Davos Travel Guide

Davos © Robert J Heath

Davos was one of the first ski resorts to be created and is the largest in Switzerland, an alpine city with major thoroughfares and hotel blocks lining the streets. Despite its lack of character, Davos is a premier European holiday resort, offering not only accommodation with a reputation for excellence, an endless array of winter and summer recreational activities, crisp mountain air and a health spa.

The five separate ski areas ensure a superb variety of skiing and snowboarding for all abilities. Nearby is the little sister resort of Klosters, a small traditional village with a quiet and unobtrusive atmosphere that shares the large Parsenn ski area.

The best-known and largest area in Davos is the Parsenn, offering intermediates and beginners miles of wide slopes that are ideal for smooth cruising. There are also advanced runs, steep drops and moguls that appeal to experienced skiers. Opposite the Parsenn, Jakobshorn, or the 'Fun Mountain', is the second largest area in Davos and has become one of the top snowboarding destinations in the world. Davos also boasts the second largest cross-country ski area in Switzerland, with miles of groomed trails available.

Being a 'mega-resort' in comparison to the usual village-centred ski destinations in the Alps, a Davos holiday also offers mega shopping opportunities, with more than 100 shops, art galleries and boutiques ready and waiting to swipe eager visitors' credit cards in exchange for a plethora of goods, from tinkling cow bells to designer label clothing. It takes hours to explore all the shops clustered mainly along the two main streets around the Davos Platz.

There are scores of restaurants in the greater Davos/Klosters area offering a vast selection to suit every taste and pocket. When it comes to haute cuisine the best are located in the major hotels, but for cosy après ski evenings use the funiculars and cableways and head for a mountain restaurant to sample homegrown local delights. Around the Davos Platz there is an international selection including Italian, American, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and Thai at reasonable prices. Of course the Swiss are best known for the fondue, which is on offer everywhere but particularly recommended at the Bistro Gentiana. The more upmarket restaurants require advance booking, and many Davos establishments close their kitchens early, around 10pm.

Most visitors on a Davos holiday turn in fairly early to ensure an early morning on the ski slopes, but those who want to burn the midnight oil won't be disappointed. There are close on 20 discos and nightclubs in the area offering live entertainment and dancing, and a casino in the Hotel Europa, but the focus of the bright lights is on the Davos Platz. The all-night Express Bar heats up after 3am and closes at 7am. There are also several late-night pubs and bars, some with pool tables. Young snowboarders tend to congregate at the bars at the foot of Jakobshorn.

If you can do it on the snow or ice, you can do it in Davos, particularly skiing of course, from beginners to advanced, with some notorious off-piste adventures thrown in. Davos is also one of Europe's most popular snowboarding venues. There are several funparks for boarders, particularly at Jakobshorn. Tobogganing, sledding, sleigh rides and skating events on the largest open-air ice rink in Europe are also popular holiday pastimes. Some worthwhile excursions are a trip through the high Alps to the famous spa of Scuol, or visit St Moritz (90 minutes away). Snowmobiling, snow-shoeing, ice-climbing, hang-gliding and paragliding are on offer, as are numerous indoor sports like tennis, golf and squash, and there is an indoor pool.

The slopes in Davos are better suited to beginners and intermediates. Advances skiers looking for some excitement on the slopes should best head elsewhere.