There are some great ski resorts across Europe with authentic accommodation and wonderful pistes. Yet the vast majority of skiers go back to the biggest names time and time again.
Powder White has access to hundreds of resorts with thousands of great accommodation options to choose from. We’ve handpicked some of our favourite under-the-radar ski resorts. Those that the skiing is still somewhat a secret. You can find powder stashes for days after a fresh snowfall, hidden tree runs that make you feel like you’re in Narnia and quietly classy mountain huts that you’ll never want to leave.
Seeking out ski areas that are a little off the beaten track is one of our favourite past times. And finding hidden gems in 2020 is no easy feat. Here are a few places to consider when planning your next ski holiday in Europe.
Ski off the beaten track:
Serre Chevalier, France
Transfer from Turin airport – 2 hours
Ski area – 250km
You are in France but you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy here. You even fly into Turin to get here. The ski area is made up of a string of old villages creeping down the valley and linking 4 ski areas to give 250km of skiing in total. A sizeable area for the keenest of skiers.
The old village centres are crammed with winding cobbled streets, packed with a great selection of bustling bars, lazy coffee shops and delicious restaurants. There are thermal springs in Montiers and a UNESCO heritage fortified town in Briancon with dramatic ancient walls rising above the modern town below (well worth a visit). There’s tobogganing, dog sledging and mountain carting but best of all the ski area is massively overlooked by the English market. Making Serre Chevalier a great place to head for an unpretentious off the beaten track ski experience.
Transfer from Innsbruck airport – 45 minutes
Ski area – 37km
The transfer time from Innsbruck being well under an hour makes Seefeld a great resort for a last-minute ski getaway, whether for a weekend or a week. Fantastic slopes for getting your ski legs back or just starting out with a great mix of beginner and intermediate slopes. Whilst the ski area is not huge, at 37km, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
If you’re a cross country skiing fan you’re in for a treat with one of the most extensive ski routes in Europe, 256km in total. Plus there’s a swimming pool with spa, leisure centre, bowling, horse-drawn carriage rides, cinema, market, casino, sleigh rides, winter walking, ice skating rink and shoe shoeing. You’re spoilt for choice of activities.
Plus, with 50 restaurants in the town, you won’t be short of choice when eating out. Especially if you’re a fan of hearty Austrian dishes.
Bad Hofgastein, Austria
Transfer from Salzburg airport – 1 hour 15 minutes
Ski area – 200km
In the middle of the Gastein Valley, you’ll find the historic ski town of Bad Hofgastein. The resort sprung up around an old mining town in the middle ages with fountains of bubbling water from the thermal springs. The centre is pedestrianised and full of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from.
A brand new gondola will take you straight to the top of the mountain from the town and there are plenty of mountain huts with sunny terraces to enjoy local dishes such as fresh schnitzel or warming apple strudel. Whereas the apres-ski is all about the thermal spas and a little relaxation.
In the Ski Amadé ski area totalling 760km of piste over 5 different ski regions, you have 200km of slopes on your doorstep you can ski in any of the other regions if you book a 2 day lift pass or longer.
St Martin de Belleville, France
Transfer from Geneva airport – 2 hours 10 minutes
Ski area – 600km
A beautiful Savoyard village in the three valleys. Whilst the ski area may be one of the biggest names in the ski world, the village of St Martin de Belleville is certainly not. At the lower end of the Belleville valley (Val Thorens is at the top), St Martin gives you direct access to the largest linked ski area in the world yet retains a tiny village vibe.
Very understated the village centre is cobbled with a handful of restaurants and bars to choose from. Head top the ‘Pourquois Pas’, tucked away behind the church for the best of the bars. Always lively and with regular live music. It’s well worth a few post ski drinks in here. Ran by a friendly English couple it’s one of our favourite bars in the ski area. For a coffee or lunch stop, look no further than ‘Le Montagnard’ overlooking the slopes. Everything is fabulous here from the coffee glasses to the hay coming out the roof, the best spot in town for a fondue.
Skiing back down to St Martin is a lovely winding blue or you can take Jerusalem, often regarded as the best run in the Three Valleys. If you’re coming back from Meribel our tip would be to catch the Olympic chair over the ridge. It’s a bitty route, but means when you do get into the Belleville valley you’ll have the run to yourselves and after fresh snowfall, there’ll still be plenty of powder to explore late into the day.
Transfer from Zurich airport – 3 hours (by train)
Ski area – 206km
When it comes to mountain scenery, it’s hard to get more spectacular than Grindelwald. The chalet-style town is attractive with an old-world charm. Surrounded by towering peaks or striking mountains such as the Eiger.
The town itself is buzzing with plenty of bars and restaurants creating a cosmopolitan feel. It’s a ski resort with plenty going on from 150km of tobogganing runs and ziplines included on your lift pass. The cog railway station in town takes you up the mountain and you can carry on up to the highest train station in Europe. Even more spectacular views.
The ski area is also sizeable with 206km of pistes full of mountain restaurants serving up delicious lunches. You have slopes either side of the town perfect for adventurous beginners and intermediates will be in their element.
There you have our favourite off the beaten track ski resorts, perfect for avoiding crowds and making the most of fresh snowfall. If you’re looking for some top apres then take a peek at our best apres in Europe blog.