Explore top European ski destinations

Explore top European ski destinations

by Kristi Adams
Stripes Europe

Whether it’s the peace of watching softly falling snow, the calmness of being tucked away in front of the fireplace of a mountainside lodge, or the rush of adrenaline from racing down the slopes, there is something magical about a ski destination holiday.

Ski destinations, like snow days, transform landscapes into fantastic wonderlands, just beckoning us to come out and explore.

So, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly resort, heart-pounding black runs in off-piste territory, relaxing in snug little pubs for a well-deserved après-ski, or a romantic getaway — these European ski destinations offer jaw-dropping scenery.

One pass fits all in Kleinwalsertal-Oberstdorf, Austria

Ski tows and child-safe chair lifts make the slopes of Kleinwalsertal particularly suited for younger skiers. A single ski pass, which can be purchased at any cable car office, unlocks access to 52 lifts and 74 runs.

Although the Kleinwalsertal valley has just 5,000 residents, there are more than 10,300 beds for tourists! With plush multi-star hotels, alpine inns, holiday apartments for families, privately managed guesthouses, hostels and alpine campsites, you are sure to find accommodations to match any budget.

There are also countless huts, pubs and hotel bars in the villages of Riezlern, Hirschegg, Mittelberg and Baad for the perfect après-ski after a long, chilly day on the slopes.

Featuring more than 120 kilometers of ski runs and 42 kilometers of cross-country ski trails, this is one winter paradise not to miss.

The iconic Matterhorn of Zermatt, Switzerland

The “Mountain of Mountains” has been luring visitors to Switzerland since the 1850s. The most-photographed mountain in the world, the Matterhorn towers over the picturesque village of Zermatt, a rustic village of weather-darkened timber buildings, where strolls through narrow alleyways take you back into the 16th century.  

Rest your legs after a run on the slopes by taking the Gornergrat Railway, a fantastic old-fashioned cogwheel train that takes passengers directly from Zermatt station to the summit of the Gornergrat. With a vertical climb of 4,819 feet, this is one train ride that might get your heart pounding more than the five dozen black runs on Zermatt!

With 75 blue, 63 black and 220 red slopes, Zermatt offers an alpine adventure for all levels to enjoy — even small children can get their ski legs on the Trockener Steg.

Daredevils, channel your inner James Bond in Mürren, Switzerland

Featuring one of the scariest black runs on earth at 9,744 feet high and a descent grade of 75 percent, it’s no surprise the Schilthorn is home to the world’s longest downhill ski race, the Inferno, which was started in 1928.

For a slightly less heart-pounding adventure, take in the Swiss skyline of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau summits by cable car, with an ascent of 6,916 feet. Visitors can follow in James Bond’s footsteps by visiting the interactive adventure exhibition Bond World 007 or the new 007 Walk of Fame.

Don’t miss the Skyline Walk, a viewing terrace that hangs over a precipice. Naturally the platform offers a crystal-clear floor over the Alps to ensure can see all of the breathtaking scenery.

The Mürren-Schilthorn is one of three main ski areas in the Jungfrau region. The area has more than 200 kilometers of slopes served by 45 ski lifts, all covered by the Sportpass Jungfrau lift pass.

Explore the tallest mountain in Western Europe, France’s Mont-Blanc

The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix in 1924, and winter enthusiasts have been coming back ever since. Situated near the French-Swiss border, Chamonix’s main attraction is Mont-Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps at 15,774 feet. A network of vast glacier systems and wide powder slopes make the spectacular Mont Blanc an irresistible lure for adventurers, romantics and families.

Thrilling off-piste action in avalanche territory, snowboarding, paragliding, dog sledding, and mountaineering — you’ll find it all in Chamonix. Chamonix Mont-Blanc’s five ski resorts offer the perfect holiday.

Chalet for two, please.

When love is in the mountain air, and nothing will do but a romantic getaway, check out the list of 10 top ski resorts available at www.sno.co.uk/ski-resort/most-romantic-ski-resorts. From sunsets over the Dolomites in Cortina, Italy to pots of fondue in the original ski town of St. Moritz, Switzerland — you will find a fairy-tale village you’ll never want to leave. Get ready for moonlit ski evenings, spas, Michelin-starred restaurants and horse-drawn carriages for two.

Head to Beautiful Bavaria, Germany

Rising nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, and offering gorgeous glacier-top skiing, the Zugspitze is Germany’s highest vantage point. On a fair weather day, you can actually see four countries: Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, and glimpse more than 400 peaks.

Courtesy of the Schneeferner glacier (schnee = snow, ferner = glacier), the region provides snowy conditions seven months of the year, and remains one of the most popular skiing destinations in Germany. With almost 75 miles of downhill runs at all difficulty levels, 68 miles of cross-country trails, a terrain park and Germany's first superpipe, the Zugsptize boasts plenty to attract pleasure seekers, skiing fanatics and families with children.

The Zugspitze isn’t the only show in town in Bavaria, though. There are 22 more of Bavaria’s most stunning ski areas to explore! Don’t forget, the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a wonderful lodging opportunity for military members.

Can’t wait for the slopes to open?

If you find yourself craving fresh powder and wishing you could enjoy the thrill of winter regardless of season, you’re in luck!

Perfectly situated on the border of Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium, Snowhall in France offers the longest indoor ski track in the world at 2,034 feet. Featuring slopes, a toboggan run, and tubing, Snowhall offers winter fun for the whole family (or an awesome first date).

Just over the German border in the Netherlands is the world’s largest indoor ski resort, offering two ski destinations year-round. Even in August heat, the temperature at SnowWorld remains a crisp 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Complete with lifts, steep slopes and daily fresh powder, the only thing missing from these resorts is you. They even offer kids birthday parties and a teen adventure camp!  

Skier, or snowboarder, beginner or expert, these top European ski destinations have got you covered! See you on the slopes! 

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