Skiing / Snowboarding

Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be ultra-expensive. In St.Gallen, we are blessed with some fairly good ski options within easy reach for a day trip. I find the biggest cost when skiing is hotels!

There are beginners options around St.Gallen, but most probably won’t open before Christmas due to a lack of snow. The only one in St.Gallen is St.Georgen and is really only a kids and complete beginners option. Others within easy reach include: Eggersriet & Heiden (120 postbus), Voegelinsegg & Blatten near Speicher (take the Trogenerbahn from Marktplatz) as a start. Lot’s of other little ones dotted around Appenzell. These are all ‘one drag-lift’ options without ski rental. Check the website snow reports before you go as there is no guarantee on snow in the area.

Next level would be Ebenalp. Great views and nice restaurant at the top. You’ll get board though if you go often as there are only a few routes down. Takes about 30 minutes by car, an hour by train/bus, and again no ski rental.

The best place for beginners is probably Wildhaus. This is the closest proper ski resort, and takes 50 mins by car, 100 mins by train and postbus. There is a ski school, rental shop, and a dozen runs that will keep both adults and kids happy. The best way to get there is by car and there is ample free parking close to the first skilift. Get there early at 8.30ish when the lift first opens on a Sunday and you’ll be able to ski right back to your car at the end of the day.

As you go down the Rhein valley, the resorts get bigger, busier, more facilities, and more fun. Flumserberg and Flims are both excellent choices. Davos as well if you can be bothered to go that far. For Flims and Davos though you probably want to stay over night if you don’t have a car. Or use the Heini bus. I’ve done another post explaining more about this option.

Ice-skating / Ice hockey

You have two options for this. One for the cheap-skates (spot the humour?) is the ‘3 lakes’ (Dreilinden) up in St.Georgen. This is a low cost option, as it is open to the public and skates are not required :-). However check before you go as they only allow people on if the ice is 12cm thick. And you can’t rent skates.

Second option is the proper ice-rink at Lerchenfeld (Bus no1/4). There is an indoor and outdoor rink open from October. You can rent boots, helmets, ‘zimmerframes’ for beginners, and hockey equipment. Entry is about CHF 7 for an adult and the same again for skates, so if you are going to go regularly, definitely buy a pair of boots and consider a sportpass. It could save you a lot of money over the year.  Best time to go is Sunday morning. Swiss love church, so between 8-10am is absolutely dead :-). Great time for heathens …

Sledging / Tobogganing

So the season for winter sports is upon us! Many of us who have immigrated to Switzerland will have, at the back of our minds, the idea that this is one of the perks of living here. Unfortunately it seems to polarise, and just as many people seem to hate the idea of playing around with snow.

Sledging

Possibly the most basic (and cheapest) of the options. Pick yourself a sledge from Coop or Migros and head to your local hill.  Beware though that sledges here start at around CHF 70 and decent sledges can cost over CHF 200. However, for those who don’t have the luxury of shopping over the border in Austria/Germany, then keep an eye on your local brockenhaus (2nd hand shops) early in the season. You should find something for between CHF 5-50.

And lastly where to sledge? If you cant see any where obvious, first follow children with sledges. They seem to know best, but be careful not to look too dodgy :-). Otherwise, Lachen has a great slope in the park here. If you have a hill near where you live, you can also use it for ski practice to avoid embarrassing yourself on a real slope!

Once you are up for some more serious sledging, there are often dedicated sledge runs in ski resorts that you can head for. You can use the ski lifts and you get several km of uninterrupted sledging…