With plenty of powdery slopes and blue sky sunshine to enjoy, the next few months herald the peak of Europe’s annual ski season. Whether you’re a newbie, looking to go off-piste, or just fancy a sparkling winter wonderland timeshare getaway instead of a poolside one this year, here’s our guide to five quite different but equally exhilarating “must-ski” resorts, all within easy reach of UK airports.
1) Val Thorens
As the highest resort in Europe (it sits at an altitude of 2,300 metres), the popular Val Thorens is ideal for better skiers but beginners will be well looked after, too. Based in the famous 3 Vallées (600 kilometres of interconnected runs) in the French Alps, this resort combines the best of skiing with the best of atmospheres – relax and unwind with a beer or steaming hot chocolate, or take to the slopes and work up an appetite ready to dine at one of the resort’s many top restaurants.
This Spanish ski resort opened in 1964 and remains one of Europe’s most popular slopes, thanks to its wide range of runs for all levels. However, you can always be sure of stumbling across an expert skier or two here since Baquiera is also full of black pistes. If you don’t fancy hitting the slopes (or your other half doesn’t ski?) then take your pick from one of the endless activities on-hand to keep you entertained – there are dog-pulled sleds, horses-pulled sleighs, treks, snowshoeing excursions, and lots more to enjoy in the crisp sunshine.
3) Alpe D’Huez
One of France’s busiest resorts, Alpe D’Huez is paradise for ski bunnies and snow lovers alike. The pretty village sits perched on a south facing plateau in the Grandes Rousses mountain range and is renowned for its winter sun. Its summit, the Pic Blanc, is 3330 metres high and offers some incredibly breathtaking views for those who dare.
Set in Sweden, Are is Northern Europe’s biggest sports resort and has a range of activities to suit every level of skill. Are even hosted the Alpine World Championships back in 2007, which proves the quality of skiing around the resort. Don’t believe us? Well, take your pick from dare devil, jaw-dropping black pistes and challenging off-piste slopes to an abundance of easy skiing for children and beginners.
Spread across 200 kilometres of snowy, powdery Austrian mountains, Saalbach has a superb selection of luxurious hotels and resorts. Step out of your hotel to enjoy sweeping views of snow as far as the eye can see, then take your pick from one of the many pistes: from black championship runs, to untouched slopes and a challenging rough-rider mogul run, there’s plenty of fun to be had on the slopes here.