While some may travel to warm-weather destinations in the midst of winter, a snowy ski trip is hard to beat. Combine adrenaline-fuelled days on the slopes, wild après-ski parties in the afternoons, and cozy evenings in to experience the best a winter holiday has to offer. From cheap breaks in small towns in Bulgaria and Slovenia to luxe getaways at chalets in France and Italy, skiing can be friendly to any budget. Our guide helps you figure out how to make the most of a ski holiday this winter.
Europe’s culinary capital also delivers in spades when it comes to views. Some of Europe’s highest peaks line Italy’s northern border. Fresh snow is practically guaranteed and you’ll have your pick of a wide range of runs that could keep you occupied for weeks on end. Off the slopes, you can dig into hearty Italian winter dishes and wines, and try out other winter activities like snowshoeing.
Best ski resorts destinations in Italy:
France has a lively ski culture that draws many of die-hard fans back year after year. It’s reputation as a great country for skiing—having both the Alps and the Pyrenees certainly helps—is coupled with its reputation for a great ski atmosphere. Many top-tier resorts cater to über-wealthy clients, and young people come in droves to party on the mountainside as the sun sets.
Best ski resorts destinations in France:
With some of the most impressive mountains in Europe, everything about a ski holiday in Switzerland is stunning. Don’t be scared away by the intimidating nature of the landscape—most of the ski resorts in the area are just as well equipped for beginners as they are for experts. Switzerland is a great place to seek out high-end resorts and catered chalets for the ultimate luxe holiday.
Best ski resorts destinations in Switzerland:
This principality, nestled in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France, is another well-loved ski spot. You’ll be sure to get plenty of snow, but without the crowds that are common in other popular ski resorts in Europe. If you were hoping for a little bit of winter sun on your holiday, Andorra is just the ticket! It tends to get a decent amount of sunny days even in the heart of winter.
Best ski resorts destinations in Andorra:
Soldeu el Tarter
El Pas de la Casa
A ski holiday in Austria offers an understated charm. Far from the super high-end resorts and raucous parties of mega-popular ski spots in nearby Switzerland, the small towns of Austria are great for a family holiday, or as a place to cozy up on a romantic getaway with a partner. The added bonus is that Austrian ski resorts are often cheaper than their Swiss or French counterparts!
Best ski resorts destinations in Austria:
If it’s your first ski holiday, the logistics can be intimidating. A great way to skip the stress is by booking a package holiday through a tour provider. They will ensure that you get your flights, get transfers to those hard-to-reach hotels near the mountains, and sort out your accommodation. Plus many tour providers will allow you to add on things like equipment rental and ski lessons to your package.
Snowboarders need a board, boots and a helmet. Skiers need skis, boots, a helmet, and ski poles. Ski boots and helmets are different from your typical snow boots or bike helmets. Ski helmets have a thick padding inside, and ski boots are made to clip in to skis or snowboards.
If you don’t own any equipment, not to worry! Most ski resorts have a couple of places where you can rent all the equipment you need. To make life easier for yourself, look for rental places that allow you to leave your equipment at the ski resort overnight, so you don’t have to handle transportation. If you’re renting a car and want to transport your own equipment, male sure the vehicle has enough space for all your gear.
While your first instinct might be thick layers for a day on the slopes, skiing is sweaty work. If you luck into a sunny day, you could end up roasting in a bulky jumper. Instead, pack a couple base layers of wool or moisture-wicking athletic wear as well as some fleece layers on top. You’ll also need a ski jacket, snow pants, a good pair of thick, sporty gloves, and ski goggles. Snowboarders will also want to pack wrist guards and should try to find snow pants with a bum protector -- especially important for novices who are more likely to fall. If you don’t want to invest in these pricier items, you can borrow them from a friend or rent them from shops in the UK.