Davos, in the canton of Grisons, started out as a mining village in the 19th century. With a little help from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it has grown into the world-class ski resort we know today.
Skiing in Davos received a big boost from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series. Conan Doyle was one of the first people to ski Davos in the late 19th century. He was wintering in Davos, and for entertainment, he ordered some skiing "boards" from Norway and hiked up the mountain with two local guides, then skied all the way down to Arosa. Conan Doyle wrote of his pioneering Davos ski adventure in a British magazine, The Strand,(1894) and the story attracted British skiers to Switzerland.
Take your pick of over 318 kilometres of pistes and 61 mountain transport facilities.
There are plenty of reasons to choose Davos as your ski destination, but here are five of the best:
1. Long runs of the Parsenn
Skiing in Davos is divided into six areas: Parsenn Gotschna, the Jakobshorn, Pischa, Madrisa, the Rinerhorn, and Schatzalp/Strela area. Parsenn, the largest and most popular area is renowned for its endless descents from the top of the Weissfluh to the valleys, perfect for intermediate skiers. The longest descent is the 12-kilometre run from Weissfluh to Küblis.
The Parsenn ski area connects Davos with Klosters - a more picturesque, rustic village to Davos.
Carving up the slopes in Davos-Klosters
2. Awesome off-piste
Davos offers unprecedented opportunities for off-piste skiing. Pischa is one of Switzerland's biggest freeride regions. With three runs marked and protected from alpine risks, freeriders have a deep-snow paradise to explore.
Follow in the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on a 12-kilometre round tour towards Arosa, starting from the Weissfluh summit. At the end of the tour you return to Davos by postbus. Note: you will need a mountain guide (book in advance).
Swissfreeride.ch offers week-long off-piste programs. You pay CHF1650 for five days (groups of four people). This is an all-inclusive package with accommodation in the three-star Hotel Kulm and lift pass.
Off-piste skiing in Davos. Courtesy of Swissfreeride.ch
3. Rich cultural history
Davos has a number of must-see sights. The Schatzalp Hotel is situated on a sunny plateau 300 metres above Davos. It was originally a luxury sanatorium, and was the setting for Thomas Mann's novel "The Magic Mountain". Since the 50s, it has been a four-star hotel and offers stunning views. Prices start from CHF155 for a double. The ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) named it the "Historic Hotel of the Year 2008".
The painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was inspired by Davos. In the Kirchner Museum in Davos you can admire his paintings. The building, designed by Annette Gigon und Mike Guyer, is a destination in itself. Entrance costs CHF12.
Biervision Monstein, is the highest brewery in Europe. Guided tours are available for CHF20 per person. Or book a brewing workshop for CHF150 per person. This is an all-day program. At the end of the day you can take a degree in brewing.
4. Fun with the kids
In Kidsland at Pischa summit station, children can be supervised by the hour, using the Pony lift to ski, play and do handicrafts in the Playroom and have fun on the longest Snowtubing run. Kidsland is open for children's birthdays and special events. All children from 3 years on are welcome.
There are also possibilities for other winter activities: skating or curling on the largest natural ice rink in Europe or take a toboggan ride on the Rinerhorn.
While the kids are in ski school, parents can give their muscles a rest in the spa at Holland House.
5. Rocking snowparks
Jakobshorn has long been acclaimed as a snowboarding and freeskiing Mecca. At over 2,500 metres altitude, the snowpark at Jatz Junior offers various facilities with kickers and rails to sharpen snowboarding skills. The snowpark on Bolgen has a monsterpipe, which is Tuesdays,Wednesdays and Fridays lit until 21:30 p.m.
Boardercross buffs should head for Parsenn (Totalp lift)Pischa(Mitteltäli lift) and Madrisa (near the top station of the Schaffürggli lift). There's also a funpark on the Rinerhorn, near the training lift.
Jatz Park on the Jakobshorn (Courtesy of maicluca/YouTube):