So which are the best toboggan runs in the Alps? There are literally hundreds of fantastic toboggan runs in the Alps ranging in length from a couple of kilometres to well over 10 kilometres and ranging in steepness from gentle, family friendly tracks to the quite plainly suicidal. We list the best toboggan runs in the Alps that we could find, so if you plan to visit one of the resorts below make sure you get sliding!
Whether it is on a French style plastic sit-in sled or on an old fashioned wooden Swiss toboggan, with steel clad runners, tobogganning is a hoot (especially at night with the heigtened sensation of speed) and within reason it’s suitable for all ages.
How to steer a toboggan
Most people think that you cannot steer a toboggan and are merely at the mercy of the path of least resistance which the toboggan will naturally take. However, if you control your speed and remain sensible, steering a toboggan is not actually that difficult.
If you are in one of those plastic ‘sit in’ sleds you may as well forget the stupid little steering handles as these don’t do much. The best option is to either brake by pressing a foot into the snow or drag a hand behind you. If you stick one of your right hand limbs into the snow (either foot or hand) the created ‘drag’ will turn the toboggan to the right. To go left either use your left foot or drag your left hand. For obvious reasons good strong shoes and gloves are recommded for this dragging/braking technique.
If you are sitting on an old fashioned Swiss style wooden toboggan with steel clad runners then you are into a whole different league of skills required to steer your craft. Firstly you will pick up a lot more speed on the older style toboggan so be prepared for that. However, once you have learned to steer one of these speed machines you can then really start to enjoy the ride. The best technique is to lean right back gripping the cord in both hands for support whilst hooking your left and right foot around the outside of the runner ends. By squeezing in against the runners with your calf muscles and pulling with your hand you can bend the runner out of shape allowing it to carve on an arc. Much like carving your skis on their edges, bending the runner allows the toboggan to change direction without losing any of its energy (or speed). And herein lies the main difference between the platic sled and the wooden toboggan – the former sliding its turns without much control and losing a lot of energy in the process, and the latter carving its turns with maximum efficiency and speed. However, it is our advice that which ever type of toboggan you are riding that you stay controlled at all times. If your speed increases too much no amount of steering technique will get you around a danergous corner. If you find yourself in the situation where you are going too fast our advice is to bail out before anyone gets hurt.
So, in the words of the Jamaican bobsled team, “Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!” Here are our top 5 best toboggan rides in the Alps:
Val Thorens, France – the most snow-sure of toboggan runs in the Alps
Best toboggan runs in the Alps – Val Thorens
Val Thorens is the highest resort in Europe and now has one of the longest (6km) and certainly the most snow sure toboggan run in the Alps. Once you’re all set with your plastic tray and helmet, take the Gondola up to 3,000 metres to the start of the toboggan run. This 6km run drops 700 vertical metres during the course, so if you’ve got the confidence to take your foot off the breaks, you can gain some serious speed. The duration of the run will probably take amateurs 45 minutes to complete where as the dare devils amongst you will probably only take 10 minutes. If you’re up for giving tobogganing a go, regardless of your level, this is one you can’t beat. For an extra thrill try it in the dark during the evening sledding sessions.
Price: €18.00 or €12.00 with a lift pass!
St Moritz, Switzerland – one of the longest toboggan runs in the Alps
Best toboggan runs in the Alps – Preda to Bergun
This is Switzerland’s first floodlit toboggan run extending from the village of Preda down to the village of Bergün, some 6 kilometres away. The start of the track is accessed by scenic mountain train from St. Moritz which leaves every half an hour and takes 20 minutes to reach Preda. The train journey is an adventure in itself, riding up the mountain side and crossing the 90 metre high Solis viaduct and passing through the helical tunnel of the Albula valley. Pick up your wooden toboggan at the Preda train station (altitude 1,789m) and ride the 400 vertical metres down to Bergün (alt. 1,386m). The floodlighting allows for the thrill seekers to enjoy this amazing toboggan run at night with the track staying open until 9.30pm. If you complete the run in daylight the Preda – Bergün toboggan ride is an incredible and fun way to experience the breathtaking views of the Swiss mountains. If you want to know more about this run please ask to speak to Simon (T: 020 7801 1080).
Price: Adult CHF 14.00. Child CHF 7.00
Ellmau (Skiwelt area), Austria – for tree-lined toboggan runs in the Alps
Best toboggan runs in the Alps – Ellmau-Going
The Wilder Kaiser region is well known for its tobogganing with a total of 16 kilometres of runs. The Ellmau to Going toboggan run is one of these with a 4.5 km length and just over 550 metres of vertical drop along the way. The toboggan run can be accessed by the Astbergbahn Going which takes you to 1,258 metres altitude where the toboggan run starts. All the toboggan runs in the Wilder Kaiser region are floodlit so can be enjoyed as a fun evening activity.
Price: Adult Day single trip €11.50. Child €6.00
St Anton (Arlberg region), Austria – one the best apres ski toboggan runs in the Alps
Best toboggan runs in the Alps – St Anton
St Anton is the capital of apres ski fun in the Alps. We don’t advise drinking and tobogganning but ‘when in Rome’ and all that. The St Anton toboggan run starts on the Gampen Mountain and is a 4 kilometre night-time illuminated course. This scenic run leads partly through the woods and takes on numerous tricky turns as it winds down the valley to reach the Rodelstall in Nasserein. The course has a vertical drop of 500 metres and has an estimated running time of 15 minutes depending on how many times you crash. This run also has the option of evening tobogganing – open on Tuesdays and Thursdays till 9.30 pm. Toboggan rental is available at most of the equipment rental shops in town.
Price: €9.00 (plus a €20.00 refundable deposit)
Morzine (Portes du Soleil region), France – one of the best family toboggan runs in the Alps
Best toboggan runs in the Alps – Morzine
This is a unique way to experience the ski slopes at night. As night falls and skiers have left the slopes a team of professionals will guide you down the pistes towards the twinkling lights of Morzine village far below. The sessions are run with a minimum of 10 people in a group and so long as you have a valid lift pass you are provided with all the necessary equipment including a head torch free of charge! The duration of the sledging session is one hour.
Price: Adult €24.00. Child (8 years old +) €13.00
If you fancy giving one of these great toboggan runs a go visit the Alpine Answers website to find a great chalet or hotel in your chosen resort. If you do take on one of the best toboggan runs in the Alps then we would be delighted to hear about your experience.