Whether you’re a fan of skiing or snowboarding, finding the right powdery terrain is paramount. A combination of scenery, snow conditions and variety of slopes make certain hills stand above others. It doesn’t hurt to have a resort or town nearby to enhance the après ski life. Catering to a range of abilities, here are the 10 best ski destinations around the world both on and off the slopes.
10. Milan, Italy
You may be surprised to see Italy’s fashion capital starting off the list, but Milan is a great city for beginner skiers. Milan boasts ski resort towns like Como, Brusson and Lecco which are only a short drive from the city lines. When you’re done shopping in the Golden Quadrilateral, grab your snow gear and hit the slopes!
9. Niseko, Japan
Thanks to constant winds blowing from Siberia, the mountains on the Japanese island of Hokkaido offer some of the most consistently powdery conditions in the world. The village surrounding the mountain chain presents a cultural experience unlike the other best ski destinations on our list. The town is decorated with traditional Japanese machiya architecture including sliding screens, wooden lattice façades and walkways illuminated by lanterns.
8. The Remarkables, New Zealand
The Remarkables are conveniently located just 45 minutes from Queenstown, the adventure sports capital of the south island. It’s a picturesque setting as the mountain range sits on the southeastern shore of Lake Wakatipu. The Remarkables is made up of three mountain bowls spanning over 540 acres. The terrain is rated as 30% beginners, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced – something for everyone. When you need a break from the slopes, Queenstown boasts an array of chic boutique shops, trendy restaurants and bars. Shuttles run every hour between the city and the ski resort. Remember, New Zealand’s winter season runs from June to October.
7. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec
Mont-Tremblant has been considered one of the best ski destinations for over 70 years. It is the easternmost ski city in Canada, nestled in the Laurentian mountains. The French language and culture of Quebec adds a certain je ne sais quoi to your ski trip. Stay in the Mont-Tremblant Ski Resort which offers 95 trails, 50% of which are black diamond rated. Don’t worry, there are some slopes for beginners, too.
6. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe, located in northern Vermont, is one of the most popular ski resorts on America’s east coast. Stowe offers the biggest vertical drop in New England. We recommend Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak for the moderate skier. Stowe also offers over 90 shops and 60 restaurants, so if you’re traveling with a avid skier but snow is not your thing, there’s still plenty for you to do in this winter wonderland.
5. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France
Chamonix hosted the world’s first winter Olympic Games back in 1924. It rests at the foot of Mont-Blanc, the highest peak in the Rhone Alps. It boasts one of the longest trails in the world at nearly 20km and has one of the highest drops vertical drops at 9,209 feet. Check out the nearby Auberge du Bois Prin or La Vallee Blanche for your accommodation needs.
4. Vail, Colorado
Vail is one the most popular ski resort in the world, but it prides itself as being “America’s Favorite Ski Resort.” It is the single largest ski area in the United States, offering nearly 5,300 acres of skiable terrain. Vail also features the fastest high-speed detachable quads on one mountain. There’s lot to do in the surrounding areas, including restaurants, museums, art galleries, hockey, snowmobiling, ice-skating and dog sledding. Lion Square Lodge or Vail Cascade Resort and Spa are great accommodation spots, but book early as thousands of skiers and snowboarders venture to this Colorado town each year.
3. Banff, Alberta
Banff is situated in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in the western province of Alberta. Banff is one of the most breathtaking mountain resort towns in all of North America. The area features three different ski areas: Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, which are all only 15 to 30 miles apart from one another. Norquay is known for its unrelenting vertical moguls.
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt rests in the German-speaking district of Visp on the southeastern tip of Switzerland. It has been rated as one of Switzerland’s top ski resorts and has been in operation for over 150 years.. Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn is the tallest peak in Europe at 3,883 m. This peaceful village offers respite for the winter traveler thanks to its car-free environment. Zermatt holds the world’s second biggest lift-served vertical drop and receives huge snowfalls thanks to its altitude.
1. Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruk is the capital city of the western state Tyrol, but it’s also considered the “Capital of the Alps.” It is one of the largest ski areas in all of Austria, featuring a total of nine ski resorts with wide ranging slope terrain. It’s definitely a great spot for skiers of all levels to enjoy. Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, once in 1964 and again in 1976! If winter sports don’t interest you, have a walk around the historic town, visit the shops or indulge in authentic Austrian cuisine. Wiener schnitzel anyone?