17 September 2019 from Danielle in Ski areas

Part of the reason we love our ski holidays so much is because they give us the chance to be at one with nature. So, smelly car exhaust fumes aren't exactly welcome! For this reason, more and more ski resorts are banning cars in the village centre. The only "vehicles" allowed are electric taxis and horse-drawn carriages. Pedestrians have priority and you'll see people wandering down the middle of the streets carrying their skis or even skiing right through the village centre! Here are 10 of our favourite car-free ski resorts in the Alps.

#1. Avoriaz

Avoriaz is located in the heart of Les Portes du Soleil at an altitude of 1800m above sea level, ensuring guaranteed snow. Before arriving in the resort centre, you must leave your car in a nearby carpark. The only transportation you'll see in Avoriaz consists of snowmobiles, piste bashers and horse-drawn carriages. Of course, most of the accommodation is ski-in, ski-out so all you have to do is clip into your skis and you're good to go!

Horse-drawn sleigh in Avoriaz
Don't feel like walking? Hop into a horse-drawn carriage in Avoriaz! (Photo: © Pixabay)

#2. Zermatt

Zermatt is world-famous for its spectacular location at the foot of the Matterhorn, the most iconic peak in Europe. The streets of this car-free ski resort are lined with exclusive hotels, chic boutique shops and authentic wooden houses. But no matter how posh your car is, you'll have to leave it behind in the carpark in Täsch, down in the valley. You can reach Zermatt centre with the train.

#3. Serfaus

Austria only has a few car-free ski resorts, among them Serfaus. You may drive to your accommodation, but the driving stops there. Serfaus provides lifts within easy walking distance, as well as a U-Bahn that runs for 1.3 kilometres underneath the village. Serfaus is a family-friendly skiing destination popular with children. 

#4. Wengen

Wengen, as well as its smaller sister ski resort, Mürren, is car-free and only reachable by train. This lends a peaceful atmosphere to the village, which is further augmented thanks to the Swiss chalets and vintage wood houses. Wengen is part of the Jungfrau Region, which boasts more than 200km of pistes to explore in a beautiful winter wonderland.

Car-free village Mürren
Mürren is a peaceful, car-free village in the Jungfrau Region

#5. Oberlech

Oberlech is a pretty little ski resort town that sits at an altitude of 1750m above sea level. To stay here, you'll have to leave your car behind in Lech am Arlberg and take the cable car up to Oberlech - it runs daily until 1am. Oberlech enjoys guaranteed snow thanks to its high altitude, and you have the entire Ski Arlberg right on your doorstep.

#6. Saas-Fee

Just one ski holiday in Saas-Fee will be enough to make you fall in love with this authentic winter sports town. The car-free village centre is still home to some of the old 'Spycher' warehouses, which were built on stilts to prevent the rodents getting at the provisions. It's no wonder this ski resort in Switzerland is also known as the 'Pearl of the Alps'!

#7. Oberstdorf

The village centre of Oberstdorf has been car-free since 1992 and has done wonders for the village ambience. Take a wander through the streets and watch the children playing carefree in the snow - there's no traffic to worry about! The air quality is so good here thanks to the lack of cars that Oberstdorf has become known as a healthy destination.

Car-free village centre Oberstdorf
Oberstdorf is the perfect place to wander through the streets

#8. Riederalp-Bettmeralp

The ski resorts of Riederalp en Bettmeralp are part of the Aletsch Arena, a stunning Swiss linked ski area with access to the Aletsch Glacier, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can choose whether you prefer to amble through the village streets or hop into a horse-drawn carriage. No matter whether you choose Riederalp or Bettmeralp, you're sure to feel instantly at home here.

#9. Valmorel

Valmorel is een uitzondering ten opzichte van de meeste Franse wintersportbestemmingen. Het traditionele bergdorpje bestaat uit chalets die gemaakt zijn van hout en natuursteen. De bijzondere sfeer wordt nog eens extra onderstreept door het autovrije centrum. Skiën doe je op de pistes van Le Grand Domaine, een skigebied met meer dan 200 km aan pistes.

Valmorel is a touch different from most French winter sports destinations. The traditional mountain village still has wooden chalets that blend in against the natural backdrop, and the peaceful atmosphere is topped off with the lack of cars. Valmorel is part of Le Grand Domaine, a linked ski area with more than 200km of pistes.

#10. Pfelders

The little-known ski resort of Pfelders is located in the Passeiertal valley in South Tyrol, Italy and puts a focus on sustainable tourism. The car-free village centre actually generates its own green electricity. All the accommodation is located within a 3-minute walk of the closest lift. You'll find none of the madding crowds here, just a small handful of like-minded people who want to enjoy their ski holidays off the beaten track.

What's your favourite car-free ski resort in the Alps?

Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!