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Top 40 Winter Playgrounds
Skiing or snowboarding, winter wonderland or glacial mountains – the first sign of snow means serious fun to snowsports enthusiasts everywhere. Our partners at Ski Club GB have chosen 40 of their favourite resorts and shared them with us. From Snow-Sure, Family-Friendly, Good Value or Hidden Gems. They all offer something special and unique and if you’re looking for a challenge, maybe ski your way round all of them. 40 resorts in 40 days anyone?
Obertauern, Austria A purpose built resort with pistes up to 2,315m. Obertauern’s main advantage is its location, just 90 km from the city of Mozart, it’s easily accessible from both Vienna and Munich.
Obergurgl, Austria Old school charm up high in the Austrian Alps – Obergurgl is a mere 90 minutes from Innsbruck and 20 minutes from the larger resort of Sölden. The snow record is excellent and there are rarely any lift queues.
Tignes, France located in the picturesque L’Espace Killy region, Tignes has some of the most incredible terrain in the Alps for snow enthusiasts.
Sestriere, Italy Sestriere’s high, northwest-facing slopes make it more snow-secure than its neighbours. And the terrain is more challenging than any of the other Milky Way resorts.
Saas-Fee, Switzerland A beautiful resort in a picturesque setting, with a vibrant nightlife and fantastic family facilities. And it’s situated beneath a spectacular glacier.
Verbier, Switzerland Verbier is the main resort in Switzerland’s largest ski area, the Four Valleys. With exciting terrain, a scenic location and vibrant night life, many sporty clientele can be found.
Zermatt, Switzerland Ski whilst in awe of the staggering Matterhorn, which overlooks the village – you really will feel like you’re on top of the world.
Åre, Sweden Based at 400m, Åre is the lowest resort on this list. But it’s not to be overlooked. Set in Sweden, it has consistent snowfall throughout the season, plus you can snowmobile on the frozen lake in the evening.
Whistler, Canada Canada’s premier, year round destination (because of the glacier), Whistler features two majestic mountains with a vibrant base village.
Val Thorens, France The highest resort in the Three Valleys and indeed Europe, Val Thorens (2300m), has a variety of runs suited to all levels of skier. Relax on the sun-strewn balconies one afternoon after trying out the glacier.
Alpbach, Austria A Hollywood-worthy Alpine setting in Austria – perfect for families looking to relax and ski to their hearts’ content.
La Plagne, France With its many blue runs and comfortable chair lifts La Plagne, is well suited to beginner and intermediate families. Visit Le Grizzli Restaurant for a wonderful alpine experience, you can even have a go at cooking your own steak.
Avoriaz, France Winner of ‘Best Family Resort’ at the 2012 World Snow Awards, there’s plenty for all the family to do both on and off the piste. Perhaps try out the ‘slidewinder’ ride in the new Aquariaz water park.
Pila, Italy Situated in the Valle d’Aosta, Pila is just over two hours from Turin airport. It’s ideal for the intermediate family, but also has plenty of blue runs for those just starting out. For children who love finding routes through the trees, this is the place to go.
Alta Badia, Italy Situated in the heart of the Dolomite mountains with many wide, blue pistes and a breath-taking landscape – take part in the Gourmet Ski Safari and enjoy the local cuisine.
Grindelwald, Switzerland A pretty village with a long mountaineering history in the shadows of the magnificent Eiger and Jungfrau. The intermediate terrain is perfect for families.
Zermatt, Switzerland Your kids will feel like they’re in a true Winter Wonderland when walking around Zermatt village… and we’re sure you’ll find it pretty impressive too!
Hemsedal, Norway Hemsedal is a municipality in Buskerudcountry. New this season, parents with small children can share a single ski pass valid for three to eight days. Plus, try a horse sleigh ride in the dark.
Sälen, Sweden There are varied runs for all standards across the area. Lindvallen is famous for having the world’s first ski-in-ski-out McDonalds.
Vail, America Vail ski resort is located in Eagle County, Colorado. At 5,289 acres, it’s the second largest single mountain ski resort in the U.S. With wide, open terrain, trails of all types and a pedestrian street village, it’s a wonderful getaway for all the family.
Good Value Resorts
Cervinia, Italy If you’re an intermediate skier, you can take advantage of skiing in Zermatt as well as Cervinia without having to pay the high prices for accommodation in Switzerland.
Serre Chevalier, France With awesome freeriding, family-friendly accommodation and empty slopes, Serre Chevalier is great value for money compared to some of its better-known French neighbours.
Morzine, France A year round resort, Morzine is a beautiful base to explore the Portes du Soleil (France and Switzerland). Although some parts can be expensive, they still have good value chalets and you can save money by buying a lift pass for just Morzine and Les Gets.
Passo Tonale, Italy A high altitude, family orientated ski resort located in northern Italy. It’s excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers ready for a challenge. The 4.5km Alpino red is a particular favourite.
Sierra Nevada, Spain Skiing in Spain! Really? Yes. Based at 3,478m it contains the highest point of continental Spain. Twenty lifts serve 100km of piste – and there’s ample off piste for advanced riders. Plus if you fancy a swim in the afternoon, there’s always the Mediterranean.
Pas de la Casa, Andorra A great resort with a fantastic lift system. Ideal if you’re looking for an alpine party atmosphere that’s cheap and cheerful.
Zell am See, Austria Alongside wonderful glacier skiing, this Austrian resort has excellent nightlife for the party animals and is a wonderful family-friendly hub too.
Soldeu, Andorra Soldeu is a fantastic Andorran resort for groups wanting a classic ski-and-party holiday. It is both cheap and littered with excellent skiing.
Bansko, Bulgaria Bansko has become an international centre for winter and summer tourism. Bulgaria’s share in European winter tourism is steadily rising because of lower costs compared to France or Switzerland for example.
Stowe, America With a higher initial cost compared to many listed above; you’re probably wondering why this resort has been mentioned. However, the value you receive in all-inclusive packages is incredible –plus there are some wonderful kids programmes.
Baqueira-Beret, Spain One of Spain’s top resorts, where there’s something for everyone – versatile skiing, picturesque scenery, all at great value – and you can even enjoy tapas on the slopes!
Warth Schröcken, Austria Located between the Arlberg, the Lech Valley and Allgäu Alps, the cosy villages of Warth and Schröcken are an ideal holiday destination for both freeriders and families.
Nassfeld, Austria Voted a top 10 ski resort in Austria because of the snow and sunshine, Nassfeld is based in the state of Carinthia. It has 110km of slopes, 30 ski lifts and one of Carinthia’s longest runs, Carnia, at 7.6km in length.
Vars, France One of the most southerly resorts in France, Vars is a very well-kept secret, combining the authenticity and charm of a traditional French village with the convenience and facilities of a modern resort.
La Clusaz, France Based in the Haute-Savoie region of France, La Clusaz is often dodged by the opinion that it’s too low for snow. Far from it. Five mountain slopes offer 130km of pistes with some tree-lined skiing. Beginners will revel in the variety, with over 60% of the slopes dedicated to them.
Livigno, Italy With a slightly longer commute from the airport, this resort in Italy is often discounted. But don’t be so hasty. With an altitude of 2306m the resort is good for many types of skiers. For freeride skiers and snowboarders, it now has one of the best parks in Europe. Plus, it’s also a tax-free haven, so it won’t cost you a fortune.
Bormio, Italy A true Italian paradise, this resort is not that well known to the UK market. As you can imagine, the authentic, Italian food is exquisite and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Arosa, Switzerland For a short break, the compact resort in the Graubunden mountains – a couple of hours south of Zurich – is ideal. With a combination of blue, red and black runs it works well for a mixed ability group. And if you don’t fancy skiing, there are some great walking routes.
Lenzerheide, Switzerland This idyllic winter sports region now covers three valley sides and offers unrivalled opportunities for enjoying the pistes.
Voss, Norway A traditional and charming resort that sits on a lakeside in Norway fjordland. There’s varied skiing and boarding on offer, plus you can experience the stunning, natural surroundings and many other off-slope activities.
For more options, take a look at the Ski Club’s online resort guides, where you’ll find hundreds of reviews detailing various aspects of different resorts – as well as our leading snow reports.
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