Andermatt

Switzerland

Andermatt has the perfect combination of an attractive little village with extensive ski slopes including lots of great off-piste terrain for advanced skiers. It’s also very close to Zurich and on the route of the Glacier Express train.

Scout Loves

  • A mostly charming little village despite some recent development
  • The Chedi Andermatt is wonderful for those looking for top-notch 5-star luxury
  • Andermatt’s Gemstock area has some excellent off-piste expert terrain
  • The Aprés train – enjoy a refreshing drink and take in the views while you catch the train back to the village at the end of the day

Scout Tips

  • The Gutsch-Sedrun area provides more options for beginners and intermediates.
  • Andermatt is on the route of the famous Glacier Express train which makes it a wonderful addition to a Swiss ski trip itinerary
  • Weekends can get very crowded
  • On mountain dining hasn’t been one of the area’s strengths but it is improving

Scout Review

For a long time Andermatt has flown under the radar when it comes to selecting the best ski resorts in Switzerland. However, Scout’s quest to find a resort that ticked as much of our client’s priority list as possible led us to check it out. That priority list includes; high altitude slopes ensuring snow quality, charming villages, an extensive ski area for all abilities and convenient, high-quality lodging options, close to a major airport.

Back in the 1800s Andermatt was a busy village on a major transport route over the mountains between the south and north of Switzerland. However, the completion of the St Gotthard rail and road tunnels saw Andermatt bypassed and it became a sleepy village at the end of the valley, attracting tourists as a spa destination. In the 1930’s the locals reportedly fought off developers of a hydropower plant with pitch forks – it would have flooded the valley and town. Then came the military that used it as a base leadding to the end of the tourism and skiing. The hydro plant was never built and the military left in the 90’s however it’s only in recent years that the village has seen a resurgence of popularity and development thanks to investment by an Egyptian company (bizarre but true). As part of the “Andermatt Swiss Alps” development project about €1.6bn will be invested over the years in developing property and ski and summer tourist facilities. With the opening of their swanky five-star hotel, the Chedi Andermatt, in 2013 Andermatt’s popularity as a ski destination started to creep back. Since the 2019 addition of a gondola connection with neighboring Sedrun ski area and the entire region now on a single ski pass… suddenly Andermatt is high on the consideration list.

Andermatt has a split personality. The ski resort is separated into two sections with each one’s access point at separate ends of the village. Both ski areas are quite different from each other; one is steep and north facing with plenty of advanced off-piste terrain, the other is sunny with endless rolling ridge lines that are perfect for beginners and intermediates. Then there’s the village itself which has two completely different identities. On one side the river and narrow streets are lined with beautiful old buildings giving it a charming, chocolate-box feel. The other half has huge, modern hotels built with mass tourism in mind. The first new addition was the Chedi, quite stunning in its architecture and grandness even though its Balinese/Asian style feels quite out of place in a Swiss mountain village. The boxy, bland Raddison Blu was next. More development is to follow. We love the old part of the village and there are plenty of traditional, lovely hotels to choose from if the modern hotels don’t suit your style (or budget). Just keep in mind that most of the traditional hotels can be a bit of a walk from the lifts for either mountain. The village of Andermatt has a small but good selection of restaurants and a few bars creating a low-key but just lively enough atmosphere in the evenings.

In summary, Andermatt is a charming old village with convenient new luxury lodging (as well as more traditional hotels), an extensive ski area which has good skiing for all abilities, slopes reaching as high as 3,000m, and all less than two hours from Zurich airport. Tick, tick, tick. While Andermatt might not score 10 out of 10 on each of our priority list attributes, it comes pretty close on all of them. And, since we’re yet to find a resort that scores perfect 10s on all five, we feel Andermatt makes an excellent choice.

Andermatt Skiing

Since the connection of the Sedrun and Andermatt ski resorts and the introduction of a single ski pass for the whole area, the ski resort is now officially called SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. It is now the largest ski area in Central Switzerland with over 120kms of lifts. With Andermatt as a base, you can easily explore the two sections – Gemsstock at one end of the village and the broader Andermatt-Oberalp-Sedrun area at the other. Unfortunately, the two aren’t linked by lifts and it’s a 15-minute shuttle bus ride between the two. As the shuttles only leave every 30 mins (you don’t want to just miss one like we did) it’s best to concentrate on just one area per day.

Gemsstock

The north-facing, steep slopes, couloirs, cliffs and off-piste runs of the Gemsstock mountain are a magnet for advanced and expert freeriders. The area is accessed by a two-staged cable car that ascends 1500m from the village to the summit at 2,961m – the views from the top are breathtaking. There can be lengthy, cold queues on the weekends at both the first and second stations, so try to avoid skiing here on weekends if possible. Two additional lifts – one chair and one t-bar – provide access to a few red and black runs in the middle of the mountain. There are no beginner runs on Gemsstock. It’s best suited to advanced skiers and strong intermediates wanting to push themselves. There are official off-piste routes as well as some great backcountry terrain to explore – of course, only when with a guide (there are four guiding companies in Andermatt). It is possible to ski all the way back to the base of the cable car or take a separate run which leads to the middle of the village – a more convenient option at the end of the day. There are two mountain restaurants which serve up Italian and local Swiss dishes.

Andermatt-Oberalp-Sedrun

Across the road from the Chedi and train station is the base of the much larger, gentler and sunnier part of the SkiArena Resort. The area is quite stunning with its high, gentle ridge lines and valleys with alpine lakes making a soft contrast to the dramatic Alps in the background. From the top of Gutsch it’s a series of lifts and ski runs to connect all the way to Sedrun. As the area extends from the top of the Gutsch gondola, in a linear fashion along the range, it can get congested particularly in the morning before skiers have spread out. Depending on how fast you ski and the status of lift lines, getting from Andermatt to Sedrun can take all day.

The Gutsch-Natschen side which faces Andermatt village has a few blue, red and black runs, with the blue runs lower down snaking alongside the train tracks. It’s quite bizarre to be skiing along while the Glacier Express train climbs up the switchback tracks, and it’s not uncommon to give the passengers a wave! The Matti kid’s area in the middle is great for young beginners, complete with covered magic carpets and fun obstacle courses. This can be accessed from the half-way station of the Gutsch Express gondola or by train, and it’s possible for beginners to ski back to the village on long, gentle blue runs.

The terrain from Gutsch to Sedrun features 11 lifts and mostly shorter blue and red runs, though beyond the second lift from Gutsch there are no runs for beginners.  The whole area is paradise for intermediates and there is even some good off-piste between the runs that is fine for intermediates and fairly safe. There is a snow park towards the Sedrun end, including a half pipe and some park features that are good for beginners. The final section from the top of the Cuolm Val down to Deini has some excellent, long red runs. There is a decent beginner area at Sedrun, but you would really only use this if you are staying there. This whole area can also be reached by train from Andermatt village – a good option for weaker skiers or if you want to avoid the morning rush on the gondola and subsequent lifts. It goes all the way to Sedrun then Disentis and has several stops along the way where you can get on or off. Once you reach Sedrun (Deini) on skis you can get back to Andermatt by either going in reverse with the lifts and ski runs or take the ski train all the way back which is a great option if you are tired… even better is that one of the carriages is a panoramic car that doubles as an aprés bar!

There are plenty of mountain restaurants scattered throughout this ski area.

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Andermatt For Families

Andermatt is perfect for families of solid intermediate skiers, thus allowing you to experience all of the terrain and enjoy the novelty of catching trains as part of your ski day. If your children are strong and old enough you could also get a guide and enjoy the terrain of the Gemsstock area. Families with beginner children will be OK at the Gutsch area, but we feel there are probably better resorts to choose from. Additionally, while the village is easy to get around, most of the more traditional 3 and 4-star traditional hotels are a bit of a walk to the slopes, so younger kids may struggle. There are shuttle buses but for the short distance it could be a bit of a hassle.

After skiing, most of the activities are outdoors such as tobogganing, horse-sleigh rides and ice skating. There is no town pool or aquatic center, only the pools in hotels.

Andermatt Accommodation

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Andermatt village has some lovely, traditional Swiss hotels ranging from 2-4 stars. Most of these will offer bed and breakfast or half-board packages (which makes it super easy for families). Then there is the 5-star luxury Chedi Andermatt which is in a league of its own. It’s perfect for couples that require exceptional quality and service. Large, city style hotels are also popping up in the new section of the village (though they lack any sort of Swiss charm and are probably best left for the overnight tourists).

Andermatt features a wide range of apartments and houses, from luxurious new ones to older, simple apartments.

Resort Activities

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Andermatt is a laid-back little village and part of the reason it’s so relaxing for visitors is that there aren’t a ton of other activities to do. Of-course there are the usual snow activities such as tobogganing (sledging), snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (which is excellent), ice climbing and the more sedate activity of horse sleigh rides. There is an outdoor ice-skating rink in the middle of the village.

For those that enjoy a bit of history and culture there are several museums in the broader Andermatt valley area.

The Chedi has a huge spa and wellness center that offers a full menu of treatments, along with the variety of saunas, steam rooms and a large indoor pool. Yoga classes are also available.

Getting There and Around

It is very easy to get to Andermatt by train or by shuttle transfer from one of the major airports.  The train station is right in the center of the village.

Zurich is the closest major airport – just 1 hour 40min by car or 2 ½ - 3 hours by train with 3-4 changes.

Milan is just 2 hours’ drive and Geneva is 3 ½ hours drive. Scout can arrange transfers from any of the major airports.

Andermatt is a stop on the famous Glacier Express route. This incredibly scenic train journey goes from Zermatt to St Moritz, so it is a fantastic way to combine two or more resorts as part of a Swiss ski itinerary. There is one daily departure in each direction and reservations need to be made well in advance.

Andermatt is easy to get around on foot and there is also a public shuttle bus. Some hotels will offer a shuttle service from the train station.

When To Go

Andermatt can get very busy on weekends and over the Christmas and NY holiday so it is best to avoid those periods where possible. January can be cold but is also the least crowded. February can get somewhat busy with European school holidays (though not as busy as French resorts). March is a great time to visit, and due to the high altitude slopes it is a good choice for spring skiing in April.

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