Europe’s alpine ski resorts offer up a little bit of everything. There’s the fine powder, great ski runs, and stunning views of course, but skiing is also a deep-rooted tradition in the European alps, dating back at least a few hundred years. On top of that, this is where the legendary tradition of apres-ski originated, meaning the drinking, dining, and dancing is as top notch as the skiing. Away from the more popular resorts in France and Switzerland, Austria and Italy offer some of the finest skiing in Europe.
Stay in some of Europe’s best ski resorts in Austria
The French alps might get all the accolades, and Switzerland might have the Matterhorn, but Austria is the true home of skiing in Europe. Boasting the most ski runs on the continent, Austria is also home to some of the snowiest places in Europe, which combined with high peaks, great wine and pastries, and picture-perfect towns and villages, makes for the perfect skiing vacation destination. There’s plenty of choice when it comes to Austrian ski resorts, but check out our top 2, St Anton am Arlberg and Kitzbühel.
Ski in, ski out in St Anton am Arlberg
Regularly voted the best ski resort in Austria, St Anton am Arlberg is isn’t for the faint of heart. With some of the most difficult ski runs in Europe, St Anton is also a haven for those who love to go off-piste, while intermediate skiers should find enough runs to keep them busy. Not a place to bring the kiddies, St Anton caters to those who really know what they’re doing on the slopes, and the resort itself is quiet and car-free with plenty of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants to keep the apres-skiers busy and happy.
Keep it cool on a ski trip to Kitzbühel
Kitzbühel is the answer to where to go in Austria if you’re not quite well-practiced on the slopes enough to brave St Anton am Arlberg. This family-friendly resort is popular with skiers of all ages and skill levels and offers plenty of distractions for visitors who don't need to spend every waking moment on the downhill runs. This Austrian ski resort is clustered around the medieval old town and is packed with great shopping, drinking, and dining opportunities, while the new 10-person gondola lift and 6-person chairlift—with bubble covers and heated seats—mean you’ll be gliding up to the resort’s peaks in style, ease, and comfort.
Eat your heart out with a ski trip to Italy
It’s all about pizza, pasta, and pistes at an Italian ski resort. With snow from November through to April – and, in some places, even longer—the long Italian ski season means you’re almost guaranteed a good run. Italy is one of the best European ski destinations for anyone looking to take things a little more slowly and casually. Here, it’s as much about the atmosphere and having fun as it is about going off-piste or beating your personal bests. It’s also a great choice for families looking for something a little more budget friendly—not to mention friendly to the taste buds.
Brave the slopes of Breuil-Cervinia
Just across the border from Zermatt and the iconic peak of the Matterhorn, you’ll find the gorgeous Val D’Aosta resort of Breuil-Cervinia. Easily one of the most popular Italian ski resorts, this skiing region offers something for everyone, including world-class runs, 23 ski lifts, dependably high altitude snow, and plenty of space for beginners. Close by you’ll also find Valtournenche, which is perfect for families and beginners, and even boasts the popular Wild West Playground for children. Both Cervinia and Valtournenche are linked by lifts, trails, and passes to Zermatt in Switzerland, making this one of the biggest international ski resorts in the world.
Chill out in charming Courmayeur
Courmayeur is also found in the Val D’Aosta region, although this time instead of staring up at the steep sides of the Matterhorn, you’ll be gazing in wonder at the sheer slopes of Mont Blanc. Due to its excellent position, Courmayeur has been attracting mountaineers and skiers for years, and is one of the most delightfully traditional Italian ski resorts. Centered around the charming old village, there’s a celebrated but civilized apres-ski tradition to keep you busy off the slopes, where, as is the Italian way of aperitivo, a complimentary snack is served alongside your choice of drink.