Skiing in the Alps is a must-do for any wintersports enthusiast. Whether you are a beginner in Cerkno, Slovenia, or an advanced skier bombing down the black runs in Zermatt, Switzerland, you won’t be disappointed.
The Alps make up the highest, most extensive mountain range in Europe, stretching from France to Slovenia – eight countries in total. They’re also home to Mont Blanc, one of the most prominent peaks in the world, at 4,808m (15,774ft) above sea level.
Approximately 80 percent of the world’s major ski resorts are found here, attracting millions of visitors each year. There is so much variety – from glacier skiing in Switzerland to ski jumping in Germany. Here’s our list of the perfect destinations for a winter break.
Family-friendly and reasonably priced, Avoriaz is a purpose-built resort dating from the 1960s. It’s popular for its snow-sure slopes and two excellent snow parks. You can cruise 650km (404mi) of runs through its connection to the Portes du Soleil area. The glitzy mountainside bar chain La Folie Douce arrived in 2018, so you can enjoy the party piste-side until the sun goes down. Note that Avoriaz does get very busy during peak holiday weeks.
With the Matterhorn punctuating the skyline, Zermatt is surrounded by 38 peaks that are 4,000m (13,123ft) high, so you’re guaranteed good ski conditions each winter. The runs here are mostly suited to intermediate and advanced skiers; however, there’s also plenty to amuse non-skiers, from the Matterhorn Museum to the infinity pool at the Resort La Ginabelle. Beware Zermatt is not the cheapest option in the Alps – a one-day lift pass here costs SF79 (£65).
Famed for its lively après-ski scene, Mayrhofen has a dual personality, attracting both families and snowboarding party animals. Each year, it hosts the Snowbombing music festival and Altitude comedy event. If you’re looking for a typical snow-covered Tyrolean village, you won’t be disappointed. There are 142km (88mi) of – often wide – pistes, so it’s easy to get away from the crowds, before ducking into a cosy restaurant for a hot chocolate.
With towering peaks and a fur-coat-clad clientele, Cortina is one of the more glamorous resorts in the Alps. Grand Victorian hotels line the streets, and it’s particularly popular with weekenders from Venice and Milan. The resort comprises three ski areas, with runs for all levels, especially intermediates. Keep an eye on this destination, as it will host the 2026 Winter Olympics with Milan.
As the centre of Germany’s wintersports, Garmisch-Partenkirchen has hosted not only the Winter Olympics but also an annual New Year ski-jumping competition. Views over the craggy Zugspitze peak are impressive, with lifts reaching a lofty 2,100m (6,890ft). While the runs aren’t the most extensive in the Alps, the town has hundreds of restaurants, a pool, an ice-skating rink and a casino to entertain you once the lifts shut.
At the far eastern end of the Alps, you’ll find Slovenia. Cerkno is one of the country’s most popular ski resorts, with high-speed chairlifts that will whiz you to the top – there are 18km (11mi) of runs to explore. It’s a great place to learn, with a small, family-friendly vibe. The Alpine Pearl is a top lunchtime spot, where you can tuck into a bowl of hot goulash or klobasa (local sausage).