Skiing with kids in Switzerland: Andermatt
Judging by the crowds lining up to buy ski tickets over the Christmas period, the ski resort of Andermatt have become the place to ski in central Switzerland this season. With the opening of the final gondola “Schneehüenerstrock-Express” at the beginning of the 2018/19 ski season, the ski area now connects to Sedrun in Graubünden. The Ski Arena Andermatt-Sedrun now comprises over 120km of piste with 22 ski lifts and a destination for families to check out.
What’s the ski area like?
There are two skiing areas in Andermatt. To the south is Gemstock, famous for its steep runs and off-piste skiing; and on the northern sunny side of town is Nätschen which is connected through chairlifts to the ski areas on the other side of the Oberalp, Sedrun and Disentis - offering in its entirety over 120 Km of pistes. From Andermatt, Nätschen is the family-friendly side where you will be able to enjoy the sunshine all day long.
What ability does the area cater to?
The more expert skiers will want to head to the less crowded Gemstock, with its red and black runs. Families with varying abilities will want to stick to the Nätschen side with its mixture of blue, red and black runs. The slopes on the Nätschen side are a little narrow (even on the blue runs) with some having a slight slant.
The local ski pass covers both the areas in Andermatt and Sedrun, or you can upgrade to a Ski Arena pass that will cover Disentis as well. The ski pricing is varied depending on the day (a so called Dynamic pricing system), so pre-purchasing online could save you some money.
Is there a ski school? What facilities are there for beginners?
Beginners, and especially children, will start at the Nätschen middle station at the Mattis Kinderland - with its gentle beginner slope and magic carpet. The local ski school has a special roped off section reserved for them, but there is also a small area available for the general public. Once beginners have graduated from the magic carpet they can enjoy the blue run down to the valley.
The group ski lessons meet at the bottom of the gondola and offer groups for varying abilities. If you prefer a private lesson, a 2.5 hour lesson will set you back 250chf. There is both the Swiss Ski School, conveniently located across the road from the gondola and train station as well as the Alpine Sports Andermatt as well as Snowlimit. (although the meeting points are the same - underneath the gondola). Instructors speak both German and English.
Best place to rent equipment?
Those wanting to rent equipment on arrival will head straight out of the train station (Chedi side) and turn right to find a conveniently located small shed filled with skis and sleds to rent from Myers Sport. If you are staying overnight in Andermatt there is the added convenience of being able to store your rented equipment there at the end of each day as well - so you don’t have to lugg it back to your accommodation.
Anything for the non-skier to do?
Non-skiers will enjoy Andermatt just as much as the skiers, with plenty to keep them occupied. Stroll the streets of the village, not forgetting the backstreets, and enjoy a coffee in one of the many restaurants in town. Or head up to the middle station with a sled and enjoy the run back down to the village. Get your dose of sunshine and fresh air on one of the many winter hiking paths or try your hand at cross country or ice skating. The newly opened wellness area at the Raddison, including pool, spa and gym is also a great alternative. Or why not hope on a train and explore the neighbouring town of Sedrun with it’s thermal baths.
Best places to warm up on the slopes?
Those with young kids will want to grab a table at the table service Matti Family restaurant at the middle station. Its large indoor playground is the perfect place to take their ski boots off for a well deserved break. It’s also a great place for those with younger kids to hang while the older kids have a lesson. But be warned, to be insure you get a table go no later than 11:30 as it gets busy over the 12pm rush. You will find standard mountain fair with the added benefit of the cool playground.
Our favorite restaurant on the slopes was Alphitta just a short walk from the middle station at Nätschen. Sit on the sunny terrace overlooking the mountain panorama where you can try to spot the skiers making their way down what seems like a complete vertical drop over at Gemstock, or you can or grab a table inside on the other valley side. We loved the burgers, roasted chickens and salads. If you want to visit over lunch make sure you book by calling ahead. After lunch snag one of the sun lounges and try a Baileys Coffee for you, a hot orange punch for the kids. There is music and outdoor seating as well.
For those who have stuck to exploring the town, head for pizzas at in the cosy restaurant Spycher down the end of main street.
What’s the best way to get there?
The quickest way to reach Andermatt is by car via the A2 Motorway, exiting just before the entrance to the Gotthard tunnel and winding your way up. Parking is well signed posted and close to either of the ski areas, with a free ski bus connecting the two. Tip: Check the traffic ahead of time as sometimes the queuing Gotthard traffic can block your way. If it’s under 2km you should be fine, but over 3km you should consider taking the exit earlier and take the back roads. Those coming by public transport will do so by train, likely changing in Erstfeld and then again in Göschenen, a 1h43m journey from Zug. Andermatt’s train station is conveniently located across the road, accessible by a tunnel from the Nätschen Gondola, or you can take the train up.
If you are looking for an extended ski area with a variety of ski pistes from beginner to expert all conveniently located a short drive from central Switzerland, Andermatt is the place to give a go. But be warned with all this comes popularity, especially on weekends and peak times such as between Christmas and New Year. Come early to avoid standing in long lines and try and book a table ahead if you want to have lunch around 12pm. With this amount of people, do expect some lines at the lifts.