The European winter is looming once again… but you don’t have to resign yourself to dark grey days spent watching the rain pounding on your window.
On the contrary, winter provides the perfect opportunity to experience a different kind of ‘great outdoors’, especially with a trip to one of the top European ski spots, as voted by Forbes. So stop wishing for the rainclouds to disappear, and start planning a trip to one of Europe’s top winter wonderlands!
10. St Christoph, Austria
The Ablerg region - which includes St Christoph Lech, Stuben and Zurs - iswhere the sport of skiing was born. This is where ski pioneer Hannes Schneider perfected the Arlberg Method of skiing in the 1930s and later brought it to America, teaching legions of North American ski instructors. And the Arlberg region offers miles of interconnected trails, as well as a shuttle bus system that’s welcome at the day’s end after an adventure-packed day of skiing.
9. Lech, Austria
St Christoph’s neighbour, Lech, is an exclusive Alpine haunt of the quietly rich and famous. Fur coats are worn with pride and it’s the rare repeat guest who doesn’t own a pair of Strolz ski boots, which are handmade in the village. Lech and its neighbouring resort of Zurs are about privilege, excluding other skiers when 14,000 tickets have been sold, meaning the vast amount of terrain on offer can feel like a series of private slopes, even in high season.
8. Kitzbuhel, Austria
Among ski racing fans, the medieval walled town of Kitzbuhel is famed as the home of the classic Hahnenkamm Downhill course, on which the World Cup Men’s Downhill is held each January. The town’s winding streets are lined with hotels, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and are especially enchanting at night. A good word of advice to visitors is to hire a guide for a classic Austrian ski safari that starts in Pengelstein and leads to the Jochberg/Pass Thurn area.
7. Megeve, France
Parisians are well-known for flocking to boutiques, jazz bars and restaurants… but they also flock to the slopes of Megeve, about an hour from Geneva in the French Haute Savoie. In fact, while the area has good intermediate skiing, the sport often takes a backseat to promenading, dining and cavorting until the early hours of the morning.
6. Courchevel, France
From a sporting perspective, Courchevel is one of the greatest ski resorts in the world. Courchevel is part of Trois Vallees, the largest ski area in the world, with 373 miles (600 kilometres) of marked pistes and 184 lifts. Make a beeline for Courchevel 1850, the village that’s the focal point for all the best skiing, shopping and nightlife… a popular haunt for Parisians, but with enough Russian visitors to earn it the title Moscow on the Snow.
5. Meribel, France
The Meribel valley is the middle area of the three valleys that make up the massive Trois Vallees ski area. The area’s fast lifts and impeccable grooming meanyou can put a lot of miles on your skis every day. In fact, the piste choices are overwhelming. Meribel was founded by a Scot, Colonel Peter Lindsay, after World War II and modeled on Austrian ski villages. It’s particularly favoured by the Brits, who go there for the terrific lift system, excellent grooming and Anglo-flavoured French culture.
4. Cortina, Italy
With its cobbled streets and backdrop of the jagged Dolomites, Cortina is Italy’s answer to Aspen and StMoritz. In Cortina, no one skis before 11am, lunch is lengthy, and everyone takes part in the evening passeggiata(walk) along Corso Italia with fur-clad Romans, Bolognese and Milanese. Then it’s off for an aperitif at Enoteca and dinner at the Michelin-starred Tivoli, followed by a trip to a disco. That said, Cortina’s slopes are challenging enough, though they require a shuttle bus ride to link them. The best skiing is at Sella Ronda, a series of interconnected mountains that can be skied in one long day.
3. Klosters, Switzerland
Klosters is still known as the preferred resort of the British Royal Family, but it offers a quiet kind of chic. The skiing, which includes neighboring Davos, can be both scenic and challenging. And the run to the village of Kublis, which good intermediates can accomplish, is more than seven miles (11 kilometres) long.
2. St Moritz, Switzerland
Winter sports were essentially invented in St Moritz by the British in 1865, and St Moritz is still the quintessential Alpine resort. What other resort can boast winter polo in a surrounding of glacial peaks? The 218 miles (351 kilometres) of slopes are an intermediate’s paradise.
1. Zermatt, Switzerland
The car-free village of Zermatt, dominated by the towering presence of the Matterhorn – one of the highest peaks in the Alps, is the definition of the Alps for many. The atmospheric narrow streets, charming shops, bars and pensions share space with ancient wooden mazot huts. And the skiing in Zermatt too is simply glorious. Zermatt has access to the highest lift-served terrain in Europe, at 12,533 feet (3,820 metres) at the top of the Klein Matterhorn glacier. The three main ski areas are interconnected, with bountiful terrain for all abilities. And skiing over to the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia for lunch is a long-time tradition.View Comments