The choice of ski resorts in the Alps is dizzying. And many of these wooden chalet-filled villages can seem indistinguishable, so how do you narrow down your options?
A great deciding factor should be the quality of the skiing. The diversity of the slopes, the snow record, the lift access – all of this can vary considerably from resort to resort. And can make or break your stay.
To help you work out which resort is right for you, Booking.com created this guide to Europe’s best downhill skiing using advice from the real experts, the Booking.com customers. Destinations were filtered based on recommendations for downhill skiing, with additional criteria then added to ensure a high standard of results. * Whether you want beginner-friendly slopes or plenty of scenic off-pistes, take your pick from the selection below.
Flattach, Austria, boasts a dazzling snow record
For a relaxing and low-key ski holiday, book a wooden chalet in the bucolic setting of Flattach. A tiny Austrian village surrounded on all sides by soaring mountains covered in Alpine forest, it feels as if you’ve been dropped in the middle of nowhere. The Mölltal Glacier is the resort’s star attraction, and has helped Flattach achieve a dazzling snow record. Other perks include the opportunity to go night skiing in almost untouched nature. And the fact that this resort is relatively cheap.
Well-groomed slopes in Mauterndorf, Austria
A small market town in the Austrian state of Salzburg, Mauterndorf is a surprising skiing gem. The Grosseck-Speiereck ski area here is very family-friendly, with reliable snow thanks to elevations as high as 2,400m. All slopes are well-groomed and the valley has a pleasant atmosphere, making sunny days here a delight. Visitors will also gain access to both the Lungau and Lungo ski regions with just one ski pass, meaning keen skiers will be spoilt for choice with four large ski areas.
Challenge yourself by attempting the 'Swiss Wall' slope in Avoriaz, France
This is a purpose-built ski resort, so it suffers none of the inconvenience of some older or lower resorts. Large, modern lifts and streets full of snow mean getting to the top of the mountain and then skiing right back down to your door is wonderfully easy. The snow record here is very good for the Alps and expert skiers can explore several terrain parks and challenging pistes, including the infamously difficult ‘Swiss Wall’ (aka La Chavanette) black piste. The resort also provides access to a huge network of intermediate runs. And beginners will find plenty of suitable slopes to perfect their parallel turns.
La Plagne, France, is the most popular ski resort in the world
La Plagne, France
La Plagne is the most popular ski resort in the world, with over two and a half million visitors per season on average. This popularity isn’t hard to understand since it boasts hundreds of kilometres of marked runs from over 3,000m all the way down to 1,250m. Plus cable cars aplenty. It also combines with neighbouring Les Arcs to form the colossal Paradiski area, and all this before we’ve even mentioned its off-piste options. Though it can get rather crowded at times, with so many slopes it shouldn’t be a massive problem. But try to avoid European half term holidays just in case.
You'll find village charm and varied slopes in Dorfgastein, Austria
Sitting at the entrance of the Gastein Valley, Dorfgastein was historically the toll collection point for medieval traders passing through. Though still sometimes considered a gateway to the Valley’s other ski resorts, Dorfgastein is a star in its own right. It’s easier to get to, has retained a real village charm and has access to a fantastic variety of pistes. Some of these can be found in the nearby but relatively unknown Grossarl Valley, and some within Dorfgastein’s own ski area. A family-friendly place, there are plenty of kids’ clubs and play slopes in addition to the more challenging, experienced-skier runs.
*The data experts looked at recommendations for downhill skiing. Destinations included had to have over 50 recommendations.