Whether you’re an intrepid mountaineer or a family looking for a new hobby, there’s no better way to embrace the cold weather than to set off on a skiing holiday. After a scorching summer, the thought of carving through white powder snow, soaking up outstanding mountain scenery, and sipping Gluhwein in ski chalets certainly sounds appealing.
From the world-famous Rockies to the picturesque Alpine landscapes here in Europe, we’re spoilt for choice on where to ski in the winter months. To help you decide, here are a few of the world’s best skiing holiday destinations, and some of the best resorts to explore while you’re there.
When you think of skiing, you probably think of the Alps first. Spanning Italy, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Slovenia and Germany, it’s here that the tradition of skiing was born. With some of the best skiing scenery in the world, picture-perfect chalets, gigantic ski circuits and a lively après-ski scene – not to mention the close proximity to the UK – the Alps are a top choice for skiers all across the country.
Some of the top resorts include Val d’Isère in France, with its reputation for challenging black pistes, off-piste terrain and buzzing après ski scene, and Italy’s Courmayeur, a sophisticated ski town renowned for its mountain restaurants and glamorous shopping. Then there’s the Swiss resorts – Zermatt with its gorgeous Matterhorn views and gourmet dining, and the more relaxed resort of Obergurgl, perfect for those looking for short ski queues and a family-inclusive après ski scene.
And that’s just touching the surface! With 1,152 ski resorts to choose from in the Alps, there truly is something for everyone.
Whoever said that ski holidays are expensive hasn’t discovered Bulgaria’s ski scene yet. With excellent ski schools, cheap drinks, buzzing bars and an abundance of blue and red slopes, it’s the perfect place for beginners to learn to ski on a budget.
Borovets and Bansko are the country’s largest ski areas but with only 5km and 3km of black runs, advanced skiing is limited. Borovets is the oldest of the two, located on the northern slopes of the Rila mountain range with pistes reaching 2,600m high. Easily accessible from Bulgaria’s capital, the resort’s scenic snow-covered pine forests, lively atmosphere and traditional Balkan pubs make it a great spot for skiers looking to ski hard – and party hard too.
Further south, at the foot of the Pirin mountains, lies Bankso, which has grown to become Bulgaria’s largest ski resort. Offering 70km of well-groomed pistes and impressive off-piste for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels, it’s popular with families looking for a more leisurely skiing holiday.
A bucket-list destination for skiers and snowboarders alike, Canada’s world-class slopes are famed for their knee-deep powder, immaculate tree-lined runs and unrivalled hospitality – not to mention their spectacular scenery and wildlife. Surprisingly, you can ski in every single province in Canada, but the country’s biggest and most popular resorts are located in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.
Repeatedly rated as North America’s top ski resort, Whistler in British Columbia is Canada’s pride and joy. With over 200 trails spread between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, linked by the famous Peak2Peak gondola, the resort sits at the higher end of the price scale – but it’s worth every penny.
With an amazing snow record, fantastic beginner’s area, lively nightlife and array of off-piste activities, it’s the perfect choice if you’ve got a mixed ability group. After a day on the slopes, kick back in the town’s mountain bars, indulge in some holiday shopping or soothe your aching muscles in a top-notch spa.
Japan is often an underrated skiing destination, but one thing the 600 resorts here are renowned for are their abundance of incredible powder snow. Many average upwards of 600 inches of snow per winter – and this isn’t just any snow. The snow in Japan is super light and extraordinarily dry, making it great fun to ski or ride.
The most popular ski areas are split across two regions – Hakuba on the southern main island and Niseko, Rusutsu and Furano in the northern island of Hokkaido. The resorts in Japan are worlds apart from the usual European and North American resorts. Sample incredible food, from sushi and ramen to fried chicken and potatoes, and hop between Japanese onsens, natural hot springs that offer a soothing and traditional après-ski experience. However you look at it, Japan offers a skiing holiday that you just won’t find anywhere else.