Ski Resorts and Destinations in the Alps

Along with Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo will be hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics
Along with Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo will be hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics | © Ingolf Pompe 51 / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nina Zietman
Commissioning Editor8 September 2020

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.

Avoriaz, France

Ski Resort
Map View
Morning in Avoriaz, France
© Sergey Naryshkin / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Ski Resort
Map View

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).

Mayrhofen, Austria

Architectural Landmark
Map View
MAYRHOFEN, AUSTRIA :  MARCH 22, 2016:View of  Mayrhofen Ski resort area with ski lifts, pistes and skiers. Zillertal Alps, Tirol
© Lupu Gabriela / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Architectural Landmark
Map View

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.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Germany,Bavaria,Garmisch-Partenkirchen,Hausberg,skiing area Kreuzwankl,armchair lift,ski lift,armchair lift,ski runway,mountain steelworks,ski steelworks,top terminal,skiing area,Kreuzwankl,
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

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.

Cerkno, Slovenia

Park, School, Ski Resort
Map View
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).
These recommendations were updated on September 8, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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