Val D’Isere in the wintertime looks like a wintery fairytale. The snow-covered boutique shops on High Street and surrounding Chalets are postcard-perfect with the mountains towering in the background. Those mountains boast 96 speedy lifts with more than 300 kilometers of pisted runs. With brand new, state of the art learning areas, 2 snow parks and plenty of off piste terrain for the thrill seekers, "Val D" has skiing for all styles. For the experts, the infamous ‘Le Face’ black run beckons skiers to its steep grade; from the top of the Olympic lift, the run traverses three kilometers into town. Val d'Isère sits at a high altitude of 1,850 meters (6,070 feet), and its ski slopes reach up to 3,456 meters (11,339 feet). This elevation ensures excellent snow conditions throughout the winter season, with a long season typically running from November to May. The resort's high-altitude location offers breathtaking alpine scenery. This ski resort is equally renowned for its festive atmosphere and après ski culture as it is its skiing. Find revelers dancing on the tables at the famous Follie Douce. Don’t miss their Cabaret show. Or try the festivities at Cocorico at the bottom of the Solaise which hosts equally lively parties with live bands. After dinner you can party until the early hours with the DJ’s at Dicks Tea Bar or Doudoune.
There's no debating it -- the Alps are legendary. The iconic peaks of the Alps -- the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa and Weisshorn to name a few -- are some of the most photographed and memorable mountains in the entire world. It is here the sport of alpine skiing was first born. Ever since the late 19th century, when skiing first evolved from a means of transportation to a recreational activity, the Alps have attracted alpine skiers. St. Anton in Austria is even nicknamed the “cradle of alpine skiing” for its historical role in advancing the sport. Today, the Alps boast a multitude of world-class ski resorts, each with their own unique character and attractions. From the glitz and glamour of resorts like Courchevel and St. Moritz, to the challenging pistes of of St. Anton and Les Trois Vallees of France, these resorts draw visitors from around the globe to explore the Alps' majestic peaks. Choosing where exactly to go in this vast mountain range, which spans multiple countries, is not an easy feat. In this guide, we uncover the 15 best ski resorts the Alps have to offer. We will delve into each resort's unique atmospheres and most captivating features. Whether you're a seasoned pro seeking extreme adventures, a novice looking to carve your first turns on the snow, or a non-skier interested in activities like boutique shopping and alpine spas, there's a resort in the Alps that will fulfill your winter fantasy.
Verbier is the highest of Les 4 Vallées, one of the largest ski areas in the world. Spanning six villages and four valleys, the terrain is vast. One can ski from Verbier, to La Tzoumaz, Bruson, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. The area provides more than 400 kilometers of ski slopes, catering to all levels of skiers and snowboarders. In addition to lovely groomed slopes, Verbier is renowned for its exceptional off-piste and backcountry skiing opportunities, including legendary routes like the Vallon d'Arbi and Mont Fort. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can explore powder-filled bowls, steep couloirs, and challenging descents, making it a paradise for off-piste enthusiasts. Verbier offers breathtaking alpine scenery, with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, including the iconic Matterhorn and Mont Blanc. Beyond skiing, Verbier has it all – breathtaking views, sophisticated lodging, fine dining, and tireless nightlife. This French-speaking, Swiss ski town is chic, dotted with designer boutiques and beautiful chalets with luxury jewelry, art and clothing shops. French wine and culinary gems delight foodies. This town has too many Michelin-Star restaurants to count. And the après ski culture is first-class. As skiers depart the slopes, they flood into bars with shots-skis and hot toddies. Crazy costumes, big dancing and drinking happens at The Farinet. The Fer à Cheval, Le Rouge and the Casbah are also notorious night clubs that rock in Verbier long after the ski lifts stop.
St. Anton has a strong skiing heritage and is often referred to as the gateway to the Arlberg ski region and the “cradle of alpine skiing” for its role in inventing the sport of alpine skiing. The Museum St. Anton am Arlberg chronicles local ski history in a traditional chalet. The area has a long-standing reputation as a destination for ski enthusiasts and expert professionals. It offers an extensive ski area that includes the famous Arlberg ski region, nestled in Tyrolean Alps, and provides more than 300 kilometers of ski slopes and off-piste terrain. It particularly excels in challenging and advanced skiing. St. Anton is renowned for its steep slopes, thrilling mogul runs, and off-piste opportunities. The backcountry areas, such as the Valluga and Schindlerkar, offer powder-filled bowls, steep couloirs, and thrilling descents. Excellent ski schools and instructors are available for all levels. This focus on high-quality instruction contributes to the overall skiing experience in St. Anton. A vibrant après-ski and lively nightlife scene attracts both locals and international visitors, while the town's architecture creates a picturesque and cozy ambiance.
Courchevel is not one resort, but four separate ski resorts: Courchevel 1850, Moriond 1650, Courchevel Village 1550 and Courchevel Le Praz 1300. The resorts are linked by lifts, pistes and a road, giving skiers easy access between resorts. Each resort has a distinctive atmosphere. For example, Courchevel 1300 is a rustic village with winter wonderland charm, whereas Courchevel 1850 is luxurious, with chic shops and fine-dining restaurants. Courchevel sits within the Three Valleys, which boasts 600 kilometers of pistes and an interlinked lift system, with more than 170 lifts. With such a vast, interlinked ski area, there are runs for all levels and abilities. The area is also known for having one of the longest ski seasons and the best snow cover in the whole of the Alps. Courchevel hosts many exciting events during the ski season, including the Ladies Alpine World Cup giant slalom in December, the International Fireworks Festival in February/March and the Three Valleys Enduro. Foodies will love Courchevel, which has some of the best culinary destinations in the Alps. Visitors can indulge in experiences ranging from traditional Savoyard cuisine to international gastronomy. The resort's focus on culinary excellence adds an extra dimension to the overall ski vacation experience.
Zermatt is an idyllic mountain village tucked away in the Swiss Alps. First and foremost, it is known for the iconic, majestic, Matterhorn. This peak dominates the skyline and creates one of the most unique alpine landscapes in all of Europe. With its unique pyramidal shape, the Matterhorn is easily one of the most recognizable mountains in the world. With a summit of 4,478 meters (14,692 feet), the Matterhorn is one of the highest summits in all of the Alps. Zermatt offers an extensive ski area that spans two countries -- Switzerland and Italy. The resort is part of the Matterhorn Ski Paradise, which provides more than 360 kilometers of ski slopes and connects Zermatt with the Italian resort of Cervinia-Valtournenche. Zermatt provides a wide range of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. From gentle groomed runs to challenging off-piste areas and thrilling mogul fields. The resort also offers excellent freeride and backcountry opportunities. Beyond skiing, Zermatt offers many other alpine adventures. Zermatt's Matterhorn Glacier Paradise is the highest cable car station in Europe and offers unforgettable panoramic views, an ice palace, and various winter sports activities like snowshoeing, ice climbing and paragliding. Zermatt is also largely a car-free town. Most visitors get to Zermatt by train and once there, traverse by e-Bus, e-Taxi or by foot. This contributes to true ski village atmosphere. The architecture features charming chalets and historic buildings. A vibrant culinary scene features both traditional Swiss cuisine and international gourmet options, including several Michelin-starred establishments. Additionally, Zermatt offers a lively après-ski scene with numerous bars, lounges, and nightclubs where visitors can unwind and socialize after a day on the slopes.
Chamonix, France is often referred to as the "birthplace of mountaineering" because of its rich mountaineering history. Nestled at the base of Mont Blanc -- the highest peak in the Alps -- Chamonix has attracted adventurers, climbers and skiers for centuries. The resort hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. Because of its proximity to Mont Blanc, the resort has unparalleled panoramic views from the ski slopes, which overlook rugged mountains, glaciers, and deep valleys. The natural beauty of Chamonix makes the skiing experience memorable. The resort provides more than 150 kilometers of ski slopes across several ski areas, each with their own distinct character. Chamonix is particularly renowned for its challenging off-piste and freeride opportunities, with legendary runs like the Vallée Blanche attracting advanced riders from around the world. Chamonix has a well-developed infrastructure, with a network of cable cars and lifts that provide access to high-altitude terrain, including the famous Aiguille du Midi. The resort town itself exudes a charming alpine atmosphere, with traditional Savoyard architecture, cozy chalets, and a bustling town center. After the sun sets, the town center is home to a vibrant après-ski, delectable culinary and sleepless nightlife scene. A wide range of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, and nightclubs make past-dark adventures just as thrilling as daytime excursions.
Not only is Val Thorens the highest ski resort in the Alps, it is also part of the world famous Three Valleys, the largest fully interlinked ski area in the world! All three resorts are accessible with one Three Valleys lift ticket, which allows visitors to ski the whole of Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel. With slopes that reach up to 3,230 meters (10,597 feet) in elevation, excellent snow conditions are almost a guarantee throughout the season, which typically runs from November to May. With its snow-sure reputation and vast ski terrain, the area is a highly sought-after destination for winter sports enthusiasts. The Three Valleys area offers more than 600 kilometers of ski slopes, all accessed through high-speed gondolas, chairlifts, and cable cars. Val Thorens, in particular, is attractive to skiers because roughly 90 percent of Val Thorens’ accommodations are ski-in-ski-out. This makes the experience very convenient for families and those who want to get their powder turns in before the runs get tracked out. There are multiple ski villages to explore, each with their own atmospheres. For example, St Martin de Belleville, is a former commune with traditional stone-and-wood farmhouses, charming shops and a handful of Savoyard restaurants. For those seeking all-inclusive vacations in Val Thorens, the Club Med all-inclusive Val Thorens Sensations Resort is a contemporary, ski-in, ski-out, high-mountain retreat perfect for enjoying a winter getaway.
Cortina d'Ampezzo, located in the dramatic, towering Dolomites of northern Italy, is part of the Dolomiti Superski area, one of the largest interconnected ski areas in the entire world. With more than 1,200 kilometers of ski slopes and an extensive network of high speed lifts and gondolas, Cortina d'Ampezzo caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders. It would take weeks to explore the vast number of ski runs available to lift ticket holders. The resort is surrounded by the famous pointy peaks of the Dolomites, which are considered a UNESCO World Heritage site. This location means the resort offers breathtaking panoramic views of the unique, pink-hued mountains. Skiing with this majestic of a backdrop is unforgettable. The region's unique microclimate often brings abundant snowfall for many first-track opportunities. Skiers will also be pleased to know they are skiing at a place with historical significance. Cortina d'Ampezzo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1956, and the Olympic facilities, including the iconic Olympic Ice Stadium, add another dimension to the ski experience. The town itself exudes an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere, with traditional Alpine architecture, high-end boutiques, and upscale restaurants. After a day on the slopes, visitors can indulge in the resort's vibrant après-ski scene, which includes cozy mountain huts, stylish bars, and lively entertainment options. Cortina d'Ampezzo continues to host prestigious international ski events, attracting top athletes and spectators. The resort's hosting of the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships further solidified its reputation as a premier skiing destination. If timed right, visitors can witness thrilling races and experience the excitement of world-class competitions firsthand.
Davos in Switzerland is part of the Davos Klosters Mountains ski region, which offers an extensive ski area with more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) of interconnected slopes. Sitting at a high altitude of approximately 1,560 meters (5,120 feet), Davos has excellent snow conditions throughout the season. The resort receives abundant natural snowfall and has a reliable snowmaking system to supplement the snow cover. The resort has earned a reputation for attracting the most daring, adventurous skiers to push their limits and explore the mountain's more untouched areas. Off-piste and freeride opportunities are widespread. In addition to skiing, Davos has a rich history as a health and wellness destination. The region's clean mountain air and therapeutic climate have attracted visitors seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. The resort offers a range of spa facilities, wellness treatments and outdoor activities beyond skiing, such as winter hiking, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. The town itself is charming; it offers a delightful mix of traditional Swiss architecture, cozy chalets, and a bustling center with restaurants, shops, and nightlife options. This blend of the old and the new creates a unique atmosphere. The city also hosts the annual World Economic Forum (WEF), a prestigious event that attracts global leaders, intellectuals, and visionaries to Davos. If timed right, visitors can mingle with influential people and partake in special events. Throughout the year, Davos hosts a range of cultural events, including music festivals, sports competitions, and art exhibitions. A well-connected train station makes Davos an easy destination to visit from other parts of Europe and major airports.
Saas-Fee Switzerland is a particularly unique destination for a ski vacation because of its natural glaciers. The resort's main glacier, the Allalin Glacier, provides skiing and snowboarding opportunities even during the summer months! This allows visitors to experience year-round skiing and enjoy the stunning glacier landscape. There are many ways to explore the glacier. Visitors can take a ride on the world's highest underground funicular, the Metro Alpin, which ascends to the heart of the glacier. Once there, they can explore fascinating ice caves and enjoy panoramic views from a famous revolving restaurant. Saas-Fee is also unique in that it is known as a car-free village. With few automobiles, the town boasts a tranquil and pedestrian-friendly environment with picturesque streets. Electric taxis and buses are available for transportation within the village, but for the most part, visitors are immersed in a car-free sphere. The town maintains its traditional Swiss village charm with wooden chalets, narrow streets, and a cozy ambiance. The village offers a selection of boutique shops, restaurants and après-ski venues. Both the town and resort are surrounded by majestic peaks, some of which tower more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet). For example, the Dom, which is the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland. Because of its high altitude, Saas-Fee benefits from excellent snow reliability. The resort typically has a long winter season with abundant natural snowfall and cold temperatures that preserve the snow quality. Despite being a relatively compact resort, Saas-Fee is part of the larger Saas Valley ski region, which combined offers a total of 150 kilometers (93 miles) of interconnected slopes.
Gstaad has long been a destination of choice for the affluent and elite, having earned a reputation as one of the more glamorous winter resorts in the Alps. The village is known for its luxurious hotels, high-end boutiques, and gourmet restaurants. This exclusive atmosphere attracts discerning travelers who appreciate the finer things in life. The village is a picture-perfect example of traditional alpine charm with authentic Swiss ambiance. While luxurious, it also maintains its old-world charm with picturesque chalet-style architecture and quaint streets. The ski area, known as the Gstaad Mountain Rides, encompasses more than 220 kilometers (136 miles) of interconnected slopes, all situated in the Bernese Oberland region. This region treats visitors to memorable vistas of snow-capped peaks, deep valleys, and the Swiss countryside. The stunning natural beauty adds to a sense of wonder. In addition to skiing, Gstaad offers a wide range of other winter sports including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and tobogganing. The resort provides well-maintained trails and facilities for all these activities. For fans of competitive sports, Gstaad is particularly a cool destination because it hosts many world-class events, including the prestigious Snow Polo Tournaments. Gstaad hosts music festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural performances throughout the winter season, providing a diverse entertainment calendar. Health and wellness are also valued in Gstaad, which has abundant holistic wellness facilities and spas. After a day on the slopes, visitors can unwind, indulge in soothing treatments, and enjoy the tranquil alpine setting.
Meribel is ideally situated in the heart of Les Trois Vallees (Three Valleys), one of the world's largest linked ski areas. This location provides convenient access to more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) of interconnected slopes with a vast range of terrain. Endless possibilities for exploration and adventure await in this enormous ski area. State-of-the-art gondolas, chairlifts, and cable cars transport skiers and snowboarders throughout the resort and connect them to the wider Three Valleys ski area. This well-developed infrastructure minimizes wait times and maximizes time spent on the mountain. Meribel has some iconic peaks to admire, particularly Mont Vallon and Dent de Burgin. The natural beauty of the area creates an awe-inspiring backdrop for outdoor adventures. Meribel hosts a range of world-class skiing events, including the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and the Winter X Games. If timed right, visitors have the opportunity to witness top athletes in action and experience the excitement of these prestigious events. The resort is known as a family-friendly resort; it offers dedicated children's areas, ski schools, and activities catered specifically to young skiers. This makes Maribel an excellent choice for a family winter vacation with the kids. For those without kids, the lively après-ski and nightlife scene in Meribel is attractive. The resort is home to numerous bars, restaurants, and nightclubs where visitors can socialize, relax, and enjoy live music or DJ performances. In spite of its modern popularity, Meribel has managed to retain its traditional alpine village charm. The village features classic Savoyard architecture with wooden chalets, picturesque streets, and a warm and welcoming ambiance.
Lech has earned a reputation as a refined and upscale ski resort. It has been a preferred destination for royalty, celebrities, and discerning travelers seeking an exclusive and sophisticated winter getaway. The village exudes an elegant ambiance, featuring luxury hotels, gourmet restaurants, and upscale shops, all within the framework of a traditional and delightful Austrian alpine village, replete with wooden chalets and narrow streets. The combination of world-class amenities and alpine charm creates a unique atmosphere that appeals to those seeking a high-end ski vacation. Nestled within the Arlberg ski region of Austria, the resort boasts an expansive ski area encompassing more than 305 kilometers of interconnected slopes. And with its high altitude and favorable climate, Lech enjoys reliable snow conditions throughout the winter season, complemented by extensive snowmaking capabilities. The resort's off-piste and freeride opportunities are renowned, attracting thrill-seeking enthusiasts looking for adrenaline-pumping descents and untouched powder. For those seeking a break from downhill skiing, Lech offers a range of other winter activities, including cross-country skiing on meticulously groomed trails, snowshoeing amidst picturesque landscapes, ice skating, sledding, and winter hiking. Additionally, Lech provides excellent services such as ski schools with experienced instructors, wellness centers, spas, and après-ski venues. This combination of extensive ski terrain, exclusive atmosphere, and captivating alpine scenery firmly establishes Lech as a coveted destination for an unforgettable ski vacation in the Austrian Alps.
Kitzbuhel, Austria has rich Heritage; it is steeped in ski racing history and home to the world-famous Hahnenkamm downhill race, one of the most challenging and prestigious ski races on the global circuit. This heritage adds a unique and exciting dimension to the resort, attracting both avid skiers and fans of the sport who come to witness the races. You, too, can experience the same slopes as the pros. While Kitzbuhel certainly is a magnet for expert skiers, the resort does also offer a diverse range of terrain suitable for all skill levels. From gentle beginner slopes to steep and challenging runs, the resort is appropriate for skiers and snowboarders of every ability. The vast ski area, known as the KitzSki, encompasses more than 230 kilometers (143 miles) of well-groomed slopes. The KitzSki is also famous for some of its iconic ski runs, including the Streif downhill course, which challenges even the most experienced with its steep pitches, technical sections, and demanding terrain. The Streif has gained legendary status in the skiing world, attracting adrenaline junkies eager to conquer its formidable slopes. Nestled amidst the breathtaking Tyrolean Alps, Kitzbühel boasts beautiful mountain scenery and a fascinating town. There is a medieval town center with cobblestone streets and well-preserved historic buildings. Visitors can immerse themselves in the town's rich history, explore boutique shops, and savor traditional Tyrolean cuisine in cozy restaurants.
Les Trois Vallées, which translates to "The Three Valleys," is a renowned ski region located in the French Alps. It is one of the largest interconnected ski areas in the world and encompasses three major valleys: Saint-Bon, Allues, and Belleville. The three valleys are home to several world-class ski resorts, including Courchevel, Méribel, Val Thorens, Les Menuires, and La Tania. The interconnected nature of Les Trois Vallées allows skiers and snowboarders to explore the entire ski area, which features more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) of interconnected slopes. Les Trois Vallées benefits from its high altitude, resulting in excellent snow conditions throughout the winter season. The ski area includes glaciers and many slopes above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), ensuring reliable snow cover and an extended skiing season. Additionally, the region has invested in state-of-the-art snowmaking technology to supplement natural snowfall. Each of the three valleys within Les Trois Vallées has its own unique character and charm. Courchevel, known for its luxury and elegance, offers a range of high-end accommodations, Michelin-starred restaurants, and upscale boutiques. Méribel, with its traditional alpine village ambiance, combines the charm of a classic ski resort with modern amenities and a lively après-ski scene. Val Thorens, the highest resort in the region, is renowned for its powdery snow and abundance of ski-in, ski-out resorts. Beyond skiing, Les Trois Vallées offers a host of other winter activities and amenities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, tobogganing, snow parks and wellness facilities.
Whether visiting Switzerland, France, Austria or Italy, the Alps are an ideal location for a winter ski getaway. With huge mountains, iconic peaks, vast interconnected ski terrain, charming villages, lively après-ski scene and culinary delights, there's no questioning why the Alps are such a wildly-sought destination. The historical significance of the Alps as the birthplace of alpine skiing adds another fascinating layer of attraction. Witnessing international ski competitions and other winter sports events in the Alps, such as winter polo tournaments, are an added benefit for fans of winter recreation. With so many destination resorts spread across the Alps, it can be difficult to determine where to aim for your next vacation. We hope this guide to the 15 best ski resorts in the alps has helped you understand the nuances between the different ski resorts, and narrow down the right pick for you. But don't worry. No matter which destination you choose, you will enjoy the Alps. The 15 resorts listed above have firmly established themselves as the crème de la crème of winter destinations for good reason, so you really can't go wrong.