Winter is coming. Once the leaves begin to color and fall to the ground and my summer tan is definitely gone (as far as I had one to begin with), so are my desires for crystal clear oceans and coconuts. The winter child in me has awoken. Bring me the snow, the freezing cold and the mountains. But most of all, give me a snowboard to ride them. That’s right, nothing beats that feeling when you breathe in the fresh alpine oxygen, speeding down a perfectly prepped slope surrounded by white mountain peaks as far as your eyesight can reach. I don’t know about you, but those little moments of happiness happen everyday when I find myself in one of the many awesome (and some of the best) ski regions in Europe. And with the snowflakes coming down earlier and thicker than ever, it’s time to book your next ski trip (trust me)! Now, if you’re like me you know picking the right destination is a struggle every year. Which area has the right slopes, has snow certainty and will make you holiday awesome? To make this struggle a little easier on you this time, I’ve listed my five faves for you.
Avoriaz – Portes du Soleil, France
Now don’t go cold on me, but I’m not really the heavy après-ski kinda girl. Every day I get up early as F to try to make it in time for the first lift going up, to snowboard all day and go to bed at 10 PM because I’m to exhausted to function. Doesn’t mean I don’t sip on a few beers or a glühwein whenever the lifts close down, but no radical parties for me. Recognize yourself? Then you MUST go to Avoriaz, a little car-free village which is part of the Portes du Soleil ski area. You can’t really go wrong with a ski area that translates into ‘doors to the sun’, right? With 650 km of slopes, touching the French and Swiss border the true ski/board lover will have a non-stop grin on his or her face. The lifts are modern and very well connected. Avoriaz is quite cute compared to the French ski-village standard. There are some bars, shops and restaurants so you won’t starve. The fact that there are no cars allowed makes it the perfect place to stroll around at night and look up at the amazing sky full of stars above you. Don’t like walking? Well, you can get transported by enormous sledges, powered by actual horses. Oh the pure bliss. Oh and did I mention you can get on the slopes straight from any apartment?
Söll – SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser – Brixental, Austria
Up for a bit more true hospitality on your holiday? Head over to Austria for some alpine coziness in Söll. This is where you find the typical chalets and hotels and a hell of a lot more Schlager music when you enter the bar for that well deserved after-ski beer. With 284 km of slopes you won’t be bored easily. If you want to you can ski to a different village every day while passing numerous huts to indulge in some kaiserschmarrn (who doesn’t love scrambled pancakes) and coffees with cream. The latter is a bit more affordable in Austria then when going to France. Slopes here are wide, well prepped and fit for every kind of experience level. You do get lost quite easily here, but that’s part of the charm.
Valfrejus – Valfrejus, France
With 61 Km of slopes, not a biggie but the area is only 4 hours away from Paris! But it is the perfect place for beginners on a budget. There aren’t that many lifts and the area is super compact, so the issue of losing your friends is non-existent in Valfrejus. The village is small and friendly with some nice little bars, and no cars (always a plus). You easily go up to the top of the mountain, eat a crepe in the sun and then take one of the wide slopes (or forest paths) down to the middle station to meet up with the rest of your friends. Perfect if you have some beginners, taking lessons, with you and want to meet up for lunch or a drink. To rent an apartment here is pretty cheap, same goes for your ski-pass. So don’t let a tight budget hold you down from booking a trip. But I must admit, this area does have some not so snowboard-friendly paths, if that cranks you up: make sure to pick the right tracks (the green slopes here are horrible ;-).
Zell am Zee – Zell am Zee Kaprun, Austria
The Kaprun Glacier ensures white mountains, Zell am Zee village ensures a good time. The perfect place to go if you want to do some other stuff when your done skiing (ice hockey, sledging!). Where the glacier offers you pure white plains, the Zell am Zee area is more ‘ gemütlicher’ with lots of slopes between the threes and mountain cabins to drink hot cocoa. The lifts are modern, big and fast so you never have to spend a lot of time hanging and waiting in the air. With 138 km of slopes and most of them blue (easy), this is the place where you want to learn (it’s what I did) those perfect turns and brakes. Also, après-ski, much much better then in France. This place is full of lights and fun.
Les Arcs – Paradiski, French Alps
Paradiski, the word already says it: paradise. This place is gorgeous and not a surprise that it’s listed as one of the best ski regions in Europe. Well connected lifts, long rides, different scenery, awesome slopes. If it’s busy, you hardly notice it. I don’t think I ever waited longer than 2 minutes to get in the lift (apart from waiting for the big ass gondola’s that take 200 people at once) and there where so many options for day trips (if you have the extended ski-pass you can even head over to the La Plagne area). The total ski area of Paradiski offers 425 KM of slopes, never a dull moment. There are several villages in Les Arcs, of which I think Arc 1800 and Arc 1950 are the nicest with most restaurants and little shops. There are a number of bars, but don’t expect any of them to be really good. But buying some beers in the supermarket and just having fun with you friends in your accommodation is just as good right? Also, most apartments in Les Arcs are next to the slopes or just a couple minutes of walking!
What’s your favorite place to enjoy wintersport? Of course there are so many great options to choose from when you are booking your ski trip. But I hope these little insights from a hardcore snowboard fan just gave you a bit more knowledge. My next trip is booked, how about yours?
*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month
Also read; A Winter Secret in Greece: