Winter is here, but there's no need to feel blue about the colder temperatures and shorter days. After all, the winter months bring holidays, festivities and, most importantly, the ski season !
Whether you're hitting the slopes for the first time or looking to try somewhere new for a challenge, there are some seriously amazing ski resorts on offer around the world. However, the sheer amount of choice can be somewhat overwhelming, especially as most offer breathtaking backdrops, a wide array of pistes and of course, exceptional après–ski.
To help you narrow down your options, we've revealed our top picks of Europe's best ski resorts.
Located in the French Alps' Tarentaise Valley, Meribel offers a touch of extra glamour thanks to its luxury hotels, upmarket shops and chic après–ski hotspots. With over 600km of pistes the resort caters to everyone from beginners to skiing experts, while the weather promises plenty of sunshine, and great snow conditions. Oh, and if you want to take in the seriously spectacular views, then head to Mont Du Vallon at the top, which sits at a height of 2,952m overlooking the breathtaking landscape.
Nestled in the Valle d'Aosta in northwest Italy, this resort is renowned for its beautiful snow-capped mountains, breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, vibrant nightlife and wide array of hotels and restaurants catering to every budget. The pistes tend to be more suited to beginner and intermediate skiiers, but the resort has plenty of slopes connecting it to nearby Swiss resort Zermatt that's ideal for those after a bit more of a challenge.
Part of the Three Valleys, Courchevel offers over 600km of pistes and 162 lifts, so there's something for everyone from beginners to advanced skiiers. However it's particularly great for first-timers, if only because of the abundance of green pistes (the easiest) and ski schools to get you up and running. It's not just on the slopes where Courchevel has a wide range of holiday options. The resort is actually made up of a whole host of small villages - so you could be unwinding in the peaceful and charming Le Praz, or splurging on a luxury chalet in the glamorous Courchevel 1850.
Thanks to its breathtaking landscape, luxury accommodation and impeccable ski conditions, Verbier has always been a hit with European royals - Prince Andrew even owns a chalet in the Swiss mountains. Hailed as the main resort of The Four Valleys, Verbier has over 400km of runs, not to mention when you head to the top of the slopes you can get some seriously amazing views of Mont Fort, or even the Matterhorn. Oh, and if it's off-piste skiing you're after, then this is sure to be the place for you - expect everything from scenic runs to rougher terrain if you're up for a challenge.
Head to Lech and you can expect traditional alpine charm, cosy resorts and world-class skiing. There's everything from off-piste skiing to beginner schools, but the runs tend to be ideal for the more intermediate of skiiers. Then of course there's the stunning landscape from picturesque rivers to snow-capped mountains, as well as charming buildings from domed churches to bustling markets. It's no surprise that the resort was a firm favourite for Princess Diana.
With unparalleled views of the Matterhorn and 350km of pistes that also take you into the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia, it's no surprise that Zermatt is a firm favourite with those hoping to hit the slopes. However it's worth noting that the resort can be quite expensive, mainly because of its lift pass prices - but it's not impossible to find accommodation and dining to suit more modest budgets. For those who are after something alternative to the standard skiing experience, Zermatt has plenty on offer too - think helicopter sightseeing tours including the Matterhorn, or even Heli Skiing for the more daring.
Skiing in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Tucked away in the picturesque Dolomites, Cortina is often hailed as one of the world's prettiest resorts - and no wonder, with its rustic chalets, snow-capped mountains or pristine slopes. Host to the 1956 Olympics, it offers up some seriously brilliant skiing catering to all levels and a wide array of different winter sports. But what really sets Cortina apart is the fashion: expect to see some very eye-catching ski ensembles, and if you're feeling inspired, you can no doubt get the look from one of the resort's luxurious shops.
Thrill-seekers who want to try a whole host of sports as well as skiing will no doubt find a haven in Tignes. There's so much on offer, and not just on the slopes: try ice diving in Tignes' frozen lake, or take in the views during a paragliding experience. It's worth noting that Tignes' villages and accommodation can be quite spread out - so make sure to check the location before you book or you could be in for a bit of a trek to get to all of the action.
Ideal for off-piste skiiers and snowboarders, Riksgransen has over 40 hills to explore with a terrain that has everything from huge drops to big powder faces. Never skiied before? There are slopes on offer for beginners - and if you don't want to take to the piste, there's plenty to do from husky sledding to snow shoe walking. The only hiccup is that the weather in Riksgransen can be quite temperamental; when it's good, it's fantastic, and when it's bad, it can leave you having to wait it out before you can get back on the slopes.
Bormio has quite a remote location - airport transfers can be over four hours long - but don't let that dissuade you. When you take to the slopes, you'll be treated to stunning views including picturesque woodland runs, not to mention that you can also nab a ski pass to go exploring nearby St Moritz. The region boasts some brilliant snow conditions too - most of the pistes face northwest and therefore tend to be covered in powder throughout the whole season.