9 European ski resorts you have to visit this winter
By Aleksandra Sowa
Winter, we are ready for you! For anyone that skis or snowboards the best time of year is just around the corner. And if you haven’t hit the slopes before, there is no better time to start than this coming winter. To sweeten the anticipation and to really heat up your desire we have found 9 European ski areas which all have something new to offer this winter
We’re already dreaming of powdered snow, of speed, of perfect pistes, of strapping on and letting go, and if you’re not, you should be. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s check out our tips for the coming season and get inspired. We’ve compiled a list of 9 ski resorts which we find particularly interesting, worthwhile and sometimes, a bit surprising (have you ever been skiing in Georgia?).
The most beautiful slopes in the world? Val Gardena, Italy
It’s impossible to definitively say which of the Alp’s mountains are the most beautiful, but the Dolomites are surely right up there on everyone’s list. Selva di Val Gardena, nestled in this beautiful range, is one of the most famous and popular ski villages (2700 inhabitants) in the Alps and with good reason; the locals are lovely and accommodating and the hotels, holiday apartments and B&Bs are fantastic and only rivalled by the quality of the bars and restaurants. While Selva di Val Gardena is surrounded by slopes galore, it also acts as a gateway to the Sella Ronda, where a trip around the Sella Massif is a full day’s excursion by skis or board that passes over and through 16 miles of slopes, four valleys and three provinces; a truly unique ski safari.
Why should you visit Val Gardena this winter??
More comfort with less time lost – under this year’s motto, the Piz Seteur cable car (10-gondolas) will be put into operation, direct from Selva di Val Gardena.
This way, winter sports enthusiasts are much easier able to get both to the mountain and the entrance to Sella Ronda.
The Białka Tatrzańska ski resort, found in the High Tatras, has consistently been ranked first when it comes to best Polish ski resorts in Poland for a few years now. Any winter sports fans who have been here especially appreciate the fantastic infrastructure and amazing downhill conditions. However, while largely unknown in the UK, these slopes aren’t a secret in Europe, and the slopes have many visitors during the high season – which can make an off-season visit doubly enjoyable. Especially when you take into account what sort of special relaxation offers await the guests.
Why should you visit Białka Tatrzańska this year?
The top reason has to be the thermal pools you can visit after skiing at somewhere like Terma Bania. Terma Bania offers indoor and outdoor pools with water temperatures from 34° – 38°. But for a proper muscle-relaxing soak, the water in the thermal spa comes from a depth of 2,500 meters and has a starting temperature of 72°. In the outdoor pool, you can watch the days skiing come to an end. The entrance fee depends on what day of the week it is and depending on how many pools you want access to the costs average between £9-£13 for 4.5 hours.
TatrySki – Are you the kind of person that likes a change of scenery, even on holiday? Then the TatrySki Pass is perfect for you. It gives you access to several ski resorts in the region – not only in Poland but also in Slovakia. There are nine resorts included (depending on what time of the year it is) and free buses are offered to transport you between the various resorts.
We’ll help you find your weekend getaway To make sure your weekend getaway doesn’t break the bank; you can compare weekend flights on KAYAK. On the flight search page just click on ‘Show flexible dates‘ and then select ‘weekends’.
Most skiers and snowboarders in the UK wouldn’t have ever considered heading to Slovakia, but a trip to Jasna – the largest and most modern winter sports area in Slovakia – should be made ASAP. The ski area has a total of over 30 miles of well-groomed slopes of varying difficulty. The Chopok rises from the lower Tatra Mountains to over 2,000 meters in height and between the valley, and the peaks are 49 exciting downhill slopes and a terrain as good as anywhere else in the Alps. Steep slopes, crisp freeride descents and a perfectly maintained amusement park at the foot of the ski area -what more could you want?
Why should you visit Jasna this winter?
Freeride – Jasna is famous for freeriding events, and with some planning, you can even watch freeride world champions live in competition. All deep snow fans are in Jasna are totally cared for. The more experienced skiers can conquer the north side of the mountain and enjoy steep slopes. For beginners, the southern side with its soft powder snow is a true paradise.
Sure, getting to Georgia isn’t as easy as other parts of Europe, but it is oh, so worth it! Head to the Gudauri ski resort on Mt. Kazbek, Georgia’s third highest mountain (5033 meters), where the well-groomed slopes are excellent facilities are relatively uncrowded. What more could you wish for?
Heli-skiing: Gudauri offers excellent routes for deep snow enthusiasts and getting to them is half the fun. Experienced skiers after a bit more adrenaline, can also book a helicopter tour here for that James Bond type feel. Adrenaline still not sated? The area is almost amazing for paragliding.
A trip to Kazbegi National Park is an absolute must, where breathtaking landscapes are in abundance: fabulous valleys, canyons, waterfalls and hot water springs. Day trips to Kazbegi can be booked on site.
Livigno is located between two mountain ranges: Mottolino and Carosello, which comprise a total of 70 miles of slopes. The city is known as Piccolo Tibet (Little Tibet) and owes its nickname to its unique climate: until 1964, when the Munt La Schera tunnel was built, the town was cut off from the rest of world for more than nine months a year. Livigno is a perfect place to enjoy après-ski to the fullest: the weather is gorgeous and the food simply delicious. Particularly recommendable are the hot, boozy beverage Bombardino and the local pasta dish Pizzoccheri.
Livigno Freeride Project – Livigno has a lot to offer for those who have always wanted to take the first steps off the pistes and into the wilderness. Every Sunday from 17:00 to 19:00 in the Birrifico (Brewery), the freeride experts will tell you about safety measures, freeride equipment and answer any questions on the subject.
Innsbruck is a university town keeping it young and lively, at least during semesters, the capital of the state of Tyrol and home to the Winter Olympics on several occasions. An excellent environment for all sorts of sports wintersports is where it really excels. Winter sporters can look forward to fast-access ski areas: during the day on the snow-covered slopes, in the evening on the pistes. Nine resorts can be easily reached with the free bus from Innsbruck, all of which make up the Olympia Ski World. The family-friendly Patscherkofel with its 11 miles of pistes was the centre of the 1964 and 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck while on the sunny Patscher plateau, freestylers try their tricks at an altitude of 1,900 meters in the Snow Park.
Why should you visit Patscherkofel this winter?
The new ropeway, opening December 2017, will not only transport an extra 700 people per hour but the reclaimed space from where the old ropeway ran, allows for 26,000 square miles of reforestation.
Ischgl, it has long been said, is the European centre for the glamour side of skiing. A Party-Peak and entertainment hotspot during its whole season (and this is really long – 23.11.2017 to 1.5.2018), its famous winter-openings and -closing parties, resplendent with (world) stars and starlets are only slightly more opulent than any other party, any other night. The density of après-ski bars per capita is high, as is the amount of alcohol consumed. But, and this is important, Ischgl slopes are even better than its nightlife.
Why should you visit Ischgl this winter?
Ischgl has insanely good ski and snowboard possibilities. The Silvretta Arena includes about 148 miles of slopes – not to mention all the off-piste opportunities.
This season, the 20-year-old four-seater chairlift has been upgraded to the 6-seater chairlift called Palinkopf D1. The new, 12 million euro tram will lead to the highest point in the ski resort, the Palinkopf (2,853 meters), in less than 6 minutes from the valley.
The Ötztal valley in Tyrol offers you a lot of winter fun. From ski touring, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (almost 95 miles of cross-country trails) or about 125 miles of specially prepared winter hiking trails that lead to excellent wellness facilities (for example in the Aqua Dome), different ski resorts and unique types of accommodation.
Now you can expect even more flexibility and variety in the Ötztal valley due to the brand new state-of-the-art Giggijoch shuttle which can ferry 4,500 people per hour up the slopes.
Why should you visit Ötztal this winter?
From 16 November 2017 (until 22 April 2018), Sölden and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl offer their guests a lift ticket for both ski resorts with a 3-day pass. This gives you a combined area of almost 160 miles of slopes and 56 lifts. This means in the offseason you can enjoy the solitude of the mountains in style.
You choose how you best like to spend your ski or board holiday. Sölden is the party resort (and has some great glacier possibilities), Obergurgl is quieter and perfect for families, and Hochgurgl is sleepy and offers nothing but a relaxed enjoyment. Whether you want to rage, laugh or feel at one with nature, it’s your choice.
Besides which, the ski bus will take you from one place to the next about 20 minutes.
The full name, Val Thorens in the Trois Vallées sounds cute, but Val Thorens is the highest resort in the Alps at 2300 meters of altitude. In fact, this is higher than many of the other mountains. Because of this, the highest ski resort in the Alps (launched by pioneers with foresight in 1971) is also one of the first French ski resorts to open in the season and the last to close – from 18 November 2017 to 8 May 2018.
Why should you visit Val Thorens this winter?
The local lift company has invested 14 million euros in its facilities to offer skiers more comfort. Thus, the Moraine chairlift has been replaced by a gondola (cabins with ten seats). The slopes, which are served by this gondola lift Moraines are ideal for beginners, by the way.
Tourists and free-riders can look forward to a great (almost) new accommodation option in the snow: Between Val Thorens and Les Menuires is the valley of the Lou Lake, accessible by an off-piste-skiing route. In the lake you can spend the night in the white wilderness, on the elaborately, authentically and extensively renovated mountain hut quayside; there are 31 beds with a large room for catering available.
Need for a different kind of speed? Four pretty legendary car models, which had their glory days in the 1980s and 90s, can now be driven by a professional guide on a circuit. The vehicles feature specially designed tires for driving on ice and ensures a clean ride. Speed is guaranteed.
What makes Val Thorens so spectacular? The highlight of the world’s largest ski resort Les 3 Vallées, consists of an unbelievable 600 interconnected downhill runs.
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on September 18th, 2017. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.