10 of the Best Ski Resorts in Europe
16 Dec 2020
The wintry ski resorts of Europe’s Alps and the Dolomites are considered some of the best in the world - not only for their superb ski trails, but for their luxury resort towns and the picture-perfect Alpine villages that lie at their bases.
We’ve narrowed down a list of 10 of the most popular ski holidays in Europe, all varying in their difficulty and price range. Some of these have been destinations for some of our very own coach trips, and others are famous for their own accord.
Modern amenities mean these spectacular locations are easily accessible, with lift systems allowing access between several mountains during just a single trip - or possibly even a single day. So, if you’re torn between a few on the list, there’s probably an opportunity to visit one or more of them during your holiday.
1. Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France
The picturesque, snow-capped setting of Mont Blanc mountain and the quintessential French Alpine village which lies at its base make this the perfect location for ski trips.
You are probably already pretty familiar with the Mont Blanc mountain, with it being Europe’s tallest peak at 4,807 metres high. The altitude of the mountain and the glaciers which surround it have an incredible cooling effect that preserves the snow, making it one of the longest lasting snow conditions in the Alps.
But Chamonix rose to fame as a ski resort when it was used as the location for the first ever Winter Olympics, with fame which has continued because the area continues to be recognised as some of the world’s most challenging terrain.
For those visiting the area on ski holidays, you can ski the Verte piste, a 3.5 kilomtere stretch of steeps and jumps, which are commonly used for World Cup races. Less experienced skiers will prefer the Brévent - Flégère areas, when there are slopes available for all abilities, as well as spectacular views across the landscape.
2. Cervinia, Italy
Located on the Italian side of the Matterhorn mountain, the high-altitude ski resort of Cervinia is a great destination for beginners and intermediate skiers, with many of the slopes tailored to lower skill levels.
The resort is linked to the Zermatt resort in Switzerland and is made up of miles of combined terrain, so skiers won’t need to repeat the same run all day long. The slopes stretch through three valleys, from the Piccolo Cervino mountain down to the picturesque area of Valtournenche.
But aside from its impressive ski slopes, Cervivinia is also famed for its impressive selection of snow-capped mountain huts and fine eateries, located close to the hotels and B&Bs in the area. However, these can be a little on the pricier side, so it is recommended that diners stick to the eateries on the Italian side of the slopes, rather than venturing to the luxury area of Zermatt.
3. St Anton am Arlberg, Austria
Photo credit: snow-wise.com
Looking for a challenge?
Serious skiers looking for super-expert runs should head to St Anton for their ski holidays for a challenging and no-nonsense experience. The area is home to the recognisable and highly-demaning 10 kilometre Vallua-St Anton piste, with an elevation differential of over 1,300 metres.
But even the red-marked pistes are well above the average level of difficulty to the other Alpine resorts on this list. There are currently over 340 options for advanced skiers (thanks to the recent installation of added ski lifts), with expert guides being mandatory for pretty much all of them.
A regional Arlberg lift pass will allow you to try out ski pistes on the other side of the Flexen Pass, which connects to Lech, St. Christoph, Zurs, Stuben and other ski resorts for a combined total of 340 kilometrers of pistes.
4. Verbier, Switzerland
Back in 2008, Verbier secured itself with the reputation as one of the Alp’s most glamorous resorts when a number of high-profile openings took place, including Richard Brandson’s luxury chalet, The Lodge, and Coco Club - the first VIP club in the Alps.
Today, the Verbier ski resort is highly popular amongst younger crowds, with the mountain’s mix of novice and expert pistes, as well as the 14 miles of groomed Nordic terrain, drawing in skiers of all abilities.
Conveniently, all hotels, shops, and restaurants in the resort are concentrated in a relatively small area, near the main gondola station at Medran. For accommodation options, skiers can choose from a number of luxury chalets, all conveniently located close to ski school meeting spots. While dining options range from cheaper self-serve eateries to luxury Valais cuisine options.
5. St Moritz, Switzerland
It would be impossible to make a list of the top 10 ski resorts in Europe without mentioning the original - St Mortiz.
St Moritz, which is in the Upper Engadine in Switzerland, was the first Alpine winter tourist spot, having hosted guests since the year 1864.
But it’s the area’s lush mineral springs which first led it to fame over 3,000 years ago as a popular summer spa resort. Since then, it has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, the first golf tournament in the Alps, and was the location for the first ski lift installation in 1935.
The valley is popular among skiers, with the 1,856m elevation boasting plenty of sunny days. The slopes range in skill level, with wonderful cruising reds to be had on the Corviglia mountain - which is also home to one of Europe’s most glamorous ski clubs.
But it’s not just the ski clubs which offer plenty of glamour in St Moritz. Guests from all over the world travel to experience the luxe lifestyle, which is characterised by top-class restaurants, star-studded hotels, and beautiful boutique shops.
6. Val d’Isère, France
Photo credit: snow-wise.com
With its great 300km pistes, as well as some magnificent off-piste trails, the Val d’Isère in France offers some of the best skiing in Europe. This comprises the vast Espace Killy, named after the Olympic triple gold medallist, Jean-Claude Killy.
The area varies in altitude, with the lowest terrain sitting at 155km, and the highest reaching around 345 km. This makes it a great ski holiday location, with the season lasting well into May. It’s also not uncommon for skiers to be seen out and about on the Glacier du Pisaillas in June or July.
Though the resort has not traditionally been considered as glamorous as some of the other ski resorts in the Alps, it has recently smartened up its appearance in recent years with a string of impressive openings: the highest hotel in France, Le Refuge de Solaise, as well as the new eco-friendly, Chalet Marco Polo.
7. Grindelwald-Wengen, Switzerland
The impressive Jungfrau massif in Switzerland offers multiple 400-metre peaks, creating long runs of steep slopes and high-altitude valleys for a combined total of 206km of ski runs.
From Grindelwald, you can ride to the Kleine Scheidegg to take the Jungfraubahn railway to the highest railroad station in Europe. Or, you can ride the funicular and narrow railroad from Lauterbrunnen to the car-free little village of Mürren for a challenging ride on the Schilthorn, which is most notable for its black-diamond Inferno run.
Some James Bond fans may remember Mürren for being close to the high summit of Schilthorn, where the iconic Piz Gloria revolving restaurant is located.
But it’s also home to the annual Inferno Race, the world’s largest amateur ski competition. Here, there are dozens of cable cars and lifts available to take skiers to the various runs in the area, with some as long as 12 km.
8. Kitzbühel, Austria
With medieval frescoes and pastel townhouses, the walled village of Kitzbühel is one of the prettiest in the Austrian Alps. Located close to Slazburg and Innsbruck, this colourful ski location is often compared to the luxury St Moritz, but also welcomes families and budget travelers with plenty of small family-run inns in the area.
Skiers can choose from 170km of snow-covered pistes, or travel from the adjoining SkiWelt, where another 28km and 90 ski lifts are available to choose from. The small area of Bichlam is especially designed for experienced riders and freestylers, with a complex assembly of routes to choose from.
Every year, the most challenging of all downhill races in Europe is held in Kitzbühel - the notorious Hahnenkamm - on terrain as steep as 85% vertical in places. But the region has so much more to offer. Visitors can browse the area’s various museums, churches and historical buildings, or simply linger around the beautiful village shops and buildings. There’s plenty of ways to spend your time other than skiing.
9. Zugspitze, Germany
Rising to nearly 3,000 metres tall, Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain, making it a popular destination for skiers. But what makes it even more popular is the beautiful Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen which is located at its foot.
For those who climb its summit - don’t worry, it can be accessed by a newly installed cable car - there is a 360-degree panorama that reaches as far as 250km and offers views of mountain peaks in four different countries.
There are plenty of options for skiers, with 40km of trails all varying in skill level. These interlink across three mountains: Hausberg, Kreuzeck, and Alpsitze. For some of the most utterly spectacular views, you can ski from the top of the lifts on the Zugspitze mountain down the glacier, which sits 2,700 metres above sea level, which is so high that it sits above clouds that cover the skies in the valley.
10. Courmayeur, Italy
With a combination of advanced terrains and glamorous hotels, B&Bs and boutiques, Courmayeur is the place to be seen for upscale skiers in Italy.
The setting is on the flank of the iconic Mont Blanc mountain, which is an undeniable draw for many skiers. Unfortunately, most of the area has expert-only pistes and are only open to those who use a guide, with the same going for Courmayeur’s abundant off-piste ski terrain. However, with or without skis, you can ride the Funivie Monte Bianco cable car to the rideline for beautiful panoramic views that stretch for miles over Europe.
If you are at beginner ability, then the nearby slopes in Dolonne will be more suitable for you. There are also a number of cross-country trails just outside Courmayeur in the Val Ferret area, which offers spectacular views.
Coach Trip Ski Holidays
Interested in booking a ski holiday in Europe?
Each year, we run coach trips from our depot in central Cambridgeshire, to some of Europe’s most spectacular ski resorts.
Keep an eye out on our excursions page to hear about any upcoming ski trips we have planned. Alternatively, you can contact our Customer Liasion team to ensure you’re notified when any ski trips become available to book.