There’s nothing more picturesque than skiing in the Alps. From the staggering mountain views to the warmth of a drink by the fire, it’s the perfect winter vacation. But if you’re not a seasoned veteran, planning a ski trip in Europe can be an intimidating challenge. Where do you even begin? From packing the right gear to choosing the right location and more, we’ve got you covered to have the best ski trip ever.
Choosing the Right Resort
“European ski trip” is pretty vague; where exactly in Europe should you go? What if you already live in Europe? What place is the best? Before you can pick the perfect ski resort, you’ll need to first settle on which country you want to go to. You can find great skiing in any of these places, but there are some factors to consider before settling on the right one.
Once you’ve settled on the location, booking your trip is a breeze. If you’re coming from the UK or somewhere else close by you can even book a quick weekend ski trip for a short break. All you have to do is decide on your destination! Whether you’re planning a family skiing trip or booking one for you and your mates, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to plan your next ski holiday.
Consider the Locations
France is probably the most popular ski destination. Its mountains offer a tremendous number of options for pristine skiing conditions and impeccable resorts. There are big-name resorts with sprawling slopes and high altitude peaks as well as smaller village stays for a quieter experience. The biggest ski resorts in Europe are primarily found in France.
If you’re looking for a more picturesque experience without all the bustle and amenities of France’s supersized resorts, you might opt for a little spot in Austria, known for its warm hospitality and quaint villages.
Italy often has lower prices on its resorts, and you’ll find there some incredible cuisine and a relaxing atmosphere. The resorts here are often favored by families as they are a little less popular with competitive skiers.
Switzerland is a bit more expensive but the views are unmatched. The service at the resorts as well as the traffic on the slope are superior, but you’ll definitely be paying for the difference. If a luxury vacation is what you’re looking for, Switzerland might be right for you!
No matter what country you decide to go to, you’ll want to think about what you’ll want. Do you want the steepest slopes? The best service? The tastiest food? The cheapest rentals? There are pros and cons to every resort, so first you’ll want to figure out what is most important to you. The places listed above are just a few of the best Skiing Resorts in Europe.
Will you Do any Other Traveling?
A great way to choose where you’ll stay is by considering what else you’ll want to do while you’re there. Are you going strictly for skiing and nothing else? Then you might want to choose one of the biggest resorts that might not be near much else.
But if you are hoping to combine your ski trip with a visit to some of Europe’s most famous sights, you might want to choose somewhere more centrally located with easy travel to other destinations. Planning your trip based on other desired visits can help you put together the very best vacation.
Where are the Cheapest Flights Going?
If you aren’t feeling too strongly about the destination, try choosing your resort based purely on the cost of getting there. What are the cheapest flights from your city? Skyscanner also lets you look at a calendar to see the cheapest dates to travel or search by cheapest month.
If you don’t have it yet, download the Skyscanner App here to find awesome deals! Find the most affordable country to fly to and then search for the nearest ski resorts. If you’re traveling on a budget, this is one of your best bets.
Booking the Flights
Comparison sites like I mentioned above are one of the best ways to find affordable flights. If your dates are flexible, you’ll be able to score even better deals. The rules on flight prices are hardly concrete, but in general, it’s a good idea to book about 6 weeks before your trip, and the cheapest options are most often found on Tuesdays. But that said, there are a TON of exceptions to the rule, so looking for deals frequently is a good idea.
If you have them, utilize your credit card rewards and airline miles. Simple things like that can cut down on travel costs. Consider flying with an airline line Iceland Air, which often has good deals that include a stopover in Iceland. If you’re not on a rushed time frame, booking flights with long layovers can usually get you a lower price.
What to Pack for a Ski Trip
Once you’ve chosen your location and booked your flights, it’s time to decide what to bring. Overpacking is a huge struggle for most people, and when you’re bringing bulky winter clothes, it’s easy to run out of space. So cutting down on the non-essentials is important. For items that are inexpensive and readily available like toiletries, consider waiting to purchase them until you arrive. This will free up space in your suitcase.
When preparing for a ski trip, there are some essentials you shouldn’t skimp on. You want clothing that will withstand cold temperatures, be easy to pack and travel with, and look good while you’re on the slopes! Here are some of the basics you shouldn’t go without.
A Good Base Layer: A non-cotton layer against your skin is important not only for keeping you warm, but for wicking away moisture that might accumulate while you’re working up a sweat on the slopes. Look for lightweight but warm materials like merino wool or polyester blends that are easy to fit under other layers. Check out our full review of Rohan Clothing Gear for recommendations on Merino Wool base layers.
Waterproof Snow Pants: There’s nothing worse than falling down in the snow and finding your pants are completely soaked afterward. A good pair of snow pants won’t be too bulky but will protect you from both the cold and the dampness. You’ll want ones that have a waterproof or water resistant outer layer to ensure you’re still warm and dry at the day’s end.
A Fleece Sweater: A lightweight but warm fleece sweater is the perfect thing to wear under your jacket. Again, staying away from cotton is a good idea. You don’t want something too stiff or thick so you can maintain ease of movement while you ski.
A Warm, Windproof Jacket: A solid ski jacket is essential in the snowy mountains. You want something that will keep out snow, moisture, and wind as you zip down the slopes. Look for pieces with adjustable closures at the cuffs and hood to keep the elements out.
Warm, Moisture-Wicking Socks: Bring a few pairs of thick socks to keep your toes warm on the mountain. Wool socks are great, but there are also plenty of synthetic blends that do the trick. Just make sure they aren’t cotton or your feet will be freezing by the end of the day!
Goggles: You’ll be surprised just how much your eyes are watering after one trip down the slope without eye protection. A good pair of ski goggles will save your eyes from the sun and wind. We love the brand Sungod and can highly recommend them! Definitely, don’t leave home without them!
Gloves or Mittens: A solid pair of gloves or mittens is vital. I prefer mittens as they keep my hands warmer, but whatever you choose, look for something thick and warm. Check out some of these recommendations for the best ski gloves.
A Few Regular Outfits: Don’t go too overboard, but definitely bring a few comfortable items for the moments you’re not skiing. A pair of jeans and a couple of tops that don’t take up too much space but will make you feel good on an evening out.
If your medical insurance doesn’t cover foreign travel, purchasing travel insurance is a good idea. Especially when you’re doing a somewhat dangerous activity while you travel. A lot of travelers (myself included) have used World Nomads travel insurance, which offers excellent coverage while you’re away.
Whatever you choose, make sure you’re covered in case of any accidents, illnesses, or travel mishaps.
Pick your perfect location, book your resort, and pack all the essential gear. With these tips in hand, you’re bound to have an incredible European ski trip.
Once you’re there, you can hit the slopes immediately or if you’re a beginner, head to the bunny slope for lessons from the ski school! Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend break or a multi-day adventure, you’ll have the time of your life skiing Europe’s most stunning mountain slopes.