There are over 1,500 ski resorts in Europe, and some of them are a bit more legendary than others. Some of them are good for freeriding, others have an amazing park or are known for their nightlife scene.
That’s why we’ve listed our favorite spots in Spain, France, Switzerland and Austria below.
Switzerland’s top 3 destinations to ski and snowboard
Switzerland has over 7,000 kilometers of slopes, making it a very popular destination for winter sports fans.
We listed our favorite resorts below, but keep in mind: Switzerland isn’t part of the European Data roaming and Euro zone, which might make your visit relatively expensive!
Verbier is a holiday resort and ski area in the Swiss Alps, which has been named as one of the best ski resorts in the world.
It has been given this title because it’s exciting slopes and lively nightlife scene (“Ibiza in the snow”), which makes the resort very popular with young Scandinavians and Brits and attracts over 35,000 visitors per day during the winter season.
Verbier is the main resort of the 4Vallées ski domain – which also includes the Ski Resorts Nendaz, Veysonnaz, La Tzoumaz, and Thyon – and has 410km of marked runs.
Due to its strong winter sports community, Verbier has kickstarted many photographers and artists, who have their roots in the winter sports scene.
Laax & Flims
The Laax ski resort – which is world famous because of it’s snowparks – is one of Europe’s biggest and best resorts filled with long trails, freeride routes, and modern lifts.
Next to it’s 235km of runs, Laax also contains four snowparks with over 90 features such as rails, boxes, halfpipes and kickers. This makes it one of Switzerland’s biggest ski areas which attract riders from all levels, including Europe’s top snowboarders. The downside to this is that the lift passes are among the most expensive in Europe.
Compared to Verbier and Laax, the ski area in Saas-fee is relatively small with “only” 100km of trails.
Because Saas-Fee’s ski area is one of the highest ski resorts in the Swiss Alps and because most of the slopes are shaded throughout the day, it can be extremely cold in the village and on the mountain. The advantage of these weather conditions is that most of the slopes contain a very reliable and light powdery snow.
Besides it’s amazing slopes and pistes, this resort is known for its incredible scenery & natural features.
Austria’s top 3 ski and snowboard destinations
Austria is a year round snowboarding destination with resorts that are a bit bit less expensive than the rest of the Alps, making it the snowboard capital of Europe.
We listed our favorite spots below!
St. Anton is among the most famous ski resorts in the world, because of its historical importance, vast terrain and wild apres-ski partying.
Having the very first cable car in the Alps makes St Anton the longest established ski resort in the world. The resort also introduced the concept of group ski lessons, which is now an adopted concept across the globe.
St Anton is located in Austria’s Arlberg region – which is known as Europe’s snowiest area and biggest connected ski area in Austria. As a result, it counts 305 kilometers of slopes, supplemented by 200km of off-trail runs.
Another benefit is the fact that St. Anton is easy to reach, located within two hours’ drive of three international airports and it has a railway station at its city center.
And all this, makes St. Anton one of the most famous resorts in the world. The disadvantage of this status is that the trails can be extremely busy and the accommodation is very expensive and hard to get.
Next to being the place where I learned how to snowboard, the Stubaier Gletcher is known as being Austria’s largest glacier ski resort, which attracts a lot of locals and tourists because of its state-of-the-art lift system and infrastructure, the panoramic views, and the long ski season.
Due to its location and high snow reliability, Stubaier Gletcher’s slopes are usually open from October to June, making it an interesting park for pro athletes to start their preseason preparations.
Since Stubai hasn’t got much room accommodation, most people deviate to Innsbruck – the capital of the Austrian Tyrol – which is only a 45-minute drive from the glacier. This ensures that Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tyrol, has a very solid snowboard and skateboard community.
Sölden ski resort in the Ötztal valley contains the country’s longest skiable vertical & longest ski trail, making it a must-visit for every winter sports enthusiast!
The ski resort has a 2,000m elevation, 146km of trails and 2 glaciers. The thing which makes the resort a popular place to visit – next to its vast off-piste – is the fact that their season starts in October and ends in May.
Don’t be surprised by the amount of people you’ll see on the slopes, because it can get extremely busy.
France’s top 3 ski and snowboard destinations
With both two mountain ranges (the Alps and the Pyrenees) France is the perfect destination for a snowboarding holiday. This is why we listed our favorite spots, and even named a few Winter Olympics and Winter X Games destinations!
At the foot of Western Europe’s highest mountain (Mont Blanc) and between the peaks of the ‘Aiguilles Rouges’ and the ‘Aiguille du Midi’ mountain, you’ll find the legendary Chamonix ski resort.
Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and is known for its sensational skiing and snowboarding terrain (both on and off-piste), which caused the resort to organise the first Winter Olympics back in 1924!
Admittedly, some of Chamonix’s lift infrastructure (which has over 60 lifts), is quite outdated by now.
Next to snowboarding you can go ice climbing, paragliding, and extreme skiing in Chamonix, which gave it the nickname as the “the death-sport capital of the world.”
Recently, pro snowboarder Victor de Le Rue tested the limits of what is possible on the ice-covered slopes of Chamonix.
As part of the Trois Vallées, Val Thorens is known as the highest resort in Europe, giving winter sport enthusiasts access to 600km of pistes and freeriding slopes which are covered by snow from November to May.
The ski resort of Val Thorens was purpose-built in the 1960s without any architectural guidelines, which leads to an overwhelming amount of ugly apartment blocks located in the middle of the ski slopes.
Next to being an attractive and sophisticated resort, the Val Thorens resort hosted a Tour de France stage finish in 1994 and 2019.
The Tignes ski resort is a ‘snow sure’ ski resort which is integrated with the neighbouring Val d’Isère resort, making it one of the largest single ski areas as a result.
This combination of Tignes & Val d’Isere makes it a popular snowboard destination, and makes them earn their place at the very top of the list of best ski resorts in the world.
The biggest advantage of these ski resorts is that they are open 11 months a year, and they have many freeriding areas and world class parks. This is one of the reasons why Tignes has been the (co-) host for the 1992 Winter Olympics, the 1992 Winter Paralympics and several times, the Winter X Games.
The only negative aspects of Tignes are the mix of ugly apartment blocks, expensive food, and underwhelming nightlife.
Spain’s top 3 ski and snowboard destinations
While Spain is mostly known for its sun-drenched beaches, it also contains a few extraordinary ski resorts! We listed our favorite ones below.
Sierra Nevada – literally translated to “mountain range covered in snow” – is Europe’s most southerly ski-resort, which is located less than 100 kilometers from the Alboran Sea.
Thanks to its altitude, and its past investments into its infrastructure, the ski resort has a decent amount of snow with more than 100 kilometers of slopes.
Since the resort had to cancel the World Alpine Skiing Championships in 1995 because of the lack of snow, they invested into infrastructure and it’s now considered to have Europe’s best facilities: lifts reaching an altitude of 3,282m, 350 snow machines to ensure reliable snow conditions throughout the winter, and a remarkable environmental program to protect the region – which was declared a Biospherical Reserve by UNESCO in 1986.
Due to being located in southern Spain, you’re likely to get a lot of sunny days, giving you the opportunity to visit a neighborly beach or to explore Granada.
Located in the Pyrenees on the border with France, you’ll find Spain’s oldest Ski Resort: La Molina. The resort – which had its first ski lift installed in 1943 – has 71 skiable kilometers, a large snow park and the biggest superpipe in the Pyrenees.
Over the past 15 years, La Molina has hosted a few big international events such as the Alpine Skiing World Cup (2008), the Snowboard World Championship (2011), and the Disabled Alpine Skiing World Championships (2013).
Soldeu in Andorra is one of the ski resorts in Europe which is working hard to reinvent itself to attract more young and lively winter sport enthusiasts.
Throughout the past few seasons, Soldeu has been the home to a ski school which is now rated as one of the best in the world; this is because Soldeu offers high-quality accommodation, excellent facilities, and a lively apres-ski scene.
Soldeu’s ski area is pretty impressive as well: it has 193 kilometers of trails, which are serviced by 64 modern lifts. The resort also contains 3 terrain parks, 1 half pipe, 2 permanent boardercross tracks, and 4 off-piste routes accessed by a trail-groomer tow service.
The Snow conditions in Soldeu have been exceptional over the past few winters, often surpassing those of the Alpine resorts. This is also the reason why Soldeu hosted some top-level events, including the Alpine Skiing World Cup.