If you didn’t get the white Christmas that you’d been dreaming of, there’s no need to despair. Sure, the festive season may be over for another year but Continental Europe rapidly descends into ski season come January and with snow-filled slopes and powder-runs galore, it’s your best chance of getting close to snow. The only problem is, with so many fantastic resorts and excellent après-ski facilities, how do you decide where to go? We’ve come to the rescue with our guide to the best ski resorts in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner looking for nursery-slopes and plenty of guidance or advanced on the black-runs looking for your own off-piste trails, we have something to suit your needs:
Tignes is open for winter sports nine months of the year – that’s three months longer than any other ski resort in France – which makes the destination a must for anyone seeking the certainty of snow. The resort is part of the vast Espace Killy ski area and with over 300kms of varied terrain, there’s something here to suit everyone. With 83 blue runs, Tignes is a great place to learn the ropes and the ski and snowboarding schools all come highly rated, with progression normally being fairly fast. However, the high altitude runs mean that advanced skiers return year after year to try the black runs and thrilling off-piste challenges.
Zell Am See, Austria
There’s something a little bit Sound of Music about Zell Am See. This evergreen paradise high in the Austrian Alps was even built by monks back in the day. Nowadays this popular resort isn’t just known for its skiing, it’s one of the top destinations for mountain weddings. As perfect as it is for couples though, it’s even better for families thanks to traffic-free slopes and a wealth of non-ski activities, which include everything from curling to Nordic walking.
No, you’re not imagining it! We really do mean a ski resort in Bulgaria, best known for its summer sun destinations like Sunny Beach. Bansko makes our list as it’s one of the best value ski destinations in Europe, despite the fact that it has so much to offer holidaymakers. The town’s ski altitude is between 2000 to 2600m and comprises a range of excellent facilities for skiers and snowboarders. Snowboarders will enjoy the extreme fun park, where jumps can be built to your abilities and all types of skiers are catered for on the piste runs. However, where this resort really excels is with après-ski: traditional Bulgarian tavernas known as mohana serve up local specialties and regional wine, whilst traditional folk bands play.
The resort of Kronplatz is part of the Dolomiti Superski area, a large network that combines 12 resorts in Italy. Known for its modern state-of-the-art lifts and impressive 360° views of the Dolomite Mountains, Kronplatz makes our list due to its well-groomed slopes, which are never overcrowded. You’ll often hear Kronplatz’s ski area referred to as the ‘panetonne’ as this is the shape that makes up the runs. On one side, you have two large black runs that are a regularly training ground for the Italian Olympic team, whilst the other side is made up of a mixture of red and blue runs. In 2017, the much anticipated Hinterberg run finally opens which starts at the top of Kronplatz, weaving its way 2.9km down to the base station for the Marchner Gondola and dropping a whopping 700m in altitude – not one for the faint-hearted!
Skiing with children can be a headache at the best of times, particularly if your holiday budget doesn’t quite stretch to an au pair – and let’s face it whose does? It’s for this reason we had to include Ylläs in Finland, a ski resort that couldn’t be more child-friendly if it tried. For a start Ylläs’ crèche is suitable for children from six months onward and contains a large indoor play area and ball pool, and then there’s the fact that the resort also contains a petting zoo, playground and family-friendly nature trails. Skiing here is excellent with the longest runs in Finland and 63 slopes, including six green runs for absolute beginners and 6 black runs for the pros. Finally, don’t miss the chance to book some of the excellent excursions offered: husky-drawn sleigh rides and trips to genuine reindeer farms are bound to provide the kids with memories for years to come.