Each winter, thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies await a window of around 4 months to set off up into the mountains and enjoy life on the piste. I am of course talking about the ski season. In its infancy throughout November, it really kicks into life for December and will carry on through into the spring month of March – or April for the real fanatics. A week or two of thrilling exercise combined with the guilt-free excuse to eat delicious, comforting food as well as the sociability of the whole ‘après ski experience’ is a heady mix that brings people back year after year.
If you’re relatively new to the yearly ski run and are unsure where to go – or a seasoned pro looking for somewhere new – below are three suggestions that may suit you. They are:
- Chamonix, France
The Stable Horse
- 157km of piste
- Highest lift: 3840m
- Quality of snow: High
- Lift pass prices
- Nearest airport: Geneva, Switzerland
As one of the oldest ski resorts in the world you can’t really go wrong with Chamonix. The village hosted the first ever Winter Olympics in 1924, so to say that it has the necessary infrastructure is an understatement. Ever so slightly rough around the edges, this is a real mountain sports town. Early risers chomping down an on-the-go breakfast to get the first snows are fairly commonplace.
Summer and winter thrill-seekers flood to the town to delight in all the mountain has to offer: mountain biking, climbing and of course skiing. As such, the town has a lot of places to stay, eat and be merry. Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak, towers over the north side of the slopes. While there isn’t a lot for beginners, there is plenty for the more advanced skier to enjoy.
Hiring a car from easyCar at Geneva Airport will be the quickest, most efficient way of getting there. Take advantage of the Swiss motorways and cruise to your destination in 1 hour 10 minutes. With a car, from Chamonix you can also access various other ski resorts such as Les Praz or Le Tour.
- Klosters, Switzerland
The Vogue Option
- 160km of piste
- Highest lift: 2844m
- Quality of Snow: Good
- Lift pass prices
- Nearest airport: Zurich, Switzerland
To suggest that skiing is all about the powder snow and the thrill of carving a path in previously untouched snow would not be entirely true. For many, the experience is more about being seen in the season’s latest fashion trends and in all the right champagne bars. If that sounds like your idea of a ski holiday, then Klosters might well be just the spot for you.
You’ll be rubbing shoulders with the glitterati. Royalty and billionaires alike are known to enjoy these golden slopes. The après ski and long lunch are central to Klosters’ appeal. But that is to do a disservice to its slopes, which are well-maintained and perfect for beginners through to intermediates.
Renting your car from easyCar before you travel will give you more time doing what you enjoy and less doing what you hate – waiting around in airports. The drive, which is just shy of two hours, will take you along Swiss motorways and through some awe-inspiring mountain passes. Once there you can drive to the nearby Davos for a bit more variety in your slopes.
- Jasna, Slovakia
The Good Bargain
- 46km of piste
- Highest lift: 2024m
- Quality of Snow: Average
- Lift pass price
- Nearest airport: Krakow, Poland
Chocolate box views are by no means the be all and end all of this resort. The stunning powder routes, great for both skiers and boarders, will dispel any misgivings about venturing into eastern Europe. Gone are the days of crumbling lifts and bad organisation, in this resort at least. Being a fairly new resort, the pistes aren’t as extensive as some of the Alpine resorts and the snow can be a bit more temperamental. But you’ll find uncluttered slopes and a perfectly unpretentious clientele. Plus you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re at the cutting edge of winter sports exploration; an eastern European explosion is on the cards with the next decade or so.
The price attracts a younger clientele than the likes of Klosters. As such you can expect a vibrant après ski atmosphere with the bars and clubs swinging deep into the night.
Flying into Krakow, you would be well advised to book your rental car in advance from easyCar. Doing so can save you valuable time you can re-invest on the slopes. It’s about a 3-hour drive from Krakow airport to the resort.
It is extremely difficult to accurately judge the volume and quality of snowfall for the upcoming season; however, we hope this guide will help you make your decision. One final tip: use sites such as Snow Forecast to get a fairly accurate picture of snowfall across Europe.