Embarking on a Europe ski vacation is as much about immersing yourself in culture, heritage and breathtaking scenery as it is about skiing. After all, only in Europe can you soak in century-old thermal baths, ski to Italy from Switzerland for a cappuccino or share a pot of fondue while sipping French wine. Whether you love experiencing other cultures or want to ski on a different continent, a Europe ski vacation offers endless opportunities to make memories—and turns!
When determining where in Europe you want to travel and which of the virtually endless activities and ski terrain you want to experience, we recommend pondering the following five points:
1. Type of ski resort: modern convenience vs. Old-World charm
Purpose-built ski resorts are modern ski-centric resorts, perfect for travelers who plan to focus primarily on skiing. Typically situated at higher elevations, purpose-built ski resorts are reliable for consistent snow conditions and offer plenty of ski in, ski out and slopeside lodging.
Ski resorts built where historic Alpine villages first existed are brimming with authentic Old-World charm. From centuries-old architecture lining cobblestone streets to traditional cuisine, these destinations offer Alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience alongside skiing. Getting to the slopes typically entails a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride.
2. Activities and day trips
Europe resorts offer plenty to experience in the way of spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Also, many resorts are near major cities offering metropolitan shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day trip. For example, skiers in Cortina can hop over to Venice in just two hours by car. Likewise, historic downtown Geneva is just about an hour by car from Chamonix. For skiers in Switzerland, a popular day trip is taking a train ride through the Alps to Italy on the historic Swiss railway.
3. Trip extensions
One of the best aspects of a Europe ski trip is how easy it to tack on a trip extension to culture- and history-drenched cities like Paris, Milan and Rome. In fact, our Europe Travel Experts can craft a personalized itinerary across Europe based on your interests.
4. Your budget
When it comes to where to lay your head, your choices range from traditional Alpine chalets and guestrooms in elegant historic hotels to fully equipped apartments. For budget travelers, we have deluxe and moderate accommodations at most Europe ski resorts—note that Italy and Austria typically offer the best bang for your buck. If it’s luxury you’re after, Ski.com can arrange first-class transportation, world-class experiences and five-star boutique hotel guestrooms.
5. Ski terrain, passes and guides
Europe is home to thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. Many visitors choose to purchase a multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass, which boasts 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. Another pass is to world’s largest ski area, France’s Les Trois Vallees, which is comprised of Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and five more resorts. Ski.com also offers passes to the Milky Way Ski Area (Via Lattea), which straddles France and Italy and offers the opportunity to ski across country borders, a uniquely European experience.
No matter your ski level, we recommend spending at least a couple days with a ski guide, who will show you the resort(s) through the eyes of an experienced local. Ski guides have the inside scoop on the best lunch spots and après parties, and they can guide you through ski terrain you might not discover or safely navigate on your own. While a private ski instructor in the U.S. can cost a pretty penny, a ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 250 euros per day.
From Alpe d’Huez to Zermatt, Ski.com offers custom packages to 50 of the most popular resorts in Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Andorra and Germany. Your package, expertly crafted by our Europe Travel Experts, can include transatlantic and inter-Europe flights, rail, private or shared shuttles, lodging, lift tickets, ski passes, ski guides, equipment rentals and more.
If you fancy skiing and vacationing in the Alps, speak with a Europe Travel Expert at 800-610-8911 or request a free custom quote.