Nestled away in the alps near France, Verbier offers Switzerland’s most exquisite mountainside experience alongside a swath of snow-covered terrain.
Fly into Lausanne, the closest major city to your destination. You could also fly into any other major Swiss airport, because you’ll ultimately ride a train up to the village.
The national rail system, the SBB, is the most punctual and extensive in Europe. You can book your ticket online before setting foot in Switzerland, or consult a schedule online to figure out the timing of your route and then buy your ticket upon arrival at the train station.
The train schedule isn’t the easiest to decipher, but no single detail will be omitted.
A word of caution, however. Sync the time of your watch or phone to the SBB’s time in the train stations (or use their app). There’s no room for tardiness – even being 30
seconds late can mean you’ll miss your train.
But back to getting to Verbier…
Aboard the train from Lausanne, you’ll arrive in Martigny, where you’ll have to switch trains to the St. Bernard Express. This is the one that’ll haul you, your gear and your companions up into the Alps. And right to the village that services Verbier – Le Chable. It’s the last stop, so you can’t miss it.
Get off the train and then cross the tracks to board the gondola that will haul you up to Verbier. At this base station, it’s a good idea to buy your mountain lift pass since it will cover the fee to get up to the village – and the reusable card you’ll receive can be used to add more days on the slopes.
Also, grab a map of the Verbier village here and get your bearings as you ride up the lift. It’s easy to get lost during your first few hours in this wonderful spot.
Hop off the gondola and make your way outside. Look out for skiers and snowboarders coming straight off their runs and looking to rush back onto the the same gondola, which continues up the mountain.
Verbier is home to the most posh ski lodges in Europe, so don’t expect to find bargain-basement rates and availability will be limited, especially in peak season.
If you’re looking for an affordable place to stay, consider Hotel Phenix, which is well-located and reasonably priced for the area.
At the other end of the scale is Sir Richard Branson’s lodge, which you can rent for up to 18 guests at a “money-is-no-object” rate of 82,000 Swiss Francs a week – and up!
Slap on the sunscreen and hit the slopes early without any set destination. Practically every surface is ski or ride-worthy. Runs in Verbier are wide and open, so don’t feel you need to stick to one area.
But to avoid long lines, hit the Mont Fort gondola early in the day. Otherwise, you’ll be crammed in like a sardine in a can for a ride up to the top that isn’t for the claustrophobic.
Grab lunch on any of the on-mountain lodges, though the Carlsberg Lodge provides the most sun for the most fun. By this time, avoid the large gondolas at all costs and enjoy the rest of your day by sticking to the chairlifts.
Stock up on snacks and beverages at the local grocery store, Migros. Dining options aren’t cheap here, but neither is the food. That being said, leave your culinary skills at home and venture to one of several unique restaurants.
The best of which is La Marmotte, perched about a quarter of the way up Mont Fort. You have two options to get here, depending on the time of day you decide to eat (or can snag a reservation).
The easiest option is to ski or ride straight to the traditional restaurant on the mountain. Snap out of your bindings and snag a seat inside, where you’ll be greeted with a hot alcoholic shot of sorts sure to get your warmed up.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, rent a personal sled and head-mounted flashlight from Xtreme Sports and hike (yes, walk with vigour) up the snow-covered service road to the restaurant. Be sure to grab this gear before the store closes for the day, especially if you plan to trek up the mountain later on.
With any luck, it won’t be entirely dark out and you can save the battery on your head-mounted light for later.
Order the raclette, sliced hot and fresh in front of you by the wood-burning fire. You can ask the fellow shaving the cheese for you to take a break if your stomach is asking for space, and then start up after a couple sips of wine have helped the cheese digest. Go easy on the booze, because drinking and driving don’t mix well.
That’s because you’ll now take your little sled and shoot down the same path you hiked up. With the night blanketed in darkness and the light of your head torch shining the path amongst the slim opening of trees (and the cliff on your right-hand side), this journey back down to the village will be the most exhilarating descent of your life, depending on how fast you go.