One of the most incredible vacations to take is a European skiing trip. Not only are the mountain ranges throughout Europe unique from the rest of the world, they are quite different from one another, so it’s easy to find a place that will cater to your exact demands. Whether you want challenging slopes or the finest spa on the continent, there is a ski resort that will leave you content (and here is another good site to help you find them). Here are the top seven ski resorts in Europe.
1. Chamonix – There is a reason why this has become a must-visit for serious skiers the world over. Chamonix is situated in a valley with five different skiing areas and access to some of the most challenging slopes imaginable. The Couloir des Cosmiques is a particularly exciting run, letting you go down a 45-degree, 2,600-foot couloir that can earn you 10,000 vertical miles if you take it all the way to the valley floor. Because there is so much space to work with, it’s recommended that you bring a full backcountry kit and hire a guide to make sure you don’t get lost skiing these remarkable slopes.
2. St. Anton – For the full experience of enjoying a ski town, you can’t do better than St. Anton, Austria. A charming skiing village, St. Anton has almost 200 miles of slopes and 440 miles of woods and backcountry to explore. If you want to try something a little different, you can always ski over to Lech via their system of lifts and slopes. When you’re done skiing, enjoy the various clubs, restaurants, and other entertainments, including an extensive spa. If you want to do more than just ski, St. Anton is the place for you.
3. Verbier – Located in the middle of Switzerland, Verbier is one of the most diverse places you can go. While it has quite a few offerings for hard core Alpine slope enthusiasts, almost outpacing Chamonix in that regard, it also has a sleek, modern feel and a number of discos and other amenities to draw your attention. If skiing is what you’re there for, then Verbier really shines with the various off-piste areas you can enjoy. Again, it’s recommended you get a guide if you plan to explore off the normal trails.
4. Mürren – Perhaps one of the best kept secrets in Alpine skiing, Mürren really is a fantastic place to relax. With only about 33-miles of slopes, this is not the place for a hardcore skier, but the endless backcountry can certainly make for a great trip. The village is car free and can only be accessed by cable car or train, ensuring peace and quiet during your trip. For the James Bond fan, this is also the location of the Piz Gloria, the rotating restaurant featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
5. Zermatt – While Zermatt has a decent 153 miles of slopes to enjoy, the main reason to come to this little Swiss resort town is the food and drink. There are over 60 on-mountain eateries in Zermatt, ranging from five star restaurants to bars built into the backs of barns. You can spend weeks just exploring the different flavors and scents of the area. That is not to say that the skiing isn’t also top notch, with some incredible runs for experts and novices alike.
6. Alagna – This Italian hamlet is actually quite charming. With a population of only about 400, this little area has roughly 155 miles of skiing trails. But people don’t go for the trails. Instead, Alagna is known for its amazing backcountry lines, which stretch for miles and provide an incredible expedition for anyone who truly loves to explore on skis. Nightlife is low key and laid back, with only one bar that the guides tend to congregate at.
7. La Grave – Ski mountaineering is not for everyone, but if it’s something that you’re into, you will absolutely adore La Grave. This is the place where the most hard core of skiers go to experience 7,000-vertical-feet of glaciers, cliffs, couloirs, and no-fall zones. There is one lift, no avy control, no ski patrol, no marked runs, and no guide required, making this the place for only the most competent and extreme skiers.