Considering skiing for the first time and you’re not sure it’ll be for you? The good news is, that the majority of ski resorts have plenty to offer non-skiers. So whether you’d simply like some alternative activities in case you want a break from the slopes or you’re not planning to ski at all, there is a lot you can look forward to.
In fact, there are a number of ski resorts so well kitted out with alternative activities, that they’re almost as popular with non-skiers as skiers themselves. This makes it easy to go on holiday with more experienced skiers without feeling any pressure to explore the slopes any more than you’d like. Some resorts are better for this than others, so it’s a good idea to take extra care when choosing – we’ll give you a few tips on the best resorts for non-skiers below. First, however, let’s take a look at some of the things you can get up to without a pair of skis strapped to your feet.
Hikes and snowshoeing
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways to discover the incredible mountain scenery resorts have to offer. Hiking and snowshoeing give you a wonderful opportunity to explore and even reach places that skiers would struggle to get to. Providing fresh air, exercise and stunning views, these activities are ideal for anyone keen to experience the ambiance and landscape of their resort, without turning to a pair of skis. Plus, as they often offer more freedom to explore than skiing, you can still enjoy a sense of adventure too.
Sledging and skating
There are plenty of simpler, slower-paced ways to enjoy the frosty landscape. Sports like sledging and ice skating are lighthearted and fun for all ages, and are easy to work into a skiing holiday. In fact, if you have members of your group spending more time on the slopes than you, you may well find them taking a break to join in the fun! Virtually all resorts offer toboggan hire near to the main pistes, as well as spacious skating rinks.
If you like the sound of something faster paced, choose a resort that includes some more adventurous activities. There are destinations, for example, that offer Olympic-style bobsleigh experiences. Alternatively, if you’re feeling intrepid and want to explore the great outdoors, why not try a spot of ice climbing or even hang-gliding?
You don’t have to try a sport to enjoy time at a ski resort. With such incredible scenery all around you, there is hardly a better time to get out your camera and hone your photography skills. As well as taking pictures of the glorious scenery in different weathers and at different times of day, you can practice capturing dramatic action shots of skiers and snowboarders on the piste.
Ski resorts are a veritable heaven for keen gastronomes. Food on and around the slopes tends to be immensely hearty, warming and comforting. Plus, there are plenty of irresistible regional specialties to try. For example, if you’re visiting a French ski resort, cheese dishes such as fondue and tartiflette are firm favourites on the slopes. Perfect for sharing, cheese fondue is served with everything from fruit to meat for dipping, and is the ultimate sociable meal.
Tartiflette, meanwhile, is an unctuous bake of potatoes, reblochon cheese and bacon lardons – a truly decadent dish that’s not to be missed.
Before spending an evening unwinding with a delicious meal and warming glass of wine, why not enjoy a day of pampering? Spas are now common features of ski resorts, providing a place for keen skiers to soothe their aching muscles and non-skiers to enjoy a spot of rest, relaxation and self-indulgence. If you can, book yourself a day in the spa before you travel – especially if you’re keen on having a particular treatment.
Festivals and city visits
It’s also worth bearing in mind that ski resorts can be an excellent base for exploring nearby cities or attending festivals. For example, every year Avoriaz hosts the Rock the Piste Festival, while the Seefeld resort in Tyrol is perfectly located for exploring the charming cities of Munich and Innsbruck. Of course, if exploring the local area, you need to take extra care to find resorts with strong transport links (Seefeld’s local station, for instance, sits on a line between Munich and Innsbruck). Doing so is certainly well worth it if you will be doing minimal or no skiing, especially as it provides an exciting change of scenery and pace, adding variety and a splash of culture to your holiday.
Good resorts for non-skiers
- Seefeld (Austria)
A fantastic choice for novice skiers, Seefeld also has a reputation for being one of the very best resorts for non-skiers. Among its alternative attractions are a wealth of walking trails cleared of snow, as well as the nearby attractions of Munich and Innsbruck, which are easily reached on the train.
- Kitzbuhel (Austria)
Fashionable Kitzbuhel is one of Austria’s best-loved ski resorts. Like Seefeld, it’s within reach of Innsbruck, while Salzburg is about the same distance away. The resort itself has a decent range of activities off the slopes, not to mention an excellent selection of fine restaurants that make it a particularly tempting haven for foodies. And for night owls, the nightlife is among the most vibrant of the nation’s ski resorts.
- Avoriaz (France)
A fabulous destination for families in particular, car-free Avoriaz has a wealth of attractions off the slopes. These include rides on horse-drawn sleighs, good shops, cafes, and unusual activities, such as organised snowball fights. Perhaps the star of its snow-free attractions, though, is the Aquariaz water park. This has a great mix of relaxing and thrilling features, including pools, a waterfall, slides and much more.
- La Plagne (France)
If you veer towards the more adventurous side of activities off the slopes, then La Plagne is a perfect destination. This is where you can experience everything from an Olympic bobsleigh run (no experience needed) to pleasure flights, hang-gliding and ice climbing. There’s plenty of decent terrain for novice skiers too, if you decide to spend some more time learning the ropes.
Find out more about the best winter sports destinations for non-skiers.