Published on October 26th, 2018
With so many wonderful ski resorts to choose from around the world, selecting just one for your upcoming holiday can seem like a real challenge at first glance.
Fortunately, there’s an abundance of resort reviews and comparisons online that can make your selection a bit easier, especially when used in conjunction with the recommendations outlined in this guide. To help you make the most informed decision possible, we’ve simplified the process by breaking the comparison down by country, region, resort type, and other important criteria.
Whether you’re looking for the world’s most luxurious ski destinations or just a fairly priced resort with plenty of variety, you’ll surely find what you’ve been searching for somewhere within one of the following five countries:
1. United Kingdom
Although the UK is sometimes left off of lists of the top countries for skiing, more than 6 million people go skiing here every year. There are plenty of options to choose from, but here are a few of the most popular resorts summarised:
- Nevis Range – Nevis Range is one of Scotland’s most interesting ski parks, situated atop Aonach Mor near Ben Nevis. The terrain here varies so there’s something for skiers of all ski levels.
- Cairngorm Mountains – Cairngorm is known as Scotland’s most popular ski resort and also perhaps the most beautiful, with its panoramic views and challenging slopes.
Some other interesting ski resorts to check out in the UK include Glenshee Ski Centre, Lecht Ski Centre, Glencoe Mountain Resort, and Midlothian Snowsports Centre.
France holds the title of being Europe’s most popular winter sports destination thanks to its abundance of picturesque peaks and ranges that offer some of the most vast and unique skiing experiences on Earth. Here are some of France’s best ski resorts and parks:
- Courchevel – This is one of the most interesting ski resorts not only in France but anywhere on earth. What was once a series of small hamlets has combined to form a world class ski resort with a total of over 600 kilometres of pistes. When it’s luxury you are after, Courchevel has seven restaurants (all with award-winning menus!), shops and trendy boutiques, so this is the most recommended French ski resort of all.
- Chamonix – While there are slopes and tracks here that are intended for beginners, the lure of Chamonix is its massive vertical descents and big mountain skiing that’s beloved by thrill-seeking skiers.
Val d’Isere – The skiing here is more laid back than at Chamonix but there is more luxury and culture in terms of shopping, dining, hospitality, and entertainment options.
- Avoriaz – This majestic resort is situated in the midst of the Portes du Soleil ski domain, which is home to a number of other 5-star resorts and parks. There’s enough to do at Avoriaz alone to keep you occupied for at least a week.
Other notable parks and resorts to consider in France include Alpe-d’Huez, La Plagne, Meribel, La Clusaz, St. Lary Soulan, and Serre Chevalier. One could easily spend all winter in France and never get bored or run out of new slopes to ski.
It should be noted that when seeking a ski resort, travel to and from should be the main consideration. Courchevel is conveniently located near the French Alps airport and this is why so many UK winter holidaymakers fly in and out of cities like Birmingham.
With Birmingham airport parking and various services more accessible, making the airport a comfortable choice, it’s just a short flight over the Channel and you’re relaxed and ready to hit the slopes. Whether you are seeking Park & Ride or Valet parking services, check out birminghamparking.com to ensure you have reserved parking for the dates you intend to travel.
Canada’s vast land mass and frigid northern climate make it a hot spot for ski resorts, with more than 2.5 million skiers frequenting its slopes each year. The country’s ski resorts are known for being very large and very diverse, so there’s plenty to explore across the ten provinces. While many Canadians head south for the winter, those in southernmost areas of the world enjoy the snow and slopes they aren’t likely to find at home. Speaking of slopes, here are a few of the most notable options:
- Big White Ski Resort – This is easily one of Canada’s most visited resorts, with more than 118 designated trails and another 27 unnamed skiing paths. Almost 20% of the trails are rated for beginners, while roughly 55% are considered intermediate and the other 25% are recommended for expert skiers only.
- Whistler Blackcomb – Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America geographically. Also, their Peak 2 Peak lift car is the highest ground cable car in the world.
- Sunshine Village – Located in Banff National Park, Alberta, this popular ski resort is nestled among six other resorts. There are 120 trails at Sunshine Village alone, and hundreds more to be discovered at the surrounding resorts. With so many options, you needn’t look elsewhere for the ski trip of a lifetime!
Other Canadian ski resorts worth mentioning include Sun Peaks Resort, Mt. Norquay, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, SilverStar Mountain Resort, Panorama Mountain Resort, Marmot Basin, and Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Switzerland is another major destination for winter sports holidays, with roughly 80 million people visiting the Alps annually and a significant percentage of them engaging in skiing or snowboarding during their stay.
- Zermatt – Zermatt is situated on what is perhaps the most well-known mountain in all of Europe – the Matterhorn. With a trail system that extends more than 360 kilometres and a total of more than 2100 metres of vertical drop, there’s enough skiing here to keep you busy for a whole winter.
- St. Moritz – This resort is known for playing host to world-class skiing events like the Olympics. However, it also has plenty of beginner trails, and it has the most intermediate trails of any resort in Switzerland.
- Jungfrau – Jungfrau is home to three peaks that combine to provide more than 200 kilometres of skiing trails.
Other Swiss ski resorts that you may want to check out while you’re there include Saas-Fee, Davos-Klosters, Verbier, Gstaad, Crans Montana, and Engelberg-Titlis.
Austria is the original home of Alpine skiing, and as such is a popular winter sports destination year after year, with millions of skiers flocking here to see the place where it all started.
- Alpbach – Alpbach is often called the prettiest village in Austria, and its ski resorts have a decent number of trails, with more than 109 kilometres of slopes to ski.
- Saalbach – Saalbach is a quaint village that has all the cafes, eateries, and hotels you could need to stay comfortable, while also offering up an impressive 270 kilometres of slopes for your skiing enjoyment.
- St Anton am Arlberg – Although this resort is recommended for serious skiers and experts, it’s a must-visit if you’re looking for a real Austrian skiing challenge.
Other Austrian ski resorts worth looking into during your travels include Lech, Ischgl, Obergurgl, Mayrhofen, and Innsbruck.
Things to Do Before Departing
Ideally, you should have a map of the resort you are about to visit ready before you leave. That way, you can start planning which trails you’re going to hit before you even arrive at the resort. Most resorts will provide a piste map on their website.
Likewise, be sure to take note of park hours and research which time of the year is best for skiing weather. Don’t forget to take skill level into consideration, as you don’t want to be a novice skier stuck at a resort that has very few beginner trails.
If lack of experience is a factor, you may even want to schedule lessons while you’re on holiday to hone your skills for future ski trips. Finally, you could also benefit from watching videos on skiing, brushing up on your mountaineering knowledge online, and stocking up on gear that will help you stay safe and comfortable.