We love escaping to the mountains for a week of skiing or snowboarding whilst being surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. Even though purpose build ski areas lack a degree of charm, it’s difficult to call any ski resort ugly when there is a beautiful mountain backdrop on your doorstep.
Europe offers world class skiing and is not only home to some of the most sought after ski resorts in the world but also the most picturesque areas. We take a look at our favourite 5 ski resorts lavishing in breath-taking landscape
The Jungfrau region is famous for the elite views of the 3 mountain giants - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The unspoilt magnificent resort of Wengen is accessed by an enchanting mountain railway, as no traffic is permitted in the town. Traditional architecture with beautifully renovated interiors adorns the resort bringing immaculate quality and comfort together in the 21st century. The full area Jungfrau Top Ski Region ski pass covers not only Wengen but 213kms of pistes, providing almost unlimited scope for intermediates on a range of relaxing runs or more testing routes down the Kleine Scheidegg mountain.
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The magic of Megeve touches all generations, from the beautiful traditional style town to the stunning tree lined runs and the spectacular views of Mont Blanc. It is difficult to rival the beauty of Megeve’s surrounding landscapes. From its origins as France’s equivalent to Switzerland’s elegant St. Moritz, there is no surprise that this is the playground for the rich and the famous. The medieval centre has many stylish, luxury hotels and chalets and the 325km of piste provide a varied, leading ski area.
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Skiers and snowboarders flock to the Tyrolean Alps every year because of the attractive villages combined with the exceptional ski areas. Tirol is home to world class skiing with riding at over 100 ski resorts. The charming resort of Alpbach is one of the jewels in Austria's crown and is indeed a true winter wonderland with superb skiing and comfortable, high quality accommodation. The small, family friendly resort is filled with Austrian charm with its sweet, wooden chalets and historic buildings. The newly formed Ski Jewel area has opened up 145km of skiing with lifts up to 2128m with amazing vistas over the Alpbach Valley peaks, the Rofan Range and the Ziller Valley. As well as 3 stunning valley runs the skiing area has a huge choice of freeride possibilities.
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Cortina d'Ampezzo, known as the Queen of the Dolomites, is the premier ski resort in Italy and is often compared to the likes of Courchevel and St. Moritz. The majestic snowcapped Dolomite peaks are awe-inspiring with their unique formations and exceptional natural beauty, which creates the perfect backdrop for this pretty ski town. With some of the finest mountain scenery in the Alps, these stunning peaks and beautiful wooded valleys are particularly stunning at dusk. Cortina is pure Italian style; expect non skiers parading the wealth of shopping spots or most importantly ‘doing’ lunch. The ski area is full of well-groomed pistes great for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders with access to a vast ski area covered on the Dolomiti Superski pass.
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Nestled beneath the magnificent Matterhorn, Zermatt is a traditional town filled with charming chocolate box chalets and jaw-dropping scenery. Situated in the Valais region of Switzerland, this ski area will never fail to charm you. With the panoramic views, crystalline landscape and the highest glacier in the Alps, is it no surprise that Zermatt is considered one of the best ski resorts in the world. The skiing in Zermatt is some of the best in Europe, with 360km of pistes there is something for everyone. Intermediate and Advanced skiers will particular love the wide choice of red and black runs and the famous cosy mountain restaurants. This winter landscape offer lots of sun and with high altitude skiing up to 3883m it is the perfect ski resort throughout the season. A truly romantic paradise.
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Last week we launched our World Cup blog series with two Southern Hemisphere resorts - Chile VS Australia. Chile came out top, beating Australia with its epic backcountry runs and reliable snow conditions. This week we’re moving a little closer to home, with the battle of two European countries, Switzerland VS France. Both are big favourites for many skiers and snowboarders, but which one will be crowned King of the Alps? We compare the slopes, après and cuisine to find out.
SwitzerlandMost resorts in Switzerland are set at a high altitude, bringing guaranteed snow as well as glacier skiing and good conditions throughout the season. Many of the ski areas provide long runs and challenging pistes, making it particularly good for skiers at a more intermediate to advanced level. There are, however, still opportunities for beginners. The resort of Wengen has a ski school as well as a blue piste and a ‘slow speed zone’ for those just starting out. From stunning scenery to plenty of pistes, backcountry runs and snowparks, Switzerland certainly has a lot of variety. The Graubunden ski area is Switzerland’s largest mountain area, offering a whapping 225km of skiable piste. Head to Verbier and you’ll find your ski area expanded to across the 4 valleys, which includes the neighbouring resorts of Nendaz and Les Collons. If you visit Zermatt you’ll soon spot the famous Matterhorn peak, which is often featured in many photos of the resort. There are some great advanced runs here as well as the opportunity to do some heliskiing for those who are looking for a new challenge. It is also the highest altitude resort in the country sitting at a top height of 3900m. For the adventurous ones out there, Flims Laax is home to 4 snowparks (including Europe’s largest half pipe) and a glacier for spring and summer skiing.
France Much like Switzerland, France also offers plenty of variation, from high altitude resorts to snowparks and glaciers. Snow reliability is high and the majority of resorts offer good snow conditions throughout the season. Les Deux Alps is the highest resort, standing at a top altitude of 3600m. The resort experiences long sunshine hours and boasts 220km of piste, a board park and a halfpipe. There are plenty of linked ski areas such as the massive Three Valleys with its 600km of runs. Portes du Soleil is one of the largest linked ski areas in the world, with lots of ski-in ski-out accommodation which is ideal for families and kids. For your freestyle fix, the Paradiski area has four snowparks and two half-pipes. France caters equally well for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Alpe d’Huez has lots of blue runs, beginners only areas and no abundance of ski schools. If you like backcountry skiing, Tignes has some fantastic off piste opportunities, as does Val d’Isere. There are also numerous glacier resorts in France, including Tignes, some of which offer skiing all year round. Winner: France
Switzerland The après scene in Switzerland is a little on the small side, with not a great deal of après venues on offer. However, each of the bars makes up for it, with resorts such as Verbier known to have some fun and lively nightclubs. As well as nightclubs, expect to find discos, jazz bars and quiet pubs – something to cater for every taste.
France France is home to some well-known après venues, like Rond Point in Meribel and the legendary La Folie Douce, which has bars in Val d’Isere, Meribel, Val Thorens and Alpe d’Huez. Ibiza Rocks the Snow Festival is also held yearly in France, bringing some great partying and music to the mountains. All in all, expect some wild après, live bands every night and quieter venues where you can relax with a drink. Winner: France
St Moritz, Switzerland
Switzerland Switzerland is the home of the delicious Fondue as well as a whole other collection of comforting mountain foods. Enjoy Käseschnitte (cheese on toast), Raclette (melted cheese scraped overmeat, bread and vegetables) or fried potato Rösti’s. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Switzerland is a great place to find Swiss Chocolate and no end of delicious cakes and pastries.
France Most dishes found in the French mountains are cheese, potato or bread heavy. Traditional French dishes include Tartiflette (baked cheese, potatoes and meat), Beaufort Tart (a cheese and pastry tart), sweet crepes and pastries. Winner: Switzerland
Les Deux Alpes, France
Winner: France This one was a very close call – both countries have some excellent skiing, après and food and are both firm favourites for many snowsports enthusiasts. The winning streak came from France due to its ability to cater equally to beginner, intermediate and advanced abilities. It also knows how to throw a mean après party to end the day!
Our staff here at Iglu Ski visited some great resorts during the 2013/14 season, from the epic mountains of North America to the picturesque pistes of the Alps. As a homage to all the good times had, we’ve thrown together a collection of our favourite shots from the Iglu Ski 2013/14 winter season. Enjoy!
We've pulled together our booking data from the 2013/14 season to bring you a selection of the most popular places to go and the most popular months to visit the mountains.
Val d’Isere has been voted one of the top places for winter sports holidays in Europe. With plenty of piste to explore, as well as three glaciers, Val d’Isere is a consistently popular resort amongst skiers and snowboarders. It’s also the home to one of the popular Folie Douce bars, offering great après to complete a long day out on the mountain.
Meribel lies at the centre of the Three Valleys ski area, where it is linked by lift to both Courchevel and Val Thorens. Meribel is known for its efficient lift systems, which virtually eliminates the need to queue. The resort offers plenty of great runs, as well as the opportunity for some great off-piste skiing too.
Tignes is part of the large Espace Killy ski area, which is known for its consistent snowfall. The resort provides excellent skiing and boarding for the absolute beginner right through to expert due to its varied terrain. Tignes is also well known for its après ski and party atmosphere.
The resort of St Anton is popular due to its reliable snow coverage and brilliant piste conditions. It’s also well in reach of other ski areas, opening up your choice of pistes. St Anton also has a particularly good reputation for its lively nightlife.
Solden has an excellent lift system, with little to no queues. It is situated at a high altitude, bringing reliable snow conditions and some brilliant off piste skiing opportunities. It is also home to two glaciers, extending the resorts season and making for some great springtime skiing.
Obergurgl is located at a very high altitude, resulting in guaranteed snowfall throughout the season. The runs are never crowded and you’ll never find yourself queuing for a lift. The ski area is very easy to access, with the lift running straight out of the main village where most of the resort accommodation is situated.
Sauze d’Oulx is part of the popular Milky Way ski area. It offers long skiing hours, some excellent runs and great snow conditions. The resort has a traditional Italian village feel to it, complete with some fantastic bars and restaurants, serving up delicious Italian cuisine.
Cervinia is a high altitude resort, bringing great snow conditions across the season. Its runs are particularly suited to beginners and intermediates. For those wanting to experience more advanced runs, the resort is linked to the nearby resort of Zermatt by lift, opening up your choice of ski area.
Cortina is a great resort with a real traditional Italian feel. The town is bustling with lots of shops and the large number of restaurants and bars attract plenty of non-skiers too. The resort has great snowmaking facilities and the pistes are kept in brilliant condition throughout the season.
Soldeau has a relaxed, laid back atmosphere with some great duty free prices and rather large drink measures! The resort is particularly great for beginners and intermediates and it offers fantastic snow due to the majority of pistes being situated above 2000m.
Arinsal has a great ski school with English speaking instructors, making it an ideal resort for first timers. There are some top runs, with many passing through picturesque woodland. The resort is also known for it’s cheap, lively après ski, making it particularly appealing to a young crowd.
Pas de la Casa is one of the highest resorts in Europe, giving it a long season with plenty of good snow. The resort has a French feel to it, as it is situated close to the French border.
Zermatt plays host to the stunning backdrop of the Matterhorn, offering challenging intermediate and advanced runs, heliskiing opportunities and the chance to ski to the nearby resort of Cervinia.
Verbier is part of the vast 4 Valleys ski area, giving guests access to some wonderful intermediate and advanced runs. It offers excellent après ski, but also features plenty of quieter areas, which are well-suited to families.
The resort of Saas Fee boasts three world records – it is home to the highest revolving restaurant, the highest metro train (which runs right up into the mountains) and the largest ice pavilion. It also offers huge amounts of snow, glacier skiing and a large variety of runs.
Whistler offers wonderful skiing across both the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and receives a whopping nine metres of snow on average each season. Here, you’ll find the famous PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, offering stunning views across the valley. The resort has something for everyone and is family friendly.
The resort of Tremblant is known for its varied terrain, as well as having the biggest half pipe in Canada. Situated on the East Coast, it is one of the easiest resorts to access for those coming from Europe. One part of the mountain is dedicated specifically to beginners, making it a great choice for a first ski holiday.
Banff is part of the Big 3, along with Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. You can gain access to all three resorts with your lift pass. The resort boasts over 200km of pistes, stunning views and some fantastic après ski and dining opportunities.
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