Located on a south-facing plateau in the Valais alps above Sierre, Crans-Montana is one of Switzerland's sunniest resorts and has been attracting downhill skiers since 1911.
World-renowned, it hosts a variety of alpine races throughout the winter season, which runs from November to April, before the area turns into a haven for hikers, golfers, mountain-bikers and paragliders.
Four main cable cars cover the ski area, which comprises a total of 27 lifts. The Plaine Morte glacier plateau at the top is perfect for cross country skiing with a view, while a popular red run – the longest piste in the resort – also starts from here. Novice skiers should head to the Aminona area for some beautifully wide blues.
Early season lift pass rates are much reduced, generally from late November to late December.
The resort's four golf courses – including the famous Ballesteros course – double up as cross-country ski areas in winter, with one also hosting a 'snow island' for families and beginner skiers.
The two villages – Montana and Crans-sur-Sierre – offer on-the-ground activities including skating, curling, bowling and a range of spa options, as well as some good bars and restaurants. For something a little different, nearby Lens boasts the brand new Foundation Pierre Arnaud Arts Centre, centring on Swiss painting.
Visit in April for the annual Caprices music festival, featuring Swiss and international artists, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013.
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Caroline Bishop is a freelance journalist who recently swapped city life in London for outdoor adventures in Switzerland where she writes about travel, food and culture.