The best all-round ski resorts in Europe
Flaine (French Alps, fly to Geneva)
With its striking boxy Bauhaus-style buildings, Flaine in the stunning Grande Massif is a stylish resort in a north-west facing bowl with a great snow record. Ideal for families of mixed skiing ability, the two ski schools let you keep pace with younger children, while adventurous adults can take to the snow parks, off-piste opportunities, and edgy black run: the Diamond Noir.
Zermatt (Swiss Alps, fly to Geneva)
Backdropped by the monolithic Matterhorn, top ski resort Zermatt couldn't be more quintessentially Swiss with its pretty narrow streets and charming, rustic chalets. All abilities, from toddlers to Olympic medallists, ski and snowboard on 360km of pistes and play in Snowpark Zermatt. Après-ski is fine and sophisticated, specialising in chocolate, cheese and fondues.
Chamonix (French Alps, fly to Grenoble)
Mont Blanc towers above the challenging mountain resort of Chamonix with diverse ski areas extending out across the valley. Skiers and snowboarders, from nursery-age children to bucket-list experts can find something to enjoy and push themselves, including the must-do 20km Vallée Blanche glacier run. Après ski in the quaint cafes and restaurants fits all budgets.
Avoriaz (French Alps, fly to Grenoble)
Perched on an imposing granite cliff in the centre of snow-blanketed Portes du Soleil, traditional wooden chalets and modern Swiss architecture make Avoriaz an attractive resort. All skiing and snowboarding abilities are catered for with a vast expanse of runs, and youngsters will find the resort particularly magical, with a children's village and après-ski, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Kaprun (Austrian Alps, fly to Salzburg)
Set at the foot of the mighty Kitzsteinhorn glacier, Kaprun 's impressive alpine village boasts a castle, wonderful public pools, a spa, and après ski that's a tad different, featuring the Ice Camp: three igloos with an ice bar, ice lounge and sundeck. The delightful beginner and intermediate slopes are fantastic for building confidence, and more extreme skiers can get their kicks higher up the glacier on the 63% gradient Black Mamba.
Morzine (French Alps, Fly to Lyon)
Sitting right up against the Swiss border, capital of the vast 650km Portes du Soleil area Morzine is perfect for families, with nursery slopes at Le Pleney, Stash snowparks for boarders and black runs for experienced powder hounds at Nyon. It's not all skiing – there's ice-skating, lake ice-diving, tobogganing, snowmobiles and nature trails.
Val d'Isère (French Alps, fly to Turin)
It's epic, it's famous and it's elite, but don't let these put you off Val d'Isère as it's a wonderful, snowsure resort catering for complete beginners to Olympians. The pistes link naturally, although don't miss the new Solaise gondola with heated seats and Wi-Fi. It's particularly exciting for families, with high and low-level slopes, Oakley ValPark for boards and a sophisticated town for warming après-ski.
Masella (Pyrenees, fly to Barcelona)
Boasting the longest run in the Pyrenees, the slopes of Masella in north-east Spain wind through a forest, adding magic and atmosphere to a must-do in Masella - night skiing. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the floodlights come on in the snowparks and slopes giving just enough illumination to navigate but not too much to spoil the fairylit ambience. Après-ski is family friendly and caters for all budgets.
Val Gardena (Italian Dolomites, fly to Verona)
Comprising Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva, Val Gardena is a sweeping valley deep in the Italian Dolomites. It's part of the colossal, interconnected Dolomiti Superski area that offers more than skiing: skating, sledging, cross-country, snowshoeing, and even horse riding. Selva Gardena is the freestyle snowboarder's endurance paradise – the extensive snowparks are on awesome terrain to hone your ice and powder skills.
Madonna di Campiglio (Italian Dolomites, fly to Verona)
Resolutely, stylishly Italian, Madonna di Campiglio in the Brenta Dolomites offers the most fun for beginners and intermediates on long easy runs, with the odd scary forest black run thrown in for the powder experts. With gondolas whisking you up dramatic mountain backdrops, terrain parks for snowboarders and a twinkly, welcoming village for cocktails and hearty Italian food, Campiglio is a relaxing, authentic resort.
Pila (Italian Alps, fly to Turin)
A little-known, neat, purpose-built resort with guaranteed snow and no cars to worry about, Pila is magical for young families, and experienced skiers who love wooded runs and open powder. The nursery slopes, ski schools and play areas are splendid for beginners and snow-tots, who will also be enthralled by a gondola ride to the twinkly Christmas Market in Aosta, the nearby Roman town.
Vars (French Alps, fly to Turin)
Not far from fashionista heaven Turin, desirable Vars and its more difficult twin, Risoul occupy the slopes of an attractive forested alpine area. Beginners benefit from progression runs, intermediates can choose easy blue runs and reasonable reds, while experts and freestylers will prefer to go off-piste among the trees in Risoul, seven terrain parks and the cross-country trails. Vars itself is more than just lively après-ski: there's a Nordic spa, ice skating and ice climbing.
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