Sports & Outdoors

Driving to Europe’s best ski resorts

Europe is home to some of the best skiing resorts in the world, and with just a 35-minute journey with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you’ll enjoy more time on the slopes.

With mountain ranges such as the impressive Pyrenees and the Alps stretching right across the continent, it's safe to say that Europe is home to some of the best skiing resorts in the world. Whether you're a beginner or a skiing pro, there's a skiing resort to entice every level. And with just a 35-minute journey with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you'll be able to spend less time travelling and more time on the slopes.

Lit up ski village nestled in mountain valley at night

Ski resorts for beginners & intermediate skiers

Zermatt, Switzerland

In just over eight hours by car, you can reach Zermatt, a German speaking area of the Swiss district of Visp, a beautiful area of snow-covered land towards the southern end of Matter Valley. It’s also the highest ski resort in Switzerland. Despite its height above sea level, it offers the perfect terrain for beginners looking to learn how to ski and snowboard.

The Randa and Täsch ski lifts will take you to smaller, less steep slopes that offer you the chance to practise your skiing technique before heading over to the more challenging hills. If you're skiing with your children, make your way to Sunnega's ‘Wolli's Park for Beginners', a safe and beautiful area for kids to learn. Wolli's three magic carpets, two rope tows, and a variety of fun attractions will provide your family with some additional fun on holiday.

After a tiring day on the snow, Zermatt offers a number of ways you can recuperate. If you're in need of a warm meal, then a great place to go is Adler-Hitta, a welcoming restaurant in Sunnegga. Enjoy a whole host of regional classics, including a wood-fire roasted Mistkratzerli, a wonderfully tender and tasty chicken dish. If your muscles are aching, and your body is in need of a little TLC, treat yourself to an afternoon at the Alpenhof-Hotel Spa. Offering a true, wooden cabin experience, Alpenhof-Hotel delivers a range of luxury spa treatments, including an outdoor jacuzzi.

To get to Zermatt, simply continue driving along the A16 from Rue du Four à Chaux, continue onto the A26 towards Saint-Lothain, and then take the N5 towards the snow coated slopes of Randa.

Grainau, Germany

There are many areas of Grainau that offer ideal slopes for beginners and those who are looking to perfect their skiing style, and all in just over nine hours from Calais. The Hausberg area of the mountain range Zugspitze, offers the ‘baby' lift, for children and less confident beginners, as well as the Kreuzwankl lift and the Adamswiesen lift. The slopes from these three lifts range in difficulty but are great for those of you looking to develop your ski talent during your time in Germany. As well as the slopes, children can try their hand at sledding, an activity that is particularly good for smaller children.

Once you've spent the majority of your day gliding down the icy slopes of Zugspitze, be sure to stop and enjoy a coffee at the Panorama 2962. This wonderful café offers captivating views of the Alpine peaks, Lake Eibsee and the surrounding snow-capped landscape. If you're looking for something to warm you up, then grab a cup of mulled wine at the Eibsee Alm.

As well as skiing, you'll have the chance to enjoy and be a part of Bavarian folkloric traditions, such as waltzes, brass bands, and local musicians performing at the Kurkonzerte, a semi-open pavilion in the nearby park.

If you decide Grainau is the ideal skiing destination for you just continue to drive on the A16 from Rue du Four à Chaux, and take the A26 towards Fernpassstr (B179) in Füssen. Follow the B179 to your final destination, Alpspitzstrasse in Grainau.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

Hailed as the birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, St. Moritz has hosted the winter Olympics twice and, thanks to its natural mineral springs, is a spa seekers heaven. Its expansive resort is split into three villages, all positioned around the glistening lake, with Dorf being perhaps the most famous – Alfred Hitchcock and Liz Taylor have previously stayed here.  

There are around 350 kilometres of pistes to ski, snowboard and explore, with a state-of-the-art infrastructure in the surrounding area to help you get from each slope. The four main sectors to choose from are Corviglia, Corvatsch, Diavolezza/Lagalb, and ZuozSt. Corviglia boasts the steepest start slope in Switzerland, with the Piz Nair Wall's 100% vertiginous drop – not for the faint-hearted. Similarly, thrill seekers can try the black runs on Diavolezza. Zuoz is a smaller family resort, great for children or beginners.

For those that love the thrill of a toboggan, you can plunge down one the oldest and last remaining natural ice bob runs in the world. Winter hikers have the choice of 150 km of winter walking trails. No matter your activity of choice, after a day on the slopes, be sure to try the hot chocolate at Hanselmann, St. Moritz’s popular après café.  

Couple in ski gear walk a snowy path towards mountains and wooden lodges

Ski destinations for those on a budget

Les Houches, France

This ski resort is nestled in the Chamonix Valley, with stunning views of Mont Blanc. Its pistes have a lot to offer beginners or less confident skiiers, pistes runs from 950m to 1900m and feature lots of tree line skiing. There are two short, gentle beginners’ slopes at the top of both the Prarion and the Bellevue cable cars and, when there is enough snow, descents can be made on the St Gervais side to a popular mountain restaurant La Tanniere serving traditional and heartwarming fare.

For the little ones, head to the top of the Prarion gondola where 'Ski Camp', an area specially designed for young children, offers sledging, teepees, and snow tubing, all laid out around a picnic area.

If you’re here to challenge your ski skills, advanced skiers and can try the world-famous Kandahar run, which has hosted the Men's Alpine Skiing World Cup. It’s steep, hard-packed and occasionally icy, making it one of the most challenging in the Chamonix valley.

Livigno, Italy

Livigno is known as ‘Little Tibet’ because of its height and remoteness. This resort is set into a valley close to the Swiss border and has a long season thanks to its altitude. The two main ski areas of Carosello and Mottolino are linked by a free bus service and the village has a car-free section to make it safe and easy to get around on foot.

The duty-free shopping here makes this a popular (and more affordable resort). As well as huge savings on alcohol and tobacco, there are worthwhile savings on perfumes, cameras, computers and other electronic equipment. Fuel is around 50% cheaper than the rest of Italy.

Most of Livigno’s runs are classified as red, but most are not too steep and are very well maintained. Intermediate skiiers would be fine here, and the runs usually have very good snow because of the high altitude. The blue run from the top of the Costaccia area under the fast chairlift is an easy cruise but the more adventurous will love the numerous black runs available to them on Mottolino.

Ski slopes covered in snow with the sun beating down on them

European ski resorts for advanced skiers

St. Anton, Austria

Whether you're an established skier or someone who is looking to develop their techniques, you'll find a skiing school in St. Anton that will help. Skischule Arlberg has been offering lessons since 1921 to skiers and snowboarders, who are looking to either learn the sport, or practise the skills they've already honed.

If you're confident enough to hit the slopes solo, then the mountain range of Arlberg will truly test your ability. Enjoy speedy, long descents and tree runs through the Langen forest, or head to the Valluga Mountain where free riders can test themselves on steep and tricky descents. Maroikopf also offers a fun, long run throughout the larch forests of Langen, but if you're looking for a more challenging route, make your way to Verwalltal for difficult to manoeuvre, sharp, vertical drops.

Once you've finished exploring the variety of slopes in Arlberg, drop by Hospiz Alm, in St. Christoph, for a delicious meal and glass of wine. This rustic restaurant is home to a large, and impressive, wine cellar, and offers a number of warming meals, including goulash soup, and Tiroler Grösh, an Austrian classic that is made up of fried bacon, eggs and potatoes, seasoned with paprika, parsley and chili powder.

To get to St. Anton, continue to drive on the A16 from Rue du Four à Chaux, and take the A26 towards Vorarlberg, Austria. Take the exit at Langen, and follow the B197 to Postpl, St. Anton. Be sure to take plenty of breaks along this scenic route. A great way to break up the 11-hour drive is by stopping by at Strasbourg to enjoy the culture, food and beautiful landscape of this fascinating city.

Multicoloured skiing poles and Skis standing in the snow in front of snow covered mountains that are as high as the clouds

Val di Fassa, Italy

Another ski resort that is perfect for advanced skiers is Val di Fassa in Italy. The Col Rodella, which can be reached from Campitella di Fassa, offers confident skiers the opportunity to be a part of a self-timed race run; a great descent for those of you who are adrenaline junkies. If you're looking to explore the fantastic Italian landscape by ski, then be sure to hit the slopes of Paolina, where you'll get to take in breathtaking views of the Catinaccio mountain chain, and the Latemar Mountains.

If your kids are in the mood for some entertainment, take them to Chalet Cima Llomo, a children's fun park in the snow, which is jam-packed with exciting apparatus and games that your kids are bound to love. This park also offers you a chance to familiarise your little ones with the snow and skiing gear.

After rushing down the slopes, racing against your personal best, and playing in the snow with your kids, you'll probably need some R&R. To relax any aching joints and over-worked muscles, make your way to Eghes Wellness Center for a revitalising shower, that'll ease any pain you might have. Or, if you just want to look your best for an evening out in Val di Fassa, unwind with a variety of luxury beauty treatments at the Medil Spa Centre.

To get to Val di Fassa, you must drive along the A16 from Rue du Four à Chaux, and then take the A26 towards B179, in Füssen. Drive on to the A12 in Austria and continue along the E45 and SS12 to Italy, before taking the exit at Bolzano Nord-Bozen Nord. After that, simply follow the SS241 road to Val di Fassa.

Val Gardena

This impressive resort is part of the largest ski area in Europe, the Dolomiti Superski. Here you are surrounded by beautiful scenery, in particular the UNESCO protected mountain range Sella Massif, with its pink peaks poking through plenty of fresh powdery snow.

Here is where you can experience the longest ski slope in South Tyrol. The ‘La Longia is more than 10km long, featuring 1,273m of elevation gain and stretching from mount Seceda to Ortisei. The slopes move through a variety of passages, from wide slopes to a natural canyon with a frozen waterfall.

That all important Après-ski is a key part of this area. Head to the Snowbar at the base of St. Cristina for a party to end all parties, or, for a more relaxed atmosphere, Luiskeller in the centre of Selva Gardena allows you to kick of your skis and enjoy a warming drink or two.

couple in winter wear walking to ski lodge with skis on shoulder car in foreground

With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you’ll be able to enjoy a scenic drive to your destination of choice making it easy to see why a road trip and skiing go hand in hand.

If this is your first time skiing check our Ultimate Ski Checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

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