Photo: Zermatters)Cross-country skiing Zermatt (Photo: Zermatters)
Cross-country skiing Rigi (Photo: Rigi Bahnen)Cross-country skiing Rigi (Photo: Rigi Bahnen)

Swiss Activities Tips

  • The Engadine is considered a cross-country skiing paradise. It has the largest network of cross-country skiing trails in Switzerland with a length of over 200 km.
  • If you want to train on the same trails as four-time Olympic winner Dario Cologna, Davos is waiting impatiently for you.
  • Classic cross-country skiing is easier than skating and therefore more suitable for beginners.
  • The cross-country ski pass, which is available in physical and digital versions, is valid throughout Switzerland. For a whole year you pay 160 CHF and have access to all trails in Switzerland. The pass is interesting for all those who spend a lot of time on the trails. For few users there are also weekly and daily passes.
  • Cross-country skiing is a comparatively inexpensive winter sport, since no cable cars have to be paid. Equipment can be rented or bought at attractive prices.
  • Cross-country skiing offers itself as a balance to the daily work routine. Often the nearest cross-country trail is not far away and you can work off your day for an hour in the fresh air.

Larger and smaller cross-country skiing areas with groomed trails can be found in all regions of Switzerland. Among the most attractive areas are the Jungfrau region, Valais and the canton of Grisons. In some cases, the trails are even open until 10:00 p.m. and illuminated with floodlights.

Studen cross-country skiing

In the midst of a dreamlike landscape in the foothills of the Alps, beginners as well as professionals will get their money's worth on the cross-country skiing trail of the Studen cross-country skiing center. In addition to some sporting challenges, cross-country skiing on the wide plains is a real nature experience. The first three sections are flat and enjoyable trails and mostly sunny

  • Number of trails: 5
  • Trail kilometers: 27 km
  • Location: 890 to 1050 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Specials: The cross-country skiing trails are snow-sure, panoramic and family-friendly. Dogs are not allowed. There are 490 parking spaces at the trail. A cross-country skiing specialist for cross-country skiing equipment is located directly on site and a restaurant invites you to linger

Cross-country skiing Einsiedeln

The region between Lake Sihl and the Schwantenau moorland in central Switzerland is known for its picturesque scenery. Here the "Loipenmacher Schwedentritt" offer classic cross-country skiing and skating on beautiful and prepared trails.

  • Number of trails: 5
  • trail kilometers: 4 km, 5 km, 12 km, 15 km, 21.1 km
  • Location: 934 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Special: You enjoy a magnificent view of the Schwyz mountains. From the train station Einsiedeln to the start of the cross-country skiing track it's about a 10 min walk.
Cross-country skiing Studen Ybrig (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Studen Ybrig (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Cross-country skiing Schwedentritt Einsiedeln (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Schwedentritt Einsiedeln (Photo: MySwitzerland)

Cross-country skiing Andermatt

The Andermatt cross-country trails are located in a beautiful high valley and lead via Hospental to Realp. With good snow conditions, it is possible to cross-country ski through the winter landscape as early as the beginning of December.

  • Number of trails: 5
  • Trail kilometers: 28 km
  • Location: 1444 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 12 CHF
  • Special: At the restaurant "Dörfli" there are checkrooms, toilets and showers. The tracks between Andermatt and Realp are groomed daily. Parking spaces are available for a fee.

Goms cross-country skiing

In the Upper Valais, a beautiful cross-country trail leads through the winter wonderland of Goms. The sunny high valley at the foot of the Rhone glacier is a popular meeting place for Nordic winter sports enthusiasts. The cross-country skiing network connects twelve villages on over 100 kilometers of trails.

  • Number of trails: 11 classic, 12 skating
  • Cross-country trail kilometers: 103 km
  • Location: 1300 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 16 CHF
  • Special: The valley, framed by mighty three-thousand-meter peaks, is considered snow-sure. All tickets, apart from the Swiss cross-country ski pass, are valid on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn. There are over 30 restaurants and pubs along the trails.
Cross-country skiing Goms (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Goms (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Cross-country skiing Andermatt (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Andermatt (Photo: MySwitzerland)

Cross-country skiing Davos

Davos is the highest town in the Alps and attracts cross-country skiers with the slogan "from the slopes to the slopes". Here, cross-country skiers make their tracks through romantic side valleys. There are trails of all levels of difficulty. The smaller, sunny Madrisa ski area is perfect for beginners

  • Number of trails: 28 classic / 25 skating / 4 dog trails / 2 floodlit trails
  • Ski trail kilometers: more than 100 km
  • Location: 1185 to 1.860 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: free of charge
  • Special: Cross-country skiing is free of charge in Davos Klosters. The more than 100 km of cross-country trails are perfectly groomed and can be used free of charge. There is also a 2.5 km long night trail and numerous restaurants along the way where you can warm up and fortify yourself.

Cross-country skiing Engadin

The Engadine is home to the largest cross-country skiing network in Switzerland. The entire ski region around Pontresina offers cross-country skiers a winter sports paradise. The side valleys of Roseg and Morteratsch in particular offer a very special flair.

  • Number of trails: 88
  • kilometers of trails: 230 km
  • Position: 1779 to 1818 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Special features: The network of cross-country ski trails covers 230 km and meets all requirements. Finest powder snow and perfectly groomed slopes are guaranteed. The Engadine is the area in Switzerland for cross-country skiing.
Cross-country skiing Celerina (Photo: Graubünden Ferien Christof Sonderegger)Cross-country skiing Celerina (Photo: Graubünden Ferien Christof Sonderegger)
Cross-country skiing Celerina (Photo: Graubünden Ferien Romano Salis)Cross-country skiing Celerina (Photo: Graubünden Ferien Romano Salis)

Cross country skiing Kandersteg

With more than 50 kilometers of cross-country trails, Kandersteg is one of the larger cross-country skiing areas in Switzerland. Here, everyone will find the right cross-country trail for them. The laps on the illuminated night trail are particularly beautiful. You can also enjoy pure cross-country skiing pleasure on the high-altitude trails with sun terrace.

  • Number of trails: 7
  • kilometers of trails: more than 50 km
  • Location: 1200 to 2000 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Specials: In the picturesque Kander Valley cross-country skiing is a fabulous experience. Beginners as well as advanced cross-country skiers can learn the right movements on the track network of Kandersteg. The trainers of the Swiss cross-country skiing school "Edelweiss" are there to help their guests with words and deeds. The trails are perfectly groomed and snow is guaranteed

Cross-country skiing Gantrisch

In the beautiful foothills of the Alps in the Gantrisch Nature Park you can indulge in wonderful cross-country skiing. Here you can do your rounds at the gates of Bern and Fribourg. You can enjoy a spectacular panorama with a view of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau

  • Number of trails: 3
  • Trail kilometers: 45 km
  • Location: 1500 to 1600 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Special: With a view of Lake Thun and the snow-covered forests, you can enjoy your ride on perfectly prepared cross-country trails. Dogs are not allowed on the trails of the cross-country skiing center Grantrisch. Moreover, there is two-way traffic on the whole network of trails. So you should drive carefully.
Cross-country skiing Kandersteg Lötschberg (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Kandersteg Lötschberg (Photo: MySwitzerland)
Cross-country skiing Gantrisch (Photo: MySwitzerland)Cross-country skiing Gantrisch (Photo: MySwitzerland)

Cross-country skiing Gais

The Gais cross-country skiing center presents itself with a very beautiful view of the Alpstein. The route leads through sparse forests and over gentle hills. You roam along snow-covered meadows and moors. The area is characterized by short ascents and easy descents. It ensures cross-country skiing fun for young and old

  • Number of trails: 4
  • kilometers of trails: 30
  • Location: 910 m.a.s.l.
  • Tracks for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 10 CHF
  • Specials: The cross-country skiing area is easily accessible by car. Free parking is available at the cross-country skiing area. The trails including the night trail are groomed daily. The night trail is illuminated and can be skied until 22:00. On the way you have the possibility to take a break in Meistersrüte at the country bakery at the meeting point and enjoy a delicious Appenzeller Biberli for refreshment.

Cross-country skiing Grindelwald

With the Wetterhorn in front of your eyes and the Eiger breathing down your neck, you'll experience natural motivation on this route. Against a fabulous backdrop, the varied route leads through forests and over wide-open spaces. Grindelwald scores with a dreamlike panorama in the middle of the Jungfrau region.

  • Number of trails: 2
  • Trail kilometers: 22
  • Location: 950 m.a.s.l.
  • Trails for: Classic and skating
  • Cost day pass: 9 CHF
  • Special: Every evening the trails are freshly prepared. Both the classic and skating trails are suitable for beginners here. During a cross-country skiing course in Grindelwald you can quickly learn the new movements on the flat track. A special highlight is the wildly romantic roaring glacier gorge at the end of the village
Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)
Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)Cross-country skiing Grindelwald (Photo: Grindelwaldsports AG)

Cross country skiing for children

To learn cross-country skiing, children should be at least four years old. Most children learn by watching and walking along. Nevertheless, it is recommended to attend a course in the beginning

Five years old is the perfect age for children to start. Courses are offered for both classic cross-country skiing and skating. Young children dare their first attempts on classic skis. It is not until the age of eight that skating courses make sense.

The little ones can practice and improve their cross-country technique at numerous stations in the winter sports resorts. The courses can be skied with classic cross-country skis as well as with skating skis.

Cross-country skiing safety

As a cross-country skier, you should always hit the trails with the right equipment, attitude and technique. Cross-country skiing is a safe sport. The risk of injury is much lower than other winter sports such as skiing or sledding. And yet there are some important points to consider

  • Pay attention to your driving and braking technique and follow the appropriate signs
  • On the trail, traffic is on the right and you may overtake on the right as well as on the left.
  • When overtaking and during encounters, keep your poles close to your body so that you do not spike fellow skiers
  • Always be considerate of untrained people and do not endanger them.
  • To take a break, you should leave the running track.
  • In all accidents you are obliged to help
  • Since a departing person always has the right of way, swerve to the right in case of oncoming traffic.
  • Keep a safe distance and adapt your speed to the terrain

Cross country equipment

When buying cross-country equipment, a competent and individual consultation in a good sports store is highly recommended. Here you will find the most important features of good equipment at a glance

  • A cross-country ski set consists of a boot, ski with binding system and poles
  • The length of the skis should be based on the following guideline: classic cross-country ski = body height plus 20 cm.
  • The tension of the skis must match the body weight.
  • An inexperienced skier will do better with shorter, softer skis
  • For the optimal pole length: body height x 85 cm.
  • Hip belt for sufficient water or tea in a drinking bottle
  • Gloves (if it is warm cycling gloves are also possible)
  • cross-country skiing clothing: Functional underwear and light, breathable outerwear in several layers
  • Hat or headband, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Wax: the harder and more aggressive the snow, the harder the wax
Cross-country skiing Titlis (Photo: Titlis Bergbahnen)Cross-country skiing Titlis (Photo: Titlis Bergbahnen)
Cross-country skiing Titlis (Photo: Titlis Bergbahnen)Cross-country skiing Titlis (Photo: Titlis Bergbahnen)

Cross country ski kids

The skis are about the size of the body and the poles reach no more than under the armpits. The specifications of the official tables are based on the weight of the children. e.g. for a body weight of up to 25 kg, a ski length of 110 cm is recommended. For a body weight between 35 and 39 kg, the recommended ski length is 140 cm. Between 48 and 54 kg, the ideal length is 170 cm.

In addition, the poles should always have a small plate. The pole is otherwise too heavy. With the clothes it behaves like with the adults. The shoes should not be too small and the socks not too thick. With a snowsuit, the little ones are dressed for cross-country skiing.

Rent cross country skis

Beginners and occasional skiers can rent skis and poles at sports stores and on site. This is a good way to try out which technique suits you better. Only with perfectly matched rental equipment you will experience maximum fun in the snow

Based on your ability and the respective skiing style, you will benefit from the professional service of a well-trained team. The daily prices for cross-country skis vary between 22 and 32 CHF, depending on the model

Cross-country skiing in Switzerland is a sport that you can practice in all regions. It strengthens strength and endurance and has the advantage that you can really enjoy the landscape.

Video

Basic course cross-country skiing - learn the skating technique | Cross-country skiing in Val Casies | Hotel La Casies

Graubünden - the cross-country skiing pearl of Switzerland

Cross-country skiing in Engadin St. Moritz

FAQ

  • What is the difference between classic and skating?
  • Is cross-country skiing strenuous?
  • What equipment do I need for cross-country skiing?
  • What principles of conduct must I observe on the trail?