The best ski resorts to avoid the crowds during February half term
Uk half term week is one of the busiest times of the year to go skiing. It’s also just about the best conditions you’ll get all season. It’s the only time of year many families can get out to the slopes, plus, coinciding with European school holidays makes it twice as busy.
So where can you find a family-friendly resort without huge crowds of people?
Canada is a great shout if you can afford the flights as there are no school holidays over there in February. Facilities for families are excellent and there’s no language barrier for ski schools either.
However, there are plenty of options in Europe as well. With huge amounts of snow so far this season it makes sense to stay local. Avoiding the huge name resorts such as Meribel, Val d’Isere and La Plagne could be a good start, but where should you go?
Planning a family ski holiday? Take a look at our top tips for skiing with children. Here are our favourite resorts for half term family skiing without the masses.
1. St Anton, Austria
Nearest airport – Innsbruck – 70 minute transfer
St Anton has a reputation as a party town rather than a family resort. This might put you off, however, it also means there’s plenty of accommodation available for February half term as the usual crowd looks to avoid the school holidays. The resort has top non-ski activities such as indoor climbing walls and bowling as well as the Arlberg-well.com centre with indoor and outdoor pools, lazy river, waterfalls and caves perfect for spending some post-ski hours entertaining the family.
The Rendl ski area is often quieter and more mellow than much of St Anton’s terrain. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend St Anton for first time skiers (though there are still plenty of beginner slopes) but once the kids have skied for a week or two, then they’ll love the skiing here as well.
2. Flaine, France
Nearest airport – Geneva – 80 minute transfer
Flaine is the biggest resort in the huge Grand Massif ski area with 265km of piste. Built for convenience and family skiing in the 1960s, it’s not the most attractive of resorts, and maybe that’s why it’s not more popular, but look past that and you have a fantastic family ski resort.
The whole village is ski in, ski out, you can’t beat that for convenience. The main square of the resort is built around the ice rink and a children’s sledging run. There’s also bowling, a driving simulator, airbag and tubing. Prices are very reasonable on and off the mountain making eating out more feasible. Great for self-catering apartments bringing total holiday costs down as well.
3. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Nearest airport – Zurich – 2 hours 20 minutes
Forming part of the impressive Jungfrau ski region, it is absolutely stunning especially with its backdrop of the magnificent Eiger. You’re never far from a hotel opportunity here!
The village is a beautiful mix of chalet buildings and larger hotels all with stunning views down the valley. The ski area is full of cruisy pistes and linked with the neighbouring resorts of Wengen and Murren. The village itself is beautiful. Tradition is what its all about and whilst it is not necessarily known for its night-life, there are plenty of restaurants, bars with live music and activities for everyone including ice-carving and the adrenalined-fueld zip wire. And to round it off, a trip to the glass footbridge that extends over the valley abyss with test your head for heights, but it is well worth it.
4. Les Menuires, France
Nearest airport – Geneva – 135 minutes
Direct access to the largest linked ski area in the world (the 3 valleys with 600km of piste), Les Menuires is often overlooked in favour of the big-name resorts that share the ski area (Val Thorens, Meribel and Courchevel). This is what makes it a great base for half term skiing. Sat just below Val Thorens in the Bellville Valley, Les Menuires has a huge ski area of its own with some lovely blue runs all the way down to St Martin de Belleville. Perhaps the jewel of the ski area is La Masse, always quiet with brilliantly long on and off piste runs – you could spend your whole holiday explore this mountain!
Les Menuires isn’t the most attractive of village though it’s compact and presentable based around a central Croisette full of shops and restaurants you can ski to. Recently rebranding as ‘Friendly Menuires’ the whole resort is geared towards families from the painted yoghurt pot lifts to magic carpets and plenty of festivals. It’s a great base to explore the ski area.
5. Serre Chevalier, France
Nearest airport – Turin – 120 minutes
Though technically in France, Serre Chevalier is more Italian in many respects, the closest airport is actually in Italy (Turin). A sizable 250km ski area links the four villages including the UNESCO Heritage-listed Briancon (well worth a visit if you’re not staying here). The ski area is largely intermediate and easily accessible from each of the villages, having four distinct sections you get a good sense of travelling around when skiing.
There’s a good mix of activities off the slopes as well with dog sledging, tobogganing, mountain karting, go karting and even thermal spas in the village of Monetier. Each village is friendly, unpretentious and strangely overlooked by the UK ski market, making Serre Chevalier a great place to head on your half term ski trip.
5 tips to help you enjoy your next half term ski break:
- Research where you want to stay and avoid the busiest areas (try one of the above)
- Book flights & accommodation early
- Book activities for the kids ahead of time
- Get your ski passes, ski school & ski hire sorted before you get into resort to make sure you get the lessons you want
- Self catered apartments are often a lower price point. Plus, the whole family can stay in the same apartment with private communal space giving you more freedom than a chalet or hotel