A guide to Verbier
With it's pretty chalet-style architecture, glorious mountain views, fantastic ski terrain and wild nightlife, Verbier has developed into a glamorous winter playground for anyone who wants to splash the cash. There is no doubt it's an expensive resort, but with it's international clientele, high quality accommodation and superb bars & restaurants, it's almost certainly worth it.
Situated in the south-western part of Switzerland in the canton of the Valais, Verbier is bordered by France to the west and Italy to the south. It's about a two hour drive from Geneva airport, or you can take a train directly from the airport to Le Chable, and take the gondola to Verbier from there. Verbier suits both the keen skier, with it's amazing and easily accessible off-piste, and the more leisurely skier who enjoys cruising the blues before relaxing into a sun lounger for the afternoon. The mountain apres-ski bars start the party early, with sound systems pumping out the latest house music to the beat of popping champagne corks. Back in the resort, world famous bars have welcomed royalty and celebrities for many years. You can still enjoy a relatively simple beer and pizza at the end of a day, but the trend is certainly towards a more swanky evening experience.
Skiing in Verbier
During the winter, Verbier becomes a skiers paradise. Many top skiers have settled down here in order to profit from the steep slopes and freestyle skiing that Verbier offers in abundance. Verbier is the main resort of the 'Four Valleys' ski area, which includes Thyon, Veysonnaz and Nendaz. Together, they offer over 410 kilometres of ski runs and 93 ski lifts, all covered in one (hands-free) lift pass. The season normally runs from the second week in December until the end of April, with New Year and February/March being the busiest times. Verbier is located at 1500m, and the ski area extends right up to the summit of the Mont-Fort glacier (3300m) - the views extending across the Swiss Alps are fantastic. Snow is guaranteed in Verbier due to it's high altitude and it's glacier skiing. Verbier is also recognised as one of the premiere "off-piste" resorts in the Alps, with great heli-skiing opportunities too.
The area around Mont Gélé is popular with beginners and intermediates alike however it can be busy. If you are a little more experienced and want to try something with a slightly steeper gradient, take the cable car down to Tortin (2050m) where it is quieter and enjoy a number of red intermediate runs. On the opposite side of the valley, Bruson (1080m) is an excellent area for intermediate skiers. There are fewer crowds here and the North East facing orientation means that the snow (and powder!) stay good for longer.
If you are an expert or advanced level skier then the world of Val de Bagnes is your oyster. You have to try out the classic black runs in areas such as Mont Fort and Combatzeline. The weather can usually be a major stumbling factor here and if visibility is good, expect the lift queues to replicate that. If you're a confident off-piste skier then take a mountain guide, and explore some of the off-piste terrains in the Tortin, Mont-Gélé and Chassoure areas. There are many ungroomed, former black runs in the valley which offer some good off-piste. They can be quite busy, but you should still use the services of a mountain guide and ensure you carry (and know how to use) suitable off-piste equipment when skiing these areas.
Verbier has an excellent snowpark, located at La Chaux (2260m), with all the rails, jumps and corners you could need.
Also see: Ski Areas in Verbier
Things to Do in Verbier
The main activity in Verbier in winter is of course skiing and snowboarding, but you can do snowshoe walks, sledging or take a ride in a husky sledge. Off the mountain, the 'centre sportif' provides swimming, squash, snow and ice karting, ice hockey and ice-skating. There is also a gym which provides private classes for every member such as Pilates, Yoga, Spin, Boxercise. Centre Culturel du Hameau in Verbier has a small alpine museum, gift shop and small church all located in a small private square at the bottom of Les Esserts Ski Slope.
Verbier has a local golf club that is situated at Le Hameau which is only open in the summer. It has an 18-hole golf course and is located above the main town of Verbier only a 5-minute drive away. The golf course is situated on the winter piste called 'Les Esserts'. There is also an 18 hole short pitch and putt course at 'Les Moulins' which is a five minute walk from Place Centrale, just behind Cordee Des Alps Hotel.
Also see: What to Do in Verbier
Events in Verbier
Here is the home of the Xtreme Verbier, the final stop on the Freeride World Tour. This most prestigious extreme skiing and snowboarding contest is held in Verbier on the famous Bec des Rosses mountain every March. During the summer months the resort is home to the Verbier Festival, a classical music festival of international acclaim, the Grand Raid Cristalp mountain biking competition and the Grand Concours Hippique horse show.
Also see: Main Events in Verbier
Where to Stay in Verbier
There is an amazing choice of chalets in Verbier. Many are super-luxurious, more like mini hotels, with private chefs, spa facilities, concierge service and decadent interiors. Depending on snow cover, some will also be ski-in ski-out. If your budget is a touch more modest, then an apartment rental will suit better. There is a wide range of self-catering apartments set up in pretty chalet-style residences that are a close second to the real thing.
There are some beautiful luxury hotels in Verbier such as the 5* Lodge hotel, where Sir Richard Branson calls home when he is in town. Equally, you can still find more affordable options like the Bristol Hotel situated right in the heart of Verbier, for those who are after a quiet comfortable bed after a hard day on the slopes.
Also see: Where to Stay in Verbier
Restaurants in Verbier
Verbier has an extensive range of restaurants all over town from Route De Verbier station all the way up to Rue De Medran. You can choose from traditional Swiss restaurants like Le Caveau, La Channe, Le Currie, Relais Des Neige, and La Chamois. For restaurants serving a more of a varied menu, head to Chez Martin, La Pergola, Borsalino or Fer a Cheval. For a fine dining experience try Nomad Sushi Lounge, Cordee Des Alps, La Grange and The W Hotel. A little bit further away from the centre you’ll find Le Rouge, Chalet Adrien, Le Hameau restaurant, Le Sonalon, Carrefour and for great pizzas try Al Capone.
Also see: Where to Eat in Verbier
Nightlife in Verbier
Verbier is known for some of the best partying in the Alps and it certainly does not disappoint with a wide range of options to choose from. From the Medran lift station down to Place Centrale you have between 10-15 bars open in winter from 3pm - 1-2am. For a late night option you have The Etoile Rouge, Twin Peaks and Farm Club all within the surrounding areas of Place Centrale and no longer than 5 mins walking distance in each direction.
Also see: Partying in Verbier
Travelling to Verbier
The nearest airport to Verbier is Sion about an hour away, although it's not the main airport that people use when travelling to Verbier from international destinations. The airport of choice is Geneva, which is around 2 hours drive away. Remember, before succumbing to a bargain flight into one of these airports, take a few minutes to investigate your onward transfer options; your flight may only cost you £50 but your transfer to resort could set you back €300 - €400!
Also see: How to Get to Verbier