The best ski resorts for beginners

8 Feb, 2023
4mins, 54s read
Sarah Cramer
Sarah Cramer
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What makes a great resort for beginners?

When picking that perfect resort for your first ski trip you want gentle and crowd free slopes. You also want to be able to access the mountain to meet friends and enjoy the views (and not be confined to ‘beginner only areas’). That means choosing a resort where the main network of runs are rated green or blue, especially the pistes back to the resort.

Often this means quieter resorts away from action, but as you’ll see from some of our suggestions below – not always! While the big mega-resorts can be intimidating for anyone setting out on their first ski trip, some are great for beginners. Also important, look for resorts where there’s a wide selection of other things to do, whether that’s good shopping, hiking trails or spas, just in case you don’t find your ski legs. 

Snowy Avoriaz ski resort in winter at sunset

Avoriaz, France 

The exception to the ‘go small’ rule. Avoriaz may be a mega resort – where multiple resorts and ski villages are linked together by lift systems – but it’s also a great option for beginners. There are excellent slopes right next to the resort and since it’s purpose built, most of the accommodation is super practical ski-in, ski-out, which means you don’t have to worry about the pain of carrying your skis far. With 600km of pistes and 30 snowparks, all on one pass, there’s no shortage of options. Head up the mountain when the weather’s great or stay below the tree line for better visibility when it’s snowy. There’s also no shortage of alternate activities either, from e-bikes to hiking to shopping and spas. 

Arinsal, Andorra

Arinsal is an idyllic village in the heart of the Pyrenees offering great value for money and lots of wide, gentle tree-lined runs. It’s home to a small, family-friendly ski area. The resort also has a nice relaxed pace to it, so it’s not as intimidating as some of the bigger resorts in the Alps. Being Andorra, it’s kinder on the wallet – which is important to think about if you’re not sure if you’ll like skiing. From Arinsal, it’s also easy to get down to the town of Andorra La Vella for some shopping or the Caldea Spa for some spa time to get away from the slopes or just enjoy some me-time.

Trysil, Norway

Norway is a very different vibe to the Alps. Their mountains are not as high or steep as their alpine counterparts and as result, they’re not as scary either for your first runs. The resorts are also smaller and quieter, which all adds to a welcoming and positive experience. Trysil is a great place to learn the basics, with two thirds of its pistes rated either green or blue. There are some great beginner zones on the mountain and wide open slopes above the treeline. It’s also home to a good ski school with instructors who speak perfect English. Norway also enjoys a good snow record so you’re much less likely to find yourself on challenging icy conditions. 

Gondola taking skiiers to top of mountain

Wengen, Switzerland 

The Swiss resort of Wengen is the ski village of your imagination. Surrounded by giant alpine mountains, including the famous Eiger north face, it’s magically beautiful with a village of chocolate box charms. Add the romance of arriving by mountain train – the resort is car free – and it’s easy to see why Wengen has its legion of fans. It’s also great for beginners. There’s a nursery slope in the centre of the village as well as beginner areas further up the mountain. It’s also home to plenty of nice, wide and gentle runs. And if you want a day off the slopes, alternate activities include tobogganing, curling, ice skating, swimming and winter walking.

Skiiers skiing down slope into Flaine ski resort on bluebird day

Flaine, France

With free lifts on its beginner slopes, an excellent ski school and childcare facilities, Flaine is naturally popular with beginners and families. It’s a super convenient resort, easy to get around with plenty of accommodation options where you can put on your skis just outside your hotel or apartment. It’s also situated close to Geneva airport so it makes for an ideal break if you only wanted to go away for a few days to give the sport a go without committing to a full week. On the slopes there’s a good selection of easy runs, while off the slopes you can also try ice driving and dog sledding – or spend the day in a spa. 

Ellmau, Austria

This charming Austrian resort has it all – good beginner slopes, lots of easy blue runs and a lack of crowds. But it also benefits from being linked to the Ski Welt network, one of the world’s largest ski areas. Much of the terrain across these Austrian hills is similarly benign and suitable for beginners and intermediates looking to explore the mountain. Add ski-in, ski-out accommodation, epic views across to the Wilder Kaiser mountains and all the Austrian traditions from glühwein to horse drawn carriage rides, and you have the makings of a great first time on the slopes. 

Skiiers skiing past traditional church in Seefeld ski resort

Seefeld, Austria

Just 30 minutes from Innsbruck airport, Seefeld is the perfect resort for those who may only want to give skiing a go as part of a wider winter experience. It does have some great beginner slopes, but it’s the variety of everything else you can do that makes it special. Here they love their cross-country skiing – there are more xc runs than there are regular pistes. There’s also ice skating, lots of spas, swimming, shopping and good restaurants. And if you fancy the bright lights, Innsbruck is a beautiful and historically fascinating city just down the road. 

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