Winter Activities for Non-Skiers

You don’t ski? Don’t let that hinder you, as the chill sets in and the snow descends. There are so many other winter activities to enjoy in the region, even skiers might be tempted to swap their skis for something more……. ‘interesting’! Here are our suggestions.


No need for a ski-pass, or expensive kit, just don a pair of ‘raquettes’, grab some batons and off you go! Snowshoeing is a wonderful way of accessing the great outdoors in the depth of winter. As they say ‘if you can walk, you can snowshoe’, although a little practice does make perfect! Every ski resort that you visit will have designated, and usually well-marked snowshoe and winter hiking routes – check on-line, or ask at the resort tourist office.

Closer to ‘home’, there are lovely trails in the St Cergue area, which can be combined with a stop at one of the many local refuges for a vin chaud or fondue.

For further inspiration, see last year’s post on the PTA snowshoe outing, or check-out the programme for this weekend’s snowshoe festival on La Salève.



Thermal Baths:

Sitting in warm, bubbly water, while gazing at snow-capped peaks – what a treat; and what a tonic for tired limbs which have been engaging in other winter activities. We are fortunate to have a number of thermal baths within a reasonable driving distance. Our favourites are:

Lavey-les-Bains– in Valais, about an hour’s drive away. We especially like escaping the children in the adult-only relaxation pavilions; listening to underwater music, while floating in the internal pool; and having a fondue afterwards at the on-site Swiss chalet restaurant. Other people like it too, so arrive early or late to avoid the crowds.

Bains d’Illiez – also in Valais, and about an hour away. These are small baths, in a very scenic setting; especially nice after dark.

Bains Bleu – at Genève Plage, Geneva. Not, technically speaking, a ‘thermal’ spa, but there’s lots of warm, bubbly water, nonetheless, and a gorgeous roof-top pool, with views of Lac Léman and the Jura.

If you fancy a more ‘rustic’ spa experience, you could try a sauna and a dip in the lake at Nyon Plage, or at Bains de Paquis in Geneva.



Ice Skating:

There are lots of ice rinks in the Vaud area; many are free to use, all have skates for hire, and most are open until March. Many also offer ice-hockey, Eisstock, a buvette and private hire for parties. Check their websites for details. Here are some of the most popular ones, locally:
Coppet – A small, friendly rink with amazing views towards Coppet Château .
Nyon – Ice skating by the lake can be pretty magical, and the views couldn’t be much better than from Patinoire de Nyon-Rive.
Perroy – Brand new this year.
And for something unique, why not try skating on a frozen lake?! This is entirely condition-dependent, but, when there is a big freeze, lakes like Lac les Rousses, and Lac de Joux become huge, open-air ice-rinks. Amazing!
lac du joux
Dog Sledging:
It is quite a sight, in the Jura, to spot a sledge whizzing by, being pulled by a team of huskies. You too can join in the fun, sitting in the sledge, walking alongside, or even learning how to ‘drive’. A fairly unique experience to be had, a short drive or little-red-train-ride away.
Many ski resorts also have toboggan runs – some kilometers long, some torch-lit, some you whizz down in a rubber ring. Find the latter close to home at the Fun Bouée at La Trelasse. Children are winched up a hill while sitting in inflatable tubes, only to come racing down again once released – great fun!



End on a High!

Even if you’re not planning to ski, it can be fun to use the ski lift network to reach those highest peaks, with their formidable views, not to mention panoramic restaurants! If you have a head for heights, you might like to try:

Skyway, Courmayeur – A relatively new cable car, which rotates as it ascends to 3,500m. Amazing views, three stations with restaurants and viewing points, and a children’s adventure park, make this a real adventure.

Peak Walk, Diablerets – A suspension bridge at Glacier 3000, which joins two peaks and affords stunning views of the Alps. Just don’t look down!

Les Diablerets, Glacier 3000


Compiled by: Jen Sealy and Olive Fenton

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