Have you been to or seen the exciting Ski and Snowboard Show event at Earls Court this weekend just gone and are now raring to book your skiing holiday? With the peak ski season fast approaching, let’s take a look at some of the places that we think you should consider when booking. Whether you want to hop across the Channel to some of the great European resorts or venture a little further afield, we’ve got some great places to look at!
Courchevel in the French Alps is part of the popular Three Valleys, the largest linked ski area in the world. There are plenty of runs in Courchevel itself to keep you occupied, from beginner to experienced alike, but the whole Three Valleys area is so easily accessible that you quite literally have one of the largest skiing playgrounds on your doorstep!
Both Geneva and Lyon airports serve the resort, with Geneva being some 30 km closer. Flights to both Geneva and Lyon are available from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester airports.
Courchevel hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, and amongst many other activities you can also enjoy skating at the Olympic rink.
Not, perhaps, for the tranquil-seeking, crowd-adverse amongst us, Chamonix is a beautiful but bustling French resort below the impressive mountain of Mont Blanc in France. Its incredible slopes and tricky terrain has drawn skiers from around the world to seek out the thrills of these runs, but there is something for everyone, regardless of ability. It is unavoidable in Chamonix to experience some queues and waiting around, but there is a reason for this hubris, and it is evident in the quality of the skiing.
Similarly to Courchevel, the resort is accessed by Geneva and Lyon airports. Geneva is the closest of the two, being only 88km away, and benefits from a wide range of flights available from the UK. There is however, a direct TGV service to Chamonix from Lyon airport, despite the extra distance.
Across the border in Switzerland is the world-famous ski resort of Verbier. Part of the Four Valleys, it offers a huge and varied terrain, as well as the likelihood of some celebrity spotting!
— Performance Verbier (@performance_ski) October 14, 2014
The closest airport to Verbier is Geneva, which is served by direct flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester, and Verbier itself is pretty easy to get to by either road or rail from Geneva.
As would be expected from a world famous resort, there are plenty of restaurants and places to stay to make sure you get the most from your holiday, and you can’t beat enjoying the scenery with a glass or two of gluhwein!
Staying in Switzerland, Zermatt is a favourite destination for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. The resort is around three hours’ drive from Geneva airport but almost equally convenient are the airports of Zurich and Basel in Switzerland and Milan in Italy.
As mentioned, Geneva is well served by many UK airports, but Zurich has slightly fewer options with flights available from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester. Basel has fewer still with the only options being Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester.
Milan has several airports, however Malpensa is the most convenient for onward travel to Zermatt, and it is well connected to UK airports. There are also excellent train links to Zermatt from Milan, leaving from Milano Centrale train station.
Kitzbuhel in the Austrian Tyrol is another ski resort with a world-class reputation and scenery straight out of a picture postcard.
The most convenient airport to fly into is Salzburg since there are frequent transfers as well as a train service to the resort. However, Munich, across the border in Germany, is another option.
There are flights to Salzburg from Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester whilst Munich is served by London Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester.
Kitzbuhel is known as the winter entertainment capital of Austria, so with options for skating, snow-shoeing or toboggan rides, you won’t be digging around for things to do!
The Lungau region, Austria
If you like the look of Austria but Kitzbuhel does not quite tick all your boxes, this region, recently announced as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is full of breathtaking scenery and Austrian culture. With reliable snow and a ski pass that allows access to lifts and buses throughout the region, it’s a great choice for a variety of slopes as well as cross country skiing options.
Like Kitzbuhel, the area is also accessed from Salzburg airport, and the region is just 100km or so to the South East. Conveniently, the Tauern Autobhan can take you there from Salzburg, or you can hire a car.
If you are after value for money, Bansko in Bulgaria could be the destination of choice. It may not be as well known but the savings more than make up for that, and it certainly doesn’t fall short when it comes to the actual skiing. Nestled at the foot of the Pirin mountain, it has a long ski season, great snow conditions and even a new skiing area that has been created in recent years.
Bulgaria’s ski resort Bansko ready for the ski season officially opens December 13 said town mayor Georgi Ikonomov, pic.twitter.com/07LQ4mUNAm
— Bansko Royal Towers (@banskotweet) October 30, 2014
Bansko, located around 160km south of Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, is easily accessed from Sofia airport, serviced by Heathrow. There are good public transport links to the resort taking you through glorious countryside, however the fastest way to get there is by car.
With great skiing opportunities and a rich cultural experience for a much lower price than you might expect to pay elsewhere, Bansko is certainly one to consider!
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
If you like pasta with your skiing (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy could be a good choice. Known as the pearl of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is another proud host of the Winter Olympics, this time in 1956. It is now a highly fashionable resort.
The best airport for Cortina d’Ampezzo is Treviso, which is served by flights from Stansted airport. The resort is popular with families due to the wealth of shopping and restaurants available, and is a great way to enjoy the Italian lifestyle whilst on your skiing adventure.
Whistler, BC, Canada
The flight might take a bit longer than your average European ski resort, but it will definitely be worth it. Hosting many of the events in the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler tops the charts time and time again for snow sports in Canada. It’s a great family destination as well, with a variety of difficulty levels and plenty to do and see, including some impressive golf courses if you fancy a change from the slopes!
Only a couple of hours drive north of Vancouver along the incredibly scenic Sea to Sky Highway, it is easily accessible from Vancouver International Airport, which has direct flights operating from both Heathrow and Gatwick.
Alta, Utah, United States
In the United States, Alta in Utah is one of the longest running ski resorts. For those seeking great snowfall and a variety of challenging terrain, this is a great choice outside of Europe. If over 2000 acres of steep slopes and stunning scenery isn’t enough for you, you can get a combined pass that allows access to the neighbouring resort, Snowbird, for over 4000 acres of skiing.
Only around 45 minutes drive from Salt Lake City Airport, this resort is very well located. The downside is that there are no direct flights from the UK, and so a stopover will be required. For serious skiers, the chance to have a go on some of these renowned slopes may well be worth the longer travelling times.