5 Amazing European Locations for Winter Sports

Silvretta Montafon
Silvretta Montafon | © Daniel Zangerl

There are a number of resorts catering to various winter sports across Europe. From night skiing in the Balkans to the Norwegian resort that’s great for families, the continent offers a wide choice of winter retreats, no matter your budget or ability – and you can even get a free ski pass in the process.

Those planning ahead can secure some free skiing long before they set foot on any ski slopes or even book a resort. Across the world there are 50 different resorts where you can get a free day of skiing when you buy either a jacket or pants through Helly Hansen. Just choose your gear, select a resort and you’re good to go.

Boì Taüll, Spain

Ticking all sorts of boxes is this magnificent Pyreneen peak. At 2,751 metres (9,026 feet), Boì Taüll is the highest resort in the Pyrenees and boasts nearly 50 different ski runs. There are hardly any crowds, its north-facing slopes guarantee exceptional snow and the base of the peak is ideal for children.

In fact, Boì Taüll is brilliant as a destination for families for a number of reasons. In addition to the beginner-friendly base, there are two ski schools, a day care for one-year-olds and up, and all the runs on the slope are drawn in the same direction, making it one of the safest ski resorts in Europe.

Boi Taull | © Boì Taüll Resort

Silvretta, Austria

Silvretta makes up part of the Central Eastern Alps, and many of its peaks reach well over 3,000 metres (9,843 feet). The adjacent valley of Montafon boasts 140 kilometres (87 miles) of pristine snow and plenty of options for freestylers, thanks to the innovative and creative designs of the resort’s runs – think rails, boxes and kickers that cater for all levels.

Unlike some other ski locations, Silvretta is extremely accessible. Upon arrival, it’s easy to slip immediately into your gear and boots and head straight to the slopes. The area is about more than just going downhill, though: winter sports enthusiasts can try their hand at cross-country skiing, winter hiking and even ski safari.

Silvretta | © Daniel Hug

Borovets, Bulgaria

The Balkans’ first mountain resort is only 70 kilometres (43 miles) from Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, and started out as hunting lodge for the country’s royal family. Despite its grand beginnings, Borovets is a great alternative for anyone not wanting to break the bank, and the majority of its 15 runs are suited to beginners and intermediates.

Anyone who feels a bit tired after a morning on the slopes can recharge with an afternoon nap and hit one of the resort’s night-skiing runs, open all week from 6pm to 10pm. Whether night or day, 175 snow cannons ensure excellent conditions throughout the resort.

Borovets | © Daniel Yordanov

Hafjell, Norway

With early and consistent snowfall throughout the winter and 200 snow cannons firing out extra powder, Hafjell can guarantee optimal ski conditions no matter the weather. It’s this combination of natural and manufactured snow that creates a fantastic base for the runs at this resort. It’s also just a two-and-a-half-hour drive or train ride from Oslo, so is extremely easy to get to.

There are terrain parks for all age groups, with Frontyard for young children, Backyard for older kids and the main park for those with more experience. All have jumps, while the areas further up in expertise include rails and box corners.

There are 33 slopes: 14 green (beginner), eight blue (easy), eight red (medium) and three black (advanced). Night skiing is offered, and there are 600 kilometres (378 miles) of cross-country skiing tracks, too.

Hafjell | © Gisle Johnsen

Chamonix, France

It may be a somewhat predictable selection, but Chamonix’s appeal is undeniable. Nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, this exquisite mountain town lies where France, Italy and Switzerland’s borders meet and boasts everything you could want from a ski destination.

A particular highlight is the resort Les Houches, just 10 minutes outside of Chamonix. It’s a little quieter than its bigger brother and is perfect for families, with its own World Cup run and plenty of tree skiing. For those who want to stay in the heart of Chamonix, Brévent and Flégère are both excellent and linked together by an efficient lift system. Both are ideally suited to intermediates and the powder in Brévent is as good as any in the Alps.

Chamonix | © Manon Simonet

Anyone heading to the slopes this winter can pick up a free day’s worth of skiing before they go. Buy a jacket or pants from Helly Hansen and you’ll get a day’s ski pass thrown in at one of 50 different resorts around the globe. Pick your gear, choose your spot and enjoy the snow.

Ski Free Gear | © Helly Hansen

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