Recently, someone asked me where was the best Alpine skiing in Europe. I had to admit that I was not sure, so I decided to do a little research on this. In this post I will give you the results of my research of the highest rated ski resorts in Europe.
To make this analysis, I looked at three different ratings of ski resorts by Conde Naste, Travel and Leisure, and Snowpak.com. In order to be in this final list, the area had to show up on at least two of those sources.
One thing that was surprising to me was the location of some of the resorts identified in these ratings. Obviously, Switzerland made the final cut with two resorts, but France actually had three resorts on the final list, followed by Austria and Italy with one each. Three resorts that did not make the final list were in Spain, Norway, and Kosovo.
In this post, I will identify the resorts that made the most references, and some information on why they were considered top resorts.
Most of these ski resorts are open from early to mid-December until mid to late-April. Some are open in November and some stay open until May.
All three sources listed Zermatt, with good reason. The scenery here is one of a kind, sitting below the Matterhorn. The resort also has over 200 miles of ski trails, offering options to every level of skier from the newest to the most experienced.
Located in southern Switzerland at the base of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is easily reached by either Zurich or Geneva. It is about 3.5 hours away from Zurich by car, but it is easily reached by train in about the same amount of time. And cars are not permitted inside the city.
The town has several excellent hotels and restaurants, but be forewarned that these will come with a premium price tag.
Chamonix was also recommended by all three sources. Chamonix is located in the French Alps, just an hour away from Geneva by car. In contrast to Zermatt, a car is recommended here, because the slopes are more spread out, and the only way to get to the town is either by car or bus. Also, the different slopes are connected by buses and not by lifts.
The ski areas here are considered to be some of the most challenging in the world, and where ski and mountaineering guides come to train.
This area also has the honor of being used for the 1999 Bond film “The World is Not Enough”.
Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy
Located in the Dolomite mountains, Conde Naste describes it as “one of Europe’s oldest and priciest ski resorts”. The nearest airport is the Venice airport, about two hours from the resort.
This area has been designated as the site for the 2026 winter Olympics, and has 12 ski areas covering 75 miles of terrain. It is linked to the “Dolomiti Superski” area, and operates under one pass.
This area is also located in the French Alps, about 90 miles from Geneva. The area consists of 4 villages. Snowpak.com lists it as “the most balanced selection of greens, blues, reds, and blacks in the 3 Valles ski area”. Travel and Leisure said it has the largest linked ski area in the world. The town of Courchevel 1850 has several Michelin-starred restaurants.
St. Anton, Austria
St. Anton was only listed by Travel and Leisure and Snowpak. The nearest major international airport is Zurich, about 125 miles away.
The area has over 200 miles of marked (on-piste) skiing and another 120 miles of off-piste skiing. The area is best for advanced skiers, and has a lot of steep trails.It is not recommended for beginners.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
One of, if not the oldest ski resort in Switzerland, St. Moritz is located in southeastern Switzerland. The nearest international airports are Zurich, Milan, Italy, and Munich, Germany. All of these airports are at least three hours away by car, but like the rest of Switzerland, it is connected by train. In fact, the Glacier Express panoramic train goes through St. Moritz.
The area has almost 90 marked ski trails and several backcountry trails.
This area was not listed by Snowpak.
Val D'Isere, France
Snowpak and Conde Naste both recommended Val d-Isere. Also located in the French Alps, it is about 110 miles from the Geneva airport.
The area is reputed for challenging intermediate-level ski runs, and, given its altitude, it has “almost guaranteed” snow. But weather here can also be a factor and often shuts down the lifts.
I think the takeaways from all of this are if you want a true European skiing experience, these will be the places to go. Who can ask for a more authentic experience than skiing with the Matterhorn in the background? But before you make reservations, take a critical look at your skills and abilities.
While these resorts were highly rated, they aren’t the only resorts in Europe, nor are the others not worth looking at. Frankly, I am surprised that several resorts in Austria and Switzerland did not rank higher.
Ready to Go?
Planning a trip to a European ski resort can have a lot of parts to it. There are the flights, transportation to the resort, accommodations, and ski passes, just to name a few.
I would be delighted to help you put together an experience like this.