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Have your best ski holiday in Europe

 

The glamorous ski fields of Europe are among the world’s most popular, for celebrity A-listers, expert skiers and beginners alike. It’s not exactly a budget holiday, but it’s hard not to be seduced by the world's most well-known winter wonderland. 

Your only challenge is figuring out which one to choose, and when to go! Fortunately, however, we’re here to help. Read on to learn all the ins and outs of the European ski scene, so you can get busy planning the best ski holiday ever.

 

Skiier

 

5 best European ski resorts to visit in 2019/2020

Chamonix

Chamonix, Mt Blanc, France
Best for solo travellers

Chamonix comprises six ski areas and several small fairytale villages. It’s the highest peak in Western Europe, and offers some of the most exhilarating skiing you’ll find anywhere.

This is also where you’ll find the legendary 20km Valleé Blanche off-piste ski route with a descent of 2700m. But there are also large beginner areas.

Chamonix is also home to Chalet Arberons (by Cold Fusion Chalets), which is exclusively for solo travellers.

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There are various sleeping arrangements available, and large social areas designed to help people relax in the company of like-minded strangers.

The nightlife is enviable, so whether you're looking for the loudest party, or the classiest, the après ski scene at Chamonix is the reason the term even exists.

 

Courchevel Resort

Courchevel, France
Best for couples

This is the ultimate in luxury romantic breaks. 

The only problem is figuring out where you’ll spend your money. There are 11 Michelin star restaurants, and you can spend over a grand a night on lodging if you want to. So if you're trying to impress your beloved, or simply create a romantic memory you'll never forget, this is it.

Accommodation is spread across four villages, and you can move seamlessly between your luxury digs, amazing restaurants, spas, and boutiques, all the while taking in the picturesque views.

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As for the skiing, Courchevel claims to have the largest ski area in all the world — 600km of slopes over three valleys. They guarantee snow throughout the winter and panoramic views. The resort also aims to provide easy slope access to people with mobility issues (handiski), and offers specialised teaching for people living with disabilities.

As with many ski resorts in Europe, bring your dancing shoes, because the Courchevel après ski scene is one you’ll want to indulge in. 

 

Zermatt Resort

Zermatt, Switerland
Best for families with teenagers

Zermatt is synonymous with glamor. But recently the resort has been marketing kids and teen coaching weeks to Australians. So it seems possible to leave your diamonds at home and ski here like a regular person. 

You can ski and snowboard at Zermatt every day of the year, and there are no shortage of ways to experience this resort, including by helicopter), or take the next step and heli-ski. Intermediate skiers will be happiest here, with advanced snowriders needing to go off-piste for a challenge.

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One of the best things for teenagers at Zermatt is the snow-park, which is set up with obstacles (like tunnels, hills, small jumpts, etc) and a Funslope. There’s also an Escape room and plenty of other youngsters to have fun with in the Igloo Village.

 

Donovaly Park Snow

Donovaly Park Snow, Slovakia
Best for families with young children

This affordable Slovakian resort is ideal if you’re travelling with young kids. 

The great thing about this resort is that it caters very well for absolute beginners, meaning your little ones will probably enjoy themselves more. There are also lessons in various languages. 

Donovaly has one of the largest children’s areas in Europe and there are also plenty of non-ski related activities, like dog sledding, flood-lit tobogganing, ice-skating, and an Ice Camp.

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It’s good to remember that skiing in Europe is not limited to Switzerland, France, Italy and Austria, and winter in central Europe is a unique experience. And  there’s plenty to do around the town of Donovaly itself, such as visiting Habakuky, a fairytale village that young kids will find unforgettable.

 

Cortina D'Ampezzo

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 
Best for seniors and experienced skiers

Located in the world-famous Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo has a sophisticated front and glamourous heart. It’s easy to see why it featured in the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only. 

Beginners can enjoy flat practice areas, but advanced skiers can put themselves through their paces on the steepest black run in the Dolomites, the Canalone Staunies. And if you really want to go all-out Bond, you could try heliskiing at the nearby (and incredibly beautiful) Valle d'Aosta, which is about six hours away by car.

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Cortina also has a thousand years of history, so there's plenty to absorb and explore by just wandering the streets.

The après ski here is more genteel than other resorts, but what it lacks in exciting nightlife, it makes up with cobbled streets, wood-fired pizzas, and cozy wine bars...and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of the enrosadira, the pink colour that washes over the Dolomites at sunset. 

 

 

Where should I go snowboarding in Europe?

Cervinia Resort

For the beginner:
Cervinia, Italy

Known for decent snowfall and easy slopes that are fantastic for beginner to intermediate snowboarders. It’s not necessarily the most pretty of European resorts, nor does it have the most exciting runs, but even the best snowboarders have to start somewhere.

Kitzbuhel

For the intermediate: Kitzbühel, Austria

  •  A variety of slopes for all levels and many off-piste options await the avid snowboarder. The lower slopes don’t have as reliable snow cover as the higher slopes, but the consolation is plenty of backcountry freeriding through the region.

Verbier

For the advanced:
Verbier, Switzerland

  • Some of the best off-piste in the Alps, and advanced heli-snowboarding tours… this is a heavenly resort for those who’ve cut their teeth on easier slopes. There’s even a snow park with jumps, boxes and rails...and some legendary apres-ski to enjoy after.

 

when Should I go?

There’s somewhere to ski somewhere in Europe every single day of the year. Having said that, here are a few parameters.

  • End of November to mid-to-late April

    Official Ski Season  (except Finland which stays open until early June).

  • January and any time from late March

    Best deals (though you risk poor snow conditions at the latter end).

  • February – March

    Peak season. This means it’s busy pretty much everywhere, but you’ll get good snow coverage and a lively atmosphere.

  • Christmas, New Year, Easter, February half-term holidays:

    Also a busy period, with prices almost double the standard rate. 

 

skiing in Europe: What could go wrong?
 

Off Piste Skiing

Off-piste? You're on your own!
 "Off-piste" in Europe doesn't mean the same thing as in North America, New Zealand and Australia. If you're not on a marked run, you're off-piste, and there's no-one on patrol. You can easily get to some amazing off-piste terrain, and just as easily get into more trouble than you bargained for. Hire a guide, and never go on your own.  

Avalanche

Dangerous Avalanches

The high number of avalanches in the alpine regions of France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy leads to injury and death every year. Backcountry explorers are advised to carry a shovel and a beacon or transceiver, and always pay attention to the colour-coded avalanche warning signs on the slopes. It’s important to note that our travel insurance doesn’t cover back-country skiing.

 

injuries

Injuries on hard snow

A combination of low temperatures and lack of snow (which was experienced across Europe in 2019) makes for an icy surface. Hard snow makes it much harder to control your skis, so if you’re a beginner, it might be best to stay away. It’s not as forgiving as the soft, powdery stuff, so you’re much more likely to get hurt when you fall.

 

stretching

You don't prep your body

Ideally, prepare for your trip by starting your pre-ski fitness regime around six to eight weeks before you head off on holiday. Even light skiing uses muscles you might never even realised you had. With some light weights, yoga or pilates, you could avoid serious injury. 

ski insurance fAQs for Europe

  • Does my insurance reimburse me for an unused days on a ski pass?
  • Does my travel insurance cover me for skiing in multiple countries?
  • Am I covered for search and rescue costs in different parts of Europe?
  • Am I covered for lifts being shut down?
  • Am I covered for cross country skiing in Europe?

 

Get a Ski Travel insurance quote in minutes! start here

 

 


helpful resources for Skiiers

First time skier?

Lucky you, there's nothing quite like going skiing for the first time. We've found a handy resource that'll let you have your best ski trip ever. Find our more here. 

Smart Traveller's Europe page

The Australian Government's Smart Traveller site is a must for anyone who's going skiing. Find out country specific travel advice, passport information, and visa information.

1Cover's Medical Hub

Do you have pre-existing medical conditions? Or are you pregnant? Maybe you're concerned about the types of vaccinations you get while skiing. Find out everything you need to know here.