Ski resorts in Europe often cater to particular markets, including families, young people, beginners and experienced skiers. Prices and packages can vary between region and country. If the main ski resorts are out of your budget range, then try looking for resorts in Eastern Europe. Serbia, Slovakia, Poland and Romania all have ski resorts with excellent facilities and are fast developing as resorts. Ski destinations in all of these countries generally offer a range of local as well as international food, and the opportunity to visit local villages and see indigenous wildlife.
Switzerland is one of the classiest places in Europe to go skiing. Klosters is famously patronised by the British Royal Family, and other famous resorts include Grindelwald, Davos, Verbier and Zermatt, where you can check out the view of the Matterhorn as you ski. Swiss resorts are extremely well developed and have an excellent après-ski scene. Try tucking into some warming fondue after a hard day on the slopes.
Italy has many stylish Alpine ski resorts – although the facilities are not quite as developed as Switzerland, this is reflected in the prices. The Dolomites and the Milky Way have the biggest resorts. Italian skiing is more laid back and family friendly than elsewhere. Although harder ski runs do exist, Italy is an excellent country to start off skiing in or to work up to intermediate levels.
Austria is another extremely popular destination for skiing. Skiing is a national passion, and there are numerous resorts dotted around the Austrian Alps. Like everything else in Austria, the skiing resorts are well-kept and picturesque, and there are resorts suitable for skiers of every skill level. Austria also has a renowned après-ski scene and its bars routinely top ‘best in the world’ lists – try quaffing gluhwein, schnapps or some of the excellent local beer while you recount your adventures. Austria is also Europe’s premier destination for glacier skiing.
France has two main skiing areas – the Pyrenees, which are relatively small, and the French Alps. Enjoy the view of Mont Blanc from Chamoix, arguably France’s favourite ski destination. France has excellent skiing facilities, but the slopes are very popular and can be busy, while France can be fairly expensive. However, France also has excellent food and drink, and there are many opportunities for you to round off your skiing with sightseeing.
Bulgaria is, compared to the options above, a much more affordable way to try skiing in Europe. The main resorts are Borovets, Pamporovo and Bankso, with the latter being the biggest and most developed. Bulgarian ski resorts will generally have at least one traditional mehana, or inn, that will serve grilled meats and stews and put on local dancing displays. Try some of the local rakiya with your starter to get yourself into the party mood!
Germany has often been overlooked in favour of its close neighbour, Austria, but the views are just as spectacular, while the resorts are smaller and friendlier. Historic Gamisch-Partenkirchen is Bavaria’s most famous resorts, while there are several smaller village resorts that offer the chance to experience local life while enjoying runs that are quieter than those in other countries.