Winter is in full swing in Europe, and for the more adventurous of tourists and enthusiasts, it means only one thing – time to hit the slopes! When you think about skiing holidays, the ideal picture that comes to mind is a nice snowy mountain in the backdrop of an idyllic little European (or European-style) town, with music in the air and people all wrapped up in their winter clothes. Spirits will be high, and the chilly winter air, mixed with the aroma of the festive season will give you a sense of belonging, and keep you coming back for more each year.
The Outside Online website featured an article about the top 10 ski slopes in Europe, in a countdown format. These are some of the best ski slopes rated based on their beauty, attractiveness for skiers, and facilities available.
10. Andermatt, Switzerland
This resort town was relatively untouched until recently, and in 2013 itself, six hotels, 490 apartments, and 25 villas were built to accommodate rapidly rising demand. The town retains its alpine village vibe, and is famous for its freeriding scene. Located in central Switzerland at the convergence of four mountain passes, the town gets about 40 feet (13m) of snowfall annually. Gemsstock is the most popular of Andermatt’s three ski hills.
9. Alagna, Italy
Alagna’s specialty is big-mountain freeriding. Located in the north of Italy, this rustic little village (population: 400) provides a mountain – the southern side of Monte Rosa Massif – with some great slopes, one gondola, and access to two additional ski areas, Champoluc and Grissoney. These three areas offer a total of 115 miles (185km) of runs, but wait. There’s more! Ski the Malfatta and Vittoria couloirs, two backcountry lines, for a bigger thrill!
8. Bernese Oberland, Switzerland
Bernese Oberland offers skiing among the iconic peaks of Jungfrau, Eiger, and Monch. Wengen, a car-free village in the shadow of the Eiger, where a 100-year cog train ferries skiers to the resort’s slopes. The best skiing destination in Bernese Oberland is the Aletschgletscher, a 14-mile (22km) glacier – the longest in Europe. Hiring a guide is recommended, as there are many crevasses in the area.
7. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is known as the best ski resort for dining and drinking, as the more than 60 on-slope eateries, spread over its three mountains, offers every kind of experience for skiers – from a Champagne bar in an old farmhouse to a five-star restaurant. The area offers a total of 153 miles (246km) in runs. Zermatt also offers some great nightlife, and visitors have a chance to relax in the shadow of the Matterhorn and celebrate life amid the locals.
6. Mürren, Switzerland
Mürren is considered the best-kept secret in the skiing world, as it is stashed away in a remote corner of the Swiss Alps, accessible only by train or cable car. Although it offers only 33 miles (53km) of slopes, there is a huge amount of backcountry. The biggest advantage of Mürren, however, is the number of tourists (or lack thereof). Being remote, though, has not made a big impact on this resort town, as it is steadily gaining popularity.
5. Verbier, Switzerland
In the French-speaking western area of Switzerland is the ski town of Verbier. With some of the best lift-accessed steeps, it promises those above it in this countdown a run for their money. For what it lacks in terms of ski slopes, it makes up in convenience and world-class amenities. Its hotels, restaurants, and nightlife are sophisticated. The ski lifts offer access to more than 254 miles (400km) of slopes.
4. Kitzbühel, Austria
Each January, Kitzbühel is visited by ski-racing fans (as many as 80,000), who flock to the resort town to watch the world’s best skiers take on what is considered the hardest and most prestigious downhill race on the world cup circuit. Watching is fun, but doing it, even more so – the Hahnenkamm gondola and the Streif offer contrasting, but equally fun challenges. Booking well in advance is recommended especially if you want to be in town during the races!
3. St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton is a charming town steeped in alpine tradition. It offers almost 200 miles (320km) of runs, approximately 440 miles (704km) of backcountry and side‑country terrain, and a great après scene. The area offers some great skiing facilities, including an extensive network of lifts. Also featured are some dining facilities offering an enticing range of food and an active nightlife scene. The spa facilities offered in this resort come highly recommended.
2. La Grave, France
La Grave is the Holy Grail for big mountain purists looking for a no-frills steep skiing. 7000 feet (2100m) of vertical glaciers, cliffs, couloirs, and no-fall zones are the highlight of this popular resort. La Grave is a 12th century village tucked into the French Alps, situated about an hour’s drive from the city of Grenoble. The permanent population is about 500, giving it an intimate family feel.
1. Chamonix, France
Chamonix is considered the motherland for skiers. The 10 mile (16km) valley boasts one busy town, five ski areas, and lift access to some of the best steeps in the world. The world-famous Aiguille du Midi cable car rises 9,187 feet (2800m) from Cham Sud to the needle-nose of Aiguille, delivering skiers to the face of the Mont Blanc, the Vallée Blanche, and technical lines such as the Couloir des Cosmiques, a roughly 45-degree, 2,600 foot (800m) couloir that usually requires a rappel in. Skiing all the way down to the valley floor constitutes a 10,000 foot (3050m) descent! This and more await you at the homeland of skiing.
Travel Center UK is geared to take you to your skiing destination of choice in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, France, or any other country. Call us today and book your flights to make best use of the seasonal offers we have in store for you!