The best ski resorts in Europe: Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy
All the famous and major ski resorts in Europe are located in the Alpine mountains. The top point of the Alps – the mountain peak “Mont Blanc” 4,8 km from sea level.
These are the most explored and developed mountainous areas on earth, where the best ski resorts in Europe have been built.
The Alps are an international center of mountaineering and skiing, attracting more than 50 million tourists a year.
The mountains are located on the territory of eight states. But most of their territory belongs to Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. The foothills occupy ⅔ of the area of Switzerland and Austria.
On the slopes of the Alps built the best mountain resorts and parks in Europe. The greatest number is in Austria (67), Switzerland (32), France (24) and Italy (12). A total of 131 ski parks!
A view of the Alpine mountains from an altitude of 10,000 meters. There are 100+ peaks above 4,000 m and about 1,200 glaciers.
From the article you will learn what the best ski resorts in Europe are in each country, what they are known for, when to plan a trip, how to get there, how much the tickets (ski pass) and hotel rooms cost.
Austria’s steepest slopes – Mayrhofen
Large resort area in the Zillertal Valley (Zillertal). Come here from the beginning of December to the end of April to enjoy snowboarding and skiing. Here are the steepest slopes in Austria and a perfect balance of slopes in terms of complexity. The main ski areas:
- Ahorn – the top slopes are gentle and wide (red, blue) for children from 9 years, beginners and families with children. In the middle of the descent are blue, at the foot of the mountain are black with difficult stages.
- Penken – for beginners and intermediate athletes who are not afraid of speed. The tracks are steeper (more red) and not as wide. At an altitude of 500-600 meters above sea level is equipped with a platform where instructors teach children to stand on skis and snowboards.
- Vans Penken Park is a separate slope for experienced snowboarders, freestylers and tourists who want to get more adrenaline. The slope is divided into 6 zones with obstacles of varying difficulty. Hold free photo shoots of the skaters on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Half-pipe (150 m) and a lot of jumps of varying difficulty are installed.
A separate area is the year-round Hintertux glacier with slopes for the most experienced skiers and snowboarders
Harakiri – the steepest piste in Mayrhofen and Austria. The slope angle is 78% on a 300m section, and the total length of the trail is 1.2 km. This is a difficult descent. Its conquerors are offered to buy a souvenir T-shirt with the inscription “I survived Harakiri”.
The ski park has lighted slopes that run several days a week. You can ski here not until 4 p.m., but until 8 p.m.
About the resort in numbers:
- Up to 140 km of pistes (40 km in the blue, 66 km in the red difficulty zone, 34 km in the black);
- Up to 12 km is the longest piste;
- 22 km of trails for cross-country skiing;
- At an altitude of 650 m to 2,500 m (differences in altitude up to 1,700 m);
- 51 elevators (18 rope tow lifts);
- 2 cable cars (Arhornbahn, Penkenbahn), which bring tourists from the center of Mayrhofen to the main areas of skiing;
- 300+ hotels, sports complex Erlebnistherme Zillertal with thermal springs (22 km from the city!), saunas and massage rooms for fans of SPA-procedures.
Impressive views of the mountains in clear weather
How to get there:
By plane to Innsbruck (Kranebitten Airport, 65 km from the resort), Munich Airport (190 km) or Salzburg (Salzburg W.A. Mozart Airport, 170 km). Furthermore you can hire a car or take a cab till Mayrhofen, or you can pre-book a transfer at one of the hotels.
By train or by car from Munich (180 km from Mayrhofen). If you go by train, you will have to change trains. You get to Jenbach station and change to a train, which goes to Zillertalbahn station, then to Mayrhofen. Train ticket price is up to €10 per section, cab from Munich costs from €200.
Prices for passes and accommodation:
- full-day adult – €58 (1.5 days from 12:00 – €88);
- children ticket for a full day – €29.
There is a system of discounts depending on the time of purchase. At 12:00 the adult ticket costs €38. On most slopes the slopes are open until 16:00.
You can buy a SuperSkipass for 2 days for €105.5 or for a week for €291.
You can rent a double room from €110 at a three-star hotel and €150 at a four-star hotel. Apartments without stars cost from €50.
One of the most beautiful descents
What to do in summer:
- Ride bikes while enjoying nature . In total there are about 800 km of bike paths. Bicycles, electric bikes and scooters can be rented.
- Climb the cliffs . In the park there are many equipped and unequipped (natural) climbing walls for climbers of all levels and ages.
- Play golf – there are 18 holes on the course. For people who prefer a leisurely stroll through the alpine meadows to enjoy the spectacular views.
- Visit the eagle station to see trained falcons and eagles. In the evening there is a spectacular show for tourists.
Mayrhofen is the most balanced ski resort in Austria, so it is one of the best in Europe.
But there are 66 other resorts in Austria! Some of them can vie for the title of the best ski resort in this country and Europe. The top three include: Sölden (Sölden) – the “Austrian Ibiza”, Saalbach-Hinterglemm (Saalbach-Hinterglemm) and Ischgl.
The most beautiful and famous resort in Europe – Zermatt, Switzerland
Best of the Alps. An elite resort in a green area, where there are no cars and parking. The area is the most photographed peak in Europe – Mount Matterhorn (4478 m), the symbol of Switzerland. Thousands of tourists from all over the world come here time after time just to see these incredible mountains again.
In 2015, 2016 and 2019, it was recognized as the best ski resort in the world.
The slopes have dozens of training areas for beginner skiers. Here you can practice and admire the Matterhorn mountain.
The resort is year-round . Guests are guaranteed 100% availability of snow and groomed slopes all year round. However, it is better to come from September to April, so there was no active sun and were open most scenic slopes.
The ski resort of Zermatt creates a single space with Cervinia (Italian ski park), which together give more than 360 km of slopes. You can come here to ski on Swiss and Italian slopes at once.
The mountain is visible from all slopes of the resort
The resort is divided into three zones:
- Rothorn – the largest zone for skiing (3100 meters above sea level), where the most blue and red slopes. Suitable for beginners.
- Gornergrat – the Matterhorn express train goes here. This is an area with a lot of red trails with a picturesque view of the mountain. If you want to ride with acceleration, admire the views and take cool shots, climb the Gornergrat.
- Klein Matterhorn – for experienced athletes and extreme riders. The height is 3883 meters (Glacier Paradise). The climb to this height is worthwhile not only for the difficult descents, but also for the best views from the observation deck.
View of the mountain from one of the trails
The area has a large park for freeriders and extreme downhill enthusiasts with obstacles and jumps.
- about 360 km of trails ( 75 km blue , 220 km red , 27 km black );
- Height difference from 1620 to 3883 meters;
- 14 km – the longest track in Zermatt;
- 20 km – the longest piste in Europe (Zermatta + Cervinia);
- 10 of 10 – slope preparation;
- 35 elevators (but a lot of rope tows – 17);
How to get there:
Fly into Zurich and Zermatt airport. By train to Zermatt with one change in the town Visp. The train trip from Zurich takes 3 hours. The ticket costs € 104 (113 CHF). The train schedule can be found on the website of Raileurope.
From Zurich it will take about 4 hours by car.
Then take the panoramic elevator or take a cab (you can leave the car in the village of Tesch – 5 km from the resort) to climb the main resort area at an altitude of 1620 meters. The train runs every 20 minutes, the journey – 12 minutes.
In Zermatt there is a helicopter center . From here there are helicopter transfers to and from the nearest airports (Bern, Basel, Geneva, Zurich, Milan, etc.). The time in the air is 30 minutes.
The Matterhorn express train takes guests to the Gornergrat area.
Ski Pass for 1 day:
- children up to 9 years old are free;
- children for the whole day (up to 16 years old) – up to €38;
- Young people (students) – €62;
- adults for the whole day – €79 (Zermatta + Cervinia €94).
For adults for 10 days – €523 or €52 for 1 day.
If you rented a car, you have to leave €13 per day for parking in the village of Tesch (€12 from 8 days).
Accommodation is expensive. The cost of a double room in a three-star hotel is from €220 per night. The most expensive rooms in 3-star hotels cost €350 per night.
Seven days of vacation including parking, double room, equipment rental, taking two ski passes and meals will cost about €3500.
View of the mountain in summer
What to do in the summer:
- Ski , but 80 percent are closed. Climb Klein Matterhorn.
- Go biking or hiking on the many roads and trails in the resort. Along the way, you can pick up healing herbs for tea ceremonies.
The biggest ski resort in Europe – Alpe D’Huez, France
The resort is located on the southern slopes of the mountains. There is a lot of sun (300 days a year), so the Alpe d’Huez is called “Sunny Island” among the Alps.
Most of the trails are open from December 5 to April 24.
The top point is Peak Blanc. From here begins La Sarenne – the longest piste in Europe within one ski resort. The longest BLACK run in the world. It’s also lit. Experienced, adventurous and desperate skiers can go down it in the late evening with the extra light from lanterns and torches.
A compact layout of 250 km of pistes (from the official website skipass.alpedhuez.com)
The resort is the MOST visited in France. It is known not only for good weather, but also for having a lot of green and blue gently sloping areas for beginners. If you are bad at skiing and snowboarding, come here.
In the summer, one of the most difficult stages of the Tour de France is held here. Numerous mountain roads and bicycle races attract many tourists in the summertime.
In short, it’s the best ski resort in Europe where it’s hard not to use the word “THE MOST”.
Alpe d’Huez in 2017 was officially awarded the title of Europe’s best ski resort, the best
There is an educational sports center and X Fly corner for children, and a marmot festival is held (for kids from 4 to 8 years old). Of interest to us – in January there is a festival “Russian Slalom”.
- 240 km of trails ( 98 km of blue , 74 km of red , 68 km of black );
- 50 km of cross-country trails;
- 300 sunny days a year – sun cream is a must;
- Height difference from 1860 to 3330 meters (almost 2000 m);
- 16 km – Sarenne trail goes through a tunnel and is illuminated at night (1.5 hours downhill);
- 30,000 hectares – the area of the resort area;
- 2 snow parks – one for beginners, the other for extreme climbers;
- 32,000 tourists can stay in the resort area at one time;
- 85 elevators;
How to get there:
Fly to Grenoble, the nearest airport to the resort. The airports in Lyon and Chambery are alternatives. The second option is to take a train from Paris, which takes 3 hours.
You can also rent a car or a cab. The trip from Grenoble is 2 hours by car (distance 107 km). From Chambery – 125 km, from Lyon – 150 km. The cab from the airport costs €200, from the train station €130.
Go to Grenoble train station. From here a bus #3020 goes to Alpe d’Hue. Travel time: 2.5 hours. Ticket price: up to €7.
Prices for passes and accommodation:
- €25 – ski pass with access only to the beginner zone (green, blue slopes);
- €49 – the cost of the ticket for seniors;
- €54 – a single ski pass for adults with full access to all pistes;
With the purchase of a single Visalp ski pass the tourist has access to indoor sports complexes, clubs, swimming pools, ice rink and golf course (in summer).
In the three-star hotel room costs from €170.
It is a place to ride bicycles
In the summertime visitors come to watch the challenging stage of the Tour de France and ride their bikes along kilometers of the most scenic cycling trails in the world.
The most diverse ski resort – Sella Ronda, Italy
Sella Ronda – this is not a ski resort in the usual sense, but two circular pistes up to 40 km long, which joined the four ski regions (valleys): Val Gardena, Val di Fasa, Arabba and Alta Badia.
The circuit circuit around the mountain range Gruppo Sella unites 12 ski resorts
The circuit closes at 4 p.m. Plan your time so that you arrive at the start point (your “home” valley) by this time. Otherwise, you’ll have to take a cab to your hotel or look for a room where you’re staying.
One resort area – four types of scenery. While other resorts can get bored on the third day, here you just change the valley for a new experience and emotion.
That is the special charm of this place. You buy one ski pass, and you visit four valleys with their own slopes and snow parks.
On one side of the valley
On the other side of the valley
Many tourists are intimidated by the sheer scale of it, and it seems easy to get lost. If you miss a turn and don’t follow the signs, of which there are many on every road, you can use the app http://dolomitisuperski.ru/. This app is specifically designed for Sella Ronda vacationers. In it you will find slope maps in 3D, a route planner that takes into account the difficulty of the slopes, elevator schedules, and weather forecasts for each area.
The resort is suitable for people who like to ski, enjoy nature and the views. There is almost no nightlife and noisy youth. If you want noise and entertainment, go to Austria.
- 1,200 km of pistes (if you take into account the pistes of each valley);
- 300 km of trails in each valley;
- 4 – 5 hours – time to pass the circular route;
- 29 snow parks with trampolines, half-pipes;
- 0 rope tow elevators (use cabins and chairs).
There is a lot of snow only on the slopes.
How to get there:
Fly or take the train to Verona. Further options are possible.
Rent a car and go to Sella Ronda. Travel time is 3 – 4 hours, distance is 207 km. Make sure the car has good winter tires.
2. Get to Verona train station and take a train to Ponte Gardena. The travel time is 2 hours, the ticket price is about €15. There are only 40 km left. And we take a cab for €120.
3. Get off the train at the Bolzano station (before reaching Ponte Gardena). Take bus 350 to Plan (€7) and then take bus 471 (€2) to Sella Ronda.
You can plan your itinerary on the service website www.rome2rio.com.
Prices for the ski pass and accommodation:
A ticket for six days of skiing costs €306 per adult. Discounts of up to 50% for children.
Rooms for two costs from €150. And it will be a room to change and sleep.
The average cost of a vacation for 7 days per person is € 1,500.
In the summertime, the resort lives off the tourists who come here to walk in the mountains, look at the dolomites, ride bikes and enjoy the summer mountain air.
As a conclusion.
Europe’s best ski resort is a passable status. You learned about four resorts. All of them deserve attention. Visit them to fall in love with the Alpine mountains and conquer the best ski slopes in Europe.
If you want to buy a property in the foothills of the Alps, then feel free to contact us. We will help you find options for living and making money on rental properties.