Ski holidays were made for free spirits and people young at heart. Many of the best ski holidays available can be found across Europe, so you don’t have to contemplate a long trip to find one..
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 locations across Norway, Sweden and even Bulgaria. These new resorts offer many unforgettable winter sports, to help you embrace the winter months, such as snowboarding.
Whether you’ve been skiing before or not, here is some advice and inspiration to help you plan a super snowy ski holiday.
How do I plan a ski holiday to Europe?
Check the destinations travel advice
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 – it’s exactly the same.
Once you’ve chosen a destination look up the best time to go skiing.
Find the best month to go skiing in Europe
The best time to go on a ski holiday is December – April. This is when most ski resorts are open. December is early in the ski season, so it’ll be a quieter time – ideal if you are new to winter sports and looking to learn.
Ski Package Holidays
Thinking of booking six months in advance? Or 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 happens to go out of business. With this in mind, find a travel provider who has flexible booking options.
What do you need to wear during a ski holiday?
In our Scotland ski holidays blog, we covered a list of outerwear, thermals, and accessories that 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, reports and weather maps for 3200 resorts, visit snow-forecast.com.
Which ski holiday destination will you choose?
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 means 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 from 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 Tirol, Obergurgl, Mayrhofen (Hintertux), Ischgl, 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 experts or 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). Amazingly for such a small country it boasts a huge variety of Pyrenean slopes . Its land area is characterised by glacial landscapes, steep valleys, and open pastures, making it an excellent location for a winter holiday.
Here, you can master a number of winter sports in varied backdrops, 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 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.
Pan your camera along the immense Mont Blanc Massif mountain range. These mountains roll between the border of France and Italy. For a quiet afternoon, find an uncrowded slope to ski along within an area of 650m of snow. Beyond these slopes, to the northeast, you’ll discover 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 the shortest shopping street in Switzerland, come winter you can explore its 200km slopes at altitudes of up to 3,000 meters above sea level. Due to this challenging terrain, it’s perfect for an intermediate or advanced skier. For easier slopes head to Bulgaria.
Bulgarian Ski Holidays
Bulgaria will provide you with a more relaxing and affordable skiing experience. A favourite with beginners there are a good choice of ski resorts, which are pretty places to learn how to ski. Head east to breathtaking Bankso, which was topped as the best-value ski resort for families in 2022. Or for somewhere with more energy, Borovets has great snow and wonderful après-ski activities 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 in the charming culture of the region, at any time of the year. For instance, try patatnik (a slowly baked potato and Bulgarian feta cheese dish) in a traditional village hidden within the valleys.
For all ski resorts in Europe, refer to this comprehensive Ski Resorts Directory. View all resorts 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 to…
Where should I stay during a ski holiday in Europe?
- Chill out in a chalet during a self-catering ski holiday with family or friends. You could spoil them by hiring one with a traditional hot tub. Or, even better, find one with a homely log fire. Perfect to doze in front of after a hearty supper. You’ll soon feel cosy and right at home.
- Warm up in a slopeside ski apartment minutes from the slopes and dine in or out locally. Plus, some have heated pools, spas, gyms, and saunas, to help you relax after an energetic snow day.
- Find a luxury lodge or ski hotel with views of snowcapped mountains and valleys with easy access to the slopes. During your stay, you’ll benefit from state-of-the-art relaxation facilities, different dining opportunities, and experiences. Plus, assistance from a friendly team throughout. This is a great service to have if you’re holidaying with a large group or family.
All-Inclusive Ski Holidays for Families
Another option for families is an all-inclusive ski break. All you have to do is pick a ski holiday destination for your family before locating the nearest airport. While everything is taken care of by a flexible holiday provider such as ski coaching lessons.
What’s included in an all-inclusive ski holiday?
- All transport, including flights and resort transfers.
- Your choice of accommodation with bars and meals.
- Childcare and kids clubs – if and when required.
- Your lift and ski passes to embrace each snow day quickly and easily as soon as you arrive.
- Rented ski equipment and a warm locker room to store everything in.
- Coaching ski lessons for both adults and children throughout 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?
- Embracing slow travel gives you more control over when you arrive, leave, and where you stop for a break.
- You can travel with friends or travel solo 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 years, you’ll become a more sustainable holidaymaker because you’ll be travelling through countries. Not over them.
- If you travel during the peak holiday season, a self drive holiday package works out as an inexpensive ski holiday alternative to a ski package holiday with flights.
Also, in a previous blog, we looked at how winter snow sports like skiing can benefit your health. To ensure you can look after your health if you come into difficulty when skiing purchase suitable travel insurance after you book your trip.
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 last minute, with friends, or with family. Wherever you go, don’t forget to take Free Spirit along for your winter holiday, which includes Coronavirus Cover.
Find all the benefits of taking out our Ski Travel Insurance or for more tips about winter, and snow holidays view our previous blog.