An Expert Guide to Skiing in Europe: The Best Resorts in the AlpsPublished on 03/22/2023 · 8 min readLooking to take an overseas ski trip this season? Look no further! Ski Expert Will Koons breaks down the top five ski resorts in Europe.
Photo by Petr Kratochvil
The European continent is home to some of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in the world—making it a top destination for skiing enthusiasts from all over the globe. From the majestic Swiss Alps to the picturesque Italian Dolomites, the continent offers a diverse range of terrains, snow conditions, and cultural experiences for every type of skier.
In this guide, we will walk through the best ski resorts the continent has to offer—providing you with an in-depth look at each location, its unique features, and what makes it stand out from the rest.
Chamonix Mont-Blanc: Best for Expert Skiers and Snowboarders
Chamonix is a world-renowned ski and snowboard destination located in the French Alps. It's known for its stunning scenery, world-class skiing, and vibrant après-ski scene. The area offers a wide range of winter activities, including skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, and more.
The resort—which features a variety of challenging terrain, including steep couloirs, deep powder, and glacier skiing—attracts expert skiers and snowboarders from around the world. Further, the off-piste skiing in Chamonix is some of the best in the world, and there are plenty of guided tours and courses available for those who want to explore the backcountry.
Location: Chamonix, France Key info: 69 runs, 47 lifts, 2,872 meters of elevation, five meters of snowfall per season Distance: 80 kilometers from Geneva Airport
Chamonix Mont-Blanc is one of my favorite ski resorts in the world. The terrain is challenging and varied, and the scenery is absolutely stunning. The resort can get crowded during peak times, but there are plenty of hidden spots to explore—if you know where to look. The lift system can be a bit confusing for first-timers, but the resort offers plenty of guided tours and lessons to help skiers navigate the mountain.
Overall, I highly recommend Chamonix Mont-Blanc for expert skiers and snowboarders who are looking for a true adventure. However, beginners and intermediate skiers may find the terrain too challenging, and the resort can be expensive compared to other options in the area.
St. Anton Ski Resort: Best for a True Austrian Alps Experience
St. Anton is a world-class ski resort located in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps. It's known for its challenging terrain, lively après-ski scene, and beautiful scenery. With over 300 kilometers of trails, the resort is synonymous with steep slopes, deep powder, and challenging off-piste skiing. St. Anton also has a wide range of on-piste skiing options for all levels—including plenty of beginner and intermediate runs.
The resort also offers a wide range of winter activities, including skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and more. Further, it’s home to picturesque terrain like the famous Valluga run and its charming Tyrolean village, which features plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars.
St. Anton’s season is long, typically running from December through April, and the snow conditions are generally excellent all throughout. Easily accessible by train, bus, or car, the resort is located only 100 kilometers from Innsbruck Airport.
Location: St. Anton, Austria Key info: 305 kilometers of runs, 88 lifts, 2,811 meters of elevation, seven meters of snowfall per season Distance: 100 kilometers from Innsbruck Airport
I’ve found that St. Anton Ski Resort offers an incredible range of skiing and snowboarding options for all levels, and the scenery is absolutely stunning. The après-ski scene in St. Anton is also fantastic, with plenty of lively bars and restaurants located throughout the village.
However, St. Anton can be a bit overwhelming for beginners and intermediate skiers. The terrain is challenging, and the resort can get crowded during peak times. Additionally, the cost of skiing and snowboarding in St. Anton can be quite high. Overall, I highly recommend St. Anton Ski Resort for expert skiers and snowboarders who are looking for a true Austrian alpine adventure.
Matterhorn Ski Paradise: Best for Stunning, Iconic Scenery
Zermatt, in Switzerland, is one of the most famous ski-resort towns in the world. It's known for its views of the Matterhorn—the highest of the peaks in the Alps—as well as its extensive network of ski lifts and runs.
Matterhorn Ski Paradise is the largest ski resort in the Zermatt area, with over 360 kilometers of runs and some of the most stunning views in the Alps. These trails include intermediate and advanced skiing piste terrain, as well as its challenging off-piste skiing. Though the resort is also home to plenty of on-piste skiing options for all levels, including beginner and intermediate runs.
The resort has an endless season, advertising 365 days per year, and snow conditions are generally excellent throughout the season. Zermatt is easily accessible by train, and is located only 235 kilometers from Zurich Airport.
Location: Zermatt, Switzerland Key info: 360 kilometers of runs, 54 lifts, 3,883 meters of elevation, seven meters of snowfall per season Distance: 235 kilometers from Zurich Airport
I can attest that skiing in Zermatt is an extraordinary experience. The town boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Apart from its hundreds of kilometers of runs, Matterhorn Ski Paradise offers challenging off-piste skiing—making it a popular destination for adventurous skiers.
The cable car is the primary mode of transportation, and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars available for visitors. I highly recommend Zermatt and Matterhorn Ski Paradise for intermediate and advanced skiers seeking an unforgettable skiing experience.
Courchevel: Best for Luxury
The Les Trois Vallées is the largest ski area in the world, and offers visitors access to a vast network of over 600 kilometers of pistes. Courchevel 1850 is the most exclusive and glamorous village in the area, offering a wide range of high-end accommodation, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife options. The resort features four different villages, each with its distinct character, and is easily accessible from nearby airports and train stations.
Courchevel is known for its challenging slopes and excellent off-piste skiing, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It's a great spot for advanced skiers looking for a challenging and exclusive skiing experience.
Location: Courchevel 1850 is located in the highest village in the Courchevel area, at an elevation of 1,850 meters. Key info: The resort features 150 kilometers of runs, 58 lifts, and a variety of on-piste and off-piste options. The challenging slopes are full of steep gradients and moguls.
I absolutely loved my experience at Courchevel 1850. The slopes were challenging, and the scenery was breathtaking. The village itself was lovely, with plenty of Michelin-star restaurants and bars to choose from. However, it may not be suitable for beginners or those on a budget. Overall, I highly recommend Courchevel 1850 for advanced skiers looking for a luxurious and exclusive skiing experience.
Madonna di Campiglio Ski Area: Best Resort for Après
Madonna di Campiglio is one of the largest ski resorts in the Italian Alps. Located in the Trentino region, it offers a wide range of runs suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. With reliable snow coverage and modern lifts, the resort has a good mix of easy, intermediate, and difficult slopes, as well as several terrain parks for freestyle enthusiasts. Known for its stunning views of the Dolomites and the Brenta range, the Madonna di Campiglio Ski Area also allows skiers to get a taste of the Italian nightlife after a hard day’s work.
Location: Trentino, Italian Alps Key info: 150 km of ski slopes, five terrain parks, Highest point: 2,500 meters Vertical drop: 1,000 meters Snowfall: Around 150 cm per year, 61 lifts
Madonna di Campiglio has a lot to offer. The scenery is truly breathtaking, with views of the Dolomites and the Brenta range from every angle. The ski area is well-designed, with a variety of runs and modern lifts that ensure minimal wait times. The town itself is charming and offers a good selection of restaurants, shops, and other amenities. Though where this resort really shines is in its nightlife. I have found some of the most fun clubs and bars for after-hours apres.
The resort is best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers, but beginners will also find plenty of options to learn and progress. Overall, Madonna di Campiglio is a top-notch ski resort that I highly recommend. Go to ski, stay to party!
Other Resorts to Consider
While we've covered some of the best European ski resorts, there are plenty of others worth taking a look at. As a bonus, it is also worth checking out resorts in Sweden and Norway.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
Famous for its luxurious atmosphere and high-end boutiques, St. Moritz is also home to some of the best skiing in the world. The resort is located in the Swiss Alps and is easily accessible from the airports of Zurich and Milan.
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
Located in the Dolomites, Cortina d'Ampezzo is known for its breathtaking scenery and diverse ski terrain. The resort is easily accessible from airports in Venice and Innsbruck.
Renowned for its lively après-ski scene and extensive ski area, Ischgl is a popular choice for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The resort is located in the Austrian Alps, and is easily accessible from the Innsbruck and Munich airports.
Connect With an Expert
Whether you’re looking for pristine slopes, stunning scenery, or lively après-ski activities, there’s a resort out there for you. We hope this Expert Guide has helped you narrow down your options and find the perfect destination for your next winter adventure.
If you’re ready to start planning your trip, or would like free, customized gear recommendations, reach out to a Winter Sports Expert at Curated. With our personalized recommendations and insider knowledge, we can help you make the most of your European ski trip. Don't hesitate to chat with us to get started on your dream winter getaway!