Hey Jetlag Junkies!
Okay, confession time. I am not exactly what you would call an “avid skier.” If you know me personally, you are probably laughing right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mountains! I’m just more of an aprés-ski kind of girl (if you catch my drift). Even so, folks are always asking me where the best ski destinations in Europe are. And, since it’s my job to know, I’ve done my research so I can send everyone to the right slopes…even if you prefer looking at mountains to careening down them 😉.
3 Top European Ski Destinations
#1: Switzerland – Zermatt & Berner Oberland
Ultimately, the choice between these two Swiss mountain meccas may well come down to logistics. How long you plan to visit and when you want to go are both incredibly important factors that may limit you, so plan ahead. The good news is, they are both spectacular. There are no losers here, and anyone who’s been to Switzerland will ooh and ahh over its natural grandeur.
Zermatt top tips: Stay in Zermatt if at all possible – not the surrounding areas. Scale the famous Matterhorn and enjoy its icy funhouse, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (a MUST for families!).
Berner Oberland top tips: A Swiss Travel Pass is a must if you plan to go on several lifts as it will cover you for most of them. Interlaken is a fine gateway town to the slopes, but the villages of Wengen and Mürren are much more charming. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the slopes, you’ll definitely save time and money basing out of these towns and throughout Lauerbrutten.
Day trip: Bern – the adorable Swiss capital in all its medieval glory; Lucerne – my favorite Swiss city with reason enough to visit the country sans ski.
When to go: The best skiing is December – April, making it a perfect spot for American spring break skiers. Summer is ideal for hiking and lake sports, though you’ll still find plenty open slopes throughout June and July near Zermatt.
#2: France – Chamonix
Whether you are a novice or an expert skier, you’ve no doubt heard of Chamonix. Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Europe, but Chamonix is known as the apex of mountain destinations for so many more reasons. The Chamonix village at the base of Mont Blanc is true Alpine perfection and a glorious place to visit if you even slightly enjoy skiing, hiking, adventure activities, and so forth. The scenery, shopping, and the aprés are lovely, but if that’s all you’re after, visit Switzerland instead.
Day trip: The Aiguille de Midi Gondola will take you over the Alps and into Italy (and back again, if you wish). This is a no-brainer and, I must say, a total bucket list item for me! Who wouldn’t want to float into another country? Unless you’re afraid of heights, that is (sorry, mom).
When to go: If you can swing the time off, after New Year’s is best for winter sports. The mountains stay snowy all year, and you can easily ski anytime from December to May. If you are more of a “winter places in summertime” lover like I am, Chamonix is heaven on earth.
#3: Italy – The Dolomites
Though a far cry from the dynamic skiing you’ll encounter in the French and Swiss Alps, the Italian Dolomites offer up what I call the dolce vita version of a ski holiday. The granite mountains are stunning to look at—and not exhausting to traverse. The region itself is precious and also unlike the rest of Italy. The blend of Italian-German-Austrian heritage is profound and fascinating. This is also an area that is spectacular for those of you who may be a bit more into relaxing than skiing; the resorts of the Dolomites are just as spectacular as her pink-hued mountains.
Day trip: While you could easily sneak in some time in Verona or even Venice, you are much better off sticking around and enjoying the gorgeous and charming Dolomiti towns of Bolzano, Castelrotto, Trento, and Rovereto, where you can enjoy amazing meals, inspiring art, and countless historical sights.
When to go: Early February or anytime in March (but avoid Ash Wednesday and the week of Easter).
Did any of these spots whet your appetite for a winter or spring European ski getaway? If so, I hope you’ll give me a call. I would love to hook you up at the best resorts or chalets, reserve your lift tickets, and arrange your equipment rentals…and, of course, set you up at the perfect aprés-ski lookouts!
Ciao for now!
P.S. I’ll be returning to Switzerland in late May with my fam for a little Alpine summer action. We’ve rented a beautiful chalet in a small town in the Berner Oberland and I am soooo excited for this fun-yet-relaxing holiday. Be sure you like + follow The Jetlag Experience on FB (@jetlagplease) as I’ll be posting tons of pics while we are away!