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Your guide to Europe’s best ski resorts

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Iconic mountain ranges, gorgeous winters, and top-class infrastructure means some terrific time on the slopes

BEGINNER / ADVANCED

1. Gstaad

Switzerland

This is Switzerland’s premium destination for winter-sports. Gstaad has over 200km of the softest powder slopes, with altitudes ranging from 1,000m to 3,000 metres. You will lose count of the number of ski-lifts criss-crossing the white landscape to take you back up. There is a slope for everyone, with 15% dedicated to full-on black runs. There are eight kiddie slopes, and three huge snow-parks for freestylers and jumpers. The après-ski experience? The best in the world. If you have a passion for skiing, you must check out the list of Gstaad Saanenland Hotels and plan your stay in the vicinity. This will help you have more time at hand for skiing and other activities.

INTERMEDIATE / professional

2. Alagna

Italy

Tucked away in northern Italy, on the south face of the Monte Rosa Massif, this is for the serious, bigmountain free-riders. Combined with two other ski spots of Champoulc and Grissoney, there is 180 km of powder to fly over, including two well-marked backcountry routes and the gorgeous nine-kilometre La Balma run that glides down a glacier, offering stunning vistas of quaint farming villages. The only reststop is the Café delle Guide, renowned for its margherita pizza. The Alagna Valsesia Hotels are cosy and comfortable so you may plan your stay there to ensure a comfortable journey.

INTERMEDIATE / professional

3. Tignes

France

The best part: the season here runs for nine months, with consistently good snow. Tignes, and the more picturesque Val d’Isère, combine to form the region of Espace Killy, a ski region with 300km of exciting runs, perfect for the skier/snow-boarder keen to enhance his skills. The La Motte Glacier is a great test of stamina, and the off-piste run in the Palet sector is ideal for the expert. There is also a snow park for jumpers, and a dedicated off-piste training section called Le Spot. If you are planning to visit this place, make sure to book in advance after checking the list of Tignes Hotels. This is the best way to ensure a stay that is comfortable and memorable too.

BEGINNER / ADVANCED

4. Zermatt

Switzerland

The Swiss truly understand ski holidays. Zermatt’s perpetually powdered slopes are ably supported by over 60 charming rest-stops serving up delicious refreshments. Try the Breithorn cross-country route, if only to stop off at Chez Vrony, a 19th-century farmhouse reborn as foodies delight, to try their local beef and cheeses, venison risotto or the house-special burger. Take a break and soak up the gorgeous view of the Matterhorn, or wind up your day with some live music at the Hennu Stalle. Go through the list of Zermatt Hotels before finalising your stay. Planning in advance also helps to cut down on expenses.

BEGINNER / ADVANCED

5. Geilo

Norway

This pure, un-touristy location is tucked away in the mountains of Scandinavia, where the softest powder and a remarkable uncrowdedness are guaranteed. The charming and friendly village of Geilo enjoys a longer winter than most of Europe, and it offers every gradient, suitable for kiddie and competitor alike. The locals are warm and friendly, and the resort also offers a ton of activities for kids, while the elders seek their thrills on the slopes. You may plan your stay in one of the hotels listed in Geilo Hotels list. Compare the rates and amenities and look out for suitable deals before finalising the booking.

BEGINNER / INTERMEDIATE

6. Kitzbuhel

Austria

This iconic destination boasts some of the world’s greatest and hairiest bragging-rights runs. Black diamond skiers, try the Strief, a white-knuckle two-mile stretch with jumps, steep pitches and devilish hairpins. There is plenty here for the beginner and the intermediate too, with the added advantage of watching the real pros in action. For your après-ski experience, head to The Londoner for a pint or two. For delicious, traditional Tyrolean food, there is the Goldener Greif. If you enjoy hiking, plan your stay in one of the hotels here. The Kitzbuhel hotels list offers multiple options for you to choose from. Once the stay is well planned, you may schedule the next day’s journey elaborately.

BEGINNER / ADVANCED

7. St Anton

Austria

The vast area around the charming Alpine town of St. Anton includes almost 350km of runs and about 600km of backcountry and cross-country routes. A head-reeling network of lifts and slopes will get you from village to village and run to run. Try the wood-oven pizzas at the Schneggarei in the village of Lech. For the real party experience, head on to Moosewirt where the DJ turntables start at 4pm and Jaeger Bombs are being ferried by cruising waiters. If you are a first time visitor, check the St Antons Hotels list for amenities, facilities and deals. You will surely find a St Anton hotel that suits your needs and requirements here.

BEGINNER / ADVANCED

8. Jasna

Slovakia

Tired of the usual skiing hotspots? Try the very un-touristy but breathtakingly beautiful slopes of Slovakia, perfect for all ages and all levels, and boasting world-class infrastructure: 29 cable cars and lifts accommodate up to 3,000 people per hour. From kiddie slopes to big-mountain free-rides, Jasna has it all. The fun-loving Slovaks are no slouch in the après-ski department either, with over 50 bars and innumerable eateries servicing the entire area.

INTERMEDIATE / professional

9. La Grave

France

This is the most wild-country, no-frills ski-experience, if you have it in you. All big-mountain purists head here year after year. Two vertical kilometres of sweeping glaciers, cliffs and couloirs, the 12th-century village of La Grave, has just one lift and no marked runs. The first-timer should hire a guide, who will choose routes best suited to your skill-level. Stay at the Skiers Lodge; they organise guided groups, have live music most nights, and are only three minutes from the lift. Book hotels in La Grave online and enjoy special seasonal discounts. The La Grave Hotels list offers umpteen options for you to choose from.

INTERMEDIATE / professional

10. Chamonix

France

This iconic ski-mecca has five ski-areas and some of the steepest lifts on the planet. The Aiguille du Midi cable-car climbs 3,000m to the needle-point Aiguille, from where you ski all the way down to the valley floor. For a little less adrenaline, go for the Vallee Blanche, a glacial bowl comprised of a beautiful, cruising 20km run in the shadow of rugged, jagged Alpine peaks. Guides are necessary for all the unmarked back-country runs. Be sure to try the hot, mulled wine at the Chambre Neuf. Go through the Chamonix Hotels list and view amenities and prices in each case. This will help you plan your expenses for the travel well in advance.

Travel Tips

Insider Tip:

Despite being a wealthy pastime, all ski-resorts need not hurt your wallet. Choose from several cheaper, but no less wonderful options, like Italy and Slovakia. While on holiday, if time is a concern, pick a resort very close to a big city: Chamonix, France is an hour from Geneva by train. St. Anton, Austria, is two hours from Zurich.