Whether you’ve been on the slopes before, or you’re new to wintersports, this season could be the perfect time to pay a visit to some of Europe’s top ski resorts.
The continent boasts a fantastic array of ski resorts that suit all kinds of experience levels. No matter whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or expert, there are sure to be runs suited to your ability level.
If you’re unsure about how you will fare on the snow, rest assured that there are far more to the villages than the skiing itself. With extraordinary facilities and delightful restaurants, there are always other attractions to keep you occupied.
Breathtaking cities such as Geneva and Innsbruck are based close to some stunning resorts and transport is often straightforward and accessible, making it very easy for tourists to relax and make the most of their stay.
Along with excellent ski opportunities, villages such as Nordpark and Igls in Austria, or Zell Am See in Salzburg provide amazing hospitality, excellent food and plenty of winter activities.
Let’s take a look at some of the best regions for skiing right now.
Known worldwide as one of the top ski areas in the world, this picturesque city in Austria is a hub for wintersports fans, with a wide variety of resorts situated just hours away. Three of the best are Nordpark, Igls and Glungezer.
Nordpark is well regarded as one of the top resorts for beginners and experts, while Igls is perfect for those new to the sport. Glungezer provides a similar variety of runs and all three offer excellent accommodation. Whether you are looking for a deluxe hotel or a cosy hut, you’re sure to find something that suits your budget without compromising on quality.
All of these villages are based around an hour away from Innsbruck Airport, providing easy accessibility for travellers from across the world. You can also quickly reach the centre of Innsbruck if you want a break from all of the skiing. The town looks simply marvellous during winter and is full of excellent restaurants and stunning architecture. To learn more about the area, the 16th century Ambras Castle in particular is worth a visit, along with the Goldenes Dachl museum.
What is the skiing like?
As part of Austria’s largest nature park, NordPark boasts a truly majestic landscape and is full of runs to suit all abilities.
Experts will feel at home along the steep mountains, with the Hafelekar run in particular being one of the most popular for advanced riders. On this route, you can expect steep curves, jumps and sudden drops, overlooking the magical Austrian mountains.
At Igls, intermediate skiers will find plenty of excellent runs to choose from. There are plenty of nursery slopes in the village area for beginners, too. With professionals at hand to give you all the help you need, it’s the perfect place to get started with the sport. More experienced visitors will not be left out either, as there is 295km of piste at the nearby Stubai Glacier.
Glungezer is a great option for those looking for a less crowded resort with plenty of runs and facilities to choose from. It is home to one of the longest slopes in the Tyrol region (the 15km valley run) and there are more than 23km of routes overall, ensuring plenty of variety for all ability levels. Plus, as the region is based between 950 and 2304m, you can look forward to spellbinding views.
As these villages are close to the centre of Innsbruck, it is easy for travellers to take a bus into the town and explore the many delights of the city.
The Tiroler Landestheater is one of the most popular attractions, boasting a fantastic schedule of productions including musical, dance and theatre events. As well as this, the old town of Innsbruck is a wonderful site, full of stunning architecture and inviting bars.
In Igls, there are some fun activities for all of the family to enjoy, including a nine-hole golf course and the spectacular Lake Lans. Nordpark visitors may instead want to visit Innsbruck centre, which is only 25 minutes away, while Glungezer boasts some magnificent rustic restaurants such as the Gasthaus Glungezer. Expect delicious seafood and a welcoming atmosphere.
Distance to the airport
Nordpark is only 25 minutes away from Innsbruck Airport, while Glungezer and Igls can be reached in around half an hour.
Salzburg Airport is another important transport hub for skiers. Bordering both France and Austria, the transport terminal puts travellers close to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Europe.
Right in the middle of some of Europe’s best ski resorts, the city is in the perfect position for wintersports enthusiasts. Saalbach/Hinterglemm is one of the most popular areas, combining fantastic facilities and awesome runs to provide a brilliant all-round ski experience.
Another popular option is Zell Am See – Kaprun, which includes Gipfelwelt 3000 the highest panorama platform in the whole province, along with a great assortment of runs with extraordinary views of the alps.
Last but not least, Salzburger Sportwelt is right at the centre of the breathtaking ski amade and offers pulsating speed race tracks, immaculate slopes and even relaxation islands for when you want to put your feet up.
What is the skiing like?
Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn offers 270km of slopes and is one of the biggest ski regions in Austria. With runs split between beginners, families and experts, it offers a great learning curve, giving visitors a good opportunity to develop their skills. There is also a snowpark and you can even track how many kilometres you covered during your stay by entering your ski pass online.
Zell am See-Kaprun, on the other hand, boasts a wide variety of runs across its two mountains, Schmittenhohe and Maiskogel. These are especially popular for freeriders, with off-piste tracks and immaculate runs available to choose from. With 138km of terrain and a 1,300m funslope, plenty of fun awaits for those both young and old.
Elsewhere, Salzburger Sportwelt continues to attract visitors year after year. Its Flachau snow space won seven awards at the Skiareatest 2014, including the best ski area in the Alps honour. With 150 hectares of terrain, it’s easy to see why travellers keep returning to this incredible village.
In Salzburger Sportwelt, the Kuhstall bar is one of the top nightlife spots, serving up delicious cocktails in a hospitable atmosphere overlooking the beautiful mountains of the area. With lifts offering easy transportation from the bar to accommodation, it is an easy route to take and is the perfect way to relax after a day on the slopes.
Saalbach Hinterglemm also has a wide variety of apres ski attractions, with guests from all of the world mingling in the resort’s charming venues. Kegelbahn Bobby’s Pub and the Woods Cocktail Bar both have eye-catching decor and a laid-back vibe, while winter hiking and the local ski museum are other great activities to enjoy when you’re finished on the slopes.
At Zell am See-Kaprun, there are plenty of exciting events to look forward to, including the Ice Camp, which is an igloo complex designed specifically for party events. As well as this, the aforementioned gipfelwelt 3000 platform is sure to provide some unforgettable views over the majestic local area.
Distance to the airport
Salzburger Sportwelt is around an hour away from Salzburg Airport, while Saalbach Hinterglemm and Zell Am See-Kaprun are both around 90 minutes away.
Oozing sophistication and style, Geneva is one of the most popular winter destinations in Europe.
The city itself is blessed with amazing architecture, excellent restaurants and a welcoming atmosphere, but for many visitors, the skiing opportunities are what brought them here.
With an airport close to some of Europe’s most impressive ski areas, Grand Massif, Chamonix and Les Gets are the three leading resorts nearby, providing jaw-dropping runs and perfect ski weather.
Grand Massif is one of the largest wintersports areas in the world. Featuring the separate Les Carroz, Morillon, Vernant, Sixt Fer A Cheval and Samoens resorts, visitors are truly spoilt by an amazing array of runs. A total of 77 lifts ensure people can make the most of the vast park and there are plenty of accommodations to suit all budgets.
Chamonix is another enormous ski area, including outstanding runs in Grand Montets, Les Houches and Balme Vallorcine. With ten ski regions overall, travellers have slopes to suit all abilities only a ski lift ride away. When you factor in the gorgeous scenery of France, Switzerland and Italy, it creates a truly blissful atmosphere.
Last but certainly not least, Les Gets looks like a winter paradise. Situated between Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, magical landscapes and warm hospitality await at this snow haven. Closely connected to Geneva, you can choose between purpose-built ski huts and residences or city-centre hotels, while the local attractions and architecture provide plenty of fun away from the runs.
What is the skiing like?
Across Grand Massif, there is over 100 runs that are aimed at beginners, intermediates and experienced skiers alike. With this in mind, the resort has enough to appeal to experienced visitors while maintaining a strong learning curve to provide a fantastic first taste of skiing. After all, if you’ve never tried the sport before, what better place is there to start than the blissful Alps?
A similar experience can be expected at Chamonix, which attracts a combination of newcomers, intermediates and veterans alike year-after-year. The four areas have built a strong reputation as some of the best terrain in the world, challenging skiers of all abilities. The sport has been part of the culture here for decades, with areas such as Grands Montets allowing exceptional snow coverage across its runs and within its snowpark, where sessions can be recorded for viewing when you return home.
Elsewhere, it will be tough to turn down Les Gets. This spectacular winter skiing resort has been a hit among visitors for years and is part of the expansive Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area. Overall, travellers can look forward to 650km of pistes and 243km of cross-country skiing. While some of the steep runs will be intimidating, there are plenty of routes for beginners and instructors available across the resorts to help you get to grips with the snow.
Throughout Grand Massif, Chamonix and Les Gets, the apres ski scene is varied, welcoming and, most of all, fun!
As the Grand Massif area is so large, visitors have an assortment of fantastic bars and restaurants to try. For a cosy and friendly night mingling with other travellers, Covey’s Irish Pub in Samoens could be a popular option. There is a delicious selection of food, live music every Friday and all of the major sports events are shown on big screens. There are several other great alternatives, too. Lhotti’s American Diner serves up some generous portions, while Le Ranchera is the place to be for Italian cuisine.
Chamonix also boasts an excellent nightlife scene. Whether you are looking for a quiet night of relaxation or a lively DJ set, there is sure to be something to suit you. Le Privilege in the centre of the resort is one of the most popular meeting points, with live music and DJs keeping the party going until late. If a more low-key night is what you’re looking for, La Terrasse Bar could be the ideal venue. Awesome food, mouth-watering drinks and classy decor make this one of the most popular places in the resort.
Just a short distance away, Les Gets has a more laid-back feel than many of its local counterparts. Classy venues and stunning views give this cosy resort arguably a more romantic vibe than the larger villages.
Les Gets has its own Irish Pub, too, which provides delicious tapas, live music and a wide selection of home-brewed beverages. You can even enjoy a little bit of history at L’Igloo, which was the first ever dance hall at a ski resort when it was built in 1938 and remains in fantastic condition today.
If you’re looking to visit somewhere where skiing is a way of life rather than a hobby, Grenoble simply cannot be missed. People are extremely passionate about the sport in this area of the world and strive to create the best possible experience for visitors.
The airport is close to some of the best resorts in Europe, with Alpe d’Huez, Megeve and Les Houches attracting holidaymakers from all over the world. The first of these, Alpe D’Huez is based 1,869 metres above sea level, ensuring unbelievable views and an otherworldly atmosphere. Its amazing food, excellent hospitality and sublime winter weather means travellers keep coming back for more. There are runs for everyone here, too, so whether you’re bringing the family or your experienced friends, you are sure to find some challenges!
Megeve is a similarly historic resort and offers a wide variety of fantastic attractions. It has stood proudly in the Alps since the 1920s and is France’s first-ever purpose-built ski resort. With classy accommodation, excellent facilities and a family-friendly vibe, it has been a favourite for British holidaymakers for decades.
Boasting spellbinding views of Mont Blanc, extraordinary restaurants and plenty of space for skiers, Les Houches makes for a marvellous wintersports destination. Efficient cable cars connect visitors to other nearby resorts and some passes for the Chamonix area are now valid here, giving tourists even more runs to explore during their stay.
What is the skiing like?
Whether you’re taking to the slopes for the first time, or an experienced skier searching for advanced challenges, Alpe D’Huez, Megeve and Les Houches all have brilliant terrain that is designed specifically for skiers of all ability levels.
Alpe D’Huez ski range is one of the largest in France, offering a total of 249km of slopes accessible by a network of 84 lifts. The lowest slopes stand at 1,100m and up to 3,300m, overlooking the Alps’ majestic collection of snowy peaks. Excellent snow coverage means that visitors can arrive any time between December and April.
Positioned between Geneva and Chamonix, Megeve is one of Europe’s most fashionable ski villages. It consists of three primary ski areas: Mont D’arbois, Rochebrune and Le Jaillet. These offer a total of 445km of piste. Expect exhilarating tree-lined terrain across the resort due to its low altitude, making for some magnificent photo opportunities.
For a more sheltered ski experience, Les Houches is a fantastic destination. With piste runs from 950m to 1,900m, forest-based runs and great snow coverage, it is an ideal location for those looking for routes away from the top peaks. Two cable cars transport visitors around the resort and to Les Chevants and Le Prarion, meaning even more fantastic ski options.
The resorts close to Grenoble benefit from a lively apres ski scene with attractions to suit all kinds of traveller. There are cosy cafes and pubs for people wanting to put their feet up, alongside livelier venues that are perfect for mingling with other travellers.
If you want to pop in for a quick drink after your day on the slopes, Le Dome Bar in Alpe D’Huez is easy to recommend. Based close to many of the runs in the region, it remains a popular haunt for tourists, serving a diverse selection of cocktails, beers and spirits. For some of the best Belgian beers and food, Stief’s Steakhouse in nearby Vaujany cannot be missed. Expect succulent steaks, pasta, salads and a host of other dishes, along with the diner’s signature burgers.
With a chic reputation, Megeve boasts some of the top attractions of any ski resort in Europe. While the atmosphere here is noticeably laid-back, it is perfect for travellers not interested in noisy clubs seen in other resorts. Flocons de Sel is arguably the most critically acclaimed restaurant in the area and has five Michelin stars for its delightful array of regional cuisine. However, if you’re working with a smaller budget, the delightful Brasserie Centrale is a great alternative, offering delectable local food at low prices.
Much like the other two, Les Houches has its own distinct identity within the alps. Its small size helps it to provide outstanding hospitality and marvellous customer service. Le Delice epitomises the resort’s atmosphere, cooking up delightful meals and drinks. Open until 2am and serving a range of tapas and spirits, it strikes a fine balance between being a friendly pub and a great restaurant. Harry’s Bar is another stylish haunt with excellent decor and relaxed atmosphere.
Distance to the airport
Alpe D’Huez is around 90 minutes away from Grenoble Airport, while Megeve and Les Houches are both two-hour journeys.
Other airports close to ski resorts
Although the aforementioned resorts provide more than enough runs for visitors to explore, Barcelona and Andorra are two other destinations that are fantastic options but are not usually associated with the sport.
Where is the best skiing near Barcelona?
When Barcelona comes to mind, images of sandy beaches, stunning architecture and awesome food come to mind, but its airport is actually very well-located for skiers.
Alp 2500 is just over two hours away from Barcelona Airport, making it relatively easy to access for travellers. If you’re heading to the Catalan city for a short break, perhaps take a day out to the resorts for some skiing, or book in at one of the excellent chalets and huts based at the villages.
Made up of La Molina and Masella, the area is based in the picturesque Pyrenees mountains and offers 141km of slopes for skiers. Situated between elevations of 1,616m and 2,531m, it has runs for all abilities and a selection of charming bars and restaurants to choose from.
Where is the best skiing near Andorra?
Unlike Barcelona, Andorra is well-known as a ski destination, with Vallnord being one of the most popular. Split into the Arinsal, Pal and Ordino-Arcalis villages, there is a stunning selection of runs here to suit newcomers and experts alike.
Expect 93km of spectacular runs served by a modern lift system and free buses across the wider resort. The area also has a fantastic reputation for freeriding and hosts the Freeride World Tour. Tutors are also available to teach freestyle tricks!
Beginners, intermediates and experts alike will enjoy the facilities available and, if you’re feeling particularly daring, Speed Riding could be an excellent option. The activity, which is a combination of hang-gliding and skiing, has been popularised in recent years and is perfect for thrill-seekers.
The Apres-ski scene at Vallnord is well-regarded for being friendly, inviting and charming. Bars such as El Moli and El Cau serve up fantastic drinks and create a vibrant atmosphere to get to know other travellers and simply unwind after a day on the snow.