Already thinking about booking that winter ski trip? To get the low-down on the top resorts, Where2 has teamed up with The Ski Club of Great Britain. Here are their recommendations for getting the most from the slopes.
Les Arcs consists of several villages, all located at different levels. Starting lower down the mountain, the valley town of Bourg Saint Maurice is linked via a quick funicular ride to the Les Arcs towns of 1600, 1800, 1950 and 2000. All villages are well-placed to access Les Arcs’ vast terrain. The skiing is great for all levels with plenty of wide open pistes to carve up. Les Arcs is also linked to neighbouring La Plagne for those looking for even more ground to cover.
Méribel is a British favourite and, despite being quite a large village, it is pretty with a good range of skiing and legendary partying. There is always a lot going on in the town, both on the slopes and after skiing when you’ll find après-ski ranging from partying to comedy festivals. Lying in the famous Three Valleys ski area, Méribel has some of the best skiing in the world – with something for everyone.
Val d’Isère is perhaps the most famous ski resort in Europe. It’s pristine and pretty and boasts some amazing skiing over a vast terrain. There is lots going on and the resort is famous for its après-ski and nightlife scene. With the wide variety of entertainment on offer, it's easy to see why so many Brits are attracted to the area. There’s also extensive skiing for all levels across the Espace Killy ski area (which is also linked to Tignes). Small wonder many people return to Val d’Isère year after year.
Being part of the Portes de Soleil ski area, Morzine combines the bustle of a busy, vibrant town with some of the finest skiing in Europe. The resort is also great for people wanting short transfers as it’s only 1ó hours’ drive from Geneva. The village is picturesque and offers a good range of both chalet and hotel accommodation. The nightlife can get busy, but you can just as easily find a quiet bar or café to enjoy an après-ski drink.
With four ski areas offering epic off-piste, Chamonix is one of the world’s most famous mountain towns, with awe-inspiring scenery and a decent party scene. Chamonix is a large yet attractive town incorporating several satellite villages. There is skiing to suit a range of abilities but the resort is not ideal for beginners. After skiing the town is usually buzzing and there is drinking, dining and accommodation to suit all budgets.
One of Switzerland's most famous ski areas, Verbier has managed to retain its character despite growing into one of Europe’s largest ski resorts. It’s popular with Brits and Swiss alike and, with four valleys to choose from, there are endless skiing options. Its nightlife is almost as famous as its powder, so Verbier's fame is well deserved. The skiing is suitable for all ski levels – from beginners through to experts.
As one of Austria’s largest ski areas, Saalbach has plenty of skiing for all abilities. Experts will love some of the steeper runs above the town and intermediates have the most extensive suitable terrain. There are two resort bases to the ski area and these provide plenty of accommodation, most of which is made up of hotels. Saalbach also has an excellent nightlife scene with restaurants, bars and clubs to suit most tastes.
Kaprun is one of Austria’s glacier resorts. Situated high above the town is the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, which offers guaranteed snow throughout the winter. It’s also open for some of the summer months, making it an excellent year-round destination. The majority of the ski area is at high altitude, with only a few runs going down to the town, so this means snow conditions are usually pretty good throughout the season.
Zell am See
Zell am See’s scenery is as much of a draw as its skiing. The lake in the valley dominates nearly every view from Zell’s varied ski area. There are quite a few black runs under the main cable car, which is surrounded by a great range of blue and red runs. This isn’t the most snow-sure resort but it has an excellent snow-making system and the glacier at Kaprun is only 15 minutes away. Once the ski day has finished, head for the main town and experience some of the finest Austrian hospitality!