5. St Anton
Nestled in the Austrian Alps, St Anton is the resort of many skiers dreams (albeit very different from its French counterparts). Based around an old mountain village in Tyrol, it is positively bustling with life. The centre of everything St Anton is the buzzing high street known as the Dorfstrasse. This is where shops, restaurants and bars abound, and as is typical of Austria, the food is fantastic and everything is great value for money. If you’re looking to get any sleep at night you should make sure to book your accommodation a safe distance away, but don’t worry, you can still get your hands on excellent doorstep access to slopes. Most of the village is still made up of timber and stone farmhouses dating back centuries. This might make things look old-school, but the ski facilities and the world-renowned nightlife have certainly kept up with the years.
The main thing to keep in mind when planning your snow-filled adventures in St Anton is that the skiing here is not for beginners. There are some good slopes for first-timers in the quieter Nasserein, but intermediates and experts will have the most fun. They can ski not only St Anton but the whole of the Arlberg region (including Lech and Zurs) with the same lift pass. These resorts are connected by a world-class cableway known as the Flexenbahn so there’s no need for a bus unless you prefer it.
St Anton also happens to be one of the snowiest areas in all of Europe, both in early December as well as at the end of the season which tends to last well into April. This means you have very good odds of finding fresh powder on the pistes most mornings. In addition to the impressive 304 kilometres of slopes, there are also 200 kilometres worth of off-piste skiing available in challenging and exciting terrain. Skiers show up from far and wide to take on the descent from Valluga, one of the most spectacular skiing vistas in the world standing at 2811 metres over a massive snow bowl. The more ‘extreme’ off-piste runs are extensive and you’ll definitely get the most out of them by hiring a guide, regardless of your previous experience.
And for those who still haven’t had enough excitement at the end of the day, you’ll be happy to know that St Anton is the party capital of the ski world. This is where you’ll find some of the biggest and craziest après-ski experiences, mainly thanks to the iconic Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh bars that have been around since the 1960s. The town is also filled with live music and DJs all night long, to keep you on your dancing feet until its time to hit the slopes again.
Best for: Après-ski
Popular villages: St Anton am Arlberg, Nasserein & St Christoph
Airport: Innsbruck Airport (1h 30min transfer) or Friedrichshafen Airport (1h 30min transfer)