10 Car-Free Ski Resorts: Clean Air for your Skiing Holiday

16/04/2024 - SnowTrex

In the following ski resorts you only move on skis because the car will have to stay out: SnowTrex has put together 10 car-free ski resorts in Austria, France and Switzerland that guarantee a holiday without engine noise or exhaust fumes.

In Zermatt at the Matterhorn, the car has to stay outside.

Car-free ski resorts at a glance

Resort Country Ski area & km of piste
ZermattSwitzerlandZermatt ski area (200 km)
GrächenSwitzerlandGrächen/Hannigalp ski area (44 km)
Saas-FeeSwitzerlandSaas-Fee ski area (100 km)
SerfausAustriaSerfaus-Fiss-Ladis ski area (198 km)
WengenSwitzerlandGrindelwald/First & Kleine Scheidegg/Männlichen ski area (155 km)
OberlechAustriaArlberg ski area (305 km)
ValmorelFranceLe Grand Domaine ski area (165 km)
MürrenSwitzerlandMürren-Schilthorn ski area (51 km)
Bettmeralp, Riederalp, FiescheralpSwitzerlandAletsch Arena ski area (104 km)
WerfenwengAustriaWerfenweng ski area (27 km)

1. Zermatt (Switzerland)

At the foot of the impressive Matterhorn lies the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt. It has always been a meeting place for mountaineers – after all it is 3,899 metres above sea level and the highest ski area in Europe with 200 kilometres of pistes! Mountaineers, skiers and tourists who want to experience the place against the fascinating backdrop of the pyramid-shaped Matterhorn stroll through the streets without being hindered by cars. This is because Zermatt has been a car-free ski resort since 1961. Only electric vehicles without combustion engines, electric buses and horse-drawn carriages run here. The Zermatt electric vehicle is produced locally as a unique specimen. Holidaymakers can only drive to Täsch by car and leave the car there in the multi-storey car park. Afterwards they continue with shuttle trains.

In Zermatt, winter sports enthusiasts enjoy low-emission air.

2. Grächen (Switzerland)

In the small resort of Grächen in the Mattertal valley, cars are also very rarely seen. The community of Grächen with about 1,400 inhabitants is mainly a car-free ski resort and therefore very safe for families with children. Not far from the village and slightly above, the family-friendly Grächen/Hannigalp ski area (2,868 m) with 44 km of pistes, also known as “Märchenland” (“Fairytale land”), awaits you. Grächen bears the Swiss “Families Welcome” seal of quality, and parents and children can expect the appropriate service.

3. Saas-Fee (Switzerland)

Saas-Fee has been a car-free ski resort since 1951. Situated at the foot of the cathedral, surrounded by the Mischabel mountain range with 13 four-thousand-metre peaks, the village is also known as the “Pearl of the Alps”. The beauty of this pearl has to be preserved, which is why it is involved in various ways in the field of sustainability. This does not only include the absence of cars. The village obtains 100% clean “natural energy” from Valais hydroelectric power. Holidaymakers who want to let off steam on the 100 kilometres of pistes in the Saas-Fee ski area (3,573 m) are picked up by electric taxi from the car park below the village and taken to their accommodation.

View of car-free Saas-Fee.

4. Serfaus (Austria)

To prevent ski buses and private cars from winding their way through the village on their way to the cable car, it was decided in Serfaus in 1970 that the road through the village should be closed to individual traffic. Since 1985, there has been a solution to the traffic problem: since then, an air cushion suspension railway has been running in a tunnel under the village road – and is still the highest in the world today. It connects the car park at the edge of the village on the valley side with the valley station of the cable car, which takes winter sports enthusiasts to the Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis ski area (2,820 m) with its 198 km of pistes. Holidaymakers can only drive their cars to the hotel.

5. Wengen (Switzerland)

The location is a dream for alpinists: at the foot of the triumvirate of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau lies the traditional mountain village of Wengen, an ideal starting point for winter sports enthusiasts who want to explore the Grindelwald/First & Kleine Scheidegg/Männlichen ski area (2,501 m) and its 155 km of pistes. Wengen is best known for the famous Lauberhorn World Cup race. However, Wengen cannot be reached by car. This remains in the multi-storey car park in Lauterbrunnen. From there the Wengernalp Railway leads up to Wengen. It also connects the town with Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald.

6. Oberlech (Austria)

The hotel village of Oberlech is situated on the sunny Arlberg terrace, in the middle of the huge Arlberg ski area (2,811 m) with its legendary 305 km of pistes. In winter, when the private road to the village is closed, it can only be reached via the piste or by cable car from Lech. The supply of the hotels is guaranteed by a unique tunnel system. The cable car runs from 7 am to 1 am. So if you still want to go through the exclusive bars in Lech in the evening, you don’t have to worry about the way back.

Sun terrace in the car-free hotel village of Oberlech.

7. Valmorel (France)

With its chalets of stone and wood, Valmorel is modelled after an original mountain village. The village’s apartment residences are arranged around the town centre. And this one is car-free. The centre, with its picturesquely painted houses, winding alleyways and archways, radiates its very own, cosy charm. The French therefore gave Valmorel the nickname “La Belle” (the beautiful). From most of the accommodations, winter holidaymakers have direct access to the ski area “Le Grand Domaine” (2,550 m) with its 165 km of pistes.

8. Mürren (Switzerland)

Two car-free ski resorts are located at the foot of the Mürren-Schilthorn ski area (2,970 m). Mürren, a traditional Walser mountain village and the highest permanently inhabited village in the Canton of Berne, is situated directly on the highest ski resort in the Bernese Oberland with its 53 kilometres of pistes. Holidaymakers cannot travel to Mürren by car. There are two other options: the mountain railway from Lauterbrunnen or the Schilthorn railway from Stechelberg. If you choose the Schilthorn cable car, you can stop halfway in Gimmelwald, a small mountain village that is also free of cars.

Another car-free ski resort: Mürren-Schilthorn.

9. Bettmeralp, Riederalp and Fiescheralp (Switzerland)

1 ski area, 3 villages, 3 car bans: Bettmeralp, Riederalp and Fiescheralp lie in the middle of the Aletsch Arena (2,869 m) with its 104 km of pistes. Holidaymakers search in vain for cars on the roads of the villages. Only snowmobiles and snow groomers run here. Arrival is by cable car: From Betten it goes to Bettmeralp, from Morel to Riederalp and from Fiesch to Fiescheralp. The ski area is considered particularly attractive. After all, winter sports enthusiasts have a wonderful view of the longest glacier in the Alps from Bettmerhorn, Eggishorn and Moosfluh.

10. Werfenweng (Austria)

Soft mobility (SAMO) – this is the concept that has been written in capital letters in Werfenweng in the province of Salzburg since 1997. Since then, the village has been a model location for the pilot project for environmentally friendly travel. The aim is to motivate holidaymakers to simply leave their cars at home. Or perhaps even without arriving. In Werfenweng there is no driving ban, but there are many incentives to voluntarily do without: a free shuttle from and to Bischofshofen station, for example, the free local taxi “ELOIS”, a night mobile, a free excursion to Salzburg and the use of the Werfenweng “Grashüpfer” (organic petrol cars) or the “Smile-E’s” (electric cars). And during the day, the car is exchanged for boards anyway – in the Werfenweng ski area (1,834 m) with its 27 kilometres of pistes.

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