The biggest ski areas in Europe
If you wanna go big on your ski holiday, there's no better place than in the heart of these vast European ski areas. With hundreds of kilometres of pistes to explore, you'll clock up some impressive carve time. And you'll be spoilt for choice with plenty of runs for all abilities, from gentle nursery slopes to deep powder bowls. Perfect for groups! Large ski areas are also good for hunting down good weather and snow conditions - head up high when snow is scarce or dive into forested pistes when it's dumping hard. And as for the apres, there's usually something for every kind of party animal, from dancing on the tables in your ski boots to chilled evenings in cosy hotel bars. Out of office on!
Here's Heidi's guide to the biggest ski areas in Europe...
The Three Valleys, France - 600km
Welcome to the largest connected ski area in the world. Covering a colossal 600km in the French Alps, Les Tois Vallees offers runs for all abilities. Head to Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe, for a snowsure holiday with modern ski-in/ski-out digs and oodles of intermediate and advanced runs. Mile-munching heaven! Enjoy a vast snowy playground with charming French villages at the heart of the Three Valleys area in Meribel. Les Menuires is your best bet for a budget ski break. Or why not splurge out and rub shoulders with the rich and famous with a glitzy ski trip to Courchevel.
Portes du Soleil, Switzerland/France - 580km
Spanning twelve resorts across Switzerland and France, Portes du Soleil is a super-sized ski resort brimming with every kind of terrain, from easygoing tree-lined slopes to challenging world-cup runs. The car-free village of Avoriaz is centrally located with access to the entire area, and its high altitude makes it an excellent snowsure resort. Snow-good! If you want a short weekend break, the charming Savoyarde village of Morzine is only an hour from Geneva airport. And for rural Savoyarde charm by the mountain load, Chatel is the real deal. Got the kids in tow? Les Gets has a super chilled vibe, and there are plenty of family-friendly activities on and off the pistes.
The Zillertal Valley, Austria - 544km
Soak up the generous and welcoming hospitality of Austria's best ski resorts in the enormous ski region of Zillertal. One of our all-time fave resorts, Mayrhofen, boasts pristine family-friendly slopes, steep advanced runs, and is a superb playground for snowboarders. Let's shred! Soak up the sunshine and enjoy all-year-round glacier skiing in the pretty village of Tux. Or build up some serious miles on Zell am Ziller's epic intermediates pistes. Oh, and don't forget Fugen. This hidden gem is incredible value for money and will give you access to snowy uncrowded beginner slopes and a chilled apres scene. Nice one!
Sella Ronda, Italy – 426km
The Sela Ronda is a spectacular ski route encompassing four Ladin ski resorts in Italy with draw-dropping views of the UNESCO-listed Dolomite Mountains. Race down world-cup runs and cruise through picturesque valleys in Selva Val Gardena. Or take it easy and enjoy fine dining in Michelin-star restaurants in the peaceful villages of Alta Badia. Endurance junkies will love Arabba with its lofty Marmolada glacier (aka the Queen of the Dolomites) and gnarly verticals. And foodies will have plenty of mint restaurants to explore in the charming Italian town of Campitello di Fassa - copper pot polenta, cajoncie ravioli, and cinnamon apple cake are just some of the local specialities. Bellissimo!
Paradiski, France - 425km
If pristine powder is high on your priority list, the sky-high altitudes of the Paradiski area in the French Alps mean its resorts are as snowsure as they come. Bring on the pow! From glacier skiing to tree-lined descents, there are runs to suit all abilities. The purpose-built resort of Les Arcs is well-equipped with modern lifts and a fantastic snow-making infrastructure. Cruise along mellow blues overlooking Mount Blanc or explore some epic off-piste terrain. Over in La Plagne, families will love the winding blues and reds. And thrillseekers can explore challenging blacks up on Glacier de Bellecôte. Last, but not least, Peisey-Vallandry is nestled in the centre of Paradiski, with easy access to cruisey blues and confidence-building reds.
Four Valleys, Switzerland - 412km
From adrenalin-inducing offpiste slopes and World Cup downhill runs to mellow tree-lined pistes, Switzerland's huge interconnected Four Valleys ski area ticks all the boxes. The super swanky ski resort of Verbier is the place of dreams for expert off-piste skiers. And the legendary apres scene will have you sipping champagne in bougie mountain huts and celebrity spotting in the iconic Farm Club. Santé! For something more laid back, Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon-Les Collons are all ideal for families and groups. Cruise along beautiful forested runs and take in the draw-dropping mountain top views. Wow!
Via Lattea/Milky Way, Italy/France - 400km
The star-studded lineup of ski resorts that make up the extensive Milky Way ski area in Italy and France is one you don't wanna miss. With plenty of sunny, bluebird days, snowsure high-altitude skiing, and incredible runs for all abilities, this extraordinary ski area truly is out of this world. Family-friendly Sestriere is one of Italy's highest ski resorts with reams of beautifully groomed snowsure runs. And Sauze d'Oulx is a lively resort popular with Brits for its sun-drenched terraces, ample mountain restaurants and friendly bars. Saluti! Near the French border, Claviere has a more relaxed apres scene and exudes traditional charm. And Cesana is super quiet and crowd free.
Matterhorn, Switzerland/Italy - 322km
The silhouette of the mighty Matterhorn Mountain is one of the world's most iconic, and the ski resorts surrounding its pointed peak are just as legendary. Zermatt is the most high-profile ski resort in the Matterhorn region. A vast intermediates' playground with streams of epic high-altitude runs, you'll be blown away by the spectacular panoramic mountain vistas and dreamy freeride bluffs. Watching the pennies? Italy's Cervinia is a little less heavy on your wallet but no less impressive in the snow stakes - as one of Europe's most snowsure resorts, you can ski here from October to May.
Les Sybelles, France - 310km
Despite being France's fourth largest ski area, Les Sybelles remains off the beaten track. But it beats us why! Oozing authentic French charm and linking six beautiful alpine ski resorts with ski-in/ski-out accommodation, it offers excellent value compared to the large French ski areas. Newbies and mini shredders will love the large beginner's area and can build confidence on a web of sun-kissed blues in La Toussuire. Or head to Saint Sorlin d'Arves to discover a quintessentially French village at the foot of the Etendard Glacier with excellent restaurants serving delicious feasts of traditional Savoie haute cuisine. Bon appetit!
Arlberg, Austria - 303km
Arlberg is the most badass ski area in Austria. Dubbed the 'birthplace of skiing,' it is a magnet for diehard powderhounds and freestyle junkies. But it's also got plenty of easygoing slopes for newbies and intermediates too. Go big in St Anton with a legendary apres scene, steep blacks and dreamy offpiste powder. Or live the high life in Lech-Zurs, Austria'a most exclusive ski resort loved by royalty for its epic snow, heliskiing, and exquisite restaurants. For something more relaxed, St Christoph and Stuben are peaceful little villages tucked away from the crowds. Or why not try Warth-Schrocken; it's less well-known than the others, but it's a super snowy bolthole.
Espace Killy, France - 300km
With over 300km of pistes spanning just two resorts, Espace Killy is one of a kind. From incredible offpiste slopes to smooth, flowy blues, there's something for every kind of skier here. Pristine slopes, reliable snow, and a legendary apres scene make Val d'Isère one of the most popular resorts in the French Alps. Ski hard and party hard with loads of high-altitude slopes and lively nightlife in town. Go big or go home! And be sure to check out Tignes, too. No longer the poor relation, this modern ski resort boasts fantastic ski-in/ski-out accommodation, easy access to ski runs of all levels, and super fun apres-ski activities.
SkiWelt, Austria - 288km
The vast network of ski runs in Austria's SkiWelt region is an intermediates paradise. We're talking endless tree-lined blues and cruisy reds spanning nine resorts in the Wilder Kaiser mountains. Plus, it's only an hour from Salzburg, Innsbruck and Munich airports, so travel is easy. Nice one! Söll is the main gateway to SkiWelt and is full of traditional baroque charm. And it's good value too. Great for first-timers, Ellmau is a pretty Tyrolean village with excellent nursery slopes and uncrowded pistes. Westerndorf is quiet with a more traditional vibe and relaxed apres scene. And Brixen im Thale is a tranquil hideaway popular with families.
Saalbach/Hinterglemm ‘Skicircus’, Austria - 270km
Seasoned skiers can rack up some serious miles across varied terrain in the vast Skicircus valley. Take on the epic 65km ski circuit if you dare! Beginners, intermediates, and families will have a ball, too, with oodles of wide-open blue runs. Enjoy perfectly groomed beginner-friendly and intermediate pistes and rev it up in the lively bars in Saalbach. Neighbouring Hinterglemm is a bit less glamorous but has access to the same top-notch pistes and is great for families wanting to avoid the party scene. Or, to escape the crowds, head to Fieberbrunn, a hidden pine-forest-clad mountain village brimming with peachy powder and laidback charm.
Le Grand Massif, France - 265km
Discover jaw-dropping mountain vistas and reams of spectacular pistes in Le Grand Massif, France. Located in the centre of the Alps, its high-altitude slopes offer superb snow throughout the season, and the terrain is perfect for those new to skiing as well as seasoned pros. Flaine, known for its convenient ski-in-ski-out digs, is one of our fave resorts in France. You can virtually fall out of bed and be on the slopes – what's not to love? If an easy transfer is high on your wish list, the old French village of Samoens is just the ticket. With mountain loads of alpine charm, this is a dreamy picture-postcard setting. Family-friendly Les Carroz is a pretty village loved by small and big kids alike. And Morillon is a tranquil haven away from the hustle and bustle.
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