When deciding exactly where to ski or snowboard there is, quite literally, a world of choice. Whilst France and Austria are the most obvious options for British skiers, you can ski everywhere from Kazakhstan to New Mexico via Alaska or Chile. We look at the 10 best places to ski .
Choices are inevitably going to be subjective. What works for an expert skier with an unlimited budget will be very different to the holiday chosen by a family with beginners looking closely at what they spend. Picking just 10 destinations for skiing or snowboarding it’s going to be hard, but we’ve selected our favourites.
For serious gears Chamonix will always be something of a Mecca. With the dramatic backdrop of Mont Blanc there are four separate ski areas and a vast amount of off-piste. Chamonix as a town has real character with lots of bars restaurants and shops as well as some great places to stay. The best way to really explore Chamonix is by hiring a guide. The Vallee Blanche is Chamonix’s most iconic ski run and it is a must visit run for any serious skier. Chamonix doesn’t really work for novice skiers or young families, there are definitely better choices for these groups.
A little like Chamonix, St Anton is on the must visit list for all long time skiers. There is a huge choice of challenging skiing, again set in dramatic scenery. For many St Anton is considered the birthplace of recreational Alpine skiing. There is lots of life away from the slopes, with St Anton famed for its apres ski nightlife. It is worth noting that the resort can get busy and it is not going to suit everyone’s budgets. If cash is tight you are probably better off looking at alternatives.
Breckenridge is often overshadowed by other Colorado resorts such as Vail, Aspen or Steamboat. We like Breckenridge though, not just because of the skiing but also because the resort itself is lively and attractive. A lot of North American ski resorts are very spread out and largely made up of purpose-built condos. Breckenridge was originally an old mining town and you can really see it’s history on the main street. The skiing is snow sure and high altitude, but that brings with it Breckenridge’s only real negative – there’s a real risk of feeling sick for the first couple of days at a result level of 3000 m.
Sierra Nevada is a bit of a left field choice. many people don’t realise that there is great high altitude snow sure skiing in southern Spain. The skiing is very good for beginners and intermediates, although some of the slopes are quite exposed if the wind starts to blow. The real attraction of Sierra Nevada is being able to combine a few days skiing with a couple of days of winter sun on the Costa del Sol. There’s also the appeal of apres ski tapas!
Les Gets has long been a favourite for families. The resort is attractive and set in a sheltered valley with a great choice of chalets, hotels and self-catering accommodation. It’s a short transfer from Geneva Airport, generally has good snow cover despite the low altitude and has some excellent ski schools.You can also quickly link into the Portes du Soleil ski area which includes Morzine, Avoriaz and a handful of Swiss resorts.
It would be impossible to write a roundup of the best places to ski without including at least one resort in the vast 3 Valleys ski area. We have chosen Les Menuires as it has its own great skiing along with quick links to Courchevel. Meribel and Val Thorens. The Les Menuires valley also offers great value compared to its neighbours. There was a good choice of apartments, hotels and some catered chalets. You’ll also find some excellent places to eat out on the mountain. Those seeking a bit more character might choose to stay further down the valley in Saint Martin de Belleville.
Skiers don’t always consider Sweden when thinking of a snow sports destination. Åre has a lot to recommend it though and can be a strong choice for families. In general the skiing suits beginners and intermediates and there are a lot of off the slope activities, including sled rides, tobogganing, snowmobiling or even ice fishing. Åre can be a great fun and slightly alternative choice for your ski holiday. During the winter season you can fly direct from the UK to nearby Östersund.
Cervinia is the perfect resort for people who like cruising gentle runs in the sunshine (which is a lot of us!). The slopes are set beneath the impressive peak of the Matterhorn and you can ski across to Zermatt, although the link is a little time consuming. Nursery slopes in the village are excellent and there is a good choice of accommodation and places to eat out all with traditional Italian hospitality. It’s not a great resort for skiers seeking challenging runs and there are more attractive Italian resorts.
Verbier is another big name resort known to most skiers. There is some superb and challenging skiing, including lots of great off-piste and mogul runs. The village itself is very attractive with lots of high quality accommodation, restaurants and bars. Verbier is a part of the 4 Valleys resort network, but that’s not quite as impressive as it sounds; it’s no rival to the 3 Valleys in France in terms of quantity or quality of terrain. The downside of all of the popularity and choice is that, like much of Switzerland, Verbier can be (very) expensive.
Whistler is epic in terms of both scale and reputation. It has a superb snow record and almost Alpine scenery. The village is attractive and there is a good range of accommodation, bars and restaurants. If we could only visit one North American resort then, on balance, Whistler would have to be it. Queues and crowds can, however, be a bit of a problem so think carefully about when you visit; you may have to accept that the weekends will be fairly hectic.