Top 10 Popular Ski Holiday Destinations in Europe

February 3, 2024 in Best Destinations
Top 10 Popular Ski Holiday Destinations in Europe

Looking to take to the slopes this winter? Here are some of the best destinations in Europe to suit all pockets and levels of ability.

10. Formigal Ski Resort, Spain

Formigal Ski Resort, Spain

Another jewel in Spain’s crown of affordable ski resorts is Formigal. It’s the largest of Spain’s ski areas with 137 km (85 mi) of slopes. Especially good as a family-friendly ski destination, and for beginners and intermediates of all ages, the ski area is spread over four valleys and snow is guaranteed all season due to investment in a state-of-the-art snowmaking system. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers can practise in the two snow parks and there’s a full range of other winter sports activities, including sledging, skidoos, night skiing, snowshoeing and tubing. Spanish nightlife is always lively, and Formigal is no exception!

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Lift Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €39/day, €156-€201/week, €530-€665/season
Open: 26 Nov to 22 Apr (9:00-16:30)
Contact: +34 (0) 675 83 40 66
Website: www.aramon.co.uk

9. Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, Spain

Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, Spain

The Pyrenees in Spain offers some terrific, affordable ski resorts and Sierra Nevada in southern Andalucia is excellent for beginners and intermediates. One of the highest ski resorts in Europe, it has 67km (41mi) of wide, open slopes. There are some superb intermediate runs, and a few off-piste challenges for the more advanced. Those seeking snowboard holidays will find a snow park with a half-pipe. As for nightlife, late evening is when things really get started. Unfortunately, its altitude means that it’s also prone to bad weather that can close the whole resort, but if you’re lucky, it offers great budget trips for skiers of all abilities.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Lift Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €31-€44/day, €183-€230/week, €1,000/season
Open: 26 Nov to 15 Apr (9:00-16:45)
Contact: +34 958-249100
Website: www.sierranevada.co.uk

8. Saalbach Ski Resort, Austria

Saalbach Ski Resort, Austria

Saalbach is one of the best ski holidays around for those looking for an active nightlife, but is also superb for skiers of all abilities, snowboard holidays, for groups and for family ski holidays. With a reliable snowfall, the midwinter season is a good bet, but the area is south-facing so sunshine makes snow cover a bit more hit and miss as spring approaches. Saalbach is linked to Hinterglemm, offering more than 200km (25mi) of slopes linked by ski-lifts. It perhaps favours the better intermediates, who have access to plenty of runs; and there are 13km of pistes reserved just for snowboarders.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Tickets (Jan 2014): €31-€37/day, €248/week (21 Dec to 6 Jan and 25 Dec to 14 Mar)
Open: 22 Dec to 15 Mar (8:30-16:30)
Contact: +43 (0) 6541 6900
Website: www.saalbach.com

7. Alpbach Ski Resort, Austria (beginners)

Alpbach Ski Resort, Austria

One of the most family-friendly ski destinations, Alpbach features only 63km of pistes, but all are easily accessible from the village. For young children and novices, the wide slopes are well-maintained and there are good quality ski schools and childcare facilities. For the more advanced, there are few challenges on-piste, but plenty of off-piste terrain and cross-country trails; and a new ski-lift now connects Alpbach to the Wildschönau ski area. For those seeking snowboard holidays, there’s a fun park and two half-pipes. Unsurprisingly for such a family-friendly resort, the nightlife is relatively quiet, but there are a few late-opening bars.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €25/2 hrs, €41/day, €225/week (High Season)
Open: 7 Dec to 7 Apr
Contact: +43 (0) 5336 200941
Website: www.alpbach.at

6. Laax Ski Resort, Switzerland

Laax Ski Resort, Switzerland

Known as one of Europe’s sunniest and snowiest ski resorts, Laax features 235 km of pistes to suit all abilities across three linked areas. It’s a great place for ski holidays for kids, with The Snow Wonderland, a ski school where they learn to ski while also learning about their surroundings in song and activities. The area is great for skiers of all abilities, though has most to offer to intermediates. Advanced skiers can benefit from the excellent freeride runs. With four snowparks, a superpipe and minipipe, there’s plenty for snowboarders too. There’s a range of affordable accommodation for those hunting budget trips and some good nightlife.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €60.90/day, €460/14 days (Winter Season)
Open: 17 Dec to 15 April (8:30-16:30)
Contact: +41 (0) 81 920 81 81
Website: www.laax.com

5. Engelberg Ski Resort, Switzerland

Engelberg Ski Resort, Switzerland

Engelberg is a well-established resort but remains a quiet and relatively well-kept secret, despite its 82km (51mi) of marked pistes and hosting one of the largest vertical descents in the world (2,000m/ 6,560ft) from the top of the lift system to the town. Many who visit return time and time again, naming it as one of the best ski resorts around. Its high altitude guarantees it a long, snow-sure season. There are a few gentler runs for beginners, but the area will suit good intermediate and advanced skiers better, with long descents and numerous off-piste options. For nightlife, there are sufficient bars and restaurants to suit all budgets.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): CHF60/day, CHF840/season
Open: 1 Oct to 28 May (8:30-17:00)
Contact: +41 (0) 41 639 7777
Website: www.engelberg.com

4. Passo Tonale Ski Resort, Italy

Passo Tonale Ski Resort, Italy

This is another of Italy’s highest resorts, so offers good snow and a long season. It is also one of the more affordable ski resorts, with options to cater to all budgets; it’s definitely one of the better family-friendly ski destinations. This perhaps reflects the lack of challenges for the advanced skier, but makes it ideally suited to beginners and lower intermediates. With 80km of uncrowded pistes, there is plenty of opportunity to practise and improve. In terms of nightlife, there is a good selection of bars and restaurants.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €32-€45/day, €515-€725/season
Open: 23 Dec to 14 Apr (9:00-17:00)
Contact: +39 (0) 364 903838
Website: www.valdisole.net

3. Cervinia Ski Resort, Italy

Cervinia Ski Resort, Italy

This is one of Italy’s highest ski resorts with over 200km of ski runs. Lying on the Italian side of the Matterhorn, its high altitude means the snow season is long but prone to high winds. It is best for intermediate skiers, who will enjoy the long stretches of gentle runs to practice, but has not much to offer advanced skiers unless they pop over to nearby Zermatt (linked by a lift - for a fee!). For beginners, the nursery slopes are gentle and sheltered. The nightlife is limited, although there are a few bars and clubs.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €36-€38/day, €444-€1,280/season
Open: 29 Oct to 6 May (8:30-16:30)
Contact: +39 (0) 166 949136
Website: www.cervinia.it

2. Val d'Isere Ski Resort, France

Val d'Isere Ski Resort, France

One of the best places to ski for a family or a party with mixed abilities. There are facilities for everyone, from nursery slopes with children’s and beginners’ schools in the heart of the resort to the far more challenging L’Espace Killy and the pistes on the glacier at Le Fornet. As well as the 300km of pistes from green and red to black runs, there are also countless, exhilarating off-piste and freeride options for the adventurous. The town hosts a very lively nightlife, although it’s not the most cost-efficient in terms of eating and drinking.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €30-€39/day, €999/season
Open: 26 Nov to 2 May (9:30-16:30)
Contact: +33 (0) 479 060660
Website: www.valdisere.com

1. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Ski Resort, France

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc Ski Resort, France

One of the most popular ski destinations in France, Chamonix skiing is spread across five mountains.  There are slopes for all abilities, including facilities for children, beginners and intermediates; but advanced skiers are drawn by the steep runs and off-piste powder on glaciers on Aiguille du Midi and Grands Montets.  The area also includes the north side of Mont Blanc’s summit and the famed 20km (12mi) Valley Blanche, the longest off-piste run in Europe. For snowboard holidays, it offers two snowparks and a half-pipe. There is also a wealth of natural features allowing freestyle skiing, so Chamonix really does have something to offer every snow enthusiast.

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Advanced
Ski Pass Prices (Jan 2014): €51.50/day, €286/week, €1,045/season
Open: 13 Dec to 6 May (8:00-17:00)
Contact: +33 (0) 450 530024
Website: www.chamonix.com