The stunning ski resorts of Europe offer a thrilling holiday adventure for all members of the family.
As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to turn your thoughts to winter and the joys that await on the piste. From ski aficionados to absolute beginners, there’s plenty of snowy fun to be had just a few hours plane ride away.
Val Gardena | Italy
Val Gardena lies in an impressive Unesco World Heritage site in northern Italy and makes up part of the extensive Dolomiti Superski area with 1200 km of piste runs, 30 snow parks and 450 ski lifts across 12 ski areas, including the famous 42 km Stella Ronda ski circuit.
The winter season opens across the villages of Ortisei, Selva di Gardena and Santa Cristina on 5th December and features two recently opened slopes.
The black piste Ria is 1,110 metres long, starting from 1,985 metres and finishing at 1,675 metres just above Val Gardena. Running down from the Dantercepies cable car it launches with a steep 52 degree section, opening out to a wide cruising area over flatter terrain at its base. Ria is surrounded by forest with stunning views.
Pilat, originally an off-piste downhill stretching across a rocky forest from the Seiser Alm to Ortisei, has been carefully prepared and developed to become a spectacular downhill slope, cutting through a forest with plenty of bends and turns featuring unique views of Val Gardena.
For beginners there are plenty of great ski schools and for other icy treats, you could try snowboarding, winter hikes, sleigh rides or ice-skating.
Morzine | France
An authentic village in the heart of the Franco-Swiss Portes du Soleil ski area, Morzine has been a favourite for winter sports enthusiasts since the Pléney lift was put into service in 1934.
Situated at an altitude of over 1,000 metres, this is one of the most northerly of the French Alpine resorts, enjoying panoramic mountain views and near perfect ski conditions.
The Morzine and Les Gets linked ski area consists of 120 km of pistes, with the larger Portes du Soleil area offering over 600 km of pistes.
The area has a fantastic reputation for beginners and those looking to improve their skiing, plus there’s a small snow park in Morzine, 11 snow parks in the Portes du Soleil area and an excellent choice of ski and snowboard schools including New Generation and British Alpine Ski and Snowboarding School.
Beyond skiing, you can enjoy activities such as snowshoeing, ice climbing, ice skating and dog sledding.
Verbier | Switzerland
Verbier is a classic Swiss resort which offers expert skiing and lively après ski in luxurious surroundings.
Verbier and the Four Vallees is the biggest ski area in Switzerland, with 410 km of linked pistes accessed by 93 ski lifts.
The ski terrain starts at 1,250 metres and tops out at 3,330 metres at the summit of Mont Fort, boasting 35 blue, 39 red and 14 black pistes, a snow park and a handful of cross-country ski and winter walking trails.
The enormous area and varied terrain offers something for every level of skier and snowboarder.
Verbier is renowned for its fantastic ski instructors, and some of the most highly recommended ski schools include New Generation, Performance Verbier and Swiss Ski School. Verbier also offers a wide range of other activities including a zip line, a toboggan run, ski touring, paragliding and dog sledding.
Ischgl | Austria (Tirol)
Situated in the westernmost corner of Tirol, the Paznauntal Valley is home to four internationally renowned ski resorts: Ischgl, Galtür, Kappl, and See.
Ischgl lives up to its reputation as an international hub for skiing, giving skiers and snowboarders the chance to cross the border into Switzerland.
The winter sports area is situated between 1,360 metres and 2,872 metres, and visitors can enjoy unlimited skiing fun and reliable snow conditions from November until the beginning of May with 239 km of slopes available.
From boarding to skiing, jumps in fun parks or freeriding in powder – everything is possible here, while the renowned Ischgl Ski School offers a range of courses to suit every level of skier and boarder.
Off the slopes, you can try snowshoe and winter hiking trails, a natural ice rink in the town centre, horse-drawn sleigh rides and a water park with sauna world.
Andorra, a tiny principality between France and Spain, has some of the best-rated beginners skiing in Europe.
Find tame blues in Arinsal and Soldeu all leading back to the gondolas, so it’s simple to find your way around, or for the more experienced, head to Grandvalira, with blue and red trails topping out at 2,600 metres and bigger mountains and black runs with tree lined slopes in Pal.
Après-ski in Andorra is renowned, with lively nightlife costing a fraction of that in the Alps. There is plenty of affordable accommodation, plus English-speaking BASI-approved ski schools. Check out the website below for more details.
Aside from skiing, you can try snowshoeing, tobogganing, snowmobile driving or relax at the Caldea spa in the capital, Andorra La Vella.
Les Menuires | France
The eco-friendly Les Menuires was awarded the Flocon Vert label for sustainable tourism in May.
This gorgeous resort lies in the shadow of Mont de Chambre which rises to a height of 2,850 metres and the legendary Pointe de Le Masse which stands proud at 2,804 metres and is a favourite of those who love virgin slopes and breath-taking views.
With guaranteed snow throughout the season, and slopes running down two different sides of the mountain, there is also the opportunity to enjoy winter sun.
The resort is great value for money, offering a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets. There is a slope dedicated to beginners, a cutting-edge cable car giving access to the peak in less than eight minutes and a new four star hotel, the Higalik, alongside the renowned ski-in, ski-out Le Telemark restaurant.
Les Menuires offers a ski school plus an array of activities including dog sledging, tobogganing, snow scooters, hiking, and ice diving under Lac Du Lou.