Top 10’s – Skiing resorts
The coveted skiing holiday – what’s not to love? The spectacular scenery, the fresh powder, the blue morning skies…the mid-afternoon cold mountain beer? Even we can appreciate that! We want to share with you our 10 personal favourite resorts. See what you think and plan an adventure today…
You may return to the same resort destination year in year out; you know the town, you know the pistes and its familiarity becomes more exciting with every visit. However, we want you to know what’s out there to explore. Europe, particularly France and Austria, tend to be our favourite destinations with the wealth of choice, quintessential chalet-lifestyle and often infamous après! But, have you ever thought of venturing further afield? Japan? New Zealand? Perhaps you might have forgotten the treasures closer to home – Italy? Bavaria? Some fantastic skiing is to be found in these places. We want to share with you our 10 personal favourite resorts. See what you think and plan an adventure today…
1. Bavaria, Munich’s Backcountry, Germany
Describe in 3 words? Uncrowded pristine power
You might associate Munich with large, rich and well known resorts that are fairly traditional to Austria; Kitzbühel (just over the border in Austria) is a good example. However the mountainous area is expansive and there is a lot than may meet the eye! If you prefer expanses of untouched terrain and would like to try backcountry ski touring, then this could be the place for you. It is off the radar for most, and therefore slightly cheaper, and the skiing far makes up for what it may lack in social vibrancy. Leave the crowds behind and explore the tree-lined runs for some incredible off-piste experiences.
2. Niesko, Japan
Describe in 3 words? Up-and-coming
First and foremost, this resort is unique because all the pistes boast magnificent views of Mt Yotei, a huge snow-capped volcano not dissimilar from Mt Fuji! If you’d rather look at where you’re going then you will not be disappointed either, for this resort is annually graced by some of the most consistent fresh and fluffiest powder in the world thanks to the snowstorms blowing in from Siberia. While locals have, of course, been enjoying this for years, foreigners have only recently discovered its wonders. English tour-operators are well-established there now, and it is possible to book English-speaking instructors, so waste no time in going to ski the 11m+ of snow typical of an ‘average’ Japanese winter!
3. Banff/Lake Louse, Canada
Describe in 3 words? The Big 3!
Banff is a small town located at the heart of Canada’s Banff National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and it is one of three fantastic ski resorts that make up ‘Canada’s Protected Playground’! The three different ski areas are Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, producing a wealth of skiing difficult to rival. The three resorts offer almost 8,000 acres of skiable terrain on one convenient, tri-area lift ticket. There’s terrain to suit every level and desire, from gentle groomed runs to some of the world’s most extreme in-bounds challenges. It is unsurprising that this area attracts an international demographic, imbuing the resorts with a great sense of atmosphere.
4. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France
Describe in 3 words? “Extreme skiing’s” birthplace
Basically, it’s famous for a reason. This renowned French resort has consistently ranked among the elite since hosting the very first winter Olympic Games in 1924. Tremendously long slopes (including the famous Vallée Blance glacier run), infinite possibilities and exceptional off-piste means we’re not surprised that people return year after year. Sublime views of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain, and a niche year-round tourist town ensure its place in our top 10.
5. Zermatt, Switzerland
Describe in 3 words? Car-free environment
Nestled in a deep valley, this all year round resort is dominated by the shadow of the Matterhorn which stands at an impressive 14,693ft. It’s uniqueness is founded in the car-free tranquillity, meaning you’ll be greeted by horse-pulled sleighs instead of traffic. But to the skiing – excellent snow conditions, long runs, and the world’s second biggest lift-served vertical drop make Zermatt the most popular of the Suisse resorts. We love its picturesque charm but nothing beats getting first lifts – and in Zermatt, we mean first…lift operation begins from 8am.
6. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Describe in 3 words? Chic winter destination
This resort followed in Chamonix’s footsteps, staging the Winter Olympics in the 1950s and is a popular stop on the World Cup skiing circuit for the women’s speed events. It may be one of Italy’s most famous ski towns but outside of that, the resort is relatively unknown, so we are keen to bring it to prominence! Its stunning scenery, extensive ski area and attractive town make Cortina a must-visit but watch the purse-strings…stylish, wealthy Italians flock to the luxury hotels and high-end fashion stores as eagerly as they do to the slopes.
7. Whistler, British Columbia
Describe in 3 words? Famous for heli-skiing
Whistler has everything – more runs, more snow, more terrain parks and more square mileage than almost any other resort, but still manages to retain a charming ski village feel. The ‘mega mountain’ towers over quaint restaurants and shops to create the best skiing in North America. And if you want to take your experience here to the next level, heli-skiing is a must. 423,000 acres, 174 glaciers and 475 runs…I don’t think we need more persuading!
8. Stowe, Vermont
Describe in 3 words? Perfect for families
An excellent ski/snowboard school and child-friendly amenities make Stowe Mountain Resort a popular family getaway. This quaint New England ski village is one of the few American resorts that have a lift-link to another resort, meaning that although the village is sleepier than some, there is plenty of skiing to make sure you’re also ready for bed at the end of the day! Other winter activities like the alpine slide will also keep kids occupied off the slopes.
9. Kitzbühel, Austria
Describe in 3 words? ‘Pearl (of) The Alps’
We mentioned Kitzbühel earlier as one of Austria’s more well-known resorts and this is for a reason – skiing began here in the winter of 1892 and the resort now offers everything from beginner slops to advanced, racing runs, featuring the most exciting downhill race course on the circuit – the Hahnenkamm. It leaves the crown of “Europe’s liveliest ski resort” to its Austrian sister, St. Anton, as the horse-drawn sleighs and cobbled streets make Kitzbühel one of the more romantic European winter getaways.
10. Snowbird/Alta, Utah
Describe in 3 words? Steep and deep
These neighbouring resorts are powder havens (though snowboarders beware – you’re not allowed in Alta!) and receive over 12m of snow a year. In order to make the most of the adventurous couloirs and challenging double-black diamond pistes, we’d recommend hiring a guide, even if for a day. The villages themselves are small, with very loyal locals, and the après scene is not as lively but the difficult skiing will tire you quite enough we’re sure…
If you’re inspired to take to the slopes, make sure you don’t take flight without our Sports Travel Insurance. It will cover you fully if you have a mishap on the slopes as well as if your flight is cancelled, your luggage is lost or your personal items are stolen.