Results are in: Snowplaza readers have selected the best 20 ski resorts in the Alps! A huge thank-you to the 55 000 skiers and snowboarders all around Europe who have cast their vote for the Snowplaza Awards over the last few months. What’s more, five lucky voters, to be announced soon, will win a six-day ski pass for their resort of choice. Check out the list and see how your favourite resort stacks up against the competition! Maybe you’ll get inspired to explore a few new ski areas next season… Without further ado, here are the best 20 ski resorts as chosen by UK readers!
At the heart of Switzerland’s Four Valleys ski area with access to over 400km of pistes, Verbier is known for its challenging terrain and stellar off-piste skiing. Prices tend to be steeper here but the restaurants and nightlife, not to mention the impressive views of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, are well worth the expense.
Kaprun ski resort links to the Europa Sport Region in Austria, which offers guaranteed snow until late in the season on the stunning Kitzsteinhorn Glacier as well as piste upon piste of wide slopes ideal for beginners. The snowboard-friendly resort also has several snow parks and boasts Austria’s largest super-pipe.
Glacier Park Kitzsteinhorn (c) Kaprun
Les Arcs, situated in France’s Paradiski area, is popular with groups of friends and families alike. The ski area is especially suited to intermediate skiers but has something for everybody, with gladed skiing, snowparks and ungroomed pistes. The five villages that make up the resort accommodate everyone from history buffs to shopping fanatics.
(c) Les Arcs
Just two hours from Lyon airport in the Evasion Mont-Blanc ski area, family-friendly Megève has access to over 400km of pistes and some magnificent winter hikes. The traditional Haute-Savoie village is pedestrianized and proud of its gastronomy and friendly atmosphere.
Megève (c) Leo-setä, Flickr
The modern ski resort of Flaine connects to Le Grand Massif ski area for access to over 260km of pistes, including scenic cross-country trails and one of the largest terrain parks in the world. In the pedestrianized village center, skiers will find traditional restaurants with après-ski specialties such as raclette and fondue. It is within reach of five airports and particularly easy to access by air.
Flaine (c) Chris Northwood, Flickr
It might not be so close to home (and it’s definitely not in the Alps), but voters have decided Whistler is worth the trek! Nestled in Canada’s Coast Mountains, Whistler Blackcomb boasts over 250km of gladed, mogul and groomed skiing at its finest. Skiers will enjoy spectacular views from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and superb off-piste skiing. Whistler is renowned for its lively village centre.
(c) Whistler Blackcomb
You can’t get more ski-in, ski-out than Avoriaz. The environmentally friendly village, also located in France’s Portes du Soleil ski area, offers a unique layout with no streets, only pistes accessible by horse-drawn sleigh or snowmobile. A great choice for snowboarders, this resort naturally has a younger vibe to it and good nightlife.
Avoriaz (c) James Preston, Flickr
One of the largest interconnected ski area in Austria, SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser-Brixental offers state-of-the-art facilities including snow cannons on almost every piste and modern cable cars. Skiers of any ability will love exploring the 280km of terrain and indulging in local Tyrolean cuisine at one of the more than 70 mountain huts.
SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental
With breathtaking views of the Matterhorn and the highest lifts in Europe, Zermatt is not for the faint-hearted. In true Swiss style, this is a more expensive resort, but the prices are well worth it for the more than 300km of quality ski pistes. Horse-drawn carriages wind their way through the eco-friendly village centre, with its ample selection of gourmet restaurants.
Nicknamed the « Island of the Sun », this high-altitude ski resort gets a healthy dose of bluebird days with excellent snow. For bucket-list skiers, the Alpe d'Huez's Sarenne piste is the world’s longest, at 16km. Foodies will appreciate a meal of local produce and fresh fish while exploring the village’s different sectors.
(c) L. Salino, Alpe d'Huez
The sprawling ski area in the Zillertal Arena has 200km of pistes, as well as guaranteed snow year-round at the Hintertux Glacier. This family-friendly resort has a whole mountain dedicated to beginner skiers, plus lots on offer for the more advanced, including the infamous Harakiri piste. Mayrhofen also offers plenty of other activities for non-skiers, and hosts the popular Snowbombing Festival every April.
Situated in the picturesque region of Mont Blanc, this French ski resort is perhaps best known for its lengthy off-piste glacier ski route through the Vallée Blanche. In addition to its own dedicated ski areas of Le Brévant and La Flégère, Chamonix also has access to a host of different ski areas for all ability levels.
Val d'Isère connects to Tignes through the Espace Killy ski area. The resort recently underwent a large-scale renovation but without compromising the traditional stone chalets and baroque-style churches. Modern ski facilities and a wide range of terrain are complemented by a bustling village scene.
(c) Val d’Isère
Close to Val Thorens in the 3 Valleys ski area, the charming resort of Courchevel is split into several different villages, each with their own individual character. Everyone, from families to experienced skiers, will enjoy the gourmet food, exuberant atmosphere and access to hundreds of kilometres of skiing in the 3 Valleys.
Challenging terrain, classy hotels and a chic après-ski scene make St. Anton am Arlberg Austria’s go-to ski resort for the rich and famous. Reliable snow makes for great off-piste exploring, and the nearby resorts of Lech and Zürs are easily reachable for intermediate skiers.
St. Anton (c) stefan m Flickr
Austria’s Skicircus Saalbach-Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn boasts over 270km of pistes thanks to its recent acquisition of the freeriding powder mecca at Fieberbrunn. Formerly popular with intermediate skiers, the Skicircus now has something for everybody and is also renowned for its fabulous après-ski scene.
Rapidly-growing La Plagne is nestled at the heart of France’s Paradiski area, with 425km of pistes. Skiers can the gladed runs or the fantastic off-piste terrain, or stick to glaciers and snow parks. The après-ski ambiance is original, with the villages offering myriads of restaurants and nightclubs and even a few bowling alleys.
Plagne Village/Soleil (c) La Plagne
This ski-in, ski-out resort is especially popular with younger crowds and athletic skiers, who come for the slalom courses, mogul runs and snow parks. Tignes links up to the Val d’Isère resort for access to 300km of pistes, and the village enjoys a bustling après-ski scene. Tignes is found in France’s Savoie region and is easily reachable from Lyon, Geneva and Chambery.
Thanks to its location in France’s Portes du Soleil, skiers at Morzine have easy access to over 650km of pistes. Also popular with families, the ski resort boasts wonderful off-piste opportunities and a historic village centre with Savoyard architecture.
And the winner is... Val Thorens! The highest ski resort in Europe, Val Thorens is situated in France’s 3 Valleys ski area. Val Thorens offers hundreds of kilometres of pistes and is especially popular with families, thanks to its modern facilities and dedicated children’s area. The beautiful ski-in, ski-out wood and stone village caters to a lively après-ski scene.
Val Thorens (c) Richard Allaway, Flickr
Congratulations to our five lucky voters, who win a six-day ski pass to the resort they voted for!
Sarah Gibson Gröden Val Gardena
Claudia Fink Zell am See / Kaprun
Julie Strubbe Obertauern
Willy Hermanns Sölden
Dominique Thollet Les Menuires
All winners will be contacted by email and will be able to choose the dates of their holiday. Have a fantastic time!
The 2017 Snowplaza Awards have been a huge success, with some familiar names from last year and some new ski resorts to discover on this list of the 20 best ski resorts in the Alps. France is popular this year, with Austria making some guest appearances. Thanks for voting!
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!
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