Fluffy powder slopes, adrenaline-pumping black diamonds, and miles of smooth trails set against snow-capped mountains – just a few of the things that make the Alps the premier destination for a skiing adventure. When planning your Alpine break, with 16,000 miles of trails and over a thousand resorts to choose from, you may be unsure where to start. We’re here to help with a quick round-up of the best spots in the French, Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Alps.
You can ski straight from your doorstep when staying in the French Alps
The French Alps are home to some of the largest ski resorts in the world, which means you can spend days exploring runs without hitting the same one twice. In Les Trois Vallées, one lift pass gets you access to 8 interlinked resorts, while Les Portes du Soleil connects 13 resorts across France and Switzerland. For experienced skiers, there’s also the Sarenne in Alpe d’Huez, known as the longest black run in the Alps and offering 10 miles of smooth skiing accompanied by sweeping mountain vistas. Many French chalets and resorts offer “ski-in, ski-out” accommodations with long trails that lead right back to your doorstep. Hôtel Grandes Rousses in Alpe d’Huez also has a luxurious spa and wellness center, perfect for relaxing after hitting the challenging Sarenne black run. After a long day on the slopes, you can refuel with traditional Alpine dishes like raclette or tartiflette, the local Savoyarde specialty of potato gratin, crispy bacon, and melted Reblochon cheese. When it comes to getting to the resort of your choice, there are various options and combinations of trains, taxis, and bus routes, but renting a car is generally the most convenient.
Adrenaline-pumping skiing in the Austrian mountains
In the Austrian Alps, you’ll find vast powder fields to make all your ski dreams come true. Popular resorts like Mayrhofen, Kitzbühel and Sölden also boast some of Europe’s best snow parks. Plus, you can swap your skis for a pair of snow boots to explore the lively après-ski scene that many Austrian resorts are known for. If you’d prefer a winter vacation on the more relaxing side, pick one of Austria's many small mountain villages, lined with cozy chalets where you can sample local delicacies like Kaiserschmarrn – a fluffy, chopped-up pancake covered in fruit compote and a generous sprinkle of sugar. Check in to Mayrhofen's charming Hotel Garni Glockenstuhl and enjoy its on-site spa and winter garden.
Sunshine, snow, and incredible Swiss views
Switzerland may be small, but it’s home to some of the world's mightiest mountains. Many of Europe's highest altitude ski resorts, including The Matterhorn, 4 Vallées, and Saas-Fee (Saas-Fee's highly rated Hotel Alpenperle have some amazing Swiss mountain views). A nation stretching across the Alps, Switzerland has peaks towering over 2.5 miles and endless glaciers. But don’t let the terrain daunt you. Even the biggest mountains have picturesque runs for beginners, too. Many Swiss resorts offer luxury accommodations as well as budget options, ranging from traditional Alpine chalets to indulgent spa stays. For a break from the slopes, there are a lot of winter activities available like tobogganing and dog-sledding, or you can spend the day wandering the cobblestone streets of a mountain village.
Italy’s Dolomites have ski runs for a range of abilities
If you want a family-friendly Alpine getaway, head for the Italian Alps. Resorts like Livigno and Alta Badia have scenic slopes for all abilities and a distinctively laid-back approach. Another draw is the rustic cuisine. Think nutty Fontina cheese, dry-cured Prosciutto di San Daniele, and bowls of zuppa valdostana soup (more like a hearty beef and cheese casserole). Compared to Austria, France, or Switzerland, ski resorts in Italy tend to be less busy, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less impressive. If you’re up for a challenge, you can try the Sella Ronda, a round-tour circuit that wraps around the Sella group in the Dolomites mountain range. Expect idyllic Italian mountain views from your own apartment at Bellavista if you decide to stay in Livigno.