Ski holidays were made for free spirits and people young at heart. However, if you were wondering – are ski holidays going ahead this year? You’d be happy to know that they are! Plus, most of the best ski holidays close to the UK can be found across Europe.
Europe offers a range of different destinations to ski. From well-known ski resorts found in France, Austria and Switzerland, to a selection of new and emerging snow holiday locations, in Bulgaria, Norway, and Sweden. These new ski resorts offer many unforgettable winter activities, to help you embrace the winter months, such as snowboarding.
Whether you’ve been skiing before or not. We’ve provided you with some advice and inspiration to help you plan a super snowy ski holiday within one of Europe’s top winter wonderlands.
How do I plan a ski holiday in Europe?
Check the travel rules
Much has changed in the EU since Brexit so, you’ll first need to review the new rules. Refer to our guide for assistance. Not sure your EHIC card is valid? Get your free GHIC card instead – its exactly the same.
Find the best month to go skiing in Europe
The best time to go on a ski holiday is from December to April, which is when most ski resorts are open. December is early in the ski season, it’ll be a quieter time – ideal if you are new to winter sports and looking to learn.
Ski holidays and COVID
Next, check the travel rules and restrictions you’ll need to follow when visiting ski holiday destinations. Luckily, many ski resorts in Europe now appear on the safe list, so there should be many destinations to choose from. Travel is more hassle-free from Monday 4th October because if you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t need to take a PCR test before travelling home to England from any destinations on the list.
As the world opens up for winter holidays, it’s advisable to book a ski resort or self-catered chalet as early as possible due to pent-up demand. Plus, you’ll be able to pick the best accommodation, dates, and offers available.
Ski Package Holidays
Thinking of booking six months in advance? Or are you thinking of a last-minute holiday? Either way, ensure your ski holiday is protected by ABTA by booking a package holiday. Doing so will give you some protection if the tour operator goes out of business. With this in mind, find a flexible travel provider who has flexible booking options.
What do you need to wear during a ski holiday?
In our ski holidays blog to Scotland, we covered a list of outerwear, thermals, and accessories, which will help you stay warm, comfortable, and safe. However, whatever destination you visit for skiing in winter, the temperature and weather are bound to be changeable. To view the snow forecast, weather maps, and snow reports for 3200 resorts, visit snow-forecast.com. After picking your ski holiday destination…
Where are the best ski holidays in Europe?
Austria – the top ski holiday destination
Austria offers winter holiday fans a landscape of majestic mountains to marvel at. It’s home to traditional resorts, with high-quality skiing for a range of abilities. Plus a dynamic après-ski culture (which translates as the time spent socialising and unwinding after a day on the slopes). From that respect, it’s not hard to see why it comes second as the most popular ski holiday location in Britain. To experience après at ease, visit a small Austrian village bar. Be greeted with the unique Austrian charm and indulge in a hot beverage.
For the best snow conditions and slopes, slide into Obergurgl, Mayrhofen (Hintertux), Ischgl, Lech, Sölden, or Zell Am See-Kaprun. Kaprun includes two ski resorts that have snow all year round. Also, there are slopes comfortable for beginners as well as ones challenging for intermediates.
Andorra – the lesser-travelled ski holiday location
If you want to head to a lesser-known but top ski holiday location visit Andorra! Andorra is a small state amongst the southern peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains, (in between France and Spain). As its land area is characterised by glacial landscapes, steep valleys, and open pastures, it’s an excellent location for a winter holiday. Here, you can master a number of winter sports within the Pyrenees peaks. The slopes are varied, with a wide mixture of runs. All of them provide great views. Looking for a ski holiday for beginners? Andorra’s ski resorts are some of the best to learn. So book yourself a lesson with a BASI-approved (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) ski instructor in Arinsal and Soldeu.
French Alps Skiing Holidays
There’s no surprise why France is topped as a popular destination for a winter sports holiday – it’s home to The French Alps. Here, you can go snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, and alpine skiing. Or, discover one of the biggest snow playgrounds in the world – Portes du Soleil, to experience stunning mountainous views. Gaze across to Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva with your camera in hand to capture the magic of the mountains. Remember that a Free Spirit policy includes gadget cover – no need to arrange additional cover. For a quiet afternoon, find an uncrowded slope to ski along within an area of 650m of snow. Beyond the slopes and French Alps, discover the Mont Blanc Massif mountain range, which rolls from France and into Switzerland.
Ski Holidays to Switzerland
For a luxury ski holiday that includes train travel, find the mountainous alpine resort of Gstaad in Switzerland – a super snowy location within the Swiss Alps! Although Gstaad has become the most popular (and shortest) “shopping mile” in Switzerland, come winter you can explore 200km of pistes at an altitude of up to 3000 meters above sea level. Due to its challenging terrain, the toughest skiing is found in Switzerland – perfect if you’re an intermediate or advanced skier.
Bulgarian Ski Holidays
Another snow holiday location to escape the crowds is Bulgaria, which will provide you with a more relaxing and affordable skiing experience. A favourite with beginners there are three ski resorts, which are pretty places to learn how to ski. Head east to Bankso, sitting 2000-2500 meters above sea level and full of cultural, historical monuments. Or find Borovets, which has great snow and wonderful local amenities throughout. Pamporovo is another suitable ski resort for beginners, located in the south of the country, which runs across the Rhodopi Mountains. Here, you can immerse yourself into the charming culture of the region, where traditional villages and distinctive cuisines are hidden within the valleys. Try patatnik (a slowly baked potato and Bulgarian feta cheese dish) to warm your soul.
For all ski resorts in Europe, refer to this comprehensive Ski Resorts Directory – it has an option to view all of them on a map to see the huge number of options available. In terms of where to stay during a snowy escape, the choice is yours…
Where should I stay during a ski holiday in Europe?
- Chill out in a chalet throughout a self-catering ski holiday with family and friends. You could even spoil them by hiring one with a traditional hot-tub. Even better, many have log fires – perfect to doze in front of after supper, you’ll soon feel cosy and right at home.
- Warm-up in a ski apartment with mountain views. You’ll have the freedom to dine in and out locally. Plus, some facilities have pools, spas, gyms, and games rooms, to help everyone relax or be entertained after a day playing out in the snow.
- A five-star ski hotel at a top ski resort. Fancy skiing at more than one resort? That’s also possible. During your stay benefit from state-of-the-art relaxation facilities, a range of dining opportunities, and assistance from a friendly in-resort team throughout.
All-Inclusive Ski Holidays for Families
Another option perfect for families is an all-inclusive ski break. Spend some time together during a winter sports holiday away from the UK where everything is taken care of by your flexible holiday provider. All you have to do is pick your perfect ski holiday destination for your family before locating the nearest airport.
What’s included in an all-inclusive ski holiday?
- All transport, including flights and resort transfers.
- Your choice of accommodation with open bars and mealtimes taken care of.
- Childcare and kids clubs if and when required.
- Your lift and ski pass to embrace each snow day quickly and easily from your arrival.
- Rented ski equipment and a warm locker room to store it in.
- A mountain guide and coaching ski lessons for adults and children in the school holidays.
Or escape to the slopes for a short ski break on your own…
Self Drive Ski Holidays
A self drive holiday gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore one or more locations, as well as the opportunity to experience a range of activities. With over 100 activities included for free with a Free Spirit policy, view our list for some ideas.
A self drive ski holiday can also provide you with a range of options and can be simple to arrange. Book a self drive package, which includes your channel crossing (ferry or tunnel) and accommodation. Then put flexible timings in place, to cross the channel whenever you wish. This way, you’ll have the freedom to stop off when and wherever you wish. For instance, you could take the Euro Tunnel to France and book into one resort to ski in the Alps. Then drive to a neighbouring resort to have a meal and enjoy après-ski with friends.
What are the benefits of a self drive ski holiday?
- It gives you more control over when you arrive, leave, and where you stop for a break.
- You can travel within your own personal space without having to navigate past crowds in the airport.
- You can pack your car with everything you want and need because there are no weight restrictions.
- It can be a cheaper way to reach your holiday destination, even with tolls and fuel included.
- As concerns over the environment and air pollution have increased in recent months/years, you’ll become a more sustainable holidaymaker because you’ll be travelling through countries. Not over them. Also, you might like to know that Austria is not just a top place to ski but a sustainable holiday destination that has ecotourism at its heart too.
- If you travel during the peak holiday season, a self drive holiday package works out as a cheap ski holiday alternative to a ski package holiday with flights.
Free Spirit Ski Holiday Travel Insurance
We hope we’ve provided you with the best inspiration and advice to plan your next ski holiday, if you decide to travel solo, with friends or family. Wherever you go, don’t forget to take Free Spirit along for your winter holiday, which includes Coronavirus Cover.