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With first-rate ski schools, perfectly powdered pistes and exceptional après-ski, Europe’s ski resorts offer exciting and rewarding holidays amid some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world.
When to go
Europe’s mountains are generally open for skiing from the end of November through to mid April. Heading out early in the season can certainly reward you with more personal space on the slopes and often a good amount of snow, while later skiers will bask in milder temperatures. Those willing to pay the price tag for a Christmas time ski trip will be rewarded with a magical snow-filled festive experience.
Where to stay
Europe’s top resorts have no shortage of top-notch accommodation. First-timers may fancy the ease of a catered chalet, while luxury hotel stays mean facilities such as swimming pools are close at hand. Hostels can also make fun and affordable accommodation options.
Lessons and activities
Ski lessons are the fastest way to get confidently gliding down those inviting slopes. Fantastic ski schools can be found honing aspiring skiers skills from the peaks of France to the pistes of Austria. In the morning, highly qualified instructors guide you through the basics, leaving afternoons free to pick up your poles and head out to the piste together.
Europe's top family ski resorts
Nearest airport: Milan, Italy
As ski season heads towards summer, families seeking out snow-sure slopes should head to Livigno. With temperatures consistently four or five degrees lower than the surrounding peaks, the town has earned itself the nickname ‘Little Tibet’.
With great connections from Milan, Livigno is far easier to reach than the Himalayas, and its slopes are wide, gradual, and offer great late skiing for all ages and abilities.
Nearest airport: Geneva
Beneath the snowy shadow of the mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt is a picture-book town of traditional wooden chalets with a quiet, car-free centre.
With stylish après-ski venues and the chance to take a sunset ride on the cogwheel railway, its pleasurable pistes are ideal for families with some slope experience. The village offers a wealth of winter activities to keep all ages entertained – from sledging and ice skating to indoor climbing.
Nearest airport: Ljubljana
Slovenia's diverse terrain includes an opportunity to ski through the Carinthian-Slovenian Alps to the east of the Alps mountain range as the pinnacle of piste when travelling on the continent.
Krvavec ski resort is the closest dedicated ski reside to Ljubljana. Situated only just outside the city and offering 26-kilometres of ski-runs, Krvavec is perfect for day trips when balancing city sights with the fresh air of the alpine slopes.
With well-maintained runs, staggering mountain views, and a Snow Park facility featuring ski jumps for the more adventurous skiers, Krvavec represents the perfect Slovenian ski destination.
Val d'Isère, Chambery
Nearest airport: Grenoble or Lyon, France
Chateau town Chambery feels relatively undiscovered, with many tourists heading to the busier towns to ski. But don't underestimate this stunning Rhône-Alpes region town.
Set against an impressive backdrop of the Alpine valleys, Chambery offers museums, bars and cafes - and with one of the best preserved Medieval old towns this side of the alps, a rich heritage.
Val d'Isère is a well renowned ski resort for French and British ski fans alike, with around 300km of marked piste runs offering plenty of variety for even seasoned pros. A chic setting incorporates chalets, apartments and luxury hotels within the esteemed 'Espace Killy' area, hosts of the World Skiing Championships back in 2009.
Chamrousse Resort, France
Nearest airport: Grenoble
Located in the Belledonne mountains, 30km away from Grenoble, Chamrousse Resort offers perfect conditions for families and novice skiers to gradually acclimatise to the demands of the sport.
Serenely encircled by forest expanse and affording panoramic views of Grenoble from the base of the main ski runs, Chamrousse is expertly interconnected by ski routes between the two primary towns of Nook and Roche Beranger.
A variety of runs for both beginners and intermediate skiers ensures the resort accommodates all the family, while self-catering apartments allow visitors to retire to tranquillity among the shelter of the trees for a truly immersive alpine adventure.
Nearest airport: Innsbruck
Picturesque Innsbruck offers palaces, towering mountains and baroque cathedrals, whilst skiers will revel in being able to take on an Olympic ski jump with awe-inspiring mountain views.
Mayrhofen, Innsbruck is one of the world's most revered ski destinations in both summer and winter due to assurance of snow year round. Not only is it home to the most popular snow bound music festival showcased at the start of April in Snowbombing, it also boasts a smattering of quieter villages with their own pistes, while shops and restaurants in Mayrhofen are conveniently situated mostly on one long street.