As the season gets colder, the time to go sailing down snow-capped mountains, eating cheesy fondue and hitting all the best après-ski bars comes closer and closer. Ski season is undoubtedly one of the best seasons of the year, but planning a ski holiday can be daunting at times.

Are you a beginner on the slopes or can you effortlessly tackle the most challenging off-piste runs? Would you rather spend your evenings on the dancefloor or relaxing in a hot tub? Each ski resort will offer a little something different so, whether you’re a veteran looking to go somewhere new this year, or it’s your first time in the Alps, everyone deserves a little help along the way.

We’ve taken a closer look at the best ski resorts in Europe to give you a head start. All that’s left to do is pick your favourite and pack your salopettes…

1. Chamonix


Chamonix is often preceded by its own reputation. As one of the most famous ski resorts in Europe – and indeed the world – it has visitors travelling from all corners of the globe to experience the epic runs year after year. Chamonix town centre has enough going on to entertain skiers and non-skiers alike for weeks on end.

The absolute highlight of a ski holiday to Chamonix is skiing the famous Vallée Blanche. This epic 2+ hour run down Mont Blanc is not too steep but very physically demanding and should always be done with a guide. In fact, most of Chamonix’s ski areas are best suited to those who already feel at home on a pair of skis.

Once the skiing is over at the end of the day you’ll still find plenty to keep you occupied in town. There is an excellent selection of restaurants to choose from, ranging from Michelin starred fine dining to street food that will line your stomach for the après-ski (and rest assured there are dozens of great bars and clubs to choose from!) The shopping is excellent too, so make sure you save a few euros to spend in some of the resorts most exclusive boutiques.

Best for: The quintessential French ski experience
Popular villages: 
Les Houches, Argentière & Le Tour
Airport: Geneva Airport 
(1h 15min transfer)

2. Méribel


Méribel is a village with a true Alpine heart. The compact and lively town centre is picture-postcard perfect, and its atmosphere is quaint and fairytale-like. It offers an understated blend of elegance, modernity and tradition with its beautiful pine forests, gorgeous panoramas and cosy chalets. It is without a doubt the most romantic resort in the area, with great access to smooth doorstep skiing. If you’re planning a couples holiday in the snow you’ll definitely want to take a closer look at Méribel.

At the centre of the world famous Trois Vallées (3 Valleys), Méribel makes up part of the largest ski domain in the world. Across the valleys, it has six sister resorts. You can either get a single-resort lift pass and keep to the fantastic beginner and intermediate terrain there, but you also have the option of purchasing a pass that covers the whole area. With Méribel as your home base and unlimited access to the miles and miles of varied slopes that make up the 3 Valleys, you won’t want to leave. Luckily, ski season at Méribel often goes on until late April.

The advanced lift system at Méribel will let you maximise your time on the snow and make sure you’re not waiting around in queues. With 67 runs to try out just in the resort itself, there is no time to be wasted. Just beware of the afternoon sun cutting things short on the west-facing slopes and prepare to get up with the sun if you’re after untouched powder. At it’s highest skiing point, Méribel reaches an altitude of 2952 metres and the descent from this point is the stunning Mont Vallon, known to be one of the most scenic runs around. It takes you sailing past wild terrain and panoramic views of the Gébrolaz glacier and Grand Casse. It’s one of the top-rated pistes in the 3 Valleys for good reason.

Aside from the world-class skiing, Méribel is also known to be one of the liveliest resorts in the 3 Valleys. Many of its residents and bar-owners (as well as plenty of its visitors) are expat-Brits who certainly know how to party. The après-ski scene here is truly top-notch, especially during times of big sporting events which are held here annually. A night on the tiles can sometimes err on the expensive side, but if you’re looking to let your hair down and have a truly electrifying night you’ll be well served.

Best for: Fun & romance
Popular villages: 
Méribel Village, Les Allues, Méribel Altiport & Mottaret
Airport: Chambery Airport 
(1h 45min transfer) or Geneva Airport (2h 30min transfer)

3. Courchevel


Courchevel forms the easternmost part of the world famous Trois Vallées. The resort is made up of six satellite villages, each with their own distinct style and atmosphere, and picturesque forest roads to lead you in-between. Most well known is the illustrious Courchevel 1850 with its reputation for exclusivity and an A-List clientele. 1850 is certainly the place to go for five-star hotels, swanky bars and extravagant nightlife.

Those who want to enjoy this world-class resort without paying a lift-pass’ worth of money for a bottle of champagne, the other Courchevel villages (such as Courchevel Moriond) have a much more laid back vibe and are certainly the more affordable choice.

The skiing in Courchevel is split into four levels. Depending on your accommodation you can either reach them straight from your doorstep or take an excellent free ski bus in between. At the resort itself you have 150 kilometres of pistes at your feet and while you can get a Courchevel lift-pass you can also ski the whole of the 3 Valleys with an area-pass. Since the slopes here face north, the snow at Courchevel is more reliable than elsewhere in the 3 Valleys. Courchevel pistes are absolutely unrivalled, meticulously maintained and perfectly positioned to align with the landscape.

With its highest lift at 2740m altitude, Courchevel is exceptionally good for high altitude skiing with incredible alpine views, and the most impressive runs are best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers. But for the little ones just finding their snow legs, the resort has a fantastic children’s village where they can learn in a safe environment. Ski season here lasts until late April and even if you prefer not to ski at all, you’ll be well entertained with everything from scenic walks to classical music concerts.

In the evenings, the Courchevel  bars here are a good mix of casual and upmarket, so there’s plenty for all tastes to enjoy when it comes to après-ski. Fair warning though – the restaurants can be pricey, but more often than not the food is well worth it. Courchevel has a well-earned reputation for being the best gastronomic ski resort.

Best for: Luxury
Popular villages: Courchevel 1850, Le Praz & La Tania
Airport: Chambery Airport 
(1h 45min transfer) or Geneva Airport (2h 30min transfer)

4. St Martin de Belleville

St Martin de Belleville

Picturesque St Martin de Belleville is the gateway to the Trois Vallées ski system, and what you might call the quiet little brother of the famous ski family. Not much goes on at this resort except for high-quality snow sports, and that’s just the way we like it. St Martin remains an old Savoyard village with a majestic church tower at its centre and more locals than tourists.

Its charm lies in small-scale excellence and a well-kept sense that you are not staying at a ski resort but in an old alpine community. Life here is slow-paced, relaxed and quintessentially French – all elements that make St Martin an excellent base for your all your explorations of the 3 Valleys. It is also the place to stay if you like coming home to a peaceful and cosy chalet after a long day on the slopes.

This family resort is excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Across the 78 slopes, the best runs are long, rolling, and just the right degree of challenging. In the winters you are pretty much guaranteed good snow coverage due to the close proximity to Val Thorens, but because of the relatively low altitude of St Martin village, you might want to rethink a late-season even though pistes stay open until April.

Sailing down the slopes of St Martin de Belleville you’ll get familiar with some seriously attractive views and gorgeous wooded landscapes. Overall there are 1448 metres of downhill skiing available and on top of that you can, of course, gain access to the rest of the 3 Valleys system.

St Martin is not the place to go for parties. Instead, spend the evening at one of the many top-notch restaurants as the village is known for its gourmet cuisine (including the triple Michelin starred La Bouitte). Although it is a small town, there is a lot of variety when it comes to food and skiers from all over the 3 Valleys stop in St Martin for lunch.

Best for: Peace and quiet
Popular villages: 
St Martin de Belleville, St Jean de Belleville & Les Allues
Airport: Chambery Savoie Airport 
(1hr 20 min transfer)

5. La Plagne

La Plagne

Deep in the alps, a short way from Courchevel, you’ll find La Plagne. This ski resort comprises a huge area of ski runs that are made for a full range of abilities.

You can treat this area as something of a training ground, especially for young and new skiers, where you can properly hone your skills and build up to more and more challenging runs. But it’s not all dodging rookies perfecting their ‘snow plough’ – true ski nuts will have a variety of black runs to explore and some awesome and hair-raising off-pistes to explore.

At La Plagne, everyone is truly catered for. And that goes for off the slopes as well. The pretty villages of Belle Plagne and Plagne Bellecote offer dining options to suit all budgets and a handful of bars for some late night revelry.

Best for: Honing skills
Popular villages:
 Belle Plagne and Plagne Bellecote
Beginner t0 expert
Airport: Chambery Airport 
(1h 30min transfer) or Geneva Airport (2h 30min transfer)

6. Val d’Isère

ski resorts in Europe

Surrounded by what is arguably some of the most beautiful mountain landscape in the world, the chalet village of Val d’Isère is centred around a charming baroque church.

It’s a lovely place for wandering, taking in the cosy atmosphere and spending quality time with your favourite people. Many of its chalets offer excellent doorstep skiing, but there is also the option of a shuttle service that will take you around the resort for free.

Val d’Isere is composed of three skiing sections. These are La Daille, Val d’Isère centre and Le Fornet, all of which are linked by the free shuttle service. Alongside Tignes, the resort is part of a wider ski area known as Espace Killy, and a lift pass will get you access to its entirety. Thanks to this, those who love to go off-piste will be in their element with an abundance of guides and lifts to the top of amazing terrain runs.

Thanks to its high altitude, Val d’Isère is probably your most snow-sure option for skiing in the French Alps. The village sits at 1850 metres and the peak of the Grande Motte glacier is 3456 metres high. Sixty per cent of the resort’s pistes are set above 2200 metres, meaning that the skiing is consistently good.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, at Val d’Isère, beginners may well find themselves challenged. On the flipside, Val d’Isère is one of the top choices for experienced skiers and snowboarders, with plenty of challenging black runs (such as the iconic Face the Bellevarde, where the 1992 Olympic men’s downhill was run) and varied terrain to keep you interested however long you stay.

And, what better way to celebrate conquering that tricky black run than by indulging in some equally entertaining après-ski? On the mountain itself, you can start your evening with DJ’s and live music at La Folie Douce until the lifts close and then work your way into town. The nightlife here is quite renowned and ranges from buzzing nightclubs to cosy creperies that stay open late.

Best for: Off-piste
Popular villages: 
Val d’Isere, La Daille & Le Fornet
Airport: Geneva Airport 
(3hr transfer) or Chambery Airport (2hr 15min transfer)

7. Alpe d’Huez

Alpe d'Huez

Alpe d’Huez ought to be known as the most fun ski resort in Europe. Here, there are ample piste-side pubs, parties and restaurants galore in the large resort town, meaning you won’t be left wanting for excitement off the slopes.

On the slopes, the west-facing arrangement means you’ll get great light until sundown and there are sunny nursery slopes right next to the resort in the cutely named ‘Plage des neiges’ (snowy beach) – the perfect learning environment for little skiers.

What’s more, there are lots of things to see and do here besides skiing, including an ice rink and sports centre with an indoor climbing wall. Why not try out some of these activities in between ski runs?

Plenty of the chalets available in this area are ski-in ski-out, making hitting the slopes easy as pie. You’ll also find a range of bars straight off the slopes, some of which get lively later on. You’ll also find bars in the hotels that are a classier affair. At Alpe d’Huez, you’ll likely spend more of your day in the après-ski than actual ski!

Best for: Families and young adults
Popular villages: Alpe d’Huez
Airport: Chambery Airport 
(2hr transfer)


Find the ski resorts

We have an ever-expanding portfolio of gorgeous ski chalets in some of the world’s choicest resorts at Oliver’s Travels. Most include airport/train station transfer (or it can be arranged at an extra charge where not applicable). Have a browse and see which tickles your fancy. If there’s anything we can do to help in the meantime, get in touch with our concierge team

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