For a select few, the first falling of snowflakes means only one thing – time to dust off the skis.
While the United States has a fantastic range of skiing destinations to choose from, Europe should not be missed if you’re a winter sports fan, with some of the oldest and most famous skiing locales on Earth.
A skiing trip to Europe doesn’t come cheap, so it’s vital you choose the right place for you when planning what could be a once or twice-in-a-lifetime trip.
To give you a steer, the readers of Conde Nast Traveler recently voted for what they thought were the best ski destinations in Europe as part of the magazine’s 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey.
Including Swiss, Austrian, and French destinations, the top six of this list features some iconic slopes that are a must-visit for any true ski enthusiast:
Arguably one of Europe’s most famous mountain towns, Zermatt is a haven for ski lovers, hikers, mountain bikers, and nature lovers.
The area around Zermatt is Europe’s highest ski area and the tourism board claims that snow is guaranteed for 365 days of the year.
There are over 220 miles of piste skiing around Zermatt with modern and reliable cable cars serving many of the slopes and an après ski scene that boasts some of the best food on the circuit.
If you choose to ski here, you’ll be in the shadow of one of Europe’s most famous mountains, The Matterhorn.
Standing at 14,691 feet, this iconic triangular-shaped peak is a major attraction for photographers as well as winter sports lovers.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
This idyllic mountain town claims to have been the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, and there are more than 200 miles of piste skiing to support that claim into the modern day.
Skiers, snowboarders, and winter hikers all flock to St. Moritz each year for its stunning slopes, fabulous infrastructure, and luxury accommodation options.
And for the daredevils, St. Moritz is home to the steepest slope in Switzerland on the Corviglia mountain – it hosts an annual ice bob run, which is a wonderful spectacle to observe.
For many, the name Innsbruck will conjure up images of the Winter Olympics – and given that the city has hosted that event twice, it’s no surprise.
This is one of the larger ski destinations in Europe, with a vibrant atmosphere that is helped by the young population and university students.
As well as world-class skiing in the mountains all around, Innsbruck has plenty to entertain you on down days including the Golden Roof, the Imperial Palace, Ambras Castle, and the Bergisel Ski Jump – a spot to get some amazing views over the city itself.
Austria is also well-regarded as a great country for solo travelers.
Just a two-hour drive from Geneva airport around the edge of Lac Léman, Verbier lies in the southwest of Switzerland and offers a luxury option when it comes to winter skiing.
Expect to find premium hotels and restaurants in the town and some excellent and relatively easily accessible off-piste skiing to keep you entertained.
Like any of the well-established ski resorts in Switzerland, you can take a ski lesson to show you the ropes or just to refresh your skills if you haven’t seen any powder since last winter.
Verbier even hosts an annual winter electronic music festival known as Polaris – this year’s edition in late November features artists such as Bicep.
Val d’Isere, France
The only non-Swiss or Austrian destination to be voted into the top six of this list, Val d’Isere has a fabled skiing season that begins this year on December 2nd.
There are more than 180 miles of slopes within reach of this charming French location, as well as some well-regarded off-piste options for those who are more adventurous.
On some of the slopes in this region, you will find comfortable lounges and panoramic terraces that allow you to take a pause from the skiing and simply admire the views.
This family-friendly ski destination has many other winter adventures to offer, including dog sledding, tobogganing, and winter walking tours.
Another historic ski destination is Austria is Kitzbühel, which offers more than 140 miles of ski slopes and an impressive 60 mountain huts and restaurants that are famed for their excellent, warming food.
The slopes here also benefit from 58 high-tech gondolas and lifts, and ski buses are included in the price for all skiers.
This is also a fantastic region for cross-country skiing, with more than 40 miles of trails to choose from including the trail at the Kitzbühel Schwarzsee-Reith golf course, which is illuminated until 9:30 pm each night.
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A’s happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path’s latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com