This Article Was Written by Claire Chesney
Ok, so they may not be completely secret (there are ski resorts built there), but sometimes it’s hard to look beyond the Chamonixes and the St. Antons of the continent. Ski resorts have changed just as much as the skis themselves and it’s easy to see why these gorgeous locales get all the glory — they are pretty spectacular, after all. But there are also many more, lesser known European ski destinations that are just as cool (no pun intended). Here are some of them:
Located near the town of Moutiers in the French Alps, Meribel is an incredibly picturesque ski village with a challenging set of slopes perfect for ski holidays. Known for having some of the best powder in the world, this Tarentaise Valley village is frequented by British skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. The area, which boasts 33 kilometres of trails, welcomes cross-country skiers as well. True, many of the downhill runs suit intermediate and advanced skiers but there’s room for you beginners as well, with plenty of experienced ski instructors on hand to help you out.
If you’re a beginner, check out this post: Backcountry Skiing Basics
Austria’s Leogang ski slopes, part of the Skicircus Saalbach-Hinterglemm Leogang ski area, in the state of Salzburg, are quieter compared to their neighbours, resulting in a calmer vibe as well as cheaper resort facilities. Leogang is home to several long, gently-sloped runs, making it a great destination for beginners and families.
Many people think of Spain strictly for sun and summer holidays and wild festivals, but there are some pretty amazing ski resorts here, too. The resort at Baqueira-Beret, in the Pyrenees in western Catalonia, celebrated 50 years in 2014 and it’s easy to see why it’s been so successful. With luxury accommodation and world-class skiing, it’s no wonder members of the Spanish royal family choose it as their winter holiday destination.
Also located in the Tarentaise Valley in France, Tignes is part of the ‘Espace Killy’ ski area. The Tignes resort is made up of five charming villages, giving you plenty of options for lodgings and ski village life (who doesn’t look forward to that post-run pint or coffee?). At one of the highest altitudes of all the ski destinations in France, Tignes will certainly have good snow — in fact, it used to be open year round! It’s a part of history as well, as the home of freestyle skiing in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games.
Located at the foot of Monte Rosa in Italy, Gressoney is known for its peaceful setting. Two villages, Gressoney-La-Trinité and Gressoney-Saint-Jean, make up the resort and both are as authentic and traditional as you can get. With access to the Monterosa ski circuit, skiers at Gressoney have a wide range of slopes to choose from. You can do a lot here — namely woodland skiing, off-piste skiing and heliskiing. Off the slopes, you’ll find more low-key options for places to stay and nightlife here, suiting the laid-back outdoorsman well.
Finally, Björkliden Fjällby in Sweden’s Lapland is certainly one of Scandinavia’s best kept secrets in terms of skiing. The area lies 250 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, where the air is clean and calm. You can ski under the Northern Lights before residing in your log cabin for the night. Off-piste, heliskiing, kids ski lessons — this place has it all.
Get out there!
With so many amazing ski destinations in Europe, it’s no wonder why thousands of people make their way here every year to hit the slopes. The 2014 winter ski season is nearly here!
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