Whether you’re a skier or boarder, Europe has the perfect snow destination to suit your ability level. These are the best places to ski in Europe. From the family-friendly ski resorts that come alive at night, to the perilous adventures that are likely to scare even the bravest, Europe has a number of resorts that can put even the best ski resorts in the world to shame.
The best places to ski in Europe: Chamonix Valley, France
Located in south-eastern France in the French Alps is Chamonix Valley. Lying at the foot of the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc, this ski resort is for the adventurous. The resort is world-renowned and has the oldest and most famous ski resort culture, having hosted the 1924 Winter Olympics. It has even been labelled “death sport capital of the world”, with activities such as ice climbing, paragliding, and extreme skiing and boarding on offer.
The resort itself is huge, with more than 170 kilometres of trails to enjoy, on-piste and off-piste terrain, and more than 60 lifts all accessible with just one lift pass. With terrain across multiple mountains and countries, the resort offers a number of free buses to access all areas, as they are not lift-linked. 90% of the resort area is above 2,000 metres, meaning a long season is guaranteed, and lifts remain open well into spring, providing access to glaciers and permanent snow fields.
Chamonix is home to the Vallee Blanche, the most famous and crowded run in the world, stretching a massive 20 kilometres. It can be accessed by a cable car providing spectacular views. Les Grands Montets is also for the adventurous, providing an abundance of steep terrain, a snow park, and a boardercross course. For those who want to enjoy a more relaxed ski holiday however, Chamonix also includes a number of less crowded areas for beginners and intermediates, such as Le Domaine de Balme.
The largest ski resort in the Swiss Alps, Verbier boasts incredible snow and picturesque conditions. Located in southwest Switzerland, Verbier is located 170 kilometres east of Geneva, making it easy to travel to and from the resort.
For advanced skiers and boarders, Mont Fort is an experience not to be missed. The local glacier, which sits at 3,330 metres, provides an unforgettable experience and spectacular views of iconic alpine peaks such as the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Verbier’s ski domain is part of the 4 Vallees ski area, which includes Verbier, Nendaz, Veysonnaz, La Tzoumaz, and Thyron, and includes a total of 410 kilometres of marked runs. The Verbier region alone provides 35 lifts, 33 standard ski runs, two snowparks, four cross-country pistes, and two snow walking areas.
Although Verbier provides some advanced and expert terrain, it also appeals to beginners and intermediates with plenty of easy slopes and wide runs to enjoy. Combined with sunny conditions, and the occasional powder day, Verbier has something for everyone.
St. Anton, Austria
Nestled away in a tight valley in the Arlberg region of Tirol in Austria, is St Anton. The cosy village of St Anton is world-renowned for its night-life and charm, and is the perfect place to relax after a day on the slopes.
The Arlberg region also includes the ski resorts of Zurs and Lech, and can be accessed with the same lift ticket as St Anton. This whole region provides 84 lifts, and more terrain can be accessed by skiing to the nearby resorts of S. Christoph and Stuben.
St Anton is well-known for its advanced terrain, though much of this is off-piste. For the extreme riders, the off-slope runs and tight chutes of Valluga Summit will provide an amazing challenge, provided the weather holds up. However, with the snow making facilities and upkeep of the mountain, there are also a huge number of beginner and intermediate runs to choose from. The lift system is exceptional at St Anton, with a 24-person ferris wheel gondola, a cable car, an eight-person chair and various other chair lifts, some with heated seats.
Built in the 1930s, Sestriere was one of the first purpose-built ski resorts, and is one of the highest Italian ski resorts at 2,035 metres. It is located in western Italy, half way along the border separating Italy and France. One of the main appeals of Sestriere is its guaranteed snow cover thanks to both altitude and one of the world’s most extensive snow making operations.
Sestriere is the perfect family-friendly destination as it is best suited for intermediates, though it does provide limited advanced runs. If this doesn’t excite you however, heli-skiing is also available for the daring. Sestriere is also famous for playing host to the alpine events in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, and the World Alpine Ski Championships in 1997. The local ski area includes 160 runs, approximately 320 kilometres, and there is easy access to three other ski areas directly from Sestriere via gondolas or the cable car. As part of The Milky Way ski region, it is possible to ski or board from Sestriere to any of the other 4 areas, giving you a total of 440 kilometres of runs and 66 lifts.
If you love those powder days, Andermatt is the place for you. Situated in central Switzerland at the convergence of four mountain passes, Andermatt receives around 12 metres of snow a year due to its unique micro-climate and ability to catch storms. Its high north-facing bowls also provide excellent conditions at any time in the season, though they are particularly good in spring.
Not many ski resorts in the world can rival the amazing snowfall that Andermatt receives each year, which is why it plays host to the annual King of the Mountain free-riding competition. The resort also includes the amazing G-Park, arguably one of Switzerland’s best freestyle parks.
Although it’s not one of the biggest resorts in Europe, Andermatt is a charming home-grown alpine village which allows you to ski or board between towns. The resort is a booming freeride scene, set to expand even further.
Alagna is a cosy little village located in northern Italy on the southern side of the Monte Rosa Massif, a rustic farming village with a population of 400. But don’t be fooled by the small town – the mountain provides the perfect destination for serious skiers and boarders. With one gondola, and access to two additional ski areas, they offer 185 kilometres of runs. The ski slopes of Alagna are unusual in the way that they follow one after another, covering large distances between resorts. The 10 kilometre long La Balma winds down a glacier and is an experience not to be missed.
The quaint little village below doesn’t offer much in the way of tourism, but does have a few hidden gems in terms of night-life and dining.
La Grave, France
While all the ski resorts mentioned above can be challenging for even those experts, nothing really compares to La Grave. This resort is for serious skiers and boarders who don’t mess around. The main appeal is its two-vertical-kilometres of glaciers, cliffs, and no-fall zones. The resort has only one lift, no avalanche control, no ski patrol, and no marked runs. If this sounds like the place for you, it’s recommended that you hire a guide, as the perilous nature of the topography can defeat even the most accomplished experts.
La Grave also provides a number of steep-sided valleys, making it ideal for ice climbing. There are a number of climbing routes that range from under 100 metres, to over 300.