Peaks of joy: Ski holidays in Europe
After several blogs and articles waxing lyrical about skiing in Colorado, I have been reminded this week by photos and Facebook messages from friends enjoying half-term holidays in the Alps that Europe is closer and also offers great snow.
I have visited more than a dozen resorts in Europe and with so many ski resorts to choose from I find it difficult to decide which is my favourite. Here, guest blogger Cathy Mable reveals the top European resorts for the next ski holidays depending on needs and budget.
The Alps: The choice is yours
For the widest range of skiing and interconnected resorts Les Trois Vallées in France is hard to beat. The resorts in this area include picturesque Courchevel, right the way up to Val Thorens, known for its 3000m high ski runs.
Here, you can expect steep slopes and extreme weather. However, it’s worth noting that there are slopes available for beginners at the village of Meribel.
Elsewhere, Lapland is famed for its icy winters, and the resort of Ylläs in Finnish Lapland may be just what you’re looking for. With 61 slopes, this is the highest fell in the country that offers ski lifts.
On the days when you don’t fancy hitting the piste, you can explore the many cross-country tracks that exist in the area. To help you find your way, 24 miles of these trails are lit, which is just as well given the short days.
For great powder, check out Andermatt in Switzerland. Located at the convergence of four mountain passes, this small alpine village gets plenty of snow. Each year, 40 feet of the white stuff falls on the resort.
Andermatt also benefits from three ski hills, and if you wish you can set off on a five to seven-day, 34-mile tour from the nearby town of Realp to Engleberg, along the Urner Haute Route.
The Alps: Saving cash
The great thing is, wherever you decide to go on your skiing adventures, there’s no need to break the bank. One simple way to reduce costs is to opt for self-catering accommodation, rather than catered chalets or hotels.
Also, be careful when choosing your dates. Prices tend to rise in the weeks around Christmas and New Year, as well as at half-term and Easter.
The best deals are available at the beginning and end of the season because of the risk of substandard snow conditions.
However, by choosing your destination carefully and by opting for more northerly and higher altitude resorts, such as Zermatt in Switzerland or the reliable snow record in Obergurgl, Austria, you can be confident you’ll benefit from enough of the white stuff.
Generally speaking, Austria and Italy are more favourable in price compared with France and Switzerland, although the picture-book charm of the Espace Killy region, which stretches between the French and Swiss Alps, is hard to match.
At the end of the day, decide on your priorities, whether they be a great après-ski scene or heart-juddering black runs. There’s certainly enough options when it comes to skiing in Europe, so with a little planning, you should be able to arrange the perfect trip.
* Cathy Mable is a freelance blogger and snow enthusiast, who has tried everything from snowboarding in Canada to luging in Austria in her time.