Whether you’re looking to ski with the rich and famous in Verbier, venture off-piste in Chamonix, or party like there’s no tomorrow in St. Anton, Europe’s best ski resorts have something for everyone.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Skiing is just as alluring in Cortina d’Ampezzo as it is the Italian dolce far niente, or the hip, cosmopolitan vibe floating in the crisp, fresh air.
Surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs, the charming resort in the Dolomites has been attracting travelers ever since 1956, when it played host to the Winter Olympics, and continues to do so today. With its breathtaking scenery, excellent skiing opportunities, and charming old-world feel, it draws an eclectic mix of visitors, from foreign skiers and celebrities to Italian aristocracy.
The ski season stretches from November to April, enticing winter sports enthusiasts with nearly 140 km of sundry snowy slopes, plus modern lifts, exciting snowboarding trails, as well as some of the most challenging black runs in the Dolomites. Also, Cortina d’Ampezzo is part of the renowned Dolomiti Superski area, known worldwide for offering the largest fully interchangeable lift ticket in the world.
Throw classy dining, elegant accommodation, and fashionable shopping along the pretty, cobbled Corso Italia into the mix, and you have one of the swankiest ski resorts in Europe.
Home to fabulous skiing, a slew of high-end restaurants, and some of the most exclusive private chalets on Earth, it’s no wonder Verbier is the ski destination of choice for royals and Hollywood stars.
Perched at an altitude of 1,500 meters, in the canton of Valais, the world-famous Swiss Alpine resort is part of the Four Valleys ski area, offering an abundance of snow, and access to more than 400 km of runs – some of which have views as far as Mont Blanc or the Matterhorn.
Though best known for its off-piste skiing, Verbier also has lots of groomed pistes for beginners and intermediates. Needless to say, non-skiers will find plenty of ways to spend their time here, whether dining in the resort’s fancy restaurants, browsing the trendy boutiques around Place Centrale, or taking in the splendid scenery while snowshoeing.
Verbier’s après-ski scene is almost as exciting as its terrain, ranging from scenic piste-side pubs and live music venues to stylish lounge bars and some of the most glamorous nightclubs in the Swiss Alps.
St. Anton, Austria
The legendary party reputation and some of the Alps’ most thought-provoking runs coupled with genuine Tyrolean hospitality make St. Anton am Arlberg one of Europe’s greatest ski resorts.
As the cradle of modern alpine skiing, the characterful Austrian town has been luring winter sports enthusiasts for over a century. And, with 305 km of immaculate slopes and some other 200 of glorious off-piste itineraries in its backyard, who can blame them? Nevertheless, some of the best après-ski bars are here – including the infamous Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh, as are a number of classy restaurants and hotels.
Despite its popularity, St. Anton has managed to preserve its cozy small-village feel, which makes it particularly attractive to wander around. The atmosphere is chic and cosmopolitan, with lots of shops, bars, and handsome wooden chalets stretching along its car-free main street.
As the birthplace of mountaineering, Chamonix has it all – majestic alpine scenery, unrivaled skiing, and endless off-piste distractions. Nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, France’s favorite winter resort is actually a cluster of separate ski areas and charming little villages, with snow sports for every taste and ability.
Legendary skiing aside, Chamonix offers everything, from ice climbing and fat biking to unforgettable glacier trekking. It is also a mecca for snowboarders and freeriders, playing host to the most famous off-piste route in the Alps: the Vallée Blanche.
The town center is a bustling, pedestrian-friendly destination, with traditional Belle Epoque and Victorian buildings housing lively bars, chic shops, and gourmet restaurants. Bookstores and galleries line pretty piazzas and quaint cobbled streets, adding to Cham’s delightfully nostalgic Savoyard charm.
Dining options range from delicious fondues to Michelin starred cuisine; accommodation from alpine-chic hotels to ultra-exclusive chalets; and the nightlife – with table-top dancing, internationally renowned DJs, and some of the most spirited après-ski parties in the French Alps – is all you’ve heard and more.
Soldeu may lack the charm and hype of the Alps’ top ski resorts, but when it comes to beginner and intermediate skiing, it’s a strong rival. With excellent infrastructure, a friendly après-ski scene, and access to the largest ski domain in the Pyrenees (Grandvalira), Andorra’s main winter resort never fails to please.
The town itself is typically Catalan, with traditional stone-clad buildings and many lively tapas bars serving regional specialties, whereas its wide-open pistes and tree-lined runs provide great, diverse challenges for both beginner and intermediate skiers.
Andorra is a duty-free zone, so expect reasonable prices for anything, from food & drink to shopping and lodging.