If you’re in the mood for a skiing holiday, Europe’s most popular ski resorts have reliable snow cover and runs that will challenge skiers and riders of all abilities. These resorts also feature world-class après-ski activities, from a vibrant night-life to family-friendly attractions. Best of all, Europe’s top ski destinations cater to travellers of all budget levels and are easily accessible by air or land from many major cities.

The Best Popular Ski Destinations
Most Popular Ski Destinations123_456 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Les Trois Vallées, France

Europe’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallées, features three major resorts within three striking valleys. Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens are known for their luxury accommodations and thriving nightlife for younger winter sports enthusiasts. The region is also known for smaller, more affordable and family-friendly resorts at La Tania, Les Menuires, St. Martin de Belleville, Orelle and Brides-les-Bains. The region offers a wealth of facilities, including over 600 kilometres of ski slopes, some 120 kilometres of cross-country trials and 335 runs. Local ski schools are among the best in France, offering world-class private and group instruction for aspiring skiers and snowboarders of all ages. A single ski pass provides visitors access to all ski areas in the valleys.

Ski Destinations Les Trois Vallées, France
Les Trois Vallées, FranceStripeyAnne / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Zermatt, Switzerland

This top ski destination in the Swiss Alps is known for its iconic mountain, the Matterhorn. Featuring over 240 kilometres of runs, Zermatt is the destination for adrenaline junkies as it offers some of Europe’s best downhill skiing. Other popular activities include mountain-climbing and hiking, as well as sightseeing and the simple appreciation of dazzling mountain views from cable cars and other vantage points. This year-round location also offers excellent on-slope dining and après-ski activities, with over 60 restaurants and bars including the five-star Findlerhof restaurant and Chez Vrony at a 19th century farmhouse. What’s more, Zermatt’s extensive and varied nightlife, range of eateries and stunning luxury hotels makes it ideal for a romantic getaway.

Ski Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, SwitzerlandAlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker / Foter / CC BY

Chamonix, France

Home to the imposing Mont-Blanc, the Chamonix Valley boasts some of Europe’s best and most popular ski resorts. The region is also home to the Mer de Glace, one of Europe’s biggest glaciers, and Aiguille du Midi, one of the highest cable cars in the world. Of Chamonix’s five ski areas, the Brevent, Le Tour and la Flegere are best for beginners while Les Houches is an inviting resort town for families. With steep slopes and challenging runs, the area attracts experienced skiers and snowboarders from around the world. The steep descent from the top of Les Grands Montets and the off-piste Vallée Blanche in the Mer de Glace offer exciting adventures for the most skilled skiers. Backcountry skiing is also popular here with guides and tours available, while the après-ski scene is also rich and colourful. Host of the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924, Chamonix is just over 80 kilometres from Geneva’s main airport. 

Chamonix, Ski in France
Chamonix, Francetwiga269 ॐ FEMEN / Foter / CC BY-NC

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics and is close to Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. The Bavarian mountain resort town is easily accessible by rail or road from cities across Germany and Austria. Approximately an hour’s drive from Munich, the picturesque town is an ideal day trip from the Bavarian capital. There are also discounted rail tickets available for skiers and snowboarders. The resort offers some of Germany’s best skiing; the area has over 120 kilometres of downhill runs for snowboarders and skiers of all abilities, as well as over 100 kilometres of cross-country trails for those who like to explore the beautiful mountainous landscapes. 

Skiing Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GermanyUS Army Africa / Foter / CC BY

Kitzbühel, Austria

For fans of skiing, Kitzbühel is the place to see competitive racing. The area is home to the Hahnenkamm Mountain – and one of the most difficult downhill races on the World Cup circuit. Skiers and snowboarders can test their skills on hairy black diamond runs, including the Streif where the World Cup downhill is held. Overlooking a medieval town, the slopes of Kitzbühel are approximately 100 kilometres east of Innsbruck. If attending a World Cup race, be sure to make your travel plans at least six months in advance since accommodation becomes scarce. 

Kitzbühel Ski, Austria
Kitzbühel, Austriasaschaaa / Foter / CC BY-ND

For many in Europe skiing is a passion and, throughout the Alps, resorts welcome visitors from around the world with incredible views and perfect powder. Travellers can experience some of the best of the alpine cultures with a holiday to one of the Europe’s top ski destinations, complete with their world-class runs, facilities, accommodation and après-ski activities.