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Europe
Overview

Although European ski resorts are different from Japan or North America, Europe is a top destination when considering a snow holiday. With mountains oozing history, tradition and beauty, a ski holiday in Europe is a true experience. Ski was born in Europe and whole communities have been created around mountain villages.  Today, Europe boasts some of the highest ski area in the world is renowned for its great variety of terrain, amazing views of the Alps and excellent ski schools.

What’s really interesting about European ski resorts is the atmosphere and the lifestyle emanating from them. With true on-snow communities and laid back people, you will discover where the expression après-ski comes from! Skiing is exceptionally good but for Europeans, gastronomy and après-ski are the first priorities. Take the time to soak up this fabulous atmosphere, enjoy the après ski and you can be sure to have some of the best snow experience you will ever have!

Another interesting fact about skiing in Europe is the ability to ski from village to village and in some ski resorts to ski from country to country! One of the best places to experience this is Zermatt in Switzerland, where you can reach 4,000 meters which stands right on the border between Switzerland and Italy. With some of the longest runs (25kms) with south exposure and amazing inexpensive Italian food, this is the kind of ski trip you won’t forget!

 

Why Snowboard or Ski in Europe?

Europe is renowned for having some of the best ski resorts in the world, but what’s so special about them?

The first thing about ski resorts in Europe is that they are mainly located in the Alps and they are all side by side. There are others mountains chains but the Alps concentrate the highest mountains and the best ski resorts in Europe. You will find some of the best and largest ski areas as well as the longest runs and biggest vertical drops. Zermatt (Switzerland) for instance offers a wonderful 25kms run and you can ski the same piste for 20km in Chamonix! In terms of mountain statistics, Europe is the ultimate snow destination. However, European ski resorts are perfectly suitable for all levels of skiing, whether you are beginner or an advanced skier looking for challenging terrain.

Another important aspect of skiing in Europe is the level of services. You will be pleasantly surprised by the high quality of accommodation, especially if you are staying in 4 and 5 stars hotels and chalets. Of course, there is also the world renowned gastronomy which will allow you to enjoy every single moment of your holiday. Whether it’s on slopes restaurants or private chef in your chalets, the culinary experience is as important as the snow conditions!

In addition, the traditional charming European villages will contribute to make your snow experience an unforgettable one! These alpines villages have been built several centuries ago and are steeped in history, which give them this unique quaint atmosphere.

Here are more reasons that make ski resorts in Europe unavoidable:

  • Huge ski areas
  • Breathtaking sceneries
  • World class ski school
  • Challenging terrain
  • High quality of services
  • Amazing gastronomy
  • Endless après ski
  • Genuine villages and traffic free Alpine villages
  • Lots of extra ski activities and options for non skiers
  • Possibility to start the day in Switzerland and have a lunch on the slopes in Italy
  • Extensive shopping

 

When and Where to go

When to go to Europe

The snow seasons extends from November to April for most of the ski resorts in Europe. However, due to high altitude, some ski resorts can close in May and some also offer summer skiing on glaciers.

December is historically the real winter season kick off with Christmas holidays and the first massive snowfalls. The best months are January and February, where you can enjoy huge snowfalls with less crowds. Most of the best ski resorts in Europe are in high altitude, allowing excellent snow conditions. However, snowmaking machine are often used, mostly to help connecting the slopes to the village so you can ski straight to the après skis! For some ski resorts like Zermatt, the après ski starts on the slopes in the bar-chalets where you can hear the music and the festivities in the distance.

Temperatures can vary a lot depending on the region and the time of the season. With high altitude, sometimes up to 4,000 meters, temperatures can drop quite quickly, especially if winds start blowing. It is therefore recommended to bring warm clothes when travelling to Europe and dress with several layers of clothes.

 

Where to go to Europe

Europe is quite small compared to Australia but there is huge density of ski resorts. Most ski resorts are located in the Alps chain, which span from the south of France through Switzerland, Italy and Austria. These countries boast some of the best ski resorts in the world and although they all have their own particularities, they all offer memorable snow experiences.

France

France is renowned for amazing food and wine but also for having the highest European peak with the Mont Blanc, standing at 4.810 meters (15,780 ft). The charming village of Chamonix is located in the Mont Blanc valley and is probably one of the ski resorts you’ll want to try in Europe. With breathtaking Alps views and plenty of mountain activities for skiers and non-skiers, Chamonix is unique and will suit all levels of skiing with slopes for beginners and some of the most extreme skiing in the world for the hardcore skiers.

There are a lot of excellent ski resorts in the French Alps, such as Val d’Isere, Courchevel or Val-Thorens to name a few. One of their particularities is that they are in high altitude with stunning views, easy wide runs, friendly locals, amazing traditional food and lively après ski!


Switzerland

Switzerland is a country of mountains and there are many options to suit everyone’s desires.

The Swiss ski resorts are famous for their organisation, charming quaint village, dramatic scenery, excellent lift systems and cheese fondue. Verbier is a fun family friendly resort although a lot of young Swiss, Frenchs and Brits tend to go there for the nightlife activities and steep and deep off piste skiing. St Moritz is the fashionable spot while offering excellent skiing for beginners and intermediates. Zermatt is located at the foot of the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s highest and most photographed mountain. The mountain there is awesome; the hi-tech lift systems will bring you at 4,000 meters where you can ski the Italian part of the resort (Cervinia). Zermatt offers one of the most charming car free villages with traditional houses and friendly atmosphere.

All Swiss ski resorts are easily accessible by car or train. They are all very well connected to major cities like Genève or Zurich, with no more than 3 hours transfers.

 

Italy

Skiing in Italy is amazing and also includes long lunches accompanied with wines and sun. The culture is really laid back and friendly, which make a perfect snow holiday destination to enjoy everything the mountains have to offer.

One of the largest ski networks in the world is in the Dolomites Ski area, just at the border with Austria. With 12 ski areas interconnected and access to more than 450 lifts, you will never get bored in this fabulous region. The variety of terrain is huge all will cater every level of riding, from beginners to advanced. The “Sella Ronda” route allows you to ski most of the 12 ski resorts in one day.

Also, most Italian ski resorts are very well connected to the splendid towns of Milan, Turin and Venice. Located just a few hours away, this is the perfect opportunity to discover these cities, enjoy the Italian dolce vita and go shopping.

 

Austria

The Alps cover Austria hence it’s the country where alpine skiing was born. Austria offer the most traditional snow experience with quaint villages and ski resorts as you can see on postcards, surrounded by amazing chains of mountains. This is a skiing nation where you can experience memorable holidays and some of the best après ski, right in the heart of the Alps. There are many excellent ski resorts in Austria, the most famous being St Anton, Innsbruck and Kitzbuhel. St Anton delivers world class skiing conditions and it’s a favourite amongst hardcore skiers and people looking to party. Kitzbuhel and Innsbruck are charming and offer runs that suit every ability level. These options are perfect for families with world class lift systems and many off piste activities.

Like the rest of European destinations, Austrian ski resorts are easily accessible via Innsbruck airport, Zurich airport and Munich airport.

France - Chamonix

France - Val-d'Isere

Austria - St Anton

Switzerland - Zermatt