Looking for the best place to hit the slopes this year? Check out our recommended places to ski or snowboard in 2021/22.
Europe isn’t short of some great ski and snowboard destinations, with something for everyone whatever your level of budget. The pandemic of 2020/21 has undoubtedly caused disruption and damage, but with our sights set on the ski season for 2021 and 2022, it looks likely that the ski season will be going ahead. Fingers crossed.
But where should you go?
There’s no arguing with the fact that France and Switzerland rule the roost for best skiing in terms of resorts, apres ski and facilities. But don’t rule out some of the other great resorts in Italy, Austria, Andorra and even Spain… We’ve got a couple of wild cards on this list too!
Nestled at the head of the Zillertal valley, Mayrhofen is just a small part of this vast range of skiing options.
Austria has so many options for hitting the slopes, but in all honesty few can match the Zillertal valley for choice. From the Ahorn and Penken slopes accesible by gondola from the town you can also use the same lift passes all the way down this huge valley including on Hintertux glacier, Zall and Kaltenbach. With 515 pistes and over 170 lifts, that is a lot of skiing.
For the brave (or the crazy) there’s the steepest skiable run in Europe, the Harakiri. Be warned though, it ain’t pretty, it’s basically a vertical sheet of ice (or at least it was when I was there).
And when you’re done you’ve got some of the best apres ski in the world. Mayrhofen is famous for its debauched party vibes including Snowbombing festival at the end of the season.
On the Italian side of the same Alps as you’re getting in Switzerland… But for a fraction of the price! Livigno is a glamour ski spot for sure. And another factor which may be a decider, it’s duty free.
There’s a great selection of slopes for both beginners and intermediates (there are black runs too, don’t worry experts!). Add in the fact that there’s night skiing and loads of nightlife and you’ll be pretty sure to have an awesome time in Livigno.
The individually excellent resorts of Soldeu, Pas de la Casa and El Tarter have combined to become one of the worlds biggest ski resorts: Grandvalira. With around 200kms of pistes and around 66 lifts spread across the haute Pyrenees, you’re not going to get bored any time soon.
Add to this Andorra’s party reputation and you’ve got some serious fun to be had both on and off the slopes.
Andorra is also a lot cheaper than Switzerland and France and is duty free, so you’ll be getting much more for your Euro. If you time it right and get good snowfall, Grandvalira in Andorra is easily one of the best ski resorts in Europe.
Not far from Andorra, but very much Spanish, sits Baqueria-Beret. This is literally a resort fit for royalty as the Spanish royal family have a residence here and can often be spotted on the slopes.
According to some this is one of the world’s best ski resorts. What makes it so? Food and entertainment is cheaper than the Alpine resorts, the skiing is exceptional and varied and there is a lively apres ski, albeit not as wild as neighbouring Andorra.
If you’re into the Spanish way of life: siestas and fiestas, then this might be the resort for you.
Val D’Isere, France
Arguably the best resort in the Alps, period, Val D’Isere is where to come if you’re serious about skiing or boarding.
The Espace Killy area sprawls across 300 kms of pistes and includes Tignes as part of the ski pass. Its also a fantastically beautiful part of the Alps and a pretty town to boot (somewhat of a rarity with ski resorts).
Apres? This is the town that pretty much invented apres-ski so don’t worry about that. However, make sure you’ve got plenty of money to burn as this is one of the most expensive ski resorts you’ll find.
You probably haven’t heard of Krvavec, in fact we’d be surprised if you can pronounce it. But this is a gem of a resort a stones throw from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. In fact, Krvavec is the closest resort to an international airport anywhere in the world! You can be by the gondola 15 minutes after leaving the airport!
Krvavec doesn’t have a sprawling network of valleys and pistes or a roaring apres ski, but none of that matters. What makes skiing or snowboarding in Slovenia special is that you can travel across the whole country in a matter of hours and experience several different ski resorts. Kranjska Gora is around 2 hours away, Bovec about a the same…
This is still the Alps but as a bonus these resorts are all pretty snow sure with good snow making facilities.
You’ll likely stay in either cool Ljubljana or second biggest city, Kranj and partake in the city scene in these spots. Then, coffee in hand, board the ski bus and head to the slopes.
Ideal for those who want to either learn to ski or snowboard but don’t want to commit to the cost of the bigger resorts – or for those who want a bit of culture with their winter sports.
St Anton, Austria
Considering Austria is pretty much one big ski resort, it’s no surprise there are two entries on the list here. So what does St Anton have that Mayrhofen doesn’t have?
For one, it has ski in ski out. No waiting for the gondola back to town in the evening. It is also a bit more geared to the casual skier/boarder with a few more things in town for those on a day off. But really, it is all about the snow and in fact, St Anton is easily one of the best resorts in the Alps.
Apres ski is also pretty good, with lots of options for those looking to dance to German pop while drinking copious amounts of gluwein and schnapps.
Picking the best resort in Switzerland is no easy task. Zermatt shades it by virtue of being accessible for everyone, not just the expert skier. In fact over 60% of Zermatt’s 200 kms of pistes are red runs, meaning suitable for intermediates or brave beginners.
This is also one of the livelier resorts in Switzerland, with apres ski buzzing pretty much from midday and lots of cool clubs to check out in the evening.
In fact what can be cooler than sinking a fine wine as the sun sets on the Matterhorn? If you’re new to Swiss skiing then this is the place to start…
Skiing in Poland? Yup, better believe it. OK, in all honest it isn’t on the level of most of the incredible ski desinations on this list. But what Zakopane misses in sprawling Alpine valleys, it makes up for in affordability and fun.
Zakopane (pronounced Zak-oh-panny) is a popular mountain town in Southern Poland, not far from the border with Slovakia. The town is dominated by Kasprowy Wierch, which offers a selection of red and black runs. But there are smaller ski resorts such as Bialka Tatrazankska which make for a great couple of days on the slopes.
For beginners and intermediates, there is a lot of fun to be had here, with choice of places to ski. And at around €15 for a ski pass, it’s one of the cheapest places in Europe to enjoy snowsports.
We went with Whiteside Holidays a few years back and can highly recommend their very affordable packages.
Back to the Alps and the popular resorts of Avoriaz and Morzine are some of the coolest places to hang out. Avoriaz sits on top of the mountain and offers ski in/ski out, whereas cooler Morzine requires gondola access but has the much more lively nightlife.
When we visited we stayed in Avoriaz, which is very much a purpose built ski town. Even the main road is called ‘Boulevard des Skieurs’ and yes, you can ski down it.
Part of the Portes de Soleil region, one of the biggest interlinked ski areas in Europe, you could spend a week here and still find something new every day. You can even ski into Switzerland for lunch!
Best value ski packages?
Looking for the most affordable ski packages? Want to enjoy the best European ski resorts for the lowest prices?
We’ve used a number of different ski holiday packages over the years, and our favourite are:
Sunweb – Easily some of the cheapest packages online for ski and snowboard. All of their packages include lift passes, and this is usually our first point of call when researching where to go. They cover all of the major Alpine destinations, although we think their best deals are in French and Austrian reorts. Sunweb also offer extras like equipment rental, ski schools and more. We’ve found deals under £100 in previous years, so check them out for the best value ski packages.
SnowTrex – Another really good site for value ski packages which include lift passes as standard. We used these guys to go to Andorra, and think they offer some of the best deals for there and Italy.
Inghams – Although I’ve not actually booked a trip through Inghams before, I do often spot some good deals here. If you’re looking for an affordable family ski trip in Europe, definitely take a look at their offers.
Esquiades – Spanish company Esquiades offer some really good deals to the Pyrenees and Alps. If you’re looking for a trip to Baqueria Beret, or Andorra, you’ll likely find something tempting here. They also include lift passes and cheap equipment rental too and should
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