When it comes to describing snow sports in Europe, superlatives reign.
Europe is home to mammoth ski resorts, with the three valleys (Les 3 Vallées) being the biggest snow domain in the world. When people think about skiing, Europe comes to mind and its resorts easily make most snow lovers’ top ten lists.
With star-studded ski fields, picturesque alpine landscapes, and postcard villages, it is hard to pick a ski resort in Europe. To guide you in making the best choice for your next winter thrill, we’ve created a handy list. You’ll also learn about:
- The best resorts in Europe for different abilities and levels
- Great dining and lodging options, from deluxe to budget-friendly
- Most convenient ways to get to the resorts
Zermatt is one of the best skiing and snowboarding locations in Europe and, arguably, the world.
This is a spectacular ski resort known for its great location at the base of the iconic Matterhorn. It is a fashionable resort with a rich history and heritage. Its only drawback is that its services are pricey.
The resort lies in the southwest of Switzerland, close to the Italian border. The closest airports are Geneva and Zurich, from where you can find many transfer options. With favorable road conditions, it takes 2.5 hours from Geneva Airport and 3.5 hours from Zurich Airport.
There are only two ways to get to Zermatt; by helicopter or train ride.
Zermatt has the highest lifted terrain in Western Europe which guarantees great snow. It is one of the very few resorts whose snow and weather conditions allow year-round skiing. Before hitting the slopes, ensure to check the weather and slope conditions to avoid an avalanche.
The resort is popular among snow sports enthusiasts due to the sheer magnitude of pistes. It features 210 kilometers of slopes, with ample marked off-piste runs and free-ride terrains. The slopes are accessed via a network of modern high-speed lifts that include gondolas, funiculars, cable cars, chairlifts, and surface lifts.
Zermatt features a historic mountain village with a wide range of accommodation and shopping facilities. The facilities offer both deluxe and budget-friendly options for individuals, groups, and families. Popular luxurious places to stay include the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof and Unique Hotel Post.
This is another Swiss winter sports gem for serious thrill-seekers who want to ski and play hard. It is also a popular playground for the rich and famous, making it one of the most exclusive resorts in the world. Verbier has a large sprawling terrain with lots of features and places to explore, on or off the mountain.
Verbier is located in southwest Switzerland, in the western part of canton Valais. The closest airport to the resort is Geneva, which is a 2-hour drive to the resort under favorable traffic conditions. Like Zermatt, the only other way to access the resort is by riding a train operated by the Swiss Railway System, which takes about 2.5 hours.
As part of the 4 Valles, the resort is linked to the other ski areas in the snow domain. This provides a massive winter playground with vast features to enjoy. Coupled with an impressive 7 to 10 meters of snowfall, Verbier is a perfect European winter getaway.
At Verbier, you have 410 kilometers of slopes with marked runs. These are accessed via a vast network of lifts that include 10 gondolas and cable cars as well as 10 chairlifts.
Advanced skiers and snowboarders love the off-piste opportunities with challenging runs. There are also plenty of red and blue runs for intermediates and beginners.
Verbier Ski Resort has an enchanting town dotted with wooden chalets. The accommodation facilities are positioned strategically to allow guests to enjoy the picturesque alpine terrain.
The village has other great amenities such as luxury stores open all year round, deluxe dining and lodging facilities, and a historic center.
This resort is part of the phenomenal Les Trois Vallèes in France.
Like Switzerland’s Verbier, Courchevel is renowned as a playground for the affluent. This makes it one of the most exclusive and expensive resorts in Europe.
Thrill-seekers enjoy the fresh alpine air and get treated to spectacular views of Champagny, Bellecôte, and Mont Blanc.
Of the three interconnected snow areas in the Les Trois Vallèes, Courchevel is the farthest.
It is located in the Rhône-Alpes area of the French Alps. Moutiers is the closest town to the resort, about 24 kilometers away. Paris is about 670 kilometers from the resort, with fast train services connecting the city to the Moutiers.
The closest airports to the resort are the Chambéry (1.5-hour drive) and Geneva (2.5-hours away) airports. Alternatively, you’ll also find gateway airports with various direct connecting flights to major cities and airports in France and Europe.
Along with the other connected snow areas, riders get access to 600 kilometers of pistes. Over 170 lifts (along with Courchevel’s own 60 lifts) provide access to these vast slopes, transporting thrill-seekers up to altitudes of 2,500 meters above sea level. The total skiable terrain is sprawled across 10 summits.
The resort’s terrain has several slopes for beginners and intermediates, with about a quarter of the slopes being labeled red and blue. The rest of the pistes mostly favor expert and advanced snow lovers. They feature superb off-piste opportunities with tree skiing and steep inclines studded with thrilling moguls.
The Courchevel Ski Resort has five constituent villages which are lift- and slope-linked. Shuttle buses also enable convenient transport among the villages. Each village provides its brand of service. However, you’ll find a great variety of accommodation features on any budget.
Val d’Isere-Tignes, France
This superb snow resort easily makes that top ten list of Europe’s most revered winter playgrounds. It is one of the most popular luxury winter destinations in the world.
The Val d’Isère resort shares the 3,000-meter peaks with the neighboring ski field, Tignes. These two sister resorts offer terrain for all abilities and levels, including dedicated slopes for beginners and kids.
The snow domain lies about 5 kilometers from the French-Italian border. Located 30 kilometers away. Bourg St. Maurice is the closest major town to the resort and is a major transport hub for the entire region.
Visitors ingress the resort via three airports. These are:
- Chambéry which is 144 kilometers away and takes about 2.5 hours by road
- Geneva which lies 187 kilometers away and is about a 3.5-hour drive to the resort
- Lyon Saint-Exupéry which is 3.5 hours away by road and lies 221 kilometers away
Val d’Isere and Tignes offer 300 kilometers of snow-covered pistes, with the lowest terrain lying at an altitude of 1,550 meters and the highest being at 3,450 meters. The high altitude guarantees superb snow and weather conditions, allowing an extended skiing and snowboarding period.
The dynamic terrain features 300 kilometers of slopes, of which 57% are beginner runs, 26% intermediate, and 17% advanced runs. These slopes are accessed by a vast network of 150 lifts of various types.
The snow domain has a thriving town with a friendly atmosphere. The town has a vast array of chalets, apartments, and hotels with ample accommodation.
St. Anton, Austria
This is one of Austria’s premier ski resorts with unique terrain.
St. Anton has a vast off-piste terrain loved by advanced skiers and snowboarders. For example, there’s the 10-kilometer Valluga-St. Anton that rises to 1,347 meters. The terrain is also dynamic with ample gentle slopes for beginners and families.
The resort is located in the Arlberg region of Austria bordering Tyrol about 100 kilometers west of Innsbruck City. Innsbruck (also known as Sankt-Anton-am-Arlberg) is easily accessible by train from all over Europe.
The gateway airports are Zurich (about 2.5 hours by car) and Munich. You can take a helicopter ride from either airport to the resort or board a train to the gateway station.
This ski field sits in one of the snowiest regions in Europe, with neighboring areas getting up to 11 meters of snow per year. Comparably, St. Anton gets an impressive average seasonal snowfall of about 7 meters.
St. Anton’s 302 kilometers of pistes have the following stats:
- 130 kilometers of beginner runs
- 121 kilometers of red intermediate runs
- 51 kilometers of black runs
The resort mainly favors advanced riders with about 200 off-piste opportunities. Many of these are so advanced that they require riding with a guide. For example, Schindler Kar run has tough and challenging mega moguls that are not for the faint-hearted.
Sankt Anton am Arlberg and the neighboring villages have a wide range of accommodation facilities for weary snow lovers. Here, you’ll find ample apartments, chalets, hotels, restaurants, and lodges to suit any budget and needs.
This is Austria’s snow playground for the affluent.
The resort has fantastic year-round skiing and is one of the few resorts in Austria that support heliskiing. It is famous for having hosted royalty such as Princess Diana. Despite the rich patronage, Lech Ski Resort has managed to maintain an authentic alpine character to attract skiers and snowboarders from all walks of life.
The resort is situated on the banks of the Lech river in the Vorarlberg state of western Austria. The main town near the resort is Lech-am-Arlberg which is about 120 kilometers to the west of Innsbruck town. It is also 20 kilometers from the St. Anton Ski Resort and town.
Visitors ingress the resort via three airports: Zurich, Innsbruck, and Munich. The best way to get to the resort from the airport is through private transfer.
Like St. Anton, this resort is also situated in the snowy ski region of Arlberg. It receives an average seasonal snowfall of between 7 to 10 meters. Even with such an excellent snow record, Lech has an array of artificial snow-making capabilities that cover about 60% of the slopes.
The ski field’s terrain is favorable to beginners and intermediates. It has 302 kilometers of runs, with an additional 200 kilometers of ski routes. Advanced skiers also get to enjoy some off-piste opportunities, though there’s only one black run.
The resort has a traditional cosmopolitan village complete with bars, restaurants, and lodges. Though expensive, it also has plenty of high-end shopping opportunities. Other Lech accommodations include private chalets and apartments as well as hotels offering deluxe opportunities.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
This resort has spectacular backdrops and is nicknamed ‘the queen of the dolomites.’
The picturesque mountain range coupled with fresh alpine air and great snow make Cortina d’Ampezzo a perfect holiday destination. There are plenty of great pistes for both beginners and advanced skiers. Expert skiers especially love the challenging couloirs, great tree runs, and Italy’s finest black runs.
The resort is nestled within the Italian Dolomites. It is part of the Dolomiti Superski and is situated on the Sellaronda ski circuit. The resort lies about 160 kilometers north of Venice, with Innsbruck city to the north.
The closest airport is the Venice Marco Polo Airport, which is about a 2-hour drive from the resort. Alternative gateway international airports include Venice, Innsbruck, and Munich airports. Private shuttles are the most convenient form of airport transfer. However, if you’re on a shoestring budget, you can also take a train ride or consider public transport options.
The resort receives consistent snowfalls as with the other resorts in the dolomites. To compensate for shortfalls in the natural snow, the resort has invested in artificial snowmaking that covers a large proportion of the slopes.
The terrain can be broken down into three main areas:
- Tofana – Great for advanced skiing with impressive tree skiing, well-groomed runs, and a few beginner runs
- Faloria – Its north-facing terrain has wonderful free-ride descents even though this ski area is less vertical
- Falzarego/Cinque Torri – Has terrain with a bit of everything for all abilities and levels
The Cortina d’Ampezzo resort has 120 kilometers of runs serviced by 31 lifts. The lifts include gondolas, cable cars, and chair lifts.
The resort’s village has a host of great accommodation options to suit every need and budget. Popular deluxe places to stay include Hotel Olimpia, Hotel Europa, and Hotel Cristallo. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find a host of amazing accommodation options on the outskirts of the town.
We can Help You Plan Your Next Skiing or Snowboarding Winter Escape
Europe’s ski resorts are unmistakably the best in the world. Skiers and snowboarders love the resorts for their fine dining, picturesque alpine views, great snow, and postcard experiences.
Need to find out for yourself? Brealpa can help you.
Discover Brealpa’s treasure trove of handy and practical information to help you choose and plan an unforgettable skiing and snowboarding holiday. Let’s help you pick:
- Resorts with family-friendly facilities and terrain
- Resorts with deluxe and budget-friendly accommodation options
- Ski resorts that are less crowded for uninterrupted access to the lifts and slopes.