Sports & Outdoors

Skiing or snowboarding: Which is best for beginners?

Discover more about the differences between skiing and snowboarding for beginners and learn about the best resorts for each sport.

Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, an adrenaline junkie or just there for the après ski, spending the day on some of Europe’s best slopes is a wonderful way to spend your holiday.

Gliding through the snow, regardless of whether you’re using a snowboard or skis, is one of the most liberating and exhilarating activities that anyone can experience. It’s no wonder why so many people from the UK flock to the slopes of Europe year on year.

But which to choose skiing or snowboarding? It’s a tough decision, especially for a beginner, so we’ve outlined some important things to consider, and which resorts are best suited to each sport.

Which is easier, skiing or snowboarding?

As a rule of thumb, skiing is easier to learn, but harder to advance in. Conversely, snowboarding, although more difficult to pick up as a beginner is easier to master. 

Generally, people find learning to ski easier, as the position feels more natural. When skiing, your feet are separated and you face forward when going down the slope, whereas when snowboarding, both feet are clipped into the board, and you face side on to the slope while moving.

While there are pros and cons to both sports, deciding between the two comes down to personal preference. Ultimately, whichever you select you’re sure to have a great time.

Man and woman standing either side of a boy and girl holding skis on a mountain with snow covered trees in the background

Learning the basics of skiing and snowboarding

An integral part of learning to ski is learning to stop. As a beginner skier, an easy way to stop is to ‘snowplough’, by turning the front of the skis in towards each other. When snowboarding, it can be difficult to learn to stop dead, but once mastered it grants an unparalleled sense of control over the terrain and an ability to traverse the thicker, off-piste snow, where some of the best fun is to be had.

Using the lifts and riding on the flatter areas which link the pistes together, is also considerably easier for skiers. However, once off the mountain and après ski commences, snowboarders can walk around easily with only their boards to worry about. Skiers on the other hand face the challenge of walking in stiff boots and carrying two skis, along with two poles.

Winter snowy landscape with snow covered fur trees and mountains in the background

Is it cheaper to ski or snowboard?

Choosing to ski or snowboard doesn’t really have much effect on the cost of hiring equipment. However, those keen on buying all their gear should note that ski equipment is sometimes more expensive to purchase than snowboarding equipment. 

If you’re preparing for your first snowboarding or skiing holiday and want more details about exactly what you need to pack, our ultimate checklist has all the information you need.

Which resort to choose

While ski resorts cater to both sports equally, some are favoured by skiers, and some by snowboarders.

Val Thorens, France

Val Thorens is one of the most popular ski resorts within the French Alps and is our suggestion for those looking to hit the slopes for the first time as a beginner skier. 

The resort has been a favourite for British skiers for decades because of its reliability when it comes to snowfall and the ample facilities it provides that help to make beginners’ experiences as much fun as possible.

Ski slopes with lots of different skiers heading down the slope towards a town at the bottom of the mountains

Tignes, France

Tignes has been the snowboarding resort trendsetter in Europe and it's easy to see why.

The conditions and landscape seem to have been made especially for snowboarders, with loads of long off-piste runs that are a dream for freeriding. The pistes themselves have a good balance of blue, red and black runs meaning there is something for all abilities.

This is one of the few places where it is possible to board all year round, as it is 2,100m above sea level; when the lifts close from May to September the Grande Motte Glacier takes over and is open from June to September. Similarly, the après-ski opportunities continue to run throughout the year.

Tignes is approximately a 9-and-a-half-hour drive from Calais and has 5 large, designated parking areas dotted around the resort which have free shuttle buses running to and from the slopes.

Verbier, Switzerland

Verbier is a world-renowned resort and a popular choice with boarders from across the globe.

While it’s the annual destination for the O'Neil Xtreme competition, there is plenty for all abilities including beginners to enjoy. There is a balanced mix of blue and red runs, with a couple of black runs thrown in for good measure.

Verbier is approximately a 9-hour drive from Calais and parking is available in lots around the resort.

Snow-capped village of Verbier surrounded by mountains and trees

Laax, Switzerland

Laax is considered one of the most snowboarding friendly resorts in Europe. 

The main park hosts a colossal 140m pipe which is kept in mint condition. For beginner snowboarders, there is a beginner's freestyle area next door, where you can build up your confidence. If you are keen to hit the slopes, there are beautiful open stretches for you to run free on, which are great for beginners and pros alike. 

Laax is approximately a 10hr drive from Calais, the hotels and guest houses tend to provide free parking but check before you arrive – there are also large parking lots dotted around the resort that are available for use.

Snowboarder going over a jump with snow covered mountains in the background

Avioraz, France

Beginners looking to find the ideal snowboarding resort should head to Avoriaz. The resort is regarded as the snowboarding capital of Europe because of its ample facilities built with snowboarders in mind.

It was the first resort in Europe to feature a snowboarders-only section and now boasts three major snowboarding parks and a superpipe, as well as acres of off-piste terrain to explore. Also, veteran snowboarder Johann Baisamy runs a snowboarding school from within the resort, making it perfect for those just starting.

Hit the slopes with LeShuttle

Whether you’re a beginner skier or snowboarder, everyone looking to hit the slopes can do so on their terms by travelling with LeShuttle. Why not also view our list of top winter destinations in Europe for some travel inspiration? Book a ticket with us now to take advantage of the best fares.

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