Where to Ski in Europe This Winter


Ski resorts across the Alps are opening up again – here’s where to hit the slopes in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

The Alps are home to some of the world’s most majestic mountain scenery – and a whopping 1,142 ski resorts, from family friendly spots with a couple of lifts and a few trails, to world–class ski domains with challenging terrain and luxuries like state–of–the–art lift ski lifts and five–star lodgings. Now that ski lifts in France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are beginning to whisk skiers and boarders up the mountains again, here are our top picks for the best skiing in Europe this winter.

Related: Hit the Slopes at These Top Canadian Ski Resorts

December 10, 2021

Where to Ski in France

skiers walking in snow
   Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik

Considered one of the best ski towns in Europe, Chamonix–Mont–Blanc is a bustling winter sports hub surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the Alps. The town’s spread across the floor of a deep valley with Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s tallest peak towering above, and Le Mer de Glace, the second largest glacier in the Alps in full view. Skiers and snowboarders have access to five ski areas across the Chamonix Valley: Le Tour, Les Grands Montets, Flegere, Brevent and Les Houches.

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy the trails, but advanced skiers and snowboarders will get the most out of a trip here. Les Grands Montets in particular offers quick access to some of the world’s most challenging backcountry terrain and hiring a guide is necessary for those wishing to venture beyond the trails. The most popular itinerary involves taking the cable car to the top of Aiguille du Midi at an altitude of 3,842 metres and making fresh tracks down La Vallée Blanche, an iconic 20–kilometre off–piste route on a glacier with a vertical descent of 2,700 metres.

Base elevation: 1,035m
Top lift: 3,842m
Kilometres of trails: 150km
Lifts: 72
Adult lift pass: €345 for six days

Related: Ski All Year Round on the World’s Largest Clean Energy Powerplant

snowy mountain
   Photo: Yann Allegre

Val d’Isère
Nestled at the top of the Tarentaise Valley in the heart of the France’s Savoie region, Val d’Isère may be considered the ultimate all–round French ski resort. Its village is surrounded by steep mountains and is linked to the resort of Tignes in the neighbouring valley, creating a vast ski area with trails to suit all abilities, including on two high glaciers guaranteed to be snow–covered. Make sure to stop for lunch at Le Trifollet, a mountain restaurant with stunning views over the valley that serves some of the best tartiflette (a baked dish with melted Reblochon cheese, bacon and sliced potatoes) in the French Alps.

Base elevation: 1,850m
Top lift: 3,456m
Kilometres of trails: 300km
Lifts: 75
Adult lift pass: €304 for six days

snowboarder on snowy mountain
   Photo: Björn Söderqvist

Serre Chevalier
Serre Chevalier is an underrated gem of a resort with plenty of tree–lined trails in an overlooked corner of the French Alps that partially extend into Écrins National Park – a great option for those looking for some of the cheapest skiing in Europe. The skiing, ideal for intermediate skiers, is spread across several towns and villages: Briançon, Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Le–Monêtier–les–Bains. Après–ski in the villages is laid–back and friendly. Non–skiers will appreciate wandering the historic cobblestoned citadel of Briançon.

Base elevation: 1,200m
Top lift: 2,800m
Kilometres of trails: 250km
Lifts: 62
Adult lift pass: €259 for six days

skiers on snowy mountain
   Photo: David Hamill

Welcome to one of Europe’s most lavish and luxurious ski resorts – Courchevel is a winter playground for the rich and famous. In this mountain town you will find the greatest concentration of five–star hotels, Michelin–starred restaurants and designer boutiques than anywhere else in the Alps. Of course, the skiing and snowboarding opportunities are incredible. French ski resorts tend to be big and Courchevel is no exception. It is one of seven resorts that form Les Trois Vallées, the largest lift–linked ski area in the world with 600 kilometres of groomed trails – you could spend an entire winter season here and still not ski every run.

Base elevation: 1,300–1,850m
Top lift: 3,240m
Kilometres of trails: 600km
Lifts: 200
Adult lift pass: €330 for six days

Where to Ski in Austria

Snowy mountain
   Photo: Charlie Storey

St. Anton am Arlberg
Austria’s top resort is a destination for athletic skiers and party animals alike. St. Anton forms part of Ski Arlberg, Austria’s second largest ski area, which offers lift–linked access to the neighbouring resorts of St. Christoph, Lech, Zürs and Warth–Schröcken where you will find some of the best skiing in Europe. It’s a perfect playground for challenging intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. As the sun goes down, its nightlife is legendary – expect to leave Basecamp, a popular slopeside bar, at midnight still strapped into your ski boots.

Base elevation: 1,340m
Top lift: 2,811m
Kilometres of trails: 305km
Lifts: 88
Adult lift pass: €326 for six days

ski resort on snowy mountain
   Photo: Tania & Artur

Nowhere does alpine kitsch quite like Austrian ski resorts. Mayrhofen, located in the Ziller Valley just a short drive from Innsbruck in the Tyrolean Alps, is all about ear–splitting electro–techno renditions of “The Sound of Music,” lederhosen and gorgeous mountain scenery. It’s the kind of place where, if you are feeling brave, you can start the day by tackling the Harakiri, Austria’s steepest ski run and end it with shots of Jägermeister in Mayrhofen’s infamous Ice Bar. Several other ski areas in the Ziller Valley, including Fügen–Kaltenbach, Zell–Gerlos and Hintertux, are included in the price of a six–day lift pass and are accessible by a local train service connecting the towns in the valley.

Base elevation: 630m
Top lift: 2,500m
Kilometres of trails: 136km
Lifts: 24
Adult lift pass: €326 for six days

Where to Ski in Switzerland

buildings and snowy mountains
   Photo: Abigail Griffith

Was there ever a more iconic Alpine backdrop? The majestic Matterhorn towers above Zermatt’s pedestrian–only Alpine town centre a Toblerone–sponsored postcard version of the Alps. Accessible only by train (cars are banned from the town), Zermatt is a relaxed and sophisticated escape from everyday life. A week, or long weekend at this most charming of Swiss ski resorts is as much about enjoying skiing, as it is about kicking back and indulging at one of the mountain restaurants, like Michelin–starred gastronomic hot spot Chez Vrony or the more rustic Findlerhof for some hearty Swiss fare. The resort is also linked by ski lifts to the Italian resort of Cervinia, which means you can cross an international border on skis (no passport required) and order a plate of pasta for lunch before heading back to Switzerland.

Base elevation: 1,620m
Top lift: 3,883m
Kilometres of trails: 350km
Lifts: 59
Adult lift pass: CHF 380 for six days

skier on snowy mountain
   Photo: Alex Lange

Verbier forms the principal resort in Switzerland’s vast Quatre Vallées ski domain. If you’re a fan of backcountry skiing, then this is the place for you as most trails are above the treeline in high altitude powdery terrain. Verbier is considered the best Swiss ski resort and one of the few in the world to offer a ski lift to a peak with no groomed trails, perfect for making fresh tracks after a snowfall. Few places have this variety of easily accessible lift–served steep and deep terrain to push skiers’ or snowboarders’ skills to the next level.

Base elevation: 1,500m
Top lift: 3,330m
Kilometres of trails: 420km
Lifts: 84
Adult lift pass: CHF 348 for six days

Where to Ski in Italy

ski resort surrounded by mountains
   Photo: Michal Prucha

Madonna di Campiglio
Madonna di Campiglio is a chic Italian ski resort surrounded by stunning Dolomite Mountains scenery characterized by deep valleys, sheer cliffs and craggy limestone peaks. Despite appearances, you’ll find fair value accommodation and dining options on the mountain. Although low in altitude, Madonna di Campiglio’s extensive snow–making system ensures reliable conditions throughout the winter season and the ski area offers excellent terrain for beginners and intermediates alike, with plenty of well–groomed trails below the treeline. The town itself is full of photogenic alpine architecture and includes a pedestrian–only centre with several three–star Michelin restaurants, including Gallo Cedrone, the Ristorante Dolomieu and the Stube Hermitage.

Base elevation: 1,524m
Top lift: 2,504m
Kilometres of trails: 150km
Lifts: 57
Adult lift pass: €330 for six days