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Europe is one of the best places to be in the winter if you enjoy skiing, but each continent’s mountain slopes have something different to offer. The mountains in Europe, especially the Alps, are impressively huge, and the ski scene here has a rich history. Many of the ski resorts in Europe are right next to towns and villages, which makes for a really fun après ski scene with plenty of social activities after days on the slopes.
Europeans also love their off-piste skiing away from groomed runs with no out-of-bounds areas. This provides some truly adventurous places to ski and a unique way to test your skills. Whether you’re a seasoned local or planning an overseas trip, these are a few of the many amazing places to ski when you spend the winter in Europe.
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Bernese Oberland offers some of the most accessible peaks, incredible ski touring, and beautiful scenery in Switzerland. This is the area in the southern region of the Swiss canton of Bern and is an iconic place with dramatic peaks. Grindelwald, Wengen, and Mürren are the top resorts here for skiers and snowboarders, although other resorts worth considering are Adelboden and Gstaad. Exciting mountain peaks here are the Eiger, Mönch or Finsteraarhorn. Grindewald has luxury hotels, and you can reach it by car or train. You can also reach Wengen by train and enjoy both gentle and intermediate runs. Meanwhile, Mürren has a quaint village full of history and a course that’s steep and challenging.
Chamonix is one of the most epic skiing destinations on the entire planet. It’s set in a high mountain town that draws in winter sports enthusiasts from around the world that share a love for the mountains and adventure. There are slopes in the Chamonix Valley for every level, including slopes that are very long, ones that run through the trees, off-piste areas, and beginner slopes. Yet this is a favorite winter destination for adrenaline-seeks looking for an extreme experience. Some of the many ski areas to consider are Grand Montets, Planards, Balme Vallorcine, Les Houches, and Savoy. The closest airport to reach this ski area is in Geneva, which is about an hour away.
If you’re looking to “go big or go home,” head to Zermatt for skiing this winter. Zermatt has the highest ski resort in Europe that spans two countries with lifts that travel to the highest heights and amazing views of the Matterhorn. However, there are also pistes suitable for every skill level. The Matterhorn has been one of the most famously photographed mountains, and people travel from all over the world to see it. The slopes here are typically open from late November through late April, but early season and late season skiing are popular options. Spring is a great time to try heli-skiing and ski touring here, while even non-skiing enthusiasts will enjoy it here. You’ll also find lots of shops in town, as well as the Matterhorn Museum, live music performances, art galleries, and films at the Vernissage Cinema.
This is a small resort area in Valsesia, Italy at the base of the Monte Rosa. Come here for authentic Italian charm and some incredible off-piste tracks, which are some of the most exciting in the European Alps. Of course, after long days on the slopes, there’s always the opportunity for delicious Italian pasta and wine! There are two Monterosa ski touring areas in Valle d’Aosta and one in Piedmont, where you can explore the backcountry and gain a new perspective of these epic mountains. Alagna is on the east side of the large Monterosa Ski area with heli-skiing that provides over 3,000 meters of vertical. The small village of Alagna is very family-friendly and has little traffic. For beginners, head to “Wold,” just a few minutes from the main village, to take a class and dine at the restaurant. You can also ice skate at the open-air rink next to the Sports Hall.
Verbier is where the Four Valleys meet and is one of the biggest areas for skiing in Europe. The landscape is scenic, the weather is very sunny, and the resort area draws in a lively and youthful crowd. The ski season here runs from late November through late April, but snowmaking efforts make it a safe bet to buy lift tickets early and late in the season. Also in the Four Valleys region, you can access the Bruson ski area via lift connection because the free shuttle bus links the Médran gondola with lifts for other smaller ski areas nearby. There are also lots of restaurants, bars, and shops for people in your party that aren’t all that into skiing as well. There are 500 kilometers of marked trails for hiking and trekking here. Geneva is the closest airport to come ski here.
Skiing has been a tradition in Kitzbühel since the late 1800s, and today there are 179 kilometers of well-groomed slopes just waiting to be explored. This ski area stretches over two provinces and seven municipalities, and there are 36 kilometers of ski routes on the piste maps. It’s actually been named the best ski resort in the world for multiple years. The famous run here is called the Streif, and powder hounds love the deep snow of Freeride Eldorado. This is also a cost-effective option that’s great for family vacations. Innsbruck is the closest airport and about one hour away, while Munich is two hours away.
The Lapland region of Sweden is another amazing destination for skiing in Europe winter, as it’s a magical Christmas town to boot. Two hundred kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, you’ll find some excellent skiing from February to June. After May, you can even ski under the midnight sun! Riksgränsen is the legendary resort here that Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships and is great for off-piste skiing and moguls. Recommendations for accommodations are Hotel Riksgränsen, STF Hostel Riksgränsen, and the Meteorologen Ski Lodge. Björkliden is another historic ski resort in the area with awesome views of the landscape and winter fun for families. A couple of other resorts to check out are Storklinten and Kåbdalis.
La Grave is considered to be a commune in southeastern France, and there’s also a small ski resort here that allows you to explore the French Alps. You can check out many different routes down the small valleys and live out your passion with freedom from marked runs. This is a really unique place because there are no groomers, runs, or ski patrol. Make your own route between mid-December and late April! For free-riding and backcountry adventures, the Skiers Lodge guide company offers courses and tours.
St. Anton am Arlberg is a village in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria and known as the birthplace of alpine skiing. This is a particularly popular place among expert skiers but also welcomes families and those with an intermediate skill level. There’s a lively nightlife scene here and authentic Tyrolean charm here. The Zurs and Lech ski resorts are covered by the same lift ticket as the one in St. Anton, and the entire region is massive with 84 total lifts. Complimentary bus service is provided from St. Anton to Lech and Zurs. Chalets, hotels, pensions, and apartments are available for guests who are looking for a busy ski resort packed with action.
Although most of the best ski resorts in Europe are in Austria and Switzerland, there’s still an area in Germany worth checking out if you love to ski and explore new places. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a rural district in Bavaria, Germany, and there are 120 skiable acres here with a 4,363-foot vertical drop. It’s about 60 miles south of Munich and enjoys a mild climate that’s not terribly cold but still gets plenty of sunshine and snowfall. Lots of international sports events are hosted here, such as ski jumping, hockey, figure skating, and alpine racing.
Cervinia, Italy is a skiing destination famous for the Breuil-Cervinia alpine resort in the Acosta Valley area in northwest Italy. This resort extends into Switzerland as well and reaches an altitude of 2,050 meters. There are three children’s ski areas here, and it’s great for all ages of beginner and intermediate skiers.