Compiling a list of the best ski resorts in Europe isn’t an easy task, we asked our MD, Angus Kinloch who has been working in the ski business for nearly 30 years to help with this list.
Good snow cover is vital for any successful ski holiday and so is the variety of runs available for all abilities. But also, consideration should be given to the choice of places to stay and the travel time from the nearest airports.
Val d’Isere and Tignes
These two-world class French ski resorts share the same ski area, with most of the skiing in both ski resorts being above 2,300m, meaning that snow cover is pretty much guaranteed from the end of November to the beginning of May. The highest skiing 3,456m and two glaciers, it’s a must ski destination for any keen skier.
With a total of 300km of pistes and some of the best lift-served off-piste skiing anywhere.
Reaching Tignes and Val d’Isere takes about 2.5 hours from the nearest airport, which is Chambery.
St Anton & Lech
Without a doubt the most popular ski destination In Austria, not just for the skiing but for the Après ski too. St Anton is another great destination for off-piste skiers.
While the village isn’t especially high, the top skiing is at 2,811m and the ski area enjoys reliable snow cover.
A total of 314km of pistes make up the skiing which links with Lech and St Christoph too.
Reaching St Anton takes about 1 ¼ hours from Friedrichshafen, there are also train options from Innsbruck.
Obergurgl & Solden
Obergurgl is Austria’s, most snow-sure ski resort, the lowest skiing point is above 1,900m, which is higher than some ski resorts’ top stations! The highest skiing point is at 3,080m. With one of the best and fastest lift systems in Austria, Obergurgl is a destination well worth a visit.
While the skiing area is smaller than many on this list, with a 3 day or longer ski pass, you can also ski in the nearby “James Bond” resort of Solden, which is connected by bus.
Reaching Obergurgl takes about 1 ¼ hours from Innsbruck.
Chamonix has devoted fans, who wouldn’t even consider going elsewhere. The big draw here is the off-piste skiing with 420km of pistes, many remain ungroomed, which is just how the devotees like it.
The village is located at just 1,035m but the highest skiing is 3,842m, buses connect the various lift points.
Reaching Chamonix is simple, being about 1 hour from Geneva airport.
Officially Europe’s highest ski resort at 2,300m, this is a draw early and late on in the ski season, but the biggest draw is being part of the fantastic ski area called the Three Valleys, which offers a combined ski area of 600km of pistes making the largest ski area in the world, which is shared with the alpine resorts of St Martin de Belleville, Les Menuires, Meribel, Mottaret, La Tania and Courchevel.
Reaching Val Thorens is about 3 hours from 3 local airports, which include Chambery, Geneva and Lyon.
Even if you completely ignore the rest of the Three Valleys ski area, there is enough skiing in this valley to keep most skiers happy for a full week. The four villages that make up the Courchevel ski area include Courchevel 1850, 1650, 1550 and 1300, which are denoted by the height of the resorts. In the same valley and on the local ski pass is also La Tania, which is located at 1350.
The skiing height in the area is 3,220m but with a full area pass you have 600km of skiing.
Reaching Courchevel is easy, by train the station at Moutier is 40min, by air three airports are all within about 3 hours, these include Chambery, Lyon or Geneva.
La Plagne is Ski Lines’s number 1 selling ski resort, it’s linked to neighbouring Les Arcs which together provide 425km of skiing, but even its own ski area is enough for most avid skiers for a week.
There are several villages making up the ski area, most are between 1800 and 2050 with the highest skiing at 3250m.
The skiing offers something for everyone and is particularly good for beginners and intermediate skiers. Advanced skiers will love the off-piste skiing here, which is excellent.
Getting to La Plagne takes about 2.25 hours from Geneva, Chambery, or Lyon, but the easiest route is via Train to Borg St Maurice which is just 20 minutes below La Plagne.
Cervinia in Italy and Zermatt in Switzerland share the same high, snowsure ski area, which together provides excellent skiing for all abilities of skiers. The Village is located at 2,050m making it Italy’s highest altitude ski resort.
Intermediate skiers love the wide runs which are perfect for long carving turns, but the slopes offer something for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Travel time from Turin is 2.5 hours
Les Arcs and La Plagne are linked by cable car, which together offer 425km of wide, snow-sure pistes. The local area is plenty for most skiers and covers 225km of skiing.
Les Arcs is a good choice for mixed ability groups, most lifts offer a choice of Red or Blue routes down, most of the black runs are high. There are some very good tree-lined skiing down to the lower villages in the area, which offers cover on poor visibility days.
Avoriaz is the highest of the ski resorts that make up the Portes Du Soleil ski area, which claims to be the largest internationally linked ski area, they claim covers 650km of pistes in both France and Switzerland. Other villages in the area are Morzine and Les Gets. The village is car-free, visitors are dropped at the car park and transferred to accommodation by horse sleighs. Most of the hotels, chalets and apartments are ski in ski out for real ski convenience.
Avoriaz is located at 1800m with the top skiing found at 2460m
Avoriaz is about 90 minutes from Geneva airport.
Zermatt is Switzerland’s most iconic ski resorts; it sits beneath a mighty Matterhorn Mountain and shares its skiing with the Italian resort of Cervinia. The skiing is better suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. Easier skiing is found on the Italian side.
The village is car free, Electric taxis connect guests between their accommodation and the ski lifts.
Zermatt is one of Switzerland’s most attractive ski resorts.
Accessing Zermatt is from either Geneva or Zurich which takes around 3 hours. It’s possible to Reach Zermatt by train from both airports, which sometimes requires one change. The train is an attractive way to reach Zermatt.
Verbier is the main ski village in the Four Valleys, the Swiss equivalent to the Three Valleys, Verbier is by far the most popular village in the extensive ski area which covers 412km of piste skiing and a huge variety of off piste skiing too. Other Villages in the area include Veysomnaz-Thyon and Nendaz.
Verbier is located at 1500m with the top lift at 3330m.
Reaching Verbier is often via Geneva which takes about 90min but Sion is closer if flights resume and takes 25 minutes.
Saas Fee Is another Car Free village often likened to a mini-Zermatt and known locally as the Pearl of the Alps because of the fantastic scenery. Electric taxis carry guests through the narrow villages between the hotels and ski lifts. Many of the hotel provide their own electric vehicles which are complementary.
The slopes are best suited to beginners and intermediates of any level. For advanced skiers the options are a little limited but with a 6-day pass, you can add a day in Zermatt for about 40CHF.
Saas Fee retains the feel of a proper farming village, with cow sheds still in evidence.
Reaching Saas Fee takes about 3 hours from Geneva